Gone are the days of asking your parents to dial a number with a rotary phone. Nowadays, most kids are handed their first smartphone before they have any idea how popular texting and social media can get.
They’re big kids now, you may think, so there’s no reason to treat them differently than you would an adult. However, there’s a lot more to consider when you’re giving your little one their first device.
The best phones for kids will be something that’s easy for them to use and a device that won’t tempt them to overuse it (or access things they shouldn’t). But what constitutes as “easy?”
From simple touch screen phones that won’t leave your kid with a whopping phone bill at the end of the month to monitoring apps that let you know what apps they’ve downloaded and who they’ve been talking to—there’s something for everyone on this list.
What is the best phone for kids?
There are several factors to consider when deciding on a new phone for your child. Do you want them to be able to call or text you? How about your other family members? What about their friends? If you’re getting a phone for your children, you’ll want to know what features are important and which ones are not. Do you need a phone that can connect with 911 in case of an emergency?
How about one that has GPS to track them if they get lost? Does it need to have apps, like games and social media, or would that just be a distraction from homework and chores? Is it okay for them to have unlimited data so they can stream as much YouTube as they want, or do you want them limited to Wi-Fi only so they won’t burn through your data plan?
When you’re planning to give a phone to someone under 18, certain aspects of having a smart phone can be blocked or otherwise disabled by settings on the parent’s account. For example, you may opt to keep access to social media and other messaging platforms disabled, or prevent in-app purchases with password protection or monitoring applications. Other uses for kids’ phones might be more practical, such as using a smartphone to explore photography and videography without the cost of an additional device.
Though there really is no one “best” phone for kids, there are some phones that will fit certain needs better than others. So let’s take a look at some of the most popular choices on the market and see what makes each one unique.
1 Gabb Phone Z2 – Best Kid phone with parental controls
Gabb is a pay-as-you-go phone that is completely independent from the big carriers and the internet. It uses an active GPS tracker to make sure you don’t go out of range with your kids, making it easy to control where they go and with whom. Gabb also comes with unlimited talk + text, so your kids can talk to their friends without you having to worry about going over your plan’s limit. Gabb Music is a kid-safe streaming service that lets your children listen to music without giving them access to apps like Instagram or Twitter. You can even set a passcode on the app, so your children can’t get in unless you let them.
The best part? You don’t need an internet connection! Gabb doesn’t rely on data plans or cell phone towers, so you’ll never have to worry about expensive overage charges or dropping calls. You can use it anywhere in the world, no matter how remote. Even if there’s no signal, you’ll still be able to call another Gabb phone—just not an actual phone number. If you’re traveling and want to keep in touch with people back home without paying for international calling services, Gabb has got you covered!
First of all, it has a fingerprint sensor on the front of the phone, which can be used to unlock the phone, to log into apps, and even to make payments. The most interesting use for this feature is in the Gabb Store: you can use it to log in to your account, and then pay for purchases using the fingerprint scanner instead of entering your credit card information. This is great for people who are concerned about credit card data being stolen by hackers.
With a 5.45-inch screen on a mostly metal body, there’s plenty of room for watching videos on this device. It’s powered by a MTK 6761 Quad Core CPU 2GHz processor with 2GB RAM and 32GB ROM—enough processing power to run most apps smoothly and enough space for storing games and movies. A 2650 mAh battery gives it decent battery life; with moderate usage, you could get through an entire day without needing to charge it.
It provides an affordable alternative to the costly mobile contract and Internet plans with advanced tracking and safety features that you would otherwise have to pay extra for, and it has a variety of built-in tools that make it a smart choice for every member of your family.
With the Gabb Phone, you are in control. You can track your loved ones’ whereabouts anytime; you can control who they talk to and what they do on their phone; and you can even take over their phone during emergencies or when they’re out of line.
The Gabb Phone offers unlimited talk & text anytime, so you don’t have to worry about surprise charges. Plus, with unlimited international calling, your kids can stay in touch with friends around the world.
The Gabb Music app gives you access to millions of kid-safe songs, playlists and stations curated by experts for quality, age appropriateness and educational value. Plus, there’s no need for a second device—you can stream music from any internet-enabled device through the app so everyone can listen together.
With unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos taken on the phone, you’ll never have to worry about losing precious.
2. Google Pixel 6a – For Kids who love Photography
When it comes to phones, we love giving our recommendations. After all, a new phone is an investment. But this gift guide is not about the latest and greatest in your typical top-of-the-line flagship phones. The Pixel 6a is simple and straightforward—a phone that doesn’t have any bells and whistles, but one that gets the job done in style and will help your kids connect with the world around them.
