In our modern age, connectivity is becoming ever more vital and nowhere is this more apparent than with our young people. Unlike most of us, they were born into a world brimming with technology, where iPhones, 4G and social media are the norm – practically part of the furniture. With that in mind, it's extremely important to consider which mobile device you let your child use.
While the decision of when to allow a child to have ownership of their own mobile device is completely up to the parents, it can be difficult to choose the right option when the time comes. You're not going to give an 11-year-old responsibility for an iPhone X any more than you're going to make a teenager suffer without Instagram, Twitter or WhatsApp.
Luckily, we've put together this handy guide of the best mobile phones for kids and teenagers, assessing the features, durability, and price, so when the time comes, you can make the right decision for them.
If your child is under the age of 10, the chances are, that they won't need too much independence, so you don't need to splash out on an expensive model. However, they do grow up fast, so it's important to select a mobile that's long-lasting and has minimal features.
Alcatel Pixi 3 – £49.99
Baby's first smartphone! The Alcatel Pixi 3 has a variety of features that will appeal to parents and kids alike. It has a 5-inch handset, a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 720p HD screen, all of which makes it practically perfect for smaller hands. The internet connectivity allows children to stream videos and search the web as they please, but the limited storage means that they can't access certain apps and games. And the part that parents will enjoy? The price. At only £49.99 on Amazon, it should be easily affordable.
Vodafone Smart Prime 7 – £69.00
Another budget-friendly option, the Smart Prime 7, offers a lot of basic features in a slick, durable package. While Vodafone's own device may look more like a traditional smartphone, with a larger screen and a front-facing camera, its stripped-back Android operating system makes it great for young kids to handle. Its smaller memory means that kids can't download every game on the Google Play store, but they can access a range of apps to help make the device their own.
Samsung J3 – £125.00
While not as sleek or comprehensive as its S8 and S9 cousins, the Samsung J3 benefits from the same engineering quality, easily making it one of the more powerful first-time options, which is reflected in the price. It's small enough to fit comfortably in a child's hand, has web access, an 8-megapixel camera and 8GBs of storage, offering plenty of options for the user. Perhaps most importantly, it has a very long battery life, meaning that when your children are out and about, you know they are also easy to contact.
Ages 11 – 14
As soon as your child reaches secondary school, they'll start to crave more independence and this is usually the time that you'll consider buying them a more robust smartphone; one that allows them to have greater connectivity with friends, as well as a range of features that improve on more basic models.
ZTE axon 7 Mini – £240.00
Very much a mid-tier model, the ZTE axon 7 Mini offers plenty of features that you'd expect in a top-of-the-range phone, but at a fraction of the price. With internet access and 32GBs of storage, your child will be able to download and store a range of photos, videos and music – all of which is complimented by impressive speakers and video display. On top of that, the design is modern and slick, whilst being easy to handle for smaller hands.
LG G4C – £119.99
If you're looking for a model that does everything well, at a decent price, you can't go wrong with the LG G4C. Its stylish aesthetic wouldn't look out of place among flagship smartphone devices and its reasonable storage and features make it perfectly suited for everything a young teenager could need. Furthermore, the low price tag — especially among mid-range phones — means that you don't have to worry too much about it getting broken or lost.
Sony Xperia XA – £149.99
One of Sony's mid-tier models, the Xperia XA comes with all the quality you'd expect from the electronics giant, offering a variety of useful features that can fulfil all the needs of younger children. The 5-inch borderless display, which shows 720p, is perfect for videos and gaming – two things that younger teenagers most use their smartphones for. Moreover, the Xperia XA gives you access to a number of parental control apps, allowing you to ensure your child's safety whilst they use their phone.
When your child hits their teenager years, they're likely to be more adept at using a smartphone than even you — and they'll probably spend most of their time on it! So it's important that they have a device that can fulfil all of their requirements; a large storage capacity for apps, good 4G internet for on-the-go posting, and a high-quality camera and screen, for those all-important selfies.
The Honor 8, in fact the whole Huawei range, has carved out a little niche of being as powerful as the top-end smartphones, but costing a fraction of the price. So, if you want to get your teenager a functional, slick-looking model, but don't want to pay through the nose, it's a solid choice. The Honor 8 has a 32GB storage, which is more than enough for most teenagers. The fantastic dual-camera on the back, as well as the front-facing camera, produce high-quality images and videos. Furthermore, you don’t have to scrimp on features because you're not paying top prices – the powerful processor can keep up with the best and the fingerprint scanner adds that little bit of luxury to make it feel like a truly comprehensive smartphone.
If you want the power and quality of an iPhone, but don't want to pay just shy of £1000 for the latest model, the SE is perfect. Fully supported by iOS, the iPhone SE gives you all of the features you'd expect from Apple, so your teenage son or daughter will have no problems accessing their choice of apps. Furthermore, the 4-inch screen displays crisp HD images and video, while the 12 mega-pixel cameras on the back and front make it easy to take great shots.
Another advantage of the SE is the low insurance cost. Handing a relatively expensive device to teenagers, who're likely to spend most of their time out and about, comes with its risk, so it's always a good idea to look at insurance options. Luckily, due to the SE's age and size compared to other models, you can get great deals on iPhone insurance from sites like loveit coverit. With that sorted, you don't have to worry about your teenager damaging or losing their new smartphone.
The more your teenager uses their phone, the more powerful and advanced it will need to be. With that in mind, you could consider buying them a slightly outdated model of a flagship phone, such as the S8. At one point, the S8 was one of the most powerful Android-operated smartphones, having since been outstripped by the S9 and the soon-to-be-released S10, so you know you're buying quality – and the price tag reflects that. On a technical level, your teen will get a large storage capacity, a 5.8-inch screen, and a 12 mega-pixel rear camera, all of which is practically essential at that age. They'll also be able to access and store a variety of applications, ranging from Instagram to Netflix, meaning they can stay up-to-date with the latest trends with the flick of a finger.
Toby Stubbington is the Managing Director of loveit coverit. Insuring over 900,000 devices to date, loveit coverit has provided mobile phone and gadget insurance for almost 30 years. All claims are handled by their friendly, UK based in-house team.