Your child wants a smartphone, and you’re not sure whether you should allow it – let alone which model to buy. While deciding if your kid is old enough to own a phone is completely up to your judgment, if you decide to pick one up, you want to make a wise choice.
Wrecking your son’s college fund just to grant his wish for the latest iPhone isn’t the way to go. Luckily, we can help you find the best smartphone for kids – the one that both your child and your bank account will appreciate.
- Scratch-resistant, waterproof, fallproof
- Extremely long battery life
- Good camera setup
Unihertz Jelly Pro
Marketed as one of the smallest smartphones on the market, the Jelly Pro’s built-in music player app makes this phone a dream for any music lover who’s constantly on the go.
The Unihertz Jelly Pro measures only 3.6” by 1.7” by 0.5”, and it weighs 60.4 grams, which makes it the best first smartphone for kids. This tiny phone fits perfectly into any child’s hand. It comes with a 2.45-inch, 432 x 240-pixel screen.
This little guy may be small, but it is mighty – it boasts Mediatek’s 1.1 GHz MT6737 chipset and 2 GB of RAM. Your kid will be happy to hear that most Android apps can be loaded on this device and they’re likely to run just fine.
On the other hand, the Unihertz Jelly Pro lacks in the battery life department, as it’s equipped with a 950 mAh cell.
As far as storage goes, only 10.55 GB of the built-in 16 GB can be used. However, with a microSD of up to 256 GB, you can add plenty of room for games and music.
This tiny kids’ phone is equipped with two cameras – an 8 MP rear sensor and a 2 MP selfie cam. The main camera has a high dynamic range mode, but it’s very slow. Both sensors perform badly when the light is low, taking washed-out and grainy photos even in outdoor conditions.
Despite the tiny screen, you can still watch movies and YouTube on the Jelly. Even low-quality 240p YouTube videos look fine and transfer smoothly on the screen.
Marketed as the world’s smallest 4G phone, the inexpensive Unihertz Jelly Pro is the perfect kids’ first phone. Even though it’s not much bigger than a pack of chewing gum, the quality of its features is surprisingly high. It’s also lightweight, and it fits perfectly in a child’s pocket.
Considering the amount of available storage, it’s especially handy for music lovers. Thanks to the Bluetooth support, this tiny phone can be connected to a number of wireless headphones and speakers.
While the Unihertz Jelly Pro is considered the cheapest and the best smartphone for kids by many parents, it still has a few flaws. This tiny handset has a small battery cell that can hardly last a day, even on a full charge. Another drawback is related to its low-quality camera features. If your child is a photography lover, you’d better look for a phone elsewhere.
Although it’s often described as a phone that won’t win any beauty contests, this rugged smartphone isn’t actually that bad-looking. Its highly protective rubberized outer case means it doesn’t require a separate phone case.
IP68-certified, the Cat S41 is designed and tested to be extremely durable and therefore one of the best kid–friendly phones. This handset can operate properly even after it’s been dropped onto concrete from six feet or kept underwater for an hour at a depth of two meters. To top it all off, this phone also comes with a scratch-, dust-, and dirt-resistant screen.
The Cat S41 measures 6 x 3 x 0.5 inches, and it weighs 7.7 ounces, which makes it the heaviest handset on our list. It’s equipped with a full-HD 1,920 x 1,080 5-inch display, and it is powered by the Android 7 OS. In terms of CPU, it has a Mediatek MT6757 processor and 3 GB of RAM. There’s also 32 GB of internal storage.
One of the best things about this device that also makes it a good phone for kids is its 5,000 mAh battery. It can really offer parents peace of mind knowing that their kids won’t run out of battery power for days.
The Cat S41 comes with a rear-facing 13 MP camera sensor and a front-facing 8 MP sensor. With the main camera, you can capture photos and videos for social media posting, while the front camera is great for taking selfies or video chatting.
In terms of parental controls, much like any other Android-powered phone, the Cat S41 can make for an excellent kids’ smartphone that offers plenty of options to prevent your child’s exposure to inappropriate content.
Every parent knows that kids drop their phones all the time. Not many handsets are manufactured to survive bumps and drops. The Cat 41 definitely belongs among the few child-proof options.
In addition to the durability, this smartphone also comes with a respectable camera and an impressive battery cell.
