Whether you’re choosing your child’s first phone or you’re looking for something suitable for a teenager, here’s a guide to the kind of features you might want to look out for when choosing a phone for your child.
Which smartphones are best for kids and teenagers?
Here are the phones we'd recommend for kids and teenagers:
If you’re worried about your child dropping their phone, something with a plastic or metal case might make more sense than a glass exterior. If you opt for a phone that has a plastic rear but a glass front, you might want to consider a sturdy case and screen protector for peace of mind.
And if you’re worried your child might end up spilling something over their phone or dropping it in some water, a phone with a good water resistance rating could be the answer. iPhone SE (2nd generation) has an IP67 water and dust-resistance rating, so it's especially well-suited to accident-prone kids - this device is designed to withstand submersion in 1 metre of fresh water for up to 30 minutes*.
The Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G also has an IP67 rating, and can stand being in 1 metre of fresh water for up to 30 minutes*.
Battery life that lasts
If you want to make sure you’ll be able to stay in touch when your child is out and about, choosing a phone with a good battery life will give you peace of mind. The Samsung Galaxy A32 5G has a 5,000mAh battery* with 15W fast charging, up to 36 hours of talk time on 4G LTE and up to 20 hours of video playback. Kids can also listen to downloaded music for up to 106 hours, and browse on a WiFi network for up to 21 hours.
The Samsung Galaxy A22 5G's 5,000mAh battery* is built for busy days, and when it does get low, 15W Fast Charging will help your child power up in no time.
The Google Pixel 4a has a fast-charging 3140mAh Adaptive Battery* battery designed to last all day - it learns your favourite apps and reduces power to the ones you rarely use.
It’s worth bearing in mind that even if the phone you choose has a powerful battery, battery life will vary for every phone, depending on how frequently your child uses it. If they’re constantly using it while they’re out for the day, they may need to charge their phone while they’re out with a portable charger.
The right screen size for them
If you’re looking for a phone for a pre-teen or an older child, you might want to look for a smaller screen size that’s easier to hold in smaller hands. iPhone SE has an easy-to-handle 4.7-inch Retina HD display - so it’s perfect for kids who need a more petite model and a phone which fits easily into a pocket.
The Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G is suitable for older kids - its 6.5-inch Infinity-O Display with 120Hz refresh rate is ideal for super-smooth gaming and watching their favourite entertainment. Samsung's Infinity-O Displays have a cut-out in the upper corner or the middle so the front camera can be discreetly tucked away, maximising screen space and picture quality.
If your child would like a slightly larger screen, the Galaxy A22 5G has a 6.6-inch screen for more immersive, cinema-style entertainment.
A great camera
Whether your child wants to take the perfect selfie or spend their time documenting the family dog, a great phone camera will give them hours of creative fun.
iPhone SE is perfect for budding photographers - its single 12-megapixel rear camera has Portrait mode, which places the focus on the subject, Portrait Lighting, and Depth Control. It's even got Smart HDR, which recognises faces and relights them for more natural-looking photos.
The Google Pixel 4a can take multiple photos at once, with a Top Shot feature that lets kids pick the picture they prefer - handy if you’re usually the photographer in a lengthy shoot. This phone also comes with Portrait Mode, which is perfect for high quality group shots and selfies, and Night Sight for perfect pictures in low light.
Older kids may want a camera which offers more features - and the Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G's Quad Camera won't disappoint. The 64-megapixel main camera is accompanied by Ultra Wide, Macro and Depth cameras - and kids can also use Single Take to effortlessly capture the best shot in a scene. Just press the shutter once to capture both photos and videos. The Samsung Galaxy A32 5G’s 48-megapixel Quad Camera is also great for older kids. They can shoot landscapes with the 8-megapixel Ultra Wide Camera, incredible close-ups with the 5-megapixel Macro Camera and customise their focus with the 2-megapixel Depth Camera. There’s even a 13-megapixel Front Camera for stunning selfies.
An easy-to-use interface
If you have younger children, you'll know that smaller hands can struggle with large screens. The best phones for small children tend to be the ones they can easily hold with one hand, with clear displays for calling and texting. Older children, however, may want phones with a larger screen - especially if they’re into watching films or gaming.
Younger children may need features which let them quickly find their way around their phone. The Google Pixel 4a has Google Assistant, which is simple to use - just squeeze the side of the phone, ask Google to make a call or send a text, and it’ll do the rest.
Newer Samsung phones like the Samsung Galaxy A22 5G come with One UI - a user experience tool which lets kids personalise their phone and how they use it. One UI also enables easier multitasking on larger screens, FHD-quality video calls with fun AR effects, plus it’s easy to sync notes and documents on your kid’s phone with Microsoft services. The Galaxy A22 5G also comes with the latest Google apps on Android™ OS.
Staying safe online
If your child will be downloading apps, you’ll need a phone which can offer frequent security updates to protect them from bugs and viruses. Apple’s iOS operating system includes protection to help make sure that any downloaded apps are free from malware and haven’t been tampered with, and encryption features to safeguard your child’s data. Plus, if their phone is lost or stolen, you can remotely ‘wipe’ it.
Android’s OS also offers a range of security features, from the Find My Device app - which allows you to track, lock, and wipe a phone - and Safer Browsing mode. Safer Browsing mode will show your child a warning if they are about to land on any dangerous sites or download dangerous files. Plus, two-factor authentication asks the bill payer to provide a second method of identification, such as an SMS code, if your child wants to buy something or download an app.
Samsung devices like the Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G and Samsung Galaxy A32 5G come with the Samsung Knox suite of security features. The Knox security platform isolates, encrypts and secures your child's information - including texts, photos and their health data. The A52s 5G has facial recognition and a fingerprint sensor to keep their phone extra secure, and the A32 5G comes with a fingerprint sensor.
