BYOD – Which Device?

Section 1 | General Advice

    • There is no one device that is suitable for all students.
    • Some students prefer working on an iPad, “because it is fast and easy to use. It has all the functions that are required for class as well,” according to one student. However, others prefer a laptop, especially when typing up assignments for NCEA,  “I found moving to a laptop really helped with my essays”.
    • In consequence, students may bring either a MacBook, a Windows laptop, an iPad with a keyboard or a Chromebook as their digital learning device. A device with a keyboard is needed for online examinations.
    • It is worth considering, (if budget allows), that active pencils (also called a stylus or Apple Pencil) in conjunction with touch screens (example iPad, Lenovo 300e Windows) enable creativity, sketching, drawing, and the annotation of digital documents and images.
    • Older devices (below our recommended specifications) are not suitable, as they often become slow, have poor battery capacity and cannot upgrade to the latest software. Older devices can therefore lead to frustration and adversely affect student learning. They may not be able to connect to the school’s wi-fi network.
    • A phone is not allowed in class, unless specific teacher approval is granted. (They are not suitable for all learning tasks. Phone use is usually restricted to taking photos of the classroom whiteboard notes, taking videos for learning, etc. )
    • Many students do upgrade their devices during their five years at MAGS. If your child currently has a device from intermediate school, we recommend that they continue to use that device for years 9 & 10, then move to a laptop because of the amount of typing required for NCEA assignments.
    • A MacBook is an excellent choice for year 11-13. The great majority of seniors who move to a laptop choose a MacBook. We realise the MacBook Air and Pro are both expensive, but PB Tech and Dick Smith (online) do offer refurbished models at times. Cyclone Computing and Noel Leeming also have educational pricing.
    • This page for special deals for Mount Albert Grammar School families from Cyclone, Noel Leeming and PB Tech will be updated by the start of November each year. The portals will indicate the relevant pricing. Parents wishing to buy are advised to keep an eye out for special deals that may be offered at certain times from any retailer.
    • A full list of MAGS recommended websites and Apps will be posted on the MAGS website after 1st January each year.
  • * BYOD means ‘Bring Your Own Device’.
    Please note that the device use is monitored on the school network.

Section 2 | Minimum Specifications for Devices

Device  Specifications
(please check it has a camera and microphone) 
Price range

(full details Nov 1st)

Expected life 
MacBook All are suitable (Air and Pro models) Higher 4-5 years 
Windows  Windows 10 or 11, 4GB RAM or better (8GB preferred) 128GB hard drive or larger (SSD drives preferred over HDD), 2.4GHz processor or higher. Medium to high 3 years 
iPad (& Keyboard) iPad 8th, 9th, 1oth Generation. 128GB storage recommended. Keyboard required. Apple Pencil highly recommended. iPad Air and iPad Pro also suitable, but much more expensive. Medium to high 4-5 years 
Chromebook  4GB RAM, 32GB storage or better  Lower 2-3 years 


NOTE: Specific Subject Requirements: If your child is doing media studies, photography or art design and wishes to have a yearly education Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, a MacBook or a Windows laptop is required and it should have at least 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD hard drive. The Windows processor should be able to perform at 2.4GHz or faster. A MacBook Air works well, especially the model with the new M1 chip, but the MacBook Pro will give you more “grunt” and will process quicker. Students studying digital technologies in years 11-13 will need a Macbook or a Windows laptop.

Note: Microsoft Office is available to MAGS students free of charge. It will be available once a student receives their email address when they start school.


Section 3 | Advantages & Disadvantages of Each Device


Device  Advantages  Disadvantages  


  • A ‘creative’ device allowing for drawing, annotating etc. with an Apple Pencil
  • Compact, easy to carry  
  • Excellent for taking images & video  
  • Excellent movie editing software 
  • Touch screen, drawing capability 
  • Quick access to apps needed 
  • Turns on with no wait time, works offline
  • Excellent battery life 
  • Has many educational apps, as well as our core Google and Microsoft apps
  • Works Offline
  • Simplified versions of some apps (esp Adobe Creative Cloud)
  • Problems with some apps harder to use on an iPad 
  • Students without a keyboard find typing on screen slower and the digital keyboard covers up most of the screen 
  • Smaller screen on some models 
  • Temptation to play any offline games on the iPad (a distraction)


&  Windows 

  • Bigger screen 
  • Usually has more storage 
  • Keyboard allows faster typing 
  • Better for multitasking with multiple tabs 
  • Fuller versions of apps
  • Wifi antenna better than tablets
  • Will run full Adobe software versions
  • Staff use Mac laptops, also the preferred choice for most seniors
  • Works offline
  • More difficult to take images & videos 
  • More difficult/heavier to carry around 
  • Some excellent Apple apps like Garageband & iMovie are not available on Windows laptops 
  • Some Windows laptop batteries not long-lasting, but this has improved 
  • Windows laptops: Time spent starting up & shutting down, especially if updates are required
  • Less expensive
  • Some are touch screen 
  • Has a keyboard 
  • Screen clarity / resolution can be limited
  • Can only be used as a browser, with very limited offline capability 
  • Cannot run full Adobe, Sibelius, Fusion 360, etc. (software used at MAGS by students)
  • Can only run online versions of programs, e.g. OneNote, MS Word which have fewer features.