How to choose the best mobile phone for your kids
Almost 50% of children aged 6-13 now own or use a mobile phone, with one in three owning the phone they use, according to the 2019 Kids and Mobiles Interactive Report from the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
Allowing children the use of their own phone is pretty normal these days and can also be a great way to foster independence and responsibility in kids. So, while thinking about getting a phone for their child can feel like a big step for many parents, it's nothing out of the ordinary.
However, phones can be expensive, particularly with the latest flagship devices costing north of $2000. Add to that the reasonable likelihood that many children will damage, lose or forget their phone at some point and it makes sense to cap your budget at an amount that you're willing to see lost sooner than you'd like.
Thankfully, recent years have seen more and more good quality, low cost phones come onto the market. These handsets don't feel cheap and also offer solid performance, making them great options if you're considering getting your child their first phone.
Below is a list of things to consider when purchasing a phone for your child, and a short selection of suggested handsets that will cover all your child's phone needs without breaking the bank.
This is the number one consideration. With prices ranging up to $3000 for a new phone these days, it's clear there are plenty of opportunities to overspend on a new device. We would suggest setting a budget for how much you're willing to spend on a device, and stick to it.
You can get your hands on good quality entry-level devices for as little as $200 and some can be bought on a plan if you want to spread out your payments.
Today the majority of handsets include built-in parental control options, so you can place some limits on how the device is used like capping data usage.
As responsible as your child might be, it's almost certain that their phone will end up dropped, wet, with a cracked screen or even lost or stolen. Apps such as Find My Phone can help in cases of missing devices, but you may also want to make sure your kid's phone is durable and waterproof.
Kids can be forgetful, and sometimes they're going to forget to charge their phone. The handsets listed below have the kind of battery life that should last through two days, allowing you to more reliably keep in contact with your child.
Prepaid vs. postpaid
Prepaid usually makes most sense when choosing a plan for your child's smartphone as it allows you to put a cap on data usage, preventing bill shock. This page will let you find the best phone plans for kids available right now.
The handsets we've included below are all touchscreen smartphones, so there shouldn't be any playground angst about toting a device that looks too old or basic.
|Motorola Moto E6 Plus
Moto phones are great budget smartphones, reliably exceeding expectations for the price. At under $200, (prices vary depending where you shop), the E6 Plus leads with huge battery life and follows up with a very solid all round package, making you feel like you've got more phone than you paid for. It looks clean and elegant, sports 13MP and 2MP cameras and will keep chugging along with a two-day battery life.
Also around the $200 mark is the Alcatel 3L, which our team found to be both a surprise and a delight to review. Sporting the kind of camera array you'd expect to find with a much more expensive device, it's the standout feature of this device. That said, it also sports a big battery for heavy use and is a solid performer in most areas.
If only an iPhone will do then you're in luck because as of November this year Coles teamed up with Boost Mobile to sell refurbished iPhone 7 32GB models for $299. These handsets go through a rigorous 72-point inspection process to make sure they are in excellent condition and come with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and 12-month warranty for peace of mind. The iPhone 7 comes with a 12MP rear camera, a 7MP selfie camera, and fingerprint scanning to help keep the device secure.
The OPPO A9 is available for $350 but it's sleek design could easily have people thinking it costs a whole lot more. This handset packs 128GB of storage and has a battery capacity that's as impressive as those with flagship devices. Meanwhile, five different cameras are housed inside including a 48MP main rear lens and an ultra wide lens for panoramic shots. So if your child enjoys taking pictures, this phone has them covered.
Similar to refurbished iPhone 7 devices being available through Coles, numobile is another provider that sells quality refurbished phones at affordable prices. These devices do stretch beyond the $200 mark but not by too much and should keep complaints from the kids to a minimum.
Of course, another option is to hand down your old phone to your child when you decide to upgrade. We know that about one in three people keep their old handsets as spares, so consider gifting your old phone to the kids. It'll save you money and also help save the device from ending up as landfill.
However, since the phone you've been using may be more expensive than the ones listed above, we'd only suggest doing this with older children who are more likely to keep the phone in better condition for longer.