Best Smartphone for Kids in 2023 – Stay in Contact
Updated: September 12,2023
When their child wants a smartphone, many parents probably won’t be sure whether to allow it - let alone what is the right phone to buy. But if you decide your kid is old enough to own a phone, the next challenge becomes picking one.
Making a dent in your savings to buy your young child the latest iPhone isn’t the way to go. Luckily, we can help you find the best smartphone for kids - one both your child and bank account can appreciate.
Unihertz Jelly Pro
- Small and lightweight
- Great performance for size
- No parental controls
Touted as one of the best phones for kids on the market, the Jelly Pro has a built-in music player app that makes it a dream phone for growing music lovers. It has a standard-issue 3.5 mm headphone jack, so you can use it with any speakers or headsets you have lying around.
The Unihertz Jelly Pro’s dimensions amount to a mere 92.4*43*13mm, a screen size of 432 x 240 pixels, and a weight of only 60.4 grams, which makes it a great first cell phone for your kid. This tiny Android device fits perfectly into any child’s hand.
This guy may be petite, but it is mighty - it boasts Mediatek's 1.1 GHz MT6737 chipset and 3 GB of RAM. Your kid will be happy to hear that most Android apps can be loaded on this device. It comes with an impressive data storage capacity of 36 GB, and with microSD card support for up to 256 GB, you can add plenty of room for games and music.
On the other hand, the Unihertz Jelly Pro is lacking in the battery department, as it’s equipped with a 950 mAh cell and doesn’t support wireless charging.
This kids' phone has two cameras - an 8 MP rear sensor and a 2 MP selfie cam. The primary camera has a high dynamic range mode, but it’s very slow. Both sensors perform poorly when the light is low, taking washed-out and grainy photos even in outdoor conditions.
Despite the Jelly’s tiny screen size, your kid’s phone can still play movies and YouTube videos in decent quality.
Reasons to Buy Your Kid a Unihertz Jelly Pro
Marketed as the world's smallest 4G phone, the inexpensive Unihertz Jelly Pro doubles as one of the best phones for kids currently in circulation. Even though it's not much bigger than a pack of chewing gum, the quality of its features will surprise you. It’s also lightweight and fits perfectly into a child’s pocket.
Considering the available storage, it's especially handy for musical kids. Thanks to Bluetooth support, this tiny phone can be connected to wireless headphones and speakers. It also enables internet access via connecting to Wi-Fi networks or inserting a SIM card with mobile data from any of the major carriers.
Reasons to Explore Other Options
While the Unihertz Jelly Pro is widely considered one of the most kid-friendly phones, it still has a few flaws. This tiny handset has an even smaller battery, which can hardly last a day, even on a full charge. Other notable downsides include its low-quality camera, which means this Android device probably won’t be ideal for slightly older kids.
- Scratch-resistant, waterproof, drop-proof
- Extremely long-lasting battery
- Good camera setup
- Heavy and bulky
Although this is one of the smartphones for kids that won’t win any beauty contests, this great phone has many other qualities to recommend it and, in all honesty, it’s not even that bad-looking. Moreover, its highly protective rubberized outer shell means it doesn’t require a separate phone case.
IP68-certified, the Cat S41 is designed to be extremely durable and, therefore, one of the best cell phones for kids, especially younger kids. 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, making it a great emergency phone, as well. To top it all off, this phone also comes with a scratch-, dust-, and dirt-resistant screen.
The Cat S41 is 152 x 75 x 12.85mm and weighs 218 grams, which makes it the heaviest handset on our list of best phones for kids. It’s equipped with a full-HD 1,920 x 1,080 5-inch display and 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 large battery, with 5,000 mAh of power. 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 13 MP camera sensor and a front 8 MP sensor. With the main camera, you can capture photos and videos for social media posts, while the front camera is great for taking selfies or video chatting.
Reasons to Buy Your Kid a Cat S41
Much like other Android devices, the Cat S41 allows you to enable parental controls and stay updated on your child’s location through GPS tracking, although you’ll have to get a specialized smartphone app for this.
Every parent knows that kids drop their phones all the time, but 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. It also has a regular 3.5 mm headphone jack, so you probably won’t have to buy new headphones to go along with it.
