The Best Phones for Kids

The best phones for kids give them freedom without putting them at risk. Check out our favorites.
Best overall
Bark Phone
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
  • pro
    No contract
  • pro
    Built-in web filter
  • pro
    Up to 32 GB
Best for multiple kids
""
Pinwheel
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
  • pro
    No contract
  • pro
    No internet access
  • pro
    Up to 128 GB
Best for budgets
Gabb Phone Plus
4 out of 5 stars
4
  • pro
    Optional contract
  • pro
    No internet access
  • pro
    Up to 32 GB
Best camera
Troomi
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
  • pro
    No contract
  • pro
    Optional internet access
  • pro
    Up to 1 TB
Best for preschoolers
VTech KidiBuzz 3
  • pro
    No contract
  • pro
    No internet access
  • pro
    Up to 32 GB
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The kids smartphone scene absolutely exploded in the last couple of years, starting with the launch of the kid-safe Pinwheel operating system in 2020. 

We like the new Bark Phone best of all, but Pinwheel is a close second and actually works with Bark's parental controls for an added layer of protection. 

Let's dive into the differences and find the kids phone that fits your parenting style and budget.


Gabb Wireless deals

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



Price comparison: best kids phones

Product
Best for
Lowest phone price
Lowest service price
Cost to add another line
Money-back period
Warranty
Learn more
Best overall

$49.00/mo.

Full price
Icon No  LightNone
Icon Yes  Light1 year
Best for multiple kids $24.99/mo. $4.99/mo.
Icon Yes  Light30 days
Icon No  LightNone
Best for budgets

$29.99/mo.

$1.75/mo. off starting with 3rd line
Icon Yes  Light15 days
Icon Yes  Light1 year
Best camera

$19.95/mo.

Full price
Icon Yes  Light30 days
Icon No  LightPaid warranty only
Best for preschoolers N/A N/A
Icon Yes  Light30 days
Icon Yes  Light3 months

*Amazon.com price as of publish date. Read full disclaimer.

Best kids phone reviews

1. Bark Phone: Best kids smartphone overall

Best overall
Bark Phone
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Free lease

If you like Bark parental controls but worry your clever kid will find a workaround on a standard device, the Bark Phone is for you. It's a Samsung phone with all of Bark's parental controls permanently installed, so there's nothing to deactivate.

The Bark Phone also offers a few extra features you can't get when combining the Bark app with a regular iPhone or Android device, such as contact management, spam call blocking, remote phone locking, and the ability to approve new app downloads before your child actually gets to use them. 

pro
Pros
pro Free phone lease
pro Free Bark Premium subscription
pro No contract
pro Unlimited talk and text
pro No hidden fees
pro Built-in web filter
pro Exceptional message monitoring
pro Spam call blocking
pro Large display (6.6 in.)
pro Location tracking and geofencing
pro Screen time schedules
pro Contact management
con
Cons
con No money-back period
con Must return phone when cancelling service
con No multi-line discount
con Just one service option
con Relatively low storage (32 GB)

Make sure you understand Bark's approach

As we mention in our review of the best parental controls, Bark takes a unique approach to digital safety. Your child's right to privacy is prioritized by Bark, so you don't get to be as hands-on (some might say micromanage-y) in controlling everything your child does, reading all of their texts, viewing their browsing history, or seeing their location with out their knowledge. 

That's why we think it's best for teens, but it could work for younger kids too—you just need to be extra proactive in talking about the dos and don'ts of digital safety and screen time usage. Bark does a good job of letting you know if there's a problem and even provides talking points to facilitate those conversations. 

Bark's the best at message monitoring

Have a text-happy kid? Worried about cyberbullying? Did you agree to let your kid join Instagram and then instantly regretted it? Bark's got your back. It's the best (and often the only) platform for monitoring messages of all kinds—whether it's texts, emails, or social media DMs.

Because this is such a rare feature among other parental controls—even those associated with kids smartphones—we can overlook Bark's high price.

Highest monthly service fee

The major disadvantage of a Bark Phone is its high service price. You're required to use a Bark Wireless plan, which costs $49/mo. for a zero-data plan. That means your child can only use their phone's internet features when connected to Wi-Fi. While that naturally restricts their screen time, it's a huge buzzkill. No one spends all their time near Wi-Fi, including kids.

