Best Cell Phones for Kids: The Top Models Today

Electronics & Computers

Although you might wish you could be with your kids everywhere they go, the truth is that for most people, that’s just not possible. So, what’s the next best option? A cell phone so that you can call them, text message them, have them send you pictures of what they’re doing, and keep track of their location.

kid with the KidsConnect KC2 4G Kids GPS Tracker, Kids Cell Phone

Image from Amazon

However, many parents are uncomfortable with giving their kids a smartphone because of all the apps and screen time that could prove distracting not to mention most phones cost hundreds of dollars. Kids are kids, and you probably don’t want to spend lots of money on a phone that they might drop and break or lose.

Is it possible to find a cell phone that allows you to keep in touch without all the apps, gadgets, features, and expensive price tags found on today’s smartphones?

How We Chose Our Ratings

Honesty is critical to us, so to come up with the ratings we combined factors like customer reviews and testimonials, brand reputation, and any relevant data about the cell phones.

Six Best Cell Phones for Kids

If you are looking for a way to keep in touch with your kids without spending a ton of money on a smartphone, then you might like the Relay Kids Screenless Smartphone. The Relay gives you a way to communicate without giving the kids access to screen time and apps that you might not want them to have while only setting you back about $50.

The Relay is waterproof, built tough to withstand when kids are careless, and is made to be durable. You can connect it to a 4G LTE network and use Wi-Fi to send and receive messages through either a second Relay or your mobile phone. It doesn’t always have to be connected to Wi-Fi to work so as long as there is strong cell phone coverage, the Relay can be used to communicate.

To talk, you simply push the only button it has on its face and speak into the device like if it was a walkie-talkie and you’ll receive the message on the other Relay or your phone.  If the Relay is trying to communicate to your phone, you will get a notification ringtone and a screen pop-up to let you know they’re trying to get through.

Monthly service for the Relay costs about $10 a month per unit, and it does not require a contract.

You can enable parental controls, set GPS to track your child’s whereabouts and add free features with the Relay app. Other features you can add are:

  • Voice changer
  • Language translation
  • Music playlists

The Relay comes with a one-year warranty, a USB adapter for charging as well as a magnetic charging cable. One downside to the device is that since it’s not really a cell phone, your child can’t use it to dial 911 although Relay is working on launching an SOS feature in 2019 to let kids alert their parents that they are having an emergency and sends their location.

About 75 percent of parents who have tried the Relay Screenless Smartphone have rated it with either four or five stars. Buyers like that they can delay their young kids from being hooked on cell phone screen time for as long as possible said it’s a plus that you’re communicating right away instead of letting a phone ring, and like how rugged and durable the device is.

However, some customers thought the battery life wasn’t long enough and didn’t like that if you’re pairing the Relay with your phone, you’ll receive a notification, but won’t be able to talk to your child instantly as you would if you had a second Relay.  

With the KidsConnect Kids Cell Phone, you can use parental controls so that your child can only send and receive phone calls and text messages from phone numbers that you have programmed into the device. Plans for the cell phone/tracker sell through the KidsConnect website with starting prices at $13 a month.

The KidsConnect has a GPS feature so that you can pinpoint your child’s location and once it’s activated, it updates about every 30 seconds. An SOS button on the device can send a text message to any three cell phone numbers that you program. There’s also a GeoFencing system that will alert you if your child leaves or enters a certain area like if they leave school without your knowledge.

You can program up to 15 numbers into the KidsConnect, and these will be the only numbers they can call or text and will be the only phone numbers that they can receive phone calls and text messages from. There are three buttons on the face of the device for speed dialing. For any other numbers, they can use the touch screen.

The KidsConnect is a very basic device with just the touch screen, three speed dial buttons, and the SOS button, so it’s perfect if you want to keep your kids off the internet and cut back on their screen time. It’s priced at around $100 and comes in black or silver.  

About 75 percent of parents who have tried using KidsConnect gave it a five-star rating. Many buyers say that it’s an excellent choice to enable your child to have a phone for emergencies and to stay in contact with select friends and family without the possible dangers of an internet-enabled phone.

However, some customers were dissatisfied with the device because they said that like a real cell phone, it’s not built to be kid-tough so if the device gets dropped because your child was careless or had an accident, it will break.

 Nokia 3310 3G

Image from Amazon

4/5 stars

If you want to get an actual cell phone for your child that is not necessarily a smartphone but does have some features, then you might like the Nokia 3310. This phone can be used on AT&T, Cricket Wireless, H20, and T-Mobile so if one of these companies is your carrier and they support 3G, you should be able to add it to your plan.