Although navigating menus should cause no stutters and simpler apps are quick to load, the Cat 41 isn’t the most powerful handset.
The durability is a huge plus, but it makes the device a little heavy for a children’s mobile phone. Also, note that its durability comes at a cost, as the phone’s price is on the higher side compared to other options on our list.
If your child is begging you for an iPhone and you’re hoping to find something that won’t break the bank, let us introduce you to the best Apple phone for kids.
The iPhone SE is small but mighty. It’s meant to be easily operated with one hand; therefore, size-wise, it’s definitely the best iOS smartphone for kids. It has the body of the iPhone 5S, which means that it weighs only 4 ounces and measures 4.9 x 2.3 x 0.3 inches. It’s equipped with a Touch ID fingerprint scanner and comes in dark gray, silver, gold, and rose gold.
Thanks to the A9 processor, M9 coprocessor, and 2 GB of RAM, this phone is as powerful as its sibling, the 6S duo. With 1,624 mAh, the battery life is pretty good as well, especially compared to its predecessor, the iPhone 5S.
Display quality has always been more important for Apple than pixel density, and that’s also true for the iPhone SE. However, this phone’s 4-inch display still handles the 1,334 x 750 resolution very well.
When it comes to music, movies, and games, the iPhone SE is the perfect children’s phone. Although there’s only one speaker, this device performs remarkably well in the sound department. The screen is small, but the quality is still excellent for movie watching. As the phone has the power to take on any popular game app, kids will be happy to hear that it offers an outstanding gaming experience.
Storage capacity? The low end is 32 GB, and it can be expanded to 128 GB.
Although the iPhone SE comes with iOS 9.3.2, the operating system can be upgraded to iOS 13.3.
Another feature that makes this device the best iPhone for kids is the camera. The 12 MP rear sensor is equipped with Focus Pixels, a feature that helps sharpen things up quickly. Although there are no professional camera settings to play with, the Live Photos option and HDR have been added to the mix. Overall, the camera is sharp and powerful.
If your child really wants an iPhone and you don’t feel like spending an arm and a leg on the kid’s first smartphone, the iPhone SE makes for a perfect choice. What really makes this device an excellent children’s mobile phone is the multitude of parental control options. Features like “App limit” and “Downtime” can be very helpful when it comes to limiting your child’s screen time.
Having launched a few years ago, this phone is feature-sparse and underpowered in comparison to its younger siblings, the iPhone XS and iPhone XR. However, given its age and reasonable price point (for an Apple device), this phone still performs admirably and offers all the smartphone features your child may need.
Overall, if you are looking for a kids mobile phone that fits into a child’s hand and can run all the latest apps, the iPhone SE is the way to go.
This Apple device wasn’t built to compete with the most durable smartphones out there. Luckily, this issue can be partly solved with an inexpensive iPhone SE case. The low-resolution front-facing camera is another possible disadvantage. As a child’s cell phone, the SE’s battery probably won’t make it through most heavier-usage days, even though it has a longer life than newer iPhones of similar size.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Active
The Galaxy S8 Active shares some of its best aspects with its slightly older sibling, the Galaxy S8. The main difference between the two devices is that the S8 Active is packed into a much more durable chassis. That’s exactly why we decided to include this handset among the most appropriate cell phones for kids.
IP68 certification against dust and water ingress guarantees the S8 Active can be left in five feet of water for half an hour and still operate perfectly. This smartphone also has an all-glass front that should stay shatter-resistant when dropped on a flat surface from up to five feet.
One of the many great features that come with this phone is the exceptional 5.8” display with 2,960 x 1,440 resolution. As far as performance goes, the Galaxy S8 Active is equipped with the high-performance Snapdragon 835 processor and 4 GB of RAM. It’s safe to say that it’s the best smartphone for kids to play games, as it can easily handle any Android game without noticeable slowdowns. With 64 MB of internal storage plus a microSD slot, there’s more than enough space for apps and everything else.
The S8 Active offers a great photography experience. The setup consists of a 12 MP main sensor and an 8 MP front camera. Pictures are crisp and vibrant in high-to-medium light conditions, but can be blurry if taken in the dark. If your child is a photography enthusiast, you’ll be happy to hear that the S8 Active also offers a pro shooting mode. Overall, the quality of the camera setup is excellent even when used for video-shooting in 4K resolution.
