For $60 you can get a great phone that is safe for kids with free phone service for kids or adults through FreedomPop. (This is also great for adults too, not just kids, but this article is geared toward both setting up the phone for anyone and locking it down for kids)
The free service includes:
- 200 Minutes
- 500 Text Messages
- 500MB LTE
A Great Phone
The phone is the BLU Studio Mini 5.5HD, which is an outstanding 32GB 5.5″ Android phone running Android 9 Pie. It comes with great extras like a screen protector, extra battery and case!
I believe this is the best phone to pair with FreedomPop free cellular service for a few reasons:
- Unlocked – so you can easily change carriers if you so wish.
- Powerful, fast phone – this is not a stripped-down phone. It is running the full version of Android, rather than Android Go. One downside of Android Go is that you have to enable the browser so that applications like Google Maps can work; something you may not want your kids to have access to, and there is no ability to share your location through Google Maps
- Low price – It’s not the cheapest phone out there, but it’s very inexpensive. I found that the $40/50 phones had issues; an Alcatel phone I tried first that was an AT&T prepaid phone incessantly reminded me to setup Wi-Fi calling (which I couldn’t do), and it also was running Android Go, the light, limited version of Android
- 4G Support – This is necessary for FreedomPop to work; also, many carriers are dropping 4G support in the future
What’s the catch?
When it comes to the BLU phone, there’s no catch at all. This is a great phone at a great price.
However, there are a few challenges with the free FreedomPop free phone service for kids that you should be aware of. Keep in mind that you should expect some of this because you’re getting something for nothing and FreedomPop isn’t a charity, they are ultimately trying to make money to pay their employees and shareholders.
- FreedomPop is always trying to upsell you
- FreedomPop will charge you if you go over your data allowance
- FreedomPop has limited customer service options
- FreedomPop forces you to use their application for texting (unless you get a Google Voice number)
- FreedomPop may, in some cases, not be totally free – there could be taxes that apply if your local/regional/state government has decided to levy them
- FreedomPop charges an excessive amount to ship the SIM card (it will end up being $15 between the card and the shipping)
These were all limitations I was willing to live with, considering the low cost of “free” for the monthly service.
Setting up the free phone service for kids with FreedomPop
Go to FreedomPop and see if you qualify for the free phone service for kids where you live. If you don’t qualify, you might want to check out other low-cost plans by Straight Talk or Republic Wireless.
When you check out, be sure to purchase the “Talk, Text, & Data” 4G LTE SIM card. This SIM card comes in multiple sizes so it can fit in just about any phone, and the nano SIM fits very well in the BLU 5.5HD phone.
Watch out for them trying to add extras on at checkout – you just want the SIM.
Setting up the BLU Phone for use with FreedomPop free phone service for kids
Purchase the BLU Studio Mini 5.5HD (we may earn a small commission if you purchase through this link).
Uninstall Unwanted Apps
First, uninstall all applications that you don’t want your kids having access to. For me, this was a number of the games and apps, like TikTok that came with the phone. This is supposed to be an emergency-type phone with ability to make a few calls, send a few texts, and maybe look at a map. However, what you remove and what you leave is up to you. If the phone’s for you, you can leave everything if you want!
Removing the Google App
This section requires some advanced computer skills, so skip it if that doesn’t describe you. Instead, you can just leave the Google Search app (not recommended for kids), choose a different unlocked phone, such as the Moto x4 that will allow you to disable/uninstall the Google Search app.
What you may find is that you can’t remove all of the apps that you want to. It appears there are some apps that BLU has locked and prevented removal, such as the Google Search app. For this, you will need to use an advanced technique to disable the app using the Android Debug Bridge. Here are the steps to use to remove these apps if you are so inclined:
- Install ADB
- Turn on USB Debugging on your Android Phone
- Go to Settings, About Phone – Click 10 times on the version and you will become a developer.
- Go back out to the settings menu, then go to Developer Settings and turn on USB Debugging
- Connect your Android phone to your computer
- Run the following commands:
pm uninstall -k --user 0 <name of package>
- I chose to remove the following this way:
Locking Down Other Apps
To lock down applications that remain on the phone, and the settings, use the application AppLock (or similar) to prevent access to undesirable applications and settings.
Setting up FreedomPop APN
Before your phone will connect to FreedomPop’s network (via AT&T), you will need to setup the APN. Follow FreedomPop’s instructions to do this.
Installing the FreedomPop Messaging App
To use the FreedomPop text messaging service, you’ll need to install the FreedomPop Messaging App.
Enjoy your phone with free phone service for kids
If you made it this far, you have a fully setup, low-cost FreedomPop Smartphone that will be great for you to use with your kids or for your own personal / emergency use.
If you have any questions, leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!