Buying a phone for kids can be a challenge, as parents often need to find a balance between pricing and trends, in addition to looking for decent gaming performance and a manageable screen size.
In this article we’ll take a look at budget, mid-range and flagship smartphones that are suitable for adolescents and younger kids, taking the above-mentioned factors in consideration, as well as features that may be important to parents, such as built-in GPS and parental controls.
Best phones for kids, a summarized list:
- Apple iPhone SE 2 (2020) – mid-range price, trendy and powerful
- Google Pixel 3a – mid-range price, best camera in its class
- Samsung Galaxy A10e – budget price, good for a child’s first smartphone
- Nokia 5.3 – budget price, long battery life, many camera options
- Motorola Moto G8 Power – budget price, large screen, long battery life
- Asus ROG Phone 2 – flagship price, gamer-oriented and powerful
- Nokia 3310 3G – budget price, basic phone features, long battery life
- VTech KidiBuzz – budget price, specially designed for younger children
Apple iPhone SE (2020)
The 2020 iPhone SE features a very manageable 4.7-inch screen, along with solid cameras, capable of capturing impressive selfies and video. The SE also boasts enough raw power to put even some flagship devices to shame. Many teenagers will also enjoy the iPhone’s ease of use and trend factor.Avid gamers can play even the most intensive games smoothly on this phone, at medium to high settings. In addition, like all modern iOS devices, the SE natively supports certain wireless game controllers, such as the Xbox Wireless Controller and the PlayStation DualShock 4. Optional is also an Apple Arcade subscription, which gives access to over 100 quality games, suitable for kids of all ages.
Google Pixel 3a
On the Android side, the Google Pixel 3a offers exceptional camera performance that beats even some flagship devices, making it a solid choice for those who are all about the selfie or vlogger lifestyle.
In addition, the Pixel 3a comes with a beautiful 5.6-inch OLED screen and a fast mid-range processor, well capable of running even the heavier games at medium settings. Headphone users will be happy to know that this phone also has a headphone jack.
Parents will find the Pixel 3a a reliable smartphone for kids, with Android’s helpful parental features available on board, such as Google Family Link.
Samsung Galaxy A10e
The A10e is a highly affordable offering from the South Korean giant, and a solid content consumption device. Watching YouTube videos or Netflix on it is an enjoyable experience, thanks to its tall, but still manageable 5.8-inch IPS display. The fact that it has a headphone jack is also more than welcome.
The Galaxy A10e is a good cheap phone for kids who haven’t used a smartphone before, even young ones, as cracking or breaking a device in this price range is way easier to digest than a more expensive one. Due to its low specs, it’s not suitable for hardcore gaming, but it handles casual 2D games just fine.
The upcoming Nokia 5.3 is a well-rounded and snappy Android smartphone, to be available at a price below $250. It’s strong sides are the impressive “portrait mode” photography it delivers, as well as its long-lasting battery, up to two days on a single charge.
Although it doesn’t have the sharpest display, it too impresses with good contrast and colors. The Nokia 5.3 is no slouch in the sound department either, featuring a loud (but single) speaker, and a headphone jack.
Motorola Moto G8 Power
In our recent battery tests, the Moto G8 Power lasted 8 hours and 55 minutes of YouTube video playback. That, combined with its widescreen 6.4-inch display makes it a solid content consumption device.
Despite its large 5000 mAh battery, it weighs a reasonable 197 grams, and still has enough room for a headphone jack. Its mid-range specs are suitable for light gaming, though it likely won’t handle the more intensive games at anything beyond low settings.
When it comes to strong battery life for long YouTube and Netflix watching sessions, on a large screen, and all that for a budget price, the G8 Power is a good pick. Because of its large size however, it may not be suitable for people in their early teens or with smaller hands.
Asus ROG Phone 2
If looking for overkill gaming specs combined with a cool gamer aesthetic, the late 2019 ROG Phone 2 from Asus is among the best options out there, although quite pricey too.
From its 120 Hz screen refresh rate, allowing for a super smooth gaming experience, through its gamer-oriented software, to the optional gaming accessories it supports, the ROG Phone 2 is among the best phones for kids who are all about the gamer life.
Nokia 3310 3G
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 one charge, at least when used lightly.
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 too young for a smartphone.
A smartphone for kids ages 4 and up, the KidiBuzz is as affordable and child-friendly as they come. It’s capable of what the average smartphone can do, such as browsing the internet, playing games and taking pictures, but comes with its own unique apps for those tasks and more, tailored for young kids.
VTech also offers an optional subscription-based learning program meant for 3-6 year olds, with over 2000 educational activities.
One downside that may prove deal-breaking with some parents is that the KidiBuzz doesn’t have a built-in GPS.