The Best Phone For College Students – The Truth!

While it might seem like the world’s biggest distraction for a full time scholar, smartphones are actually a necessity in our increasingly digital world. If you’re looking to go to a big school like Ohio State, you might be wondering what phone is the best pick for you. While it ultimately is up to you to decide, I can definitely help give you my take on the best phone for college students.

Why College Students Need Phones

A Galaxy Note phone with a stylus

Okay, the pen might be a bit overkill, but having a pen can be useful for taking notes on the fly.

This might seem like a silly question, but let’s think about the reasons why.

  1. Smartphones are the ultimate communication device. If you need to reach someone about something, they’re the way to go.
  2. If you’re doing a lot of walking around campus, having an easy and portable way to look up your assignments and grades is essential.
  3. Having a way to contact help is essential when traveling on a college campus. You never know what could happen.
  4. With a pair of headphones, your phone can be a great music player when studying somewhere.

Your Needs Are Unique

The front and back of a Windows Phone

Remember Windows phone? I must be the only one…

It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that there is a universal, best phone for a college student. The reality is that it’s all up to your needs and your preferences. Take a minute to think about your needs and what works for you.

Phone Features Useful for College Students

A 3.5mm headphone cord

My favorite smartphone feature: the headphone jack. Change my mind.

I personally think that the most important qualities of a phone are battery life, processor speed, and reliability. These are what make a phone the best choice for a college student.

Battery Life

A very thick energizer phone sitting next to a thin iPhone

Now THAT’S a thick phone. The Energizer P18K is supposed to last 50 days in stand-by mode.

There’s nothing more frustrating when your phone is about ready to die and you have two more classes left to go during the day. Hunting for that seat by the wall outlet to charge your phone just isn’t the best college student experience. For me, a phone with a powerful battery is a necessity so that I can check my homework, call for help, or submit that assignment I forgot about until the last minute.

Look for phones rated with a high milliampere hour rating (mAh), generally in the range of 4000 mAh. If these are a bit out of your price range, consider investing in a portable charging pack instead.

Processor Speed

a snapdragon 855 processor development board

Is it just me, or do those components not look like they fit in that phone at all?

This is a more nuanced topic, but it’s still very important. The best phone for a college student is fast when you need to use it to manage your busy schedule. You don’t want to spend 5 minutes trying to load that assignment because your device’s processor can barely keep up with reading your fingerprint.

How can you tell when a phone has a good processor? Well, the unfortunate thing is that you just won’t know until you’ve used it for a while. Processing speed varies depending on use case.

Generally you’ll find that higher end flagship devices will have more powerful processors, but midrange phones in the $400-600 can have decent processors too. You may have to see how well your friends fare with their phones to see what causes them to throttle, and then you might get some ideas about what brands you want to focus on.


Someone using an iphone in front of their macbook

I like to use my phone to check when my next class is.

This is a combination of the previous two, but also a few other things like build quality, software support, replaceability, and whatever else you need to rely on to work. It may seem like phones are getting more and more expensive, but remember that if you choose carefully, your investment might keep you from having to pay more on a phone later. You need something that will last, and that phone is something that you’ll need to count on as a college student.

Mobile Data Plan

A SIM card being held between two fingers.

SIM cards are tiny, don’t lose them! They are what allows your phone to connect to the wireless network.

Your phone isn’t very useful if you can’t call or text anyone. While it’s entirely possible that you might be able to get by with only using your school’s Wi-Fi networks, it’s not the safest or most convenient option. Based on my personal experience, Verizon seems like a good pick, especially from my experience as a college student at Ohio State.

Mobile data is what you use to call, text, and browse the Internet when not using a Wi-Fi connection. I am very fortunate that I’m in a family data plan with my parents!

Verizon’s cell phone plans can be a bit complicated. Fortunately, I found this awesome tool that will let you compare the plans to see which one fits your needs. Personally, I don’t think that you’re going to need more than 6GB of data. Any more than that and you’d be cutting a bit too deep into your already burning wallet from those student loan payments.

Go Explore Phones!

A Galaxy Note 9 sitting upright on a desk

Your most useful digital tool is waiting to be found.

Now that you have a good head start on what you need to think about when choosing a new phone as a prospective college student, you can go see what’s out there! Try watching some reviews of phones that interest you to narrow down what fits best for you. You may find something you didn’t expect!

Thank you for reading, and I hope that this was helpful for you. If you did find it helpful, please share it with a friend who may be looking for a new phone as well!