The start of the 2023 school year is essentially here, with youngsters of both primary and high school age officially starting their returns to school from this week in some states and all students across the country expected back within the next fortnight. Uni students aren't too far behind either, scheduled to return to classrooms and lecture halls in late February or early March.
The good news is that all of this means that back to school deals and savings are standing strong to offer students and teachers opportunities to invest in a new laptop, tablet or any number of other back to school tech essentials at bargain prices.
To help you spot the best deals and get school-ready, we've tracked down all the top opportunities we can find to save on productivity-friendly tech and other items below to help you get a jump on 2023.
Where to find the best back to school sales
- Amazon: everything you need to get back-to-school ready
- Apple: buy MacBooks, iPads, iPhones and more, though rarely discounted
- Bagworld: find discounts backpacks and kit bags of all kinds
- Bellroy: backpacks and phone cases galore
- Big W: tech supplies, plus uniforms and shoes
- City Beach: backpacks, drinks bottles and more
- Dell: dependable laptops for home, business and education
- eBay: shop back to school essentials
- HP: back to school savings on laptops and more
- JB Hi-Fi: tech specialists offering savings on hot back to school items
- Lenovo: laptops for every need, in every size
- Microsoft: productivity masterminds with no shortage of options
- Rebel Sport: deals on back to school shoes
- The Good Guys: back to school tech with budget-friendly discounts
- Typo: fancy stationery, arts & crafts supplies, drink bottles and much more
Best back to school deals
Save on Apple with education discounts
Keen on a new MacBook or iPad for the return to school? Apple has a handy deal with its back to school sale available to current and new university students, parents buying for university students, and teachers and staff at all levels.
Offering a pair of AU$219 Apple AirPods at no cost with eligible items on top of 20% off Apple Care, Apple is also offering a number of education discounts on a variety of its top items to help students and teachers prepare for the year ahead.
Save on MacBooks and iPads with Apple and get Apple AirPods (AU$219 RRP) for free (plus save up to AU$150 with Apple's education discount)
Apple is keen to get well ahead of the curve with opportunities for those heading back to school to save on a wide variety of Apple devices, including the newly announced (and not yet released) MacBook Pro updates.
MacBooks including the MacBook Air (our pick for the best student laptop) land an AU$150 education discount with the AU$219 Apple AirPods included at no cost, with iPad models including the iPad Pro landing discounts up to AU$90 with the AirPods deal included too.
Laptops & Chromebooks deals
This Asus Vivobook is a generously specced laptop that achieves a lot for productivity purposes with solid performance and speed, and on offer here with an exceptional 1TB of storage space packed in. Lightweight and with some ability to handle PC gaming thanks to its solid processor and GPU, this AU$300 saving is a solid deal on one of the better back to school laptop options you could find.
If you're not sure you need 1TB of storage, you can also find the Asus Vivobook with 512GB for a discounted price of AU$599, saving you AU$250.
Perfect for productivity and for play, this gaming laptop from HP offers a speedy 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and RTX 3050 Ti graphics card to boast a generous full-HD, anti-glare display with 144Hz refresh rates and a 9ms response time. This makes it a high quality option for gaming while offering the same reliability for productivity purposes that one would expect from HP. And with a AU$1,000 saving in the mix, this offer is one well worth considering for the return to school or work.
If you're keen to add a new MacBook Pro to your arsenal but aren't keen on the education savings Apple are offering above, this discount on the 2021 MacBook Pro in its 16-inch size with 1TB SSD packed in is for you. And if 1TB is more than you need, the 16-inch MacBook Pro with 512GB SSD is also discounted by 9%, now down to AU$3,127.
If nothing appeals more to you than the best of the best, this gaming laptop from Razer demands your attention. With quad high-definition (QHD) display offering 240Hz refresh rates, a RTX 3070 Ti graphics card and exceptionally powerful 12th Gen Intel Core i9 Processor, this 17.3-inch Razer Blade gaming laptop offers the kind of performance for gaming and heavy duty software (eg. Photoshop, Premiere Pro) that was thought of as unrealistic for laptops not too long ago.
