Best Kids’ Phones 2017: Children’s Phone Reviews & Buying Advice

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Your buying guide for the best kids’ phones in 2017

Long gone are the days when you can fob off a child with your second-hand phone. These days they know more about tech than most adults, and they want the best of the best just as you do. Find out how to keep children safe on the internet.

Here we round up what we think are some of the best phones for kids, those that blend value with ease of use, strong build and, importantly, enough power to play the latest games and watch YouTube.

Also see: Best Phone Deals

How much should I spend?

It’s really up to you. While we wouldn’t advise paying flagship prices on the very best phones, we do recognise that some parents will be prepared to dig deep.

We’ve focused primarily on sub-£200 budget phones in this chart, but also included some slightly more expensive mid-range phones

If you’re after a phone for under £50 take a look at our Best basic phones roundup. If money’s no object here’s our list of the very best phones.

Dirt-cheap, basic phone are great second phones for kids, which they can use on the trip to and from school. They won’t get distracted by Snapchat or the latest game or attract thieves; and it won’t matter too much when the inevitable happens and they lose or break their precious phone.

Sometimes buying a Chinese phone can be a very good way to get an attractively priced phone with much higher specifications than you would otherwise get in the UK.

However, steer clear of Xiaomi and Meizu models, which don’t always preinstall Google Play and can sometimes pop up Chinese-language notifications that may be confusing to a child. If you buy from China, first read our advice on buying grey-market tech.

One thing to keep in mind is that your child will be using the phone on a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) basis unless you’re prepared to take out a contract in their name. If you want to go down this route you’ll save money by buying the phone upfront and choosing a decent SIM-only deal

A good compromise for a PAYG deal that you can keep an eye on is offered by GiffGaff, which lets you purchase low-cost one-month goodybags that offer a certain number of minutes, text and data, and no more. Your child won’t need to keep tabs on what they’re using and neither will you.

You should also consider own-brand PAYG handsets offered by mobile operators, which are often subsidised by the operator in order to get you on their network, such as the Vodafone models in our chart. Such phones will usually be sold with a non-negotiable £10 top-up, which will add to the initial cost.

Is an Android phone or iPhone better for my child?

Whether you choose to go down the iPhone- or Android route will largely depend on your budget, what your child is used to, and how loudly they scream.

Most iPhones will be well over budget for a child, but it is still possible to buy older models such as the iPhone 5s secondhand. The colourful iPhone 5c is perhaps the cheapest and best fit for a child, but if they demand a current-generation iPhone look to the slightly cheaper iPhone SE rather the iPhone 7. Even this, though, might be more expensive than what you had in mind.

Most of the phones we recommend run Android, which is every bit as good as iOS (and typically has many more free apps). It’s also very simple to use, but read our Android vs iPhone comparison to get a better idea of the key differences.

Both platforms are equally suited to children in the respect that they can be locked down so that your child accesses only what you want it to. Read our advice on the best parental control software.

And, despite what you may have read, neither platform – although it is possible – is likely to get a virus. We’ve rounded up some mobile antivirus options here. Also see: How to remove a virus on Android.

Specifications and features to look for in a kid’s phone

Most kids are used to playing games on a tablet before getting their own phone, and will be used to the larger screen that offers. But a large-screen phone is much easier to drop and smash on the floor than a more compact model that will fit in their pocket.

The type of mid-range phones we are looking at here will typically have HD or full-HD screens under 5in in size. Also see: Best kids’ tablets 2017

Because we all know kids can be clumsy, a waterproof phone or rugged phone would be ideal. Whichever phone you choose, we highly recommend you also purchase a case to go with it.

Adults can often overlook front-facing cameras, but for kids who love to take selfies, mess around with Snapchat and video chat, they are highly important. Don’t even consider buying a child a phone that doesn’t have a selfie camera. 

You needn’t worry too much about the core specifications, since most phones these days have or are capable of everything a child requires: casual gaming, YouTube and a camera.

The one thing you should look out for, though, is storage: we’d advise avoiding anything with under 16GB of internal storage (thankfully such phones are becoming much less common these days, and many – at least of the Chinese offerings – have 32GB).

Look for a model with microSD support that allows you to add on more storage, and be sure to take advantage of cloud services such as Google Photos to back up multimedia online so more storage can be made available for apps and games.

Backing up photos and videos through the cloud will also mean they aren’t lost when the phone ultimately is lost or broken.

Best kids’ phones 2017 UK – best kids’ phone reviews


1.

Moto G5



2.

Samsung Galaxy A3


Samsung Galaxy A3


3.

Vodafone Smart Prime 7


Vodafone Smart Prime 7


4.

Samsung Galaxy A5 2017


Samsung Galaxy A5 2017


5.

Motorola Moto G (3rd gen)


Motorola Moto G (3rd gen)


6.

Vodafone Smart Ultra 7


Vodafone Smart Ultra 7


7.

Motorola Moto E 4G


Motorola Moto E 4G


8.

UMIDIGI Z Pro


UMIDIGI Z Pro


9.

OnePlus X


OnePlus X


10.

iPhone SE


iPhone SE

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