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To help you find the best phones for kids, we rounded up reviews and analyses for the top 25 different options available on today’s market. We then spent several hours identifying the top features for this category and pared the buying guide down to the top 10 options. The features and considerations we used as guideposts for the best phones for kids included things like parental controls, user-friendliness, and durability. We also considered overall performance and battery life so you don’t need to worry about your kid’s phone breaking or dying halfway through the day and not having any way to contact you.
After analyzing all of these aspects, we chose the Apple iPhone 11 as the best phone for kids in our lineup. Read on to learn more about our best smartphone for kids and the other top picks we’ve included below.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This phone for kids is of premium quality, both in design and performance. It features comprehensive parental controls through Screen Time, a high-quality camera, and an overall user-friendly interface for kids of any age.
Apple prides itself on producing user-friendly, premium smartphones, and the Apple iPhone 11 embodies that idea in many ways. This is an older version of the iPhone line, lacking some of the functionality of the new iPhone 12 line. However, this is perfect for parents looking to purchase a smartphone for their kids because it’s more affordable. Fortunately, the iPhone 11 still works incredibly well in all aspects. It features a powerful processor that provides long-lasting reliable performance for years to come and an incredibly simple user interface that’s easy for both kids and adults to learn.
Related: See also the best phones for business.
Apple phones perform superbly well in the realm of parental controls through the use of the Screen Time functionality. This allows you as a parent to set limits and passwords for nearly every single function on the iPhone. If you’re worried about your child’s safety with a smartphone, you’ll rest assured that Screen Time allows you to protect them in greater ways, making it one of the most secure phones. The iPhone 11 also offers a high-quality dual-camera array that takes excellent pictures and video, an important feature for the older kids in your life. All in all, the iPhone 11 is an excellent choice for kids of all ages. If your kids like vlogging, check out the best phones for vlogging.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: Part of Apple’s newest lineup, this affordable and powerful smartphone offers many of the staple features parents love, including Screen Time parental controls and seamless connectivity to the family device ecosystem. Plus, its display is brighter and more colorful than ever, with a durable design that can withstand bumps and drops.
The Apple iPhone SE combines the best of the iPhone line with more affordability and performance for kids. The phone offers an increasingly simple and user-friendly interface with iOS 14 and still allows your kids to have the cool factor of owning an iPhone while giving you more control via Screen Time. This parental control functionality allows you to set passwords and restrictions for everything ranging from downloading apps to watching movies and listening to music. You can even set time frames during which your kids can or cannot use the phone. It’s easily one of the most comprehensive protection systems for kids on smartphones that you can buy today.
The iPhone SE also features an updated design that is more durable and easier to use. It feels good in your hands while remaining lightweight and portable enough to carry around in your pocket with ease. We were especially impressed by the brightness and vividness of the display. The iPhone SE features Apple’s A13 Bionic processor, which is one of the fastest available today in any smartphone. With all of these features, your kid will get a super reliable and super responsive phone for all of their communication needs. It’s a nice option if you’re looking for the best gaming phones for kids.
Award: BEST FOR YOUNG AGES
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you need to give your younger child a phone, you absolutely cannot go wrong with this option. It features an entirely limited interface with pre-programmed contacts, an SOS button, and GPS tracking so you can stay in touch without worry.
On paper, the KidsConnect KC2 phone for kids is incredibly limited. However, that’s exactly why we included it here. Some of the features people try to avoid in their phones are present on this phone for kids: no internet, GPS tracking, and pre-programmability. This is the best emergency phone for child location tracking, calling, and texting. The phone itself is incredibly simple with three individual speed dial buttons and an SOS button for emergency situations. You can program each button to dial only the numbers you want, but you will need to teach your child which button is which. The phone also includes a 15-number phone book, which are the only numbers that the KC2 can contact or receive phone calls.
We were also really impressed with the KC2’s GPS tracking functionality. It isn’t the most accurate tracker, but it allows you to keep tabs on your younger kids in a general area so you know that they’re still at school or practice or their friend’s house. The phone also has no user-facing internet access, so your child won’t be able to get on the web and into dangerous websites. All in all, if you’re worried about your young child, or you have a child with a disability, this is the perfect phone for you. You might also want to check out our best kid tablet buying guide for additional options.
Award: BEST EXPANDABLE STORAGE
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you want a phone your child can use for media like movies, videos, and pictures, then the expandable storage of up to 2 terabytes on this phone should interest you. It also features a large, 6.2-inch display screen and solid camera for even better functionality for your child.
The LG Stylo 5 is super affordable and functional for kids who are ready for a smartphone. It features a streamlined design that’s easy to hold and provides a lot of real estate for playing games or watching movies. The 6.2.-inch display is larger than most smartphones and is bright enough for use in both dark and light environments. This is a great choice for kids who enjoy watching movies on their phones. The LG Stylo 5 also includes a handy stylus pen built directly into the phones your child can take notes and have easier operation scrolling through smartphone apps or the web.
