July 9, 2020
If your kid needs an Android phone, these are the ones we recommend getting

If your kid needs an Android phone, these are the ones we recommend getting

Like it or not, there will come a time when you need to buy a phone for your kid. Deciding at what age they should get a phone is entirely up to you, but when you do go out and pick one up, you want to make sure you’re getting something worthwhile without completely wrecking their college savings fund. Lucky for you, there are tons of great handsets that your kid and wallet will equally love. We think the Moto G Power is the best all-around choice, but if it’s not catching your fancy, there are plenty of other stellar phones on this list.

Best Overall: Moto G Power

As mentioned in the above paragraph, buying a phone for your kid is a balancing act of getting something they’ll want to use without spending a fortune. In our eyes, the Moto G Power best fits that bill.

Motorola’s G-series has become famous for offering quality experiences at low price points, and the G Power is no different. It’s built incredibly well, and paired with a water-repellent design, you can rest assured it’ll be able to withstand any adventures your kid embarks on. Further contributing to this is the massive 5,000 mAh battery, which can last for up to three days on a single charge.

Your kiddo is treated to a very good 6.4-inch Full HD+ display, which is colorful, sharp, and paired with slim bezels — making it a great canvas for watching YouTube or playing games. The G Power is also plenty fast for these activities, thanks to the responsive Snapdragon 665 processor and 4GB of RAM. Rounding out the phone are three rear cameras that are a lot of fun to use, 64GB of internal storage that can be expanded with a microSD card, and support for all major U.S. carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon).

The biggest downside to the Moto G Power is the fact that Motorola only promises one major software update. That means it’ll get upgraded from Android 10 to Android 11 at some point down the road, but other than occasional security patches, that’s it. That’s certainly not ideal, but as a first or second phone for your kid, it shouldn’t be that big of an issue.

Pros:

  • Works with all U.S. carriers
  • Large display with Full HD+ resolution
  • Plenty of power for most apps/games
  • Up to three-day battery life
  • Headphone jack and expandable storage

Cons:

  • Only promised one software update

Best Overall

Moto G Power

  • $250 at Amazon
  • $250 at Best Buy
  • $249 at Walmart

The phone that’ll make you (and your kid) happy

There are plenty of excellent Android phones for kids, but overall, the Moto G Power stands out as our top recommendation.

Best Alternative: TCL 10L

We can’t recommend the Moto G Power enough, but if you or your kid just aren’t thrilled with what it has to offer, another phone we’d suggest picking up is the TCL 10L. It’s one of the first self-branded phones TCL has ever offered in the U.S., and it’s pretty darn great.

What makes the TCL 10L so impressive is just how many features and specs are crammed into it given the low price. That all starts with the display, which measures in at 6.53-inches and has a crisp Full HD+ resolution. It also benefits from TCL’s NXTVISION technology, which promises more accurate colors and vibrant images. The only potential downside here is the size of the 10L’s display, which may be a bit too large for some kids’ hands.

Powering the phone is the same Snapdragon 665 processor found inside of the Moto G Power, but the RAM is increased all the way up to 6GB. There’s 64GB of storage that can be expanded up to 256GB, a 4,000 mAh battery for long endurance, and four rear cameras (though the image quality isn’t the most impressive).

There are two other neat features you get with the TCL 10L, the first of which is its “Smart Key.” This is just an extra physical button that can be customized to do whatever you want, and it’s handy to have. Also offered is NFC for Google Pay support, which could be helpful if you have an older kid with their own debit card.

Pros:

  • High-quality Full HD+ display
  • Plenty of RAM and storage
  • Customizable button
  • Has a headphone jack and fingerprint sensor
  • NFC for Google Pay

Cons:

  • Might be too big for some kids
  • Disappointing cameras

Best Alternative

TCL 10L

  • $212 at Amazon
  • $210 at Best Buy
  • $250 at B&H

If you don’t like the G Power, check this out

With tons of features and specs to go around, the TCL 10L is a compelling Android phone for your kid.

Best Stylus: Moto G Stylus

The Galaxy Note is the most popular Android phone with a stylus, but it’s also ridiculously expensive. If your kid wants a stylus with their phone and you aren’t ready to spend Galaxy Note money, the Moto G Stylus is kind of perfect.

