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Phones for Kids: 10 Top Picks for Parents

a group of kids sitting and using a cell phone

Choosing the ideal smartphone for your child can feel tricky, so we’re here to help you find a phone that checks all the boxes for your young ones. Naturally, some of the best-performing phones are going to be a bit more pricey, but we’ve also made sure to include a few options that are budget-friendly and provide a sturdy, reliable phone for younger kids. 

When we were picking the best possible first phone for kids, these criteria were at the top of our list:

  • Parental Controls and Screen Time Limits: Whether it’s one of Apple’s iPhones or a Samsung Galaxy, phones with comprehensive parental control options can be beneficial. This includes setting screen time limits and monitoring app usage to ensure your child’s digital well-being.
  • Social Media and App Store Access: Access to social media apps and the App Store is something to consider as a parent — phones like the iPhone SE or various Android phones offer customization to restrict or allow app downloads and social media usage.
  • Durability and Battery Life: Kids can be tough on gadgets — a well-built phone with good battery life may be a longer-lasting choice. 
  • Location and Safety Features: GPS tracking and location services are key for peace of mind. Features like Google Family Link or Verizon’s location services can help you keep tabs on your child’s whereabouts.
  • Budget-Friendly Options: Basic flip phones can serve as sturdy, budget-friendly options that are appropriate for younger kids.
  • Connectivity and Functionality: You can count on pretty much any new phone to offer these, but definitely check that the phones you're considering Phones with essential features like 5G, LTE, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi capabilities.
  • The Right Fit for Different Ages: An iPhone might suit a middle schooler, while a simpler Android phone or a child’s phone with basic features might be better for younger kids.

Let’s take a look.

1. Apple iPhone 15

The Apple iPhone 15 is a great choice for technologically-advanced older kids. It features a 6.1-inch OLED display with a 2556 x 1179 pixels resolution and a crisp, vibrant visual experience. The A16 Bionic chip powers this device and has 6GB of RAM, ensuring smooth performance for gaming, educational apps, and social media browsing.

Parents will appreciate the iOS 17’s user-friendly interface and security features, including advanced parental controls. Screen Time and Family Sharing options allow for effective monitoring of app usage and setting time limits. 

The iPhone 15’s 3349mAh battery supports extensive use, ideal for busy school days. For young photography enthusiasts, the 48 MP main camera and 12 MP ultra-wide camera provide ample opportunities for creative expression. 

The inclusion of Find My Phone and other safety features offers parents peace of mind. The phone’s sleek and durable design, with IP68 resistance and Ceramic Shield glass, makes it a reliable and stylish choice for young users.

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2. Apple iPhone 15 Pro

The iPhone 15 Pro is a top option for your family's young photographer or gamer. It shares the 6.1-inch OLED display of the iPhone 15 but ramps up with a 120Hz refresh rate for smoother visuals. This smartphone's A17 Pro chip and 8GB of RAM promise top-notch performance and responsiveness.

The phone offers a triple camera system, including a 48 MP main camera with Sensor-shift OIS, a 12 MP telephoto lens, and a 12 MP ultra-wide camera. The iPhone 15 Pro’s camera capabilities are perfect for capturing high-quality selfies and exploring creative photography.

The iOS 17.3 operating system provides an intuitive and secure experience, with parental control apps to manage screen time and app access. The device’s 3274mAh battery ensures long-lasting performance.

Its comprehensive build, featuring a Ceramic Shield and titanium frame, offers durability and water resistance, ideal for the rough-and-tumble kid in your life. If you’re not quite ready to spring for that price tag, you can always check out refurbished options which tend to be high quality without breaking the bank. 

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3. Samsung Galaxy S24

The Samsung Galaxy S24 hits that sweet spot between being tough enough to handle all your kids’ adventures while not being a basic brick with no cool features.

This Android phone has a great display and a speedy processor, perfect for everything from playing their favorite games to using educational apps. Plus, with the parental controls, you can easily monitor how much screen time they’re getting and what apps they use. It’s super handy for making sure they’re balancing screen time with getting out and about. The battery life will last throughout the school day and then some.

If you’re looking for a phone that can keep up with your tween’s social media use, they’ll love the Galaxy S24’s high-quality rear camera to capture and share funny or special moments, while the front camera lets them enjoy clear video calls with their friends and family. For parents with younger kids, Samsung’s integration with apps like Google Family Link makes it a safe, manageable first phone for kids. It’s a smart choice for parents who want a top-tier phone without overspending on the premium versions of the S24.

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4. Samsung Galaxy S23

If you don’t need the very latest and greatest model, but you still want a high-quality option, the Samsung Galaxy S23 is a stellar choice. It features a 6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED display with a 2340 x 1080 pixels resolution, ensuring vibrant and clear visuals. Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor and 8GB RAM, it easily handles games, apps, and educational content.

The Galaxy S23’s parental controls are simple to understand and run, allowing you to effectively manage screen time and app usage. The phone’s triple camera system, with a 50 MP main sensor, enables your aspiring photographer to capture high-quality images and videos for the family album.

Its 3900mAh battery supports long hours of use, so if your kid forgets to charge it up one night, it’s not the end of the world. The device’s design features Gorilla Glass Victus and IP68 water and dust resistance, making it suitable for kids' active lifestyles.

