The best phones for kids

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Although giving a child a mobile phone is something of a contentious issue, when it comes to keeping your kids safe, there aren't many parents who wouldn't opt to give their offspring the ability to call home in an emergency. After all, it's not really that different to having 10p pressed into your hand for the phonebox "in case something happens."
 
Naturally, we aren't going to want to give our little people the latest in smartphone technology. In fact, we might not actually want to give them a smartphone at all, and if we do, perhaps not one connected to the Internet. But, on the flipside of that, perhaps having them online might be useful, and there are apps that can send tracking data back to you, so you know where they are.
 
In this guide, Expert Reviews contributing editor Ian Morris rounds up a selection of phones aimed at every pocket, and a wide selection of needs. How you approach this will depend very much on your individual feelings towards empowering your children with technology.
Nokia 106
Nokia 106
eBay loves: The price and long battery life
Watch out for: Even without Internet access, your kids might run up a bill
RRP: £20

The Nokia 106 is a phone, and that's it. You can send and receive text messages, store contacts and make calls. It's rugged though, with a dust and splashproof keyboard, the roughness of childhood shouldn't give this phone too much to worry about. It also claims battery standby times of 35 days - like the Nokia phones of old!
 
It has an FM radio too, and it's available in a range of colours to suit any taste. This phone is going to be ideal for a younger child, and for around £20, it really doesn't matter too much what happens to it. 
Nokia Asha 210
Nokia Asha 210
eBay loves: Great features, reasonable price, social networking
Watch out for: Kids being bullied on social media
RRP: £50

If your child is a little older, and wants something that is a bit of fun too, then the Asha 210 might be a great option. It's a 2G only phone, so while data is possible, it's going to be a very slow process. It does have Wi-Fi though, so your kids can Facebook when they're at home with you. There's a simple camera, and there's the promise of being able to upload video to YouTube too.

The lack of 3G should also make for decent battery life. Nokia claims 46 days on standby, but of course when your children start messaging, that will probably drop rapidly. Still, it makes for a great emergency phone, with some fun extras. 
ZTE Blade Q Mini
ZTE Blade Q Mini
eBay loves: Fully-featured smartphone, nice looking
Watch out for: Apps from the Google Play store might not all be suitable for children 
RRP: £70

A step up in price, but also a step up in features. Here you get a proper Android phone running Jelly Bean. This means that an almost unlimited number of apps are available for your precious offspring to enjoy. Games will likely be a big hit, but they will also be able to enjoy a full range of social media. The ZTE BLade Q Mini is 3G enabled too, so if you get a data tariff they will be able to access the Internet on the move.

On the downside, a 3G-enabled smartphone means that the battery life will be greatly reduced, which might affect the handset’s usefulness as an emergency phone. But a wealth of apps means staying in touch with your children has never been easier. 
Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
eBay loves: Super-fast 4G, great smartphone features
Watch out for: 4G tariffs are still very pricey 
RRP: £130

In terms of kids’ phones, this is something of a luxury device. For one thing, it's 4G ready, so as long as you're prepared to spring for an expensive data bundle, your children can enjoy super fast Internet access. So, logically, this might be a good phone for a much older child, perhaps one who could use it for tethering while working on school projects.

Aside from its fast Internet access the Galaxy Ace 3 is pretty standard. It's not the world's quickest handset, with modest specs, but it can have its internal storage upgraded by microSD for use as decent music player. At £130, it's not bank-breakingly expensive, and it is quite a lot of phone for the money.
TTfone Jupiter
TTfone Jupiter
eBay loves: Simple and large keys will suit those who can't use a touchscreen or small keypad
Watch out for: No features beyond calls and text messages
RRP: £35

Technically, the TTFone Jupiter is aimed at an older audience, but it might be appropriate for younger children or perhaps those with a disability that would make using a touchscreen or small keypad impractical. Either way, it's worthy of inclusion here because it's very simple to use, while still having SMS access and a single-press button for SOS - which can be programmed to call any number, not just the emergency services.
 
As it's got no need for data, it's 2G only, which will help the battery life considerably. There's a home charging dock too, which would be great for a parent to make sure that it's charged before their child goes out for the day.
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
eBay loves: The style, waterproof and powerful spec
Watch out for: It's expensive 
RRP: £370

Our final choice is our most expensive, but it would also be a great choice for older children who might hang onto this through sixth form or college and then university. The Sony Xperia Z1 is a truly amazing phone. It's waterproof, which is handy when clumsy teenagers are involved. And it's powerful, in fact it's one of the few compact phones derived from a larger device that stands up in its own right. 

It's a premium handset, hence the price, but what you get is a truly great phone that will give your child plenty of reasons to want to stay in touch. Beyond the usual nagging, they'll be able to send pictures of their lives and keep you up-to-date via WhatsApp or Facebook. 

It's also a 4G phone, so for kids doing serious studying it could be used for tethering to a laptop when they aren't near a fixed network.
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