Best cell phones for kids in 2020
The age when kids get their first cell phone is at an all-time low. According to research firm Influence Central the average age for a child's first cell phone is 10.3 years.
When the time comes to get your child his or her first phone, you need an answer to the big question: what are the best phones for kids?
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In this buyer's guide to cell phones for children, we'll tell you how to find affordable phones with all the features your kid wants.
We'll also talk about the best cell phone plans for kids and how to save money on mobile service for the whole family!
Buy Used to Get the Best Cell Phones for Kids
While your child may pressure you for the latest $1000 Android phone like a Samsung Galaxy, or the newest Apple iPhone model, realistically it's unnecessary - and impractical - to spend that kind of dough on a cell phone (honestly, we don't even recommend that parents drop that kind of cash for their smartphones!).
What's the alternative? Buy a used phone for your child. This approach not only saves you a ton of money but it also minimizes your risk should your child lose or break their phone.
Benefits of buying a used cell phone for your child:
- It's cheap: Basic phones with all the capability your child wants - music and video streaming, apps, social media, phone cameras (front-facing camera and rear) etc. - start under $100.
- Repairs are easy: With phone repair stores available to most people these days you can get your child's phone fixed quickly and affordably.
- You're free to switch carriers: Buying used allows you to own the phone outright. This means you can choose a cheap cell phone plan for your child instead of being tied to an expensive wireless carrier (more on that later).
The Best Cell Phones For Kids: Our Top Picks
Shop the best prices on a variety of Android devices, iPhones, as well as some alternative models.
The Best iPhone Deals for Kids & Teens
The Best Galaxy Deals for Kids & Teens
Key Considerations When Buying a Used or Refurbished Phone
There are a few things to keep in mind, regardless of whether you're considering a fully functional smartphone or a basic flip phone for your child.
- Warranty: A warranty protects you by ensuring you have recourse if your child's device fails. Many used phone warranties start at 30 days. You might want to consider buying from a site like Decluttr which covers you with a one-year limited warranty on all of their used phones.
- Return policy: What if you change your mind about the mobile phone you choose or it arrives in different condition than you expect? No problem - reputable sellers allow you to return your phone, just make sure you read their terms so you know how long you have after purchase.
- Compatibility: There are two types of wireless networks - CDMA and GSM. AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM, Verizon and Sprint work via CDMA. Check your phone model against the carrier website to make sure it will work with your plan.
- Timing: If your child is older - say, a teenager - they may have a strong preference in terms of phone model. You can get the best deal on the device they want if you buy when a new model is released. For example, you can find the best iPhone 7 deals now that the iPhone 8 and iPhone X have been on the market for a while.
- Payment plans: Some sellers offer installment plans on used cell phones. We don't recommend this, as kids will be kids so you're better off buying something you can afford to pay for in full at the time of purchase.
We make it simple to find the best cell phones for children from dependable sellers. Check out the best places to buy a used phone, then head over to our cell phone price comparison engine to get the best refurbished phone deals.
Related: Learn how to enable parental controls on cell phones here.
How to Save Even More Money
Kids are expensive - we know that much! So keeping your budget in control becomes even more important when you're adding another family member to your wireless bill. Here are some great ways to keep those expenses in check:
Sell Your Child's Old Phone for Cash
If you're upgrading your child's phone you can get cash for their old one by selling it online. This option allows you to squeeze more dollars out of that unused device than you'll get for it in trade-in credit from your carrier.
It's simple to list your phone on buyback sites - all you need to do is ship it off in the mail and wait to get paid. Of course, this option is ideal for when it's time to upgrade your own smartphone as well!
Switch to a Low-Cost Carrier
Whether you have a data-hungry teenager or just need a few minutes and text messages each month to give your tween a safety net to make a phone call, you can use all the help you can get to save money on your cell phone bill.
MVNOs - or Mobile Virtual Network Operators - are smaller cell phone carriers that rent space on one or more of the big four networks and resell it to you at a discounted rate. They have lower overhead and marketing costs so they can afford to pass the savings on to you.
Benefits of switching to an MVNO:
- Cheaper prices - by up to 50%
- Same great service on your favorite network
- No contracts
- Custom plans - pay for as little or as much as you need
- Bring your own phone and keep your number
There are MVNOs that offer service on all four popular wireless networks:
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Saving money on the best cell phone for your child is simple:
- Compare prices on the best used cell phones to get the cheapest price.
- Switch to an MVNO to get the cheapest cell phone plan.
- Sell your old phones online for cash.
Don't worry - we haven't forgotten one of the most important factors in your decision. Find out about cell phone safety for kids, including information on parental control, child safety apps, and how to make sure your child knows how to use their phone safely.
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