Pinwheel Phone Review
The Pinwheel Phone is a good option for parents with younger children who need a more restricted smartphone. While it does offer a decent amount of customization and monitoring options, with no internet browsing, limited apps available, and no access to app stores, children may quickly outgrow the Pinwheel Phone, especially in teenage years.
Remote text message monitoring
No web browser capability
Limited apps that child can download
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 with parental controls built-in such as the Pinwheel Phone. Phones that come with built-in parental controls tend to be much more powerful and reliable.
Pinwheel: Phone Types
Pinwheel offers several options for parents who are interested in a safe smartphone with built-in parental controls: a cheaper option, a rugged option, and a more expensive option. All phones come with the same parental control features, so you are paying for the technical specs (which they do not list in their shop). Phones also do not come with cell service, so you will need to purchase that separately.
Pinwheel Slim 5
The Pinwheel Slim 5 is a BLU phone. At $199, it is the cheapest option by far. However, it is not compatible with the Verizon network, nor 5G.
Pinwheel Rugged 3
The Pinwheel Rugged 3 is priced at $249 and is a larger phone, intended to be able to handle rougher usage. The specs of this phone are on the lower end, especially for the price, and it is not compatible with AT&T, Verizon, and 5G.
Pinwheel Plus 2
The highest-end phone available from Pinwheel, the Plus 2 costs $329. It is a Samsung device that is compatible with all carriers and 5G.
How Pinwheel Works
After powering on the phone, Pinwheel software will be automatically loaded onto the phone and parents will be able to log in and set up the controls from their parent portal. Pinwheel phones do not come with cell service, so parents need to purchase a cellular plan for the phone separately.
Pinwheel phones allow parents to set up basic restrictions for when apps are or are not allowed to be used, but there is no way to set time limits for apps. Pinwheel offers parents over 600 apps from Google Play that they can download onto their child’s phone. However, if an app is not on that list, it cannot be downloaded. Parents can submit requests to Pinwheel for apps to be added to the list.
Parents also have access to some other features such as getting the GPS location of the phone, setting up a safe list of contacts, and monitoring SMS text messages. Pinwheel does not currently offer a way to receive alerts about concerning messages, but according to their website, they will be launching this service in 2023.
Pros and Cons of the Pinwheel Phone
√ 600+ vetted apps available
√ GPS location
√ No internet, social media, or unsafe apps
√ Compatible with multiple carriers
x Limited customization
x Cannot download apps from Google Play
x No message alerts
Does the Pinwheel Phone Have Internet?
The Pinwheel 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.
Can I Install Additional Parental Controls on the Pinwheel Phone?
Parents are not able to install any additional apps on their child’s Pinwheel Phone, other than the vetted apps that Pinwheel allows. Therefore, installing extra parental controls on the phone is not possible.
If you are interested in having more parental control options such as setting app time limits, filtered web browsing, or location tracking schedules, you should consider a phone that has more options such as the MMGuardian Phone.
What is the Cost and Availability of the Pinwheel Phone?
For the phone itself, the Pinwheel Slim 5 costs $199, the Pinwheel Rugged 3 costs $249, and the Pinwheel Plus 2 costs $329.
In addition to purchasing the phone, parents also need to purchase a monthly plan that covers the cost of the parental controls. For all phone options, the monthly plan starts at $14.99/month.
Pinwheel offers a number of accessories to purchase with the phone such as cases and screen protectors as well as protection plans against phone damage.
MMGuardian Phone vs Pinwheel Phone
The MMGuardian Phone has been mentioned several times in this article as it covers many of the weaknesses of the Pinwheel Phone. In particular, the MMGuardian Phone gives parents full control to be as hands on or off as necessary. This means it provides all of the functionality of the Pinwheel Phone but also provides additional features that parents can adjust as their child grows.
For example, not only does the MMGuardian Phone allow parents to set daily time limits for apps, it gives parents the option to download any app from Google Play, including web browsers which can be filtered by MMGuardian. The MMGuardian Phone also comes with AI-powered Safety Alerts which alert parents about concerning messages related to cyberbullying, drugs, and much more.
The MMGuardian Phone offers everything that the Pinwheel Phone offers, for less money. For a more in-depth look at the MMGuardian Phone vs the Pinwheel Phone, see our comparison article.