This one is almost obvious. While typing is probably the fastest way to take notes, the Pencil (on sale for $94.88) can be a handy way of sketching, highlighting, or adding quick comments on a compatible iPad. If you’re in art, design, or engineering, you practically need to have one.
Logitech iPad Slim Folio with Wireless Keyboard
If you’ve got a fifth- or sixth-generation 9.7-inch iPad, the Slim Folio ($76.99) is a handy way of killing two birds with one stone: getting a protective case and adding a Bluetooth keyboard to type on. It includes a dedicated row of iOS shortcut keys, and while it does run on non-rechargeable batteries, a single coin battery should last four years.
Speaking of Logitech, the Wonderboom ($68.00) is a cheap yet reasonably powerful Bluetooth speaker that should sound worlds better than an iPhone or iPad’s built-in speakers. It has about 10 hours of battery life, and as bonus, it’s even waterproof and floats.
Rode VideoMic Me
Recording a lecture can be a handy way of making sure you got your notes right. If you’ve been disappointed with the performance of built-in mics, one option is the VideoMic Me ($59.00), a directional microphone that connects to an iPad or iPhone’s 3.5mm jack (you may need a Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter). It has an adjustable bracket, as well a windsock for minimizing ambient noise.
Samsung Fast Charge Wireless Charger Stand
Lucky enough to have an iPhone 8 or X? This Samsung dock (on sale for $44.99) will both charge a phone and prop it up, so you can actually see and use it. It’s one of the faster Qi-compatible chargers on the market, and ideal for sitting next to your bed or computer.
If you need all-purpose earbuds, the BeatsX (on sale for as low as $95.47) is probably one of the better options. Unlike AirPods, the buds are tethered together so you won’t lose them, and will even clip together magnetically so they don’t slip off when they’re hanging around your neck. Apple’s W1 chip allows them to pair quickly with any iOS device, and that pairing will even sync automatically across products on the same Apple ID. While their battery life is just 8 hours, a 5-minute charge can restore up to 2 hours of listening.
Anker 6-Foot Braided Lightning Cable
A small but nevertheless annoying problem with Apple products is that the company never, ever ships a Lightning cable that’s long enough. This Anker cable ($11.99) is not only long enough to reach around desks and nightstands, but braided to prevent tangling, and even somewhat stylish.
On longer school days, you might need a portable battery pack. The Powerstation ($54.95) is rated at 10,000 milliamp-hours, and has twin USB ports, as well as a Bluetooth connection for checking remaining life. In theory it holds enough energy to charge an iPhone and iPad simultaneously and still have juice left over.
Griffin Survivor All-Terrain
Science majors expecting to spend a lot of time out in the field — or simply people worried about dropping an expensive tablet — might want to try the Survivor All-Terrain ($42.00) for Apple’s 2017 and 2018 9.7-inch iPads. It’s protected against drops up to 8 feet, and also sealed against elements like rain and sand. An attachable stand can be used to set an iPad up for typing or watching video.
Logitech K480 Multi-Device Keyboard
People with an arsenal of devices should take a look at the Logitech K480 (on sale for $27.21 for Amazon Prime members). Its main feature is a switch which lets you flip between three different Bluetooth devices at will. A shallow nook lets you prop up an iPhone or iPad, though you’ll probably have to take it out of any case.
Apple Smart Cover
It’s not going to provide a keyboard or serious protection, but a Smart Cover (starting at $39.00) will provide basic coverage for your screen and a way of propping up an iPad for typing or video. If you want to protect the back or add a keyboard, some vendors offer products designed to make room for the accessory.
Apple’s AirPods (on sale for $144.99) offer most of the same benefits as the BeatsX, but of course are completely wireless, and have some auto-play/stop features. Some drawbacks: no in-line remote, and battery life is just 5 hours without the accompanying charging case. There’s also a chance you’ll lose a bud, and they may or may not fit your ears.