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The best phones for kids

By Mark Jansen


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These days it takes more than simply ringing the steel triangle on your deck to round up the kids for supper. Technology has advanced, and the need for a more efficient way to maintain contact with children from afar has only increased, bolstered by their growing thirst for independence and reliance on consumer technology. Despite the fact that cell phones have become the obvious solution for basic communication and contact in lieu of the landline — and to a lesser degree, the steel triangle — they still pose both a financial and safety risk.

Even though a phone is a great way for parents to maintain contact with their children, picking the right one isn’t always easy. Parents must address crucial factors, such as cost and control, while simultaneously appeasing their children with features such asgames, apps, photos, and texting, among other things. Here areour top picks for the best smartphones and cell phones for kids, so you can keep in contact with your loved ones at all times (even if they don’t want you to). Consider pairingyour chosen phone with one of the best parental control apps or, if you opt for an Android device, take a look at Google’s Family Link for more peace of mind.

The best

Motorola G6 ($250)

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The king is dead — long live the king. If you’re looking for a smartphone that doesn’t break the bank and won’t sting too much if it’s lost, but still offers good performance, then Motorola’s G-range is usually where you’d start. This year, the Moto G6 has upped the ante, delivering a glass-and-metal design that your sprog won’t be ashamed to be seen with. A protective case is included in the package, but you might want to pick from our range of the best Moto G6 cases, since glass is prone to breaking.

Performance is good, delivered by the Snapdragon 450, though it might struggle a little bit with multitasking. We found swapping between demanding apps caused the phone to slow down a bit — but it also handled simple games fairly well, and provided solid enough performance most of the time. There are plenty of storage options too, with 32GB available as a base option, and the ability to add a MicroSD card for extra room.

It’s also packing a decent camera, so your kid can share selfies without worrying about the quality. It’s not perfect, and the battery life might not last as long as you’d like — but Motorola’s TurboPower charging means 15 minutes of charging can give six hours of battery life. Sit your kid down to dinner and plug their phone in, and it should be more than ready to see them through to bedtime. All in all, the Moto G6 is an extremely solid phone that should serve your child well.

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The rest

iPhone SE ($350+)

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As iPhones go, the iPhone SE is a bargain, but it doesn’t come cheap. Don’t let the pint-sized package fool you, however. The iPhone SE has a fast A9 processor, which is the same processor used in the iPhone 6S. It also comes with a crisp display and runsthe latest version of iOS. The iPhone SE is a great choice for a child, too, given it features built-in parental controls. You can prevent your child from accessing the internet and using specific apps, for instance, or prevent them from making purchases in the App Store.

If you’re a family that typically opts for Apple devices, you can share your iTunes contentand easily keep track of your child’s location. It certainly isn’tthe cheapest smartphone you could buy for your child, but it hasgreat specs, terrific software, and it’s a manageable size for smaller hands. If mom and dad have iPhones already, it’s definitely the most convenientchoice. Check out our full review for more information.

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Nokia 6.1 ($270)

Nokia 6.1 smartphone
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

It’s unfortunate, but kids are a clumsy lot, and even the best behaved little ones will often knock their precious phone flying across a room. With that in mind, it’s often worth making sure that their phone can take those sorts of knocks and come out without much of an issue. The Nokia 6.1 is a such a phone. It bucks the recent trend for glass with an all-metal build that feels extremely solid. It’s not exactly a rugged phone, but it should be able to take some accidental drops and knocks better than a glass phone.

That comes at something of a price though, and the chunky bezels mean it’s not the most stylish phone — though we do like the bronze edges. Still, it’s powerful, outstripping most other phones under $300, which makes it the perfect companion for a gaming-happy generation. The camera suffers from poor performance in low light, but is otherwise good. It’s also running on Google’s Android One operating system, which means the phone will be updated with the latest security patches and new features quickly and often, helping to keep your kid’s phone secure. It’s a great choice if solid performance and durability are preferred to flashy looks.

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Best Buy B&H Amazon

Honor 7X ($200)

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Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Kids are a perceptive lot, and they won’t like it if they’re given a device that doesn’t look the part. Thankfully for them (and for your wallet), the Honor 7X looks the business, for a bargain price. It’s one of the first devices in the budget price range to come with a bezel-less design akin to the Galaxy S8 and iPhone X — at a fraction of the price.

The 5.93-inch screen is massive, with plenty of room for most games and movies. The Kirin 659 processor is powerful and capable of standing with any other similarly priced phone on the market. The 3,340mAh battery is long-lasting, and kids who like to take snaps (most kids have an Instagram game that’s on point) will appreciate the extremely good dual-sensor camera suite on the back of the phone. The metal unibody is strong and should be fairly durable, and since it’s running Android there are tons of great parental control apps out there. The only real downside is that Honor’s phones do not support Verizon or Sprint, so if you’re on a family plan with either of those two, this isn’t your best choice. Otherwise, the Honor 7X is a fantastic budget smartphone that kids will love.

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Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) ($270+)

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There’s little chance you’d want to hand a Galaxy S8 to a child, but what about Samsung’s other offerings? Samsung’s A-range has been coming on in leaps-and-bounds the last few years, and the humble A5 makes a great choice as your kid’s phone. A 5.2-inch AMOLED screen is joined by good midrange specs that won’t let you down any time soon. It’s a metal-and glass-build, so you’re risking breakages (grabbing a case is advised), but it’s fully IP68-rated, so it’ll be able to survive a quick dip with no issues. The 3,000mAh is also impressive, so your kid shouldn’t be caught short. So what’s the catch? Like the Honor phone above, this phone will not work with either Verizon or Sprint, so think twice if you’re with either of those two — unless you’re looking to switch your plan soon.

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