The 6 Best Phones for Kids in 2021

Find the perfect smartphone for your child

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The Rundown
Best Overall:
Nokia 3310 at Amazon
"With 3G network speeds, this phone is not the ‘brick’ phone from the prior generation."
"If your kids are ready for the responsibility that comes with a true smartphone, the Moto G7 Play is a solid entry-level option."
Best Value:
Nokia 4.2 at Amazon
"Perfect for streaming shows or playing games on the go."
Best Mini Smartphone:
Unihertz Jelly Pro Phone at Amazon
"Slightly larger than a pack of bubblegum, it’s surprisingly full-featured and a great first phone."
"If you’re not quite ready to put a phone in the hands of your child, the GizmoWatch 2 is the next best thing."
"If you need a simple and straightforward way for your kids to stay in touch, the Republic Wireless relay fits the bill nicely"

Love it or hate it, kids are more connected than ever, so make sure they're staying in touch with the right people with one of the best cell phones for kids. Our collection of smart devices for kids goes beyond just giving your kids a sense of independence and responsibility, phones like the Nokia 3310 at Amazon, or the Republic Wireless Relay at Amazon are both sensible ways to ensure that they have a trustworthy adult no more than a phone call away.

This doesn't mean you have to spend several hundred dollars on the latest smartphone, however. Many of our picks encompass a wide range of features and functions based on your budget or how much autonomy you want to give the miniature adult in your life. There are plenty of guides available on setting effective online boundaries for your kids, and buying one of the best phones for kids can make all the difference when trying to meter their screen time.

Best Overall: Nokia 3310

Nokia 3310

There’s a good chance the predecessor to this device was a parent’s first phone back in the early 2000s. Now, nearly 20 years later, Nokia has revamped its 3310 phone. With 3G network speeds, this phone is not the "brick" phone from the prior generation. Sure, it still makes calls, plays music and can send texts, but now it does a whole lot more.

The rear 2MP camera won’t capture professional photos, but it’s good enough to have fun with friends. There’s also no front-facing camera, but that’s par for the course with a phone in this price bracket. The 3310 does, however, come in four fun colors for a little personalization. It also adds a 1200mAh battery for up to 22 hours of talk time, which is far more than what most of today’s flagship smartphones can offer. The easy-to-navigate menu relies on a four-way directional pad to move around and a center key that doubles as a "select" button. A microSD slot adds up to 32GB of additional storage which can be used for photos and music. 

Best Smartphone: Motorola Moto G7 Play

If your kids are ready for the responsibility that comes with a true smartphone, the Moto G7 Play is a solid entry-level option. This android smartphone provides all of the features you would expect at a remarkably affordable price point. While the camera and overall performance of the phone could be better, the G7 Play's battery life and durability receive top marks.

It's important to note that the G7 a true smartphone, so you may want to establish some parental controls before letting your kids run wild with their new toy. Giving your kid a smartphone is a fairly big leap in both independence and responsibility, and the G7 play is an excellent first step for them to grow on.

Best Value: Nokia 4.2

Nokia 4.2

If you’re looking for a cheap phone that doesn’t cut any corners, you’ll do well with the Nokia 4.2. It’s filled with all sorts of features that your kids will love — from a biometric face unlock and fingerprint scanner to 32GB space, extendable up to a whopping 400GB with microSD cards, and a battery that will last all day. Not only does the Nokia 4.2 have an HD+ screen, perfect for streaming shows or playing games on the go, but it runs on the Snapdragon 439 as well, meaning if it does run out during the day, you can charge it quickly with Quick Charge 3.0 technology.

Updates won’t be oversized or annoying since the Nokia 4.2 doesn’t come with any bloatware thanks to Android One, so don’t worry about your kid’s phone missing out on security. Reaching them won’t be a problem either, as the phone works with 4G LTE bands 1/3/5/7/8/20/28/38/40/41. To top it all off, using the Nokia 4.2's dual cameras and extensive editing features, your kids can also let out their creative side whenever they take pictures.

Best Mini Smartphone: Unihertz Jelly Pro Phone

Billed as the smallest 4G-enabled smartphone in the world, the Unihertz Jelly Pro phone is a perfect beginner device. Slightly larger than a pack of bubblegum, the Jelly Pro is still surprisingly full-featured and a great first phone. And once you look past its diminutive size, there’s plenty to like.

Built-in GPS and a pedometer provide an easy way to track steps or time. It’s especially good for listening to music. Bluetooth support is hardly surprising, but Unihertz specifically draws attention to its small size as a perfectly portable MP3 player. With 16GB of onboard memory, there’s storage for plenty of songs. Bluetooth support also means it will connect to the hundreds of wireless headphones that are available.

Android 7.0 Nougat controls the operating system providing complete access to the Google Play Store. That’s going to come in handy with the 4G speeds making app downloads fly by. Network speeds are compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile LTE networks.

Best Wearable: Verizon Gizmowatch 2

Verzion Gizmowatch 2

If you’re not quite ready to put a phone in the hands of your child, the GizmoWatch 2 is the next best thing. Running off Verizon’s 4G LTE network, the GizmoWatch is a smartwatch that can make calls. Parents get immediate peace of mind with the GizmoHub app. You can set GPS boundaries and establish automated alerts for when your child leaves a preset area, just by pressing a few buttons. Want to reach your child while they are on the go? Two-way calling works with 10 preset contacts that parents can set up for incoming or outgoing calls. The same restrictions work with text messaging and its 20 pre-approved contacts for messaging.

Outside of parental overwatch, the GizmoWatch 2 does offer something for the kids. The ability to count steps makes it fare well on the fitness side as does its waterproof design. You can change ringtones or themes to add a bit of personalization so each child can make the GizmoWatch their own. With up to four days of usage on a single charge, the only decision for parents is whether to get a pink or blue band. 

Best Screen Free: Republic Wireless Relay

Republic Wireless Relay

If you're keen to keep track of your child without committing to a full-fledged smartphone, the Republic Wireless Relay is an excellent compromise. Essentially a 2-way radio that operates on a 4G network. The brightly colored Relay couldn't be easier to use, at the push of a button the Relay can contact your phone. One important note, however, is while there is GPS tracking present in the Relay, there is no way for the child to contact 911 directly should the need arise.

If you need a simple and straightforward way for your kids to stay in touch, the Republic Wireless relay fits the bill nicely with its robust, screen-free design, low monthly fees, and remarkable ease-of-use.

Final Verdict

Our top choice for a kid's phone has to be the Nokia 3310. While it definitely lacks many of the bells and whistles that make owning a smartphone so appealing, this phone still offers the ability to talk and text in a small and durable package that won't break the bank. However, the Republic Wireless Relay brings many of the same tracking and communication options in a screen-free format.

What to Look for in a Phone for Kids

Wearable - If you have a younger child, consider a wearable phone that’s designed specifically for kids. Since these phones are worn like watches, young children are less likely to lose them. Most of these phones are only able to send and receive calls from preapproved numbers, so you don’t have to worry about whom your kid is talking to when you aren’t around.

Battery life - Unless you want to shoulder the task of reminding your kid to plug their phone in every night, a decent battery is pretty important. Look for a phone that supports fast charging over USB-C, too—if it’s in the budget. When just a few minutes of charging can add hours of battery life, you never have to worry about not being able to get into contact with your kid.

Feature phones vs. smartphones - Feature phones are less expensive than smartphones, and they can help insulate your kid from problems like cyberbullying via apps. Some feature phones include built-in MP3 players and FM radios, if you want your kid to have some entertainment options. If you do go with a smartphone, make sure to familiarize yourself with the available parental controls first.

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