The 7 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
It can do everything kids need a phone to do—call, text, play music, and take photos.
This durable smartphone can withstand the inevitable drops and scratches that kids will throw at it.
Best Budget Smartphone:
Nokia 4.2 at Amazon
It includes biometric face unlock, fingerprint scanning, 32G of storage space, and an HD+ screen.
Best Mini Smartphone:
Unihertz Jelly Pro Phone at EBay
Despite its small size, the phone still offers fast performance and everything you’d want in a kid-friendly smartphone.
Parents will enjoy the parental controls and safety features, which include a GPS locator and ongoing reminders.
Using the parental app, you can program phone numbers for kids to 'push to talk,' letting them call you instantly.
The Google Pixel 4a offers a clean Google software experience and an excellent camera, all for an affordable price.

For better or worse, kids are embracing technology from a young age. If you’re thinking about purchasing a phone for your child, it’s a big decision—while you want them to be able to contact you at any time, having a phone is also a big responsibility. 

Luckily, there’s a number of phones that cater to kids, giving parents a reliable and affordable option for their children. The best phones for kids should be durable but easy to use, especially for younger kids. 

We’ve reviewed the best phones for kids, taking into account price, internet access, size, features, and battery life. 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 young ones 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.

Here are the best phones for kids from top brands including Nokia, Motorola, and Verizon.

Best Overall: Nokia 3310

Nokia 3310
What We Like
  • Awesome battery life

  • Tough design can withstand just about anything

  • Very easy to use

What We Don't Like
  • No wireless connectivity

  • Limited storage space

Many parents are looking for a reliable and easy-to-use phone without internet access—often, kids aren’t ready for the responsibilities that come with smartphone ownership. In that case, you can’t go wrong with the Nokia 3310 3G. While it may look like the nostalgic "brick phone" that parents used to play Snake on when they were kids, this is the 2021 version, complete with 3G, four vibrant color choices, and a 2MP camera. It’s very affordable as well.

It can do everything kids need a phone to do—call, text, play music, and take photos. The Nokia phones have always had standout performance when it comes to battery life, and the 3310 is no exception. Users can enjoy up to 22 hours of talk time, which you’re unlikely to find on any other phone. It's easy to use and navigate too, with large buttons that work well for little hands and a center key that doubles as the "select" button. The 3310 doesn’t have a huge amount of internal storage space, but that aside, it’s one of our top choices for kids.

Screen Size: 2.4 inches | Resolution: 320 x 240 | Processor: 460MHz | Camera: 2MP | Battery Life: 22 hours

Best Smartphone: Motorola Moto G7 Play

What We Like
  • Long battery life

  • Durable and sturdy

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Camera quality is average

  • Slower performance than other smartphones

Some parents want their children to have the features and convenience of a smartphone but without the high cost of an iPhone or Samsung. If you’re looking for a fantastic entry-level smartphone, don’t look past the Motorola Moto G7 Play. This durable phone can withstand the inevitable drops and scratches that kids will throw at it, so it’s a reliable choice for clumsy hands. The battery life is also fantastic at up to 40 hours, and so is the price point. If your child happens to lose it, it’s not the end of the world. A fingerprint sensor is also available for phone locking. 

It’s compatible with Alexa too, making it easy for kids to ask for directions or check bus times. While the camera quality isn’t the best, it’s more than good enough for an entry-level phone. However, before purchasing, keep in mind that the G7 is a true smartphone, with access to the internet. Before trusting kids with the responsibility of a smartphone, you might want to establish some boundaries or install a parental control feature. Overall, it’s an excellent first smartphone for kids and teens, who are sure to love the privilege of having the internet at their fingertips.