Not only does the S8 Active offer the best smartphone camera for kids (or anyone for that matter), it’s also equipped with a 4,000 mAh battery cell. It’s safe to say that battery life on this phone is bound to last the whole day, even if your kid likes binge-watching YouTube videos.
If you are looking for a highly capable smartphone that also gets top marks for toughness, the Galaxy S8 Active may be just what you need. One of the most important reasons this device is considered the best smartphone for kids is that it can easily survive an occasional tumble onto the hard ground or even a fall into a puddle. Performance-wise, this is an exceptional handset that boasts an excellent camera, lots of storage space, and plenty of battery life for even the most passionate gamer.
You will find that there are plenty of parental-control options too. Restrictions are easy to set up through the settings menu.
The S8 Active’s flagship features definitely come at a price. Given that this is the best smartphone for kids to play games on, the headset is also one of the most expensive options on our list. That alone may justify looking for the best cell phone for your child elsewhere. Also, if your kids care about cell phone aesthetics, they may not find this device appealing.
When it first appeared, the Honor 7X knocked out its mid-range competitors by offering an elongated 18:9 display. Less than half an inch shy of the Nintendo Switch’s display, this smartphone’s extra-wide screen is also one of the main reasons why we decided to include it among the best cell phones for teens and smaller kids.
The Honor 7X features a 5.9-inch screen, an attractive full-metal body, and a fingerprint sensor on the rear side of the phone. Considering its mid-range price, the 2,160 x 1,080 display that it comes with is pretty impressive.
As far as battery life goes, the Honor 7X comes with a 3,340 mAh cell that should last your kid the whole day. On intensive usage days, however, your child’s cell phone may require a lunchtime boost.
The Honor 7X camera setup features a dual 16+2 MP sensor on the rear side of the handset and an 8 MP front shooter. Poor lighting is the only condition that can make the cameras underperform. Overall, the shooting equipment that comes with the Honor 7X should meet any child’s requirements.
Given its elongated high-resolution display, this phone is great for watching movies or YouTube videos. The audio quality isn’t exactly thrilling, but it’s still good enough for a budget-priced kid’s phone.
Powered by Huawei’s Kirin 659 chipset, the Honor 7X comes with 4 GB of RAM. Thanks to its configuration, this handset runs most of the newest Android games smoothly and it doesn’t slow down even with several apps operating in the background.
The sharp and vibrant display is what makes this economical smartphone stand out from the crowd. The wide screen is a dream both for gaming and watching videos.
As far as parental controls go, the Honor 7X won’t disappoint you. There are options to set restrictions on purchases, games, music, and movies. Depending on the type and level of supervision you wish to implement on your child’s cell phone, you might need to download a few additional apps from GooglePlay.
Overall, if you are on a budget, but still want to get your child a phone with advanced features such as an extra-wide high-resolution screen, excellent camera, and good battery life, the Honor 7X ticks all the right boxes.
Given its price, it’s hard to find any flaws with this phone. However, you should be aware that along with its big screen and dual-lens camera, this smartphone also comes with an average speaker and a budget processor that won’t run the latest 3D games as smoothly as pricier cameras. Lastly, even though the Honor 7X makes for a great kids cell phone, it isn’t waterproof or fall-proof, so make sure to protect it with a case before you give it to your child.
The Nokia 4.2 is a budget smartphone that looks and feels much classier than its price may suggest.
This handset measures 5.9 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches and weighs 5.7 ounches. It features a 5.7” LCD screen with a 19:9 aspect ratio and 720 x 1,520 resolution. The Nokia 4.2 also comes with a fingerprint scanner on the rear side of the phone.
This phone is equipped with Android One OS software, which means that it has a guaranteed two years’ worth of major system updates and three years’ worth of security updates. It’s the security aspect of the deal that makes the 4.2 the best inexpensive smartphone for kids.
The Nokia 4.2’s 3,000 mAh battery has mixed performance. With light usage, you can get through two days on a single charge. However, if a lot of media is involved, the battery underperforms.
Another great thing about this phone is that it comes with 32 GB of storage that can be extended microSD cards up to 400 GB.
