Intuitive cell phones specifically designed to protect and empower seniors.
The Jitterbug was first launched in 2006 as one of the very first cell phones designed just for seniors. Created by GreatCall, the company’s sole mission is to bridge the technological gap1 between seniors and the high-tech, intimidating cell phones that can overwhelm them. More recently, the Jitterbug smartphone was launched, along with an integrated set of health and wellness services. Thanks to the company’s focus on senior-friendly features and a desire to help users stay in touch with friends and family, older adults have the freedom to continue to run errands, travel and adventure with a cell phone that fits their unique needs and comes equipped with medical alert technology to keep them both safe and connected.
For this review, we’ll take you through our experience of buying, setting up, and testing the call performance and features of GreatCall’s latest phones, the Jitterbug Flip and the Jitterbug Smart2. Both phones are competitively priced and easy to operate, and their extensive features — like hearing-aid compatibility and 24/7 emergency response — all cater to older eyes, ears, and minds. And the fact that GreatCall operates on the Verizon network,2 a carrier with notable dependability, is a big plus. My only complaints are the limited phone selection and overage charges with their service plans. Let’s take a closer look at both options to see which one might be the right fit for you.
|Jitterbug Smart2 Standard Features||Jitterbug Flip Standard Features|
|Easy-to-navigate list-based menu and large touch screen
Mobile internet access available
Built-in GPS and navigation
Voice typing capabilities to send text messages
Video chat with family and friends
Long-lasting battery life
5Star Urgent Response app available for emergencies
Equipped with entertaining Brain Games
Camera (13-megapixel w/ flash)
Fall detection and 24/7 monitoring available
|Large buttons and bright screen with flip-phone design
5Star button (medical alert button)
Voice dial capabilities
Camera (2.0 megapixel)
Magnifier with flashlight
Magnifier w/ Flashlight
Fall detection available
24/7 monitoring available
Excellent battery life
Both phones are sold on the GreatCall website, over the phone, in a variety of big-box stores, and on Amazon. The flip design and the smartphone are very different from one another, so it’s easy to compare and contrast the features. Basically, it all comes down to if you want more access to high-tech features and capabilities or not.
Keep In Mind: No matter where you buy your phone, you can only activate it through GreatCall. Therefore, all of the available Verizon plans are offered and priced through them.
I did want to know more about the pricing directly from the source, so I called GreatCall to chat and inquire about a few things. I learned that monthly cell phone packages start as low as $14.99 a month. This option would not include 5Star Emergency Response — a 24/7 service that directly connects you to a professional agent that provides immediate assistance—one of GreatCall’s many health and safety add-on services that requires an additional monthly cost to be activated. If you do opt for a higher-priced plan, new customer promotions are usually available and take about 25% off your initial payment. Although there is an activation fee, they include free shipping, and long-term contracts don’t exist. Everything is transparent, as you can go online, pick your phone, and add your plan of choice, accessories, and any health and wellness package to see the final cost.
As for my customer service experience, I learned a lot and got a sense as to why people refer to GreatCall as “high-touch” and highly responsive. That must be how they received the North America Frost & Sullivan Award for Customer Service Leadership.3 The voice on the other side of the phone, Martin in the Carlsbad call center, was exceptionally kind, patient, and forthcoming. Here’s what I learned during my chat with Martin:
Compatible with most Bluetooth devices and hearing aids, this comprehensive smartphone appeals to older ears and eyes. GreatCall has put a lot of thought into age-appropriate functions like a larger touchscreen, list-style menu, powerful speaker, and accurate voice typing (perfect for anti-texters). The 24-hour battery life and 13-megapixel camera complete with video and flash are great features for seniors who still travel often or take countless snaps of their grandchildren. I recommend adding on a 5Star Urgent Response button, which immediately connects you to an emergency operator who is already familiar with your medical history and personal contacts. Fast mobile internet access, Google navigation, and a lineup of pre-installed, senior-geared apps round out why this phone is so useful and convenient.
Mobile Plans (w/ Health & Safety Package):
Just Talk & Text Plan:
This straightforward cell phone receives universal praise for stylishly offering all the best features for seniors who may not be as comfortable with technology. With a bright screen, bigger textured buttons, powerful speaker, simplified menu, and hearing aid compatibility, the Jitterbug Flip has it all, minus internet access and voice typing capabilities. It also comes with a lower quality camera, but it makes up for it by including a magnifier with a flashlight. This model can also incorporate the 5Star Urgent Response button for a faster, more personal emergency response experience.
Mobile Plans (w/ Health & Safety Package):
Just Talk & Text Plan:
Once you've chosen your phone and talk/text/data plan, it’s time to navigate the supplementary service(s). GreatCall offers a lineup of optional Health & Safety Services that elevate the phone’s value. Some of these include life-saving necessities, such as 24/7 emergency monitoring and fall detection.
Life Saving Tip: If you hold down the 5Star button on your phone for 5 seconds, it'll directly connect you with 911.
Here’s what you can potentially add on to your package. Keep in mind, you cannot access the apps on the Flip itself, but if subscribed to, you can utilize them on a computer or a family member’s smart device:
In addition to the add-on Health & Safety Packages, GreatCall’s website offers a variety of accessories to go with your phone. These include a car charger, travel wall charger, Bluetooth headset, stereo earphones, and more. All are priced below $30 and are easy to operate with the phone. The Jitterbug Smart2 even has the option of a wallet folio case that both protects your phone and stores your credit cards and cash to keep you organized.
When you combine the thoughtful quality of the phones with the award-winning customer service and breadth of add ons, it really doesn’t get much better than GreatCall. The company clearly values trust and is constantly looking to innovation and compassion as its key ingredients in helping those who are still very mobile. It’s not only about safety, it’s about fun, too.
For the amount the phone is capable of, and the camera it includes, the Jitterbug Smart2 is very reasonably priced compared to other smartphones. Even without any kind of a discount, the model is only around $150, while some other models on the market can be priced all the way up to $1,000.
The Jitterbug Flip has 1 GB of built-in storage, while the Jitterbug Smart2 comes with 16 GB of built-in storage and up to 32 GB of expandable storage.
No, you can only sign up for automatic fall detection if you purchase the Lively Mobile Plus or the Lively Wearable 2.
Yes, there is a clear, designated 5Star button on each of the phones, so you can push it quickly without any problems.
Great Call’s automatic warranty comes with one year of protection if the phone is faulty outside of your control. If you were to crack your screen or drop it in water, you would have to repair it on your own dime. However, for just $4 a month, you can get extra protection and send the phone into GreatCall for any kind of repair, even if it is entirely your fault.
New York Times. (March 2016). Making Technology Easier for Older People to Use.
Verizon. (2020). Best Phone Plans and Devices for Seniors.
International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED). (2020). Accreditation.
Apple App Store. (2020). GreatCall Link Mobile App.
Business Wire. (April 2008). Inventor Celebrates the 35th Anniversary of his First Cellular Phone Call.
Since graduating from Harvard with an honors degree in Statistics, Jeff has been creating content in print, online, and on television. Much of his work has been dedicated to informing seniors on how to live better lives. As Editor-in-Chief of the personal… Learn More About Jeff Hoyt