Last Updated on January 20, 2024 by Sarah McCubbin
My Gabb Phone Review is based on owning 3 Gabb phones. We have owned Gabb phones since June of 2022. I bought 3 phones for my middle school boys. I have continued to updated this review for many months. After 1 year, I have found being a Gabb customer to be extremely frustrating. I would not recommend a Gabb phone for their 12 or 24 month plans. Their new Gabb Phone 3 Pro looks more promising than earlier models.
“Hey mom…Can I have a phone? Can I? Please? All my friends have one!”
Have you had that conversation with your kids? I certainly have…over and over.
When we decided to try Gabb phones, I had 3 middle school sons…12, 13 and 14 years old! Two went to a private school 30 minutes from our home and 1 was homeschooled. Trying to stay connected to friends was the goal for all three of them.
My 14 year old has a great group of friends from school who are always chatting in a group. My 12 year old was new to the school and trying to get to know people and my 13 year old was homeschooled and wanted a way to stay connected with friends during the day.
They all had good reasons for wanting phones and we wanted to support them in their journey to responsible independence. Gabb markets their phones as something that kids can use to text and call, but avoids the garbage that is so available on the internet.
Table of Contents
Smart Phones Have So Many Pitfalls for Children & Teens
We all know that cell phone usage for teens has some inherent problems. Specifically, children and teens have access to the whole internet through their phones. Some phones have built-in parenting controls…but let’s face it, not all of us even know how to use those controls. It can take your entire day to manage your child’s web activity…between phones, computers, TV etc. I sometimes think my kids have more than 24 hours in a day, because they seem to have more time to get around my blocks than I do to put them in place!
In addition, cell phones and screens in general can be extremely addictive for children and teens. They may become so absorbed in that device that they stop doing and living in real life.
So, there are obvious negatives.
Initially I loved Gabb Phones & Was a Gabb Wireless Affiliate
When you are blogger, you have the chance to promote products you love and earn money if someone buys through your link. Initially I loved our Gabb phones because it initially solved a problem for my boys.
As I detail below in my Gabb phone review, there are pros and cons to Gabb phones. I am no longer an affiliate because I cannot promote their products in good conscience. I take the responsibility of being an affiliate seriously. If I promoted something and it is not a good product, I need to disclose that and also share what I learned during my time using tha product to help others make a more informed decision.
Life with Phones for Middle School Students
Families are often hesitant to get phones for the middle school students. I can appreciate that. We are still working through what this looks like (especially now that we have gotten rid of most of our Gabb phones.)
One of the things we enjoyed with phones for our middle school boys have phones is the opportunity to practice communication. The first week or so, our close family were inundated with texts from our boys full of emojis. They were so eager to connect. Thankfully, everyone was great and they are starting to learn that if you are going to text people you need to be respectful of their time and space and not send them a bunch of nonsense. I feel like this is a great lesson that will translate well when they have a “real phone” later.
They also enjoying making their own contact lists and staying connected with friends and family. My homeschooled 13 year old son feels connected to his friends…even if he doesn’t see them often. My boys in school like having a way to contact people after school and on the weekends.
Phones Have Made Life Easier (Most of the Time)
- I can reach them when they are in the building and I’m waiting in the car.
- I can remind them to do something without being next to them. Better yet I can remind all 3 at one time!
- Visiting Cedar Point this summer was so much easier knowing I could contact them when they rode rides without me!
- I can contact them at a friend’s house without calling the other mom.
- They have had to do some work to pay for their monthly phone plan
- They have had to learn to keep the phones charged. Its a little thing that’s a big thing and requires planning ahead.
- When they are away from home or on a field trip without me, it has helped them problem solve better having access to a parent for input.
Pros & Cons: Gabb Phone Review (Updated June 2023)
We bought all 3 of our middle school-aged sons Gabb Phones. So I thought I’d share the pros and cons of Gabb phones with you so can decide if it would be a good fit for your family. At the point of this update, it has been 1 year since we bought Gabb phones so my list has definitely changed in that time.
8 Pros of Gabb Phones:
- Kids can still connect with some friends (but not all) without accessing the internet
- Safe phones for kids and young teens
- No parent monitoring is necessary
- Gives teens independence and a way to stay connected with friends
- It helps them practice social skills without all the potential negatives
- Easier for parents to stay connected to their child
- Can enable tracking feature to find your phone if it is lost – we tested this…it really worked!
- You CAN get out of your contract FOR A FEE. (Our story is below)
7 Cons of Gabb Phones
- Gabb phones are usually under a contract which obligates you to keep paying. A contract prevents you from pivoting to a better option if Gabb isn’t meeting your family’s needs. I detail our story with this below.
- Gabb phones are difficult to work correctly. Despite paying for extra data, our phones have never been able to do group texts.
- Gabb overcharges for replacement phones because they can. You cannot use another replacement phone. Our story with this is below.
- Their damage insurance is expensive and doesn’t cover a full replacement if you actually need it.
