The 9 Best Phones for Kids in 2019

Find the perfect smartphone for your child

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

  • Best Audio: LG K30 at Amazon, “If the phone does break, its wallet-friendly price tag makes it easy to replace.”
  • Best for Gaming: Honor 7X at Amazon, “With its high resolution, colors look bright and sharp — especially impressive for a budget-priced phone.”
  • Best Value: Nokia 3.1 Android One at Amazon, “The value-to-feature ratio makes it an exceptional buy.”
  • Best Durability: CAT S41 at Amazon, “A phone that’s made to survive bumps and drops.”
  • Best for Parental Controls: Apple iPhone SE at Amazon, “A shockingly fast device that’s perfect for kids (with a much friendlier price tag that the newest iPhones).”
  • Best Budget: Nokia 3310 at Best Buy, “With 3G network speeds, this phone is not the ‘brick’ phone from the prior generation.”
  • Best Starter Smartphone: Unihertz Jelly Pro Phone at Amazon, “Slightly larger than a pack of bubblegum, it’s surprisingly full-featured and a great first phone.”
  • Best Wearable: GizmoWatch at Verizon, “Running off Verizon’s 4G LTE network, the GizmoWatch is a smartwatch that can make calls."

Our Top Picks

Best Audio: LG K30

3.5

The best phone to buy for kids this year is the LG K30. Available unlocked for use on AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, its rock-bottom price tag makes it an easy choice. However, low price doesn’t mean poor performance. A Snapdragon 425 quad-core processor matched with 2GB of RAM makes opening and closing applications a breeze. Along with 16GB of internal storage for music and apps, there’s expandable microSD storage up to 2TB.

For the kids, there’s an 8MP rear camera that’s perfect for capturing moments with friends. The same goes for selfies with a front-facing 5MP camera. Parents won’t have to worry about battery life thanks to all-day life with a 3000mAh battery. With average use, it’s not out of the question to get two days of use before recharging.

A 5.3-inch display is ideally sized for social media and watching YouTube videos. The display even adds a curved glass edge for a more comfortable grip (and less chance of accidental drops). But, if the phone does break, its wallet-friendly price tag makes it easy to replace.  

You may also be interested in our picks for the best LG phones.

Best for Gaming: Honor 7X

3.8

Equipped with a beautiful 5.93-inch edge-to-edge display at 2160 x 1080 resolution, the Honor 7X has plenty of room for gaming. That’s just 3/10 of an inch shy of the Nintendo Switch display and is sizeable enough for movies and YouTube videos. With its high resolution, colors look bright and sharp (which is especially impressive for a budget-priced phone).

It is powered by Huawei’s Kirin 659 processor and 4GB of RAM so there’s plenty in the tank for the latest Android games. It won’t compete against flagship devices, but it doesn’t have to. Apps open instantly and even with multiple applications running in the background, it shouldn’t slow down. When taking a break from gaming, there are dual 12MP and 5MP cameras on the back. The front camera is dedicated to selfies at 8MP. All of this is powered by a 3340mAh battery which should last all day.

You may also be interested in our picks for the best Huawei phones.

Best Value: Nokia 3.1 Android One

3.4

Nokia’s new ultra-affordable lineup has already proven to be a runaway hit. Featuring a friendly price tag, the value-to-feature ratio on the Nokia 3.1 Android One makes it an exceptional buy. It also has a clean design that fits comfortably in the hand. A 5.2-inch display with 1440 x 720 HD+ resolution is sharp, with crisp colors and overall great video quality. The Gorilla Glass display helps protect against scratches as kids tend to be a little more careless with their phones.

As an Android One device, there’s the most up-to-date Android software available. That gives kids immediate access to the Google Play Store and apps, games, music, movies and more. With 16GB of built-in storage, there’s plenty of room for downloads. A 13-megapixel camera is featured on the back and photos are more than good enough for social media or sharing with friends. The same goes for the 8-megapixel front camera.

Best Durability: CAT S41

Parents know that kids are pretty much guaranteed to drop their phone at some point. Enter the Cat S41, a phone made to survive bumps and drops. Manufactured to handle a six-foot drop onto concrete, it’s tough. Dust-, dirt-, and water-resistant with an IP68 rating, it also adds a scratch-resistant Full HD 5-inch screen. Alongside its durable design, CAT added a MediaTek processor and 3GB of RAM. It’s not the most powerful device, but applications load quickly and navigating menus offers no stutters. The phone is compatible with GSM carriers including AT&T and T-Mobile. Connectivity includes the usual suspects like Bluetooth and NFC, but also 4G LTE data speeds for fast browsing. The 5000mAh battery offers plenty of peace of mind for parents knowing their kids will have battery life for days.