To get 4GB of data, Bark's monthly plan increases to $59/mo. Paying $69/mo. gets you 8GB of data. Every Bark plan has unlimited talk and text.

There's no discount for adding a second Bark Phone to your account, and since you can't switch to another service provider, you're not able to shop around for a better price if your circumstances change.

Here's the good news: your Bark Phone purchase includes a Bark Premium subscription ($99 value) so you can put parental controls on every other device your child uses, like tablets and computers. And at least you don't have to shell out for the cost of the phone.

Learn more in our full Bark Phone Review.

2. Pinwheel: Best for multiple kids

Best for multiple kids
""
Pinwheel
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
Starting from
$199.00

Pinwheel phones have a lot of great things going for them, including the best multi-line discount we could find. The Pinwheel subscription starts at $14.99 for the first Pinwheel phone on your account and drops to $4.99 for every line thereafter. That is an incredible deal no matter how you slice it. 

Be careful, though—the Pinwheel subscription isn't a cellular service plan. That costs extra. You can add a US Mobile plan at checkout for about $10/mo. or a Mint Mobile plan for about $15/mo. You're also welcome to use a SIM card from your preferred carrier as long as it's compatible with the phone.   

pro
Pros
pro No contract
pro No internet access
pro Vetted third-party apps
pro Excellent multi-line discount
pro Unlimited talk and text
pro 30-day money-back period
pro Spam call blocking
pro Message management
pro Multiple carrier options
pro Up to 128 GB storage
pro Task list
con
Cons
con No warranty
con Not waterproof
con Expensive upfront
con Not all phones have 5G

Pinwheel phones grow with your child

We also like that Pinwheel makes it super easy to adjust the parental controls depending on your child's age. Let's say you have a 9-year-old, 11-year-old, and 14-year-old—you could get them each a Pinwheel phone and fully customize their settings for the right mix of guidance and independence.

For example, there are three ways to handle contact management: do it for your child, approve your child's additions, or give your child full control. Similar stages of control are available for apps, call and text monitoring, screen time schedules, and group or photo messages.

While other kids phones offer customizations too, Pinwheel impressed us the most in this category. With so many adjustments at your fingertips,  you don't have to worry about getting a totally new phone for your kid if you need more or fewer restrictions in the future.

Add Bark for message monitoring

Pinwheel phones are compatible with the Bark parental control app. This is excellent news since Bark's message monitoring is the best in the biz. That said, you can read the full content of your child's text messages in the Pinwheel parent portal. Bark gives extra protection for messages that may be sent on other platforms. 

It costs about $5/mo. to add Bark monitoring to each Pinwheel phone. Just select that option at checkout. We hope this partnership continues even though Bark just launched its own phone. 

Best Pinwheel phone costs over $300

The only bummer here is that the Pinwheel phones themselves can be pricey, but you do get a discount if you order them in groups of two.

Your child will get the best experience with the $329 Pinwheel Plus 2, since it's the only one compatible with 5G. They'll be stuck with Wi-Fi-only access with the Pinwheel Slim 5 ($199) or the Pinwheel Rugged 3 ($249).

Pay attention to carrier compatibility too—you're welcome to use your own SIM card, but only the Pinwheel Plus 2 works with all major carriers. Double-check compatibility if you're a Verizon or AT&T customer. 

Learn more in our full Pinwheel review.

3. Gabb Phone Plus: Best for budgets

Best for budgets
Gabb Phone Plus
4 out of 5 stars
4
Starting from
$159.99

You can get a discounted Gabb Phone Plus by signing a 2-year contract. Otherwise, you can buy the Gabb Phone Plus upfront for about $199. 

Gabb Wireless service plans start at $29.99/mo. for the Gabb Phone Plus, and while Pinwheel is slightly cheaper (provided you don't add the Bark subscription), its phones are far more expensive. We think Gabb is a better option for budget-conscious parents.

pro
Pros
pro No-contract option available
pro Unlimited talk and text
pro 15-day money-back period
pro 1-year warranty
pro No internet access
pro Spam call blocking
pro Up to 32 GB storage
pro Cloud storage available (costs extra)
con
Cons
con Activation fee
con No text monitoring
con Not compatible with third-party carriers
con Not waterproof

Gabb Phone Plus features

The Gabb Phone Plus gives your child the ability to make phone calls, send messages, access kid-friendly apps, and listen to kid-safe music without exposing them to the internet at large. 

