How to choose the right phone for your child

Discover the best phones for kids, according to tech experts and parents

Buying your child a mobile phone can offer them a new level of independence, but it can be tricky to know where to start. Our guide to smartphones looks at the different options that could be right for your child.

A dad uses smartphones with his children.

4 things to consider before you buy a mobile phone

Explore our expert tips on buying children’s mobile phones.

Should I buy a dumb phone or a smartphone?

If your child only needs a phone for emergencies, keep it simple with a non-smartphone (also known as a dumb phone). They’re significantly cheaper and with their long battery life, you won’t need to charge it every night.

However, if your child needs to access the internet, apps or games, a smartphone is a better choice. While more expensive than the simpler mobile phones, they’re far more capable of accessing information your child might need.

If you choose to buy a smartphone, it’s worth considering insurance to protect it from theft, loss and damage.

Pay-as-you-go or monthly contract?

Pay-as-you-go is a pre-paid system where you purchase a set amount of credit for calls, texts and data in advance. It’s ideal for children because it offers plenty of control and no surprises on the bill. While they’re cost-effective for basic use, they can become pricey as data consumption is typically charged separately.

Monthly contracts, on the other hand, involve a fixed monthly fee that covers a specific amount of data, minutes and texts. They offer the convenience of consistent service without needing to top up credit. However, if your child exceeds the allowance, it can result in extra charges. Some contracts offer the option to set spending caps to avoid unexpected costs.

Before you buy, set some ground rules

Mobile phones have many benefits, from helping you stay in touch with your child to researching homework and snapping photos. However, setting ground rules is essential:

  • Discuss the responsibility that comes with a smartphone.
  • Have open conversations with your child about how and when they can use their phone. Dumb phones will limit access to features beyond simple calls.
  • Work together to agree on screen time limits and in-app purchases.

Unsure how to start the conversation? Take a look at our family agreement.

Guide to second-hand devices

Helpful for the planet (and your bank account), buying second-hand tech is a great place to start when it comes to ‘new’ devices. For a lower cost, children can learn how to use tech appropriately and responsibly before getting a brand new device.

We’ve pulled together a guide to help you navigate buying refurbished or hand-me-down tech and setting them up for safety.

Supporting resources and guides

Setting up your child's first device?

Get personalised safety guidance for all their devices.


The best mobile phones for kids

See 2024’s most popular phones for kids to help you choose between dumb and smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy J3

Made with younger children in mind, the Samsung Galaxy J3 is the perfect starter phone.

Why it’s great for kids:

Robust design: Dust-resistant and water-repellent, the Samsung Galaxy J3 comes in a range of playful colours, for a personalised experience.

Camera and storage: Equipped with front and rear-facing cameras, plus plenty of storage space for home movies.

Why it’s great for parents:

Samsung Kids is available on any Samsung Galaxy phone. It offers robust parental control features. You can set usage limits, customise the content your child can access and help them transition to more independent phone usage.

Prices start from £159.95

Back to top

Nokia 6.1

A reliable and simple starter smartphone.

Why it’s great for kids:

Secure and easy to use: Easy to lock using a front-mounted fingerprint system and intuitive software, the Nokia 6.1 is a secure starter phone for tweens and teens.

High-quality camera: With a 16-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front camera, the Nokia 6.1 is perfect for selfies and day-to-day shooting.

Why it’s great for parents:

Since Nokia runs on the Android operating system, you can utilise Android’s built-in parental control features to manage your child’s phone usage and screen time.

Prices start from £119

If the Nokia 6.1 is slightly out of your budget, you can also consider the Nokia 3, which is priced under £100. While it sacrifices some hardware performance, it provides a more affordable alternative.

Back to top

iPhone SE

A more budget-friendly option than the rest of Apple’s iPhone line-up.

Why it’s great for kids:

Sleek design: Enjoy videos, content and calls on a 4.7-inch Retina HD display, built with True Tone for more accurate colour. It’s also dust resistant and can withstand being submerged in up to 1 meter of water.

Photo-ready camera: The iPhone SE boasts a 12-megapixel camera for capturing high-quality photos and 4K videos. It also supports features like Portrait mode and Smart HDR for improved images.

Why it’s great for parents:

With the latest iOS 15, the parental control settings are easy to navigate. You can set age-specific restrictions on features, manage screen time, set bedtime limits, and control access to apps.

Prices start from £389

Back to top

iPhone 14

A super-slick smartphone from Apple.

Why it’s great for kids:

Improved design: Dust-resistant and waterproof up to 6 meters of water, the iPhone 14 has some serious tech behind it. With Face ID rather than the traditional passcode or touch unlock, it’s also far faster than its predecessor.

Cinematic video mode: With YouTube-ready 4K HDR video and Cinematic Mode built-in, this phone is perfect for budding filmmakers. Plus, you’ve also got Action Mode which removes bumps or shakes from your videos.

Why it’s great for parents:

Like other iPhones, Screen Time and Family Sharing allows you to set age restrictions, manage screen time and more.

Prices start from £699

Back to top

Google Pixel 4A

Secure, packed with parental controls and a great camera.

Why it’s great for kids:

High-quality camera: Google’s Pixel phones are renowned for their camera quality, and the 4a is no exception. It has a 12.2-megapixel rear camera that captures great snaps, even in low light.

Compact and lightweight design: With a compact and lightweight design, the Pixel 4a has a 5.81-inch OLED display. Perfect for watching YouTube.

Why it’s great for parents:

The Pixel 4a has a built-in Dashboard that provides an overview of how time is spent on the phone. This includes usage statistics for different apps, phone unlock frequency and more.

There’s also a helpful Wind-Down feature that gradually fades the screen to grayscale as bedtime approaches, making it easier for children to disconnect from their devices.

Prices start from £140.00

Back to top

Nokia 3310

The perfect starter phone for tweens and those only needing simple features.

Why it’s great for kids:

Simple and easy-to-use: With essential features like a colour screen, the ability to make calls and basic web-browsing capabilities, the Nokia 3310 is distraction-free.

Snake game: The Nokia 3310 continues the tradition of Snake with an updated version pre-installed.

Why it’s great for parents:

Unlike most smartphones, you don’t have to worry about risks such as in-app purchases or access to social media. However, it’s still important to stay on top of how they use their device and who they contact.

Prices start from £59.00

Back to top

Nokia 8210 4G

Built in MP3 player, super-long battery life.

Why it’s great for kids:

Simple and easy-to-use: Made essentially for texting and talking, the Nokia 8210 4G is pretty much the Nokia of your childhood.

Tougher than your average phone: Known as one of the most durable phones on the market, this Nokia can take a few falls and scuffles, without damaging the screen.

Why it’s great for parents:

The Nokia 8210 4G is a ‘dumb’ phone, meaning it doesn’t have smartphone features. Children can use the device to call or text but cannot access the internet or apps. It’s a great place to start.

Prices start from £64.99

Back to top

TTfone TT240

A bit smarter than your average dumb phone.

Why it’s great for kids:

280 hours of battery life: With very few applications, the TTfone TT240 has a huge battery life that allows kids to stay in contact without needing to charge.

Access to WhatsApp: Unlike most non-smartphones for kids, TTfone has access to apps like WhatsApp and Google Maps. If your child doesn’t meet the age requirements, however, you can remove access.

Why it’s great for parents:

With very few smart features and the ability to limit access to the pre-installed ones, the TTfone is a great way to introduce technology, without worrying about what your child could be accessing.

Prices start from £39.00

Back to top

Was this useful?
Tell us how we can improve it