Best iPhone for kids 2023

iPhone 13, 13 Pro, 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 is slightly cheaper than Apple's current flagship device, the iPhone 14. 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

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Alpine Green iPhone 13 Pro and Green iPhone 13 Pro upright on a bench

(Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

The iPhone 13 was introduced alongside the iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max in 2021. Available in Pink, Blue, Midnight, Starlight, PRODUCT(RED), and Green, the model has 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage. Like the other 2021 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 over the newer (more expensive) iPhone 14 or Pro versions of the iPhone 13. 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.

Last year's flagship iPhone is still quite a relevant smartphone, with a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display, an A15 Bionic chip (which is the same as the pricier iPhone 14 or iPhone 13 Pro.) 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 to this model 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. 

The iPhone 14 does have some new features such as Crash Detection, camera improvements like action mode, and other small tweaks. Note that 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. If you prefer to buy your child the latest and greatest, of course the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro are great picks. 

iPhone 13

Nearly the newest model

Reasons to buy

+
Save money over this year'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, iPhone 13 Pro Max, and the entire iPhone 14 lineup with nearly the same goodies.

Best alternative: iPhone 12

iPhone 12 in 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 or 14
+
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 Hero

(Image credit: iMore)

There's very little to distinguish the iPhone 13 mini from its larger brother, the iPhone 13, except its size, which is perfect for smaller hands. 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 device. Plus, it's $100 less than the iPhone 13. It's the same price as the iPhone 12 with newer internals and features.

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 great internals.

Best budget: iPhone SE (2022)

Black iPhone SE 2022 on pink background

(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 12 and 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 get an iPhone but not spend a lot.

Best premium: iPhone 14 Pro

Apple iPhone 14 Pro

(Image credit: iMore)

The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are identical except for their sizes, 6.1-inches vs. 6.7-inches. The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are a big jump from the iPhone 13, price-wise, but if you're shopping for an older teen and aren't too fussed about price, these are the top of the line right now. In addition to everything the iPhone 13 has, the iPhone 14 Pro adds the Dynamic Island, Crash Detection, ProMotion Technology with adaptive refresh rates up to 120Hz, Always-On Display, 48MP camera, Photonic Engine, video action mode, more optical zoom options, 23 hours of video playback, A16 Bionic chip, and other improvements.

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: Deep Purple, Gold, Silver, and Space Black.  

The biggest negative here shouldn't come as much of a surprise. The iPhone 14 Pro is expensive at every storage level.

iPhone 14 Pro

Like butter!

Reasons to buy

+
Same camera specs as Max
+
ProMotion with 120Hz
+
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 14 Plus

Someone holding an iPhone 14 Plus in Blue

(Image credit: Apple)

The least expensive large display you can get on an iPhone right now is the iPhone 14 Plus. Price-wise, it sits above the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 but below the iPhone 14 Pro. The feature set is identical to the iPhone 14, only it's a larger phone and costs $100 more. 

For an older child or teen that needs that big screen, I'd go with this one over the iPhone 14 Pro Max just because of price. 

iPhone 14 Plus

The iPhone 14, but bigger

Reasons to buy

+
Big screen
+
Lower price than iPhone 14 Pro Max

Reasons to avoid

-
Still fairly pricey
-
Difficult to hold with one hand

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 top features of the pricier handsets, 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.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.

With contributions from