While some seniors have mastered modern smartphones like the iPhone, there is an even larger group that needs a smartphone more suited to their needs.1 Perhaps it’s the small on-screen keyboard and hundreds of customization options. Or maybe it’s the expensive new technology (does Grandma really need the iPhone 11’s three 12 megapixel cameras). All of this can leave seniors feeling overwhelmed or stuck with older phones.
Several cell phone companies are actively combating this issue of accessibility. One such example is GreatCall, which has developed a range of cell phones and other devices specifically for the senior market. GreatCall’s cell phones start at $99 and include the Lively Flip and the Jitterbug Smart2. While both models run on a similar premise of making cell phones easy to use for seniors, some distinct differences may make one model more suited to your needs than the other. Here is everything you need to know about both so that you can make an informed choice.
Modern cell phones can be incredibly complex to use. The screen usually acts as the keyboard, and the letters are not only small but require a high level of dexterity to use. Seniors with poor vision or hearing may struggle to learn how to use regular smartphones. They could also be wasting money on tech that is far too advanced for their needs. Jitterbug strips the complexity out of their models, making phones that are primarily used for calling and texting. This makes Jitterbug phones excellent for seniors whose main priority is communication, though it’s still possible to get online too.
Did You Know: GreatCall is powered by America’s largest and most dependable wireless network. They also use 100% US-based customer service agents.
Let’s take a closer look at the value each Jitterbug cell phone model has to offer below!
The Lively Flip retails at $99.99 making it very affordable, especially compared to smartphones. There are a few less expensive senior-friendly flip phone options on the market from providers like Consumer Cellular; however, GreatCall’s medical alert capabilities are much more extensive.
You might be wondering, what are the benefits of owning a flip phone versus a regular smartphone? A flip phone is easy to use because on a basic level, you can accept a call by simply opening it, and you can hang up again by closing it. The process is far smoother than scanning a screen for a button or having to swipe from left to right, especially for older users who may have reduced dexterity. Also, the Lively Flip has large buttons making it even easier to make calls or ask for assistance. This includes prominent ‘yes’ and ‘no’ buttons, as well as a button for the loudspeaker. Every command is controlled by buttons and not a touchscreen, making the Lively Flip far more accessible than a smartphone.
The Lively Flip also has a built-in magnifier making it easier to read small print. There’s also a flashlight too, which is handy for locating items in lower light. Though, the most impressive aspect is the ‘5Star’ button, which you can press at any time to receive immediate assistance from an IAED certified agent. This includes everything from if you are feeling anxious and don’t want to burden your family, right through to emergencies. Whatsmore, 5Star is available on all GreatCall senior plans. With all of these senior-friendly features, the Lively Flip is well worth the cost.
Jitterbug Smart2 retails at $149.99, before adding on your monthly plan plus an activation fee. It features a 5.5” screen, a built-in 13-megapixel camera, 5Star urgent response button, and video chat capabilities.
From the outside, Jitterbug Smart2 looks like any ordinary smartphone. However, the key difference is that it’s packed full of features that are useful to seniors. Starting with the menu design, the icons are large and easy to scroll through. Every icon is also clearly color-coded, so you can find what you need with ease. This includes things such as phone, emails, text messages, camera, internet, and even maps.
Did You Know: Call waiting, Caller ID, long-distance and roaming are all included in every GreatCall plan.
This model does require a data plan to get the most out of its features, with plans ranging from $2.49 for 100MB up to $15 for 2.5GB. If you opt for a health and safety plan bundled with a mobile plan instead, you’ll get up to double the calls and texts for the option you choose, however, there is no increase in data. That being said, Jitterbug Smart2 is not going to eat data in the same way as an iPhone or similar high-tech model. If you go over your data allowance, it will cost you $0.10 per megabyte which is not as steep as other cellular providers.
Similar to the Lively Flip, the Jitterbug Smart2 also has a 5Star button. Also included are GPS capabilities, which will come in handy should you require roadside assistance and are not sure of your location. Or it’s useful if you are prone to becoming disorientated. Your location can also be shared with friends and family if they download the GreatCall app. Of the seniors who use a cell phone, only 17% use a smartphone.1 If you fall into that category, the Jitterbug Smart2 is worth considering.
