Welcome to Engadget's Back to School guide! We know that this time of year can be pretty annoying and stressful for everyone, so we're here to help out with the heartbreaking process of gadget buying for the school-aged crowd. Today, we have mobile phones in our sights -- and you can head to the Back to School hub to see the rest of the product guides as they're added throughout the month.
Back in our day, the only "mobile phone" at school was the one that broke off the dorm wall after our roommates got a little too rowdy, but nowadays, a capable, high-power handset is quickly becoming a must-have for students of all ages. Regardless of your budget, your parent's budget, or your little one's budget, we've got options that should help with studying, gaming, music, and maybe even the occasional call home.
Sure, the Pixi wasn't the best webOS-based phone even when it was brand new -- but it's really hard to argue with a free smartphone, particularly one running a modern (read: non-WinMo) platform. Add in the fact that both Verizon and AT&T are selling the Plus version with WiFi, and you might have all the makings of the perfect first smartphone.
Key specs: 2.6-inch 320 x 400 display, 2 megapixel camera, 8GB memory
Like the Pixi Plus, the Nuron is a compelling choice mainly because it's free -- and it includes Ovi Maps Navigation at no charge.
Price: free on contract at T-Mobile
An optical pad, great keyboard, and BBM make this a great choice for the future corporate raider in your family.
Price: Free on contract at T-Mobile
AT&T's locking down of Android is an ongoing annoyance, but when you consider the inescapable realities that a ton of people use AT&T and there really aren't that many 850 / 1900 Android devices available, that puts things in perspective. We loved the Aria's shape, size, and cute design touches, the modern midrange processor, and the fact that HTC stuck with an HVGA display despite dimensions that probably could've let them justify stepping down to QVGA. And naturally, Sense works great as usual.
Key specs: 3.2-inch HVGA display, 5 megapixel camera, 512MB expandable storage
Price: $129.99 on contract from AT&T
Three words: available in pink. For some back-to-schoolers looking for a way to get into Android, that might be the only thing you need to hear.
Price: $99.99 on contract from Sprint
For our money, the EVO 4G is still one of the best phones you can buy, and it may very well be the best Android device currently sold anywhere in the world. And if you're in a WiMAX market, it just gets sweeter.
Key specs: 4.3-inch WVGA display, 8 megapixel camera with 720p video recording, 1GB expandable storage
Price: $199.99 on contract from Sprint
It's hard to find a better touchscreen typing experience than what the Droid X offers, thanks to the unusually expansive display and multitouch capability.
Price: $199.99 on contract from Verizon