Apple Watch Versus Gizmo :: What Smart Watch To Buy For Your Kids

***updated info as of June 7, 2023***

Apple Watch Versus Gizmo :: What Smart Watch To Buy For Your Kids

As our children get older, they’re often away from their households (and parents) more, bringing a little bit of freedom and a whole lot of nerves. Many parents are leery about handing their children phones (and/or social media), yet also want a way to communicate with their kids while apart. Enter the smart watch, an efficient and affordable way to keep track of your kids and stay in touch without breaking the bank. Like most parenting decisions, nothing is ever simple, so naturally the next question becomes … “should I buy an Apple Watch or a Gizmo or something else?”

In short, all of the popular smart watch options will allow you to GPS track your child, as well as communicate (so long as there is an active cellular number associated with the device). The core functionality is very similar, though the Apple Watch does have more bells and whistles. The Apple Watch, Gizmo and Gabb all track steps as well. Ultimately, there is likely not a meaningful difference in these devices if your goal is to (A) track and (B) communicate with your child. The primary advantage to the Apple Watch is its longevity in terms of older kids not perceiving it as a “baby watch,” as well as its added functionality with apps and such.

What To Know Before Purchasing Your Child An Apple Watch {From an iWatch Family}

The Apple Watch is the most expensive of the smart watch choices for kids, and until recently, it really wasn’t designed for children at all. When reviewing options for smart watches for our daughter, we checked out various options. The options included the iWatch, Gizmo and a couple other lesser known brands on Amazon that had a variety of calling options. Important note :: only the Apple Watch SE or Series 7 are compatible in “kid mode” without a cellphone attached if you wish to avoid a phone. You CANNOT purchase an older generation Apple Watch and set it up with “Family Setup.”

Size :: The iWatch is much smaller in size than some options, and our daughter is petite. I didn’t want her to avoid wearing the watch we chose simply because of the size. The iWatch is a good size for her smaller wrist.

Water Resistance :: Between sweat and playing in the rain, the watch should be kid proof and has been for nearly two years.

Battery Life :: The battery life lasts all day on her watch, while a lot of Gizmo reviews complained about the battery or charger breaking and the inability to purchase a replacement. We have not tried the Gizmo, but we were comfortable with the battery life on an Apple Watch.

Longevity :: In purchasing the Apple Watch, we know the watch will continue to update with the latest software and as she gets older she will not feel like she has a “baby watch.” We also know that – eventually, when the time comes – it will be compatible with the iPhone. This is a watch that, while more expensive, will stretch longer.

AppleCare :: If she breaks it, I know we will easily be able to fix it for about $30.

Awesome tracking :: I can easily find her with the GPS tracking that has been very accurate without having to call her. With find my iPhone I can locate her watch when she puts it down in the house and we can’t find it.

Apple Fitness :: My child is an athlete at heart so she absolutely loves closing her rings. We do think her move goals are a bit off because it accounts for adult calorie burn versus child calorie burn. She also loves keeping up with our fitness goals, and it gives her something to chat with us about.

Walkie Talkie Feature :: She is obviously a kid and sometimes she misses the subtle vibration from a call because she leaves it on silent mode due to school. When needed, I can break through on the walkie talkie feature to get her attention.

Value :: I also love that Apple products hold value so as she is older and we choose toShould I get an Apple Watch or a Gizmo upgrade her watch in a few years, we will be able to trade it in or sell it on eBay! It is more expensive, but it also holds its value better.

Family Setup :: In order for your child’s watch to function as a cell phone (if they are not ready for an actual phone), you will rely on Apple’s “Family Setup.” Family Setup is essentially a MODE that you will use to set up your child’s Apple Watch. You DO need an iPhone to rely on Family Setup. That said, your child’s Apple Watch does not need to be paired to any specific iPhone under the Family Setup mode; in this way, it functions as an independent device. For Family Setup to work, your child will need cellular service, which generally is about $10 per month for an additional line. As a parent, you CAN control who your children have saved as contacts.

Family Setup allows the entire family “to benefit from the important health and safety features of Apple Watch, like Emergency SOS, while Maps, Siri, Alarms, and the App Store provide greater independence without needing an iPhone. In addition, parents will have peace of mind knowing they can reach their child and identify their location, and that all personal data stays securely encrypted.” Learn more about Family Setup at Apple’s website. Please note :: as with Gizmo, a wireless service plan is required for cellular service. 

What To Know Before Purchasing Your Child A Gizmo {From A Verizon Family}

Before you go any further with this post, you must note that Gizmo watches are ONLY compatible with Verizon plans. However, you only need to set up a phone line with Verizon to enable the Gizmo watch. Gizmos retail for just under $100. You will need to install the GizmoHub app onto your mobile phone in order to utilize the tracking and text messaging features.

Cost Effective :: Our son’s Gizmo cost under $100, and it had a one-time $35 activation fee. This is more affordable than the Apple Watch. We had to use the warranty service once and it was seamless. You do need to set up an additional phone line for the Gizmo to work, but it is $10/month.

Long Battery Life :: Kids are forgetful, and mine often forgets to put his Gizmo on the charging station. The battery lasts approximately 3 days.

Durability :: I have boys who have gone to the ER for more injuries than I can count. Their knees are permanently skinned. These watches have held up to their rambunctiousness.

GPS Tracking :: I have the Gizmo app on my phone and can keep track of my boys wherever they are. Whether they are at a neighbor’s house or riding bikes, the GPS works well for tracking purposes if that is your goal.

No Need for a Phone :: while my son has a phone number attached to his watch, he has NO PHONE and he also cannot call anyone that is not programmed. This provides our family the tracking and communication we desire without the burden or expense or responsibility of a cell phone.

Security :: as a mom, I can program who my son is able to contact. For now, it is only mom and dad. I can also set the watch to silent via my app so as not to cause a distraction in school. When that is done, the cannot send messages to us. The Gizmo in our home functions purely for tracking and communication within the family, not for socializing with other kids or social media.

Other Smart Watches to Buy for Kids

Gabb Watch :: known as the “phone kids wear,” Gabb Watch is a standalone watch that functions independently with active GPS tracking, unlimited talk and voice/preset text and step counter. The Gabb has no internet or social media. and communication tool. It retails for just under $150. According to their website, “Gabb plans include coverage on a nationwide 4G LTE network. Under the Gabb Plan, users receive unlimited talk and text service on a great flexible monthly plan to fit their child’s needs.” There is a small monthly fee for your child to have service. The watch is sweat resistant and allows a parent ot customize “safe zones.” While we have not personally tested this option, as far as we can see it is essentially the same as the Gizmo watch and a great option for children.

Bottom line :: the smart watches all have the same basic functionality and require cellular. Therefore, it comes down to cost and desired featured. Does your child have a smart watch? Which one did you purchase and why?


  1. There is a bug difference in the ease of use and functionality in Gizmo vs Apple. For gizmo I had to have a special app on my phone to text my child which was very inconvenient for other guardians/caretakers like grandparents to mess with. The GPS function seemed to lag a lot as well. It is not water resistant at all. Apple Watch is much easier to use and setup and he can text freely with approved contacts. My main drawback with the Apple Watch is I cannot see or monitor his activity/usage like I could with the gizmo. It allows me to set controls but it doesn’t let me view who he’s calling, messaging & when. For these reasons I think gizmo is still more suited to young kids and Apple Watch better for older kids.

  2. You can have a Gizmo and not have Verizon cell phone service. Our cell phones are with xfinity mobile but we started a Verizon line just for our child’s Gizmo watch. It’s about 20 bucks a month but totally worth it.


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