Although libraries, course books, and handwritten notes are still a thing, you cannot survive through college without a handful of gadgets these days. With their high performance and reliability, Apple products make perfect companions for students.
Even though there are more budget-friendly options on the market, Apple gadgets are worth investing in. First of all, they will make your studying more productive thanks to seamless synchronization within the ecosystem. Second, they can serve you way beyond school and retain high resell value. Third, Apple offers regular student discounts on selected products and subsequent service, which makes them more affordable.
The lineup of products Apple offers is dazzling, but some of them benefit students more than others. This list is an overview of such college-friendly gadgets you want to consider when preparing for life on campus.
The 2022 MacBook Air model comes with the M2 chip and is both powerful and lightweight. In fact, it is so efficient that it doesn’t heat up while performing most everyday tasks, so Apple removed the fans from it. This makes the latest (so far) MacBook sleek and silent, which is particularly good for use during lectures or at night if you are a last-minute paper writer who finishes essays while roommates are sound asleep.
With a 13.6-inch display, an ergonomic keyboard, and a charge that lasts all day, this laptop is the perfect companion you can carry around to keep class notes, work on your essays, research, and do all sorts of tasks anywhere. It also supports True Tone technology that adjusts colors based on lighting conditions, which benefits the eyes.
MacBook Air comes with 8GB of RAM (upgradable to 24GB) and 256GB of SSD storage (upgradable to 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB). This is more than enough for most students. However, some majors might require more heavy-duty machinery for complex graphics processing or calculations. In that case, you might want to consider MacBook Pro.
One of the downsides of the MacBook Air compared to similar models is the modest port variety. It only has two USB-C ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and MagSafe charging port, meaning you will likely have to purchase extra dongles or subscribe to cloud-based solutions.
Overall, it’s a magnificent machine that should suffice for students and even surpass their needs. Of course, MacBook Pro is a much more powerful model, but it’s overkill for general-purpose college use. Paying almost twice the price for wider port variety and beast mode characteristics doesn’t make sense for most students.
Mac Mini is also not ideal, even though it’s a more affordable option. As a stationary desktop, it won’t allow you the mobility you need as a student. Moreover, the money you save buying a Mac Mini instead of a MacBook, you then have to spend anyway to purchase a display, keyboard, mouse, webcam, etc.
Apple iPad Air
The 2022 version is powered by an M1 chip and is a golden medium balancing powerful performance and affordable price. Its support for Apple Pencil 2 and 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with high resolution make it a great fit even for students studying an art major.
For everyone else, its 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD make it sufficient for browser-based research, media streaming, reading, note-taking, videoconferencing, etc. iPad Air (2022) is a more affordable alternative to a MacBook. Still, it has merits enough to make you want both. For example, when paired with Apple Pencil, it supports handwritten note-taking, and with a Paperlike screen protector, it gives your writing and drawing smoothness and pin-point precision of an actual pen and paper. Moreover, it’s compact and lightweight, so you can carry it around the campus without overloading your backpack.
Of course, if you need something even more affordable, Apple iPad 9, released in 2021, still gives you a bang for your buck and is great if you need it for reading, writing, doodling, and making presentations. However, it isn’t powerful enough for all your college-related tasks, so it cannot stand instead of MacBook. As a complement to a laptop or desktop you already own, it’s worth considering.
Long battery life, excellent performance, and a wide variety of educational and productivity apps available in the App Store make iPhone a great student companion. Moreover, awesome photo, video, and audio recording quality make it a powerful tool for exploring your creativity and trying your hand as a content creator. Many podcasters, YouTubers, Insta influencers, and TikTok sensations started their careers as students, setting their makeshift studios in the dorm rooms and having nothing but iPhone and enthusiasm.
If you want to save some money but still get high power, iPhone 13 is a decent option. It is still relatively modern, with the same processor, design, and operating system as iPhone 14, but it costs much less than the latest version.
If you want to save even more, iPhone SE 3 still holds up and is a great device for those who wish to benefit from the fast mobile chip, excellent battery performance, 5G technology, and don’t mind a bit dated design and modest camera capabilities.
Being in college means multitasking and often solving problems on the run. New students struggle the most with organization skills and time management, constantly forgetting about the things they’ve planned and missing deadlines. A smartwatch is one of the best tools to stay on top of a busy and hectic schedule.
