11 Best Phones for Kids in 2021: Your Top Choices

Best Phones for Kids

Apple, Nokia, Doogee, Google, Plum Ram

Buying a phone for a child can be a lot harder than you’d think. Thankfully, once you know who you’re buying for and what their needs are, finding the best phones for kids is a lot less taxing. All of the phones on this list cover different price points and each serves a different purpose, leaving you with even more choices in an easy-to-understand, jargon-free way.

Also of Interest: Best Cheap Laptops for Kids

Apple iPhone 8 Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Excellent camera
  • Easy to use
  • Apple means quality
Price: $205.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
XPLORA X5 Play Amazon Customer Reviews
  • SOS button with GPS tracking
  • Works like a normal phone
  • High quality
Price: $169.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
DOOGEE S96 Pro Amazon Customer Reviews
  • The most rugged phone of the market
  • 8GB RAM / 128GB Storage
  • Superb Samsung camera with night vision
Price: $389.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Apple iPhone X Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Good for gaming
  • Can be used as a drawing tablet
  • Brilliant camera
Price: $334.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Moto G Play Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Excellent battery life
  • Great value at a low price point
  • Great for most gaming
Price: $159.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Incredible screen
  • Perfect for gaming
  • Amazing selfie camera
Price: $699.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
OnePlus Nord N10 Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Killer front and selfie camera
  • Great for gaming
  • Is 5G-ready
Price: $299.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Google Pixel 4a Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Best Android phone around
  • Great for gaming
  • Camera is brilliant
Price: $349.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Samsung Galaxy A12 Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Samsung phone, only cheaper
  • Brilliant battery life
  • Good amount of power
Price: $207.70 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Nokia 225 Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Budget-friendly
  • Very easy to use
  • Will last for days on a single charge
Price: $44.16 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Plum Ram 7-4G Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Super affordable
  • Super durable thanks to shockproof and waterproof shell
  • Has basic functions like music and video players
Price: $142.11 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Apple iPhone 8 (Renewed) | Best Phone for Teens

    Pros:
    • Excellent camera
    • Easy to use
    • Apple means quality
    • Affordable
    Cons:
    • Slightly older model (2017)
    • Can't repair it yourself with a lot of work
    • Average battery life

    There’s a certain trendiness when it comes to Apple. If you own an Apple iPhone, you’re cool. From a more parental point of view, if you buy an Apple iPhone, you’re getting premium quality, superb customer support, and a phone that does it all. 

    On the display side of things, the Apple iPhone 8 boasts a 1920-by-1080-pixel resolution at 401 PPI display along with True Tone tech. In short, that means the display is unbelievably crisp and viewable from different angles. 

    IPhones are also known for their killer cameras and the iPhone 8 is no different thanks to the inclusion of dual 12MP cameras with autofocus and f/1.8 aperture. The autofocus in particular is impressive if you struggle to keep your hand still when taking photos. 

    I should point out, normally iPhones cost a lot. Like, seriously a lot. That’s why many teens opt for the slightly older models. They’re still great phones, they just cost less because they haven’t got the latest cutting-edge tech (that most kids won’t even need). 

    If you’re after the best phones for teens, the iPhone 8 is very easy to recommend. Even more so when you can get a great deal on it. 

  2. 2. XPLORA X5 Play | Best Phone for Young Kids

    Pros:
    • SOS button with GPS tracking
    • Works like a normal phone
    • High quality
    • Known as "A piece of mind for parents"
    • Parental app is great
    Cons:
    • Pricey
    • Doesn't support ┬áSprint, Verizon, and US Cellular
    • More color schemes would be nice

    When it comes to phones for young kids, safety should be at the forefront. Even though the XPLORA X5 Play isn’t a traditional smartphone, it’s been designed with kids in mind. 

    As any parent will tell you, younger kids aren’t great at looking after phones. What can parents do? The solution is to strap the phone to their wrist. 

    The XPLORA X5 Play, despite being a watch, still works as a normal phone. It’s sim-free, meaning you can buy a sim card online and it’ll work without any issues. In fact, it can do most of what phones can, including receiving texts, images, and voice messages. It’s even got emoji support. 

    One thing to note, for the best results, XPLORA recommends going with SpeedTalk Mobile for the sim. Most mobile networks are supported, with the exception of  Sprint, Verizon, and US Cellular. 

    What separates the X5 Play from other phones is the inclusion of an SOS button. If your child runs into any trouble, they hit the button and it’ll alert their emergency contacts. Not only that, it’ll send the child’s GPS location so you know exactly where they are. 