- There are many apps that kids need to use for school and can’t because Gabb doesn’t have the ability to allow parental controls.
- They can’t call or text all their friends…at least mine can’t. They seem to have more trouble with Apple phone numbers.
- Gabb phones are not a useful tool for teaching progressive responsibility. I would prefer a phone that lets parents set the access to apps they feel are useful and would allow teens progressively more responsibility.
Gabb Phones Do Not Teach Responsibility
Over the time we have used Gabb phones, one of the big frustrations I have had is that this phone does not grow with our sons. In our home, we are raising men and women…not boys and girls. We expect them to learn and grow and be more responsible at 13 than they were at 10…and at 15 than they were at 13. However, a Gabb phone does not grow with your maturing teen.There is no way to give them progressively increased access to anything.
Some examples we have seen of this include:
- My kids in school need to use an app called Canvas to turn in assignments. Nope. Cannot do that.
- My son was going to Cedar Point (an amusement park) and wanted to use their app for his pass, maps etc. Nope
- A group of friends was using Discord to chat. He was left out. No way to join in.
- We enjoy teaching our kids how to use Bible software and websites…nope…no access. (They do have a Gabb app that does some of this…but you can’t access other Bible study tools online)
- We use Canva for create digital projects online…not on these phones.
- We have tons of books on Audible, but my teens can’t listen to them…or ones we can access through our library.
I could go on. The point is this. Completely restricting kids and teens may be a great idea at first. But most of us want to be able to allow our kids progressive incremental access to safe content. For me that might mean giving my kid access to Cedar Point apps and you might want your teen to have the Audible app…or a few games.
Gabb would be a better solution if you could give your child or teen access to apps that YOU felt were helpful instead of letting Gabb decide what is useful.
If your personal phone service has parental control abilities, I would use that with an extra phone over Gabb any time.
Negative Gabb Phone Reviews
After owning Gabb phones for a year, I can say that there is very little to like about them except that they let you call and text one friend most of the time (but not all the time). Also, their customer service is “Nice” while they tell you over and over again why they can’t really help in your situation.
Negative Gabb Phone Review From Son #1 – Age 14
My 14 year old son came home from school and his Gabb phone had broken in his book bag despite having a case on it. His contract was up in a few months. He did not want to spend another $150 to buy a phone that is a junk phone. The phones that Gabb uses to support their service are very low quality…something that could be purchased for $50 or $60. But when they break you must buy another one of their phones for $150….I know because I’ve done it before.
His older brother had a phone that he was no longer using so they boys put the Gabb sim card in the old phone. And it worked. I was happy thinking we could ride out this service plan for a few months and then switch to something that is better suited. NOPE
Here is the email I received a bit later from Gabb:
| Dear Sarah McCubbin:
After you activated your device on phone number xxxxxxxxxx, the device was reported as restricted for Gabb. Please be advised that the phone line with that device on it will be hotlined by the underlying provider as a result and you will not be able to use your phone for any network based calls, texts or data applications.
To maintain your service and phone number, you must swap to a Gabb Wireless device.
We appreciate your business and look forward to continuing to provide your wireless services.
Obviously, we will not be able to use another phone with our Gabb SIM card. So we will pay for months of service (like we are already doing with another phone that is lost) because we refuse to buy another overpriced Gabb device as a replacement when an equivalent device would suffice.
Negative Gabb Phone Review From Son #2 – Age 13
Son #2 has a 2 year Gabb phone contract. Since he was 12 when we bought it, we didn’t anticipate upgrading to more features in 2 years. He uses his phone to talk to friends all the time. I’ve gotten notices from Gabb that he uses it way more than average. And he does…he is super social and calls and texts his friends, his siblings and his grandma all the time.
However, the big frustration for this super social kid who collects phone numbers with new friends all the time is that his phone can’t call and text some numbers. It just doesn’t work. They can’t call or text him and vice versa. I have no idea why. This might be fixable, but 12 months into a Gabb contract and I don’t have the mental energy to try and fix another thing with them.
Son #2 plans to keep his phone until the contract is over. He doesn’t need the extra apps. He is the only one of the three that truly just needed that talk and text.
Negative Gabb Phone Review From Son #3- Age 12
Son #3 had a 2 year contract. After about 3 or 4 months, he broke his phone. The only option was to buy another phone for $150. This is a phone that you could buy anywhere for $50 or $60….but Gabb will charge you $150 for theirs. But I did it thinking…ok…we have a 2 year contract.
Several months later he lost his phone. (Oh my word…12 year olds!!)
When my kids have jobs, I make them pay for almost everything themselves, but this one did not have a job. In hind site I probably should have waited to get him a phone because I normally wait until my kids can pay…but since I have all 3 boys close in age, I made an exception. That was my bad.
Ok…so he lost his phone. At this point, I was more than 6 months into a Gabb contract and feeling very frustrated with various interactions. We decided not to replace it. We continued to pay the monthly fee.