The only apps available for download on the Gabb Phone Plus are those carefully screened by the experts at Gabb. This company takes the "closed network" concept very seriously, right down to making its own map app and powerful content filters. 

All in all, the Gabb Phone Plus is a great starter phone for kids around the age of 9 and up.  Learn more in our full Gabb Phone Plus review.

Gabb Z2 Phone is even more affordable

The original Gabb Phone—the Z2—doesn't allow parents to add third-party apps. It also won't be compatible with the upcoming Gabb Music Plus service. Those are the major differences, and if you can do without extra apps and music, you can save about $5 a month by choosing the Gabb Z2 (now just called the Gabb Phone).  

4. Troomi: Best cameras on a kids phone

Best cameras
Troomi
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
Starting from
$189.95

Troomi sells several Samsung phones equipped with its KidSmart OS. Your child enjoys a safe digital experience plus the speed, storage, battery life, and camera quality usually reserved for grown-up phones. 

Troomi phones cost between about $190 and $400 with financing available, and service plans range between $20 and $30 a month.

pro
Pros
pro No contract
pro Unlimited talk and text
pro 30-day money-back period
pro Optional internet
pro Text monitoring
pro Vetted third-party apps
pro Spam call blocking
pro Storage expandable up to 1 TB
pro Waterproof option
pro Remote phone lock
pro App time limits
pro Contact management
con
Cons
con Expensive upfront
con Paid warranty only
con No multi-line discount

Get to know the Troomi kids phones

Our fave from Troomi's lineup is the Samsung A13 5G. It's perfect for kids who like to take pics, whether it's selfies or more artistic shots. They'll love the triple-lens rear camera, featuring a 50MP main lens, a 2MP macro lens, and a 2MP depth sensor. Plus, there's the standard 5MP front-facing camera for selfies. 

Or, your child might prefer the camera options on the Samsung A13 LTE: a 50MP main lens, 5MP wide-angle lens, and 8MP front-facing selfie cam. Parents usually prefer this model too since it's the most affordable option from Troomi.

Finally, there's the selfie-taker's dream in the Samsung Xcover Pro: it has a 13MP front-facing camera, but the rear-facing camera is less impressive at 25MP in the main lens. But it does have an 8MP wide-angle lens too. It's the only waterproof (up to 4.5 feet) option available from Troomi, and it's also the most expensive at nearly $400.

Troomi's KidSmart OS

Like Pinwheel, Troomi's KidSmart OS is designed to grow with your child. It has no internet browser by default, but with the Discover plan (about $30/mo.) you can add the KidSmart Safe Browser if you feel like your child is ready for a little more online freedom.  

You can also manage their contacts in the beginning and then ease up your involvement as they get older. We like that you can limit the Troomi phone to text-only messaging or allow group chats and photo messages. You get to read the full content of all texts too.

There's no app store on a Troomi phone, but you can add some kid-friendly apps to your child's phone through the parental portal. There aren't as many apps to choose from compared to Pinwheel, but you can view a full list on the Troomi website before you buy. This feature requires the Discover plan too. 

5. VTech KidiBuzz 3: Best phone for preschoolers

Best phone for preschoolers

Amazon.com price as publish date. Read full disclaimer.

The VTech KidiBuzz 3 isn't really a cell phone, but your youngster won't know the difference. Designed for kids age 4 and up, the VTech KidiBuzz 3 has a touchscreen, camera, educational and just-for-fun games, and a secure messaging app that works over Wi-Fi.

pro
Pros
pro Rotating camera
pro 40+ built-in games
pro Access to 2000+ more games
pro Supports music and videos
pro Secure chat app
pro Daily screen time limits
con
Cons
con Doesn't support phone calls
con No GPS tracker

The VTech KidiBuzz 3 doesn't make phone calls or track your child's location, but it gives your kid a smartphone-like device to use just like their older siblings. Because it doesn't connect to a cellular network, you don't have to worry about paying a monthly fee.