If only the best of the best can pique your interest, this deal is for you. As one of the best Chromebooks money can buy, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 is a 2-in-1 solution offering impressive performance to match its productivity-friendly portability. With a 13-inch OLED display and impressive battery life, our review went so far as to call this one "the best 2-in-1 Chromebook around".
HP M27fwa FHD monitor |
AU$379 AU$265 at HP (save AU$114)
In HP's back to school offers you can score this stylish 27-inch monitor for 30% off. The HP M27fwa offers a FHD display with AMD FreeSync, low blue light mode and full-HD display with 75Hz refresh rate on a stylish tilt stand. Perfect as either a first or second monitor, you can nab this bargain for only AU$265 directly from HP.
Oh sure, you're not supposed to be thinking about gaming during back to work or back to school season, but who says you have to play by the rules? And this exceptional gaming monitor is well worth being a rule-breaker for. Offering an excellent 165Hz refresh rate and 1ms motion blur reduction, you'd be hard pressed to find a better monitor to pair with your gaming endeavours, and you can always do all your work in between play on it too. The discount on this one was more than double the current savings only a few short days ago, but you'll still save just under AU$150 on this one.
For a quality monitor perfect for office or study but with the versatility to pair well with your gaming demands, this Samsung CF390 comes in as an absolute steal at just AU$197. With a 27-inch curved display boosted by a 3000:1 contrast ratio delivering blacks with excellent depth and bright whites, and a 60Hz refresh rate, this Samsung monitor is an option well worth considering.
Computer accessory deals
If there's some distance between your home office and your modem, you might be struggling with some spotty connection issues which you'd hate to imagine striking at the most inopportune times before you manage to hit save on your latest essay or spreadsheet. This eero mesh wi-fi router will act as a handy fix, seamlessly boosting your signal around the home.
Plus, if you feel like you need more than one, you can save on a bundle of eero wi-fi routers or other models of the router via Amazon for a limited time.
As a mouse that is equal parts responsive and comfortable, the Logitech Lift is an excellent investment. By forcing the hand to take a handshake position, it serves an ergonomic purpose to alleviate strain on your posture and overall physical health from prolonged use. As a mouse ticking a lot of boxes, this handy saving just in time for back to school season is well worth a second look.
You can also find this one at the same discounted price via Amazon.
Return to school or the office with some personality thanks to this Logitech POP wireless keyboard, which can be paired with up to 3 devices and offers an impressive 3-year battery life. It also comes with 8 swappable emoji keys and 1 emoji menu key for those who love to drop a cheeky smiley face into their emails, and mechanical keys that are a hoot to type with. And it's available via Amazon in a variety of colours with a discount of AU$54.95 in the mix.
Razer Kiyo X Full HD Webcam |
AU$139 AU$59 on Amazon (save AU$80)
Having a quality webcam on hand might not be the same kind of back to school essential it was this time last year, but it's certainly not the kind of item that will go astray just in case. This webcam had dropped to only AU$50 during Black Friday, but has since gone up to AU$59 (still a decent saving of 58% off). The Kiyo X offers 1080p recording at 30fps or 720p at a super-smooth 60fps. You also get autofocus, a variety of mounting options and a webcam small enough to take with you wherever you go.
If you aren't fussed about bells and whistles and just want a printer that can handle what you need it to without unnecessary fanfare, the Epson XP-2200 is a perfect fit for your home office. Easy to set up and capable of wireless printing via Wi-Fi, the Epson XP-2200 can print, scan and copy with no worries and is an excellent option at just AU$64 courtesy of a 35% discount.
Laser printers offer a quick and quiet printing solution, with the Brother HL-L3202CDW no exception. Capable of printing up to 25 pages per minute, you can score this colour laser printer for only AU$271 on Amazon – a saving of 22% off.
