Kids are people too, and often those little people are clamoring for the best smartphone their parents can buy for them. But you don’t have to purchase a decent smartphone for your kid. With their smaller hands and more limited needs — and the reality that kids tend to lose or destroy delicate things more frequently than adults — there are plenty of choices for powerful handsets that are ideal for kids. Whether they’re in the next room studying, yakking with friends, or out walking the dog at the park, their smartphone helps you to monitor their activities and keep them out of trouble. Double down on this by pairing their new phone with one of the best parental control apps.
Here are our top picks for the best phones for kids ranging in age from about elementary school to teen.
Top 10 best phones for kids in UK for 2021
1. Nokia 3310
For parents who simply want an affordable emergency phone for their child, that can take and make phone calls, send and receive texts, and not much more beyond those basics – the Nokia 3310 is a highly popular option with almost an entire month of promised battery life on a charge. It also comes with a basic camera, although with so little internal storage, that taking just a few pictures is enough to fill it up, unless you choose to expand its storage by adding a MicroSD card.
Overall, as a basic kids cell phone, this one is cheap and can handle a few weeks of phone calls on a single charge. Unlike most smartphones, so-called “dumbphones” like this one don’t have a built-in GPS, however. Regardless, the Nokia 3310 is among the best phones for kids who are too young for a smartphone.
2. Apple iPhone 12 mini
3. Google Pixel 4a
Buying a phone for your kid is a balancing act of getting something they’ll want to use and having excellent security, all without spending a fortune. In our eyes, the Pixel 4a best fits that bill. The value proposition offered by the 4a is phenomenal due to the fantastic camera, good battery life, and regular security updates. You can rest assured that your kid’s phone is always as safe as it can be and protected from new vulnerabilities that pop up.
The rest of the Pixel 4a experience is just as strong, thanks to its 5.8-inch OLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 processor, 6GB of RAM 3,140 mAh battery. The 128GB of internal storage should offer plenty of room for all of your kid’s apps/games, although microSD card support would have been nice. A bonus with the 4a is that it works seamlessly with Family Link, Google’s parental control app.
4. Unihertz Atom
If your kid’s hands are on the diminutive side, check out the Unihertz Atom, a mini 4G cell phone running Android 9.0 Pie. It’s rated at IP68 to protect against vibration, shock, extreme temperatures, dust, and water. The fingerprint scanner and Face ID features provide more security and make it fast and easy to unlock the screen for calls and taking pictures.
Atom’s NFC features allow for mobile payments at thousands of retailers and online stores, so your little one doesn’t even have to carry a separate wallet. If your child is a wanderer, its GPS+GLONASS ensures that you won’t lose them. Its powerful 2,000mAh battery keeps it going all day long. Atom works on T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon in U.S.
5. Motorola E6s
When it comes to a dependable phone for your kids that doesn’t cost much, then there’s not much better than the Moto E6s.Understandably, the Moto E6s is basic, but it has all the essentials covered. It’s fast enough for the price, the camera is decent and the screen is nice, too.
Aside from the layout, it’s worth emphasizing a few key features. First, that the Moto E6s is water repellent. It means your kids can spill liquid on the phone and it’ll shrug off all but the worst incidents. Second is the software. As usual, Motorola’s take on Android is nice and minimal and you’ll have to contend with less fussing around with removing unwanted apps when you first set it up.
6. Ukuu Big Button Basic Mobile Phone
The Jitterbug Flip was designed for and is marketed to older users, but the same features that make it a great phone for Grandma mean it’s also a good phone for younger users too.
There’s none of that new-fangled Facebook or Twitter nonsense here, just big, bright buttons, a very loud speaker and a crystal-clear display wrapped in a case that’s extremely reminiscent of the iconic Motorola Razr V3. There’s a camera, albeit not a fantastic one, and the user interface is simple to navigate. Unfortunately the Flip is quite a bit more expensive than other feature phones and it’s limited to the GreatCall phone service, although it’s available unlocked in the UK.
