It’s tempting to assume that older adults have little interest in smartphones. I, however, would strongly disagree. Not only can a smartphone help someone stay in touch with the world around them, but it can also help them age in place, serving as a lifeline to keep them safe when no one else is around.
In this review, I’ll be taking a look at GreatCall’s Jitterbug Smart2, their latest entry in their series of smartphones designed specifically for the older set. With its full range of safety features in tandem with its modern smartphone capabilities, I was excited to get my hands on the Smart2. But just how does it live up to the expectations? Keep reading to find out.
Jitterbug Smart2: The Good and The Bad
With a phone as feature-rich as the Jitterbug Smart2, there’s a lot to take in. Here are my main takeaways from my time with the device.
- A Smartphone, Simplified: With its bright screen, large text, and streamlined menus, the JitterBug Smart2 makes its advanced features accessible and intuitive. Even for the most technologically averse person, I could see them using this phone with ease.
- Medical Alert Features: In addition to minutes and data, GreatCall also offers health and safety packages, turning your phone into a personal safety device. Their 5Star urgent response feature gave me 24/7 access to highly trained agents who could connect me to help in the event of an emergency.
- Powerful Cellular Network: Although the Jitterbug Smart2 is only compatible with Verizon, this cellular provider offered everything I’d need in terms of coverage.
- Affordable Plans: Between talk, text, data, and health packages, GreatCall offers a wide range of service options. Starting at just $14.99 per month with no long term contracts, they offer plans that can suit any budget.
- Slow Navigation: While my Jitterbug Smart2 was a breeze to use, I couldn’t help but notice that loading times for apps and the web browser were a bit slower than on other smartphones.
- Overage Charges: Despite their competitive pricing of talk, text, and data plans, GreatCall charges additional fees when you go over your monthly allowance. While $0.35 per minute might seem negligible, this could add up quickly if you make a lot of calls.
Purchasing My Jitterbug Smart2
The Jitterbug Smart2 can be purchased over the phone, online, or through physical stores such as Best Buy. I decided to buy my device directly from GreatCall’s website. In my experience, purchasing directly from the cellular provider gives you access to the best in expertise and most of the time the lowest prices.
GreatCall’s website made everything easy for me. First, I was able to take a closer look at the Jitterbug Smart2 and learn about some of its features. I appreciated the straightforward way in which GreatCall lists their pricing. Unlike many cellular providers, who require costly long-term contracts in order to purchase for the listed price, GreatCall keeps it simple and honest.
My Jitterbug Smart2 ended up costing me $149.99 for the device in addition to a $35 activation fee. Sure, this might seem a bit pricey, but considering that modern smartphones can cost upwards of $500, not to mention data plans and hidden fees, I was pleased with this price point.
Jitterbug Smart2 Service Plans
Before I could complete my order online, I also had to figure out my service plans. GreatCall offers two different types of plans. Of course, there is the standard type of plan that includes some level of talk, text, and data, but there is also the option to sign up for a health and safety package. This latter type of plan provides you with features that can turn your Jitterbug Smart2 into a personal emergency response system, but more on that later. First, let’s dig into the basics.
Talk, Text, and Data
Like most cellular providers, GreatCall offers several different options when it comes to talk, text, and data. At the bare minimum, you have to sign up for at least 250 monthly minutes and 100 MB of data. Here is an overview of their pricing:
|Minute Allowance||Monthly Cost|
|Number of Texts||Monthly Cost|
|Data Allowance||Monthly Cost|
GreatCall also offers two different plans with no monthly caps on talk, text, or data. Here is a look at their pricing.
GreatCall Unlimited Plans
|Plan Type||Monthly Cost|
|Unlimited Talk & Text||$39.99|
|Unlimited Talk, Text, & Data||$59.99|
To make the most of my Jitterbug Smart2, I decided to sign up for the unlimited talk, text, and data plan. Another thing that factored into my decision was that GreatCall charges additional fees in the event of an overage ($0.35 per minute, $0.10 per text, and $0.10 per megabyte). While small, these fees could quickly add up to your bill. If overages are something that concerns you, then I’d recommend checking out Consumer Cellular, who automatically upgrades your plan in the event of an overage.