Sure, a label maker might not be the first thing you think of when you're on the hunt for new tech, but there's a bunch of scenarios where you'll find that one comes in handy. Maybe you want to label your food to put in the office fridge? Label your child's backpack or sun hat? Whatever the need, this quality Bluetooth label maker from the ever-dependable Brother is a great option even before taking into account this AU$31.75 saving.
Phone and tablet deals
If you're keen to head back to school with one of the best tablets that don't come with the Apple name (or hefty price) attached, you can save right now on the high-quality Lenovo Yoga Tab 11 with compatible pen included. Crisp display and surprisingly solid audio headline the appeal of this tablet, which also comes with a built-in stand and included pen to help you turn this one into the ideal graphic design sidekick or portable streaming companion.
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G 128GB |
AU$699 AU$597 at Amazon (save AU$102)
Firmly situated as one of the best cheap phones money can buy, the Samsung Galaxy A53 does a lot at its price point to suit a lot of needs. With a generous camera array for its price and an impressive AMOLED display, the A53 actually manages to match the premium Galaxy S22 for resolution and refresh rate. And there's not a whole lot to lose with the A53 on offer at this discounted price of just AU$597 in both blue and black.
Not the most expensive nor cheapest Wacom drawing tablet, but possibly the best. That's how to describe this top quality creative tablet from specialists Wacom that will be a godsend for student artists. Connectible via Bluetooth or USB, the Wacom Intuos Pro offers support for 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity and is a favourite particularly of professionals in graphic design. Grab it with an AU$150 discount before school starts!
No, you're not crazy, online and phone scam attempts have been on the rise lately as digital bad actors are out in force seeking to exploit any vulnerabilities they can find. That can include your school or work laptops, making having reliable security an investment well worth considering. Fortunately, top digital security providers Trend Micro are offering opportunities to save up to 50% off device security packages for new subscribers until February 1st, with cashback offers for existing customers looking to renew or upgrade.
You've almost certainly heard about how bad it can be for your posture and overall health to sit down at a desk for hours at a time each day, but the same is also true of standing for prolonged hours, so what's the answer? Find the best of both worlds, of course, and that's what you'll get with this collapsible standing desk from Typo that is also handily portable for use either in the home office or wherever else you might need it.
When do back to school sales start?
Back to school sales are unique from other big retail events in the way they’re generally not unified around a single date. Generally speaking, they start up in early January and tend to wrap up by the end of that month. Compared to something like Black Friday deals or the Amazon Prime Day sale, that's a long time period.
Throughout this time, you can expect back to school themed sales to pop up with fair regularity at most of the big retailers. It's likely they'll keep the back to school branding absent from their sites until early January, but you'll generally see great sales on things like backpacks and laptops throughout the summer months.
Who has the best back to school sales?
Due to its huge inventory and excellent range of daily deals, Amazon is probably the best overall retailer for back to school sales. From laptops, tablets and e-readers to backpacks, stationary and everything else, Amazon has it all and is likely to include savings for everyone ahead of school’s return.
For tech deals, JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys and eBay are all likely to offer plenty of opportunities to save, while the likes of HP, Dell and Lenovo are likely to offer deals on their catalogue of back to school essentials. Dell and Lenovo also have official stores on eBay Australia, and while their entire ranges aren’t available, you’ll often see included items get a 20% discount on eBay during sale periods.
Historically, we’ve seen that Apple is likely to get in on the action too, as its participation in back to school sales are one of the best opportunities the tech giant offers to save on its products for the whole year. For example, in January of 2022, Apple was offering a pair of AirPods completely free when you bought an eligible Mac or iPad – that’s the kind of deal we rarely see from Apple.
Can I access back to school vouchers?
In some good news and welcome respite to the cost of living crunch we're all going through right now, if you're a NSW resident with a school-age child you're eligible for three AU$50 back to school vouchers thanks to the NSW government.
