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GreatCall Lively Review: A Mobile Medical Alert System

Editor's Rating:

4.5 / 5
See Pricing 833-695-0501

Keeping your loved ones safe doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Medical alert systems are relatively low-cost devices that you or an older adult in your life can use to get connected to help. Having spent the majority of my professional career working with seniors, I know that people are looking for a few key things when it comes to medical alert systems, namely reliability, ease of use, and durability. Will GreatCall make the cut?

Founded in 2005, GreatCall is one of the more popular medical alert systems in the United States. Powered exclusively by Verizon with no need for a landline, the company started with its popular Jitterbug phone, later expanding into a response center in 2011. In 2017, the private equity firm GTCR acquired GreatCall, and the next year, they were sold to Best Buy for a cool $800 million. They’re known for their simplified, senior-specific cell phones and urgent care, a feature that connects seniors to nurses and doctors 24/7. But how do their medical alert systems work, and are they trustworthy enough to protect seniors’ lives? To find out, I tested out their Lively Mobile Plus device, and here’s what I found.

GreatCall Lively Mobile Ratings
Reliability When help is needed, the equipment does its job, the call is answered promptly, courteously, and appropriate action is taken to handle the reason for the call.
4.1 / 5
Equipment Equipment is updated and utilizes the latest technology. It works as it should with easy-to-understand instructions and simple installation.
4.2 / 5
Reputation The reputation of the company as reported by consumers, user reviews, industry feedback and our review/analysis. Customer service and technical support are also responsive and helpful.
4.5 / 5
Options The company offers a variety of medical alert solutions to fit the needs of customers. In-home and cellular medical alert systems as well as optional fall detection and additional accessories.
2.5 / 5

GreatCall Pros and Cons

There’s a lot to like about GreatCall, but there are also some things that aren’t so great. If you’re running short on time, here’s my summary:

What We Like About GreatCall

  • Cellular, waterproof devices: I could use my device anywhere in or out of my home, and even in the shower! With the cellular connection, that means that you don’t need a landline to use GreatCall, a relief as they are becoming increasingly rarer as time goes on.
  • Monthly contracts: I liked that I didn’t have to make a long-term commitment with GreatCall; rather, all their plans are monthly, so I didn’t feel too locked in.
  • 24/7 monitoring: Unlike some other medical alert companies, GreatCall’s professional monitoring is in-house and based in the United States, which definitely made me more comfortable with the system in general.

What We Didn't Like About GreatCall

  • No bundles: GreatCall only has four products, and they don’t offer any discounts for buying more than one at a time.
  • Short battery life: The device I tested only lasted 24 hours before it needed to be recharged, which felt really short to me; I’ve reviewed cellular medical alert systems that can last up to 72 hours, like Bay Alarm Medical, so I had to make sure I remembered to charge my Lively Mobile Plus daily.
  • No add-on accessories: Although I appreciate their Marie Kondo-like minimalism, I wish GreatCall offered some additional options like more attractive neck pendants, lock boxes for easy entrance, or wall buttons.

GreatCall Lively Mobile Pricing
 
Lively Mobile Plus
Basic Plan$19.99/mo + one time $37.49 activation fee
Preferred Plan$24.99/mo + one time $37.49 activation fee
Ultimate Plan$34.99/mo + one time $37.49 activation fee

Available Products and Pricing

Keeping it super simple, there are four main products to choose from GreatCall, either cell phones or medical alert systems.

CategoryProductFree ExtrasUpfront CostMonthly Cost Range
Smart PhoneJitterbug Smart 2Car charger$149.99$19.99- $34.99
Smart PhoneLively FlipCar charger$99.99$19.99- $34.99
Medical Alert ButtonLively Mobile PlusNone$49.99$24.99- $39.99
Medical Alert ButtonLively Wearable 2None$49.99$24.99- $39.99

Cell Phones 

For seniors that are hard of hearing or vision-impaired, these senior-focused phones are a godsend.

Medical Alert Systems

Again, GreatCall has two options when it comes to medical alert systems. I tested out the Lively Mobile Plus, but here’s some basic information about each:

FYI: The Wearable 2 is only compatible with iOS devices 11 or higher or Android devices 7.0 or higher.

