Jitterbug Smart4 Review
A Smartphone Designed by Lively Just for Seniors
Lively’s Jitterbug Smart4 is one of the best cell phones for seniors. Not only is it a simple, easy-to-use smartphone, but its plans also come with health and safety features for added protection. Compared to other smartphones on the market, the Jitterbug Smart4 is relatively inexpensive, while Lively’s phone and data plans are customizable and affordable. The Smart4 has evolved from previous models, such as the Jitterbug Smart2 and Smart3, to include new and improved features, like improved voice commands, a larger screen, and longer battery life.
As SeniorLiving.org’s resident tech expert, I’ve tested out dozens of senior-friendly phones over the years, and I was excited to get my hands on Lively’s latest model. My grandma was also interested in trying out Lively’s new smartphone, as she’s helped me review previous iterations, including the Smart2 and Smart3. For this year’s review, my grandma and I tested out the Jitterbug Smart4 to help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.
Pros About Jitterbug Smart4
- Powerful speaker and microphone: The Jitterbug Smart4 speaker is designed for users who may struggle to hear audio from standard phones. With the Jitterbug Smart4, you can easily turn the volume up. You can also use the speakerphone mode to make phone calls or even type with your voice.
- Built-in user guides: The Jitterbug Smart4 is a great option if you're not particularly tech-savvy. Not only is it easy to use, it also includes guides to help you learn the basics of using your new phone.
- Simple interface: This smartphone balances useful services with a simple user interface. When you turn on your phone, you can choose from a large, easy-to-read menu of different options.
- Access to health services: One of the greatest benefits of the Jitterbug Smart4 is the access to health and safety features. Though you will have to pay extra for the more robust safety features, they give you access to 24/7 emergency response teams, on-call nurses, and an app to help you (and loved ones) keep track of your health.
Cons About Jitterbug Smart4
- A bit simple for some users: If you’re already accustomed to more complex smartphones from Apple or Samsung, the Jitterbug Smart4 may seem like a step in the wrong direction. Its simple interface is great for first-time smartphone users, but others may find the basic menu options and limited features lacking.
- Slower than advanced smartphones: Unlike many of the pricier, top-tier smartphones on the market, the Jitterbug Smart4 is noticeably slower, particularly when you’re changing between apps. I often had to tap a button several times before the phone would respond, and the internet connection was fairly laggy.
- Fees add up quickly: If you go over your data allotment for the month, you’ll pay an overage fee. These fees can add up quickly, which could come as an unpleasant surprise when you receive your monthly bill. If you know you’ll need to use your phone a lot, you may want to choose an unlimited plan.
Overview of the Jitterbug Smart4
The Buying Experience
Lively offers two phone options: the Jitterbug Smart4 and the Jitterbug Flip2. The latter is a flip phone that offers an experience that might be more familiar if you’re accustomed to using phones with physical buttons (no touch screen). For this reason, you won’t need to spend much time choosing between phones. Visit our Jitterbug Flip2 review for a hands-on look at our experience with this flip phone.
FYI: Visit our Lively phone review to learn more about both cell phone options.
Once you choose a product, you can make your purchase online, in person, or by phone. If you order online or over the phone and choose the free standard shipping option, you can expect to receive your phone in the mail in three to seven business days. If you want your phone sooner, you can pay $20 for expedited shipping (one to three business days).
Regardless of how you choose to buy the Jitterbug Smart4, you can pick which data, talk, and text plans you want to add to your phone. You can also add extra accessories for an additional fee. For example, you may want headphones, a phone case, or a glass screen protector.
Speaking of prices, the Jitterbug Smart4 is one of the most affordable smartphones available. While the standard purchase price is $149.99, Lively runs frequent promotions that bring the price down even further, so be on the lookout!
Contracts and Warranty
You’ll pay monthly fees with a Lively phone plan, and no contracts are required. This means you can cancel your phone plan and try out another cellular provider at any time. The Jitterbug Smart4 is specifically designed to work with Lively’s phone plans, so you can only use this senior-friendly phone with a Lively plan. This is a downside to consider when compared to other phone providers for seniors, like RAZ Mobility, whose phones can be used with plans from a variety of carriers.
Pro Tip: Visit our list of the best cell phone plans for seniors to see why Lively made the cut!
