several kids looking a phones by fence

Best Phones for Kids in 2022

Choosing a cell phone for your kid is a complex decision. You want a phone that allows kids to contact you in an emergency, that allows you to track phone location (and child) by GPS, and that gives you the option of monitoring and controlling screen time. At the same time, kids can be hard on phones. You don’t want to break the bank on a high-end phone only to have the child drop or lose it. 

The best cell phone for kids provides the safety features you need at a reasonable price. Fortunately, many phone models fit this description, from talk-and-text-only phones for younger children to discontinued iPhones for older kids. Here’s a breakdown by age:

The Best Phones for Young Children (8 to 10)

Eight years old seems young for phone ownership, but being able to contact or track your child can be essential. At this age, the best cell phones for kids are talk-and-text-only phones. Any screen time they do have — on phones, tablets, and computers — should be monitored closely to prevent them from stumbling into questionable content. Safe phones for kids this age include:

The Relay Screenless Phone

The Relay is about the most basic phone you can get for a child. This simple phone uses a push-to-talk feature that only connects your phone number. It’s GPS-enabled, uses 4G LTE, and connects to Wi-Fi networks you allow through the phone's parent app. You can receive alerts if your child wanders out of geo-fenced locations, the battery is good for two days, and the study case is water-resistant. The Relay does require a monthly service charge of $9.99, but if your child is too young to use talk-and-text phones, this might be the right choice for you.

Verizon GizmoWatch 2

It’s a watch, not a phone, but the Verizon GizmoWatch 2 has all the features you need for a young child’s first phone. The watch includes a GPS locator and can be programmed with ten custom contacts kids can communicate with through calling, texting, or voice messages. It’s waterproof, easy to use, and is an excellent introduction to personal tech for the under ten crowd.

The Best Phone for Pre-Teens

Tweens tend to be tech-savvy and more aware of the hot new items than younger kids. At this age, they’re old enough to use phones with more features, but not necessarily mature enough to use those features wisely. Safe phones for kids between the ages of ten and thirteen include the following:

Nokia 2720 V Flip

The Nokia 2720 V Flip is slightly more advanced than talk-and-text-only phones, as it supports Google Assistant and comes with a bright 2.8-inch LCD screen. The phone gives you plenty of bang for your buck, and can be set to send an SMS to up to five contacts with a long press of the Emergency button. An In Case of Emergency menu can hold essential info such as a parent’s phone number, and the phone can be tracked using GPS.

Apple iPhone 3 Mini

The Apple iPhone 3 Mini is one of the best iPhones for kids, in part because of its price. While it comes with access to the internet and can download apps, the Mini remains a safe phone for kids because of Apple’s robust parental control features, which allow you to track the phone, set limits on app usage, limit contacts to numbers you trust, and schedule downtime for time away from the screen.

Best Phone for Teenagers

Once your child hits their teen years, they’re likely to have strong opinions on which phones they want. Allow them some input based on their maturity, but make it clear you’re the one who makes the final decision. At this age, teens will want phones that allow them to communicate with friends, play apps, and have pretty much every feature adults want in their smartphones. Possible choices for teen phones include the following: 

If you’re planning on buying phones for your kids, be sure to choose a family data plan that gives you control over how much data each phone uses. A good family data plan also includes a host of parental tools to help you monitor phone use and keep your kids safe.

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