Just like the Note, the Moto G Stylus comes with a stylus that can be used for whatever your heart desires. Use it to take handwritten notes, create a work of art, or more easily navigate the phone’s interface. It’s a nice touch of added functionality you won’t find with any of the other phones on this list, and when your kid is done using it, the stylus is stored in a hidden slot on the bottom frame of the phone. There’s also a pretty cool feature that lets you take the stylus out, jot a quick note on the G Stylus’s screen, and save that note once the stylus is put away.

As for the rest of the G Stylus, it has everything your child needs for a good experience. There’s a 6.4-inch Full HD+ display, Snapdragon 665 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a generous 128GB of internal storage (that can also expanded with a microSD card). Keeping the phone powered up is a 4,000 mAh battery, which should be able to last for up to two days per charge. Once again, you can use the Moto G Stylus with every carrier out there.

The Moto G Stylus is a great option if you think your kid would get a lot of use out of the stylus component, but if not, you’re better off with the Moto G Power mentioned above. It has many of the same specs, a larger battery, and costs less money. Just food for thought!

Pros:

  • Comes with a free stylus
  • Large display for taking notes/drawing
  • 128GB of built-in storage
  • Rear-mounted fingerprint sensor
  • Works with all carriers

Cons:

  • Not the best value
  • Will only get updated to Android 11

Best Stylus

Moto G Stylus

  • $300 at Amazon
  • $300 at Best Buy
  • $299 at Walmart

For note-takers and doodlers

For kids that like to draw or take notes, the Moto G Stylus with its included stylus makes for a perfect starter phone.

Best Camera: Google Pixel 3a

When Google launched the Pixel 3a back in May 2019, it took the smartphone market by storm. The 3a is the first mid-range phone to ever be released under the Pixel brand, and the value proposition offered by it is phenomenal.

Let’s start with the most jaw-dropping aspect of the 3a — its camera. The 12MP rear camera takes downright gorgeous photos, matching the quality of pictures taken with much more expensive phones. Even in low-light environments, the 3a’s camera is a beast. If you have a kid that’s an aspiring photographer, you can’t go wrong with the Pixel 3a.

Another highlight of the 3a is its software. It’s currently running the latest available version of Android 10, and since it’s a Pixel phone, it’ll keep getting major OS updates and security patches through May 2022. In other words, you can rest assured that your kid’s phone is always as safe as can be and protected from new vulnerabilities that pop up.

The rest of the Pixel 3a experience is just as strong, thanks to its 5.6-inch OLED display, Snapdragon 670 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 3,000 mAh battery. The 64GB of internal storage should be enough room for all of your kid’s apps/games, but the lack of microSD card support is a bummer.

Pros:

  • Takes phenomenal pictures
  • Guaranteed software updates through May 2022
  • Snappy performance
  • Fingerprint sensor and headphone jack
  • Works with all carriers

Cons:

  • Storage is not expandable

Best Camera

Google Pixel 3a

  • $279 at Amazon
  • $400 at Best Buy
  • From $280 at Walmart

Take amazing pictures

Have a budding photographer in your family? The Pixel 3a has the camera tech to help them live out their dreams.

Best Affordable: Nokia 2.3

We fully understand if you’re trying to keep costs as low as possible when buying a phone for your kid. Going too low can result in there being a lot of crap handsets to sift through, but one option that sticks out as a worthy contender is the Nokia 2.3.

Before we even talk about price, the phone on its own is rock solid. The polymer back features a wonderful texture that looks and feels great, and that’s paired with a diecast metal chassis to keep the package nice and sturdy. On the front of the Nokia 2.3 are a 6.2-inch HD+ display and a 5MP selfie camera, with the back housing dual 13MP + 2MP camera sensors.

Other specs of the Nokia 2.3 include a MediaTek processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of expandable storage, and a very generous 4,000 mAh battery. The processor and RAM combination is one of the weaker ones on this list, but when you’re spending this little money, that’s to be expected. It’s also worth pointing out that the Nokia 2.3 only works with GSM carriers, such as AT&T and T-Mobile. If you rely on Sprint or Verizon, this isn’t for you.

Rounding out the Nokia 2.3 is the fact that it’s part of the Android One program. This means it’s guaranteed to get software updates through January 2022 and security patches through January 2023. It’s a similar guarantee offered by the Pixel 3a, but at a much lower price.