However, apart from reminders and alerts, Apple Watch can be an investment in your mental and physical health. Advanced fitness-tracking features of the Apple Watch are widely considered to be the best out there. It boasts an enhanced workout app with multisport functionality, a heart health monitor, sleep stages tracking, a mindfulness app, and a crash detection feature that automatically connects you to emergency services and notifies your emergency contacts in case of a severe impact like a car crash.
Apple AirPods Pro 2
Headphones have long since reserved their place among the most useful accessories for students. They tune out distractions when you need to study, help you connect to online lectures even from a busy café, entertain you during long commutes, and make calls more comfortable.
The newest Apple earbuds so far, AirPods Pro 2 are perfect for students thanks to their Active Noise Cancelation feature. With these, you can stay focused and continue studying even in the noisy and crowded environments – and if campus life is still as it was in my day, it often includes your dorm room too. AirPods Pro 2 can create blissful silence even in a room full of people, so you can continue working even without your favorite studying playlist on.
AirPods Pro are water and sweat resistant, so you can use them when you work out. Unlike previous models, these also support Find My technology, so you won’t have to worry about losing them. The AirPods batteries are enough for 6 hours of listening on a single charge, and a fully charged case will get you up to 30 hours. Another brilliant thing is that you can charge the case in many ways: with a Lightning cable, on a MagSafe, on a Qi wireless charging mat, or through your Apple Watch charging puck.
Typing emails on your iPhone, writing essays on an iPad, using Touch ID on a Mac – Magic Keyboard might not be the essential device if you own a MacBook, but it definitely opens some new possibilities. For those who don’t own a MacBook and rely on iPad for their daily tasks, this accessory is a must.
Magic Keyboard lasts nearly a month (!) on a single charge and comes with a USB-C to Lightning cable. STEM students working with numbers a lot will particularly appreciate the Numpad version with the complete set of keys.
Although Magic Keyboard is relatively expensive compared to other available solutions, its built-in biometric authentication support, full integration into Apple’s ecosystem, long battery life, and clean, minimalistic design might make it an attractive option, especially if you often switch between devices.
Apple Pencil 2
If you rely on an iPad as your study buddy, you cannot discover its full capabilities without Apple Pencil. With this little magic wand, taking handwritten notes, jotting down ideas, drawing diagrams, and making sketches will be as natural and satisfying as it is on paper – with all the added benefits of a digital copy.
Apple Pencil is a must-have if you major in art, design, architecture, or engineering. If you want to save, you can buy used ones or search for third-party stylus pens on Amazon. Some of the options are pretty decent, especially for their modest price.
MagSafe Battery Pack
Moving further into accessories territory, let’s discuss external batteries. If you actively use your iPhone, you might burn through your battery faster than you get an opportunity to recharge, so having some extra juice in your backpack can be vital. Several third-party portable battery options, like Anker, Belkin, Mophie, OtterBox, etc., are more affordable than Apple MagSafe. Still, if you own an iPhone, you might want to consider paying a notch more to get the advantage of tight integration with iOS and all the little native features that make your experience seamless.
When Apple MagSafe is connected, it shows up as an icon on your iPhone’s display and starts charging automatically – there is no need to additionally press any buttons. You can check its exact power level from the Control Center, like with Apple Watch and AirPods. MagSafe has smart features and stops charging your iPhone when it reaches 90 percent, preserving its battery life by default – this can be changed in the settings in case you want a full charge. Overall, it is another proof that Apply devices just work, hassle-free and intuitive.
Having a lot on your plate might make you a bit absent-minded, so the AirTag tracking device will come in handy. No more misplaced purses, left behind backpacks, and forgotten gym bags. AirTag supports the Find My network, so any active Apple device in the vicinity can be used to find your lost item if an AirTag is attached to it. This is the main advantage of these tracking tags over Tile and other rival solutions.
Moreover, AirTags have built-in speakers, so they can beep to help you find them. They also have privacy-centered anti-theft features. For instance, the device can detect if it’s following a person that is not its owner for an extended period of time, so it will make a loud noise to alarm people around.
These small button-like tags have year-long batter life, are water and dust resistant, and are pretty cost-effective, especially if you buy them in a four-pack, which offers a considerable discount.
Although AirTags are only available in white and scratch easily, a wide selection of colorful accessories from third-party manufacturers solves this problem almost at no cost.
These are my absolute favorites for students. As you can see, there is an option for every budget and every need. If you want just one device for simplicity or cannot afford a full range of products, I strongly recommend MacBook Air M2. This beauty is lightweight, powerful, reasonably priced, and will serve you well even after you graduate.