In June of 2023, I was canceling my older sons phone because the contract was finally up. I realized I could ask about ending Son #3’s contract early.
How to End a Gabb Wireless Contract Early Through Early Termination Fee
I contacted Gabb and filled out an inquiry to end our 2 year contract at the 1 year mark. They actually have an explanation of this in the terms and conditions, but I never thought to check there earlier.
They sent me a bill for $125 plus taxes bringing my total to just over $150 to buy out the next 1 year contract. Honestly…such a relief. I’m going to have a party next year when our last phone contract is done.
Better Business Bureau Complaints Against Gabb Wireless
Every business is going to have unhappy customers. But before you buy, read through the Better Business Bureau complaints. These are all normal families just like yours who made a purchase (with a contract). Read the reviews and decide if this is the company you want to do business with.
What Happens If I Lose or Damage My Gabb Phone?
I wish I didn’t know what happened if you lose or damage a Gabb phone! But unfortunately, I do because one of our phones went through the washer!! How does that even happen?
So Gabb has 2 options for covering damage and replacement.
- You can purchase their Extended Warranty for $5 a month which covers screen damage. This works out to $60 a year. It does have limitations. It does not cover loss, fire or acts of God.
- Gabb Phone Replacement – If you lose or damage your Gabb phone, you can contact Gabb phone customer support for a replacement. Expect to pay full price for a new device even if you got your original device under a promotional discount. In our case, we paid about $149 for a phone which costs $60 at Target.
My First Negative Gabb Phone Review
I have loved our Gabb experience up to this moment (November 2022) and previously wrote up my positive Gabb phone review. This experience of replacing a phone (above) has left me feeling like this company is opportunistic. They have a great product that meets a great need. However, they are using inexpensive phones to host their product and overcharging parents to replace them when they are damaged. As I said, these phones are about $60 from major retailers, but they charge $149 when you need to replace one.
I did not purchase the Extended warranty for our phones which would have made the replacement cost $40 (instead of $149) with a monthly fee of $4.99.
As parents, we are all trying to teach our kids responsibility. They will make mistakes. As parents, we will more often than not foot the bill. But is frustrating when it feels like a company overcharges when they are already receiving the benefit of a monthly contract.
I did not purchase the warranty for our phones because we have 3 phones. At $4.99 a month, this would be $15 a month for warranty fees…or a total of $180 a year for our family.
That said, an extended warranty would have covered our damaged phone with an additional deductible. Here is a summary of their warranty.
We have 2 year contracts on our phones so I will continue to update our Gabb phone review over a couple of years.
Customer Service at Gabb Phones
I have needed to connect with customer service several times. Every time I have connected with them, I have found them to be responsive and courteous. Even when I was very frustrated, they were calm and helpful. I didn’t encounter any disrespect. I appreciate that in a customer service representative because I know that is a difficult position.
When people contact you, its usually with a problem…not something good! They did a great job solving the problems and providing clear documentation of company policies.
Gabb Phone 3 Pro Review – This Looks Good
I have not purchased a Gabb Phone 3 Pro yet. In late 2023, we purchased a Bark phone for one of our sons because Gabb just really didn’t work for 2 out of 3 of my boys. However, I’m happy to discover that Gabb has created a phone that I believe grows with your preteen and teen.
The Gabb Phone 3 Pro gives parents the option to activate up to 100+ different family friendly apps that support your child’s growing independence in a safe way. As I reviewed the apps, I found most of the apps on there that my teens use. They even had Canvas for school…which made me happy because my kids use that app a lot!
If I decide to try this phone, I will buy the phone for $199 (no discounts or deals with a contract) and then pay month to month for service. It is a few dollars more to pay month to month, but after our last experience, I would never again get locked into a contract.
Looking at this phone, I can say that the new Gabb phone 3 pro looks like it would support the tech goals for my family. Having it contract free makes it easy to pivot if needed…just like you would with any other phone.
Find Tech That Supports Your Goals For Your Family
In June 2022, when we purchased Gabb phones, I thought that Gabb phones were a tool that supported our goals for our family. I saw the colorful ads and I had 3 boys begging for phones and clicking “buy” seemed like an easy way to solve our problem.
And that is on me.
If I had it to do over, I would start with a list of our goals for our kids having a phone. What do I want them to be able to do with that tool? How will I teach them progressive responsibility. Does a tool that blocks all of the internet teach them the way I want or should I keep looking at other options?
Carefully review the different Gabb options to decide if they support your goals for your family. What does your child want? What do you want? Do contracts stress you out? Does your choice give you the flexibility you need? Ask all the questions!
Sarah McCubbin, founder of Ten Minute Momentum, is dedicated to helping parents confidently parent their kids by teaching life skills, social skills and leadership skills. As a child she was the kid that never quite fit in and is on a mission to help others understand the building blocks we all need to be successful adults. She lives in Ohio with her husband Mike, and 9 kids ranging in age from 5 to 21 where they use homeschool, private school and public schools for their kids education!