3 Reasons I Switched my Kid from Gabb Watch to Apple Watch After 2 Years

SafeWise experts have years of firsthand experience testing the products we recommend. Learn how we test and review

After rocking the Gabb Watch for a good two years, we recently switched our 10-year-old daughter to the Apple Watch SE + Cellular.

Wait, what?

Yeah, you read that right.

Hear me out: It wasn’t about being unhappy with Gabb at all. On the contrary, the Gabb Watch was super solid. No doubt it did its job. It was the perfect intro for our daughter and gave us the confidence to let her be more independent without us fretting whether she’d wander too far out of our comfort zone. But my baby is no longer a tech newbie, and she’s ready for more than what the current Gabb Watch offers.

Like every kid, she wants a phone. I’m just not ready for her to have one, even a Gabb phone.

Internet access, social media, photo messaging, and cameras scare me. And while Gabb does a great job safeguarding many of these concerns, the balance of what I care about and what she cares about wasn’t quite right for us right now. We made the switch because it was more about finding that perfect fit for our growing kid's needs.

1. Experience upgrade: Big kid features without going overboard

What she liked about her Gabb Watch was that she could make calls and texts, play games, and feel independent. What we liked about the watch is that it allows us to stay in touch, and it’s literally strapped to her arm. She’s not going to lose it (or drop it) as easily as a phone. There’s also my concern over habit-forming behavior that comes with cell phones.

She’s only ten, but she wants to do more with her device. She wants music, more games, and the ability to send more than pre-scripted texts that her mom and I upload into her watch.

We’re also huge fans of the built-in safety features Apple Watch comes with:

  • GPS tracking (not unlike Gabb)
  • Emergency “SOS” to quickly call for emergency response.
  • Crash detection - calls for help when a severe car crash is detected.
  • Compass Backtrack - helps you retrace your steps if you get lost.

One of our favorite focus settings is “Schooltime,” which allows you to block access and set Do Not Disturb hours that coincide with her school schedule.

The Apple Watch felt like the sweet spot—a balance between cool features and keeping things appropriate. From fitness tracking to some educational apps to integration with our Apple subscriptions like Apple Arcade and Apple Music, the Apple Watch just delivers more. With the switch to Apple Watch, my daughter gets an upgrade and something “cool like Mom’s,” and we get to continue to set the right boundaries for her and for us.

Image: Kyle Lemmon

2. More family integration

Transitioning from Gabb to Apple was surprisingly easy. With the Family Setup Apple account integration, managing and monitoring became a breeze. Gabb's experience was good, but Apple's took it up a notch.

She now has access to her playlists in Apple Music, and we don’t have to have a separate  . The Apple Watch's interface was familiar yet more robust. We can use Apple’s “Find My” features to locate her whereabouts or find her watch when she sets it down, all from our already familiar iOS settings.

We also like that she can text us both in the same thread with group texts . This was one feature we struggled with on her Gabb Watch. My wife and I both work outside the home and we’d be constantly checking in on her via separate texts, which my daughter would get annoyed about. This way she can keep us both in the loop at the same time.

For her, it was like switching from a basic flip phone to a touch-screen smartphone—a bit of learning, but nothing overwhelming. For us, it meant fewer apps and subscriptions to keep track of  and the convenience of having everything in one place.

3. Price matters, but so does value

You will absolutely pay more upfront for the Apple Watch SE + Cellular ($299) than you will for a Gabb Watch ($150 w/o contract) or even Gabb Phone ($150 w/o contract). Not to mention you can get Gabb products discounted and pay even less if you sign a contract.

That said, it was only $10 more on our AT&T plan  to add the Apple Watch Cellular plan in comparison to the $14.99/month you pay for a Gabb Wireless plan. The difference is probably not enough to make up for the added upfront cost, but when you factor in the extra features and convenience of Family Setup, the Apple Watch brought in a lot more value for us.

In the end, our switch wasn't fueled by dissatisfaction but by a desire to give our daughter an even better smartwatch experience. Sure, the Apple Watch comes with a slightly heftier upfront cost, but it's about investing in the years ahead. Think of it like upgrading to a cooler backpack for school—it makes the journey more exciting.