Gabb Z2 Review

We tested the Gabb Z2 phone and combed through its manual to find everything kids can do with it.
Best kids phone
Gabb Z2 kids phone
Gabb Z2 Phone
Service starts at
$24.99
/mo
  • pro
    No internet
  • pro
    No app store
  • pro
    Unlimited talk and text
Plan
Plan price
Phone price
Early termination fee
Learn more
2-Year ContractFreeUp to $150
1-Year Contract$74.99Up to $100
No Contract$149.99None

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Cathy Habas
Staff Writer, Safety & Security
November 01, 2022
Light Bulb
The Gabb Phone Plus is here

The Gabb Phone Plus is now available. We explain the differences between the Gabb Phone (formerly known as the Z2) and the Gabb Phone Plus near the end of our review. Skip down to that section.

The Gabb Z2 phone (now known simply as the Gabb Phone) offers kids a safe introduction to smartphones without exposing them to social media or the internet at large. But the Gabb Phone lacks a few features like geofencing or contact monitoring, and there’s no way to download parental control software to fill in the gaps.

If those features don’t top your list of concerns, you’ll like the Gabb Z2’s low price, quality display, decent battery life, and balance of fun and function for ages 8 to 13.

Gabb Wireless deals

🔥 Gabb's currently giving free and discounted devices to anyone who signs a 1- or 2-year service contract. 

Plus, use promo code SAFEWISE to get a FREE accessory (up to $20 value) per device.

Info current as of publish date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. 

pro
Pros
pro No internet and no app store
pro GPS tracking and geofencing
pro Unlimited talk and text
pro Good battery life
pro microSD card compatible
con
Cons
con Incompatible with other parental controls
con Pricey service
con No screen time management
con No text monitoring

Gabb Phone cost

The Gabb Phone retails for $149.99 and requires a $24.99/mo. service plan through Gabb Wireless. There's also a $25 activation fee.

You can tack on a few perks:

  • Image texts and group texts ($2.00/mo.)
  • Gabb Music ($4.99/mo.)
  • Warranty ($4.99/mo.)
  • Screen protector ($12.99)
  • Phone case ($12.99 or $14.99)
  • Gabb Cloud storage ($0.99/mo. per 10 GB)

Shipping is free, and there's a 15-day money-back period.

Video: Gabb Z2 Kids' Smartphone Review

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Gabb Z2 vs. other kids phones

Product
Best for
Phone price
Service price
Integrated parental controls
Internet access
Social media
Learn more
Best overall

$24.99/mo.

Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Best kids smartphone

Depends on carrier

Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Best for budgets

Depends on carrier

Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Best kids flip phone

$19.99/mo.

Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Best kids smartwatch

$10.00/mo.

Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.


No internet or app store on the Gabb Z2 phone

Image: Suzi Brzezinski, SafeWise

The Gabb Z2 looks and acts like a smartphone, but there’s zero internet access. That means no app store, no social media apps, no YouTube, no inappropriate Google searches, no predators, and none of the umpteen dangerous apps and sites you’ve never even heard of.

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What’s with the Wi-Fi?

Note that the Gabb Z2 can connect to Wi-Fi to make phone calls when there’s no cellular connection. It’s still a safe phone for kids, since an active Wi-Fi connection isn’t the same as internet access. It’s like having a car but no car keys.

Music player and two cameras

Image: Suzi Brzezinski, SafeWise

With no internet and no games, the Gabb Z2 probably sounds boring to your kid. That’s kind of the point because it helps limit screen time.

But the Z2 isn’t totally sterile. It features front and back cameras, a photo and video editor, a music player, and a radio.

If you don't sign up for access to kid-safe streaming through Gabb Music (about $5/mo.), songs must be transferred to the phone through a computer. It’s smart to check their music library now and then.

The Z2 includes an audio jack but also pairs with Bluetooth headphones, including wireless Gabb Buds (about $50) and the portable Gabb Blast Speaker (also about $50).

"You can turn video recording off and on through the Gabb parent app." —Suzi B., SafeWise product tester

Other pre-installed apps

Image: Suzi Brzezinski, SafeWise

These functional apps round out the Gabb Z2:

  • Call
  • Message
  • Contacts
  • Calculator
  • Clock
  • Calendar
  • Files
  • Voice recorder
  • Settings

Limited parental controls

Screenshot: Suzi Brzezinski, SafeWise

The Gabb Z2’s lack of internet means you can’t download a parental control app to monitor your kid’s phone usage. You can’t create screen time schedules, remotely turn off the phone, or control who gets to contact your kid (and vice versa).

If you want these features with an internet-free device, consider a kids smartwatch like the Gabb Watch. Otherwise, you’ll need to pair a parental control app (we really like Bark) with a fully functional smartphone.

