Fall is almost here, which means that, excited or dreading it, Fall classes are here too. When it comes to school, it’s impossible to be too prepared, especially if you save money while doing it. Besides arming yourself with the best Android devices out there, you need to surround them with the best accessories and apps available.
To make sure you’re the best student you can be, here’s a list of helpful devices and apps ranging from free, too expensive but worth it. If you don’t have any of the services or products on this list already, you’ll be surprised you’ve made it this far without them.
Pieces of Tech You Need Before Going Back to School
Not counting phones, tablets, or laptops, what’s something you need before going back to school? Your Android is already an excellent piece of tech to help prepare you for the semester, but what if you could make that tech even better?
Buy a Portable Battery Pack (or Two)
I can’t count the number of times I’ve had my phone die on me while I’ve been at campus, and there isn’t always a free outlet somewhere that I can hunker down around. For moments like these, and others, a portable battery back will come to the rescue.
1. Jackery Mini Premium 3350mAh Portable Power Bank
First up is a portable battery pack that I use almost every day. It’s a small Jackery model that packs a modest power level, and manages to bring my phone from 30 to 100% charge at least twice before it runs out of juice. Granted, this is because my phone is relatively low power; for larger, and power intensive phones, this battery pack won’t be enough.
This model specifically retails at $29.99, but is regularly on sale for as low as $9.99, and for that price, it can’t be beat. It charges via micro USB, and can hit a full charge in as little as an hour.
This model is currently on sale for $12.99, and I can heavily recommend it at that price!
2. Poweradd Pilot 2GS 10000mAh Portable Power Bank
Next up is the Poweradd Pilot 2GS, which is packing more than double the charging capabilities of the Jackery Mini I just mentioned. While normally this would mean this product is double the price, the Poweradd is normally only ten dollars more than the above Jackery model.
If you have a power hungry phone or any other Android device, models like this that have a limit of 10000mAh or more are the best option. The Pilot 2GS can charge two devices at the same time, so if both a phone and a tablet need a pick me up, they don’t need to take turns around the box.
On a fully loaded battery, the Poweradd Pilot 2GS can fully charge a Galaxy S6 twice with no trouble, so if you can catch this power bank on sale, it’s a steal. Currently, you can catch it on sale for more than half off at $16.99.
3. Portable Charger RAVPower 22000mAh
Last up is the powerhouse of this power bank trio, the RAVPower Portable Charger, clocking in at 22000mAh. That’s enough power to charge a Samsung Galaxy S7 from zero to one hundred percent five times without breaking a sweat.
The RAVPower has three different ports, so you can charge three different Android devices at the same time with ease. However, this kind of power doesn’t come without its costs, since the RAVPower retails for $99.99 if you don’t catch it on sale. Thankfully, it’s on sale frequently, so you can currently find it for as low as $39.99 on a good day.
The RAVPower is a vastly different beast over the Jackery Mini that I mentioned at the start, but they both have their perks depending on the separate needs of the user. If you need to charge a lot of different and powerful devices this semester, put the RAVPower 22000mAh on your Fall wishlist.
Finding the Right Headphones or Earbuds
If you’ve spent any amount of time on a busy campus, they can get pretty loud. Depending on where you live in between classes, it can even be loud there! To protect your ears, listen to music, or just cut out the noise so you can hear your own thoughts; there’s a pair of quality headphones or earbuds out there for you, even if you’re on a tight budget.
1. MARCH Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Earphones
As much as I like a good pair of wired headphones, there’s an allure to Bluetooth headsets and earphones that I can’t escape from. There are one or two pairs of Bluetooth earbuds that I’d consider giving up my bulky headphones for, and this is one of them.
This MARCH set charges over micro USB, and can last around 2.5 hours off of a single charge. If you picked up one of the battery packs I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to use these for days on end without having to worry about them dying in the middle of the day. While I rank these being used for noise cancelling primarily, they’re still a great all around set.
The sound quality is great for the price, the battery life is easy to work with, and the backs of each bud are magnetically attracted for easy storage and travel. I heavily recommend these at their base price of $25.99, and even more so if you see them on sale.
