So, the time has come for you to purchase an iPhone for your child, and you don’t know which model to buy that will make them happy. No worries; there are a few great models that have the apps, features, and camera your kids want. We recommend the iPhone XR for kids, a model that looks beautiful (and comes in multiple colors!) and is priced right for the all goodies you’ll receive. We’ve gathered other noteworthy models to help you choose the one that fits your needs best.
Best Overall: iPhone XR
Officially, the iPhone XS is Apple’s current flagship handset. However, the iPhone XR is our choice for kids. The handset is more reasonably priced vs. the iPhone XS lineup and still includes powerful specs such as Face ID and wireless charging.
The 6.1-inch iPhone XR includes Apple’s fastest and most powerful chip to date, the A12 Bionic chip with a next-generation Neural Engine. With this, the iPhone XR is a terrific choice for gaming and video streaming. It also offers a single 12MP back camera (ƒ/1.8 aperture) with a digital zoom of 5x. The rear camera offers optical image stabilization, wide color capture for photos and Live Photos, Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync, Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control, Portrait Lighting with three effects (Natural, Studio, Contour), and Smart HDR for photos. The front-facing 7MP TrueDepth camera is identical to the one found on the iPhone XS series.
Available in black, blue, coral, yellow, white, and (Product)RED, the iPhone XR features a Liquid Retina HD LCD, which requires a thicker bezel border than the OLED found on the iPhone XS. The lower-priced iPhone also has less storage capacity than the more expensive model.
The iPhone XR costs between $749 and $899, depending on storage.
- Large display for less
- Colorful choices
- Face ID
- LCD, not OLED
- Thicker bezel than iPhone XS
- No dual camera on the back
Your kids will love it
Cheaper than the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max with nearly the same internals.
Runner Up: iPhone XS
The iPhone XS offers a 5.8-inch Super Retina HD display and up to 512GB of storage. Like the iPhone XR (and iPhone XS Max), the iPhone XS has an A12 Bionic chip with next-generation Neural Engine, Face ID, and wireless charging.
The most significant differences between the iPhone XS and iPhone XR besides the display size and material used are the cameras. The flagship offers dual 12MP wide-angle (ƒ/1.8 aperture) and telephoto (ƒ/2.4 aperture) cameras and a 7MP TrueDepth front camera with a ƒ/2.2 aperture.
Among the impressive camera features found on the phone is Smart HDR, which automatically adds more highlight and shadow detail to your photos. It does so using fast sensors, an enhanced ISP, and advanced algorithms. With an adjustable depth of field, the iPhone XS Max can blur the background as much or as little as you want. In doing so, you can create amazing portraits in seconds.
For this, you’ll pay at least $999, up to $1,349 for the most expensive model.
- Same camera specs as Max
- Current flagship
- Smaller display than iPhone XR
- Fewer color choices
It’s the flagship
Buy the iPhone XS if you want Apple’s latest and greatest, but it will cost you.
Best Large Screen: iPhone XS Max
The largest of Apple’s two current flagship devices offers the same specs as the iPhone XS. Besides the impressive internals and cameras mentioned above, the iPhone XS Max features a 6.5-inch (diagonal) all-screen OLED Multi‑Touch display. To date, this is the best iPhone you can buy in terms of features and large display size. Of course, this comes at a steep price.
The iPhone XS Max is Apple’s most expensive handset ever made with a starting price of $1,049 up to $1,499. Perhaps this is the phone you should buy for yourself, not your kids! It’s available in space gray, silver, and gold.
- Biggest iPhone display to date
- Great rear- and front-facing camera
- Blazing fast
- Difficult to hold with one hand
Best Large Screen
iPhone XS Max
Here’s the largest handset Apple has designed to date. Buy this one if you want zero limits!
Best Value: iPhone 8
If your student is looking for a budget iPhone to snap photos, surf the web, and play games, this might be the one to buy. However, it comes with one important caveat.
First launched in 2017, the iPhone 8 features a 4.7-inch Retina HD display with a 12MP wide-angle (ƒ/1.8 aperture) and telephoto (ƒ/2.8 aperture) cameras. Features on the back cameras include optical image stabilization, 2x optical zoom; digital zoom up to 10x, Wide color capture for photos and Live Photos, Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync, Portrait mode, Portrait Lighting with five effects (Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono), and Auto HDR for photos. The front-facing 7MP FaceTime HD camera offers ƒ/2.2 aperture, Retina Flash, wide color capture for photos and Live Photos, and auto HDR for photos.
The biggest drawback to buying the iPhone 8 is that it could soon be replaced. Next month (September 2019), Apple’s expected to announce its new iPhone lineup. When that happens, production on the iPhone 8 series could end, although that doesn’t mean support for the phone is going away anytime soon.
- Heavily discounted
- Tried and true
- Aging design
- Touch ID, not Face ID
- Retirement soon?
The iPhone 8 is a great first iPhone, especially for kids because of its discounted price.
Kids will love any of the iPhone models mentioned above. However, we feel the iPhone XR is the one they’ll like the best. Available in multiple color choices, this iPhone has lots of personality for much less than the iPhone XS models.
The iPhone XR includes a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina HD LCD with a blazing-fast A12 Bionic chip with a next-generation Neural Engine. Great for gaming, the phone also contains terrific front- and back-facing cameras, and is compatible with Face ID and wireless charging.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Bryan M. Wolfe is a dad who loves technology, especially anything new from Apple. Penn State (go Nittany Lions) graduate here, also a huge fan of the New England Patriots. Thanks for reading. @bryanmwolfe