Best Smartwatch for Kids: How Do the Gabb Watch, GizmoWatch 2, and FamilyConnect Compare?
Need a way to communicate with your kid, but don’t want to hand over a phone just yet? A smartwatch for kids may be the perfect solution for your family. But there are so many to choose from! We’ve narrowed it down to three and asked kids and parents to test them out.
Our Top 3 Picks:
See what our testers had to say and be sure to see the end of this article to find out which one comes out on top!
Why a smartwatch for kids?
One of the biggest reasons parents hand over a phone to a young child is because they want to connect with them when they’re away. But handing a kid a smartphone also includes access to
- calls and texting from anyone,
- distracting and dangerous apps, and
- the internet.
These are all things that kids don’t need! Enter the smartwatch for kids. These watches include only the essentials and leave out the rest.
Why did we choose these 3 smartwatches for kids?
There are many smartwatches for kids to choose from.
We chose watches that
- are made specifically for kids
- have GPS tracking since that's a key feature parents look for
- come from brands we know and trust
- have good service coverage areas and
- are made by well-known manufacturers
The T-Mobile and Verizon watches are made by Timex and LG, respectively and have established themselves as trusted brands with high coverage service areas. While Gabb is a newer company, they have also used a high-quality manufacturer (we suspect it may be a re-branded version of the GizmoWatch 2, though this is not confirmed) and they use the same nationwide networks as Verizon, T-Mobile, ATT, etc.
Note: Your phone does not have to be on a plan with any of these carriers to use their watch. The watch can be on a plan by itself. The cost is the same whether you add it to an existing plan or have it on its own plan.
The cost of a smartwatch for kids
A top concern for our parent testers was cost.
Cost of the device
Both the Gabb Watch and the Verizon GizmoWatch 2 retail for $99.99; however, you can get $10 off the Gabb Watch by using our discount code: DYM10.
Verizon will occasionally offer a discount with the purchase of a smartphone, but rarely for the watch on its own.
The T-Mobile FamilyConnect watch was the most expensive at $168 and we have not seen any promotions on it.
Verizon and T-Mobile also offer a monthly payment option instead of paying for it all up front.
All three options include one band and a charger.
Tester's Choice: Gabb Watch
Gabb does not have an activation fee. T-Mobile’s activation fee is $20 and Verizon’s was the highest at $35.
Tester’s Choice: Gabb Watch
Monthly service fee
As with any device, there’s a monthly fee to have active service on the watch. All three of these smartwatches for kids had a $10/month fee with a 2 year contract. Gabb was the most versatile, allowing for a 1 year contract option ($12.99/month) and a no contract option ($16.99/month).
Tester’s Choice: All three the same for a 2 year contract; however the Gabb Watch offered more flexible options for the term of the plan.
All three of these smartwatches for kids include a money-back guarantee where you can try it and return it if you don’t like it. Gabb’s was the longest at 30 days, then T-Mobile at 21 days and Verizon at 14 days.
Tester’s Choice: Gabb Watch
Gabb’s additional warranty cost the least at only $4.99/month; however, it only covers accidental damage. T-Mobile & Verizon’s plans offer loss and theft protection in addition to accidental damage, coming in at $9/month for T-Mobile and $14/month for Verizon.
Tester’s Choice: T-Mobile FamilyConnect
Gabb and Verizon offer free shipping on their watches. T-Mobile does not offer the FamilyConnect watch for purchase online--you must visit a T-Mobile store to purchase.
Tester’s Choice: Gabb Watch or Verizon GizmoWatch 2
Total set up cost
Here’s the cost of getting started with each watch including the watch, activation fee, extended warranty and one month of service (based on current prices, assuming 2 year contract, not including tax):
- Gabb Watch: $104.97 (Using our $10 discount code. Warranty only covers accidental damage).
- Verizon’s GizmoWatch 2: $158.99 (Warranty covers loss, theft and accidental damage).
- T-Mobile’s FamilyConnect: $207 (Warranty covers loss, theft and accidental damage).
Tester’s Choice: Gabb Watch was by far the most economical.
Feature comparison of the Gabb Watch, GizmoWatch 2 and FamilyConnect watch
Here’s what you can expect from all 3 of these smartwatches for kids:
- Reliable 4G network
- Required parent app--free to download. The parent device does not need to be on the same network.
- Voice calls to up to 10 parent-approved contacts
- SOS/Emergency call button to the primary contact
- Voice and text messaging through the parent app
- Real time GPS tracking
- GPS boundaries/safe zones--send a notification if your child leaves your pre-set boundary
- Downtime--so the watch won’t make noise or be a distraction during school hours or other times scheduled by you
- Clock, activity tracker, to-do list, reminders
Related: Best Phones for Kids: Parents Give Honest Reviews on Gabb Wireless
Differences in features between these 3 smartwatches for kids
The Gabb Watch and the GizmoWatch 2 are almost identical. In fact, we suspect they may be the same watch just branded differently, but that’s not confirmed. Both watches feature a 1.4 inch square screen. The Gabb Watch has a black screen with a black base and includes a black band. The GizmoWatch 2 has a black screen with a white base and comes with a blue or pink band. Additional bands are available for each of these watches in 4 different colors ($9.99 each for the Gabb and $19.99 each for the GizmoWatch 2) and the use of a standard watch band means off-brand bands can also be used.
The FamilyConnect watch features a 1.3 inch round screen. It doesn’t have the capability to switch bands. The round face is teal, the band is dark blue and each watch comes with 4 colors of keepers.
