The 8 Best Phones to Buy in 2017 for Kids

Find the perfect smartphone for your child

The decision to get your kid a smartphone is not to be taken lightly. As we all know, these little gadgets are highly addictive, and there’s the inescapable feeling that something has been lost in our reliance on them. What that thing is I don’t know, but it’s… something.

If you’re okay with your kid falling victim to smartphone addiction like the rest of us, there are a few questions you should ask yourself: One, is your son or daughter likely to break the thing? What purpose do you want it to have? Do you want to limit certain apps or functions? How much money do you want to spend? In this guide, we try to find a solution for each of those questions and more.

The smartphone market for young children is remarkably small – perhaps because kids grow up navigating their parents’ feature rich phones and after just a few days, probably know more about it than their parents do. Nevertheless, the Blu DASH JR is a great option for kids just entering the Android world. It’s simple, durable and cheaper than two large pepperoni pizzas.

With a 3.5-inch display, a 1GHz processor, 512MB of internal storage, 256MB of RAM and a two-megapixel camera, it’s specs are pretty limited. Its lithium ion 1000 mAh battery allots for up to 12 hours of talk time, so if you’ve got a talker on your hands, it’ll need frequent charging. Still, for the kid who needs a device for calling, texting, taking selfies and not much else, it certainly gets the job done. And at the affordable price point, you won’t get too mad if he or she loses it on the bus.

Whether your teen is new to texting or a seasoned Snapchatter, he or she will likely be using a new smartphone all the time. That’s why battery life is so important. With its 4100mAh battery, the ZenFone 3 MAX offers up to 20 hours of talk time and up to 18 hours of WiFi web browsing. The phone can even double as a portable power bank for other devices. You’ll have peace of mind knowing you can always reach your teen.

The 5.2-inch HD IPS display is perfect for streaming YouTube videos and videochatting with friends. The device also houses two cameras: a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera for high-resolution photos and a five-megapixel front-facing camera for the perfect selfie. Its Game Genie feature makes sharing gameplay with friends a cinch, with a pop-up window to search for tips and a broadcast tool to stream to YouTube and Twitch. It has a marginal 2GB of memory and 16GB of onboard storage, which might fill up fast with photos and videos, but that can be expanded, thanks to MicroSD card support up to 64GB.

When your child gets his or her first phone, your first thought is likely parental controls. However, parental controls have more to do with the software than hardware, so your options are pretty varied. Still, our favorite is the Moto G Play because it’s low cost, but still fairly powerful.

It has a five-inch screen and is powered by a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor with 2GB RAM. The 1280 x 720 IPS display has a 294-ppi resolution. And the phone has two cameras — a 5MP in the front and an 8MP in the rear. That all adds up to a relatively impressive phone considering the cost. Because it runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, you can activate parental controls such as restricting access in the Google Play store or download Android apps with dedicated parental controls.

This unlocked Android phone is available exclusively to Amazon Prime members for a staggeringly low price that is subsidized by ads and offers on the lock screen. Not an Amazon Prime subscriber? Even though it's a bit more money, it’s still an outstanding value, thanks to its solid battery life and processing power.

A sharp five-inch, 1,280 x 720 IPS LCD display (294 ppi) yields crisp images and videos and the quad-core 1.3GHz MediaTek 6735 processor produces impressive performance given the price. While it only has 8GB storage and 1GB RAM, you can pony up an extra $10 for the 16GB storage, 2GB RAM model. (There’s also an option to pay more and eliminate the ads.) It runs Android 6.0 (Marshmallow), though it’s packed with pre-installed Amazon apps such as Amazon Kindle, Prime Now and Alexa. Amazon reviewers lament that the eight-megapixel rear camera and five-megapixel front camera don’t take better pictures, but something’s gotta give at this price point.

Maybe you want to impress the neighbors. Maybe you’re an Apple fanboy and want to pass down your loyalties to the next generation. Or maybe you and your family just prefer the intuitive simplicity of Apple products. Whatever the case, the iPhone SE is about as basic as it gets for the iPhone family. But, let’s be clear, this is still a high-end product, something that’s still likely to shatter in the hands of the clumsy. That said, any child mature enough to handle an iPhone will be endlessly appreciative (and maybe even a little protective) of their new SE. With the 1.85 GHz dual-core processor, 2 GB memory, 16 or 64 GB storage and 12-megapixel main camera, it has everything you could want or expect from an iPhone—especially if you’re a kid. Just be sure to get them a rugged hardshell case as well!

“These kids these days with their music! In my day we listened to real music, not this computer noise!” But that’s the thing: the more you hate it, the more the kids love it. And the Alcatel One Touch Idol is as much a listening device as it is a fashion statement. It’s got two front facing JBL stereo speakers—ideal for showing off tunes to a small group of listeners. In addition to having some solid speakers and a low cost of just around $150, the One Touch Idol has a full range of impressive specs: a 5.5-inch Full HD (1080p) display, a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon 615 processor, 2 GB RAM, 16/32 GB on-board storage, a large 2910mAh battery and a solid 13-megapixel main camera. And all of this comes in a package that includes Alcatel’s innovative symmetrical design. There’s essentially no up or down on this phone, so you can handle it from any direction and the display will rotate to match your perspective – neat! 

LG’s entry-level phone is a great option for kids because it is a value without being cheap. The 1.1 Ghz Quad-core Snapdragon 210 Processor isn’t the latest or greatest, but it is capable enough to run apps without causing your kid to complain about lag. Likewise, the five-megapixel camera isn’t going to appease photographers, but it is perfect for selfies and Instagram uploads. The 5-inch display is bright and colorful, perfect for games and movies. The phone comes with 8GB of memory, which won’t last long, but a MicroSD card slot makes room for more photos. The phone is no-contract, but it must be used on the T-Mobile network. 

Keep your kids safe online with the Sony Xperia XA, which supports a host of top parental control apps from the Android app store. For example, Net Nanny Social keeps an eye on social media websites and lets you filter out the apps outright or gives the option for nuanced social media monitoring, depending on how much access you want your kids to have. Net Nanny and HTTPS filtering give advanced options for browsing control as well, blocking apps and websites that might get your kids in trouble.

The Xperia XA is also a respectable phone in its own right, with a powerful 13-megapixel camera for HD pics, a sleek metal design and a quality five-inch display.

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