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For those new to the world of smartphones, the Jitterbug Smart4 is an intuitive entry point. With its simplified menus, voice commands, and optional safety features, it’s one of our favorite smartphones for older adults. It's also highly affordable, with the phone itself costing $150 and its plans starting at under $25 per month.
In this Jitterbug Smart4 review, we’ll take a closer look at this smartphone made specifically for seniors. We’ll test out its service and its features and compare it to other popular smartphones.
Pro Tip: The Jitterbug Smart4 can only be used on Lively’s network; however, this provider can quickly get expensive when it comes to data. If you’re looking for affordable unlimited data plans, read our guide to the best senior phone plans.
Jitterbug Smart4 Pros and Cons
A smartphone, simplified: With its bright screen, large text, and streamlined menus, the Jitterbug Smart4 makes its advanced features accessible and intuitive. Even for the most technologically averse person, I could see them using this phone with ease.
Ample voice commands: Like any Android phone, the Smart 4 supports Google Assistant voice commands, allowing you to make calls, dictate messages, or ask questions with your voice.
Urgent response features: In addition to minutes and data, Lively also offers urgent response features, turning your phone into a personal safety device.
Powerful cellular network: Although the Jitterbug Smart4 is only compatible with Lively’s plans, this cellular provider offered everything I’d need in terms of coverage.
Affordable device: The Jitterbug Smart4 costs $150, making it far more affordable than most smartphones.
Not much new: While my Jitterbug Smart4 worked well, I was disappointed that not much had changed since the Jitterbug Smart3. The most notable differences here are slight improvements to the screen, cameras, and battery life. Everything else works more or less the same.
Costly overage charges: Unlike Consumer Cellular, which will automatically upgrade your service in the event of an overage with data, Lively will charge you $0.10 per megabyte, which could quickly add up. Remember, if you’re not on Wi-Fi, a 10-minute video could require up to 1000 MB of data to stream.
Jitterbug Smart4 Specs
Battery Life (Talk Time)
Battery Life (Standby)
Tri rear cameras (13MP/2MP/2MP)
Front camera (8MP)
Hearing Aid Compatibility
Jitterbug Smart4 Video Review
In this video rundown, our Managing Editor, Ryan Molloy walks through the different features of the Jitterbug Smart4.
Purchasing My Jitterbug Smart4
The Jitterbug Smart4 can be purchased over the phone, online, or in physical stores, such as Best Buy or Target. I bought my device directly from Lively’s website. I'd recommend this method, as it allows you to easily see which plans are available and to compare your different options.
My Jitterbug Smart4 ended up costing me $149.99 for the device, plus the monthly costs of my plan. There was also a one-time activation fee of $25 for activating the device online. Activating the device over the phone costs $35.
Jitterbug Smart4 Plans
Unlike most phones, the Jitterbug Smart4 must be used on a plan from Lively. Luckily, since Lively piggybacks off Verizon’s cellular network, the majority of Americans will fall into its service area.
For the Jitterbug Smart4, Lively offers three different plans, ranging from $19.99 – $49.99 per month. While all of these plans include unlimited talk and text, they differ in terms of extra features.
Additionally, these plans don’t include data, which must be added for an additional cost — 1 GB of monthly data costs $5 per month, 5 GB costs $10, and unlimited data costs $30 per month. We must note, however, that with Lively’s “Unlimited” data plan, you’ll receive 20 GB per month of high-speed data, after which time your data speeds will be throttled for the remainder of the billing period.
Here is an overview of each feature of Lively’s plans.
In the event of any emergency — medical or otherwise — the Urgent Response feature can come in handy. By pressing the dedicated button on the top of my Smart4’s screen, I was immediately connected to an agent certified by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) who could trace my location and send help if necessary.
While younger generations have long been familiar with the ride-sharing app Lyft, many older adults have yet to catch on. With Lively Rides, Jitterbug Smart4 users can bypass the app altogether by calling an operator who will arrange the ride for you. The cost of these Lyft rides will be added directly to your monthly bill from Lively.
The Lively Link app is a great way for caregivers to keep tabs on their loved ones. Using this app on his smartphone, my partner received notifications each time I pressed my Urgent Response button. He could also check on my location and the battery level of my Smart4.
With the Care Advocate service, Jitterbug Smart4 users can be connected with what Lively calls “Care Advocates.” Personally, from my experience, I’d call them “senior care coaches.”
These professionals will conduct an initial screening and help the user create a “Care Plan” encompassing health, financial planning, and personal care.
One of my favorite wellness features, Nurse On-Call, allowed me to speak directly with registered nurses and doctors who provided me with medical advice and could even prescribe common medications over the phone. Available 24/7, I found this feature to be much more useful than the care advocates.
I think that Nurse On-Call is a great way for seniors to answer nonemergency medical questions in a prompt manner. It definitely beats standing in line for Urgent Care or waiting several weeks to schedule a primary care visit.