Available in a variety of colors including yellow and red, the Nokia 3310 is a remake of the old Nokia cell phones. It has Bluetooth, a slot for a Micro SD Card, a two-megapixel camera, the classic mobile game called Snake, and it costs around $60.

Buyers who have provided feedback about purchasing the Nokia 3310 say that it is a good option for kids because it’s not overly plain and although it’s not a smartphone, it functions well for keeping in touch.

Parents can call and text their children, but the kids can10 also keep in touch with friends without the temptation of being on the internet through the phone all day long. Also, many customers said that the Nokia 3310 had amazing battery life that didn’t require frequent charging.

However, some buyers warned that if you’re thinking about buying this phone, you should double check with your carrier first that they still use 3G that will support using the Nokia 3310.

VTech KidiBuzz

Image from Amazon

4/5 stars

If you want to get a cell phone that looks like a smartphone for small children but doesn’t give them quite the freedom a real phone would, then you might like the Vtech Kidibuzz. The Kidibuzz has a five-inch screen that is supposed to be shatter-safe, so you don’t have to worry you’ll be coughing up another $70 every time it accidentally gets dropped.

With this phone, you can set a list of contacts that your child can interact with via text and voice messages, sending pictures, and other fun features once it’s connected to Wi-Fi. Kids can take pictures and selfies with the Kidibuzz as well as add frames, filters, and effects. Parents can limit what websites your child can access to keep them away from sites they shouldn’t visit.

The Kidibuzz also has over 40 learning games and apps and has a feature to prevent the kids from downloading and playing more apps. Children can also use the device’s multimedia player to see videos and hear music.

Buyers with very young children think the Vtech Kidibuzz is useful to keep in touch with their children. However, some buyers with kids over the age of nine said their kids thought the device was for babies so you might find that older kids object to it. There were also mixed reviews regarding the battery life with some people who said it lasted long and others who thought a charge didn’t last long enough.  

If you want to use it for text and voice messages, it shouldn’t be a problem, but some parents said it was overly complicated to set up and kind of slow.

Jitterbug Smart Easy-to-Use 5.5” Smartphone

Image from Amazon

4.5/5 stars

Although the Jitterbug Cell Phone typically advertises as a phone for senior citizens, it could also be one of the best cell phones for kids. The flip phone has large, easy to read buttons which also simplifies dialing. The “yes” or “no” buttons can help your child breeze through navigating any menu.

Jitterbug has to be set up in connection with the provider GreatCall which offers nationwide coverage. It may be a hassle to set up an additional service, but you won’t need a contract, and there aren’t any cancellation fees so if it doesn’t work out, you don’t have to worry about paying any additional costs.

With the Jitterbug, your child will have a cell phone for around $70, but not a smartphone, so it’s a good option if you want to make sure they’re not on Facebook or the internet all day. And with the built-in camera, they can still take lots of pictures.

Buyers who gave feedback on their Jitterbug Cell Phone purchases said that it’s an excellent phone for anyone who just wants the basics. The phone is easy to navigate, has a long-lasting battery, and is simple to use.

 LG Revere 3

Image from Amazon

4.5/5 stars

The LG Revere 3 is for use with Verizon’s wireless service. It’s a basic, black flip phone that costs around $80.

With this phone, your child can still snap pictures with the built-in camera and make and receive phone calls and text messages. However, it won’t allow them to download a bunch of apps or go on the internet as a smartphone would, so you don’t have to worry about spending money on data plans.  

You can enable GPS and use the Family Locator service if you ever need to track your child down or double check their location. The phone has a two-inch display and a compact design so it’s small, easy to carry, and very portable so that they can take it with them pretty much anywhere.

With a fully charged battery, the phone should provide over seven hours of talking time and can be on standby for almost a month.

Buyer’s Guide

What are some things that can help you decide what the best cell phone is for your kids?

  • Features: Do you want the phone to be used just for emergencies or to get in touch with you, the parent? Or does it matter if the phone has hundreds of games on it?
  • Durability: If you have a small child, then you’ll probably want to read the details about the phone’s construction and materials to make sure it can withstand rough handling and drops.
  • Carrier: Can you use the phone through your existing cell phone carrier or will you need a separate service? Can the phone work via Wi-Fi?
  • Battery life: If you work long hours, then you’ll probably need a phone that can last all day so that your child doesn’t have to worry about finding an outlet to recharge their phone.

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