Let’s face it: Kids want iPhones. Their favorite celebrities are seen using them, they see their parents using them. And some of their friends have them. But which iPhone is best for your kid? There are lots of factors to consider, not the least of which is the age of the child in question. Here’s the list of the best iPhone for kids in 2022.
Best iPhone for kids in 2022
Apple iPhone SE (2022) – Best iPhone for younger kids
If you have a grade-school aged kid who’s mature enough to handle a phone, you should look no further than the iPhone SE. It’s got the same A15 processor used in the iPhone 13 range. So you know it’s going to perform well and get software updates for years. With a 4.7-inch screen, it’s also pretty small, which is good for younger kids’ hands and pockets. It’s a more than serviceable iPhone. And there’s really nothing your kid may want to do that they won’t be able to, outside of using features like Memoji or Animoji, which require the TrueDepth camera found in the Face ID equipped higher-end iPhones.
Apple iPhone 12 – Best iPhone for older kids
Older kids—young teens and high school students—have more demanding standards. An iPhone SE may still serve them very well, but that smaller screen is a little archaic and they’re going to want to look cool in front of their friends. More importantly, photo-taking and social media start to become an important part of their social life. So if you’re willing to spend more on an iPhone with a more capable camera, Face ID, and a full-screen display, we recommend looking no further than the iPhone 12.
iPhone 12 mini – Best value iPhone for kids
As the iPhone 12 mini is a great choice for kids, especially if you can get it a bit cheaper. The device shares most of the attributes of its bigger brother the iPhone 12, including the processor and twin rear cameras. But it all comes in a gorgeous, compact frame that is perfect for smaller hands. Somehow the engineers at Apple still managed to fit a 5.4-inch display into a device that’s smaller than the iPhone SE. If you can find one on the Apple Refurbished store then we think it could be a great option. One thing to bear in mind is that the smaller nature of the mini means that battery life can be a little lacking. So, if you’re expecting your kid to be on it all the time, especially when out and about, we’d suggest maybe picking up a portable power bank to top up the battery if things get low.
iPhone 14 – Best latest generation iPhone for kids
If your kid is insisting on the latest iPhone then we’d recommend the iPhone 14. Although we’d strongly advise that you turn their attention to the iPhone 13, which is practically identical. If they are wanting a phone that looks like the newest model then they’ll easily fool their classmates with the iPhone 13.
But if it’s the latest model they are after the iPhone 14 is the cheapest option and it brings features that the iPhone 13 lacks, including the Action Mode for video that we can see kids taking advantage of. Switch Action Mode on and you can film while you walk or even run and still get a smooth video.
Apple iPhone SE (3rd gen)
Best phone for kids overall
Apple’s iPhone lineup spans a wide range of models at varying prices. The most inexpensive iPhone is the iPhone SE, which starts at $429. Apple revamped the iPhone SE in 2022 with the same processor as the more expensive iPhone 13 lineup. The end result is an iPhone 13-like experience in a phone that’s half the price.
The phone features a 4.7-inch display and Touch ID home button that your child can use to secure their iPhone with a fingerprint. The rear camera takes photos that are nearly as clear and crisp as higher-end iPhones. The front camera provides a solid FaceTime experience.
Give them an iPhone you already have
Another route to explore is handing over your current iPhone and buying yourself a new one! If you’ve had yours for a while, then it may be out of its contract period. However if you bought it outright then all you need to do is get a new SIM card for your youngster, give them your handset. Next, head off to the Apple store to give yourself a present for being such a magnanimous parent. Otherwise, the last line no longer available may happen. If you’re unsure what to treat yourself to, our best iPhone roundup should prove a helpful guide.
Which is the right phone for your kid?
Deciding which phone is right for your kid depends on a few factors, including age, overall cost, and which operating system you prefer. Once you know those details, you can narrow down your search and make a choice based on personal preference.
How did we choose these phones for kids?
I’ve reviewed phones for the last 12 years, 10 of which phones have been my full-time job. Not only have I tested these devices myself, but I’ve experienced my own kids reaching the age of needing their first phone.
All five of these picks are something I would (and have) trust(ed) my kids to take care of. The price of the Moto G Pure. For example, is fantastic for a young child needing their first phone (or if you just aren’t sure your kid can handle it responsibly). After a few months of proving themselves, or however long it takes, you can upgrade their phone to another pick on this list, or even a more expensive option.
What’s the best cellular plan for a kid?
Sticking with your current carrier and adding a line to your account is going to get you the best deal on a new phone. However, if you want to buy a phone outright without getting locked into device payments. You can always start with a prepaid carrier like Republic Wireless or Visible. The plans are cheap, and you’re not committed to paying the carrier back for a phone if your child loses it.
If you opt to add a line to your account, most carriers allow you to mix and match plans. For example, you can have your number on a plan that allows unlimited data usage at full speed. Then, give your child a plan that forfeits data speed when the network is busy. It saves you money while still giving your child access to everything they need a phone to do.
Are there alternative phones for kids worth considering?
Of course! There are countless phones available. From refurbished iPhones to used devices off of Swappa, or a similar second-hand website. The iPhone 12 is the oldest device currently sold by Apple. It’s $499 and comes with an older processor and arguably a worse camera than the iPhone SE. However, it has a larger display, Face ID and comes in tons of colors.
As for Android devices, well, you really have your pick of the sea. From well-known brands like Samsung and Motorola to lesser-known device makers like TCL and OnePlus, the list of phones that are worth considering is long.
As for smartwatches that replicate a phone-like experience, Verizon’s GizmoWatch 2 is also a respectable option.
Why choose iPhone?
It is super durable
Thanks to its compact size, the SE fits perfectly in smaller hands (and smaller pockets!). But even if your little one does drop their phone, rest assured that it’s unlikely to get damaged. Why? Because the glass used on the front and the back is supposed to be the toughest glass you can get on a smartphone so you’re unlikely to deal with a cracked or shattered screen. (We’d still recommend a case for an extra layer of protection.) The phone is also water (and dust) resistant so small spills won’t mean the end of the device.
It helps you to manage your kid’s screen time
Apple knows that navigating screen time can be a concern for many families. In fact, almost four years ago they gave parents the ability to manage what kids can do on their devices (and for how long) through Family Sharing. Not only does Family Sharing allow you to set permissions around screen time but it also lets you approve (or decline) what your kid can buy or download. From your own device, you can disable certain apps and set limits around what content kids can access, including games, podcasts, books, movies and shows.
If you’re looking for an Apple handset for your kiddo, you’ll quickly notice there’s a wide selection from which to choose. Our advice is to go with the iPhone 13. It provides most of the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max features, but for less. It also comes in more vibrant colors, which might be important to your son or daughter.
So, the time has come to purchase an iPhone for your child. Which one should you buy? Our top pick is the iPhone 13, which happens to be Apple’s current flagship device. It’s a highly-rated smartphone that comes in unique colors and is also packed with the excellent features your 21st-century kiddo expects and wants. We’ve gathered other noteworthy models to help you choose the best one that fits your needs.