2. J&L Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
Next, despite my inherent bias, is another pair of earphones that just might be worth your time and money. The J&L Wireless is another set of Bluetooth earphones, and they come in three different colors, even though my favorite is arguably the most boring one, black.
One major reason why I can recommend this set over the previous one is the design. While I like the J&L design better aesthetically, it also functions differently. One of the reasons why I prefer bulky headphones is because my ears have a hard time keeping earphones in. With a set like this, that isn’t a problem anymore.
The feature list for the J&L is very similar to the MARCH set, and because of this, so is the price. Minus magnetic properties, the J&L earphones provide wireless noise cancellation and excellent sound for $26.99.
3. Photive BTH3 Over-The-Ear Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
I’ll mention this up-front, I have a bias for around-the-ear headphones, instead of models that rest on your ears instead. With that in mind, that’s where my recommendations tend to lean. That’s one of the reasons why I’m recommending the Photive BTH3 first, as my over-the-ear choice.
The Photive BTH3 is a Bluetooth set, but you can surprisingly get around twelve hours of constant use out of the headset, making it a good pair to go back to school with. It charges quickly, and travels easily, and includes a small case to go along with them.
The sound quality is impressive for their size, and the sound leak is minimal even on the loudest of settings, even though it’s still present. This headset retails for $99.99, but is regularly on sale for $49.95, so it’s a steal when on sale. If you’re looking for a good, school friendly, Bluetooth headset, this is a great one.
The only concern I’ve seen for the headset has been durability, but as long as you’re careful with your tech, these should serve you well for some time to come.
4. Geega Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 Over Ear Headphones
This is the first headset that I’m going to mention the price up front, because these beauties normally retail at around $169.99, which isn’t anything to sneeze at. If you can catch them on sale, they can be as low as $59.99, which is an amazing deal if you can grab them.
These are over-the-ear headphones, but only if you have larger ears than most. Depending on ear size, these can very well be around-the-ear headphones because of their box shape. The sound quality from these two Bluetooth boxes is superb, but at louder volumes, sound distortion is, unfortunately, noticeable.
If you prefer a wired headset to a Bluetooth one, the Geega Wireless actually has an option wired connection you can use to help conserve battery, or just if you prefer it. I prefer wires over Bluetooth, so this is a big plus for me, while still including options for both.
If you can pick up this pair of headphones on sale, I recommend them over the Photive BTH3.
5. Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Headphones
This last pair of headphones is around-the-ear, bulky, and wired only; which is just my cup of tea. These things create a perfect seal around your ears to block everything out from the outside, and just let you hear what you want to while you’re either blasting music, or listening to a recorded lecture.
I can go on and on about how good these headphones are and sound like a sales pitch, but there isn’t a lot I can say that’ll do them justice. These rarely go on sale below their $99.95 price point, but they’re well worth the price. The sound quality is fantastic, they block out background noise the second you start listening to anything, and they’re durable.
The only downside I can think of for these headphones is that they’re snug if you have a larger head. I have no other complaints about the build, quality, or what the headset provides, so pick these up if you want more than double the bang for your buck this semester.
Invest in More Storage as Soon as Possible
I’m diving into digital storage soon, we do live in a digital age after all, but it’s extremely important to have extra physical storage. This can be something as little as a thumb drive, to an extra hard drive sitting in a drawer somewhere until you need its help.
I’ve run into my fair share of professors that prefer physical media over digital, so never underestimate your need for physical storage. If you purchase more storage before you go back to school, you’ll be ahead of the game before it even starts.
Remember: You can still use physical storage with Android, even if it’s a thumb drive, as long as you use it with an OTG cable.
1. SanDisk Ultra Fit 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive
Let’s start small first, really small. The SanDisk Ultra Fit is a drive small enough to fit away pretty much anywhere, but with 128GB of storage ready to be used.
