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Page Reviewed / Updated – September 10, 2020

Smartphones are a useful tool for people of all ages, but some seniors may be hesitant to use them due to inexperience with this kind of technology. That’s why alternative like the Jitterbug smartphone, a helpful alternative designed for seniors are worth exploring. The Jitterbug helps seniors stay connected without the need to navigate confusing tech, and its affordable cell phone plans add to the appeal. Jitterbug phones are useful to the older crowd for several reasons, including their ability to pair with a medical alert system to give seniors increased security and peace of mind.

What You Should Know

Jitterbug Smartphone

There’s no squinting needed to see the large numbers on the Jitterbug; they show up clear and bold on the brightly lit screen. The powerful speaker can be turned up as loud as necessary, and voice dialing is an easily accessible feature. With the Jitterbug, seniors can choose from a basic list of actions without any unnecessary apps to get in the way.

Setup is straightforward, with basic prompts to follow, and the Jitterbug can be activated online. Either way, it takes only a few minutes. The user’s manual that comes with the phone clearly explains how to customize the Jitterbug with an outgoing message, various ringtones, and other options.

Service Plans by GreatCall

GreatCall, the parent company of the Jitterbug phone, provides a variety of service plans. A senior can choose from several options and customize the price and plan to suit their budget and needs. Signing up for a Jitterbug phone plan is easy, and it’s affordable because users don’t have to commit to a long-term contract. Plans are available for as low as $18 per month for basic talk and text. Here are some of the features that make the Jitterbug phone plan stand out in value:

  • Monthly plan
  • Anytime cancellation without penalty
  • Long-distance included
  • Minutes carry over each month

Optional Features

The optional features below help turn the Jitterbug phone into a personal safety device and concierge for an affordable price.

Personal Safety

The Jitterbug phone has a 5Star urgent response button for small and large emergencies to swiftly summon assistance, and all phone plans except the $18 basic plan include 5Star service. The patented GPS software in the Jitterbug can locate the user, and trained response personnel are available to evaluate the emergency and send the kind of help that’s needed. Here are some of the situations that can be resolved using the 5Star feature:

  • Roadside emergency
  • Medical issue
  • Locksmith service
  • Directions when lost
  • Emergency phone call

Customer Service

One of the most useful perks of owning a Jitterbug smartphone is the option to have old-fashioned customer service delivered by a real person. Operators based in the United States are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Friendly representatives are happy to assist seniors with issues like setting up the phone and changing the features, and they can answer any questions about the account and services. They’ll even find addresses, look up phone numbers and call them for you.

Urgent Care Medical Advice

In addition to managing monthly phone plans, GreatCall oversees the safety and convenience features seniors can enjoy when using the Jitterbug. One of these options is the ability to speak to a board-certified doctor or registered nurse about medical issues. Seniors can even get prescriptions refilled with the Urgent Care app.

Transportation

Another convenient feature of the GreatCall plan is an option to easily arrange transportation. Simply pressing the “0” button connects a user with a helpful operator who will swiftly contact the Lyft ride service, provide the senior with an estimated cost and send a car to the door, usually within minutes. For a pleasant way to pass the time while waiting, Jitterbug users can play Brain Games, fun memory exercise games and puzzles available on all phones.

Fall Detection

Fall detection is one of the newest safety options offered for the Jitterbug by GreatCall. This add-on feature requires the user to wear a lanyard or a wristwatch, each with a special fall-detection sensor. Advanced technology in the unit can detect sudden movements and recognize when a senior is falling, automatically calling 5Star urgent response. The fall-detection unit is waterproof, so wearers can swim, shower or get caught in the rain and still have continuous protection.

Family Alerts

Notifications can be set up to let family members know when the 5Star button is pressed on a senior’s phone, and users can give loved ones access to the Jitterbug personal profile to help them remember to keep appointments. When the locator function is activated, first responders can also see a map of the senior’s location.

Jitterbug Phones and Add-Ons

There are two options for the Jitterbug phone. The Jitterbug Flip ($100) folds up and can be easily carried in a pocket or purse. The phone includes a 2MP camera, allowing seniors to snap and store photos, and there’s a built-in magnifier with a flashlight. The Jitterbug Smart2 ($150) has the same large text and numbers on a 5.5-inch smartphone screen. The upgraded 13MP camera with built-in flash takes sharp, clear pictures, even from a distance.

The Jitterbug Smart2 has the 5Star urgent response button and the same streamlined, basic menu list as the Jitterbug Flip. It also includes some extras like the ability to video chat with friends and family. Texting is easier with the Smart2 phone’s voice typing, and it has continuous access to the internet, a helpful feature for someone who wants to look up directions or check email.

Access to the Family Alert, Urgent Care and 5Star Emergency Response options are built into the Jitterbug. The security pendant and watch ($50 each) are separate from the Jitterbug phone, and each can be used as a stand-alone emergency alert service or as a phone add-on feature that detects and reports any falls.

Phones and Devices

Jitterbug Flip Phone Jitterbug Smart2 Phone Fall-detection Pendant Fall-detection Watch
Personal Operator X X
GreatCall Rides X X
Brain Games X X
Fall Detection X X
GreatCall Family Alert X X X X
Urgent Care X X X X
5Star Urgent Response X X X X

Prices and Features

Monthly Plan Monthly Minutes Monthly Texts Healthy & Safety Package
$15 250 Minutes Additional $3-$10

$20 Basic

$25 Preferred

$35 Ultimate

$20 1,000 Minutes
$30 2,500 Minutes
$40 Unlimited Talk and Text Included/Unlimited

Deluxe Package ($75 per month)

The top-of-the-line GreatCall Jitterbug plan is designed to offer service to a phone and an emergency response watch or pendant, and it includes all of these features:

  • Personal Operator
  • GreatCall Rides
  • Brain Games
  • Fall Detection
  • Family Alert
  • Urgent Care
  • 5Star Urgent Response

Jitterbug Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The large text and bright screen help seniors easily see to make calls.
  • The simple, list-based operating system is easy to use.
  • GreatCall cellular service plans are affordable.
  • An emergency alert system is an option.
  • Family members can be notified when 5Star is accessed.

Cons

  • The fall-protection lanyard or wristwatch must be worn 24/7 for it to be completely effective.
  • Unlike the fall-protection pendants, Jitterbug phones aren’t waterproof.
  • In rural areas, there may be limited service or slower internet speed.

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The Bottom Line

A Jitterbug phone plan can cost as little as $18 a month for a utility phone with texting and calling capacity sufficient for light use. This is a good choice for a senior who just wants to have access to a phone and check in occasionally with friends and family members.

At the other end of the service spectrum, an unlimited talk and text plan with all the add-on services is $75 a month. This is a lower rate than many traditional smartphone companies charge for talk and text alone, and it’s an exceptional value for a combination phone plan and medical alert system.

Eldercare Financial Assistance Locator

  • Discover all of your options
  • Search over 400 Programs