Whether you’re here because you’re looking for the best phones for 10 year olds or phones for teenagers that won’t eat up all of their birthday or holiday money, we’re about to give you eight reasons to take a closer look at the Apple iPhone SE. And since it’s my kids who have been testing the latest generation of the iPhone SE — Apple’s answer to a more entry-level smartphone — every thought below comes directly from them.
After all, if you’re researching the best cell phone for kids, don’t you want to hear from actual kids? (Thought so.)
Here are the top 8 reasons the Apple iPhone SE is the best cell phone for kids:
1. The iPhone SE price wins big.
While your offspring may not agree that the best cell phone for kids is one that’s affordable, I don’t know too many parents who are hoping to fork out $1,000+ for the best-in-class iPhones. We want affordability and durability, and our kids want smartphones that aren’t embarrassing to pull out in front of friends. Starting at C$579, the iPhone SE is a good compromise. (Don’t forget that Apple offers trade-in credits if you’ve got an older device that qualifies.)
2. The iPhone SE fits in small purses, smaller pockets and littler hands.
Between my almost-12-year-old’s and 14-and-a-half-year-old’s hands, the iPhone SE “fit” is the Goldilocks of smartphones: it’s juuuuuust right. Even though its overall footprint is smaller than a regular iPhone, the Apple iPhone SE still boasts a 4.7-inch screen — and that’s still plenty of space for watching YouTube Shorts or editing TikTok videos. My kids have both tried the iPhone Minis that were reintroduced in the past couple of years and each prefer the iPhone SE’s larger size.
3. For everything kids use in a smartphone, the iPhone SE is indecernable from other iPhones.
Thanks to its A15 Bionic chip, the Apple iPhone SE’s processing speed is fast. Really fast. It’s actually shocking to me that Apple put such a speedy chip into its most inexpensive iPhone. My kids haven’t complained once about their phones being laggy. It also looks like a regular iPhone, so despite the budget-friendlier price, it doesn’t look, feel or function like a “budget” smartphone. Find another smartphone with this kind of processing power in this price range; I’ll wait.
4. It’s got a great camera.
The third-generation Apple iPhone SE my kids have been using since the summer features a 12MP camera with 4K video and a 7MP selfie camera. It takes beautiful pics. That A15 Bionic chip also helps power advanced photography features — especially for an entry-level smartphone. For example, Smart HDR 4 refines a photo’s contrast, lighting and even skin tones, automatically. It’s hands-off, built-in photo editing before your kid even hits the “edit” button.
The iPhone SE camera even offers Slo-Mo and Time-lapse video options, just like it’s newest and more expensive big sisters like the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro.
5. The Apple iPhone SE can take a beating.
Even though the it doesn’t have Ceramic Shield technology, I assure you that even kids who are really (really) rough with their devices will be hard-pressed to wreck their iPhone SE smartphones. It has both front and back glass panels — the same kind of glass that Apple used on the back of the iPhone 13 (which I covered in my Apple Ecosystem post) for scratch protection.
The iPhone SEs in our house have been dropped onto patio stones, hardwood floors and ceramic tiles, accidentally tossed behind beds, shoved into couch crevices and, well…you get the point. The case and screen protectors have seen better days but the phones themselves are still scratch- and crack-free after nearly six months of no-holds-barred kid usage.
It may not specifically be billed as an iPhone for kids, but based on the way I’ve seen my kids treat their iPhone SEs for months on end without affecting their appearance or function, I’m confident recommending it.
6. Touch ID is still a thing and the kids love it.
Not just Touch ID, but a Home Button, too! My kids really like having a Home Button for whatever reason and they LOVE that they can enable Touch ID on that Home Button.
Pro Tip: remember to set up Apple Family Sharing to help monitor your kids’ screen time and limit access to certain apps during school hours or times when you may want them to spend more time reading or enjoying other offline activities.
7. It’s got 5G, baby!
Whether that 5G is accessible, though, is really going to depend on your child’s mobile plan and your service area. So keep that in mind if this is especially important to your kiddo.
8. The Apple iPhone SE is water-resistant.
Yes, just like iPhones in the higher budget range, the iPhone SE can withstand water damage if submerged (or accidentally dropped or, um, thrown) to a maximum depth of one metre for up to 30 minutes.
There are a couple of considerations if the Apple iPhone SE has made your kid’s short list, though:
- It only comes in three colours [black, white and Product (RED)] — add protection plus a little more pizazz or their favourite colours by adding a case
- The Apple-issued silicone case for the iPhone SE is not kid-proof; our kids’ cases have protected their iPhone SEs well but have seen better days; the silicone started to peel off within weeks of handling and look very much worse for wear just months later. If your kids are as hard on their phones as mine are, I also recommend hitting a mall kiosk and adding a $10 screen protector — just in case.
The best cell phone for kids is the one that you (or they) can afford and performs well. Wanna learn more about or purchase an Apple iPhone SE? Click here.
DISCLAIMER: Apple loaned my kids Apple iPhone SE smartphones to facilitate content. My kids know how important it is to provide honest opinions about their experiences, so you can be sure that’s what you’ll find here.