The Pixel 6a is a great first phone for anyone, but especially for kids who are really into photography, as it has a 24 megapixel rear camera with an F1.8 aperture (the same as higher end phones like the iPhone XS) that’s perfect for taking photos of nature, or pets, or friends, or anything else you might want to capture. It also has a fun selfie mode that allows you to take selfies with a slider on the screen so you can get the perfect framing every time, even if you’re all alone!
The battery life on this phone is another thing we really love—it’s optimized so well that it’s almost impossible to run out of juice (we’re talking weeks of use here). For kids who are constantly looking at videos or playing games on their phones overnight, this is the best phone.
The Pixel 6a is the best all-around Android phone for anyone who enjoys photography and wants a reliable phone that’ll last for years if not decades. It takes great photos (with a few fun additions like Photo Booth mode) and has the easiest-to-use camera app of any phone I’ve used.
And while it doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles that phones twice its price may have, it has just enough to get you through a day without needing to reach for your charger. The battery lasts days on end, and you can use wireless charging or USB-C to recharge it quickly when you do need to top off. You don’t even need to worry about breaking or replacing its glass back since you can just buy a case—which are also inexpensive, ranging from $13 to $35—for an extra layer of protection, as well as some style.
This phone is a perfect gift or an upgrade for pre-teen kids, who are just entering the world of smartphones. Google Pixel 6a has features that are not in the expensive phones, like face recognition and wireless charging. With an operating system that is almost android, but with more parent control options, kids can learn more about technology. The Google Pixel 6 is lightweight and sleek, which makes it easy to carry around but still feel sturdy in your hand. The back of the phone is made of glass and has a fingerprint sensor that makes it easy to unlock the phone for a child.
- A perfect device for Kids
- Great educational tools
- One of the best kids phone for Photography
- Excellent for teenagers
3. VTech KidiBuzz 3 – Best for Young Kids 4-9 years
The VTech KidiBuzz 3 is the best choice for 4-9 year olds who want to learn about the world of mobile phones. The phone is shaped like a cartoonish, oversized cell phone and comes with many of the features a child expects in a phone. For example, kids can create a custom greeting that plays whenever someone calls them and they can choose from 16 different ringtones so they’ll never be able to miss a call, even if they’re distracted.
It comes loaded with games and educational tools geared towards children ages 4-9 years old and it’s one of the most affordable mobile phones on the market. The phone also comes with a sturdy activity case that protects it from drops and bumps and has room for extra accessories like cards and games—this way it can grow with your child.
VTech’s new KidiBuzz 3 Phone for Kids is a full-featured device that lets kids of all ages text message with their parents and grandparents using the KidiCom Chat app. The phone comes with a unique customizable message interface complete with emoji icons, pictures and even short video clips. Parents can easily customize up to five pre-approved contacts for their kids to chat with—and VTech’s secure server ensures that only pre-approved messages are sent.
With the phone’s photo messaging feature, kids can capture an image or short video clip, which they then can send within the chat directly to one or multiple recipients in their contact list. And the phone comes with a camera that allows kids to take high-resolution photos and shoot short video clips to share with friends.
The VTech KidiBuzz 3 has a 5-megapixel camera built right into the body, so your little one can take photos and videos with you at any time and any place. The camera flips 180 degrees to capture selfies, and it slides even further to give your child the ability to take close-up photos, too. The camera also comes with a MagLens so your child can take great photos of pets or other small things.
With 40+ interactive learning games available, your child will have hours of fun exploring math, language arts and logic skills (with the help of their parents, of course). It also includes an augmented reality game called Creature Detective, in which your child will explore different locations around town looking for clues and solving mysteries.
The phone runs on a rechargeable battery (which is included). It comes with a charger as well as a 32 MB memory card to store pictures taken by your child. When they’re ready to upgrade to a smartphone, they can keep their VTech KidiBuzz 3 in case of emergency or to use as a music player.
A parent’s approval is required before a contact can be added to the KidiBuzz 3’s address book. For additional peace of mind, there are parental controls so you can approve contact lists, set time limits and choose which apps or websites your kid can use through the password-protected parental controls.
- Free KidiCom Chat app
- Explore kid-friendly websites
- 40+ interactive games that teach math, science and spelling
- Excellent for ages 4–9 years
4. Apple iPhone SE – Best Overall phone for Big Kids
For the big kids in your life, it’s a good idea to get them something they’ll genuinely enjoy and use—something they might even be able to learn from. If you’re looking for a phone that’s not just a toy and will fit the needs of your teenager or older child, you’ll want to think about what their needs are—and the iPhone SE is a great choice.
The iPhone SE comes with all the features you love with Apple products: it’s got an easy-to-use interface, they’re easy to personalize, and they have great customer support. It also has some features that are a little more advanced than other phones—it comes with an 8-megapixel camera that can take high-quality photos, plus it can record video in high definition. It runs easily on 4G LTE and 5G so you can quickly connect to all your favorite apps and sites like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and Netflix for streaming TV shows.
