Your buying guide for the best kids’ phones in 2020

Long gone are the days when you can fob off a child with your second-hand phone. These days they know more about tech than most adults and they want the best of the best, just as you do.

Whether you’re buying the first phone for your child who’s 10, or your 15-year old teenager, here are some of the best phones around for kids. We’ve highlighted options that blend value with ease of use, strong build and, perhaps most importantly, enough power to play the latest games and watch YouTube.

If you’re after a SIM for your child also see our guide to the Best Kids’ SIM Deals.

Best kids’ phones 2020 UK – Best kids’ phone reviews

2. OnePlus Nord

OnePlus Nord

3. Apple iPhone SE (2020)

Apple iPhone SE (2020)

4. Oppo A5 2020

Oppo A5 2020

5. Moto G8 Power

Moto G8 Power

6. Nokia 5.3

Nokia 5.3

How much should I spend?

It’s really up to you. While we wouldn’t advise paying flagship prices on the very best phones, we do recognise that some parents will be prepared to dig deep.

We’ve focused primarily on sub-£200 budget phones in this chart, but also included some slightly more expensive mid-range phones

If you’re after a phone for under £50 take a look at our Best basic phones roundup. If money’s no object here’s our list of the very best phones.

Dirt-cheap, basic phones are great phones for kids, which they can use on the trip to and from school. They won’t get distracted by TikTok, the latest game or attract thieves; and it won’t matter too much when the inevitable happens and they lose or break it.

Sometimes buying a Chinese phone can be a good way to get an attractively-priced phone with much higher specifications than you would otherwise get in the UK.

However, steer clear of Meizu or Huawei’s most recent models, as they don’t always pre-install Google Play and can sometimes pop up Chinese-language notifications that may be confusing to a child. If you buy from China, first read our advice on buying grey-market tech.

One thing to keep in mind is that your child will likely be using the phone on a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) basis unless you’re prepared to take out a contract in their name. If you want to go down this route you’ll save money by buying the phone upfront and choosing a decent SIM-only deal. We’ve separately looked at the best SIM-only deals that are best suited to children

Is an Android phone or iPhone better for my child?

Whether you choose to go down the iPhone or Android route will largely depend on your budget, what your child is used to and how loudly they scream.

Most iPhones will be well over-budget for a child but it is still possible to buy older models like the iPhone 8, secondhand or refurbished from MusicMagpie for under £300. If they demand a current-generation iPhone, look to the slightly cheaper iPhone SE 2020, which starts at £419. Even this, though, might be more expensive than what you had in mind.

Most of the phones we recommend run Android, which is every bit as good as iOS (and typically has many more free apps). It’s also very simple to use, but read our Android vs iPhone comparison to get a better idea of the key differences.

Both platforms are equally suited to children in the respect that they can be locked down so that your child accesses only what you want them to. Read our advice on the best parental control software.

And, despite what you may have read, neither platform – although it is possible – is likely to get a virus. We’ve rounded up some mobile antivirus options here, for extra peace of mind, though.

Related: How to remove a virus on Android

Specifications and features to look for in a kid’s phone

Most kids are used to playing games on a tablet before getting their own phone and will be used to the larger screen that offers. But a large-screened phone is much easier to drop and smash on the floor than a more compact model.

Related: Best kids’ tablets 2020

Because we all know kids can be clumsy, a waterproof phone or rugged phone would be ideal. Whichever phone you choose, we highly recommend you also purchase a case to go with it.

Adults can often overlook front-facing cameras, but for kids who love to take selfies, mess around with TikTok and video chat, they can be highly important. Don’t even consider buying a child a phone that doesn’t have a selfie camera. 

You needn’t worry too much about the core specifications, since most phones these days have or are capable of everything a child requires; casual gaming, YouTube and a camera.

The one thing you should look out for, though, is storage. We’d advise against anything with under 16GB of internal space. Look for a model with microSD support and be sure to take advantage of cloud services, such as Google Photos, to back up media online so more storage can be made available for apps and games locally.

Backing up photos and video through the cloud will also mean they aren’t lost when the phone ultimately is lost or broken.

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