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Best iPhone for kids 2022

Green iPhone 13 and Alpine Green iPhone 13 Pro and Midnight iPhone SE
Green iPhone 13 and Alpine Green iPhone 13 Pro and Midnight iPhone SE (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

So, the time has come to purchase an iPhone for your child. Which one should you buy? Our top pick is the iPhone 13, which happens to be Apple's current flagship device. It's a highly-rated smartphone that comes in unique colors and is also packed with the excellent features your 21st-century kiddo expects and wants. We've gathered other noteworthy models to help you choose the best one that fits your needs.

Best overall: iPhone 13

Iphone 13 Design Hero

Iphone 13 Design Hero (Image credit: Joseph Keller / iMore)

The iPhone 13 was introduced alongside the iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max. Available in Pink, Blue, Midnight, Starlight, PRODUCT(RED), and Green, the model has 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage. Like the other 2022 iPhones, this model is compatible with MagSafe accessories and wireless chargers. It also features 5G wireless, where available, for super-fast downloads and high‑quality streaming. The iPhone 13's battery allows up to 19 hours of video-playing between charges, 15 hours when that video is streamed, and up to 75 hours of audio playback. You can get up to a 50% charge with fast-charge in just 30 minutes.

Phones and kids sometimes mean unexpected falls, which is why we highly recommend this model. It offers a ceramic shield front that provides excellent protection. However, you should still consider one of the best iPhone 13 cases to add further protection. The phone's body is made from aerospace-grade aluminum, and it provides water resistance to a depth of six meters for up to 30 minutes.

This year's flagship iPhone comes with a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display, an A15 Bionic chip, currently the fastest in any smartphone. On the back, you'll find a dual 12MP camera system (Ultra Wide and Wide); on the front, there's a 12MP TrueDepth camera. New this year is Cinematic mode in 1080p at 30 fps.

There are four main areas where the iPhone 13 compares unfavorably with the much higher-priced iPhone 13 Pro (and iPhone 13 Pro Max). First, only the Pro models feature a Telephoto camera and a LiDAR Scanner for Night mode portraits, faster autofocus in low light, and next-level AR experiences. The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are the only two 2021 models to include surgical-grade stainless steel. And finally, only the Pro models come with up to 1TB of storage. Most kids won't need these additional features.

If you love the look of the iPhone 13 but think it's too big for your child, keep reading and consider the iPhone 13 mini. Otherwise, understand the iPhone 13 is the best iPhone for kids this year.

iPhone 13

It's Apple's flagship.

Reasons to buy

+
Today's flagship
+
Same internals as the Pro models
+
5G wireless

Reasons to avoid

-
No triple camera on the back
-
No 1TB option

Cheaper than the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max with nearly the same goodies.

Best alternative: iPhone 12

Iphone 12 Blue

Iphone 12 Blue (Image credit: iMore)

The iPhone 12 was released in the fall of 2020. Available in Blue, Green, PRODUCT (RED), White, and Black, the model has 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB of storage. As our iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 12 comparison shows, this model is nearly the same as the newer one, but for $100 less. Similar features include the same 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display, MagSafe compatibility, and 5G. The iPhone 12's battery offers up to 17 hours of video-playing between charges, 11 hours when that video is streamed, and 65 hours of audio playback.

Last year's flagship iPhone comes with an A14 Bionic chip. On the back, you'll find a dual 12MP camera system (Ultra Wide and Wide); on the front, there's a 12MP TrueDepth camera. Together, kids have all the tools to take high-quality photos and videos. They can also take advantage of Animoji and Memoji, which they can send to their friends.

iPhone 12

Still a beast.

Reasons to buy

+
Discount vs. the iPhone 13
+
5G wireless

Reasons to avoid

-
No triple camera on the back
-
No 512GB option

Cheaper than the iPhone 13, but with many of the same features.

Best small display: iPhone 13 mini

Iphone 13 Mini Colors

Iphone 13 Mini Colors (Image credit: Apple)

There's very little to distinguish the iPhone 13 mini from its larger brother, the iPhone 13, except its size. Excluding the iPhone 13 mini's smaller display (5.4-inches vs. 6.1-inches), the two handsets share the same internals, camera systems, and materials.

