A new school year often comes with requests for that first smartphone. But with so many options, choosing your child’s inaugural device can be challenging. This guide covers top picks based on age and need.

Primary School: Start with Basic “Kid Phones”

For younger elementary school kids, opt for a basic “kid phone” without full smart features. These provide core functions like calling family and leave out unneeded complexity.

The VTech KidiCom Advance 3.0 is a top pick in this category. Its 5-inch screen allows SMS messages, photos, videos and voice calls through VTech’s KidiCom Chat app. Over 20 kid-friendly apps are preloaded for games, creativity tools and ebooks.

With a durable design, parental controls, and a kid-safe web browser, the KidiCom Advance 3.0 balances utility and protection.

Middle School: Lean Toward “Dumb Phones”

Once your child reaches middle school, a “dumb phone” can be ideal for staying connected without web distraction.

The retro Nokia 3310 is a modern classic for good reason. Its ultra-durable build withstands drops or spills. The simple interface only includes calling, texting and basic functions like an MP3 player.

With week-long battery life and an iconic, easy-to-use design, the Nokia 3310 focuses on communication basics. It’s an affordable choice as a child’s first “real” mobile phone.

High School: Move Up to Entry-Level Smartphones

For teenagers, it may be time to get a proper smartphone – albeit an affordable starter model with parental controls.

The Samsung Galaxy A13 balances performance, battery life and price. It provides a sharp 6.5-inch HD display and dual-SIM 5G support in a slim body.

While not marathon fast, the phone handles social media, videos, and music smoothly. Expandable storage leaves room for photos and downloads. As a first smartphone, the Galaxy A13 gives teens full mobile capability without breaking the bank.

Choosing What’s Right for Your Child

  • Kid phones like the VTech are best for under 10, with parental messaging and limited functions.
  • Classic “dumb phones” like the Nokia 3310 suit middle schoolers well with calls and texts but no web.
  • Entry smartphones like the Galaxy A13 deliver fuller experiences for high schoolers at an affordable price.

Your child’s first phone should fit their age, needs and responsibility level. With the right pick, it can provide both connectivity and confidence as they grow.