Does your high school or college student need an iPhone?
Best answer: An iPhone, as long as it is capable of running the latest software, would be an excellent tool for students. For most, an iPhone 13 is a great option, and at this point in the life cycle, you can find some pretty good deals to save some extra bit of dough, considering that the iPhone 14 is coming out soon. However, even an iPhone 8 will be capable of running iOS 16, which is due out in the fall, so you can save even more money.
Why an iPhone for high school or college?
One of the big reasons to get an iPhone for a high school or college student is because the iPhone is seen as "cool." You know what they say: Apple products as a whole are kind of like a status symbol, and that is especially true for the iPhone. However, when you have an iPhone, it's not just about showing off — it's about having the best overall experience when it comes to your mobile device.
When you're a student, having a great smartphone is very important. It should be intuitive and easy to use because students are at an age where you need fast access to information at a moment's notice. Apple's iOS operating system is known to be simple enough for everyone to use, including high school and college students. After all, when you have a lot of studying to do in order to ace your next exam, one doesn't want to waste time tinkering around on your smartphone.
Another big part of having an iPhone is the App Store. There are millions of apps on the App Store right now and many of them are great tools to help students with their studies, whether that's a study aid or just an overall general planner. Regardless, these apps can definitely improve skills for classes and help students to stay organized and on top of all the tasks ahead. iOS apps also tend to look much nicer than Android counterparts in general, so if a high school or college student has an eye for well-designed apps, then iPhone is the better way to go.
But having an iPhone shouldn't just be all about studying and organization. It's a fantastic tool for staying in touch with others, especially friends and study partners. By having an iPhone, a high school or college student will be able to use iMessage to keep in touch with friends and family easily. iMessage is different than a standard SMS text message, because it supports read receipts, an unlimited number of photos in a single message, longer video clips (MMS videos are very tiny and pixelated), and more. And because high school and college students are bound to use a lot of group chats, iMessage's group chat functionality is robust, allowing one to name a group chat, use in-line replies, and even mentions. And if everything is just a little overbearing, one can easily leave an iMessage group chat if desired, instead of being stuck in there forever like with SMS users.
And let's not forget about social media. If we're talking about high school and college kids, then social media is simply a part of life. When social media is involved, you can expect a lot of necessity for photos (especially selfies) and videos. Having an iPhone allows one to capture amazing pictures and video thanks to the 12MP camera and most of the recent iPhones have dual (Wide and Ultra Wide) or triple lens (also a Telephoto) camera systems.
Plus, if you have an iPhone with a front-facing TrueDepth camera such as the iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 Pro, then your selfie game is very much on point, as they say, as you can even take Portrait mode selfies. We also expect some big camera improvements in the iPhone 14 coming in a few months, which will take self-portraits to an entirely new level.
Overall, having an iPhone is a fantastic choice for high school and college students. These devices will help make it easy to organize assignments, make studying more manageable, effectively communicate with others, and help them capture every moment with ease to share on social media, as well as with friends and family.
Does it matter which iPhone model to get?
With iOS 16 coming out in the fall, it will support the iPhone 13 lineup and other iPhones all the way back to the iPhone 8. iOS 16 is a significant update to iOS that allows one to customize the Lock Screen, have the ability to edit and unsend messages, as well as mark conversations as unread, schedule and unsend emails, plan multi-stop routes in Maps, and so much more.
It's one of the biggest updates in recent years, so you definitely want to make sure that your student has a great iPhone that is capable of running iOS 16.
We personally believe that the iPhone 13 is the best iPhone for most people right now, including high school and college students. However, if money is an issue, you could opt for the iPhone SE (2022). This is the most affordable iPhone that Apple sells right now and while it retains the old iPhone 8 body with the Home button and single-lens camera, it's compatible with modern 5G cellular networks and has an A15 Bionic chip inside, making it quite snappy. Since it just came out in 2022, it will have no problem running iOS 16 and should still be supported by Apple in terms of software updates for at least several more years.
But if you want to make sure that your high school or college student will be able to get the most use out of their iPhone in the coming years, it's best to get the iPhone 13. You get the most color options with six to choose from: Midnight, Starlight, PRODUCT(RED), blue, pink, and green. The Super Retina XDR display is also a sight to behold, as everything will look great, vibrant, and crisp. It has 5G connectivity for super-fast download and upload speeds, and the A15 Bionic ensures that everything is responsive and snappy when using the iPhone. For those who want the addition of a Telephoto lens, up to 1TB of capacity, and the incredible ProMotion display, then the iPhone 13 Pro is the way to go.
On top of that, with an iPhone 13 (or even an iPhone 12), they'll have access to a huge lineup of MagSafe accessories, from chargers to battery packs to phone grips to car mounts, and so much more. MagSafe is a ring of magnets in the back of the iPhone, allowing for easy attachment and removal of compatible accessories. It's a highly underrated feature of the newer devices and one that will make life so much easier.
Do keep in mind that we are just a few weeks away from Apple's announcement of the iPhone 14, which we are expecting sometime in September. According to recent reports, the iPhone 14 will have big camera upgrades, a possible always-on display, a new A16 chip in the Pro models, and other potential features. If you are wanting your high school or college student to have the best of the best, you may want to wait until the iPhone 14 is available before purchasing a new iPhone. However, the iPhone 13 will still be plenty powerful for the average person, and again, you may find it with some discounts once the iPhone 14 is out. It depends on what you want to get for your kid and whether or not you want to save some money.
If you want something with Face ID but don't want to shell out for the latest model, then we think that the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 are still good buys and they're both still sold by Apple. For those who want 5G connectivity, the iPhone 12 has it, along with a still-powerful A14 Bionic chip inside and MagSafe compatibility. The iPhone 11 is still good if you don't need 5G or MagSafe and the A13 still provides enough power for pretty much everything. Both of these older models will also have Portrait mode for both the rear and front-facing cameras, as well as Night mode for the rear-only. When you don't need all the bells and whistles, these slightly older iPhones still get the job done.
While iOS 16 will support iPhones as old as the iPhone 8, we don't fully recommend getting an iPhone that old because it may not last long enough to get iOS 17 and beyond. As of right now, we would recommend the iPhone SE (2022) for a budget iPhone, the iPhone 13 series if you want the latest model, and the iPhone 11 or iPhone 12 if you want something powerful while saving a little more dough. These are all still available from Apple.
iPhone for everyone
The iPhone 13 comes in six fun and bold colors, which are perfect for students. It has an A15 Bionic inside for fast and speedy performance, a dual Wide and Ultra Wide 12MP camera and 12MP TrueDepth camera for perfect selfies, and MagSafe compatibility with amazing accessories.
The iPhone 13 Pro has a triple-lens camera system (Wide, Ultra Wide, and Telephoto), up to 1TB storage, dynamic ProMotion display with 120Hz refresh rate, and more. It also comes in five subtle colors that suit everyone.
Power for less
The third-generation iPhone SE retains the Home button, has 5G connectivity, and the same snappy A15 Bionic chip that is in the iPhone 13 lineup. While it only has a single camera lens system, it is capable of Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control with Portrait Lighting.
Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently the iMore lead on all things iPhone, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.
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