If you're looking for a phone for your child, you'll want something cheap and robust. These are our top picks for kids in 2023
Choosing the best phone for your child isn’t quite as straightforward as you might expect. With all sorts of different handsets to choose from, all with wildly varying prices, picking out the right phone that suits your kids’ needs can be quite tricky.
However, If you’ve decided that it’s time for your child to have their first phone, we’ve gathered a list of the best handsets for your little ones to make your decision easier, along with a useful buying guide to help you make the right decision.
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Below, you’ll find a list of the smartphones that we think reach the perfect balance of value, ease of use and a robust build, so you should find something here that suits you. This page is also regularly updated with the latest and greatest phones, so check back soon if nothing fits the bill quite yet.
Best kids’ phone: At a glance
- Best overall: Motorola Moto G31 | £140
- Best around £100: Nokia C21 Plus | £80
- Cheapest iPhone: Apple iPhone 8 (renewed) | From £121
- Best camera phone for older kids: Google Pixel 6a | £278
- Best you’ve never heard of: Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 | £196
- Best 5G option: Motorola Moto G62 5G | £200
- Best new iPhone: Apple iPhone SE 3 (2022) |£449
How to choose the best kids’ phone
What’s the best tariff for your teenager?
It doesn’t really matter how old you are, it’s pretty easy to pile up a huge bill without realising. The simplest way to keep track of costs is with a pay-as-you-go tariff, instead of a contract phone.
However, if you’re keen to get your teenager on a contract, then make sure you pick one that caps the amount of data they use. The best ones we found currently on the market are from Tesco Mobile, iD Mobile and BT Mobile. Hopefully, you won’t get a shock of a massive bill from your teenager’s Snapchat antics.
You don’t need an expensive phone
No matter what your child tells you, you don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds on the latest smartphone. Most budget phones these days do the job quite well, and there are some excellent phone picks that you might not have considered. You’d be surprised at what you can get from the low end of the spectrum, and your bank balance would likely appreciate it, too.
READ NEXT: Best phone battery life
What are your child’s phone requirements?
Of course, much of your buying decision depends on what your child will be using the phone for. Are they hoping to get snap-happy and make their first leap onto social media, or is it only being used as a phone for emergency purposes when walking to/from school? Whatever the requirement, we’ve added the very best in our list below.
How we test kids’ phones
While we don’t have any actual children on staff, we do have a set list of requirements that we use to determine a phone’s suitability for kids. First of all, we’re looking for value – nobody wants to be dropping hundreds on their kid’s first phone, so we look at what the handset offers for the price.
From there, we’ll run our usual tests, starting with downloading the Geekbench and GFXBench apps, which assess the CPU and GPU, respectively. The apps deliver a set of scores that we can then use to compare the phone’s processing power to similarly priced competitors. For the display, we use a colorimeter and DisplayCal software, which judges how well a screen reproduces colours, as well as contrast and brightness.
The final two aspects are likely to be most important to your kids – battery life and cameras. To test the battery, we set the brightness to 170cd/m², to maintain consistency across all tested devices, engage flight mode and run our looping video. When the phone dies, we record the timestamp to see how long it lasted. Finally, we put all camera lenses on the phone to the test in a variety of settings, including indoor and outdoor shots, landscapes and low light, as well as seeing how the stabilisation holds up to rapidly panning video.
The best kids’ phones to buy
1. Motorola Moto G31: The best overall phone for kids
Price when reviewed: £140 | Check price at Amazon
While it wasn’t the best value at its original price, the Motorola Moto G31 has since been reduced to a point where it’s pretty much unbeatable. The G31 offers reliable performance, a decent array of cameras and an attractive design, all while barely making a dent in your bank balance. Best of all, the epic battery lasted for nearly a full day in our tests, so should ensure that your child will always be available should you need to contact them.
Read our full Motorola Moto G31 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2GHz MediaTek Helio G85; Display: 6.4in 2,400 x 1,080; Storage: 64GB; Camera: 50MP, 8MP (ultrawide), 2MP (macro); Operating system: Android 11
2. Nokia C21 Plus: The best kids’ phone under £100
Price when reviewed: £80 | Check price at Amazon
If you want to keep your buying budget as close to £100 as possible, the best option out there is the Nokia C21 Plus. Unlike some other budget handsets, the C21 Plus features a sleek design that looks more expensive than it is, with slim borders around the screen and wavy ridges on the back panel. The performance is the fastest you can get for this price and the cameras are reasonable enough, too. The battery life is on the shorter side, but otherwise, this is a solid and capable budget smartphone.