You can set daily screen time limits and download music or videos to the device if you need to keep your kid extra entertained. There's even a headphone jack to give you some peace. 

More brands we considered

6. Palm Phone: Pocket-friendly option

The Palm Phone is a tiny smartphone with powerful features. Just like an iPhone or Android phone, the Palm has apps, social media, and internet-browsing capabilities. 

You'll need to pair the Palm Phone with a parental control app to protect your child, but it's one of the few options they'll be able to fit in their pockets or hands. 

Learn more in our full Palm Phone review.

7. Wisephone: Ultra-minimalist design

The Wisephone caters to adults who need to cut down on their screen time. It calls, texts, takes pictures and includes only the bare-minimum apps necessary for modern life: maps, clock, and calculator. 

There's also a family portal that lets parents keep an eye on their child's call history, texts, and location. But we hesitate to recommend the Wisephone as a kids phone. Kids need guidance, and the Wisephone simply restricts all access. It may jibe with your parenting style, but it's a pricey option for a phone that does very little.

8. Lightphone: Basically an iPod that calls and texts

We also considered the Lightphone for our lineup of kids phones. Like the Wisephone, the Lightphone is mainly for adults to get away from endless scrolling. There are no parent-friendly features, so your child could end up texting and calling anyone and everyone.

But that's the only real mischief they could get into. There's no internet and no games. The Lightphone doesn't even have a camera.

It does play music and podcasts, so it's not totally boring. But for $300 upfront and at least $30 a month, you don't get much bang for your buck.

9. Teracube Thrive: App management and little else

Teracube's claim to fame is its environmentally-friendly smartphone. We tested the Teracube Thrive—which is just the normal Teracube 2e paired with Teracube's parental control app—and weren't impressed.

It has excellent app management, but the SPIN browser did nothing to curb our mature searches. Worse yet, none of our web activity showed up on the parental dashboard. There was a frustrating lack of customization options or reports.

At this point, the Teracube Thrive is just getting a participation trophy. Steer clear. 

Coming soon: Cosmo Startphone

We're ready to pounce on any new kids phone that hits the market so we can compare it to our current lineup. A prominent brand on our radar is Cosmo. The makers of one of our favorite kids smartwatches, Cosmo is set to release its Startphone in 2023. We'll let you know more as the details become public.

Final word

While there aren't very many kids phone options on the market, the few models that exist are all high-quality. We like the Bark Phone best thanks to its laundry list of parental controls and message monitoring, but it's admittedly expensive—especially for more than one kid.

Thankfully, budget-friendly options like Pinwheel and Gabb also shield children from the uglier side of the internet while teaching them responsible device usage. And Troomi introduces some incredible cameras with a kid-friendly operating system. 

FAQ

Can I just give my kid an iPhone?

Sure you can. But iOS doesn't always play nice with parental control apps, which can make it easy for kids to circumvent the controls or uninstall them altogether.

That's one of the reasons why kids smartphones are so popular—developers can make their own operating systems and make the parental controls completely tamperproof. 

Learn more: iOS vs. Android Security: Which One Keeps Your Child Safer Online?

Which kids smartphones work with Verizon?

The Pinwheel Plus 2 is compatible with Verizon. 

Yes and no. Many wireless carriers have contract-free plans that are customizable, but they're usually open to anyone, not just kids.

These plans are often more budget-friendly for families and they can grow with your child.

For example, if your child's phone is for emergency purposes only, then you'll probably need only a bare-bones plan with minimal minutes each month.

As they grow, you may want to add additional minutes and data.

How we reviewed the best kids phones

Testing a Gabb Phone. Image: SafeWise

To rank the best phones for kids, we found phone companies catering specifically to kids and parents and sized them up across 30 specs. We also tested Gabb, Pinwheel, Bark, and Teracube. Find out more about how we review products by checking out our methodology.

Related articles on SafeWise


Disclaimers

*Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.

Cathy Habas
Written by
Cathy Habas
With over eight 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 is a certified Safe Sleep Ambassador and 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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