The Best Phones for Kids

The best phones for kids give them freedom without putting them at risk. Check out our favorites.
Best overall
Gabb Z2 kids phone
Gabb Z2
  • Icon Pros  Light
    No internet
  • Icon Pros  Light
    GPS tracking
  • Icon Cons  Light
    No parental control app
Best kids smartphone
Palm phone product image
Palm Phone
  • Icon Cons  Light
    Internet access
  • Icon Pros  Light
    GPS tracking
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Control app compatible
Best for budgets
budget android phone
BLU Advance L5
  • Icon Cons  Light
    Internet access
  • Icon Pros  Light
    GPS tracking
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Control app compatible
Best flip phone for kids
jitterbug flip kids phone
Jitterbug Flip2
  • Icon Pros  Light
    No internet
  • Icon Cons  Light
    No GPS tracking
  • Icon Cons  Light
    No parental control app
Best kids smartwatch
TickTalk 4
  • Icon Pros  Light
    No internet
  • Icon Pros  Light
    GPS tracking
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Parental control app

Your kids have been begging you for a phone for months, but you aren’t sure they’re ready. The Gabb Z2 strikes a perfect compromise between a basic phone and a smartphone. It removes the risk of social media and internet access but gives your kids unlimited talk and text.

It’s all done from a kid-friendly, modern-looking phone without distracting apps and features.



Compare the best kids’ cell phones

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

Gabb Z2

$99.99

$19.99/mo.

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

Palm Phone

$349.00

Depends on carrier

Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightYes
Icon No  LightYes
Best for budgets
budget android phone

BLU Advance L5

$39.99

Depends on carrier

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

Jitterbug Flip2

$99.99

$19.99/mo.

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

TickTalk 4

$199.99

$10.00/mo.

Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightNo

*Amazon.com price as of 09/10/2021 at 8:00 a.m. (MT). Read full disclaimer.

Best kids phone reviews

1. Gabb Z2: Best overall

Best overall

Info current as of 09/10/2021 at 8:00 a.m. (MT).

The Gabb Z2 is a kids’ phone cleverly disguised as a popular smartphone. It has a front- and rear-facing camera, fingerprint lock, and a handful of pre-installed apps ready for your kids to use.

What isn’t included is the risks that come with social media, image and group texting, and internet browsing.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Looks and feels like a smartphone
Pro Bullet Unlimited talk and texting
Pro Bullet Under $10 per month
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet No dedicated parental controls

Gabb phone cost

The Gabb Z2 is available for $99.99 up front and $19.99 per month. With that plan, your kids get unlimited talk and text time. You can pay extra to add features like image and group texting. 

We like that Gabb doesn’t hold anything essential hostage, and the extras don't cost much more than the basic plan.

No parental controls, but no real need for them either

One thing that makes Gabb stand out for the better or worse is its lack of parental controls. It’s a bold move that allows kids to make their own decisions about how often they use their phone and what they do with it.

But kids with this phone aren’t tempted with features like social media, games, or internet browsing, which can make this freedom dangerous.

Best ages for Gabb Z2 phone

Gabb is a great choice for kids getting a taste for technology and freedom. Middle schoolers and older elementary school kids around 8 to 12 will enjoy having a good-looking phone and a way to talk to their friends.

Parents will like the limits on this phone and the ability to hand their little ones some more freedom.

Light Bulb
Need a smartwatch instead?

Gabb Wireless just released a kids smartwatch. Check it out if you think that could be a better fit for your kiddo! 

2. Palm Phone: Best smartphone for kids

Best kids smartphone

*Amazon.com price as of 09/10/2021 at 8:00 a.m. (MT). Read full disclaimer.

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.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Works with parental control apps
Pro Bullet 12 MB camera and 32 GB storage
Pro Bullet Data plan under $5 per month
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Distracting features and apps
Con Bullet May be too small for some kids
Con Bullet Doesn't work with AT&T

The Palm Phone gives your kids all the freedom of a smartphone but with you in the backseat to keep an eye on them.

The Palm isn’t designed just for kids, so the parental controls on the Palm work through third party apps like Google Family Link or Bark.

The phone itself is pretty small but has a camera and storage that rivals its Apple and Android competitors. The 12 MB camera takes clear shots while the 32 GB storage is enough for your kids apps, their photos and videos, and browsing data.

The Palm Phone only works with Verizon and TMobile. 

Best age range for a Palm Phone

With its access to big kid features like internet browsing, social media, and apps, the Palm Phone is best for older middle school and high schoolers. It’s a good fit for older kids around 14 to 18 who are ready for the responsibility of a smartphone (with the option for your supervision).

While they’ll love all these features and the crystal clear camera, they may get easily distracted by everything going on with this phone.