    I also need to stress the importance of quality here. You can buy no-name smartwatches for kids for as little as $25. You shouldn’t, though. Those types of watches are more like toys that only kind of work and aren’t always reliable. Although the XPLORA X5 Play may be a little pricey, you won’t need to worry about your child becoming stranded if the tech breaks. 

  3. 3. DOOGEE S96 Pro | Best Rugged Phone for Kids

    Pros:
    • The most rugged phone of the market (I couldn't break it)
    • 8GB RAM / 128GB Storage is A LOT
    • Superb Samsung camera with night vision
    • Best overall battery life (you'll get days of usage out of it)
    Cons:
    • Heavy
    • Bulky design isn't for everyone
    • Zello button may not be useful for everyone

    The DOOGEE S96 Pro is a tank. I’ve been playing with it for a while now and I’m impressed by how durable it is. 

    One of the selling points of the S96 Pro is it can survive a fall from 1.8 meters. Throwing a review phone at the floor isn’t something I’m used to, but in the interests of science, that’s what I did. Seven times. And it still hasn’t so much as a scratch on it. To say I’m blown away by how durable this thing is would be an understatement. It’s easily the best rugged phone for kids out there. And believe me, my kids have been through a few phones…

    I don’t want to throw a load of tech-speak at you (high-density macro-molecule coating!), but it’s the solid structure along with clever sealing tech and shock absorption that makes the S96 Pro so tanky. 

    The crazy thing with the S96 Pro is at this point you’d be forgiven for expecting some drawbacks in the form of specs. That simply isn’t the case here, though. 

    On the power side of things, you’ve got 8GB of RAM, meaning this thing loads up and handles apps with lightning speeds, and an internal storage of 128GB, which is a frankly obscene amount of space to fill. Even after transferring over all my music, photos, and games, I’ve only managed to fill around 60GB. 

    Okay. Let’s talk camera. Surely the camera is cheap in a bid to bring the cost of the tech and shell down? Nope! Here you’ve got a Samsung 48MP camera, a Samsung 16MP selfie camera, and – wait for it – a Sony night vision camera. Yes, it’s got a night vision camera, and it works brilliantly. Mad, isn’t it? 

    Oh, and if that’s not enough, it can be used underwater in depths of 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes, and yes, it plays Fortnite. 

    Not everyone will take to the bulky design of the S96 Pro. It is heavy compared with other mobile phone models. But given this phone is a fraction of the price of recent iPhones and still packs more power than anyone could feasibly need, it’s no surprise why it’s one of the best phones for kids. Even more so if you’re worried about your child breaking their new phone or you want something that’s going to last (and work) year after year. 

  4. 4. Apple iPhone X (Renewed) | Best Phone Under $500

    Pros:
    • Good for gaming
    • Can be used as a drawing tablet
    • Brilliant camera
    Cons:
    • The iOS operating system isn't as open as Android
    • Battery life is around 18 hours
    • Some people don't like buying renewed

    The Apple iPhone 12 costs over $1000. The iPhone from a few years ago, however, is one of the best phones for under $500. 

    The Apple iPhone X does just about everything. It’s good for gaming and apps, brilliant for drawing thanks to apps like Procreate, and the camera is magnificent. 

    Although getting an iPhone X brand new is going to cost you, getting a renewed version is a way to keep the costs below $500. And yes, renewed products are checked for quality purposes.

    Sure, it may be from 2017, but high-end phones from a few years ago can still outperform most of the sub $200 options from today. Definitely don’t be put off by its age. 

  5. 5. Moto G Play | Best Value Smartphone

    Pros:
    • Excellent battery life
    • Great value at a low price point
    • Great for most gaming
    Cons:
    • Most likely won't run Fortnite
    • RAM is okay
    • Storage is just about enough

    The Moto G Play is just a ridiculous amount of value for what is a pretty good phone. 

    First, let’s talk batteries. The Moto G Play features a 5000 mAh battery, which translates to around three days of uptime. When I had the Honor 10 Lite, which cost more than the G Play, I was averaging around a day’s worth of usage before needing to charge. Given how much time kids spend on mobile games, having a high-capacity battery is absolutely something that should be high up your list. 

    In terms of raw power, the Moto G Play is best described as ‘enough’. 32GB of storage and 3GB RAM isn’t anything to get excited about, but given the storage is eMMC, the phone itself will be fast enough for most things. Just don’t expect it to run Fortnite or the more demanding games. 

    As for the camera, we’ve got a 13-megapixel front and a five-megapixel selfie camera. Meh. It’s not great, but then the main hook of this phone is being able to play games without needing to be plugged into a charger. You’re also not going to get a great camera in the sub $200 price bracket unless you go iPhone either. 