This basic phone isn’t the highest performing option, but its internal processor can still handle a lot of action. We were surprised at how well it handled switching back and forth between apps and playing games. The Stylo 5 also features 32GB of internal storage, plus a microSD card slot that will accept up to 2 terabytes of additional storage, which is awesome for the music-loving child. You’ll also get a decent 13MP rear camera on this phone for kids, which is more than enough for most children’s needs. If you’re looking for the best stylus option for a kids’ phone, this is it.
Award: BEST QUALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: This phone for kids brings a ton of quality at an extra-affordable price when compared to similar Android smartphone models. It’s got an excellent, bright display, snappy internal processor, and all-day battery life.
The Google Pixel 4A is the culmination of years of efforts on Google’s part to create a high-performance smartphone at an affordable price. Every aspect of this phone gives off an air of premium quality, which is hard to find at this price point. What’s even more surprising is that the Google Pixel 4A is made with plastic and glass, without a touch of metal like most premium smartphones have. The polycarbonate shell is both durable and attractive, and it feels good in the hand. Unfortunately, this means the phone isn’t water-resistant, but this is easily overlooked if you’re buying for a more careful child.
The Google Pixel 4A’s performance is something else to be applauded here. This is a snappy, responsive phone that hardly ever freezes up during use. Plus, it features a long-lasting battery that will get your kid through an entire day of regular use before needing to be charged. The display looks great, with bright, vivid colors and responsive handling that makes movies and games pop. The Pixel 4A also includes surprisingly good rear cameras, so your child will be able to take good photos and videos with ease. For water-resistant features, only the best waterproof phones can offer you that.
Award: BEST ON A BUDGET
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you want a non-smartphone for your kid, then this option is going to be one of your best bets, especially considering how budget-friendly it is. Sporting a classic flip-phone design and incredibly simple user interface, this phone for kids is an excellent choice for younger children or kids on the go.
The LG Classic Flip stays true to its name here, presenting you with a classic, tried-and-true flip phone design. It also provides reliable voice calls and texting functionality at an extra-affordable price. These two things alone make this one of the best phones for 10-year-olds getting into their first starter phone experience. The LG Classic Flip also provides peace of mind for you as a parent, especially if you’re worried about your child getting online or downloading apps without your knowledge.
If this is going to be your child’s first basic phone, you can rest assured knowing that it won’t be hard for them to learn how to use the LG Classic Flip. The phone features a simple list-based user interface and easy-to-press buttons on the keypad. Unfortunately, neither the camera nor loudspeaker are the best on the LG basic phone, but this isn’t too big of a con for such an affordable phone. The biggest selling point here is the simplicity and the incredibly long-lasting battery, which can run for days between charging. It’s a nice option if you’re looking for one of the best cell phones for seniors that are easy to use with low frills.
Award: BEST COMPACT DESIGN
WHY WE LIKE IT: This tiny phone for kids is incredibly compact, portable, and lightweight, making it perfect for kids on the go who still need to stay connected. This phone performs surprisingly well for its mini size and even features a microSD card slot to expand the internal storage capacity.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Unihertz Jelly Pro phone for kids is just how tiny it is. Measuring in at a mere 3.07 x 4.92 x 1.97 inches, this is one of the smallest smartphones you can purchase today. But don’t let that tiny size fool you. The Jelly Pro offers a surprising level of performance in its mini body. While it won’t perform as well as the flagship smartphones available today, this little phone certainly does well enough on its own. The UI is generally smooth and the phone can even play some of the simpler games on the app store.
Of course, the phone had to make some concessions in order to achieve such a small size. As such, the camera isn’t the greatest. It only offers eight megapixels of resolution, and it’s honestly hard to get the sharpest photos from this phone. The battery is also smaller by requirement, however, it should still last through the school day without needing a recharge. Somehow, though, Unihertz managed to include a microSD card slot in the Jelly Pro phone, so you can have more space for music and videos. All in all, if you need an ultra-compact smartphone for your kids, you can’t go wrong with this one. It’s one of the best small phones on our list.
Award: BEST ALL-DAY USE
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you’re worried about your child running out of battery in the middle of the day, then this phone for kids is your best bet. With a battery life that can span over two days and reliable performance and quality, this phone is sure to be a hit.
The Moto G Power brings the best to the table when it comes to battery life and performance. For starters, it features a large and powerful 5000 mAh battery that will last your child up to 16 hours of continuous use. This is more than enough to last over the course of a couple of days with average use before needing a charge. It also features a powerful Snapdragon 665 processor that provides reliable overall performance for everything from gaming to streaming movies.
We were also really impressed by the Moto G Power’s display quality. The phone gives you a large 6.4-inch screen with Full HD screen resolution (2300 x 1080 pixels). With this quality, your child can watch movies and play games with ease. Unfortunately, the screen does have some muted color reproduction, but this is only really noticeable when held up to other smartphones with better color accuracy. The Moto G Power also provides a well-rounded camera, even in spite of its lack of optical zoom. On top of that, you’ll also get powerful Dolby stereo speakers that can output a good level of sound quality and volume, though parents might prefer they use the best headphones.
