While young children should be under adult supervision at all times, complicated lives with complicated child care arrangements mean parents may sometimes need to call or be called by their littlest ones. The LG GizmoPal 2 for Verizon Wireless ($79 plus $5/month service) is a wearable phone for kids under seven. It replaces last year's Editor's Choice GizmoPal, but unfortunately, it's a step backward for the smallest children. While the GizmoPal 2 offers effective GPS tracking and phone calling, it simply doesn't fit comfortably on tiny wrists.
The GizmoPal 2 uses the body of its big sibling, the GizmoGadget. As a result, it feels bigger, heavier, and stiffer than the original GizmoPal, while most of the face is wasted space. Instead of a screen, there are relatively useless Low Battery and Active Call lights. You can remove the GizmoPal's body from its band to switch between red, pink, green, purple, and blue options (as shown below), but the body module doesn't work if it isn't snapped into one of the bands.
There are two buttons on the front that kids can use to access the GizmoPal 2's tiny phone book, read out the time, or make silly sounds. All actions have voice prompts, and no reading is necessary at any point. The device can call caregivers, but not 911.
Features and Fit
The GizmoPal 2 can now call or be called by four numbers (up from two on the orignal), controlled by caregivers' phones; the primary caregiver must be a Verizon subscriber, but other caregivers can be on any carrier. The GizmoHub app you use to control it has a basic geofencing feature called Place Alerts, which alerts you when the wearable enters or leaves a designated area, but location tracking is only available on request, not continuously.
Like the original, the GizmoPal 2 has a loud, somewhat harsh speakerphone, designed for short conversations. Reception is very good on Verizon's 3G network. Although it has a larger battery than the previous model—510mAh compared with 400mAh—it had the same battery life in our tests, about two and a half hours of solid talk time and four days of standby. It's splash-resistant, but not waterproof. Also like all of the devices in the Gizmo line, the GizmoPal 2 uses a combination of GPS and cellular tracking to give you a location within about 100 feet or so. Within buildings, it sometimes gave the location of the building next door, which is the case with all of these devices.
The critical difference between the old GizmoPal, the GizmoPal 2 and the GizmoGadget appeared when I strapped the GizmoPal 2 to a skinny four-year-old on a hot summer day. The GizmoGadget fit well on my nine-year-old daughter, and she appreciated the digital watch and emoji texting functions. But the GizmoPal 2 was thick, bulky and sweaty on the smaller four-year-old, and it doesn't have any attractive visual features to make up for its size. The little girl wanted to take off the GizmoPal 2 within a few minutes, which us a problem. Last year's model was more comfortable for smaller children (and didn't fit well on my larger child, who preferred the GizmoGadget.)
Comparisons and Conclusions
With that in mind, I don't have many better options for keeping track of very small children. The AT&T Filip 2 can also feel uncomfortable on small arms. While there are a slew of gray-market phone-watches on Amazon, none of them have the US-based service and support to be worthy of recommendation, and many are dependent on AT&T's 2G GSM network, which is being turned off at the end of the year. GPS trackers like the Trax Play or Amber Alert GPS can be easily slipped into or attached to clothing, but they don't have the two-way communication features that I think are important for day-to-day use. None of these devices are precise enough to find where a child is on a playground or within a building, so giving them the ability to call and be called is critical.
Although we enthusiastically recommend the GizmoGadget for older children, none of the latest solutions for smaller children get our Editor's Choice so far. We'd suggest searching for an original GizmoPal if you need something to track kids between the ages four and seven.