Reasons to Explore Other Options
Although navigating menus should cause no stutters and the pre-installed apps are quick to load, the Cat 41 isn’t the most powerful handset.
Its durability is a huge plus, but it makes this Android phone a little heavy, so if you’re giving it to a young child, they’ll probably have to keep it in their bag. Also, note that its durability comes at a cost, as the phone’s price is higher than other options on our list.
Apple iPhone SE
- Sharp and powerful camera
- Long-lasting battery
- Low price for an Apple device
- Not very durable
It stands to reason that a leading digital publisher such as Apple would have a contender on this list. If you can’t decide whether to get your child an iPhone or Android phone because of the price difference, here’s an Apple option that won’t break the bank.
The iPhone SE is small, but versatile and powerful. 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 5.22 ounces (148 grams) and measures 5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 inches (138.4x67.3x7.3mm). It’s equipped with a Touch ID fingerprint scanner and comes in dark gray, silver, gold, and rose gold colors.
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, its battery is pretty robust 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 4.7-inch display still handles its 1,334 x 750 resolution very well.
If you’re on the hunt for a children's phone for music, movies, and games, the best iPhone you can get is this one. 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. Also, the phone has the power to take on any popular game app, which kids will be happy to hear.
Meanwhile, storage capacity is subject to change depending on how far you’ve gone with software updates and ranges from 64 GB to 256 GB. It can be upgraded to one of the world’s most secure mobile operating systems, iOS 13.
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.
Reasons to Buy Your Kid an iPhone SE
If your child really wants an iPhone and you don’t feel like spending an arm and a leg on it, the iPhone SE is a perfect choice. When sifting through the list of children's mobile phone options, this device stands out thanks to the multitude of parental control features, including “App limit” and “Downtime,” which can be very helpful in limiting your child’s screen time.
On the other hand, the phone is feature-sparse and underpowered compared 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 basic calling, messaging, and GPS tracking features you may need.
Of course, you can give the phone internet access via various Wi-Fi networks, or SIM card mobile data.
Overall, if you’re looking for the best cell phone for kids that fits into a child's hand and can run all the latest apps, the iPhone SE is the way to go.
Reasons to Explore Other Options
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 rubber case.
The low-resolution front-facing camera is another possible disadvantage. Also, even though it wasn’t made to be 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
- Exceptional camera
- Long battery life
- Visually impressive display
- Expensive without contract deals
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 precisely why we decided to include this handset among the best phones for teens.
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. However, it isn’t technically considered waterproof. This smartphone also has a shatter-resistant glass front that should stay whole even 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 a high-performance Snapdragon 835 processor and 4 GB of RAM. It’s safe to say that it’s an outstanding 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.
The S8 Active offers a great photography experience. The setup consists of a 12 MP primary sensor and an 8 MP front camera. Pictures are crisp and vibrant in high-to-medium light conditions, but can be blurry, even with the night mode turned on. If your child is a photography enthusiast, you’ll be happy to hear that the S8 Active is one of the Samsung phones that offers a pro shooting mode. Overall, the quality of the camera setup is excellent, even when used for shooting 4K video.
Not only does the S8 Active represent a top-notch phone for kids (or anyone for that matter), it’s also equipped with a 4,000 mAh battery cell. It’s safe to say that it can last the whole day, even if your kid likes binge-watching YouTube videos.
Reasons to Buy Your Kid a Galaxy S8 Active
If you’re looking for a highly capable smartphone with the Android operating system that also gets top marks for ruggedness, the Galaxy S8 Active may be just what you need. One of the most important reasons this device is considered an excellent smartphone for kids is that it can easily survive an occasional tumble or even a fall into a puddle. Performance-wise, this is an exceptional handset with a robust camera, lots of storage space, and plenty of battery life for even the most passionate mobile gamer.
You’ll find that there are plenty of parental-control options too. Restrictions are easy to set up through the settings menu.
Reasons to Explore Other Options
The S8 Active’s flagship features definitely come at a price. Given that this is a top contender for a smartphone for kids to play games on and stay connected to their parents, the headset is also one of the most expensive options on our list. That alone may justify looking elsewhere. Also, if your kids care about aesthetics, they may not find this device appealing.