Screen Size: 5.7 inches | Resolution: 1512 x 720 | Processor: 1.8 GHz octa-core | Camera: Dual 13MP and 8MP | Battery Life: 40 hours

Best Budget Smartphone: Nokia 4.2

Nokia 4.2
What We Like
  • Fantastic price for a smartphone

  • Stylish and durable design

  • Large screen is great for reading or taking photos

What We Don't Like
  • Performance can be slow

  • Uses a MicroUSB to charge, which is becoming rarer

Sometimes it makes sense to go for the cheapest possible option for your kids, as children can be tough on phones. While cheap doesn’t often equal quality, in the case of the Nokia 4.2, we were impressed by how many great features are packed into such an affordable phone. The large, stylish smartphone is available in both black and pink. It includes biometric face unlock, fingerprint scanning, 32GB of storage space, and an HD+ screen, great for selfies or browsing the web. Battery life is decent, so your children can easily get through the day on a single charge. 

The 4.2 also includes dual cameras and editing features, making it lots of fun when you want to get creative. However, the performance of this phone can be slower, especially when you’re running multiple apps. The Nokia 4.2 runs on Android One software, which is a good thing too—it maximizes security and minimizes bloatware, keeping the phone as streamlined as possible without unnecessary memory usage. Sure, for a smartphone under $200, it doesn’t compare to the latest iPhone, but it’s more than enough to keep the kids happy and provide parents with peace of mind.

Screen Size: 5.71 inches | Resolution: 720 x 1520 | Processor: Snapdragon 845 | Camera: Dual 13MP and 2MP | Battery Life: 48 hours

Best Mini Smartphone: Unihertz Jelly Pro Phone

Unihertz Jelly Pro
What We Like
  • Inexpensive

  • Small and compact

  • Simple design that's easy for kids to navigate

What We Don't Like
  • Shorter battery life

  • Tiny size also makes it easier to lose

The Unihertz Jelly Pro is billed as the smallest 4G-enabled smartphone in the world, but it’s also a perfect beginner device. It’s just slightly larger than a pack of gum, which might be inconvenient for adults, but small hands are sure to love the fun size of this phone. The touchscreen is receptive and the buttons fit well into the hands of kids. Despite its small size, the phone still offers fast performance and everything you’d want in a kid-friendly smartphone. Thanks to 4G support, kids can enjoy fast texting and downloads from the major networks. 

It’s simple to use for texts, calls, or downloading apps from the Google Play Store, but it also stands out for its music. With its portable size and 16GB of built-in memory, there’s plenty of space for downloading all your favorite songs. With the included Bluetooth, you can also pair the phone with wireless headphones. However, it’s worth mentioning that the battery life isn’t as long as some of the other phones reviewed here, so you might find yourself frequently reminding your kids to plug in their chargers before bed.

Screen Size: 2.45 inches | Resolution: 240 x 432 | Processor: Quad Core 1.1GHz | Camera: Dual 8MP and 2MP | Battery Life: 12 hours

Best Wearable: Verizon Gizmowatch 2

Verzion Gizmowatch 2
What We Like
  • Supports calls and texts for up to ten programmed contacts

  • Water-resistant

  • Bright, simple display screen

What We Don't Like
  • No Wi-Fi connectivity

  • Only compatible with Verizon

If you’re looking for a way for your child to keep in touch but don't think they're quite ready for a phone, the GizmoWatch 2 is a fantastic alternative. The GizmoWatch is a smartwatch linked to Verizon’s 4G LTE network, which parents can use to program in a total of ten trusted contacts, or 20 for messaging. Kids can then call or text their contacts straight from the watch, with the watch able to handle both incoming and outgoing calls. There’s no Wi-Fi connectivity, but since this watch is aimed at younger kids, that’s probably a good thing.

The comfortable and durable watch is available in both pink and blue, with a colorful screen that’s easy to use. Even better, the watch is waterproof, making it great for active kids. Parents will also enjoy the parental controls and safety features, which include a GPS locator and ongoing reminders. These are set up via the companion app that parents use on their own phone.

As an added bonus, the GizmoWatch 2 is also a fitness tracker, where parents can create rewards when kids meet their step goals. Kids have about four days' worth of battery life per charge.

