Choosing phones for teens who are ready for new responsibilities is not an easy task for parents, but diligent research can help make the decisions easier. Learning differences between mobile phone models lets caregivers find the right device for each teen’s needs so their children get the freedom they want, without compromising safety or security. While many adults might be tempted to purchase used or discontinued cell phones for teens, buying new devices through a wireless carrier ensures the phones are capable of running the latest security programs and lets families handpick the best wireless plan.
Why Teens Should Have Phones
Having a smartphone might seem like a convenience rather than a necessity to some adults, but kids who have been raised in the modern, connected world likely have more uses for a cell phone than most realize. Before deciding which smartphone devices are best for teenagers, parents should consider all the reasons their teens should have a phone, including:
- To keep in touch with parents
- Safety in emergency situations
- Socializing and connecting with peers
- Developing gaming or photography hobbies
- Building technology skills
- Using educational apps and resources
- Setting reminders and alarms
- Navigation and directions
- Taking on new responsibilities
- Learning self-discipline and time management
Should I Get My Kid an iPhone or an Android?
The decision to choose an Apple iPhone versus an Android for teens comes down to personal preferences, monitoring software and smartphone prices. Some parents prefer the entire household to have compatible devices, but teens might favor the smartphone that works best with a school-issued tablet or laptop or they might prefer the Android or iPhone most similar to their peers’ smartphones.
Both Apple and Google operating systems have preloaded monitoring features that make either a good choice for first-time smartphone. These programs allow parents to see device usage, enforce time limits on apps and turn off in-app purchases and location services. All of these features help keep children safe online while allowing them the freedom to learn about new technology and practice their newfound safety habits.
Parents must also consider the price of the phone itself plus the cost of the wireless plan. iPhones are generally more expensive than Android devices. Some mobile network providers also allow iPhone and Android devices to be paid off in monthly installments rather than all upfront.
The Best Android Phones for Teens
When teenagers are ready to own a cell phone, Android devices are worth a look. Most teens using their cell phones for gaming or video streaming can find a good fit in Android’s selection of mid-level devices. These smartphones for teens are practical yet affordable and have all the capabilities kids need and some fun extra features, too. Here are two recommendations for Android phones for teens:
Samsung Galaxy A14 5G
The A14 5G smartphone is one of the most budget-friendly Samsung phones on the market, making it an excellent introductory phone for teens. Parents who hesitate to entrust their child with an expensive smartphone find this price tag realistic and appealing and a teen who wants an impressive HD display and a reliable camera will approve of the A14’s capabilities. The Octa-core processor and 5G connection eliminate lag when streaming or gaming, and budding shutterbugs love the triple-lens camera. Parents and teens appreciate the reliable, quick-charging battery.
Google Pixel 7
The Google Pixel 7 phone is one of the best phones for teens because it is packed with features young adults are looking for and it is priced right for parents. The 90Hz display and large screen are ideal for playing games and videos. The intuitive Google assistant outperforms most, so voice commands and talk-to-text are easier. The camera filters can blur backgrounds, erase unwanted photobombs and sharpen pictures, too. Even though parents might be the only people to call a teen versus texting them, this phone is lauded for its clear calling that erases background noise, including wind and traffic. The 4K-capable front-facing camera makes every selfie a keeper, and the 8x zoom easily captures subjects at a distance.
The Best iPhones for Teens
When comparing iPhones to find the best smartphone for a teenager, the price and features are the biggest factors to weigh. An expensive iPhone might require more responsibility than a young adult is ready for, resulting in costly repairs or replacement if the device is broken or lost. When considering which iPhones are fitting for teens, these devices blend affordability with great tech features:
Apple iPhone 12
The iPhone 12 is lighter and smaller than its predecessor and the PRO models, so it is easier to handle and fits better in a teen’s pockets than larger devices. Consumers can choose from 64GB, 128GB or 256GB to get the right amount of storage for teen users without overspending. With the 6.1-inch diagonal OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display, viewers will experience more cinematic colors. The A14 Bionic processor is a custom feature and faster than processors on other comparable phones. Teens can play games or stream clear, lag-free videos. There are two rear cameras and a selfie camera with portrait lighting and effects. Videos shoot in HDR (high dynamic range) and users can edit, view and share the content directly from their devices. The sturdy screen withstands scratches and cracking, so it holds up well to daily use. The iPhone 12 is available in several fun colors and is capable of running on 5G so it will not be obsolete prematurely.
Apple iPhone 13
The iPhone 13 comes with many of the same features as the iPhone 12 but offers an even longer battery life and a few other worthwhile upgrades. The A15 processor matches the CPU performance of the next-generation iPhone 14, so this phone is a solid value for the price. The Face ID system uses six sensors for biometric security. Bluetooth capabilities are improved on the iPhone 13, offering faster connections over longer ranges so teens can connect to earbuds and speakers with ease. The capability to connect to 5G and WiFi 6 routers gives this smartphone a speed boost compared to older devices. The ultra-wide camera system allows for cinematic video recording and the built-in app includes extra filters and ways to personalize snapshots.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some of the most-asked questions about cell phones for teens:
How many teens have phones?
Parents might be surprised to learn that nearly 95% of all teens aged 13 to 17 have access to a cell phone at home or own their own devices and 53% of children have a cell phone by age 11. Smartphones have become a vital part of most teens’ daily lives, keeping them connected to family members and peers.
What is a good phone for a 13-year-old?
A-line Samsung Galaxies make a great starter device for 13-year-olds because these phones have the streaming and gaming capabilities newly crowned teens appreciate plus these devices have parental monitoring and security features adults value.
What is a good phone for a 14-year-old?
The best phones for 14-year-olds are the iPhone 12 or iPhone 13 or any mid-range, A-line Samsung Galaxy. That’s because these smartphones are not too pricey but excel in the areas that are most important to teens, like camera quality, screen clarity, processor speed and battery life.
When it comes to knowing which is the right phone for your child, only you can decide which device balances their needs and fits your family’s budget. Browse the best teen smartphones at ftc.net. We are happy to provide a service recommendation and quotes for wireless rates and packages in your area.