Going to college: Top gadgets to make life easier at university

Sony 720N overhead headphones


It’s hard to think of a more obvious target audience than students for noise-cancelling headphones. They can be the difference between a successful study session and being driven demented by other students’ antics, from parties in the room next door to chatter or messing in the library. In general, the budget for noise-cancelling headphones goes from about €50 to around €500. The top tier starts at around €299 with the likes of Sony’s WH-1000XM4 (last year’s model but still among the best you can get for blocking out noise and being comfortable for long sessions) or Bose’s QuietComfort 45.

Sony 720N overhead headphones

The sweet spot for value is probably Sony’s 720N pair (€99), which delivers generally good sound, decent battery life and pretty good active noise cancellation.

Apple MacBook Air M2


There are cheaper laptops than the MacBook Air M2, but few of them will last as long or are as student-friendly as the world’s best-selling popular laptop. The big draw here, other than the excellent, light design and compatibility with iPhones (which remain disproportionately popular with students, for some reason), is the power and battery life.

Not only will the entry-level version of this machine not stall or lag for years, but it goes reliably for up to 13 or 14 hours on a single charge (which is via any regular mobile charging cable).

The Apple MacBook Air M2

I would actually have recommended the slightly cheaper MacBook Air M1, which has battery life that’s as good, but €120 for the extra benefits that the newer M2 version has over the M1 (better, brighter screen, much better webcam, fingerprint security reader and others) seems like too small a difference if you’re really interested in having the laptop for four or five years’ constant use.

Nokia G22


There are good reasons to consider Nokia’s G22 as a student-friendly phone. Among them is it’s much easier to fix if something breaks. For this is a rare thing in the world of smartphones: a handset that’s specifically designed to be taken apart and fixed by the user when something like a screen, charging port or battery breaks, rather than leaving it to the mercy of some expensive “certified dealer”. This can all be done using basic tools.

Aside from the practical nature of this, it’s also a highly environmentally commendable one as it lessens the likelihood of having to throw the phone out simply because of one broken part.

Nokia G22

And the phone’s actual performance? This is an ultra-budget model, so for what you’re paying here, it’s actually really decent. A highlight is the big, long-lasting 5,000mAh battery (and 20-watt charging).

Its 128GB of storage is definitely adequate for regular smartphone usage, while the phone also accepts extra storage, in the form of MicroSD cards up to 2TB. Its 6.5-inch screen, with smooth 90hz scrolling, is more than good enough for a phone in this price bracket. The cameras, meanwhile, are adequate, if not fantastic.

Amazon Kindle Scribe


What if you want to physically “write” electronically during lectures or tutorials? While you can technically do this on tablets, it’s never been quite as natural an experience as makes it agreeable.

There’s still a basic slippiness involved, together with (expensive) styluses that usually need to be recharged. And the tablets themselves tend to be fairly heavy.

A really decent alternative is Amazon’s Kindle Scribe. Its 10.2-inch screen is an ‘e-ink’ variant and it comes with an excellent stylus that allows you to write on it, make notes, or mark up PDFs. (Your handwriting can be converted to editable type, too.)

Amazon Kindle Scribe

That stylus doesn’t need to be recharged, although its tips do wear down over time, requiring replacement (you get several spare ones when you buy the device).

The Scribe is lighter than a typical tablet and, because of that e-ink screen, the battery life is also about six times as long as an iPad’s.

Obviously, you also have access to your entire Kindle e-book library too, including any Audible audio books you may have bought.

Nothing Ear (2)


AirPods are often the automatic choice for earbuds. But there are some really good alternatives, particularly for those with Android phones. Nothing’s recently launched Ear (2) buds are cleverly designed, partially support high-resolution streaming and have active noise cancellation.

They include multipoint connectivity, allowing somewhat seamless switching between a phone and a laptop, while removing and replacing the buds from the charging box is helped by a magnet which all but snatches each bud from your hand and slots them into their space correctly.

Nothing Ear (2)

The noise cancellation can be toggled on and off by long-pressing the stalks of the buds, with a “transparent” mode as the other option. Those controls are what you’d expect from a premium bud, allowing you to play, pause or skip tracks, as well as answer or hang up on calls.

Battery life is around what you’d expect, with four hours (give or take) per box-charge with noise-cancellation on, rising by half if you switch ANC off.

They also have an IP54 rating, meaning there’s no problem in light rain or a few splashes and dust also shouldn’t be a worry.