GreatCall’s senior plans are dependent on whether you opt for the Lively Flip or the Jitterbug Smart2 phone. That’s because each phone differs in terms of capabilities. Regular GreatCall plans range between $14.99 to $39.99 a month.3 You can choose a plan that only comes with minutes, or add on texts and data as well. Below is an overview of each plan along with the possible add ons.
|Text, Talk, and Data Plans||Lively Flip||Jitterbug Smart2|
|Unlimited talk & text||$39.99||$39.99|
|Add Ons for Talk-Only Plans||Lively Flip||Jitterbug Smart2|
The Jitterbug health and safety packages offer peace of mind to seniors who require additional assistance. That’s because you’re not simply getting calls, texts, and data like most cellular packages. Instead, it includes tailored services that seniors are more likely to benefit from.
|Health & Safety Packages||Basic||Preferred||Ultimate|
|5Star Urgent Response||Yes||Yes||Yes|
For example, the 5Star Urgent Response will link you to highly-trained agents who are available 24/7 should you require any help. Likewise, Urgent Care will allow you to speak to a live nurse or board-certified doctor, at any time without an appointment. You can also access prescriptions for common medications over the phone, which is ideal for seniors who struggle with their mobility.
Whatsmore, GreatCall Link will keep friends and family in the loop if your battery is running low, and it can check your daily activities. The app can only access your information with your permission but does offer reassurance for elderly users, especially those who live alone.
The Basic health and safety package starts at $19.99, although it only includes 5Star Urgent Response and Brain Games. Arguably, you could access either of these through dialing 911 or accessing the internet, unless you are on a basic call and text package. It’s certainly worth upgrading to a Preferred package for just $5 extra per month, as you’ll benefit from many more features making the price a better value for your money overall. The most expensive package is Ultimate, costing $34.99 per month. Though, all you will receive for an extra $10 per month compared with the Preferred package is a personal operator. They will help you with tasks such as finding addresses or phone numbers. However, if you require lots of assistance it could still be worth opting for Ultimate.
GreatCall is an American cellular network provider. The company was founded in 2005 by Arlene Harris, with the specific aim of providing aging adults with accessible technology and services.4 GreatCall is most commonly associated with the Jitterbug phone, which it first released over 15 years ago. All GreatCall products whether they be phones, watches, or medical alert devices have built-in health and safety features to keep seniors safe.
GreatCall’s Lively Flip and Jitterbug Smart 2 are pretty solid cell phones for seniors. They both factor in the importance of easy navigation. Whether it be through physical buttons or list-style menus, everything you need to access is clearly displayed. The different choices between a flip-style phone and a smartphone make the product offering far more appealing to those with different levels of technical ability.
The Smart 2 is very affordable compared to other smartphones on the market. The Lively Flip is decently priced, though there are a few more affordable options out there with less medical alert features. While the data and picture quality is on the lower side for these phones, it’s clear the intention is to provide a communication-first phone. There’s also no mention of whether Jitterbug runs on 2G, 3G, or 4G. Nor whether either phone would work if you travel internationally.
To sum it up, Jitterbug phones are designed to boost the independence of seniors living their day-to-day lives. Compared with regular cellular providers who offer senior plans, none take into consideration the challenges of their elderly customers to the same level of detail, which is a huge plus. Both the Lively Flip and the Jitterbug Smart 2 are worth considering if you or the person you have in mind is unable to operate a regular smartphone, but still wants to be able to call, text and use the internet lightly.
The lowest price Jitterbug plan is $14.99 a month, though this only includes calls and texts.
The answer depends on your technical ability and what you want to get out of the phone. Jitterbug is one of the only makers of senior phones, and their plans suit the capabilities of each phone. In contrast, regular providers may offer features (such as free Netflix) that you may not have a use for, therefore you’d be paying for services you don’t use. If you want a senior-friendly phone that is simple to use, then a Jitterbug model is ideal.
Jitterbug has a US-based customer service line which you can reach at 866-932-6598. Alternatively, GreatCall also has video tutorials5 on how to use all the Jitterbug phones which you may find useful too.
As well as ordering through their website, GreatCall can be found on Amazon, or at Best Buy, Rite Aid, or Walgreens.
No Isolation. (2018). Why do many seniors have trouble using technology?
Martech. (2020). Infographic: Senior Citizen Mobile and Internet Usage Statistics.
Greatcall. (2020). Senior Cell Phone Plans.
Wikipedia. (2020). GreatCall.
Youtube. (2020). GreatCall.