Tester’s Choice: Gabb Watch, followed closely by the GizmoWatch2.
Our older kid testers preferred the square shape of the Gabb Watch and GizmoWatch 2 and the ability to change out the bands (they more closely resemble an Apple Watch or higher-end fitness watches). The older kids thought the FamilyConnect watch looked too childish.
Our older kid testers slightly preferred the Gabb watch overall because the base is black and the band it comes with is black. They thought the white base of the GizmoWatch 2 and the color of blue and pink bands that come standard were more childish; however, they liked that other bands are available for purchase.
Younger kids preferred the brighter, fun colors of the GizmoWatch 2 and the FamilyConnect watch.
Both the Gabb Watch and the GizmoWatch 2 have a 500 mAh battery, while the FamilyConnect watch only has a 350 mAh battery--meaning you won’t get quite as much time between charges on the FamilyConnect. Our testers found they could go a couple of days without charging (unless using real time GPS, which takes more battery power), but recommended making it a habit of charging it each night.
Tester’s Choice: Tie between Gabb Watch and GizmoWatch 2
Both the Gabb Watch and the GizmoWatch 2 are water resistant up to 30 minutes under 1m of water and dirt resistant. The FamilyConnect watch is only splash and dust resistant--not a great quality for a device made for younger children.
Additionally, Gabb offers a screen protector that fits the watch nicely for only $9.99. The GizmoWatch 2 and the FamilyConnect watch don’t offer screen protectors; however, off-brand screen protectors for all three are easy to find.
Tester’s Choice: Tie between Gabb Watch and GizmoWatch 2
As mentioned, all three of the watches utilize large nationwide networks. Our testers found coverage for all three watches to be similar; however, that may vary depending on where you live.
The Gabb Watch and GizmoWatch 2 can only be used within the U.S. T-Mobile advertises usability of FamilyConnect in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico if a T-Mobile partner is within roaming range.
Tester’s Choice: FamilyConnect if you need coverage in Canada or Mexico. Otherwise, all are comparable. If you know your area gets better coverage from a certain provider, you may want to choose that watch.
Related: Smartphone Gift Guide: Which are Safest for Teens? Compare Android, iPhone, Gabb, ClearPhone & Pinwheel
All three companies offer customer service that we found to be quick and helpful. They varied only in availability:
- Live chat 24/7
- Live calls 4am-Midnight Pacific
Verizon (GizmoWatch 2):
- Live chat 24/7
- Live calls 8am-9pm Eastern
Gabb Wireless (Gabb Watch):
- Live chat and calls M-F 7am-7pm Mountain, Sat 7am-3pm, closed Sundays and holidays
Tester’s Choice: T-Mobile’s FamilyConnect
The Gabb Watch includes a game to motivate kids to be active and complete tasks on their to-do lists. Kids earn digital coins for completing activities or tasks. It also has a digital pet for kids to take care of (any parents out there have a Tamagotchi when they were a kid?).
The GizmoWatch 2 has games to encourage activity (like how many times they can jump in 1 minute, etc.).
The FamilyConnect watch has a few games that are just fun to play.
None of the watches allow for additional games to be added from app stores.
Kid Tester’s Choice: FamilyConnect, followed by Gabb Watch. What kid doesn’t want another device to play around on?
Parent Tester’s Choice: GizmoWatch 2. Parents found the games and digital pet on the other watches to be an unnecessary distraction and just one more screen to pry their kids from.
The Gabb Watch and GizmoWatch2 use bluetooth only for location purposes. The FamilyConnect watch allows for pairing with bluetooth headsets.
Tester’s Choice: No preference.
While the fact that FamilyConnect allows for pairing with a bluetooth headset is nice, none of our testers could think of a time they would use a headset with a watch.
Here are two reasons you might want to pair with a headset:
1. Privacy--When making voice calls you are on speaker phone so anyone around your child can hear what you’re saying. A headset would make the conversation more private.
2. If you have a child who is hard of hearing this would be a great option.
What is the BEST smartwatch for kids?
Our kid and parent testers all agreed: the Gabb watch was the best smartwatch for kids overall.
The most important features are very similar across all three watches.
Our parent testers liked the Gabb Watch for the price and durability. Our older kid testers liked it because it looked the least childish out of the three we tested and they liked the ability to swap out the bands. Younger kids preferred the brighter colors of the GizmoWatch 2; however, they were happy with purchasing an additional colored band from Gabb. The Gabb Watch is still the least expensive option even when accounting for purchasing an additional band.
The only important area in which we feel Gabb lags behind is in the extended warranty. While less expensive than the other two warranties, it only covers accidental damage and not theft/loss. A watch is less likely to get lost or stolen than a phone since it’s attached to the child’s wrist, but any parent knows that’s not a guarantee their kid won’t lose it. We’re hoping Gabb will consider adding that option since kids are so prone to losing things.
All factors considered, we can confidently join our testers in recommending the Gabb Watch. Is it time for your kid to get a smartwatch? Be sure to take advantage of our discount on the Gabb Watch by using code DYM at checkout.
Note: Our links to Gabb Wireless are affiliate links. When you make a purchase using our code or links, a portion of your purchase supports our mission at Defend Young Minds. While we may benefit from your purchase, we never recommend or promote anything we haven’t carefully vetted.
Brain Defense: Digital Safety Curriculum - Family Edition
"Parents are desperate for concepts and language like this to help their children. They would benefit so much from this program - and I think it would spur much needed conversations between parents and children.” --Jenet Erikson, parent