The screen is even large enough for gaming, but small enough that it fits in your pocket. And if it’s durability you’re looking for, this phone is made from anodized aluminum and has an extra strong Ion-X glass display so it’s going to hold up well against bumps and drops.
Its 4.7″ screen is perfect for elementary-age children. It’s big enough that they can see what they’re doing and type comfortably, but small enough that they don’t have any trouble holding it. The screen is bright and clear with deep contrast. Apps are easy to navigate and load quickly. The cameras take good pictures—I especially love how simple the camera interface is and how fast it takes photos with virtually no lag time.
If you’re the parent of a tween, teen or pre-teen, this is your shopping guide for the Apple iPhone SE. If you want to buy one of these phones for your kid, I recommend the iPhone SE. The price is $429 without a contract which means you can get a whole lot more phone for your money. You can buy it with a plan or without a contract directly from Apple, or through many other retailers like Best Buy and Walmart. If you are looking for advice on how to go about buying one of these phones for kids, I have plenty of links below for further reading and help.
When it comes to the iPhone SE, you can rest easy knowing that Apple has you covered when it comes to your family’s safety. The iPhone SE is equipped with a number of helpful features that parents and caregivers will love.
Apple’s Screen Time feature allows parents to set limits on how much time their children spend on applications, as well as the amount of time they use their phone throughout the day. Parents can view activity reports on the devices themselves, or through Apple’s Family Sharing website. This service also allows families to share apps, music, movies and more with one another.
Nothing is worse than losing your cell phone—especially when you have kids—and no one knows this better than Apple. For this reason, the iPhone SE includes “Find My iPhone” technology that makes locating lost or stolen devices much easier than ever before. If a device is stolen (and turned on), its location can be tracked from any other Apple device logged into the same iCloud account.
If something looks amiss, like your kid is spending too much time on YouTube or messaging with strangers on social media, you can take action immediately. You can even make adjustments to the settings so your child is limited to only certain apps during certain times of day—perhaps he can play games on his tablet at bedtime, but you don’t want him using his phone until after school.
With family sharing, you can also create accounts for your kids under your Apple ID and control what content is available for them to access through iTunes. For example, if your kid wants an app that costs money, you can approve it from your account instead of handing over your credit card number.
- Most powerful small smartphone for Kids
- Good build quality
- Better battery life
- Excellent parental controls for Parents
5. Best bargain: Motorola Moto G Power
The Motorola Moto G Power is one of the best cell phones for kids, with a 3-day battery life and built-in parental controls that will keep your child safe online. The phone’s water-repellent coating keeps it safe from spills and splashes, but if it should get wet you can be sure it will still work. With the integrated fingerprint recognition feature, only your child can access their apps and games, preventing anyone else from viewing or purchasing games without permission.
What to Look for in a Cell Phone for Your Child ?
There are plenty of things you should look for in a cell phone for your child, but the two most important are parental controls and a durable design.
Include safety features: Parents should be able to set specific times when their children can and cannot use their phones, as well as limit how many minutes or text messages they can send each month. These limits can be useful in keeping kids from running up a huge bill on an account that isn’t theirs.
Your child should have access to emergency contact information and know how to use 911 to contact the police, fire department, or another emergency service if necessary. Some phones have a button specifically for this purpose, while others may require you to press several buttons at once.
When it comes to the best cell phone for a child, there are several important considerations. First and foremost: is the child mature enough to handle having a cell phone? How old is he or she? Will the parents be able to supervise its use appropriately?
Next: what are the parents’ needs? If they want their children to be reachable in case of emergency, they’ll need phones with excellent coverage, no matter where they live. If they want them to be able to call 911 from anywhere, they’ll need phones that work on multiple networks. If they want their children to be able to text their friends and stay in touch with them after school hours, making certain that the phone has good texting capabilities is a must.
Furthermore, parents will want to consider how the phone will fit into their family’s budget, and if there are any additional features that will come in handy (like GPS tracking or parental controls). The biggest thing is not just compatibility with family needs, but also matching each child’s personality and desires. Does your son or daughter care about having a really high-quality camera on his or her phone? Is she interested in games? How important is it for your child to have access to the latest apps and features right away?
It may not be necessary to get your preteen their own phone with a messaging feature if they have an iPod Touch or similar device they carry around with them all the time. If you do decide on a phone with messaging capability, make sure you have control over the contact list to ensure that only friends are included–you can also use parental controls that prevent too much information from being exchanged in texts or calls (i.e., no sharing of pictures or videos).
Ease of Use
Depending on your child’s age, they may or may not have any experience with electronics. Some older children might have an easier time figuring out how to use a smart phone than others, but with more and more kids having access to smartphones at younger ages, it is becoming more common for kids as young as 8 or 9 years old to have their own devices. Regardless of the age of your child, you should look for phones that are easy enough for them to use.