With each year, it feels as though cell phones get more and more advanced, packing in features like touch screens, face detection, and cameras that can put a DSLR to shame. While I appreciate having the power of a computer in my pocket, I recognize that not everyone needs this. That’s where Lively comes in.
Since 2005, Lively has been bridging the gap between cell phones and older adults. In this review, I’ll be taking a closer look at one of their basic models, the Jitterbug Flip2. This phone, while simplistic in design, packs in some advanced care features that make it perfect for the older set. But is it the right phone for you or your loved one? Let’s dive in.
Made for Older Adults: From its streamlined design to the addition of medical alert features, the Jitterbug Flip2 is an ideal phone for older adults who don’t want to bother with a feature-packed smartphone.
Affordable Plans: The Jitterbug Flip2 costs $99.99, and cellular plans can potentially go as low as $14.99 per month, with unlimited talk and text plans starting at $19.99 per month.
Medical Alert Features: For $19.99 per month, I got access to Lively’s Urgent Response feature, which turned my Jitterbug Flip2 into a medical alert system, complete with 24/7 professional monitoring.
Voice Assistant: With its built-in Alexa functionality, my Jitterbug Flip2 could make calls, write texts, and browse the web by solely using my voice.
What I Didn’t Like
No Family Plans: Currently, Lively does not offer shared plans for their cell service, meaning that if I wanted to purchase additional devices, I would have to also purchase a separate plan, something that could be a drawback for families and couples.
Overage Charges: Unlike some cellular providers, such as Consumer Cellular, who automatically upgrade your service plan in the event of an overage, Lively charges an additional fee for each minute, message, or megabyte used. These fees, while small, can quickly add up. If you want to learn more, read my full comparison of Lively vs. Consumer Cellular.
Our Video Review
Purchasing My Jitterbug Flip2
The Jitterbug Flip2 can be purchased over the phone, through Lively’s website, or at many brick and mortar stores such as Best Buy and Walgreens. I decided to purchase my phone directly from Lively’s website. There, I was able to choose the color of my phone (either graphite or red), select my service plans, and check out some additional features.
Once I added my Jitterbug Flip2 to my cart, I was asked if I would like to keep my existing phone number. Although they couldn’t guarantee that I’d be able to keep my number, I was happy to find that, in my case, I could. After this, I had to select my service plan. Currently, Lively uses an à la carte model when it comes to minutes and texts, meaning any amount of minutes can be paired with any amount of text messages. Here is an overview of the options.
Lively Cellular Plans
Monthly Minute Allowance
Unlimited Minutes and Texts
For the purposes of this review, I decided to sign up for the unlimited minutes and texts plan so that I could get the most out of my phone. You should also keep in mind that Lively has some pretty steep overage fees. Unlike Consumer Cellular, who will automatically upgrade your service plan in the event of an overage, Lively will charge you $0.35 per minute, which could definitely add up quickly.
There is no extra charge for calls made anywhere in the continental U.S. or Canada. With that said, Lively will charge $0.20 per minute for calls made to Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
When all was said and done, my total startup cost for both my Jitterbug Flip2 ($99.99) and my unlimited plan ($19.99) came to $119.98, not too bad, especially considering how expensive some smartphones can be.
Be Careful: If you select a plan with no texting allowance, then each text sent or received will cost $0.10.
Setting Up My Jitterbug Flip2
Once I purchased my Jitterbug Flip2 and my service plan, it took less than one week for my phone to arrive on my doorstep. Inside my box, I found my phone, a wall charger, a charging cradle, and an instruction manual that guided me through the quick and simple setup process.
First I plugged my phone into the charger. Then I plugged that into a wall outlet and in a matter of two hours, my phone was fully charged and ready for action. I turned on my Jitterbug Flip2, dialed the service number listed in the manual, and confirmed my information. Just like that, my phone was up and running.
Using My Jitterbug Flip2
I have to say, when I powered up my Jitterbug Flip2, I almost felt like I’d gone through a time warp. Unlike my smartphone, which constantly barrages me with email and social media notifications, the Jitterbug Flip2 is comparably modest. The home screen presented me with the time, date, and a colorful background, nothing more. Gradually, however, I came to see the beauty of this simplicity. Especially for those of us looking for a phone, rather than a pocket-sized computer, the Jitterbug Flip2 is just what the doctor ordered.
Jitterbug Flip2 Call Quality
In the many test calls I made, I was impressed by the clarity and volume of the audio, which could be made even louder by using the speakerphone option. Considering how many older adults suffer from hearing loss, a phone’s audio quality should be top-notch, and the Jitterbug Flip2 does not disappoint. The Jitterbug Flip2 is also rated M4/T4 in terms of hearing aid compatibility.
Jitterbug Flip2 Messaging
When it came to sending text messages, I was pleased with both the size of the buttons and their spacing, which made it a breeze to accurately type out letters. Additionally, everything on my Jitterbug Flip2’s screen was rendered in a large 32 point font, making it easy to read. The phone’s buttons are also backlit, making it possible to type in a setting with either low or no light.
Jitterbug Flip2 Camera
The Jitterbug Flip2’s camera, I will say, is nothing to write home about. While rated at eight megapixels, the photos I took were not of a high enough resolution to warrant printing or sharing online. Still, the camera does the job, and for practical purposes, such as photographing a recipe, it could certainly come in handy.
