Top five mobile phones for children [Updated]
Buying mobile phones for children isn’t always straight-forward. Do you get them something basic, cheap and reliable? Or do you give-in to their demands and shell-out for an ‘all singing all dancing’ smartphone?
To help you decide, our top five starts at the value-end of the scale and works its way up to high-end smartphones. But before you make any decisions, read our three essential tips on buying a mobile phone for your child.
Buying mobile phones for children: top tips
Go PAYG: We don’t recommend buying a child a contract mobile phone as there are lots of opportunities for them to rack-up large bills via premium numbers and exceeding allowances. So all the below phones are available on pay-as-you-go tariffs.
Read our basic pay-as-you-go mobile phone reviews to see which models performed best in our labs.
Be careful with data: Smartphones let you store a host of personal data on your phone, via email and social networks. So if you buy your child a smartphone make sure they are fully aware of the dangers of letting others access their personal information and make sure they follow our smartphone security advice.
To app or not to app?: If you buy your child an smartphone then they will have access to an app store, such as the Android Market or the iPhone’s App Store. To download apps they’ll need to register with a credit card, but once this is set-up apps can be downloaded instantly with little authorisation. So be careful that they don’t run up a massive bill!
Save with wi-fi: Handsets that support wi-fi may be more expensive, but if your child wants to frequently download music and apps from the internet, then it will let them do so on your home wireless internet connection. This will save them money buying expensive mobile data credit.
Top five mobile phones for children
- Big battery
If you just want a basic handset for your child that is reliable and cheap then the Nokia 100 is a good choice. The 100 is intentionally simple and has a large battery so it should keep running even if they forget to charge it regularly.
Choosing a very basic handset for your child also makes it less likely to get stolen and cheaper to replace in case it’s lost or damaged.
Price: around £13 on PAYG
For more information read our Nokia 100 review to see how it performs.
Nokia Asha 201
- Qwerty keyboard
- Basic apps
- Large battery
Aimed at a younger crowd the Asha 201 offers a full Qwerty keyboard for the text message obsessed as well as some basic apps including Nokia Social for updating Facebook and Twitter.
There’s also a couple of games for a bit of fun plus a basic camera and music player. A decent sized battery should also keep it working for a reasonable amount of time.
Price: around £40 on PAYG
Read our Nokia Asha 201 review for the full results of our tests.
LG Optimus L3
- Wi-fi and 3G connectivity
- Runs on Android with access to Android apps
- Features camera, music player and GPS
The Optimus L3 is a small smartphone that offers access to the Android operating system and the hundreds of thousands of apps on the Google Play app store. This means they should be able to find lots of fun apps to keep them busy, no matter what they are interested in.
There’s also wi-fi and 3G connectivity so it will be easy to access the internet and update all their social networks. A camera and music player are included for entertainment.
Price: around £80 on PAYG
Find out how it performed in our LG Optimus L3 review.
- Robust and hard to break
- Runs on Android with access to the Google Play app store
- Features camera, music player and GPS
Designed to be strong and rugged the Defy should stand up to the regular drops and scrapes that come with a young person’s life. It is also running the Android operating system so there are a lot of cool apps available to download.
A camera, music player and GPS also means it’s got all the features you would expect from a smartphone. It may not be the newest phone around, but that means you should be able to find it for a very attractive price.
Price: Around £100 on PAYG
To see the full lab results read our Motorola Defy review
Apple iPhone 4S
- Excellent touchscreen and display
- Unrivalled number of apps and games
- Great web-browsing and social networking features
At the top of any child’s phone wishlist is probably the iPhone 4S and it’s not hard to see why.
The iPhone 4S is an incredibly slick piece of hardware and children will love its vivid display, excellent web-browsing, huge selection of mobile phone games and quality music player. The problem is, on PAYG, the iPhone 4S will cost an absolute bomb – £499 on PAYG – and we would strongly advise against giving a child something so expensive to carry around everyday.
Price: From £499 on PAYG
To see what all the fuss is about read our Apple iPhone 4S review.
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