You should regularly check for and install updates to keep your child’s phone’s software up to date and running at the optimum level.
You can also read our expert guides to keeping kids safe online on our Digital Parenting page.
Staying in touch when you’re out and about
If you’re a parent with an iPhone and your child has an iPhone, you’ll be able to use FaceTime to stay in touch if they’re away for a school trip. Plus, the Find My Friends app could help to give you peace of mind that you know where they are – and you can easily locate them with your iPhone or iPad when they share their location with you.
Android phones also have similar apps - the Family Link app lets you see where your child is, and they can also see your location - handy if you get separated on a shopping trip or at the beach. And there’s also video calling on Google Hangouts.
Managing your child’s phone bill and setting spending limits
If you’re concerned that your child may accidentally go over their data limit and add extra charges to the bill, you can set a spending limit using Vodafone Spend Manager. It’s totally free to use this service and it covers potential issues such as out-of-plan data charges and picture messages, as well as the cost-per-minute part of premium rate calls. You can also check to see how many minutes they’re using every month by checking their plan details.
Once your child uses up their set data allowance, they won’t be able to use any more 4G or 5G data until their monthly plan renews - however, they will still be able to use WiFi. They’ll also be able to call or text you whenever they need to, as all of our plans come with unlimited texts and calls.
You can easily buy one of our Extras to boost your child’s data or add unlimited picture messaging. Extras usually work out cheaper than racking up out-of-plan charges and they’re automatically added to the bill. You can choose a one-off Extra or set up a recurring Extra.
Budget phones for kids
Buying a phone for your child doesn’t have to be pricey - there are plenty of cheaper phones which are suitable for kids, and many have the pro-grade cameras, hardworking batteries and large screens featured on more expensive devices. The devices in this article are Pay monthly mid-range phones, but there are other ways to keep costs low.
If you’re unsure if a Pay monthly contract is right for your child, you could always look into getting a Pay as you go phone. There’s a range of 30-day Pay as you go bundles to choose from - all of which come with unlimited texts and free calls to UK mobiles and landlines - so all you need to decide is how much data your child needs.
There are also a range of Pay as you go Extras to choose from, in case your child needs some extra data or wants to stay in touch with friends or family while they’re abroad.
Bear in mind that our Bundles automatically renew providing there’s enough credit on your account, so if you want a one-off Bundle, you'll have to start a chat with us online, or call 4354 free from your Vodafone mobile. If you'd like to use your bundle until your current 30-day period is up, you can stop it from auto-renewing using the My Vodafone app.
SIM only deals for kids
If you've already got an older phone you're planning on giving to your child, why not take a look at our SIM only deals? You can choose your monthly spend and decide on how much data, minutes and texts they need.
A13 Bionic, the fastest chip in a smartphone. Portrait mode and 4K video. Beautiful 4.7-inch Retina HD display and Touch ID. And long battery life. It’s the iPhone that’s small in size but big on power.
Watch your favourite entertainment in comfort on the 6.5-inch Super AMOLED Infinity-O Display and take superb, colour-rich shots on the 64-megapixel Quad Camera. Store photos and videos on the 128GB of built-in storage, and charge the 4500mAh battery in a flash with 25W Fast Charging*.
Take superb pictures on the 48-megapixel Main Camera, as well as Wide, Ultra Wide, Macro and Depth Cameras, and shoot masterpieces in low light with Night Mode. Take stunning selfies with the 13-megapixel Front Camera, and keep going all day thanks to the 5,000mAh battery with 15W Adaptive Fast Charging.
Take streaming to the next level on the 6.6-inch Infinity-V Display with a super-smooth 90Hz refresh rate. The triple rear camera array comes with a 48-megapixel Main Camera, 5-megapixel Ultra-Wide Camera and 2-megapixel Depth Lens for perfect shots every time, and the 5,000mAh battery is built to last all day.
Use Google Assistant to stay organised and power through busy days with the intelligent Adaptive Battery. Take stunning shots on the 12-megapixel dual camera with Night Sight, Live HDR+ and Portrait mode and protect your information with the Titan M security chip.
iPhone SE (2nd generation) is splash, water and dust resistant and was tested under controlled laboratory conditions with a rating of IP67 under IEC standard 60529 (maximum depth of 1 metre up to 30 minutes). Splash, water and dust resistance are not permanent conditions and resistance might decrease as a result of normal wear. Do not attempt to charge a wet iPhone; refer to the user guide for cleaning and drying instructions. Liquid damage not covered under warranty.
Galaxy A52s 5G is rated as IP67. Based on test conditions for submersion in up to 1 metre of freshwater for up to 30 minutes. Not advised for beach, pool use and soapy water. In case you spill liquids containing sugar on the phone, please rinse the device in clean, stagnant water while clicking keys. Safe against low water pressure only. High water pressure such as running tap water or shower may damage the device.
Galaxy A52s 5G: Typical value based on testing under third-party lab conditions. Rated capacity for Galaxy A52s 5G is less.
Galaxy A32 5G: Typical value based on testing under third-party lab conditions. Rated capacity is 4,860mAh for Galaxy A32 5G.
Galaxy A22 5G: Typical value based on testing under third-party lab conditions. Rated capacity is 4,860mAh for Galaxy A22 5G.
Google Pixel 4a: Approximate battery life based on a mix of talk, data, standby, and use of other features, with always on display off. An active display and other usage factors will decrease battery life. Pixel 4a battery testing conducted in Mountain View, California in early 2020 on pre-production hardware and software. Actual results may vary.
You must have a 5G ready device with the downloaded 5G software, a Vodafone 5G plan and 5G coverage. Speed and coverage may be affected by a number of factors.