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, is an excellent tool for students and doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. An iPhone 14 is a great option for most students, and at this point in the life cycle, you can find some pretty good deals to save some extra bit of dough since the iPhone 15 is coming out soon. However, even an iPhone XR will be capable of running iOS 17, which is due out in the fall, so you can save even more money buying an older model.
Why an iPhone for high school or college students?
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One of the big reasons that a high school or college student will want the best iPhone is because it's seen as "cool." Apple products in general can be seen as 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. Students 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 to figure out your phone.
Another big part of having an iPhone is the App Store. There are millions of great iPhone apps for students on the App Store right now that are excellent 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 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 14 or iPhone 14 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 15 lineup coming very soon, which will take photos 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 you get?
With iOS 17 coming out in the fall, it will support the current iPhone lineup and other iPhones all the way back to the iPhone XR and iPhone XS. The upcoming iOS 17 is a significant update to iOS that features Standby Mode, Check-In (parents of teens will love this), and so much more.
We personally believe that the iPhone 14 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 17 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 14. You get the most color options with six to choose from: Midnight, Starlight, PRODUCT(RED), blue, purple, and yellow. 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, Dynamic Island, A16 chip, and the incredible ProMotion display, then the iPhone 14 Pro is the way to go.
On top of that, with an iPhone 14 (or even an iPhone 12 or iPhone 13), 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 15, which we are expecting sometime in September. According to recent reports, the iPhone 15 will have USB-C charging, a 48MP camera, A17 chip, Dynamic Island, thinner bezels, 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 15 is available before purchasing a new iPhone. However, the iPhone 14 will still be plenty powerful for the average person, and again, you may find it with some discounts once the iPhone 15 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 and a modern form factor but don't want to shell out for the latest model, then we think that the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 are still good buys and both are currently sold by Apple. For those who want 5G connectivity, both models have it, along with an A15 (iPhone 13) or still-powerful A14 (iPhone 12) Bionic chip inside, great cameras, and MagSafe compatibility. When you don't need all the bells and whistles, these slightly older iPhones still get the job done.
While iOS 17 will support iPhones as old as the iPhone XR, it wouldn't be our top recommendation, since it likely won't support iOS 18 and beyond. As of right now, we would recommend the iPhone SE (2022) for a budget iPhone, the iPhone 14 series if you want the latest model, and the iPhone 12 or 13 if you want something powerful while saving a little more dough. These are all still available from Apple.
iPhone for everyone
The iPhone 14 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. There's also a larger iPhone 14 Plus for those who want more screen real estate.
The iPhone 14 Pro has a triple-lens 48MP camera system (Wide, Ultra Wide, and Telephoto), up to 1TB storage, dynamic ProMotion display with 120Hz refresh rate, A16 chip, Dynamic Island, and more. It also comes in four 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 14. While it only has a single camera lens system, it is capable of Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control with Portrait Lighting.
Master your iPhone in minutes
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Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, 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.
- Karen S FreemanContributor