Using MyJitterbug Smart4
Below, I’ll recount my experience using the Jitterbug Smart4, from installation to daily use.
Upon unboxing my Jitterbug Smart4, I found the following:
1 Jitterbug Smart4 phone
1 USB-C charging cable
1 wall plug
1 instruction manual
If you purchase your phone online, then you can either activate online or over the phone. During this time, you’ll choose your plan and any extra features. I should note, however, that Lively charges a $25 activation fee for online activation and $35 activation fee for activation over the phone. It’s unclear why these fees differ or why we need them at all.
If you purchase and activate the phone in store, you’ll still have to pay an activation fee.
Upon using my Jitterbug Smart4, I was immediately struck by how similar this phone was to the Jitterbug Smart3, the prior Jitterbug iteration. Toward the end of the review, I’ll elaborate on the differences between these two phones. In this section, I’ll focus on how the phone performed overall.
For starters, the Smart4 home screen is intuitive and easy to read. Just like the Smart3, this phone features a list-based menu. This makes it easy to access each of its features. Additionally, the phone has dedicated Home and Back buttons on the bottom of the screen to help users avoid getting lost in various features and menus.
In terms of call quality, each of my phone calls came in crisp and clear. Even while wearing hearing aids, I noticed a clarity to each of my phone calls. Additionally, browsing the internet was a breeze with the Smart4’s large touch screen.
Overall, the Smart4 delivers on its promise of simplifying the smartphone experience. The phone is easy to use, and its battery life was more than enough to last throughout the day.
Smart4 Android Features
Remember, despite the Smart4’s simplified design, it’s a fully featured Android phone. This means that it can use any app available on the Google Play Store, including Facebook, Google Maps, TikTok, WhatsApp, and Gmail, among others.
Similar to the Jitterbug Flip, the Smart4 also features Google Assistant voice commands. This allows you to activate just about any feature of your Smart4 by using your voice. All you have to do is say, “Hey Google,” and then state your command. This makes the Smart4 even easier to use.
One notable difference with the Smart4 is its camera features. While the Smart3 featured dual rear cameras (13MP and 5MP) and a selfie camera with 5MP, the Smart4 has three rear cameras (13MP, 2MP, and 2MP), and an 8MP selfie camera. Practically speaking, however, the images look more or less the same.
The colors are crisp and, for the most part, accurately represented. The one exception would be in conditions with high levels of light — that is, sunlight. In these cases, photos tend to be washed out.
So, while you could certainly find a better camera on any number of our favorite iPhones, the Jitterbug Smart4’s camera will certainly do the job. Just don’t expect to print and frame any of these photos.
Jitterbug Smart4 vs. Jitterbug Smart3
The Jitterbug Smart3 has long been one of our favorite phones for seniors, and now, with the release of the Smart4, Lively has halved the price of the Smart3, reducing it to $74.99. So what exactly makes the Smart4 worth the extra money?
Jitterbug Smart4 vs. Smart3 Comparison
Rear cameras (13MP/5MP)
Front camera (5MP)
Rear cameras (13MP/2MP/2MP)
Front camera (8MP)
Hearing Aid Compatibility
At first glance, the two phones look nearly identical. Each has a large touch screen that occupies the front of the phone; however, the Jitterbug Smart4’s is slightly larger. Both phones have a screen resolution of 1520 x 720, so the size doesn’t impact the quality of what’s on it.
In terms of cameras, on paper, the Smart4 has higher pixel counts, as well as an additional rear camera. That said, the cameras on both phones perform similarly. Images captured with both phones are good enough to capture text and share with friends, but inconsistencies in light and color prevent them from being photo album-worthy.
The most noteworthy difference between the two phones is battery life. The Smart3 has a battery capacity of 3500 milliampere hours while the Smart4 has 5000 milliampere hours. This translates to the Smart4 having a battery that lasts roughly fifty percent longer, which was noticeable in our tests.
I also noticed that the Jitterbug Smart4 had a slightly smoother performance overall. So while both Android phones have an identical set of features (calling, voice commands, apps, etc.), the Smart4 moved more quickly. This is possibly due to the more powerful processor used in the Smart4 (manufactured by TCL) as opposed to the Smart3 (manufactured by Alcatel).
Finally, neither phone supports 5G signal, and both use 4G LTE.
Still, what the Jitterbug Smart4 offers is a bridge between older adults and the modern smartphone. With its intuitive controls and added safety features, chances are this smartphone will be great for any of your loved ones.
To learn more about our favorite cell phones and providers, be sure to check out our helpful guides:
The Jitterbug Smart4 has 32 GB of internal memory, which is enough to store about 3,200 songs, 6,000 photos, or several hours of video. Additionally, you can add up to 32 GB of external storage through a micro SD card.
A traditional medical alert service offers you a direct line of communication with a monitoring center, one that can call for emergency assistance. Lively’s Urgent Response service does this, as well.
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.