3. BLU Advance L5: Best for budgets

Best for budgets

*Amazon.com price as of 09/10/2021 at 8:00 a.m. (MT). Read full disclaimer.

The BLU Advance L5 smartphone is designed for anyone, including adults. But it's an affordable mobile device for kids if you use it in conjunction with a parental control app. Some, like Google Family Link, are completely free, which helps cut the overall cost of your kid's first phone even more.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Affordable
Pro Bullet Limited storage space
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Spotty service
Con Bullet No integrated parental controls

The BLU Advance L5 is an Android device, so you'll get more functionality out of parental control apps than if it were an iPhone. 

We also like that there's not much storage on this smartphone (just 16 GB). Your child won't be able to download too many apps on the app store, for example. Some users report that it can be slow to operate, which is actually a bonus if you don't want your kid watching videos or playing games.

4. Jitterbug Flip2: Best flip phone for kids

Best kids flip phone

*Amazon.com price as of 09/10/2021 at 8:00 a.m. (MT). Read full disclaimer.

The Jitterbug Flip2 was originally designed for older adults, but with its extra-large keys and an urgent response button that can connect directly to a 24/7 operator, it’s a good choice if your child is frequently alone.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Distraction-free
Pro Bullet Brain games
Pro Bullet Options for kids with special needs
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Designed for older adults

The clamshell design makes it a little less durable than we’d like for a kid’s phone, which is one of the reasons it didn’t make our top three. You pay for minutes on a month-by-month basis, so it’s a good starter phone, and for an extra fee, you can enable GPS location.

5. TickTalk 4: Best kids smartwatch

Best smartwatch for kids

*Amazon.com price as of 09/10/2021 at 8:00 a.m. (MT). Read full disclaimer.

A smartwatch is a great option for younger kids who need a way to contact you but aren't quite ready to keep track of a mobile phone or have unfettered screen time.

We like the TickTalk 4's features best of all the smartwatches we've reviewed, but there are plenty of other worthy contenders on the market. Compare them in our full smartwatch round-up.  

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Geofencing
Pro Bullet Smartphone app for parents
Pro Bullet Limited contact list
Pro Bullet SOS button
Pro Bullet Music streaming
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Doesn't work with Verizon

The built-in GPS locator and geofencing are a huge plus when it comes to your peace of mind, and the accompanying app for your smartphone makes it easy for you to control the settings on your child's watch. 

Before you buy a phone for your kids

When shopping for the right phone for your child, think about your biggest concerns:

  • If you want to know where they are, you'll probably want something with a GPS tracker.
  • If your child is active and careless (what child isn't?), then it's important to look for a durable design.
  • If you want to encourage them to keep their phone handy, then choosing something with fun features, like games and photo apps, is a good way to ensure they'll keep track of it.
  • If communication is your main concern, an inexpensive "dumb phone" will work well to teach them responsible cell phone usage before they graduate to a smartphone.

As you ease your child into the world of communication technology, be sure to stay nosy. If their device has access to the internet, use parental controls and talk about what it means to be a respectful and responsible person online. Talk to them frequently about who they're communicating with, and take time to discuss cyberbullying.

It's important to keep all lines of communication open—not just those accessed through a phone.

Final word

Phones for kids like the Gabb Z2 hit the perfect middle ground between giving your kids the freedom to use a phone without the distractions or risks of internet access, social networking, or games.

With all the technology available now, kids seem to be itching for the Next New Thing™ at a dizzying rate. But there’s no reason your kids can’t have a reliable phone to keep you updated or call in an emergency.

FAQ

The LG GizmoPal has a much larger screen than the GizmoWatch, so it's a little too bulky for smaller children. The GizmoWatch uses 4G LTE technology, so it has a faster connection than the GizmoPal's 3G capabilities. The GizmoWatch is also more expensive than the GizmoPal.

Yes, you can put parental controls on your child's cell phone using a variety of different apps. These apps can help you monitor and limit your child's screen time, prevent your children from seeing inappropriate content, and alert you to bad language.

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.

An unlocked phone is a cell phone without a SIM card. The SIM card is the part of your phone that connects it to your mobile network.

An unlocked phone comes without a SIM card so that you can use whatever carrier you like. If you buy an unlocked cell phone for your child, you can take it to your mobile network provider—like Verizon, Sprint, or AT&T—and have the phone added to your plan.

How we reviewed kids phones

To pick the best phone for kids, we considered what's most important to us as parents and tried to find phones that were a good value, simple to use, and rugged enough to stand up to our kids. We researched numerous models and included our favorites here. 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.

Kasey Tross
Written by
Kasey Tross
Kasey is a trained Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and a freelance writer with expertise in emergency preparedness and security. As the mother of four kids, including two teens, Kasey knows the safety concerns parents face as they raise tech-savvy kids in a connected world, and she loves to research the latest security options for her own family and for SafeWise readers.

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