For $39.99, or lower during frequent sales, you can solve any Android storage problems you have with one of the tiniest USB drives imaginable. The only downside to this drive is how easy it is to lose if you don’t keep up with it. When you’re going back to school, some things can get lost in the shuffle, so take care that this isn’t one of them.
2. Kingston Digital DataTraveler SE9 8GB USB 2.0
If you’re worried about losing the SanDisk Ultra Fit, how about a USB drive that’ll fit on a keyring?
The Kingston DataTraveler won’t hold nearly as much as the Ultra Fit, but it’s much harder to lose in the back to school shuffle if you have it attached to something just as important, if not more important.
If you don’t need nearly as much storage as 128GB, and don’t mind a bulkier drive at the cost of portability, this drive is well worth the $4.45 asking price and then some.
3. Samsung 64GB BAR USB 3.0 Flash Drive
I’m ending this list of drives with one that fits somewhere in the middle, but still manages to be a worthy competitor for both of the other drives I’ve mentioned before it. This is the Samsung BAR, and it’s a USB 3.0 that’ll fit on a keyring, but may poke you in your pocket.
For the price, the level of storage, portability, and sleek style is worth the cost of admission. For around $25, this is a USB drive that will stick with you through the semester and many more to come.
Android Apps that You Need Before You Go Back to School
Now that you have enough Android accessories to prepare you for school, what about the apps on your Android? School is more than rough when you’re unprepared, but there are thankfully a handful of apps out there that will prepare and assist you throughout the Fall with ease.
1. Google Drive for Storage and Google Docs for Writing
I mentioned physical storage earlier, but for digital school storage; I can’t imagine a better or more accessible service than Google Drive. I’ve been using Google Drive to store my papers and work for a long time now, and I’ve even been using Google Docs to type them.
Both apps are free to use with your Google account on any Android device, and then you can even access your docs or drive through any PC as long as you have your account information. When my printer stopped working at home, Google Drive was a life saver.
If you don’t have these apps already, you absolutely need them.
2. Super Flashcards for Quick Studying
Nothing says cramming like flashcards, but why spend time writing or printing them out when you can let your Android take care of it?
Super Flashcards doesn’t just flash information in your face, it has built in Quizlet support, multiple modes to choose from, and an easy to learn interface that you’ll pick up on in seconds of use.
If you need a study buddy that won’t let you down, Super Flashcards has your back.
3. RefME – Citations Made Easy
I know that many students will swear by Easybib, but I prefer RefME when making easy citations.
RefME works similarly to Easybib; you can still scan book barcodes for citations, but supports many different citations styles, and lets you export them easily. Some English professors will still shake their head at digital citation tools, but there’s no denying that they save an enormous amount of time.
If digital citation tools concern you as much as they do your professor, always double check your citations after making them. Otherwise, RefME works as a great back to school tool on Android.
4. Duolingo or Memrise to Help with Your Foreign Language Studies
Duolingo has been around the Android storefront for a long time, so it’s a well-seasoned, foreign language veteran. If you’re studying a foreign language, it doesn’t hurt to have a second source to study from when you’re out of class.
However, Duolingo isn’t the only foreign language tool available on Android. Memrise can rise to the occasion just as well as Duolingo, or can it? We’ve covered how the two stack up against each other, so before you make a decision, see what we have to say about the two of them.
5. Calculator++ for all of Your Mathematical Needs
While this isn’t applicable in all classrooms, Calculator++ is a fantastic and free scientific calculator that meets every need (at least with Math) that you can have. If you’ve never heard of Calculator++, we’ve covered it, and two other scientific calculator apps that are all worth your time.
However, out of the three, Calculator++ is the one I recommend the most. Between having separate, easy to use menus for different graphing calculator functions, and a widget for basic math; it’s an amazing app that’s shockingly free.
School takes plenty of preparation in order to be successful, and with everything on this list, you have the tools to craft success always within your reach. Android is just as helpful during class as it is during your day to day, so make sure to keep it, and yourself, charged, free of clutter, and always ready to learn.
Do you have any Android tech or apps that you can’t get through school without? Let us know about them in the comments below!