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Spam filter for texts

The Z2 features a built-in spam filter for text messages, but we’re not sure which words trigger the filter. It also seems to screen texts only from numbers not saved as contacts.

Bark is a good option for text monitoring, but it doesn’t work with the Gabb Z2.

GPS tracking and geofencing

Screenshot: Suzi Brzezinski, SafeWise

We’re impressed that Gabb Wireless built its own GPS tracking system to eliminate third-party privacy concerns. Parents use their own app called MyGabb to see the phone's real-time location.

"You can ping the Gabb phone to get their current location, or you can schedule automatic location updates," our tester said. 

Yes, the Gabb Z2 has Safe Zones

The Gabb Wireless website gives some conflicting information about the Z2 phone's geofencing capabilities. Based on Gabb's own comparison charts, we previously noted that you couldn't set up Safe Zones for the Gabb phone.

Our tester Suzi says it's indeed possible to set up geofencing for the Gabb phone, but she couldn't get the safe zone as small as she wanted.

One mom's thoughts on the Gabb Z2 phone

Mom Suzi tested the Gabb Z2 phone with her kids, ages 5 and 8. She described it as a "pretty basic phone" that takes "OK-quality photos." 

"It's the size of a normal phone, so it's not convenient to carry around," Suzi said, noting that both of her kids eventually preferred the Gabb Watch after the Z2's novelty wore off.

That said, the phone had a better battery life than the watch.

Gabb Z1 vs. Gabb Phone

If your kid has the older Gabb Z1, it’s worth upgrading. Here are the major improvements released with the latest version of the Gabb Phone:

  • Fingerprint reader
  • Bluetooth compatibility
  • Radio
  • Music player
  • Twice as much storage (32 GB vs. 16 GB)
  • Improved battery life (2,650 mAh vs. 2,200 mAh)
  • Slightly larger and clearer display (5.45 inches vs. 5 inches; 720p vs. 480p; 196 ppi vs. 295 ppi)
  • Different processor (2.00 gHz MediaTek Helio vs. 1.10 gHz Qualcomm Snapdragon)

Gabb Phone vs. Gabb Phone Plus

There's a new kid phone on the block—the Gabb Phone Plus. Made by Samsung, the Gabb Phone Plus automatically comes with image and group texting but lacks a fingerprint scanner.

The biggest difference in the Gabb Phone Plus is the addition of third-party apps—all of which have been carefully selected by Gabb and deemed kid-friendly. 

It also features Gabb's proprietary messaging platform, Gabb Messenger, which has built-in content filters.

The Gabb Phone Plus retails for about $200 and its service plan starts at about $30 a month. 

Final word

Being ready for a cell phone isn’t the same as being ready for the internet. The Gabb Z2 is a great stepping stone between a too-basic flip phone and a too-chaotic smartphone.

If you’re not sure it fits your child’s needs, check out our roundup of other phones for kids.

Gabb Z2 FAQ

Can the Gabb Z2 send pictures?

Yes, the Gabb Z2 can send pictures and videos via text but only if you pay an extra $2/mo. for this service.

Does the Gabb phone have GPS?

Yes, the Gabb phone has GPS that’s monitored through the parent app MyGabb.

The Gabb Z2 is an internet- and app-free mobile phone for kids. Its bare-bones design is meant to decrease screen time and keep kids safe from online threats.

You have to purchase a Gabb Wireless plan to use the Z2. It does not work with other wireless carriers.

Yes, Gabb offers unlimited talk and text on both plans.

The Gabb phone connects to Wi-Fi for phone calls when there’s poor cell reception. There’s no web browser or any other way to access the internet from a Gabb phone.

You can add an unlimited number of contacts to a Gabb phone.

How we reviewed the Gabb Z2

For our Gabb Z2 review, we gave the phone to a mom and her two kids for hands-on testing. We also read the user manual and even got a copy of the original Z1 manual. We compared its features to similar products, like kids smartwatches and parental control apps, to determine the Z2’s contribution to the industry.

We also poked around on the Gabb Wireless website and YouTube channel. To learn more about how we review products, read the SafeWise methodology page.

Cathy Habas
Written by
Cathy Habas
With over seven years of experience as a content writer, Cathy has a knack for untangling complex information. Her natural curiosity and ability to empathize help Cathy offer insightful, friendly advice. She believes in empowering readers who may not feel confident about a purchase, project, or topic. Cathy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Indiana University Southeast and began her professional writing career immediately after graduation. She has contributed to sites like Safety.com, Reviews.com, Hunker, and Thumbtack. Cathy’s pride and joy is her Appaloosa “Chacos.” She also likes to crochet while watching stand-up comedy specials on Netflix.

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