01/03/2021

Best Phones For Kids 2021

When it comes to choosing a mobile phone for your child, it can be difficult to make a decision as there’s so much choice available. The market has changed a great deal over the past ten years, and some handsets that were originally recommended for children to do the basics like calls and texts are now from a bygone era, which could cause frustration and embarrassment.

These days, children will be looking for something modern that suits their needs and aptitude at using the latest technology. The youngest generations spend the most time browsing the internet on their phones, so you’ll want to purchase a device that enables them to do this effectively and safely. With this in mind, you should try to find a device that will be the best option for your child. Check out our handy guide below to give you an idea of which mobile phone would suit your child the best:

When Is It Appropriate To Give a Child Their First Phone?

Kids communicate with their friends on social networks, and many will have had access to the web in one form or another, either through a household desktop computer or a tablet. Nowadays, a phone is more personal. It's taken with them wherever they go, and children have some inherent responsibility in terms of keeping it charged, switched on when it needs to be and switched off (or on silent) when appropriate.

As many experts and the parents here at Compare and Recycle agree, your child might not need a phone until they start being more independent, travelling to school by themselves, visiting friends or staying at after school clubs, and this would usually be around secondary school.

What Should You Get as a First Phone for Your Child?

With all the choice in the world available, it can be a bit of a minefield. So, narrowing down your options is a good place to start. This will depend on your child’s age too:

  • Will your child be using the phone for socialising, or only for necessity?
  • How much are you willing to spend on a phone that has a high chance of being lost or broken by your child?
  • Do you want to have tight controls over how they use the device, or to restrict them by buying a basic handset?
  • Do you want them to have a rugged device that can endure being thrown about in a backpack or a stylish device that will earn them popularity points?

What To Look Out for When Buying a Child’s First Phone

We would recommend avoiding expensive flagship devices as a first phone, as while your child may have the coolest tech on the playground, they could also be a target for thieves. Flagships also tend to be less rugged, and the constant appeal of the apps could wear the battery down or interfere with time that should be spent paying attention in the classroom. You’ll also have cyber-bullying, internet safety and awareness to consider (especially important if your child is young) which should be a priority when giving a child their first phone.

PhoneRRP (from)Battery sizeGreat becauseRating for kids
Moto E7i£795,000 mAhCheap, 2 days on a single charge,
reasonable hardware
★★★★★
Refurbished iPhone XR£350 and less2942 mAhAffordable iPhone and
lengthy software support
★★★☆☆
Moto G8 Power~ £1705000 mAhLong-lasting battery, perfect blend
of reliability and performance
★★★★☆
Refurbished iPhone SE 2020£310 and less1821 mAhClassic iPhone design,
repairable and compact
★★★★★
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9~ £1705020 mAhIncredible value for money,
great battery life
★★★☆☆

Best Kids Phones Reviews

Refurbished iPhone XR

One of our top picks for children is the iPhone XR. The iPhone XR has a lot of attractive features including a decent battery life (considering it’s an iPhone) that’s ideal for taking parent's worries of kids phone running out of charge away as it will last them all day. It also comes with fun colour options (namely black, blue, coral, red, white and yellow) giving children the opportunity to express themselves by making their mobile phone a bit more personal. While it’s this model we would recommend as one of the suitable iPhones for kids, more specifically we would say that you should opt for a refurbished one. For this option, it will cost around £350 for a pristine condition and you can find one for less than £300 if you don't mind a few marks on the casing, which is a good deal considering that the latest brand-new iPhones cost upwards of £1000 on the top end. You could argue that anything above £100 for a first phone for a kid is simply throwing money away, but if you have them contribute to the cost of the iPhone or the SIM plan, maybe even both, you will teach them value of money, developing their understanding around costs and they will be taking better care of the iPhone.

We would recommend buying a refurbished device across the board for many reasons. Firstly, you’ll make some significant savings on the cost of the device (which could be useful if your child breaks their phone and you need to repair it later on). It’ll be in full working order like a new device as it’ll be fully restored by the retailer, and it could even look brand-new to the untrained eye, if you opt for a phone that’s in pristine condition. What’s also important to note is that you’ll be purchasing a device that’s already in circulation, which is a much better option for the environment than buying a brand-new phone.