These vouchers are on offer for NSW students from kindergarten all the way up to year 12 and parents or guardians can access them with their medicare card (or the students themselves can if they have their own medicare card).
The vouchers can be applied to school uniforms, shoes, bags, textbooks and stationery, with the likes of Big W, Dymocks, Myer, Rebel Sport and Officeworks among those accepting the vouchers.
You can apply for the Back to School vouchers through the Service NSW website or app now, with the vouchers valid for use until June 30 and you can check here for a full list of participating stores.
Best back to school deals we saw last year
The start to the 2022 school year presented a lot of question marks on the back of two consecutive years in 2020 and 2021 of pandemic lockdown interruptions. Fast forward a year and Covid unfortunately hasn't gone anywhere, but the spectre of lockdowns and home learning are much less prominent than this time a year ago.
So that means shopping lists for back to school season will be different, too, with less of an eye on the likes of webcams and more on laptops, tablets, headphones and more that are as practical as they are portable for the students on the go.
With this in mind, here are some of the best deals we saw during back to school sales last time around.
Apple: buy select Mac and iPad models and get free AirPods
Apple’s back to school offer offered students and teachers a pair of second-gen AirPods for nothing when they took eligible MacBook and iPad devices through checkout. Apple products don't often get significant discounts, so in light of that the opportunity to hit two birds with one stone on premium Apple products was a pretty handy opportunity in advance of the school year's start.
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 (5410) | i7 / 16GB RAM / 512GB SSD |
AU$2,049 AU$1,439.30 on Amazon (save AU$609.70)
Ticking boxes for flexibility, portability and performance, this Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 received quite a handy discount via Amazon during last year's back to school sales. With a touchscreen in the mix, this 2-in-1 can go be used either as a tablet or standard laptop and is so perfect for school kids young and old that we sure hope to see this one pop up again in the weeks to come.
Sony WH-1000XM3 |
AU$369 AU$259 on Amazon (save AU$110)
While a previous iteration of the #1 recommendation in our best headphones guide, these Sony headphones remain among the best headphones you can buy and so a discount over AU$100 ahead of school's return was quite welcome indeed.
Razer Kiyo Pro |
AU$329 AU$205 on Amazon (save AU$124)
With the Razer Kiyo Pro our pick as the best webcam you can buy, the discount on this one during 2022's back to school sales was a welcome sight. This webcam has great low-light capabilities, and while its ability to stream content in 1080p at 60fps is fantastic, it might have been overkill for the average student. And with the start of the school year for 2023 looking a lot different to the previous year, webcams aren't likely to be front of mind when searching for opportunities to save.
60% off Bitdefender antivirus suites | from AU$28 per year (save up to AU$72)
Bitdefender is our #1 choice for the best antivirus software, and has been for over four years now, with it offering excellent malware protection and great features at a nice price made even better with up to 60% off a year’s subscription to Antivirus Plus, Internet Security or Total Security during 2022's back to school sales. Antivirus software might not be the sexiest item at front of mind, but it is no less a necessity - making savings like these very handy.
Back to school shopping tips
The back to school season can be a little overwhelming for students when hunting for the best laptop, storage devices and tools to help them with their studies.
Buying new items can make this time of year an expensive one, and there are some shopping tips you should know about to make sure you get the best possible deals on the hardware and gadgets that you need to make studying at university as easy as possible.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of seven back to uni shopping tips that every student needs to know while searching for back to uni sales.
1. Know what you’re looking for
Before you hop frantically between online stores, buying all sorts of gadgets and gizmos for students, you can save yourself a lot of time, money and energy by making a list of the essentials you need to buy.
A student’s needs will vary depending on the academic institution they’re attending and the courses they’re taking. So it’s worth making sure you know what you need before you buy.
Talking to tutors or lecturers, and studying any information you have been sent about the course, will help you draw up a list of essentials.
2. Make use of our guides
Not to toot our our own horn (well, OK, maybe a little bit), but we have some excellent back to uni guides that can help you find and buy the perfect back to uni devices.