With my cellular plan figured out, there was just one more step, and that was choosing a health and safety package.
Savings Tip: When you sign up for a GreatCall health and safety package, you’ll automatically receive discounts on your plans for talk, text, and data.
GreatCall Health and Safety Packages
You’re probably wondering: What exactly is a health and safety package? In short, they’re a range of services designed for older adults that provide convenience, safety, and general wellbeing for the user. Essentially, they helped turn my Jitterbug Smart2 into my own personal emergency response system. Now, let’s get into the specifics.
- 5Star Urgent Response: In the event of any emergency, medical or otherwise, the 5Star Urgent response feature can come in handy. By pressing the dedicated button on the bottom of my Smart2’s screen, I was immediately connected to one of GreatCall’s IAED-certified agents who could trace my location and send help if necessary. Luckily, during my time with the Smart2, I had no medical emergencies; however, when I lost my way on a walk through the city, I contacted an agent for assistance, and, using my location, she helped me find the nearest bus stop.
- Urgent Care: One of my favorite wellness features, Urgent Care, allowed me to speak directly with registered nurses and doctors, who were able to provide me with medical advice and even prescribe common medications over the phone. Did I mention this service is also available 24/7?
- GreatCall Link: The free GreatCall Link app is a great way for caregivers to keep tabs on their loved one. Using this app on his smartphone, my husband received notifications each time I pressed my 5Star button. He could also check on my location and the battery level of my Smart2.
- Brain Games: Studies have demonstrated that puzzle-based games can help maintain cognitive function, even in advanced age. Because of this, I loved the addition of GreatCall’s brain games. One of my favorites, called Right Turn involves rotating a series of images in order to create matching pairs. It’s almost like the gym for your brain!
- Personal Operator: Much like the telephone operators of yore, my GreatCall personal operator-assisted me with looking up numbers and addresses.
These features come in three different packages. Here is an overview of the plans and their costs.
GreatCall Health and Safety Packages
|5Star Urgent Response||Yes||Yes||Yes|
For testing purposes, I signed up for the Ultimate package, giving me the full range of health and safety features. What’s more, by signing up for the Ultimate plan, the cost of my talk text and data plan plummeted down to only $40 per month.
So, between my Jitterbug Smart2 ($149.99), my unlimited plan ($40), my health and safety package ($34.99), and my activation fee ($35), I was looking at a grand total of $259.98 in startup costs with a $74.99 recurring monthly bill. This price might seem a bit steep; however, considering that this price is for both a fully functional smartphone in addition to a built-in personal emergency response system, I’d say it’s a pretty solid deal.
Jitterbug Smart2 Accessories
In addition to the plethora of services offered through GreatCall, there are also some additional bits of hardware you can purchase for your Smart2. Here’s a closer look at each of them.
- Glass Screen Protector: More durable than a plastic protector, this tempered glass covering will prevent cracks and scratches on your Smart2’s screen. It’s also thin enough to preserve its touch-based operation.
- Wallet Folio Case: This bi-fold case not only protects your phone, but it also allows you to store your valuables such as credit cards and cash.
- Bluetooth Headset: Made by Insignia, this bluetooth headset hooks right onto your ear and allows you to more easily take calls while on the go. Perfect for commuters, this headset’s speaker can also be used to listen to music.
- Stereo Earphones: For those who want a stereo listening experience, look no further than these stereo headphones. Like traditional earbuds, they connect to your Jitterbug Smart2 and provide a higher definition audio experience.
- Gel Case: This gel case, available in either blue or red, offers a slimmer profile than that of the wallet folio. It also features holes for the speaker, camera, and headphone jack, giving you full access to your Smart2.
