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Before you head back to school this season, you might want to arm yourself with a brand new smartphone. We’re talking about a daily driver, so whether you want to spend only a few dollars or go all out, there’s something available for everyone.

Most of your choices run Google’s Android operating system, but we’ll also throw in a Windows Phone. If you’re looking for an iPhone, it’s mainly a matter of size. So read our guides to know if you should choose an iPhone Should You Choose The iPhone 5s Over The iPhone 6? Should You Choose The iPhone 5s Over The iPhone 6? Before you go straight for the new iPhone 6 or even the 6 Plus, why not look into the iPhone 5s instead? That's what I did – and I couldn't be happier. Read More 5 series or 6 series, or find out if the iPhone 6 Plus works for you Should You Buy The Bigger iPhone 6 Plus? Should You Buy The Bigger iPhone 6 Plus? The term "phablet" very much applies to Apple's recently announced iPhone 6 Plus, but there's more to it than just a bigger screen. Read More .

At this point, it no longer makes sense to recommend BlackBerry OS, since the company itself seems to be shifting to Android as well, or any other mobile operating system.

The back-to-school season often has sales and deals you should watch out for. So let this be a guide to which phones you should consider, and if you can get a better deal on any of them, that’s splendid.

Cheapest, Yet Good Enough: Doogee X5 Max ($69/£53)

Doogee isn’t a well-known brand, but you’ll be ecstatic with what you get if you’re looking to spend as little as possible. At just 70 bucks, the Doogee X5 Max packs a vibrant screen, decent hardware for regular operations, excellent battery life, and even a fingerprint sensor. It’s no wonder James reviewed it as a competent budget smartphone Cheapest 5" Android Just Got Better: The Doogee X5 Max (Review & Giveaway) Cheapest 5" Android Just Got Better: The Doogee X5 Max (Review & Giveaway) The Doogee X5 Max has a huge battery and 5" IPS screen, running Android 6.0 – for just $65. Read More .

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The Doogee X5 Max is what you should buy if budget matters the most, but you still want a functional smartphone. The 1GB of RAM is a bottleneck, and the lack of Gorilla Glass protection is a concern. But the long battery life and good build quality will serve you well.

Quick Specs

  • Screen: 5-inch IPS HD (1280×720 pixels), but without Gorilla Glass
  • Processor: 1.3GHz quad-core Mediatek MTK6580
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Storage: 8GB internal + microSD slot
  • Camera: 5MP rear, 2MP front
  • Connectivity: 3G Only, No 4G | Dual-SIM
  • Battery: 4,000 mAh
  • OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Features: Fingerprint scanner
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If 4G LTE connectivity and Gorilla Glass protection are important to you, then you should look at the Motorola Moto E (UK). The screen and battery life aren’t as good as the Doogee, but it’s a more well-known brand and also has basic water resistance, all for $81.

For a Benjamin Franklin: Blu R1 HD ($109)

If your budget includes a bill with Benjamin Franklin’s face, then the Blu R1 HD will put a smile on your face. For $110, you will get a smartphone that does everything you require.

It’s got an excellent screen protected by Gorilla Glass 3, comes preloaded with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and supports 4G LTE networks. And it’s the lowest price phone to include 2GB of RAM, which is fast becoming essential on Android devices. Not having a fingerprint scanner is a small sacrifice for these other elements.

Quick Specs

  • Screen: 5-inch IPS HD (1280×720 pixels), Gorilla Glass 3
  • Processor: 1.3GHz quad-core Mediatek MTK6735
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Storage: 16GB internal + microSD slot
  • Camera: 8MP rear, 5MP front
  • Connectivity: 4G support | Dual-SIM
  • Battery: 2,500 mAh
  • OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
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The Surprise Package: Blu Life One X ($150/£80)

Blu has a knack for selling well-equipped phones for a low price, but even then, the Blu Life One X is amazing considering how much firepower it packs for just $150. It’s possibly the best value-for-money device around.

The 5.2-inch Full HD screen and a true octa-core processor are packed in an aluminum chassis with a sandblasted matte finish. It’s cheap, but it looks and feels expensive. Blu also slapped a 13MP camera on the back and fitted a 2,900 mAh battery, so you don’t run out of juice in the middle of a day.

It ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop, but we doubt it’s going to get updated to Marshmallow anytime soon. You’d be wiser to install CyanogenMod on your Android How To Install CyanogenMod On Your Android Device How To Install CyanogenMod On Your Android Device A lot of people can agree that the Android operating system is pretty awesome. Not only is it great to use, but it's also free as in open source, so that it can be modified... Read More instead.

