Have you ever found yourself in a predicament where you needed to track your children’s whereabouts? In some jurisdictions and municipalities, children as young as 8 years old can walk to and from school. If you are a concerned parent, you can invest in a GPS tracker watch for your beloved offspring. It might be kind of hard to find the best GPS watch for kids out there as the multitude of choices can be confusing, but they do exist.
Some GPS watches for kids only offer Bluetooth pairing. Others only provide fitness tracking. They all look the same with their colorful and bright exteriors. For true GPS tracking, you will need to look at a GPS tracker watch for kids that has a SIM and data-plans.
What is a GPS Tracker Watch?
Simply, a kid’s tracking watch should provide parents with the ability to monitor the location of their children in real time. The child should have the ability to call their parents or a fix set of numbers with a simple click of a button. Many of these devices allow up to 3 to 5 stored telephone numbers with a SOS emergency feature.
Some trackers have fixed zones where if a child ventures out of the neighborhood, the watch automatically notifies the parent. Some tracking devices have additional features. They include pedometer for fitness or capabilities to “eavesdrop” on their child. Parents access the information via a smartphone application or through a web portal.
There a few choices from the large telecom networks.Those can be expensive and require certain plans.
AT&T offers the Filip kid’s tracker which is currently hard to find and usually out of stock. At $149, it was a big investment for something that would only be used, in my scenario, for a few weeks. Plans start as low as $10 a month for just the Data Connect Plan. If you want voice service, you’ll need to spend more with a Mobile Share plan. Minimum Mobile Share Value plan (Unlimited Talk and Text plan starts at $20/mo. for 300MB data) plus $10/mo. access charge per device required. Filip filed for bankruptcy in October of 2016; raising some concerns.
Sprint offers the WeGo. For current Sprint subscribers, the phone is offered for $0 down and 24 monthly payments of $5. There’s a Sprint WeGo Service that costs $9.99 per month, and includes 1,000 text messages and 1,000 minutes of talk. The WeGo is a dongle feature phone rather than a watch. The likelihood of children losing this device is probable. The WeGo was introduced in 2014 and now, according to various recent reports, is having compatibility issues with Sprint’s current network.
If you want to stick to a device offered by a major telecom company, Verizon Wireless probably offers the best device right now. Verizon’s offering is the GizmoPal® 2 from LG. There is $5 a month data plan added to an existing Verizon plan. If you are a Verizon subscriber, the GizmoPal is a compelling offering at $79.
The need for a Tracker
Grandma, who normally picks up the kid, headed off on a month-long vacation. With very little notice, this parent rushed to find the most cost effective GPS tracking watch. As a AT&T user, the first choice would have been the Filip 2. With the Filip’s unavailability, this parent looked elsewhere.
Up and coming products
If you are not a Verizon subscriber and if you do not want to be tied to a data plan, there are a few options on Amazon. There are a few ‘start-up’ brands in the works. Some are launching crowd-funding campaigns. There seems to be a lot of hyped product in this space. The herO GPS is one smart watch that comes up in various searches. Back in 2014, Engadget had a first look at it but 3 years later, it is still in the pre-order phase.
Best GPS Watch for Kids on Amazon
At this point, it looks like a big gamble. There are devices like the Filip 2 that have been unavailable for months and many un-released announced products can give a parent some hesitation. Many of the kids’ watches look all the same but the devils are in the details. When you start searching for a kid’s phone, you will notice the colorful oversize, kid pastel watches. There will be some that look like smart watches, like the Apple Watch or Samsung Gear. Some will only offer fitness capabilities. Watches can be labelled “GPS tracker” but only act as a fitness, historical tracker. They do not provide real-time location tracking of your children. A True GPS tracker watch will require a data plan and a SIM card.
After careful research, a Q50 tracker watch comes up often on search results. This tracker watch comes under different brands and price point. They appear to be from the same OEM (Original Equipment Manifacture) Factory in China. The watches are resold under various labels from $20 to $140. Depending on how fast you want it delivered, the price varies. The reviews are hit and miss.
So what is my take on this? You get what you paid for. For $20-50, it does the job but there are many glaring quality issues that I will cover.
The model I ended up with was the SINOPRO Q50. Here is another example from LemFO, also called the Q50. Lastly, there is TurnMeOn. All are based on the same internal design. And another variation comes from iGPS scout which sells for $120.
After reading many of the countless reviews, the recommendation is you acquire a T-Mobile Pay as you Go SIM card. The SIM card should be activated before hand. The whole setup process takes about 30 minutes which includes unscrewing the back to insert the SIM.
You can download either the iOS or Android App to complete the setup. Within the app, you can setup speed dial, security fence, and other settings.
Here are some screenshots of the application.
Screenshots of real-time tracking
An example of zoned fence. When a child leaves the defined zone, the watch will notify the parent.
The watch runs a full day if you use aggressive power saving and instruct your child not to play with it. For the first few days, he was actively playing with his watch that the battery drained out in the middle of his school day. The battery would run from 7AM to 3PM which was very discouraging. After applying quicker backlit and quicker standby, the watch would run for 10 hours.
The phone call quality was mediocre and filled with echoes. Your child would need to speak loudly. In terms of durability, it took 3 days when the first screen crack appeared. The screen crack was the result of a school recess mishap. The watch has no water resistance and the ruggedness is in question. There are other models higher in price, using the same basic chassis and internals, that offer water resistance. A harder crystal would be prudent.
You get what you pay for. $20 to $50 isn’t much to spend on a GPS tracker if you absolutely need to get one today without any long term commitment. T-Mobile’s pay as you plan starts at $20. T-Mobile’s plan is higher than other “shared family” plans.
You are not committed to contracts or long term commitment. This device would be handy as a as-needed basis. For example, a weekend at Disneyland or a camping trip could be instances where this device can be extremely useful.
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