If you’re thinking of buying a laptop for yourself, or a student you know, and are not sure where to begin, check out our guide to the best student laptops for a rundown of the very best selection.
If you’re looking for a bargain, then check out our best laptop deals page for a constantly-updated list of the very best offers.
We’ve even got a list of the best power banks you can get to make sure your devices are charged up.
3. Don’t just get flashy devices
We’re all guilty of going for devices with stylish designs that boast tons of features that we’re not realistically going to use, but when buying a laptop – or any other device – for students going back to uni, restraint in this area is essential.
As much as we all love to have gorgeously-designed devices we can pull out and wow people with, it can add costs to the overall price of the gadget, and it’s not a priority for students.
With laptops being slung in bags, carried around campus and left under piles of clothes, those beautifully-designed bits of hardware won’t look very good for long, so you’d be better off going for something that’s built more robustly.
Having glitzy hardware can also make them more appealing for thieves as well.
4. Take advantage of student offers
One of the best things about being a student (apart from all the parties) is that you’re eligible for many money-saving offers, so when back to uni season rolls around, make sure you make the most out of these.
For example, Microsoft, Lenovo and Dell offer discounts for students. So if you’re looking for a Windows laptop or a tablet from one of these manufacturers, make sure you check out their websites before making a purchase. It could save you some serious cash.
Apple offers discounts for students, so if you’re looking to get a Mac or iPad for uni, make sure you check out our guide on how to get a student discount on Apple products – it could save you some serious amounts of cash.
With more student discounts available in the US, Australian students can apply for an International Student Identity Card, giving them access to a number of special deals, even via the Unidays website. Australian students can also check out Student Edge for deals.
5. Don’t be scared of second-hand or refurbished kit
You can bag yourself a serious bargain by looking at second-hand kit – especially refurbished hardware. This is hardware that has been professionally repaired and often comes with a warranty, so you can buy with confidence that although it is second-hand, it is still as good as new.
6. Refresh old hardware
Speaking of old hardware, if you have an ageing laptop that’s not being used much anymore, then it could find a new life as a back to uni laptop. If it’s running Windows and feels a bit slow, follow our guide on how to install Windows 11 – it’s a great way to give an older machine a new lease on life.
You could also look into upgrading the hard drive to a solid state drive (SSD), which can give the laptop a much needed speed boost.
Finally, you can help prolong the life of an old laptop by replacing Windows with a lightweight Linux distribution. These are operating systems that have been specially designed to run on older hardware, which means you’ll still get a fast and responsive experience no matter the age or power of your machine. Many Windows programs have Linux versions – or there will be (free) alternatives to use. Check out our list of the best lightweight Linux distros to help you choose.
7. Use free software alternatives
Buying software, such as office suites and photo editors can be expensive. Specialist programs needed for certain courses may not have free alternatives, but many common programs do.
So, if you or the student you know needs a word processor, or has to create spreadsheets or presentations, instead of splashing out on Microsoft Office, you could consider installing the excellent free alternative LibreOffice, which has many of the same features. For more choices, check out our best free office software guide.
For students who need to make a lot of presentations, head over to our list of the best free presentation software.
While students are away from home, you’ll want to make sure they – and the devices they use – are fully protected from internet threats, and there are some great free security applications out there.
You’ll also want to make sure that any important coursework is properly backed up – as losing months of hard work and studying can be catastrophic, so make sure you visit our best free file recovery software roundup to help recover any missing files, and our best free backup software list.
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James is a senior journalist with the TechRadar Australia team, covering news, analysis and reviews in the worlds of tech and the web with a particular focus on smartphones, TVs and home entertainment, AR/VR, gaming and digital behaviour trends. He has worked for over six years in broadcast, digital and print journalism in Australia and also spent time as a nationally recognised academic specialising in social and digital behaviour trends. In his spare time, he can typically be found bouncing between one of a number of gaming platforms or watching anything horror.