It's hardly surprising that one of the most desired devices by kids these days is an iPhone. We love those premium glowing rectangles ourselves, after all, so why should it be any different for children?
But with prices obviously well above what most of us would want to spend on something that can be easily dropped, lost or sat on, how best can you provide an Apple-flavoured mobile experience for your children? Here's our quick guide to the models that are best suited to kids, both in terms of cost and build.
Why give your child an iPhone?
Before deciding on purchasing an iPhone for your child, first it's worth considering whether that's truly the best option. A quick look at the Android market reveals that you can get some excellent phones for a lot less money than even the cheapest iPhone.
We would suggest shopping around, especially if you're on a budget or suspect your kid might be hard on devices. Our sister site Tech Advisor has a roundup of the Best phones for kids which covers Android options too, and is well worth reading if you're considering buying a new handset.
iPhones do have some strong selling points in regards to children, though, as Apple makes a huge effort to ensure that security and privacy are high up the list of its concerns. In fact, the company announced new child safety features will arrive in iOS 15, although this has caused some concerns among privacy advocates, as it does mean Apple will be able to scan the images on your device to look for inappropriate images.
Aside from this, there's the ability to set up an iPhone with parental safety features enabled, including Screen Time, which can stop kids from spending too long on their devices each day. Plus, setting up the Family Sharing feature means you'll be able to give your nippers access to any music you buy from Apple as well as games and other apps. Finally, the Find My iPhone service will also mean you can track the location of your kid in real time, so you'll be able to find them or check that they are where they said they'd be.
Which is the best iPhone for kids?
iPhone SE (2020)
Undoubtedly the best choice for a younger person is the iPhone SE (2020). The design is slim and lightweight when compared to the models such as the iPhone XR or iPhone 11, which will make it better suited for smaller hands. It's also lighter, too, which is an important factor.
In terms of performance, the specs on the iPhone SE (2020) are impressive, with the A13 Bionic processor the same one used in the iPhone 11 range. There's also an IP67 waterproof rating, decent 12MP front-facing camera and FaceTime HD camera for selfies, video recording all the way up to 4K and the Touch ID sensor, all of which is packed into a compact frame.
The 4.7in Retina display is small by modern standards, but it's perfectly usable and may even be preferable in many cases as it allows the device to remain easily usable in one hand.
Best of all, the price is £399/US$399/AU$679 for the 64GB version, which makes it a great deal for anyone who wants an iPhone, not just kids.
Check out our roundup of the best iPhone SE (2020) deals to make sure you get the lowest price possible, or browse the automated price table embedded below.
iPhone 12 mini
If you don't mind spending a bit more, then the iPhone 12 mini is another pocket-rocket that will fit easily in the hands of younger users. It's even smaller and lighter than the iPhone SE (2020), all while boasting a larger 5.4in Super Retina XDR display.
There are plenty of other upgrades inside too, with a faster A14 Bionic chip that's found across the entire iPhone 12 range, dual 12MP cameras (Wide and Ultra Wide), TrueDepth front facing camera, Face ID, and an IP68 waterproof rating.
There are some caveats we feel don't make it quite the same sure thing as the iPhone SE (2020), though, such as the battery life, which can be a bit disappointing at times, especially if your child wants to play games or spend most of their time on video calls with friends. The notch is something you'll either hate or grow used to, but the main drawback is the price tag. At £699/US$699/AU$1,199 for the 64GB model, it just feels too expensive a device to entrust to a child, especially when the iPhone SE (2020) is so capable.
We've already put the two devices head-to-head, so read iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone SE (2020) as well as our roundup of the best iPhone 12 mini deals. Once again, we've embedded a table of automated prices below for a quick glance at your options.
Used or refurbished iPhone
One popular option that many people choose is to simply give their old contract iPhone to their kids when they upgrade to a newer model. Now, it's true that you can sell recent iPhones for a decent amount of money, which you could then invest in a new model for your offspring, but it's often easier just to hand it down.
Another option is to buy a refurbished or used iPhone from one of the many specialists that offer this service. In the UK, for example, companies like MusicMagpie, SmartFoneStore, 4Gadgets and even Apple itself offer reduced-cost iPhones, usually graded (tiers that show various signs wear) so you know what you're getting, plus there are warranties to protect you against buying a dud.
As an example, at the time of writing Music Magpie was offering a Pristine condition iPhone 8 (64GB) for £234.99 (US$325/AU$442) with a 12-month warranty. That's a decent phone that would be an ideal first device for a child, especially with huge range of cases available that would allow them to personalise its look.
If this idea appeals, read our guide on where to buy a second-hand iPhone; it can save you a decent amount of money or allow you to buy a better model without spending more. Just be sure to invest in a decent case and consider AppleCare+ or phone insurance so that you won't be forking out again when your little darling drops it at school.