Screen Size: 1.4 inches | Resolution: 300 x 300 | Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz | Battery Life: 96 hours

Best Screen-Free: Republic Wireless Relay

Republic Wireless Relay
What We Like
  • Screen-free communication for kids

  • Parental controls, including geofencing

  • Colorful and durable device

What We Don't Like
  • Can be tricky to set up

  • A hook or armband case is an additional cost

If you’re looking for a simple way to keep in touch with your kids, but don’t need them to have a screen, check out the Republic Wireless Relay. Think of it as a two-way walkie-talkie that operates on a 4G LTE network, with the option to connect wirelessly if you’re out of range of a cellular network.

The unique square design is bright and colorful, with simple controls that young kids can use. The Relay is easiest to use with a backpack latch or armband, but both require additional purchases. It’s also built tough, meeting military-grade drop standards and water resistance guaranteed up to 1.5 meters. 

Using the parental app, you can program phone numbers for kids to "push to talk," letting them call you instantly. Parental controls also let you set up geofencing, which notifies you when kids enter or exit the pre-selected boundaries. Your device should last about two days on a single charge, and the Relay also supports Qi wireless charging. The Relay is fantastic for a reliable, screen-free device with low monthly fees and simple usage.

Battery Life: 48 hours

What We Like
  • Excellent camera

  • Great OLED screen

  • Solid performance

  • All-day battery

  • Incredible value

What We Don't Like
  • No 5G

  • Bland design

The Google Pixel 4a is one of the best value phones you can get for kids. It comes in at an affordable price, while still offering fast performance, an attractive screen, and a battery that lasts all day. The camera is particularly great as well, giving your child the ability to snap great shots with minimal effort. The long-lasting battery will help you keep tabs on your child without having to worry about them running out of the juice. The phone works on most major carriers, and it offers speed connectivity even though it doesn't come with 5G. It's more than enough to keep your child connected without having to spend too much.

Screen Size: 5.81 inches | Resolution: 2340x1080 | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G | Camera: 12.2MP rear and 8MP front | Battery: 3,140mAh

"While there are pricier phones with more intriguing designs, faster processors, 5G capabilities, and camera perks, the Pixel 4a represents an incredible bargain at just $349." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Google Pixel 4a

Andrew Hayward / Lifewire

Final Verdict

One of the best phones for kids has to be the Nokia 3310 (view at Amazon). It’s durable, reliable, and has a long battery life that will keep your kids in communication. If you’re looking for a smartphone with internet capabilities, check out the Motorola Moto G7 Play (view at Amazon). It’s an affordable, entry-level smartphone that can be a good tool for teaching your kids how to safely use a smartphone.

About Our Trusted Experts

Katie Dundas is a freelance journalist who has been covering tech for several years, with a focus on smartphones, photography, and Apple products.

Andrew Hayward is a Chicago-based reviewer who has been covering tech for Lifewire since 2019. He specializes in reviewing phones, tablets, and other mobile devices, and has reviewed hundreds of phones to help give you the best recommendations.

FAQs

When should kids get their first phone?
Surveys have shown that parents are getting kids their first phone, on average, around ten years of age. However, many parents prefer to wait until their children are older, such as when they start high school or learn to drive. It’s a personal choice for you and your family to make. 

Should you give your kids a smartphone?
This is a personal decision, as internet access means kids can potentially be exposed to just about anything. However, kids need to learn at some point how to use the internet safely, so weigh the pros and cons. If you’re going to let your children have internet access on their phones, consider installing parental blockers and regularly talking to them about the importance of internet safety. 

Can you install parental controls on your child’s phone?
Many phones that are designed for children to use come with specific apps and parental controls that you can use to monitor your child’s location, who they communicate with, and what information they can access. If your child has a smartphone, it’s possible to limit access to adult content, but know that children always have a way of finding things they shouldn’t—make sure you talk to your child often about internet safety. You may also want to take a look at our roundup of the best parental control routers to keep your home network child safe.

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 pre-approved 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 within 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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