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5. Google Pixel 8

For the more technologically savvy kid, the Google Pixel 8 is a good pick. It has a 6.2-inch OLED screen that’s clear and bright, making everything from homework to Instagram look amazing. Plus, the Google Tensor G3 chip under the hood runs everything smoothly, whether they’re researching for a school project or scrolling through their social feeds.

Notable for its parental controls, the Pixel 8 allows parents to manage screen time and app access effectively with tools like Google Family Link. 

The Pixel 8 also has a battery that keeps going — 4575mAh means your kid won’t run out of juice, even with a packed day of school and after-school fun. And it’s built tough, too. With Gorilla Glass Victus and water resistance, this phone can take whatever your little adventurer throws at it.

And for those budding photographers? The Pixel 8 nails it with a 50 MP main camera and a 12 MP ultra-wide lens. They’ll be snapping away, capturing everything from family moments to their creative shots. 

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6. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5

Have you heard? Flip phones are cool again. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 is packed with functionality that appeals to kids who love the newest gadgets. The Galaxy Z Flip5 operates on the Android system, offering a user-friendly experience complemented by strong parental control apps.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 has an excellent, compact design that fits just right in their little hands and slides easily into their pockets. And don’t let its size fool you — this phone packs a punch with great battery life. Plus, it has an excellent rear camera, perfect for young shutterbugs who can’t wait to snap pics and share them with friends on social media.

The phone’s durability, including water resistance, ensures it can withstand the rigors of a child’s daily use. Available through most carriers, you can fidn the Galaxy Z Flip5 on a range of phone plans to suit family needs, including prepaid options for budget-conscious parents.

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What Are Some Budget-Friendly Phones for Kids?

If you’re not willing to break the bank on a premium smartphone, but still want options with decent functionality, here are some more budget-friendly phone options for kids.

7. Gabb Phone Z2

Sometimes being basic is more of a feature than a bug. If you’re looking for a phone that offers a little more control, then the Gabb Phone Z2 might be just what you’re looking for. The Gabb Phone Z2 is designed to be the first mobile phone for younger kids. It gives them the freedom to have their own phone, but gives you the control to keep them safe. For example, this phone uses GPS to effectively track the precise location of your child. 

Another excellent feature of the Gabb Phone Z2 is its limitations. It comes with 14 kids-safe programs pre-installed that allow them to make phone calls and send text messages. However, it doesn’t allow for additional apps to be downloaded and doesn’t have internet connectivity. That means no web browsing, social media, gaming, or even YouTube.

The phone itself is fairly basic as it’s designed for kids in middle school or as young as nine years old. The display is 5.4-inches with RAM of 2GB and 32GB of internal storage. The idea is to be a simple smartphone that helps your kid adjust to the responsibilities of owning a cell phone. The only real downside is that it isn’t water resistant, which could be an issue for small children just learning about cell phones and technology.

8. Bark Phone

For older and more mature children who can be trusted with a little more freedom, the Bark Phone is a great next stage. It’s essentially just a modified version of the Samsung Galaxy A13. The key difference is that this device is designed specifically for child usage. For instance, the operating system comes pre-installed with parental controls that allow you to set which apps your child can access and see the messages that your child is sending and receiving. 

Unlike other phones specifically designed for children, this one does allow access to the Google Play store. There are still restrictions that you can put in place, but it does provide a little more freedom and flexibility for your child than other phones. 

The 6.6-inch display, 3GB of RAM, and 32B of internal storage make it a quality starting smartphone for your child. The 5000mAh battery ensures that their phone will be powered well beyond the school day, and the 50MP camera permits them to take high-quality photos of their friends and family. It’s the perfect phone for that age between childhood and adolescence.

9. Gabb Watch 3 

Some cell phones can be worn on our wrists. If you don’t think that your child is ready for the responsibility of remembering to carry around a cell phone, then perhaps a smartwatch is the answer. The Gabb Watch 3 is considered to be among the best smartwatches for kids. 

Naturally, the Gabb Watch 3 is extremely basic compared to some of the more technologically advanced options on this list, but it’s extremely effective for what it can do. It’s designed to give your child the ability to quickly get in touch with the contacts that you program into it. They won’t be able to call or text anybody that you don’t want. It even keeps track of them via GPS and allows you to enable a Geofencing mode to alert you when they’re too far away from a specific area. 

The display is 1.4 inches, the memory capabilities are 8GB, and there are no cameras. However, these features aren’t the main draw of this gadget, as it’s merely an easy way to stay in contact with your little one. Perhaps best of all is that this highly durable smartwatch has an IP68 rating. In other words, it’s very resistant to water and dust, so it should last a while even under the care of children who are still getting their footing in life. 

10. Nokia 2780

If you’re looking for the most basic mobile phone possible for your kid’s first cell, then the Nokia 2780 is perfect for you. It’s an older style of flip phone, so you won’t have to worry about them potentially doing anything with it other than making calls or sending texts.

While it’s not technically a smartphone in the same sense as an iPhone, it does have a few key features that make it smarter than yesteryear’s flip phone. For example, it includes Google Maps and WhatsApp. With that being said, it is a flip phone, so the display is only 2.7 inches, and the memory is just 4GB. When we say that this phone is basic, we really mean it.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, there are plenty of stellar phones for kids, whether you want to get them something with all the bells and whistles or a simpler phone used for emergencies. 

Want to look even further afield? Our free, unbiased Phone Deal Finder below can help you navigate and compare options across the wireless market. Just answer a few questions including what phones you’re considering and what your current model is, and we’ll find the best phone deals for your family based on your current plan and carrier.

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