The most basic text-centric phone is the Kyocera Switchback KX21, available on the prepaid Virgin Mobile carrier. With its tween-friendly design and inability to run up a monthly bill, its a great introduction to the world of SMS and AIM for younger kids. Users of other IM systems will be left out in the cold, unfortunately.
For older teens, the Sidekick 3 has a subculture all its own. Im not all that thrilled with the new Sidekick – I feel you might as well get a Sidekick 2 and save your money – but the gadget has a coolness factor which teens seem to demand. Texting actually comes secondary to the Sidelicks great IM client and push e-mail capabilities.
If youre a Verizon family, the LG VX9800 – now sold as "The V" – is the best texting choice. Not only does it flip open to reveal a keyboard, it gets great reception, has a high-quality 1.3MP camera, and plays MP3s through some pretty powerful speakers. It may not handle e-mail that well, but its a real whiz at SMS, and supports AOL, MSN and Yahoo! instant messengers. This being Verizon, youll have to pay a healthy sum for all of those features, though.