As a parent, it may be tricky to know exactly when your kid should get their own cell phone. You know firsthand how handy having a phone is, but it also opens up a whole new world of responsibility and independence for your kid.

The reality today is that it is getting quite common for young children to have their own cell phones. According to a survey by Common Sense Media, 69% of 12-year-olds and 19% of 8-year-olds in the United States owned a smartphone in 2019!

There are plenty of reasons you may be considering getting your child a cell phone, from wanting an easy way to contact them to needing a device to keep them entertained. Whatever your motivation, keep reading to see our picks for the best cell phones for kids.

What kind of phone does your kid need?

Of course, picking out a phone for your child is a completely different process than for yourself. Not all the features on a typical cell phone may be necessary—or even desired—on a device for children. Also, kids are just more prone to losing, dropping, or mishandling their phones than adults, so spending big money on a device that may not last long doesn’t really make sense.

Luckily, there are plenty of affordable devices that have the features you want.

For parents who just want to be able to track or contact their young children, you may not even need to get them a legitimate cell phone. Devices like the Republic Wireless Relay or the Verizon Gizmowatch are small and wearable, have GPS tracking, and allow simple two-way calling with pre-approved contacts.

If you don’t need any cellular connectivity and just want your kid to be able to watch videos or play games on their own device, the iPod touch is a solid choice. It’s a great option if your child needs some backseat entertainment, while still giving you the option of installing messaging apps that work over Wi-Fi if you ever need it.

For parents who are ready to give their kids access to the useful world of smartphones (without breaking the bank), check out our favorites below.

Our favorite smartphones for kids in 2020

To pick our top 7, we looked for reasonably priced smartphones that had all the features kids would need. All released within the past five years, these devices allow you to contact your child while also offering some combination of entertainment options, durability, high battery-life, or kid-friendly design. Plus, with an abundance of parental control apps, a quick download is all you need for a sense of security. 

iPhone SE (2020) 

The most affordable recent iPhone release, the 2020 iPhone SE comes in red, black, or white and is the same size as Apple’s iPhone 8 released in 2017. With costs lowered by using an older body and smaller screen, the iPhone SE retails for around $400, giving you high quality performance and all the latest iOS features for hundreds of dollars less than other recent iPhone models.

Why it’s great for kids

The 4.7-inch screen makes it manageable for kids with smaller hands and Apple’s Find My iPhone app is automatically installed, allowing parents to track an out-and-about child or lost phone easily. Ideal for older teens, the iPhone SE also boasts a solid camera for its price point and its powerful processor will allow your kids to run their favorite entertainment apps with no trouble.

Nokia 7.2 (2019)

Traditionally known for its reliability, Nokia has since added sleek Finnish design and high tech capabilities to its expertise. For less than $350, the Nokia 7.2 has a 48 MP triple camera with ZEISS optics and a full HD+ screen with real-time HDR conversion, giving you detailed photos and a sharp viewing experience at a bargain.

Why it’s great for kids

With an energy-efficient processor and AI-assisted Adaptive Battery, your kid can go without charging for up to two days, so you won’t have to worry about being unable to reach them because their phone is dead. Plus, the high-tech polymer composite that it’s crafted from enables the Nokia 7.2 to be light yet still super strong, making it perfect for any clumsy moments your kid may have.

Samsung Galaxy A01 (2020)

The Galaxy A Series is Samsung’s line of high value smartphones, with the Galaxy A01 being its first level and most affordable option. The 5.7” HD+ Infinity-V Display also makes it the smallest device of the line and thin enough for younger users. Often coming in at just over $100, the Galaxy A01 is a solid phone with a can’t-beat price. 

Why it’s great for kids

The Samsung Galaxy A01 is a perfect starter phone for young teens. It has all of the smartphone essentials that you’d expect—like a multi-lens camera and a long-lasting battery—without any excess technical features that often significantly bump up the price. If you want to get your child a “does-the-job” smartphone that doesn’t break the bank, the Galaxy A01 is a good way to go.

Moto G7 Play (2019)

Similar to the Galaxy A01, the Moto G7 Play is a fantastic starter smartphone, priced affordably at less than $150. Its compact design makes it easy to handle, while its octa-core processor and ultrawide display has games, movies, and photos loading fast and looking great. 

Why it’s great for kids

With a water repellent design and P2i nano coating, you won’t have to worry about it in your accident-prone kids’ hands. Plus, a single charge gets up to 40 hours of power, so the “my phone was dead” excuse won’t work if they end up missing your calls. And for those who are raising aspiring photographers, the G7’s fast-focusing 13 MP rear camera will ensure they never miss a photo-worthy moment.

LG Q6 (2017)

With its immersive FullVision Display screen that covers most of the phone, the LG Q6 has a sleek and minimal design that is optimal for multimedia viewing experiences. Unofficially called the “LG G6 mini,” the Q6 has much of the visual features of its predecessor and is an affordable option for kids at less than $200 by most sellers.

Why it’s great for kids

The LG Q6’s durable “H-Beam” frame made from incredibly strong 7000 series aluminum helps it endure impact from any direction, while its 100-degree wide angle front camera and square camera mode is perfect for group selfies and photo collages.

Samsung Galaxy Note8 (2017)

With a Pro camera mode that gives you DSLR options, a bezel-free “Infinity Screen,” and unique stylus functions, the Galaxy Note8 is incredibly feature-rich despite being one of the older smartphones on this list. In fact, its older status makes it incredibly affordable, often at less than $300 for a refurbished device.

Why it’s great for kids

With an all-day battery,upgradable storage, and water & dust resistant properties, the Galaxy Note8 is definitely not lacking any essentials. Plus, it comes with the unique embedded S Pen (stylus), which is designed to feel like a real pen and perfect for the more artistically-inclined teen, who may enjoy designing, making GIFs, or handwriting messages. 

iPhone 8 (2017)

Popular enough for Apple to bring its design back for the 2020 iPhone SE, the iPhone 8 is still a high-performing smartphone that has all the features your kid would need today. Without the SE’s upgraded processors and camera upgrades, it’s often priced at around $350 by resellers, making it one of the more affordable iPhone options.

Why it’s great for kids

For a lower price, the iPhone 8 can provide you with the same advantages as the iPhone SE, such as a smaller screen, Find My iPhone functions, high quality camera, and fast loading apps.

Purchasing a cellphone for your child may seem overwhelming at first, but when it comes down to it, the main considerations are often cost, durability, battery life, kid-friendly design, and age-appropriate features.

Our top seven picks combine parent-approved qualities with varied features for different kinds of kids, so that whatever your situation, there’s a perfect phone for your family.

Ready to pick up a great phone for your kid? Shop our selection here.

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