A rear 13-megapixel camera captures photos and videos good enough for social media. The front-facing 8-megapixel camera is perfect for capturing selfies or video chatting with friends. 

For extra durability, you may want to get a nice case. Consider our list of the best waterproof phone cases.

Best for Parental Controls: Apple iPhone SE

As far as iPhones go, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better value than the iPhone SE. Apple took the insides of its popular iPhone 6S and stuck it into an iPhone 5S frame, and the result was a shockingly fast device that’s perfect for kids (with a much friendlier price tag that the newest iPhones).

If you do take the leap, parents will find a reliable device equipped with deep parental controls. With iOS 12, parents can limit smartphone use any way they’d like. Features like “downtime” allow for parents to remotely schedule a block of time in which a device can’t be used. That’s perfect for evenings/overnight as well as homework time.

“App limits” allow parents to set a specific amount of time that any app can be used. Just 30 minutes on Facebook a day? No problem. “Activity reports” allows parents to monitor what their kids are doing. You can see exactly how much time is spent on each app, including games. Also, with iOS 12, parents can prevent kids from independently purchasing new apps or music.

Best Budget: Nokia 3310

Nokia 3310

Courtesy of Best Buy

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 Starter 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: GizmoWatch

GizmoWatch

Verizon

If you’re not quite ready to put a phone in the hands of your child, the GizmoWatch 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 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. 

For more options, check out our roundup of the best wearables for kids.

Tested by

How We Tested

We bought four top-rated phones for kids that our reviewers tested for 115 hours. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these phones, from their design to their battery life. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

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.

Test Results: LG K30 (Best Audio)

3.5

What We Like

  • Superior audio quality

  • Budget-friendly price

  • Lots of modern smartphone features

What We Don't Like

  • Limited storage space

  • Weak camera

LG K30 Phone
 Lifewire / Jordan Provost
LG K30 Phone
Lifewire / Jordan Provost
LG K30 Phone
Lifewire / Jordan Provost
LG K30 Phone
Lifewire / Jordan Provost
LG K30 Phone
Lifewire / Jordan Provost

“The LG K30 looks and feels nice and comfortable, offering lots of modern smartphone features at a fraction of the price,” reported one of our testers. According to one of our reviewers, the major selling point, though, is the sound: “The included DTS: X Surround Sound feature provides superior audio quality with headphones or external speakers,” he noted. On the other hand, one of our testers complained, “The LG K30 suffers from numerous shortcomings compared to other budget phones, including a relatively weak camera, poor graphical performance with 3D games, and only 8 GB of usable storage without a microSD card.” One of our reviewers wished it were even cheaper considering the areas it’s lacking, but noted “its overall physical design is aesthetically pleasing.”

Test Results: Honor 7X (Best for Gaming)

3.8

What We Like

  • Powerful camera

  • Good battery life

  • Large screen

What We Don't Like

  • Too many pre-installed apps

  • Inconsistent download speeds on LTE

Honor 7X
Honor 7X
Honor 7X
Honor 7X

One of our testers called the Honor 7X “a reliable, durable phone with a huge screen, large battery life, and a fairly powerful camera loaded with advanced features.” According to our reviewers, the extra wide screen makes it ideal for playing games or watching movies. In terms of negatives, one of our testers reported “relatively low or inconsistent LTE download speeds, though not enough to affect phone calls or basic web browsing.” Overall? “Although the EMUI OS feels like a weird combination of Android and iOS, we were more than satisfied with the Honor 7X's performance, design, and camera features,” concluded one of our reviewers.

Test Results: Nokia 3.1 (Best Value)

3.4

What We Like

  • Helpful Android One support

  • Great price

  • Good camera

What We Don't Like

  • Limited storage space

  • Not very powerful

  • Design feels outdated

Nokia 3.1
Nokia 3.1
Nokia 3.1
Nokia 3.1
Nokia 3.1

“With an extremely tight budget, the Nokia 3.1 could make a decent starter phone,” remarked one of our testers. Our reviewers found the camera to be “robust” and also liked the 18:9 display ratio, which is great for watching movies. Another highlight? “Getting Android One support in a sub-$200 phone is a big advantage,” noted one of our testers. On the other hand, one of our reviewers cautioned, “The Nokia 3.1 doesn't shy away from the usual cost-cutting limitations of budget phones, including small storage space and limited processing power.” Also, one of our testers said he was “unimpressed” with the exterior design.” However, one of our reviewers concluded, “It’s a good phone for normal usage like phone calls, messaging, some [Internet] browsing, and social media.”

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