Jitterbug Flip2 Urgent Response
I also appreciated the dedicated 5Star button on the bottom of my Jitterbug Flip2. When pressed, this button quickly connected me to one of Lively’s monitoring agents who would have been able to contact emergency services if necessary. Using GPS, the agent would be able to track my location as well. Although I encountered no emergencies during my testing period, I could see this coming in handy for any older adult. Without the hassle of dialing a number or navigating menus, I could press the button and immediately be connected with someone who could send help, if necessary.
My Jitterbug Flip2 also had some additional safety features, which I’ll get into below.
Health and Safety Packages
In addition to minutes and texts, Lively also offers what they call health and safety packages, services geared towards older adults looking to monitor their health and maintain an additional level of protection.
5Star Urgent Response: My Jitterbug Flip2 featured a dedicated 5Star button. When pressed, it immediately connected me to one of Lively’s response agents. Luckily, I had no actual emergency during my testing, but if I were in need of medical assistance, my agent could have contacted emergency services.
Brain Games: Studies have shown that puzzle-based activities, also known as brain games, can help refine thinking skills that tend to decline with age, skills such as decision making and short-term memory. My Jitterbug Flip2 had several different types of these games. My personal favorite was called Face Facts, a game in which I had to memorize names and associate them with images of faces.
Urgent Care: With this feature, I was able to speak to an actual nurse or doctor through my Jitterbug Flip2, without having to make an appointment! I was even able to obtain prescriptions for certain medications through this feature, which definitely saved me some time sitting at the pharmacy.
Lively Link: As a caregiver, I really appreciated the Lively Link app. Family members and caregivers can download this app for free and receive notifications whenever the Jitterbug Flip2 uses the 5Star button or is running low on battery. To test it out, I had my husband download the app, and he was even able to track my location through my Jitterbug Flip2. This would come in handy for caregivers as it would allow you to make sure your loved one is home and safe.
Personal Operator: For the older adult living independently, this feature would certainly come in handy. I was able to call my personal operator for help with just about anything, looking up phone numbers, finding addresses, and arranging transportation to and from the supermarket.
With all that said, I feel the need to clarify that Lively’s Health and Safety Packages are not quite an adequate substitute for a medical alert device, many of which are waterproof, can be worn around the neck, and feature automatic fall detection. With falls being the main source of fatal injury to older adults, I think of fall detection as an essential feature of any bonafide medical alert system. If you’re looking for a full-fledged system such as this, check out my rundown of the best medical alert systems with fall detection.
For an overview of Lively’s Health and Safety Packages and their costs, check out the chart below.
Lively Health And Safety Packages
5Star Urgent Response
FYI: The Urgent Care feature, which allows you 24/7 access to nurses and doctors, can also be purchased on its own for $4 per month.
Jitterbug Flip2 Extras
In addition to the phone and service options, Lively also offers additional hardware options for the Jitterbug Flip2. Here’s a closer look at these handy add-ons.
Travel Wall Charger: For the user constantly on the go, this $19.99 travel charger is great to keep in your purse or travel bag to make sure your Jitterbug Flip2 won’t lose power.
Car Charger: Although it’s illegal to text while driving in many states, it’s nice to be able to make calls from your car. For $24.99, this car charger plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter and can restore full power to your phone.
Belt Holster: This $19.99 case can be clipped to your belt, pocket, or purse, allowing for easy access to your Jitterbug Flip2.
Lanyard Case: If you’re not someone who wears belts, then perhaps this lanyard case is up your alley. Costing $19.99, it’s a great way to both protect and keep track of your Jitterbug Flip2. It also comes in two colors, red and black.
Extra Battery: Although your Jitterbug Flip2 already comes with one rechargeable battery, additional batteries ($19.99 each) make a great backup. I always like to carry one in my purse, so that if my phone dies, I can quickly swap out the battery and carry on with my business.
Bluetooth Headset: Connecting wirelessly to your phone, this earpiece headset makes it easy to answer calls and listen to music in a hands-free fashion.
Overall, I really came to appreciate my Jitterbug Flip2. While simple, each of its features worked flawlessly, and it even had some unexpected safety features not seen on more advanced phones. Sure, if you’re looking for a phone with which to stream movies and take high-definition photos, then the Jitterbug Flip2 is likely not for you, although one of Lively’s other models, the Jitterbug Smart3 might be what you’re looking for. But if what you need is a simple phone that’s easy to use, then look no further than the Jitterbug Flip2.
To learn more about our favorite phones and plans for seniors, be sure to check out our helpful guides:
The Jitterbug Flip2 does not have an internet browser or app store; however, its Alexa functionality allows you to ask questions and receive answers from the internet. For example, you can ask it to tell you the weather, and you’ll receive an accurate response.
Jitterbug, now known as Lively, costs as low as $14.99 per month for their basic cellular plan, in addition to $99.99 for their basic flip phone, the Jitterbug Flip2.
Ryan has years of experience researching and testing products that help people successfully age in place. After years of working for various publications such as Boston Magazine and The Believer, he has found his home at The Senior List, writing about all things related to caregiving and senior healthcare.