Quick Specs

  • Screen: 5-inch IPS Full HD (1920×1080 pixels), Gorilla Glass 3
  • Processor: 1.3GHz octa-core Mediatek MTK6753
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Storage: 16GB internal + microSD slot
  • Camera: 13MP rear, 5MP front
  • Connectivity: 4G support | Dual-SIM
  • Battery: 2,900 mAh
  • OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop
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Bang for 200 Bucks: Motorola Moto G4 ($199/£159)

Motorola’s resurgence in the world of smartphones keeps going strong with its latest budget handset. The Moto G4 is a home run and hands down the best choice in this price.

It falls in the phablet category with its 5.5-inch Full HD screen and has an excellent battery life to back it up. The camera isn’t fantastic, but it’s not terrible either.

The Moto G4 rocks a water-resistant body, but there’s no fingerprint sensor. The Qualcomm chipset also brings quick smartphone charging through TurboPower What's a Quick Charger? Here's Why You Need One Now What's a Quick Charger? Here's Why You Need One Now Smartphones take less time to charge up these days and it's all thanks to a new technology called Quick Charge. If you don't have it yet, you'll want it soon. Read More , which can provide up to six hours of use on just a 15-minute charge. TurboPower works with any Quick Charge (what’s Quick Charge? What's a Quick Charger? Here's Why You Need One Now What's a Quick Charger? Here's Why You Need One Now Smartphones take less time to charge up these days and it's all thanks to a new technology called Quick Charge. If you don't have it yet, you'll want it soon. Read More ) compatible device.

Quick Specs

  • Screen: 5.5-inch Full HD (1920×1080 pixels), Gorilla Glass 3
  • Processor: 1.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Storage: 16GB internal + microSD slot
  • Camera: 13MP rear, 5MP front
  • Connectivity: 4G support | Dual-SIM
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh
  • OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Features: Water resistance, Quick charging
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300 Spartans: Moto X Pure ($299/£295) or LG Nexus 5X ($268/£260)

At the $300 mark, you will get an excellent pure Google Android experience, devoid of any bloatware or custom UIs. But you still need to choose between one of two handsets.

The LG Nexus 5X is part of the Google-approved Nexus series and packs a 5.2-inch screen along with some stellar hardware like a hexa-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and a fantastic 12MP camera. The 2,700 mAh battery is good but not great, and that’s the only disappointment (if any).

Quick Specs

  • Screen: 5.2-inch Full HD (1920×1080 pixels), Gorilla Glass 3
  • Processor: 1.4GHz quad-core+1.8GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Storage: 32GB internal, no microSD slot
  • Camera: 12MP rear, 5MP front
  • Connectivity: 4G support | Single-SIM
  • Battery: 2,700 mAh
  • OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Features: Fingerprint scanner

If you have Yeti-sized hands, or you prefer large phablets, then instead of the Nexus 5X, treat yourself the to Moto X Pure Edition. The gargantuan 5.7-inch screen might be difficult to handle, but it features QHD resolution. And there’s a stunning 21MP camera on the back for photos, as well as water-resistance and Quick Charge compatibility. Plus, it’s a Pure Edition phone, which means no bloatware again.

Quick Specs

  • Screen: 5.7-inch QHD IPS (2560×1440 pixels), Gorilla Glass 3
  • Processor: 1.4GHz quad-core+1.8GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 16GB internal, microSD slot
  • Camera: 21MP rear, 5MP front
  • Connectivity: 4G support | Single-SIM
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh
  • OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Features: Water resistance, Quick charging
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Flagship At Non-Flagship Price: OnePlus 3 ($399)

Ever since its launch, the OnePlus 3 has been hailed as the smartphone you should buy if you don’t want to over-spend. The phone is as good as or better than any flagship handset but costs substantially less.

The OnePlus 3 has a 5.5-inch Full HD screen, which is a wise choice since you don’t need QHD resolution at this size. Keeping it to Full HD extends the battery life considerably. Plus, it has 6GB of RAM, far more than any other phone around. Do you need it? No. But it’s nice to have, isn’t it?

More than anything else, the hardware you get at this price is unbeatable. No other phone comes close in this price bracket at offering these features, and the OnePlus 3 has rightly won plaudits all around.

Quick Specs

  • Screen: 5.5-inch Full HD IPS (1920×1080 pixels), Gorilla Glass 4
  • Processor: 2.15GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 64GB internal, no microSD slot
  • Camera: 16MP rear, 8MP front
  • Connectivity: 4G support | Dual-SIM
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh
  • OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Oxygen OS 3.2
  • Features: Fingerprint sensor, Quick charging

If You Aren’t a Giant: Sony Xperia Z5 Compact ($399/£400)

It seems like smartphone sizes get bigger and bigger every day. Unless you refer to professional wrestlers like The Great Khali as “tiny” then you might want a smaller, one-handed phone. But you still want good hardware, right? Thank God for the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact.