    That said, not many kids will care about the quality of the camera. So long as it works and they can take snaps, that’s all that matters. 

    It’s also worth noting, this phone was released in 2021, so it’s still considered a new and ‘in’ phone. 

  6. 6. Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G | Best Phone for Gaming

    Pros:
    • Incredible screen
    • Perfect for gaming
    • Amazing selfie camera
    • Runs super fast
    Cons:
    • Battery life could be better
    • Fingerprint scanner could also be better
    • Because of how much power it packs, it's pricey

    If your child’s a gamer, they absolutely want the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G. 

    This thing is a beast. The octa-core CPU paired with the Adreno 650 GPU, backed by 6GB of RAM means this thing will run pretty much every game available, and they’ll look lush thanks to the Super AMOLED, HDR10+, 120Hz screen. If you care about things running and looking the best they can, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is where it’s at. 

    On the camera side of things we’ve got a 12 MP front camera and a frankly ridiculous 32 MP selfie camera. Selfies have never looked this good. 

    Although the 12 MP front camera may not sound much, Samsung knows how to make phones that take luscious photos, so it’s not a major concern as it would be with other brands. 

    Okay, elephant in the room. Sure, this is pricey, but given this thing has the power to rival PCs, it’s no surprise this one costs a bit more. 

  7. 7. OnePlus Nord N10 | Best Phone for Selfies

    Pros:
    • Killer front and selfie camera
    • Great for gaming
    • Is 5G-ready
    • Affordable, given the power
    • Suitable for older kids
    Cons:
    • Display could be a little brighter
    • Macro and low-light tech isn't a good as it could be
    • Battery life could be better

    The OnePlus Nord N10 is one of the best phones for kids who want to take selfies on a device with the latest tech. 

    Released at the end of 2020, this phone packs in an insane quad-camera capable of 64 MP and a stunning 16 MP self camera. If it’s for older kids, say 15 to 18, who want to take loads of selfies, this is the phone to go with.

    The excellent camera options here aren’t the only things to get excited about either. On the storage front, we’ve got a whopping 128GB of space, which is an amount of space that’s hard to fill on a phone. On the power side of things, we’ve got 6GB of RAM, the Adreno 619L GPU, and a quad-core processor. In English, that means it’s perfect for gaming. 

    It’s also a 5G phone, meaning it supports the latest band of wireless technology. 

    Although OnePlus may not be as well known as the likes of Apple, the N10 is better value at a lower price point with power for days and one of the best selfie cameras out there.  

  8. 8. Google Pixel 4a | Best Android Phone in 2021

    Pros:
    • Best Android phone around
    • Great for gaming
    • Camera is brilliant
    • Adaptive battery tech
    Cons:
    • Battery could still be longer
    • No wireless charging
    • Feels a little plasticy

    Google invented Android way back in 2003, so it goes without saying the same company knows how to put together a killer Android phone. 

    The Google Pixel 4a comes with 6GB of RAM and is powered by the godly Adreno 618 GPU. Whether it’s for gaming or day-to-day usage, the Pixel 4a can do it all and then some. 

    What’s especially cool about the Pixel 4a is the adaptive battery. It can last up to 24 hours, and the more you use the phone, the more the battery learns what your favorite apps are, and will then adjust power usage based on what best for you. Isn’t that cool?

    Despite being a powerhouse of the phone, it’s still rocking a fairly strong camera. Specially, you’ve got a 12.2 MP front and an 8 MP selfie camera. Those aren’t the most amazing specs in the world, but they’ll still produce photos of a high-end standard, in part thanks to the HDR+ tech that improves photos by adjusting for color and lighting. It’s also got a rather nifty night sight mode for capturing photos in the dark. Neat!

    I’d also wage because of how popular Google products are, the Pixel 4a is one of the best phones for teens as well. It has it all, photos look sharp, gaming is a joy, and the battery tech is smart, especially when it comes to kids. After all, they are glued to their phones 90 percent of the day.

     

  9. 9. Samsung Galaxy A12 | Best Budget Samsung Phone

    Pros:
    • Samsung phone, only cheaper
    • Brilliant battery life
    • Good amount of power for apps and games
    Cons:
    • Cameras are okay
    • Performance could be more consistant
    • Better options in the price bracket

    Samsung’s flagship phones cost upwards of $1000. If you’re after something more wallet-friendly, the Samsung Galaxy A12 is still a mighty phone that won’t cost a bomb. 

