Best used iPhone options for a kid?
June 11, 2018 11:10 AM   Subscribe

Mrs. Frogs and I think it is time for our little tadpole to begin developing some independence. In anticipation of him being left alone at home for short periods, we need to ensure he has a working phone.

We're an Apple-only ecosystem at home. He's been using iOS for school for years and is quite comfortable with how it works. I'm looking at refurbished iPhones now, but am unsure what models/vendors are worthwhile. Prior AskMes are a bit dated at this point. Ideally we don't want to drop a lot of money (because it's entirely possible the phone will be dropped!) - if we could get by with $100 I'd be thrilled, but I don't know how long a battery will last on a really old model.

We don't plan on adding any apps, so it does NOT need to be able to run the latest iOS. It just needs to work, and to not be from a site that will sell us a dirt cheap model that ends up being iCloud locked or stolen. Advice on the recommended minimum model and retailers to check (or to avoid!) welcome. We're in the US, and on AT&T.

(In case you are wondering: He meets state recommendations for age at which a kid can be alone for the time ranges in question, and we're using a child psychologist-authored assessment course to be sure both we and our kid are ready for the challenge.)
posted by caution live frogs to Technology (10 answers total)
I know this is avoiding the question but... can you just get a landline? It has a lot of pluses. Unless you're really talking about him needing a phone for around-town, and not just for when he's home alone?
posted by brainmouse at 11:15 AM on June 11, 2018 [5 favorites]

I've bought and sold through Swappa with no issues. Looks like iPhone 5S's, which can run iOS 11, are running $70 - $80 right now.

In the realm of landlines, an OBI with Google Voice is a great setup.
posted by zinon at 11:31 AM on June 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Standard answer here is an iphone 5s or SE from swappa. Both will likely be supported for a while yet (especially the SE). You also gain lightning cables instead of having to use the old style cables.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 11:33 AM on June 11, 2018

Best answer: Both the 5S and SE will run the upcoming iOS 12, which means they'll be up-to-date with security fixes and whatnot for a while to come. From my limited testing of the iOS12 beta, the performance on my 5S actually has improved.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:40 AM on June 11, 2018

Response by poster: brainmouse: "I know this is avoiding the question but... can you just get a landline?"

For around town too - e.g. to text "Hey mom I just got to school" (plus Find Friends for us to verify!) - and, while technically we do have a phone line coming into the house, it doesn't connect to anything - it was Cat5e cable which I disconnected and coopted for use with our home ethernet - haven't had an actual landline since 2004 or so.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:54 AM on June 11, 2018

Get a 5s. Expect to replace the battery though if still original.
posted by LoveHam at 12:25 PM on June 11, 2018

Honestly, the first thing I'd do is ask around friends and family and see what's on offer for a modest-to-free price (because yeah, I just replaced my 6s today because the battery is untenable even with a powerpack case now; you'll want a battery replacement even with little to no app use). Alternately, maybe see if you can get a refurbished SE or 5-7 for what it'll cost you to get the battery replaced yourself.

And actually, when I upgraded my phone today on the AT&T website, they offered me a free SE if I added a line for $9.99/mo. So you might just check the website and/or pop by a store and see what offers you might get.

Whatever you do, spend the bucks on the biggest Otterbox they make for it.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:04 PM on June 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

The OBI 200 (which zinon mentions) is a nice little device for putting a google voice connected landline at home with no recurring costs. If money is tight, it's the right answer for you.

As far as iPhones - I'd go for an SE or a 6. As I recall the battery life of the 5S was a bit disappointing even when it was new, and that's a long time ago now.
posted by wotsac at 4:13 PM on June 11, 2018

Try Mac of All Trades!
posted by 8603 at 12:18 PM on June 12, 2018

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. Went with an SE. Now the fun part, the look on his face when I give it to him... he'll be surprised.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:42 PM on June 19, 2018

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