- High-resolution big screen
- Excellent dual-lens camera
- Good battery life
- Average processor
When it was a brand-new phone, 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 younger children.
The Honor 7X is a fully fledged smartphone with a 5.9-inch screen, an attractive full-metal body, and a fingerprint sensor on the phone's rear side. Considering its mid-range price among kids’ phones, its 2,160 x 1,080 display 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, even the best phones for kids such as this 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 what we’ve come to expect based on our experience with other phones for kids.
Powered by Huawei’s Kirin 659 chipset, the Honor 7X comes with 4 GB of RAM. Thanks to its configuration, this handset has all the latest software updates and runs most of the newest Android games smoothly, and it doesn’t slow down even with several apps operating in the background.
Reasons to Buy Your Kid an Honor 7X
The sharp and vibrant display 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 Google Play.
Overall, if you’re on a budget but don’t want to get your child the most basic phone, the Honor 7X ticks all the right boxes with its advanced features such as an extra-wide high-resolution screen, excellent camera, and good battery life.
Reasons to Explore Other Options
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 budget processor that won’t run the latest 3D games as smoothly as pricier phones.
Lastly, even though the Honor 7X makes for a great kids' cell phone, it isn’t waterproof or fall-proof, so shield it with a case before giving it to your child.
- Excellent camera
- Lots of storage
- Great battery life
- Sluggish performance
The Nokia 4.2 is a phone for teenagers on a budget 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 ounces. 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 its back.
This phone is equipped with the Android One OS, which means it has a guaranteed two years of major system updates and three years of security updates. It’s the security aspect of the deal that makes the 4.2 the top kids' cell phone in this price range.
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, but anything demanding will drain it much more quickly.
On the plus side, the phone comes with 32 GB of storage that can be extended with microSD cards up to 400 GB.
The camera reveals that certain compromises have been made to make this a budget-friendly phone. The setup consists of the 13+2 MP main sensor and an 8 MP selfie camera and is very respectable. The camera also supports Pro and HDR modes. The only downside is the speed - when taking a shot, you’ll need to wait for the photo to be processed.
Things are similar in the media-loading department: The Snapdragon 439 processor is a starter-level option, and so is the 3 GB of RAM, so your kids may have a hard time loading some of the latest gaming apps. This might not be the best smartphone for a child passionate about playing games.
Reasons to Buy Your Kid a Nokia 4.2
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 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 Google Play or settings menus.
Reasons to Explore Other Options
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 a few quality-related 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.
Top 5 Smartphones for Kids in 2023
- Unihertz Jelly Pro
- CAT S41
- iPhone SE
- Samsung Galaxy S8 Active
- Nokia 4.2
Choosing the Best Phone for Kids - Our Evaluation Method
Buying your kid their first mobile phone comes down to finding a device they really want without breaking the bank. Here’s what we suggest you take into account:
When choosing a kids’ smartphone, it’s important to look at the device as a whole and assess each component 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. We explain why any specific components would make each device the best phone for kids throughout the in-depth reviews.
Given that kids can be very careless with their phones, we made sure to include a few waterproof and drop-resistant options. We looked to function over form and made a point to find options varying in size, weight, battery type (removable or not), and other critical structural factors.
Most parents won’t let their kids use a mobile phone unless parental controls and location tracking are enabled. Those restrictions help you monitor your kids’ online communication, block them from visiting dangerous websites, and limit their screen time. We believe that even cheap phones 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 a proper cell phone for kids 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 bracket.
Frequently Asked Questions
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 choosing the best phones for little kids or teens, but the focus should be on durability. They should also have at least a decent battery life, good media features, and average or above-average performance.
One study concluded that the average age kids should be allowed to have their own phone is between 12 and 13. However, every child is different, and so are the circumstances parents must consider when deciding whether 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, you shouldn’t get them that kind of device.
Before you buy your kids a phone, it’s essential to ask yourself whether they really need it, if they are responsible enough to handle it, and whether they understand all the possible safety issues. Then make your decision accordingly.
There aren’t too many cell phones on the market manufactured exclusively for teens and younger kids. However, if you’re 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.
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