Beyond size, the smaller one provides less battery life; up to 17 hours of video-playing, 13 hours when the video is streamed, and up to 55 hours of audio playback. Pixel resolution is also ever-so-slightly less.

The bottom line: You should purchase this model for your child if they like everything about the iPhone 13 but want a smaller display. Price is less of a factor here since there's only a $100 difference between the two.

iPhone 13 mini

Apple's second iPhone mini is a winner.

Reasons to buy

+
Nearly the same as the iPhone 13 inside
+
Small, compact design

Reasons to avoid

-
It's pricey for its size
-
Battery life
-
No triple camera on the back

It's the iPhone 13, except in a smaller package. Inside are the same get internals.

Best budget: iPhone SE (2022)

iPhone SE (2022)

iPhone SE (2022) (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

Not everyone wants to buy a new iPhone every year with the latest bells and whistles. For those folks, there's the iPhone SE (2022). The third iPhone SE to date, it's the least expensive iPhone on the market.

Featuring Touch ID, not Face ID, the 4.7-inch iPhone SE (2022) is still packed with plenty of features worth considering. These include a 12MP camera and 7 MP FaceTime HD camera, A15 Bionic chip with a 16-core Neural Engine, wireless charging, Haptic Touch, etc. The iPhone SE (2022) is available for hundreds less than other handsets on this list.

iPhone SE (2022)

Well-tested workhorse

Reasons to buy

+
Much less than iPhone 13 series
+
Tried and true design

Reasons to avoid

-
Is a 4.7-inch display enough?
-
Touch ID, not Face ID

A perfect choice for anyone who wants to upgrade but not spend a lot.

Best premium: iPhone 13 Pro

Green iPhone 13 and Alpine Green iPhone 13 Pro and Midnight iPhone SE

Green iPhone 13 and Alpine Green iPhone 13 Pro and Midnight iPhone SE (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max (see below) are identical except for their sizes, 6.1-inches vs. 6.7-inches. In turn, the Pro models are nearly the same as the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini internally, although key differences on the outside remain. For example, all four iPhone 13 models have an A15 Bionic chip with next-generation Neural Engine, Face ID, 5G capabilities, and MagSafe support. They also offer ProRes video recording up to 4K at 30 fps. The iPhone 13 Pro offers up to 22 hours of video playback, 20 hours of video streaming, and 75 hours of audio enjoyment.

Beyond this, the Pro models have a stronger body (ceramic front shield and surgical-grade stainless steel), one more camera (Telephoto), a LIDAR Scanner, and more storage options. They also come in different colors: Alpine Green, Silver, Gold, Graphite, and Sierra Blue. And the iPhone 13 Pro series are the only ones with ProMotion technology that offers adaptive refresh rates up to 120Hz.

The biggest negative here shouldn't come as much of a surprise. The iPhone 13 Pro is expensive at every storage level.

iPhone 13 Pro

Like butter!

Reasons to buy

+
Same camera specs as Max
+
ProMotion is here
+
Telephoto lens
+
Strong body

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

Does your child deserve the best iPhone around? If they do, this is the one to get.

Best large display: iPhone 13 Pro Max

iPhone 13 Pro Max Stopwatch

iPhone 13 Pro Max Stopwatch (Image credit: iMore)

There are fewer differences between the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max and last year's iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. For example, both iPhone 13 Pro models offer a 6x optical zoom range this time around. Once again, this year's larger model also provides better battery life; up to 28 hours of video playback, 25 hours of streaming video, and 95 hours of audio.

Like with the iPhone 13 Pro, you need to ask yourself whether buying your kiddo an iPhone Pro is the right choice. If it is and they want the biggest iPhone display to date, this is the one to buy.

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Three cameras!

Reasons to buy

+
Great rear- and front-facing camera
+
Blazing fast

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey
-
Difficult to hold with one hand

Zero limits on Apple's best handset to date; go large or go home!

The best iPhone for kids

If you're looking for an Apple handset for your kiddo, you'll quickly notice there's a wide selection from which to choose. Our advice is to go with the iPhone 13, which provides most of the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max features, but for less. It also comes in more vibrant colors, which might be important to your son or daughter.

Among the features packed into this beast is Apple's A15 Bionic chip with the 16-core Neural Engine. You'll also find 5G support, Dolby Vision HDR video, Cinematic mode for recording videos, MagSafe compatibility, etc.