The best phones for kids

Whether you’re looking for the best first phone for a 12-year-old in Australia or a handset for younger or older kids, this guide has you covered.

When it comes to buying a phone for yourself, it’s worth having a gander at the best Android phones available or saving dollars upfront and paying off a shiny new iPhone 12 via a Postpaid plan from Telstra, Optus or Vodafone.

But when it comes to getting a phone for young’uns, there’s money to be saved by buying a cheaper handset upfront, then combining it with the best phone plan for kids (depending on their age bracket). Check out that article if you want a focus on the best phone plans for kids and teens, otherwise scroll on for a breakdown of the best handsets for tykes.

Best phone for kids considerations

The first phone consideration is whether the price is right: there’s no point spending a tonne of cash on a handset that may be damaged or lost. Because of this, the phones on this page are recommended based on their overall affordability. Refurbished phones from Kogan, Dick Smith, EB Games and Apple, as well as telcos like Boost Mobile and Numobile are also great ways to save money.

Battery life is another key consideration. While adults may be used to carrying around a charging cable or lugging a power bank to keep battery life in the green, you don’t want to have to worry about this with your kid’s phone. To help avoid this, the phones we’ve recommended on this page tend to have great battery life.

Parental controls are a handy addition, but you can always use services like Family Zone to help manage screen time, limit social media access and/or block inappropriate content. Alternatively, there are handsets on this page that deliberately don’t have a whole lot of internet-connected smarts. Durability is also an important consideration, which is why a new phone is best paired with a phone case even if it’s already dust or waterproof.

Finally, we recommend using Prepaid plans instead of SIM Only alternatives for your kid’s phone, so you don’t have to freak out at any end-of-billing-cycle surprises and your child is also locked into a fixed amount of talk time, text limits and mobile data. Below is a list of the 10 cheapest Prepaid plans with at least 1GB of data.

Smartphone vs feature phone

These days it’s tricky to find a handset that doesn’t at least have some sort of smart features (aka a “dumbphone”). What you’ll find, instead, is what’s called a ‘feature’ phone, which have limited smart functionality. Smartphones are basically computers in your pocket, which means they need data to operate effectively. Feature phones benefit from data, but because they’re restricted in terms of the apps they can use, they should require less monthly data to use.

Phones without internet

If you don’t want your child’s first phone to come with mobile data, you can opt for a phone plan without internet in Australia. The Dodo $5 Mobile Plan, which comes with unlimited national calls and SMS so they can stay in touch, but there’s no data included by default. If you stick with this plan and decide you want to add data later, 3GB data packs are available for $10.

Motorola Moto G8 Power Lite

The Motorola Moto G8 is a great mix of everything you want for a kid-friendly smartphone, regardless of whether they’re younger or a teenager. It’s okay on the performance front, able to admirably take care of managing everyday apps, videos, and even games. More importantly, the Moto G8 boasts a 5,000mAh battery, which translates to up to three days of use on a single charge.

The generous 6.5-inch HD display is a great size for practical use across a range of applications, and the water-repellent design helps protect it from accidental splashes (plus there’s a screen protector included). While not amazing, the camera is still good enough to take decent pics and it can also handle 1080p video. At under $250, the price is right, too.

You can buy it from Optus directly for $249 if you want to use one of the Optus Prepaid plans below (with at least 1GB of data).

Nokia 3310

Best first phone for kids

Nokia 3310
For many of us, the Nokia 3310 was our first phone, and the new model is more than just an attempted nostalgia hit for purchasing parents. The iconic handset silhouette may be the same, but Nokia has sagely updated the all-important hardware, while keeping the price below $100. Physical buttons are great for first-time phone users, while the 2.4-inch polarised screen is both the right size and designed to be easy to read in sunlight.

Unlike the smartphones on this page, the Nokia 3310 is close to a dumbphone, though the 3G version can use apps like Twitter and Facebook. Still, there’s entertainment in the form of reimagined Snake, FM radio and MP3 player (up the storage via MicroSD card to store tunes), and a 2MP camera for taking basic snaps. The best feature, though, is the epic battery life (up to 22 hours of talk time).

Best phone for younger kids

Optus X Lite 4G
Like the Nokia 3310 above, the Optus X Lite 4G is a feature phone that’s a great fit for younger phone users. For starters, you can buy one outright for under $50, though you will have to pair it with an Optus Prepaid plan. Considering Optus plans are great value – check out the list of Optus Prepaid plans here – this helps to add to the overall value.

The 2.4-inch colour display is a great starting point for younger eyes, which helps keep the handset light enough to carry around and makes single-hand usage possible, even in smaller mitts. The battery is built to last all day, there’s a basic camera for budding photographers, and Bluetooth offers some connectivity versatility.

For $49 upfront, you can own the Optus X Lite 4G handset outright and pair it with one of the Optus Prepaid plans below (all of which have at least 1GB of data).

Real

Best phone for tweens

Realme C11
Step away from telco-locked handsets and feature phones with the Realme C11, which is our pick of the best first phone for 12-year-olds in Australia (or slightly younger). For under $200, you don’t have to break the bank to get your tween started on their smartphone journey. That all starts with the generously sized 6.5-inch HD+ display, which is powered by an eight-core processor, 2GB memory for decent performance, and 32GB of internal storage.

If that’s not enough to store the apps, downloads, and photographic results of decent front and rear cameras, pop in an equally affordable MicroSD card for a straightforward storage upgrade. With an impressive 5,000mAh battery, the Realme C11 boasts 40 days of standby, which also translates to more than a day of active use.

Oppo A53

Best phone for teens

Oppo A53
The Oppo A53 has incredible value for a handset you’ll pay under $300 to own outright. That value starts with a 6.5-inch HD display, which boasts a 90Hz refresh rate for smoother onscreen interactions, while everything feels more responsive care of up to 120Hz touch sampling. On the battery front, you’re looking at a sizeable 5,000mAh battery which, combined with in-the-box 18W fast charger, means speedier charging and more than a day of practical use.

The A53’s innards are beefy enough to keep up with teenage multitasking needs, too: an eight-core processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage (which can be expanded by up to 256GB via MicroSD). There’s a triple-lens camera on the back and an AI-improved selfie camera, too, both of which offer impressive results for the price.

If you want to shift your teen from Prepaid to SIM Only, you can pay off the Oppo A53 as part of a Woolworths Mobile SIM Only plan (check them out below).