The Lively warranty covers your phone, phone battery, and most accessories for one year from the date of purchase. It is important to note that the warranty does not cover accidental damage. For example, if you drop your phone in water or accidentally crack the screen, the warranty will not pay to repair or replace it. It will only cover preexisting hardware issues, electrical failures, or other problems not caused by misuse of the device.
Jitterbug Smart4: Pricing and Features
|Battery life||Up to 37 hours (talk time); up to 4 days (standby time)|
|Screen size||6.75 inches|
|Hearing aid compatibility||M3/T4|
|Camera quality||Rear triple cameras: 13 MP/2 MP/2 MP; front camera: 8 MP|
|Internal storage||32 GB|
Lively Talk and Text Packages at a Glance
Lively offers three phone plans that all come with unlimited talk and text, plus health and safety features. The more expensive the plan, the more features you’ll get. The Jitterbug Smart4 also requires a data plan, so you’ll need to choose one of each plan type.
Talk and Text Plans
|Name||Talk and text||Price||Additional features|
|Basic||Unlimited||$19.99 per month||
|Preferred||Unlimited||$39.99 per month||
|Premium||Unlimited||$49.99 per month||
|1 GB||$5 per month|
|5 GB||$10 per month|
|Unlimited||$30 per month|
Setting Up My Jitterbug Smart4
Once my grandma and I received the Smart4 in the mail, it was time to set everything up!
My Jitterbug Smart4 package came with the smartphone, a USB-C charging cable, a wall plug, and a user guide.
Activation and Setup
Before turning on the phone, I needed to activate it, either online or over the phone. Online activation costs $25, while phone activation costs $35. I’m not a big fan of activation fees, so this was a minor drawback with Lively. I chose the cheaper online activation process. The website walked me through activation instructions, and my grandma and I chose the phone plan that we wanted.
Once activation was completed, I turned the phone on and plugged it in to charge (though it was already charged to 45 percent). One of the first things I noticed was that my phone number was clearly displayed on the lock screen. I thought this was helpful, especially if you get a new number and need some time to memorize it!
After that, the Jitterbug Smart4 was ready to go. My grandma commented on how simple the setup process was, and I agreed!
Testing Out My Jitterbug Smart4
Below, I’ll walk you through our experience with the Jitterbug Smart4 and using the phone’s various features.
The Home Screen
My grandma and I both noticed that the Jitterbug Smart4’s home screen and menu look nearly identical to the Smart3’s. The phone’s list-based menu is significantly easier to navigate than other smartphones on the market, including iPhones, as you can easily scroll up and down to find what you want. This was one of my grandma’s favorite features when testing out the phone. Everything was clearly displayed in one central menu, so she didn’t have to hunt for what she needed.
The Smart4’s screen is 6.75 inches diagonally, making it larger than Jitterbug's last model, the Smart3 (we’ll get into more details on the differences between these two models later). This is beneficial for older eyes.
The Jitterbug Smart4 has a 4G LTE signal, which isn’t quite as reliable as 5G, but it should still offer a solid connection. My grandma called my aunt to test it out. She found that the phone’s speakers were crisp and loud, and the signal was strong – no dropped calls! The Smart4’s dial pad has large, clearly labeled buttons, perfect for older adults.
Google Voice Assistant
One of my favorite Smart4 features for those with arthritis or other mobility issues like my grandma is the Google Assistant. You can use this feature to control the phone’s various functions, such as sending texts, setting alarms, and opening apps. I used the Google Assistant to set an alarm, and it worked like a charm!
While photos taken on your Jitterbug Smart4 won’t win any awards, the company has upped its camera game over the years. The Jitterbug Smart4 features a tri-rear system camera (13 MP/2 MP/2 MP) and an 8 MP front camera.
I took some photos on my grandma’s back patio to test the phone’s camera, and I even caught a hummingbird in action! Compared to my iPhone 14 Pro, the camera quality is nothing to write home about, and I found that the lighting really impacted the photo quality. Still, it gets the job done. I also tried out the front-facing selfie camera and had similar results.
The Jitterbug Smart4 has plenty of features for accessing the internet. You can browse the web, send emails, get directions, and check the built-in News app. The phone also comes with some social media apps, like Instagram and Facebook, pre-installed, and you can download any additional apps that you want. I will say, the internet loaded pretty slowly compared to other smartphones I’ve tried. You’ll still be able to browse the web; it just requires some extra patience!
