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.

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.

Apple is on its 7th generation of the famous iPhone, which means that the iPhone 6s is available for cheaper prices, especially if you buy refurbished. Fully unlocked, this phone will work with most carriers so you aren’t locked into a contract just to get the phone. The sleek 6th generation phone features a fingerprint reader, Siri virtual assistant and a stunning resolution of 326 pixels per inch. The phone contains 16GB of internal storage, which is enough for your kids to save some photos and download apps without paying for unnecessary memory. The phone is available in either gold, space gray, or silver and all three colors are stylish and sophisticated.

The Huawei Honor 8 is the perfect starter phone for teens. They’ll love the attractive design, phenomenal cameras and excellent features, while you’ll love the affordable price point and durability. Huawei separates the Honor 8 from other budget smartphones by attaching an innovative 12MP dual-lens camera that combines to capture light and sharpness. A hybrid auto-focus helps capture the most detail even in complex lighting conditions, while the 8MP front-facing capture has a Perfect Selfie mode that your teen will love. Even the most forgetful can recharge a dead phone in minutes with the fast-charging battery, while the fingerprint technology keeps the files safe from prying hands. 

“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! 

When you are picking out a phone for a smaller child, there are a few things you need to consider. First, it has to have a large enough screen to play videos. Kids will mostly use their phones for games and watching movies on long car rides, so you don’t want anything too small. The Sony Xperia XA has a large 5” borderless display that looks good in 720p without carrying the price of an Ultra HD Display. The phone is available in a number of fun colors, including rose and yellow, giving your kid a bit of fun personalization. It is also very affordable, coming in at less than $200 it won’t break the bank if it is lost or broken. You can also download parental control apps to monitor what content your child has access to and a MicroSD slot even lets you add pre-approved media to watch.

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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