Read our full Nokia C21 Plus review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 1.6GHz Unisoc SC9863A; Display: 6.52in 1,600 x 720; Storage: 32GB; Camera: 13MP, 2MP (depth); Operating system: Android 11 Go
3. Apple iPhone 8 (Renewed): The cheapest Apple phone
Price when reviewed: From £121 | Check price at Amazon
Let’s face it, your child probably wants an iPhone. Instead of forking out four figures for the latest model, we recommend picking up a Renewed iPhone 8 on Amazon – a pint-sized Apple phone that costs peanuts in comparison. Sure, it’s not the cheapest on this list, but if you’re willing to spend a little more for the sake of the Apple logo, you’ll be rewarded with an excellent screen, great battery life and a superb camera.
Read our full iPhone 8 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Hexa-core 2.39GHz Apple A11 Bionic; Display: 4.7in 1,334 x 750; Storage: 64GB; Camera: 12MP; Operating system: iOS 14
4. Google Pixel 6a: The best camera phone for older kids
Price when reviewed: £278 | Check price at Amazon
You’ll have to put down a bit more for this one, but the Google Pixel 6a is the first and last place you should look if your children are a little older and looking to take some serious photographs. As well as taking flagship-quality photos, the Pixel 6a features Google’s handy Magic Eraser feature, which digitally removes unwanted background objects in the camera app. On top of that, you’ve got excellent performance, a gorgeous colour-accurate display and impressive battery life that competes with plenty more expensive phones.
Read our full Google Pixel 6a review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.8GHz Google Tensor; Display: 6.1in 2,400 x 1,080; Storage: 128GB; Camera: 12.2MP, 12MP (ultrawide); Operating system: Android 12
5. Motorola Moto G13: Unbeatable value
Price when reviewed: £123 | Check price at AmazonThe biggest draw of the Motorola Moto G13 is that it doesn’t look like a phone whose price barely crosses into triple figures. The flat edges and sleek back both look and feel premium, and the 6.5in display, while only a 720p panel, hits a decent maximum brightness and refreshes at a smooth 90Hz. Performance is above-average for this price range, and the battery life is particularly impressive, lasting for nearly 20 hours in our tests. If you’re looking to get the most value for money, the Moto G13 can’t be beaten.
Read our full Motorola Moto G13 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2GHz Mediatek Helio G85; Display: 6.5in 1,600 x 720; Storage: 128GB; Camera: 50MP, 2MP (macro), 2MP (depth); Operating system: Android 13
6. Xiaomi Redmi Note 11: The best phone you’ve probably never heard of
Price when reviewed: £196 | Check price at Amazon
You might not have heard of Xiaomi before, but its cut-throat Android smartphones have been quietly gaining traction over the last few years. This successful record doesn’t carry fully across to the Redmi Note 11 – the inconsistent performance and so-so cameras led us to recommend the more expensive Pro 5G version instead – but the competitive price and excellent screen make this one worth considering. While not class-leading, the battery life is also very good, and should easily manage a full day of use.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 680; Display: 6.43in 2,400 x 1,080; Storage: 128GB; Camera: 50MP, 8MP (ultrawide), 2MP (macro), 2MP (depth); Operating system: Android 11
7. Motorola Moto G62: The best 5G phone for kids
Price when reviewed: £200 | Check price at Amazon
If you live in an area with decent 5G coverage and you want your child to have the best download speeds possible, Motorola’s Moto G62 is our current favourite budget 5G phone. As well as being one of the most affordable ways to get 5G connectivity, the Moto G62 also benefits from decent performance, a solid camera array and a battery that lasted over 20 hours in testing. The display is only an IPS panel, so doesn’t quite match the vibrancy of OLED technology, but it’s still nicely colour-accurate and gets bright enough for use in direct sunlight.
Read our full Motorola Moto G62 review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 Plus; Display: 6.5in 2,400 x 1,080; Storage: 128GB; Camera: 50MP, 8MP (ultrawide), 2MP (macro); Operating system: Android 12
8. iPhone SE 3 (2022): The best new iPhone for kids
Price when reviewed: From £449 | Check price at John Lewis
While the renewed iPhone 8 above should be good enough for younger children, older kids may prefer something a little newer, which brings us to the iPhone SE 3 (2022). Don’t let the old-school design fool you; beneath the classic exterior, the SE 3 runs on the same flagship A15 Bionic processor used in the more expensive iPhone 13 series, pumping out performance that’s pretty much unrivalled at this price point. There’s only one camera on the back, but it’s a decent unit, producing detailed images with a great balance of colour and exposure.
Read our full iPhone SE 3 (2022) review for more details
Key specs – Processor: Hexa-core 3.22GHz Apple A15 Bionic; Display: 4.7in 1,334 x 750; Storage: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB; Camera: 12MP; Operating system: iOS 15.4