With a 4.6-inch screen, it’s the smallest phone to pack still all the features that a flagship has. It’s a miniaturized version of our beloved Sony Xperia Z5 Sony Xperia Z5 Review & Giveaway Sony Xperia Z5 Review & Giveaway You're looking for a new phone. Something reasonably powerful, big screen, great sound. A handset to blow your iPhone loving friends out of the water. The Sony Xperia Z5 might just be it. Read More . You get a fantastic screen, a fast processor, an incredible camera, and excellent battery life.

The Xperia Z5 Compact is also water-resistant and does a better job of it than most phones that claim this. You can use the screen even when it’s wet, which is not what most waterproof phones can do.

Quick Specs

  • Screen: 4.6-inch HD IPS (1280x720pixels), Scratch-resistant glass
  • Processor: 2xQuad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Storage: 32GB internal, no microSD slot
  • Camera: 23MP rear, 5MP front
  • Connectivity: 4G LTE support | Dual-SIM
  • Battery: 2,700 mAh
  • OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Features: Fingerprint sensor
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Fantastic Flagships: LG G5 (UK), Samsung Galaxy S7 (UK), HTC 10 (UK)

You know what? If you have the money for it, just buy whichever one of these flagship phones suits your tastes best. Few of their features distinguish between any of them.

It doesn’t even make sense to look through their spec sheets or whatever else. The basics are the same, and they differ on small points. Gun to my head, I’d pick the Galaxy S7 because of its water resistance and much-lauded camera. But honestly, I’d rather put my money on the One Plus 3 than over-spend on any of these.

Read our review of the LG G5 LG G5 Review and Giveaway LG G5 Review and Giveaway It's rare to see a flagship smartphone that actually innovates at this point. They're all starting to blend together as similarly-sized unibody metal slabs with nearly identical features. Read More or our review of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Galaxy S7 Edge Review and Giveaway Galaxy S7 Edge Review and Giveaway Samsung's back again with some new smartphones: the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. It's still a premium device with uniquely curved edges, but should you consider upgrading? Read More if you are having trouble making up your mind.

Phablet King: Samsung Galaxy Note 5 ($518/£475)

In the world of oversized phablets, Samsung still rules the roost with the Galaxy Note series. That’s mainly because of its built-in S-Pen stylus — the only smartphone to offer that — and Samsung’s customized software to make the most of that pen.

A large screen, top-of-the-line specs, up to 128GB of internal storage, a brilliant camera, and long-lasting battery life; what more could you possibly want from a smartphone?

Right now, the Galaxy Note 5 is the best you can buy, but the Galaxy Note 7 is expected to be announced soon, so you might want to wait for that.

Quick Specs

  • Screen: 5.7-inch QHD IPS (2560×1440 pixels), Gorilla Glass 4
  • Processor: 2.1GHz octa-core Exynos 7420
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 32/64/128GB internal, microSD slot
  • Camera: 16MP rear, 5MP front
  • Connectivity: 4G support | Single-SIM
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh
  • OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Features: Fingerprint sensor
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Windows Dressing: Microsoft Lumia 950 ($419/£260)

With Windows 10, Microsoft is uniting the mobile and desktop operating systems with features like Continuum Continuum: Switch Between Windows 10 Desktop & Tablet Mode Continuum: Switch Between Windows 10 Desktop & Tablet Mode Windows 10 recognizes your hardware and instantly chooses the best display mode. When you connect your Windows 10 Mobile to a larger screen, you'll get a PC-like experience. That's the smoothness of Continuum. Read More . The flagship phone to show off the possibilities of this is the Microsoft Lumia 950 Microsoft Lumia 950 Review and Giveaway Microsoft Lumia 950 Review and Giveaway This could be Microsoft's final flagship phone. With many declaring Windows 10 Mobile dead on arrival, just what is the point of the Lumia 950? Read More .

On the hardware front, the Lumia 950 is as good as any other phone you might get for Android. It’s quite a looker too and offers long battery life. Plus it has Nokia’s renowned PureView camera technology, making it arguably the best smartphone camera around.

However, Windows 10 still has an app problem. Most app developers still ignore it, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon, what with the declining sales of Windows phones. If apps aren’t important for you and you just want a phone to do phone stuff, then the Lumia 950 will be okay.

Quick Specs

  • Screen: 5.2-inch QHD IPS (2560×1440 pixels), Gorilla Glass 4
  • Processor: 1.4GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32GB internal, microSD slot
  • Camera: 20MP rear, 5MP front
  • Connectivity: 4G support | Single-SIM
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh
  • OS: Windows Phone 10
  • Features: Continuum, Quick charging
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Did We Miss Anything?

Hopefully, this guide should let you pick a phone that meets your needs without breaking your piggy bank. We chose the phones that we have used ourselves or have received universal acclaim, but there’s a chance we missed something.

Did we round up all of the best smartphones, or do you know a better phone for the back-to-school season? Tell us which one and why in the comments below!

  1. Mohit torani
    August 8, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    You forgot xiamoi devices like Redmi note 3 , mi max , and other devices like one plus x,

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