Let’s face it. Learning to use new technology can be frustrating, even on a phone as simple as the Smart4. That’s why I love the Jitterbug Smart4’s built-in How-To Guides app. This app is accessible from the home screen, and it features how-to guides on everything from setup to sending text messages to using the internet.
Lively Health and Safety Features
Lively’s health and safety features really set the Jitterbug Smart4 apart from its competitors. These features offer access to health services at the push of a button with your phone plan. Very few phones on the market offer the features below, which make it an excellent option for older adults. Every Lively phone has an “Urgent Response” button that immediately calls an emergency response team — if you have the Preferred or Premium plan. If you live alone, have mobility issues, or simply want easy access to health care professionals, one of Lively’s plans could be a great choice for you.
To better understand if one of Lively’s plans is right for you, here is a more detailed breakdown of each service:
- Urgent Response: Just push the Urgent Response button at any time of day or night to get the help of a trained agent. The agent can send help to you, no matter where you are, whether you experience a fall or other emergency. When I tried out this feature, a Lively operator was there to help in under a minute.
- Lively Link: Lively Link allows you and your loved ones to track your health, location, and daily activity.
- Nurse On-Call: You can quickly talk to a nurse or doctor from the comfort of your own home.
- Care Advocate: Care advocates are trained to help you with a wide range of issues, from financial planning to more general well-being.
- Ask Lively: Lively offers helpful operators 24/7. You can connect with an agent who can help you look up phone numbers and make calls, provide directions, and more.
- Lively Rides: Lively’s personal operators can call a Lyft ride for you, which is an affordable transportation service.
Add-On Features and Accessories
If you want to get even more out of your Jitterbug Smart4, you can choose from several different add-ons and accessories.
|Extra Wall Charger||$19.99|
|Glass Screen Protector||$14.99|
|Home Key Lockbox||$19.99|
Jitterbug Smart4 vs. Jitterbug Smart3
As mentioned, the Smart4 and Smart3 look almost exactly the same at first glance. However, there are some slight differences and upgrades we’ll cover below.
|Features||Jitterbug Smart3||Jitterbug Smart4|
|Battery life||Up to 22 hours (talk time)||Up to 37 hours (talk time)|
|Screen size||6.22 inches||6.75 inches|
|Hearing aid compatibility||M4/T4||M3/T4|
|Camera quality||Dual rear: 13 MP/5 MP; front: 5 MP||Triple rear: 13 MP/2 MP/2 MP; front: 8 MP|
|Connection||4G LTE||4G LTE|
Here is an overview of the main differences between the two models:
- Screen size: The Smart4’s screen is roughly 0.5 inches larger than the Smart3’s screen. However, the two phones have the same screen resolution (1520 x 720), so the quality is the same.
- Battery life: The Smart4 boasts 15 extra hours of talk time when compared to the Smart3. My grandma and I noticed this longer battery life during our tests.
- Camera quality: The Smart4 has three rear cameras, while the Smart3 has only two. The Smart4 also has a higher-quality selfie camera. I do appreciate the camera upgrades; however, I didn’t notice a major difference in photo quality when testing both phones.
- Price: The Jitterbug Smart3 is half the price of the Smart4. Lively plans to discontinue the Smart3 once it has fully sold out, so if you want a cheaper model and don’t mind the slight differences in features, snag one while you can!
- Hearing aid compatibility ratings: The Smart4 has a lower “M” hearing aid rating than the Smart3, which means it will be slightly worse at reducing interference with hearing aids in acoustic mode. I was surprised to see this decrease in the Smart4, but it still meets industry standards.
Aside from these differences, the look and feel of the two phones is very similar.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Jitterbug Smart4
Who makes the Jitterbug Smart4?
Lively makes and sells its own phone models, including the Jitterbug Smart4 and Jitterbug Flip2.
Does Jitterbug Smart4 have a SIM card?
The Jitterbug Smart4 uses a SIM card that comes installed with the phone upon purchase.
Does Jitterbug Smart4 have GPS?
Yes, the Jitterbug Smart4 comes with built-in GPS capabilities. These can be used for map navigation, as well as unique services like Lively Link. Lively Link gives family and loved ones the ability to check your location and health status via the Lively mobile app.
Do you need Wi-Fi for Jitterbug phones?
You do not need Wi-Fi to use a Jitterbug phone, but the Jitterbug Smart4 can connect to Wi-Fi networks.