Jitterbug Smart2 Accessory Pricing
|Jitterbug Smart2 Accessory||Price|
|Glass Screen Protector||$9.99|
|Wallet Folio Case||$24.99|
FYI: When purchased directly through GreatCall, your Jitterbug Smart2 will come with both a wall charge and a car charger at no additional cost.
The Jitterbug Smart2 In Action
After purchasing my Jitterbug Smart2 and signing up for a plan, all I had to do was wait for my package to arrive. In the box, I found my Smart2 device, a wall charger, a car charger, and a user manual, which guided me through the setup process. First, I plugged my new phone into the wall charger, plugged that into an outlet, and then waited about an hour for it to fully charge. Once I powered the phone up, all I had to do was dial the service number listed in the guide, confirm my information, and then I was ready for some tests.
Immediately, I was struck by how the Smart2 looked similar to other modern smartphones, what with its large touch screen and few physical buttons; however, as I scrolled through the various menus, I came to see the difference. Unlike an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, which feature complex graphics, widgets, and display features, the Smart2’s home screen looks more like a list. Therein, I found dedicated buttons for the most essential functions: phone, voicemail, text messages, camera, internet, and maps. Sure, the design may not have been the most cutting edge, but I could definitely see the simplicity of this layout appealing to the older adults who I care for. The on-screen text was also large, which is great for the many people who suffer from vision impairment.
Also easy to use was the text message feature. With the Smart2’s five and a half-inch screen, I had no trouble accurately typing, and the same goes for dialing numbers. In my many test phone calls, I noticed no issues. Both the call quality and volume were superb, and all of my calls, both in and outside my home, went through without a hitch. Similar to the Lively Flip, the Smart2 also features voice dialing, so I was able to call various contacts using only my voice.
The one drawback I noticed with the Smart2 was that browsing the web often came with considerable wait times. For example, even when connected to my home’s Wi-Fi network, it would still take about 5-7 seconds for my phone to load The Senior List. Now, in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t really that long of a wait; however, it is certainly longer than the load times from other smartphones.
When all is said and done, a Jitterbug Smart2 can’t replace a full-fledged 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.
Still, what the Jitterbug Smart2 offers is a bridge between older adults and the modern smartphone. With its intuitive controls and added safety features, chances are this smartphone be great for any of your loved ones.
Jitterbug Smart2 Frequently Asked Questions
- Is the Jitterbug Smart2 compatible with hearing aids?
The Jitterbug Smart2 has a hearing aid compatibility score of M4/T4, meaning that it complies with FCC guidelines and will work with most hearing aids.
- How much storage is available on the Jitterbug Smart2?
The Jitterbug Smart2 has 16GB of internal memory, which is enough to store about 3,200 songs, 6,000 photos, or several hours of video. Granted, these numbers will vary based on the quality of your files. Additionally, you can add up to 32BG of external storage through a micro SD card.
- Which operating system is used on the Jitterbug Smart2?
Technically speaking, the Jitterbug Smartphone2 uses the Android 7.0 Nougat operating system, albeit a customized version that allows for greater ease of use.
- How is 5Star on my Jitterbug Smart2 different from a traditional medical alert system?
A traditional medical alert service offers you a direct line of communication with a monitoring center, one that can call for emergency assistance. GreatCall’s 5Star service does this, in addition to offering roadside assistance. Based on your personal profile, which you’ll set up at the beginning of your service, 5Star’s agents will be able to assist you in just about any situation, whether you’re lost, need medical attention, or simply feel in danger.
- What is GreatCall’s urgent care service?
GreatCall’s urgent care service, when purchased as part of your plan, allows you access to healthcare resources without having to make an appointment. By opening the urgent care app, you can immediately contact either a doctor or nurse who can provide personalized medical advice 24/7. There is even a symptom checker available on the app, which can also be downloaded on Apple and Android smartphones.