The Gabb Phone is a good option for parents who are getting their child’s first phone and prefer for all of the features to be extremely limited. But parents should be aware of its limitations:
Specialized, child-friendly apps
Child music service (added cost)
Minimal features = easy to use
Cannot use your preferred/family phone plan
Not possible to remotely monitor or control phone
Expensive, especially with ad-ons
Whether parents like it or not, kids these days want smartphones and to access the internet from
a very young age. With this comes many risks including exposure to inappropriate content, online predators, addictive behaviors, and more.
One of the most important tasks of parents is to protect their kids and teens from
online dangers, which can be done either by setting up parental control apps on the child’s
phone or buying special phones either with restricted functions such as the Gabb Phone, or with parental controls built-in. Phones that come with built-in parental controls tend to be much more powerful and reliable.
Gabb offers several options for parents who are interested in a safe smartphone with built-in parental controls. They also offer a Gabb smartwatch, but this review will remain focused on the phone options.
The Gabb Phone is a ZTE brand phone that is better-suited for parents who prefer to get their child a cheaper device that doesn’t have very advanced hardware. It comes with all advertised features (discussed below).
Gabb Phone Plus
The Gabb Phone Plus is a Samsung brand phone for parents who would like to get their child a higher-quality device. However, despite being Samsung and higher quality than the standard Gabb Phone, the Gabb Phone Plus is a Samsung A10E model that was released in August 2019.
After powering on the phone, Gabb software will be automatically loaded onto the phone and parents will be able to log in and set up the controls. The phone comes with a cellular plan already, so parents will not need to worry about purchasing one. However, parents are not able to change the phone plan if they would prefer to use a different carrier.
The Gabb Phone comes with a number of special 3rd-party apps that are not available outside of Gabb phones, including a music app that costs $4.99/month. Due to the lack of addicting apps, Gabb phones do not come with restrictions that parents need to spend time setting up. This saves time and energy, but parents are not able to prevent their child from using the phone (or monitor messages) without physically confiscating the phone.
Parents also have access to some other features such as getting the GPS location of the phone and sounding a siren which can be useful for locating the phone if it has been misplaced.
√ Custom child-safe 3rd-party apps
√ GPS location
√ No internet, games, or social media
√ Comes with a phone plan
x Not customizable as the child grows
x Cannot change phone plan
x Cannot download apps from Google Play
x No ability to monitor, or restrict the phone
The Gabb Phone is able to connect to WiFi and use cellular data. However, it does not come with any sort of internet browsing, so children are unable to visit any websites. While this may be suitable for a very young child, visiting websites will become a necessity as a child gets older. Parents may prefer a safe phone such as the MMGuardian Phone that offers filtered internet browsing as an option for when their child reaches that stage.
Parents are not able to install any additional apps on their child’s Gabb Phone, other than the custom apps that Gabb allows. Therefore, installing extra parental controls on the phone is not possible.
If you are interested in having more parental control options such as limiting your child’s screen time, monitoring their activity, or controlling who they can communicate with, you should consider a phone that has more options such as the MMGuardian Phone.
For the phone itself, the Gabb Phone costs $149.99 and the Gabb Phone Plus costs $199.99. As of December 2022, both phone types are available.
In addition to purchasing the phone, parents also need to purchase a monthly plan that covers the cost of the parental controls and cellular plan. For both phone options, the monthly plan starts at $24.99/month.
There are also many options for add-ons. For example, Gabb Music (a specialized, kid-friendly music service) costs an additional $4.99/month. Parents can also purchase a damage warranty for $4.99/month, along with physical accessories such as phone cases and earbuds.
You can view external reviews for the Gabb app that is on Google Play. It has an overall decent rating of 4 stars. However, if you sort the reviews by most recent, you will see that there are LOTS of reviews complaining about the location feature being unreliable.
From a technical perspective, there are many external reasons that GPS locations could fail or be inaccurate, but this many complaints indicates that Gabb’s software may not be reliable. We thought this was worth mentioning as know their child’s location is a high priority for most parents.
Gabb also recently added user reviews on their website, although they do not allow you to view 1 or 2 star ratings. The transparency is commendable, but among other things, the 3 star reviews indicate issues with their call blocking function, which they describe on their website as “90% effective” at blocking spam and strangers.
Note: Gabb has now removed these 3 star reviews from their website, but you can still see them below.
The MMGuardian Phone has been mentioned several times in this article as it covers many of the weaknesses of the Gabb Phone. In particular, the MMGuardian Phone gives parents full control to be as hands on or off as necessary. This means it provides almost all of the functionality of the Gabb Phone but also provides additional features that parents can adjust as their child grows. The MMGuardian phone is also a much nicer phone with better hardware specs.
As an example of its superior capabilities, the MMGuardian Phone gives parents full communication over who their child can communicate via a safe list of allowed contacts. Anyone not on that list will be blocked. The Gabb Phone only allows parents to block specific numbers and as seen above, it is not very reliable.
The MMGuardian Phone also allows parents to set in place screen time restrictions, lock the phone, download apps from Google Play, monitor and receive alerts about messages, and much more. For a more in-depth look at the MMGuardian Phone vs the Gabb Phone, see our comparison article.