7. Caterpillar Cat S42
Parents know that children are pretty much guaranteed to drop their phone at some point. Enter the Cat S42, a phone created to survive bumps and drops. Manufactured to handle a 1.8-meter drop onto concrete, it is tough. Dust and water resistant with an IP68 rating, it additionally adds a scratch-resistant Full HD 5-inch screen. Alongside its sturdy design, CAT added a MediaTek processor and 3GB of RAM.
It is not the most powerful device, however, applications load quickly and navigating menus offers no stutters. The phone is compatible with GSM carriers as well as AT&T and T-Mobile. Connectivity includes the usual suspects like Bluetooth, NFC, and 4G LTE. The 5000mAh battery offers lots of peace of mind for parents knowing their kids can have battery life for days.
8. Doro 6040
Doro is well known for its range of simple phones, including clamshell designs (known as flip phones) like this 6040. Of its simple phone offering, the Alba may be an option if you’re looking for a good price and only need basic features. It has a 2.8-inch display, which is impressive for a simple phone.
There’s only 1.58GB of internal storage capacity, but you can expand the storage with a micro-SD card of up to 32GB. A unique feature of this phone is that it supports Dual Sim usage, so it can have two standard Sim cards – each with their own phone number and contract, at the same time. It may not be the flashiest simple phone, but it appears to have the basics covered.
9. Samsung Galaxy J3
This excellent low-cost addition to the Samsung range may have a few rough corners, but it’s a perfect entry-level phone. Sturdily built with a battery that will last the day, the Samsung J3 is a no-thrills winner in the hands of a small person. It’s not without its flaws, but still a great first-time smartphone.
If we’re being picky, its limited 8GB storage and occasional delays on app loading count against it, but on the plus side, it has an 8-megapixel rear camera and web access. And while the omission of an ambient light sensor would send most of us into a red-faced rage, they’re young, they can handle it!
10. Realme 7
The Realme 7 isn’t the best phone for kids around but it’s pretty darn close, and its smaller 6.5in screen size compared to our current top budget pick – the Poco X3 NFC – makes it better suited to a child’s smaller hands. It looks great, runs fast and packs a 90Hz display for an astoundingly low price.
Provided you swing for more RAM than the base 4GB model, the Realme 7 offers up strong performance, packed into an attractive design at an affordable price. The cameras could be better too, but for a kid, there’s not much to complain about here.
What makes a good phone for kids?
Honestly, the best cell phone for kids is one they use responsibly and respectfully, in accordance with the guidelines you’ve discussed. Any phone could fit this description. But, kids being kids — and the rapid pace of technology — make this ideal hard to achieve. That’s where devices specifically designed for kids can make boundary-setting easier, because they have limited options.
For younger kids, consider bare-bones phones with only the features they need to stay in touch with you. As kids get older, they’ll be interested in fuller-featured phones. A good compromise is a device you can customize to suit everyone’s needs and wants. If you’re going to give kids a smartphone, turn off some of the advanced features until they’ve demonstrated responsible ownership.
Young kids: Look for phones with very simple controls, big buttons, and extremely limited features. Phones that only make calls to a short list of contacts and that have no games, no Web access, and no camera are good choices. Consider the Sprint WeGo, the Firefly, or the FiliP 2, a watch that makes calls to an abbreviated contact list and receives texts — but can’t send.
Tweens: Phones that look grown-up but offer limited features or that come with a service that allows you to customize options are good choices for older kids. Take a look at phones can’t download apps, like Kurio, Kajeet service, Just5, or TracFone.
Let’s be real. When you decide to give your child his or her first phone, it’s never about the hardware. It’s about the access a phone provides a child. A phone connects kids to a whole new universe of fun, learning, and limitless media-creation tools. But that world is also brimming with risk. Ultimately, the best answer to the “first phone” question — while the object of endless opinion — is a personal choice that reflects the unique dynamic of each family.
We hope you can find what you’re looking for after reading our article.