I hate to be “that guy,” but we are not the people to answer these questions. Your users are. These types of questions are exactly why we have usability testing and A/B testing - either could be used to answer your questions with both qualitative and quantitative data.
In short, don’t ask us. Don’t ask your team. Ask your users. That, after all, is what UX is all about.
That said, I’ll provide what help I can.
- I’d put pending at the top since they’ll be hidden if someone has 5 connected contacts.
That’s an objective choice, and wouldn’t be first inclination. When you come in to use an app, your primary use case likely isn’t to check pending connections, but to message an existing one. That said, your testing really should answer this question.
- I’m not a fan of the red color for pending, red is bad/negative. Are there examples of how other apps handle this? perhaps with icons vs color?
Never use color alone to convey information, and never use icons without a label unless they are one of a handful of very established icons that have a universally accepted meaning (IE an envelope to represent sending a message).
Personally, I’m more concerned with the meaning of “Pending” means. I’m not sure that’s the right wording to use, particularly with this audience. I might spend some more time on this microcopy before testing it.
- Not a fan of the “connected contacts” name, or if we even need a heading for those since we’re already in the Family Contacts screen.
See above. I’m not sure “Connected Contacts” will make sense in context of the use ad audience. Microcopy matters.
- I think we need to spell out somewhere “tap to approve”
This is a perfect candidate for a moderated usability test. It’s what I’d run to determine the efficacy of this design.
I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any questions.