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Just like the child-friendly tablets and laptops we've already covered, your son or daughter's phone needs to be sturdy and affordable. Screen size is also important to consider, so we've focused on phones that are compact by today's standards.
Parental controls are another important bit to keep in mind. Both Apple iOS and Android by Google give parents the ability to control access to the phone's apps and features out of the box. Check out our top picks for kid-friendly phones.
The 4-inch iPhone SE is essentially the iPhone 6S innards in an iPhone 5S body. In comparison to the newer iPhones, this one doesn't have 3D touch, dual cameras, or a water-resistant body.
What it does offer is an impressive two-day battery life and a compact yet durable design with an aluminum back that won't shatter like the iPhone 8. Best of all, it's the cheapest iPhone you can get — it's less than $400 for 32 GB of storage.
An intuitive user interface, the best selection of apps in the business, parental controls, and plenty of protective cases to choose from make this one of the best kid-friendly phones around, especially if your kids are already used to playing with your iPhone — they won't have to learn a new interface!
If you're looking for a cheap and waterproof smartphone for your child, the Moto X4 is a solid choice. It isn't as powerful or feature-filled as flagship devices, but it has a cool design that your kid will love, top-shelf hardware, and an ultra slim body with excellent build quality. Even better, it costs under $300.
The smartphone runs Google's newer Oreo operating system, includes a 16 MP front-facing camera for selfies and dual rear cameras, and it has support for Amazon's Alexa assistant. This means your child can ask Alexa for help with some homework! It's equipped with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of expandable storage. Hands down, it’s one of the most affordable smartphones you can buy.
Priced just below $100, the Alcatel A30 delivers a stellar Android experience in a compact and user-friendly package that makes it a perfect starter smartphone. Key features of the device include a 5-inch display, quad-core CPU, 8 MP main camera, and 4G LTE connectivity. Another great highlight of the handset is its robust 2-year warranty, which is quite impressive for a device this affordable.
The Galaxy A3 delivers a similar user experience as the more expensive and newer Galaxy S9 smartphone but in a much more affordable package. Compared to most other budget smartphones, this one features a mostly glass and metal exterior, while other ones in its price range are primarily made from plastic, so it's probably a better choice for the older kids who are less likely to drop it.
The phone comes with 16 GB of storage, and it's completely water-resistant, which should give you some peace of mind for accident-prone kids. It also has a USB-C port — a rarity for budget phones, so it uses the same charging cord as other newer devices, like the Nintendo Switch console your son or daughter is probably addicted to!
This option from Sony isn't as large as most of today's smartphones, so it can easily be grasped by smaller hands. It sports a 4.6-inch Full HD display, a powerful Snapdragon 845 processor, and an impressive 4 gigabytes of RAM (which is even more than the latest iPhone 8).
It's water-resistant and equipped with a 19 MP camera and a large 2,700 mAh battery. The phone comes in black, blue, pink, and silver colors, and it runs Android's newer "Oreo" operating system.
The LG Q6 is a durable and well-equipped Android smartphone that's one of the best buys in its price range.
Key specs include a 5.5-inch display, a speedy Qualcomm processor with 3 GB of RAM, and a quality 13 MP camera. The device features a mostly metal construction so it can handle drops, but unfortunately it isn't water resistant like some of LG's newer smartphones. This one is significantly cheaper than all other phones in LG's lineup, though.
Parents who worry that their kids might get too distracted with apps and games on their smartphone should give this ultra affordable flip phone a try. It has a 2.8-inch display, a quad-core processor, and built-in GPS. An outer display lets you get a glimpse at your incoming calls and messages.
Additionally, the battery gets an impressive 16 days of standby time, so you know your little one can always reach you. A 2.0 MP camera is capable of capturing video in HD, and because the phone has 4G LTE, your son or daughter can still send videos and pictures to Grandma without dealing with slow speeds of a past-generation 2G or 3G network.
If you don't want to spend a lot of money on a smartphone for fear that your child will break it or lose it, the Unihertz Jelly Pro is an excellent starter phone for your son or daughter.
Believe it or not, this smartphone is about the size of a pack of gum. It still has built-in GPS, dual-cameras, Bluetooth, and a headphone jack like every other modern smartphone, and it even runs on the latest 4G networks and comes unlocked. It supports AT&T and T-Mobile, but it doesn't work with CDMA carriers like Verizon or Sprint.