Award: BEST FOR TEENAGERS
WHY WE LIKE IT: This phone for kids looks and feels premium with a large display, in-screen fingerprint reader, all-day battery life, and more. It’s perfect for a teenager’s first smartphone because of its high-end performance and affordability.
The Samsung Galaxy A50 is the best phone for teenagers because it looks and acts like a high-end flagship smartphone without the high-end price tag. The phone is powered by Samsung’s Exynos 9610 processor, which is more than enough to load and play most apps, even the more complicated, in-depth options. This processor also has enough power to play most games on the app stores. The A50’s design is also a big selling point for teenagers. It looks slick and high-end while still offering a good amount of durability. The casing is made from durable plastic and the screen can stand up to minor bumps and drops.
The Samsung Galaxy A50 smartphone’s biggest selling point is the large, 6.4-inch screen, which is great if you’re looking for the best large screen phones. It’s bright and colorful, and it makes watching movies or playing games immersive enough for any picky teen. We were also impressed by the A50’s battery life. The 4500 mAh battery will last your kid the entire day with average use, and may even last into the second day with minimal use. You’ll also get some high-end functionality in the A50, including the in-screen fingerprint reader, fast charging, and expandable storage options.
Award: BEST FOR PRE-TEENS
WHY WE LIKE IT: This phone is small, tough, and affordable while providing reliable performance across all applications, making it perfect for the pre-teen in your life. It also features superb battery life that will last you all day, even with intense usage throughout the day.
The Motorola Moto G7 Play is the best first mobile phone for 11-year-old kids because of its combination of affordability and performance. We were impressed by its slim design that still allows for a relatively large 5.7-inch HD+ display. This makes it easier to stash the phone in a pocket or backpack. The screen isn’t as high quality as the others we analyzed, but it works well for most applications. The biggest disappointment here is the large notch in the display that takes up a lot of space for the front ear speaker and front-facing camera.
One of the best extra features about the G7 Play is its stellar battery life. On paper, it’s a smaller battery rated at 3000 mAh, but it can still provide all-day performance, even with heavy phone usage. This will keep your pre-teen connected all throughout the day. We were also impressed by the G7 Play’s overall sturdy build. It features a durable polycarbonate back that will stand up to most bumps and bruises and the screen is even tougher than you might expect. The G7 Play also offers a Snapdragon 632 octa-core processor, which is more than enough for playing most mobile games, another huge plus for the pre-teen crowd. Just be sure to invest in the best cell phone cases to avoid costly drops and screen cracks.
As we researched and ranked the best cell phones for kids, we first focused our scoring on overall reliability and parental control. You don’t want to spend potentially hundreds of dollars on a cell phone just to have it die in a month or two. As such, we ranked mobile phones higher in this category if they provided processors with incredible performance and a history of reliability based on customer and expert reviews. We also preferred basic phones that provided user-friendly operating systems and user interfaces so your kids can learn how to use the phone quickly.
We also ranked phones higher if they included some kind of parental control software. Many of these options can be enabled through your cell phone carriers, but there are plenty of phones that build parental controls into their operating system software. Things like time limits for accessing Wi-Fi, apps, basic calling, and text messaging capabilities raised the scores of phones that offered such features. We also rated phones higher if they were physically designed to limit functionality, such as not allowing access to a web browser or keypad for dialing custom numbers.
Finally, we looked at the overall durability and design. The best phones for kids can take a hit and keep running. Smartphones offer tough glass while flip phones resist breaking from drops and bumps. We also ranked phones higher if they included water resistance. However, in the end, no matter how durable a phone is, we still recommend purchasing some kind of protective case because if there’s anyone that knows how to break something, it’s kids.
The best mobile phone for a child is one that offers a solid balance between performance and parental controls. You want your child to have a phone that is functional enough to stay in touch with parents and friends alike, including a long battery life so they don’t have to worry about running out of charge in the middle of the school day.
This decision is completely up to you as a parent, but research from the child development experts at PewResearch Center recommends waiting until 12 or 13 years of age. However, depending on your child’s maturity and individual needs, you should feel empowered to make a decision that falls outside of that recommended age range.
There are many phones available for kids available today, and the one that will work best for your 11-year-old depends on that child’s individual needs. Consider what they’re most wanting a phone for, and try to get an option that meets their needs. However, you’ll also want to be sure you purchase an option that allows you to keep an eye on their online activities and communication with outside sources.
The kind of phone a kid should get depends entirely on their age, maturity level, and individual needs. If you’re purchasing a phone for a younger child, look for something that’s easy to use and that features a lot of parental controls. If you’re purchasing for a kid in their teenage years, something with higher-end features and functionalities may be more important.