    Power-wise, things are good. At this price point you won’t be getting cutting-edge tech, but that doesn’t mean the Galaxy A12 doesn’t pack a punch. For the money, you’re getting 64GB of storage, which is more than enough, and 4GB of RAM, which is just about enough to keep things moving at a modest pace. 

    The rear camera comes in at a massive 48MP, while the selfie side of the things is just 8 MP. Are either of these cameras a rival to Apple or Google? Not really, but they’ll take good enough shots a child would be happy to post online. 

    What’s a real surprise here is just how solid the battery is, with some tests stating it can last up to 32 hours on a voice call. It’s perfect for kids who love to chat, then. 

  10. 10. Nokia 225 | Best Budget Phone

    Pros:
    • Budget-friendly
    • Very easy to use
    • Will last for days on a single charge
    Cons:
    • Can't run modern games
    • Looks basic
    • Not cool enough for older kids

    Although Nokia may not be en vogue with today’s generation, if you’re after a budget phone that does the job and lasts, the Nokia 225 is a steal. 

    In terms of power, there isn’t anything here to get excited about. 128MB of RAM paired with a measly 64MB of storage means this thing is limited in what it can do. Games are a no-go, and there are better options for music. 

    So, why does this phone make the cut? That’s simple. Affordability. 

    This thing is super budget, which for parents who just want a device that isn’t going to break any time soon, for texting or phoning their child, the Nokia 225 does the job. It’s the no-frills phone for parents on a budget, and there’s nothing wrong with that. 

  11. 11. Plum Ram 7-4G | Best Basic Rugged Phone

    Pros:
    • Super affordable
    • Super durable thanks to shockproof and waterproof shell
    • Has basic functions like music and video players
    Cons:
    • Not as many options as a smartphone
    • Ugly compared with modern phones
    • Average amount of storage (32GB)

    The Plum Ram 7-4G is the most basic phone out there with a price to match. If you’re after something that’s purely for contacting your child, the 7-4G is worth considering purely just because of how affordable it is. 

    In terms of what this does, there aren’t as many options as a smartphone. It’ll play music and videos, features Bluetooth, and has a loudspeaker. It’s also P68 certified, waterproof, shock-proof, and has a flashlight.

    For kids, aside from the cost, the main reasons for picking this up are its durability and the fact it boasts a 1700 mAh battery – the latter of which equates to around 24 hours of talk time and 900 hours on standby. 

    Sure, it won’t run modern games, but as a device for phoning your child while they’re out, it does the job at an attractive price point.

How Many Megapixels is a Good Amount?

There's a myth around phones that the more megapixels, the better. While megapixels (MP) are an okay way to measure a camera, it's not reliable in the slightest. 

What makes a camera good is the type of lens (or lenses) it has and how it's integrated into the handset. Take the Samsung Galaxy A12. That phone has 48 MP so the camera must be mind-blowing, right? Nope. It's very okay. 

Generally speaking, the more you're paying for a device, the better the camera should be. That's not always true, but it's a good rule of thumb. Cameras under $200 will be fine for daily snaps but not for high-end photography. 

That is, with the exception of Apple. That company is always a safe bet when it comes to cameras. Even more so if it's a handset made in the last few years. 

How to Pick a Phone for Kids

Picking a phone for kids or teens isn't nearly as difficult once you know what specifically you need it for and what age group you're buying for. 

If you're after something purely for calling and texting your child, the sub $100 options are well worth looking at. Just keep in mind as they grow older, they're more likely to want something more powerful (and fun).

For ages six and up, I'd definitely recommend going with a smartphone over an old-school dialer. Kids love being able to play games on mobile and chatting with their friends online. Being able to do either of those things isn't possible on old-school devices. 

It's also worth keeping in mind how clumsy your child is. Accidents do happen, after all.

Do you think getting a shock-proof case would be investing in? Would you prefer a phone with shock absorption and waterproofing already built-in? 

It's also worth keeping in mind, buying a cheap smartphone (some exist for under $50) is a terrible idea. They're not fast enough, which leads to frustration, and kids are less likely to look after something that annoys them. Nobody likes paying extra, of course, but if it's going to last, it saves you money in the long run. 

Finally, consider ages. The Doogee S96 Pro is brilliant for ages six to 13 (read: Kids likely to break a phone), but despite its power and ability to play Fortnite and all the latest games, it simply isn't hip enough. 

For ages 13 and up, I'd consider going with something more popular. Think Apple, Samsung, or Google Pixel. Some of those handsets may cost a little more, but the brand power is going to help them not feel left out. Plus they are really great phones in their own right. 

See Also: 

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