There’s no such thing as one kind of phone, or one kind of student. Like everyone, you have a range of must-have features and budgets. That’s why our top picks for back-to-school include phones that blast music, phones that make friends with your wallet, and even phones that help you take notes in class.

Motorola Moto X

Motorola’s Moto X is one of those all-around smartphones we just really like. It’s comfortable to hold, and the specs are good (4.7-inch screen, dual-core processor, 10-megapixel camera). Yet it’s the ability to design your own look through the Moto Maker tool that is the cherry on top. The Moto X cost $200 when it first debuted, but is now free on contract.

Nexus 5

The Nexus 6 may be right around the corner (we hope), but if you need a phone now, Google’s Nexus 5is a terrific Android choice that promises to get you all the latest updates as Google releases them. If its 5-inch screen, quad-core processor, and 8-megapixel camera don’t win you over, how about its $350 unlocked cost at Google’s Play Store?

LG G3

Back on the upper crust, the US is anticipating the arrival of LG’s G3, which is already available in other countries. This is an Android flagship through and through, with a huge display (with an incredible 2,560×1,440-pixel resolution), a killer camera, and polished rear controls. With top-notch specs, it truly rivals Samsung’s Galaxy S5.

Nokia Lumia 635

For a budget-conscious smartphone of any OS, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than the Nokia Lumia 635, the LTE-ready version of the Lumia 630. Nokia has made a name for itself pairing eye-searing, well-built hardware with the right specs for a satisfying combo. T-Mobile and MetroPCS sell it for about $170 (and $100 as part of a promotion).

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

If price is no object and a large screen is a must, the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3 comes with all the high-flying specs you could ask for in a smartphone. Plus there’s a stylus to help take notes in class, if you feel like leaving the laptop at home for a couple of hours.

HTC One M8

When it comes to blaring beats in your room or out on the quad, the HTC One M8 is an audio beast, and does double duty if you don’t have a wireless speaker. Sprint’s flashy gold-tinted Harman Kardon version pumps up the jam with some specialized hardware and software tweaks. Beyond that, the One M8 is a terrific high-end Android phone.

iPhone 5S

iPhone fans, this recommendation is a little trickier for back-to-school. The iPhone 5S is a great phone, and one of our top picks overall, for anyone. But it’s also receiving an update after the school year starts this fall. That should make its successor, almost certainly called the iPhone 6, a more appealing choice for the $200 on-contract top end. The 5S should drop down to be Apple’s discount phone at $100 on-contract, and the iPhone 5 will probably be free on contract. If  you’re a devoted Appleite, it’s better to wait.
Source: CNET