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GreatCall Jitterbug Review

Intuitive cell phones specifically designed to protect and empower seniors.

10+ Years in Business
5-Star Help Button
Overall Rating:
5 of 5
See Pricing
24/7 Monitoring
$49.99/mo Unlimited Plan

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 Lively 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.

An Overview of the Jitterbug Phones

Jitterbug Smart2 Standard Features Lively 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
Easy-to-navigate menu
Loud speaker
5Star button (medical alert button)
Voice dial capabilities
Camera (2.0 megapixel)
Magnifier with flashlight
Camera (2-megapixel)
Magnifier w/ Flashlight
Fall detection available
24/7 monitoring available
Excellent battery life

Purchasing Your Jitterbug Phone

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.

What I Learned from GreatCall's Customer Service

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:

  • GreatCall's Call Centers: Martin let me know that GreatCall's call centers are only US-based and that the company prides itself on being the top senior phone specialist. It's reassuring to know that a knowledgeable representative will be there to answer my call and my questions at any time.
  • Helping Seniors Navigate Technology: Martin explained that while other companies are giving up on flip phones, GreatCall is embracing them, knowing that this is a vital accessory for active seniors. For smartphone customers, he says the team is also ready to provide additional guidance as this will likely be a senior's first time with a gadget of this complexity. That extra level of support is a must-have in my book when it comes to working with seniors.
  • Getting Set Up with GreatCall: When I asked Martin about tips for setting up the Jitterbug phones, he directed me to a page on GreatCall's website where there are step-by-step setup videos for both phones that include useful diagrams, so you can pause and review as you go. Jitterbug phones come with a handy user guide with a detailed account of every single function and feature.
  • Product Warranty: GreatCall offers an automatic, Standard Limited Warranty. This coverage means you get a one-year equipment warranty for cell phones, including batteries and accessories.

More About GreatCall's Senior-Friendly Phones

Jitterbug Smart2

GreatCall Jitterbug 2

GreatCall Jitterbug 2

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):

  • Individual monthly Talk, Text and Data plans vary anywhere from $2.49-$15 a month.
  • Unlimited Texts: $15 per month
  • Unlimited Talk & Text (data plan required): $39.99 per month
  • Unlimited Talk, Text & Data: $40 per month

Just Talk & Text Plan:

  • Individual monthly Talk, Text and Data plans vary anywhere from $2.49-$29.99 a month.
  • Unlimited Texts: $15 per month
  • Unlimited Talk & Text: $39.99 per month
  • Unlimited Talk, Text & Data: $59.99 per month

Lively Flip

GreatCall Lively Flip

GreatCall Lively Flip

This straightforward cell phone is universally praised 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 Lively Flip really does have it all, minus internet access. It also comes with a lower quality camera, but makes up for it by including a magnifier with a flashlight. Lively Flip comes with built-in Amazon Alexa tech, so you can compose texts, make calls, and perform any other tasks on your phone with just your voice if you desire. For seniors with arthritis or other dexterity issues, this is an excellent feature. This model can also incorporate the 5Star Urgent Response button for a faster, more personal emergency response experience.

Mobile Plans (w/ Health & Safety Package):

  • Individual monthly Talk & Text plans vary anywhere from $3-$15 a month.
  • Unlimited Texts: $15 per month
  • Unlimited Talk & Text: $20 per month

Just Talk & Text Plan:

  • Individual monthly Talk, Text and Data plans vary anywhere from $3-$29.99 a month.
  • Unlimited Texts: $15 per month
  • Unlimited Talk & Text: $39.99 per month

Health & Safety Packages

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:

  • 5Star Urgent Response – This service provides around-the-clock access to a GreatCall's team of professional 5Star agents, who have been certified by The International Academy of Emergency Dispatch (IAED—the same company that also certifies 911 operators)4 and are thoroughly educated on your personal health history.
  • Urgent Care – This app will save you a trip to the doctor's office as it equips you with immediate access to health care professionals, board-certified doctors and nurses, that can provide medical advice or refill a prescription.
  • GreatCall Link – This app5 helps unite parties involved in the active aging process, keeping caretakers and children alike informed at all times. For instance, if the user sets off the automatic fall detection on their device, an instant update will be sent to all related GreatCall subscribers, providing them with pertinent details. It's nice to see yet another service that strengthens family communication.
  • Personal Operator – Only available with the highest-tier package, this concierge-like service can help ease the stresses of your day-to-day with the ability to contact your caregiver or track your location to send you a Lyft ride to your next destination. On top of the monthly payment, it's important to note that there's a $0.99 charge for each operator request.
  • Brain Games – Get a good brain “workout” in with this pre-loaded app, which keeps seniors on their toes and memory loss in check. The variety of games and challenges help sharpen the mind and is a perfect solution for quelling boredom or anxiety.

Optional Accessories

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.

The Pros and Cons

What We Like About Jitterbug

  • One of the Originals: The first Jitterbug phone, invented all the way back in 2006,6 was one of the first to be designed for seniors. As a pioneer in the industry with a long history, GreatCall knows what actively aging individuals need and deserve when it comes to a cell phone.
  • Operates on the Verizon Network: This coverage is easily one of the greatest things about going with a GreatCall cell phone. Verizon is known for having the most dependable service around, and you get a great deal on the plans.
  • The Suite of Health and Safety Services: This inclusion means your phone is so much more than just a phone. It can become a mobile medical alert device, armed with some useful apps to help you obtain medical services for a lot less.
  • No Long-Term Contracts: You can cancel your service at any time without a fee, so you won't be locked in to a long-term contract, and there's no upfront risk to trying the product.

Things to Keep in Mind About Jitterbug

  • Product and Activation Fees: Even though they can be discounted, GreatCall's cell phones come with product and activation fees, but these fees are pretty typical in the industry. The total for their phones, while still reasonable, can add up to be slightly above a competing device, like Consumer Cellular's Doro 7050.
  • Restocking Fees: There may not be any contracts, but upon returning equipment to GreatCall directly, you may be charged a $10 restocking fee depending on where you are with your monthly service.

The Bottom Line

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.

Frequently Asked Questions About GreatCall’s Jitterbug Phones

  1. New York Times. (March 2016). Making Technology Easier for Older People to Use.

  2. Verizon. (2020). Best Phone Plans and Devices for Seniors.

  3. PR Newswire. (March 2012). Frost & Sullivan Highlights GreatCall's Success in Offering High-Touch Customer Service for mHealth and Communication.

  4. International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED). (2020). Accreditation.

  5. Apple App Store. (2020). GreatCall Link Mobile App.

  6. Business Wire. (April 2008). Inventor Celebrates the 35th Anniversary of his First Cellular Phone Call.

For over five years, Taylor has been writing, editing, and researching products and services covering topics such as senior care and technology, Internet and the digital divide, TV, and entertainment, and education. Her research on media consumption and consumer behavior has been… Learn More About Taylor Shuman