With each year, it feels as though cell phones get more and more advanced, packing in features such as touch screens, face detection, and cameras that can put a DSLR to shame. While I certainly appreciate having the power of a computer in my pocket, I also recognize that not everyone needs this. That’s where GreatCall comes in. Since 2005, GreatCall 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 Lively Flip. 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? We’re about to find out.
Lively Flip Pros and Cons
If you’re looking for the bullet points, then look no further! Here is what I thought of the Lively Flip, in short.
What I Liked About My Lively Flip
- Made for Older Adults: From its streamlined design to the addition of medical alert features, the Lively Flip is an ideal phone for older adults who don’t want to bother with a feature-packed smartphone.
- Affordable Plans: The Lively Flip costs under $100, and cellular plans can potentially go as low at $14.99 per month. Sure, this might be the low end of things, but I appreciate that this phone is highly affordable. Also, did I mention there are no long term contracts?
- Verizon Network: GreatCall, the provider for Jitterbug phones, is powered by Verizon’s wireless network, which is frequently ranked as one of the best mobile providers in terms of both speed and coverage. Anywhere I traveled, I received flawless service with my calls and messages.
What I Didn't Like
- No Family Plans: Currently, GreatCall does not offer any sort of 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,
- GreatCall 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 Jitterbug vs. Consumer Cellular.
Purchasing My Lively Flip
The Lively Flip can be purchased over the phone, through GreatCall’s website, or at many brick and mortar stores such as Best Buy and Walgreens. I decided to purchase my phone directly from GreatCall’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 Lively Flip 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, GreatCall 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.
GreatCall Cellular Plans
|Monthly Minute Allowance||Monthly Cost|
|Unlimited Minutes and Texts||$39.99|
GreatCall Text Plans
|Monthly Text Allowance||Monthly Cost|
|Unlimited Minutes and Texts||$39.99|
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 GreatCall has some pretty steep overage fees. Unlike Consumer Cellular, who will automatically upgrade your service plan in the event of an overage, GreatCall will charge you $0.35 per minute, which could definitely add up quickly.
When all was said and done, my total startup cost for both my Lively Flip ($99.99) and my unlimited plan ($39.99) came to $139.98, 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 Lively Flip
Once I purchased my Lively Flip 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, an additional car charger, 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 Lively Flip, dialed the service number listed in the manual, and confirmed my information. Just like that, my phone was up and running.
Using My Lively Flip
I have to say, when I powered up my Lively Flip, 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 Lively Flip 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 computer, the Lively Flip is just what the doctor ordered.
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 Lively Flip does not disappoint. The Flip is even compatible with hearing aids.
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’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 setting with either low or no light.
The Flip’s camera, I will say, is nothing to write home about. At only 2 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.
I also appreciated the dedicated 5Star button on the side of my Jitterbug. When pressed, this button quickly connected me to one of GreatCall’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 Lively Flip also had some additional safety features, which I’ll get into below.
Health and Safety Packages
As you’ve already seen, the Lively Flip can be purchased with a variety of different cellular plans that include talk minutes and text messages. In addition to these traditional features, GreatCall 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. Here is a rundown of the features available with these packages.
- 5Star Urgent Response: My Lively Flip featured a dedicated 5Star button. When pressed, it immediately connected me to one of GreatCall’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 Lively Flip 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, 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.
- GreatCall Link: As a caregiver, I really appreciated the GreatCall Link app. Family members and caregivers can download this app for free and receive notifications whenever the Lively Flip 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. 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 GreatCall’s Health and Safety Packages are not quite an adequate substitute for a medical alert system, 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 GreatCall’s Health and Safety Packages and their costs, check out the chart below.
GreatCall Health And Safety Packages
|5Star Urgent Response||Yes||Yes||Yes|
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.
Lively Flip Extras
In addition to the phone and service options, GreatCall also offers additional hardware options for the Lively Flip. 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 Lively Flip 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 Lively Flip.
- Lanyard Case: If you’re not someone who wears belts, then perhaps this lanyard case is up your alley. Costing on $19.99, it’s a great way to both protect and keep track of your Lively Flip. It also comes in two colors, red and black.
- Extra Battery: Although your Lively Flip 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 Lively Flip. 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 Lively Flip is likely not for you, although one of GreatCall’s other models, the Jitterbug Smart2 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 Lively Flip.
Jitterbug Frequently Asked Questions
- Is the Lively Flip compatible with Bluetooth devices?
The Lively Flip is equipped with Bluetooth capabilities. So if you have a wireless headset, speaker or another Bluetooth device, then you can most certainly link it up with your Jitterbug.
- How do I add contacts to my Lively Flip?
Contact information can be added directly via the Lively Flip. This can be done by going to the contacts page, creating a new entry, and then entering the person’s name and phone number. It’s almost like having your phone book in the palm of your hand.
- What ringtones are available on the Lively Flip?
Currently, the Lively Flip features 7 different ringtone options. Additionally, you can select specific ringtones for certain contacts, which is a great way to know who is calling before even picking up your phone.
- Is the Lively Flip good for people with visual impairments?
With its large and bright screen, backlit keypad, and large buttons, the Lively Flip is great for folks who struggle with poor eyesight. Also, with the use of voice dialing, you can even call any of your contacts without having to dial a number at all.
- How do I use the 5Star button on my Lively Flip?
Connecting to an urgent response agent has never been easier than with the Lively Flip. Using the dedicated 5* button on the side of your phone, you’ll be immediately connected to GreatCall’s monitoring center.