It’s the camera that tends to reveal that certain compromises have been made on a budget-priced phone. However, the Nokia 4.2 setup, which consists of the 13+2 MP main sensor and an 8 MP selfie camera, is very respectable. The camera also supports Pro and HDR modes. The only downside is related to the speed – when taking a shot, you’ll need to wait through a delay before the photo processes. On the other hand, what makes the Nokia 4.2 a perfect smartphone for kids is the extensive photo editing software.
While there are no compromises made in the camera department, things are somewhat different when it comes to media-playing features. The Snapdragon 439 processor is a good starter-level option, and so are the 3 GB of RAM, but your kids may have a hard time loading some of the latest gaming apps.
Considering that it comes with the Android One OS, which is the biggest selling point of any current Nokia smartphone, you won’t need to worry about your kid’s cell phone being unsafe. Android One has superb security features.
Not only does the Nokia 4.2 come with dual cameras, but it also has extensive editing features that will inspire your kids to let out their creative side each time they take a photo.
As far as parental controls go, you can set up the rules on what features can and cannot be installed and used on your kid’s smartphone. This includes games, apps, films, and music. Restricted profiles can be created through the GooglePlay menu or through the settings menu.
Seen from afar, the Nokia 4.2 seems like an inexpensive phone that doesn’t cut any corners. Although this Finnish handset can be considered the best cheap smartphone for kids, its low price means that a few quality compromises had to be made. Some of its biggest drawbacks – and the aspects of this phone that are bound to annoy your kids – are its sluggish performance and low-quality display.
Choosing the Best Phone for Kids – Our Methodology
Buying your kid their first mobile phone comes down to getting the device that they really want without breaking the bank. Here’s what we suggest you take into account:
When choosing the best smartphone, it’s equally as important to look at the device as a whole and to assess each of its components individually. In this review, we make sure to examine and compare display specifications, device performance and RAM, software specifications, camera and sound quality, storage space, and battery life. Throughout the in-depth reviews, we explain why any specific components would make each device the best phone for kids.
Design and Durability
Given that kids can be very careless with their phones, we made sure to include a few waterproof and drop-resistant devices. Instead of focusing on aesthetics, we looked at function over form and made a point to find different options in terms of size, weight, whether the smartphone in question has a removable battery or not, and other important structural factors.
Parental Controls and Function Restrictions
Most parents won’t let their kids use a mobile phone unless the parent-control restrictions are enabled – and for good reason. Those restrictions are there to help you monitor your kids’ online communication, block them from visiting dangerous websites, and limit their screen time. We believe that even the most basic phone for kids that can connect to the internet should have parental control options.
With so many new smartphone models being introduced on a monthly basis, it’s hard to find the best phone for your child, or anyone else. Keeping in mind that the most expensive option won’t necessarily tick all of your boxes, we made sure to include at least one device from every price range.
6 Best Smartphones for Kids
- Best starter phone: Unihertz Jelly Pro
- Best durability: Cat S41
- Best parental controls: iPhone SE
- Best for binge-watching videos: Samsung Galaxy S8 Active
- Best value: Honor 7X
- Best camera: Nokia 4.2
What is the best mobile phone for a child?
Here’s a list of the best smartphones that you can get for your teen or younger child:
- Unihertz Jelly Pro
- iPhone SE
- Cat S41
- Honor 7X
- Nokia 4.2
- Galaxy S8 Active
There are no rules on how to choose the best phones for little kids or teens, but the best options shouldn’t be prone to breaking. They also should have at least a decent battery life, good media features, and average or above-average performance.
What age should a kid have a phone?
One study has concluded that the average age that kids should be allowed to have a cell phone is between 12 and 13. However, every child is different, and so are the circumstances that parents need to take into account when making a decision about whether or not to get their kid a phone. Your child may want a gaming cell phone, but if you don’t want them to spend all of their time playing games, you shouldn’t get them that kind of a device.
Before you decide to buy your kids a phone, it’s important to ask yourself whether they really need it, if they are responsible enough to keep a phone, and whether they understand all the possible safety issues. Then make your decision accordingly.
What is the best phone for a 12-year-old?
There are not many cell phones on the market which are manufactured exclusively for teens and younger kids. However, if you are looking for the best smartphone for your kids, we suggest you check out our top picks. These include the Unihertz Jelly Pro, iPhone SE, Cat S41, Honor 7X, Nokia 4.2, and Galaxy S8 Active