Pros:

  • Textured back with aluminum chassis
  • 6.2-inch display with thin bezels
  • 4,000 mAh battery for long endurance
  • Expandable storage + headphone jack
  • Dedicated button for Google Assistant

Cons:

  • Only compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile
  • Mediocre performance

Best Affordable

Nokia 2.3

  • From $129 at Amazon
  • $130 at Best Buy
  • $129 at Walmart

A dream come true for penny pinchers

The Nokia 2.3 isn’t the most technically impressive phone out there, but it delivers a solid experience at an ultra-low price.

Best for Small Hands: Palm Phone

The Palm Phone is one of the most interesting devices we’ve seen in recent years. While it failed to capture the heart and soul of Palm devices of yesteryear, it ended up being a good phone for kids thanks to just how tiny it is.

Smartphones seem to be getting bigger and bigger with every day that passes, and for small kid-sized hands, managing them comfortably isn’t always possible. The Palm Phone is under four inches tall with a screen size of just 3.3 inches, meaning its incredibly portable and easy to use by even the tiniest of hands. It’s also running a customized version of Android, which is much more simplistic than what you’d find on other devices.

On the specs front, the Palm Phone delivers a Snapdragon 435 processor, 3GB of RAM, a 12MP rear camera, 32GB of expandable storage, and an 800 mAh battery. You’ll get a better specs-to-price ratio with the other phones on this list, but if your kid wants something that’s a good fit for their hands, the Palm Phone is worth considering.

Pros:

  • It’s so tiny!
  • Perfect for kids with small hands
  • Simplified version of Android
  • Expandable storage
  • Dust and water-resistant

Cons:

  • Not as feature-rich as other phones on the list

Best for Small Hands

Palm Phone

  • $249 at Amazon
  • $150 at Best Buy
  • $250 at B&H

Tiny phone for tiny hands

It may not be the best value on this list, but when it comes to phones that work well with kids’ hands, the Palm Phone delivers.

Best for Younger Kids: Coolpad Dyno Smartwatch

This last pick isn’t technically a phone, but rather a smartwatch that stays connected with a SIM card. If you aren’t quite ready to give your kid a fully-fledged smartphone but still want them to be within a phone call or text, the Dyno is kind of perfect.

Available in blue and pink colors, the Dyno has a fun and durable design that’s made with kids in mind. They’ll love the cartoon characters on the display, you’ll love the IP65 dust/water resistance and up to 2.5 days of battery life the watch gets per charge.

Along with the Dyno watch, you’ll get access to a companion app that helps you manage the watch remotely. You can access calls and messages, choose which contacts your kid has access to, and even create GPS-based safe zones. There’s also an SOS button on the Dyno watch itself, giving your kids instant access to you in an emergency.

Assuming you rely on a GSM carrier like AT&T or T-Mobile, the Coolpad Dyno is a really interesting option that might be just what you’re looking for.

Pros:

  • Fun, kid-focused design
  • IP65 rating for dust and water resistance
  • Up to 2.5 days of battery life on one charge
  • GPS-based safe zones
  • SOS function

Cons:

  • Only works on AT&T and T-Mobile

Best for Younger Kids

Coolpad Dyno Smartwatch

  • $130 at B&H

If they’re not ready for a smartphone

If you have a younger kid that isn’t ready for the full-on smartphone experience, the Dyno Smartwatch is a great alternative.

Bottom Line

Buying a phone for your kid can be a stressful task, but it doesn’t have to be. This list is proof that there are plenty of phones out there that are a great match for you and your kid, with the best one being the Moto G Power.

Motorola has virtually perfected its formula for mid-range smartphones, with the G Power packing all of the features your kid could ask for. It has a good-looking design, vibrant display, ample performance, and goodies like a fingerprint sensor, headphone jack, and excellent battery life. The G Power is a phone we’d happily recommend to anyone, not just kids.

Not only can you buy the Moto G Power with confidence and know that your kid is getting a great Android experience, but it also won’t bleed your wallet dry. That’s a win-win if we’ve ever seen one, and it’s why the Moto G Power is our top pick for the best Android phone for kids.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Joe Maring is Android Central’s Senior Editor and has had a love for anything with a screen and CPU since he can remember. He’s been talking/writing about Android in one form or another since 2012, and often does so while camping out at the nearest coffee shop. Have a tip? Send an email to joe.maring@futurenet.com!

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