Refurbished iPhone SE 2020

Up next on our recommendations list is the iPhone SE 2020, which is a great option if you want to get your child one of the latest iPhones without breaking the bank. In terms of specs, it’s a lightweight device with a powerful chipset that will work well for extended use. It comes in the classic compact iPhone design that we know and love, and it’s a phone that’s likely to get several years of use. This is because Apple will continue to add iOS and security updates over the next four years which will include further advancements to performance and parental controls. In comparison to the iPhone XR, a refurbished iPhone SE 2020 can save you additional £50. You can browse refurbished iPhone SE 2020 on offer here.

Moto G8 Power

If you want a phone with a great battery (5,000 mAh) for a low price point of around £170 (you can spot on Amazon on sale for even less), then the Moto G8 Power could be the one to go for. While this phone isn’t as flashy and desirable among children as one of the iPhones, it does have some excellent design features that make it a solid performer in its own right, and it comes with Android 10. While many smartphone aficionados dislike a plastic feel on their devices as it can make phones look less premium- we would argue that this would be a great feature for a child’s phone for some added durability, especially if they’re more accident-prone. The Moto G8 Power also comes with a triple rear camera setup and a punch-hole in the display for the selfie camera which gives it a modern look.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9

Our next pick of a phone for kids is the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9. If photography and battery life are your child’s priorities, then this would be a great choice. It’s a cheap phone for less than £200, however it still comprises a lot of modern features like a large FHD+ display as well as a good camera setup. On this device, you get four different rear camera lenses, which are a 48MP main lens, an 8MP ultra-wide lens, a 2MP macro lens, and a 2MP depth lens. On the front, the selfie camera is 13MP. Like the Moto G8 Power, it also comes with a plastic body which is more durable than other materials like glass in kid's hands.

Moto E7i Power

Our last but definitely not least recommendation for a first phone for kids is the newly announced Moto E7i Power. This is a device with outstanding value for money at only £79, which is excellent if you don’t want to pay a fortune when buying the first mobile phone for your child. This device comes with a powerful battery (5,000 mAh), which Motorola claims could last your child up to two days of regular device usage.

For £79, this is of course one of the cheapest devices on the market, however it does not mean poor hardware, on the contrary it has features like 6.5" Max Vision HD+ display with 90Hz refresh rate, octa-core 2.0 GHz chipset and the Google Assistant that is definitely going to feed their curiosity. It also comes with that all-important plastic built that should protect the device from any mishaps. If you want to go for something as cheap as possible, then this would be our recommendation, so keep an eye on Moto E7i Power's availability at Argos, John Lewis and Amazon.

How To Set up Parental Controls on Your Child’s Device

Depending on what software version the device you buy runs, there are certain limitations you can put on the device, mainly to do with purchasing apps, adding content restrictions and using app timers. Luckily with Android 10 and above as well as the latest iOS updates, there are various control options you can set up.

Android

In order for you to be able to manage and observe what your child is up to on their phone, you will need to download Family Link app from Google Play Store on both your and kid's phones, set up accounts for yourself and your kid using your Google accounts (if your child does not have a Google account, the app will allow you to create one to complete the process). Once you've set up the Family Link, you will be able to connect your kid's phone to your own. Next you will want to proceed with parent controls on your child's device.

  • Open Settings on your kid's phone
  • In Settings scroll down and tap on Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls (or similar)
  • Tap Parental Controls
  • Follow the on screen instructions to add or create your kid's Google account
  • Once the Google account you want to supervise on this device has been chosen, you can proceed with choosing apps that this device can use and set filters
  • Confirm the settings with a PIN code of your choice
  • Lastly, from your own phone, choose other controls like setting up bedtime, app timers and further access restrictions for example permissions on Google Play Store for app downloads

Apple

For Apple devices, the steps to follow are a little different. You'll need to go to Screen Time on your child's iPhone as this is where you can control the usage of the phone.

  • Go to Settings and tap Screen time
  • Tap on Turn On Screen Time and tap Continue
  • Select that this device is your child's iPhone
  • Next, you can proceed with setting up the downtime schedule for your kid's iPhone, adding limits to app usage content restrictions
  • Create a passcode to protect your parent controls, which will be later used to access parental controls or grant permissions

You can find more detailed settings instructions on this Apple support page.

Andrew Marchant

See more posts by Andrew Marchant