Can I Return GreatCall?

After I was done testing it out,  I returned the GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus within 30 days and received a refund.

GreatCall’s Warranty

All GreatCall devices come with a one year warranty, and that includes the batteries and accessories, as well.

Can I Try GreatCall For Free?

When I bought GreatCall, there wasn’t a free trial period, although I returned the system within 30 days for a refund. However, because their contracts are monthly, it’s easy to try GreatCall out without spending a ton of money.

Lively Mobile Plus

Features: All in one cellular medical alert system with a two-way speaker including 5Star Urgent Response.

Extras: GreatCall Link app, fall detection, and product replacement protection can all be added.

Battery: 24-hours

In-home range: n/a, since this is a cellular unit, coverage works anywhere with cellular service

Cost: Starts at $19.99/month

GreatCall Features

Although technically all of GreatCall’s products are medical alert systems, their features aren’t identical. For example, the cell phones lack fall detection, which is a bit of a shame as falls are the leading cause of death and injury for those 65 and up; however, since the phones aren’t officially medical alert systems, I can let it slide. On the other hand, the Lively medical alert systems have fall detection but lack brain games, GreatCall Lives, and personal operators, so it’s important to make sure the device or devices you choose have all the features you want.

FeatureJitterbug Smart2Lively FlipLively Mobile PlusLively Wearable2
Urgent ResponseYesYesYesYes
Urgent CareYesYesYesYes
GreatCall LinkYesYesYesYes
Brain GamesYesYesNoNo
GreatCall RidesYesYesNoNo
Fall DetectionNoNoYesYes
Personal OperatorYesYesNoNo

What do these features entail, exactly? I’m glad you asked.

Tip: For a senior with a chronic condition, the urgent care will allow them to easily connect with a registered nurse or board-certified doctor for free with the Preferred or Ultimate plans.

That about covers it when it comes to GreatCall’s offerings. Now it’s time for me to actually test out a system myself.

Ordering, Setting Up and Testing GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus

After reviewing all of the different options on GreatCall’s website, I went with the Lively Mobile Plus.

Ordering

While I ordered the Lively Mobile Plus online, there’s also an option to call and order. But if you know what you want and you have your credit card ready, ordering online is a faster option. However, if you’re unsure of what you want and need some recommendations, their representatives are very nice and helpful. For me, I knew I wanted to test out all the features, so I picked the Ultimate plan for the full experience.

Did You Know: While you can purchase GreatCall devices directly from their website, for a personalized recommendation, I recommend calling instead.

Setup

The Lively with charging dock

Once I received the Lively Mobile Plus in the mail, I was excited to set it up. When I first opened the box, I saw the main device, plus a charging dock, magnetic lanyard, and clip accessory if I wanted to wear it on my belt. But as far as actual setup went, it only took a few minutes to plug in the charging dock and set the Lively Mobile Plus into it. After a few minutes of charging, I heard a voice say “Setting up device, please wait”, but once that was done, it said “Welcome to 5Star”. And if that’s not obvious enough, the device flashed green, the international signal for “all is good”.

Testing

With GreatCall, testing is part of the setup process. After my device flashed green, I received a call on the Lively Mobile Plus that confirmed yes, it’s working properly. To answer the call, I just pushed the call button. Given this process worked out smoothly, I felt really good knowing that I always had the monitoring center on my side.

Mobile Application

GreatCall is one of the few medical alert companies to offer a corresponding mobile application. While I didn’t have to use it to use their Lively Mobile Plus device, I decided to take a peek anyway. The app is called GreatCall Link on the App store, but if you’re an Android-user, look for the Lively by GreatCall app, which was definitely a bit confusing.

In sum, I used the app to make sure that the Lively Mobile Plus was connected and that fall detection was turned on, to call for help or to reach urgent care, or to invite friends and family to join the app as well. It also had some cool little health tips as well as a step count and history so I could keep track of my exercising. All in all, I could see how this would be useful for a senior, but it’s definitely not necessary, especially for someone tech-averse.

Support

If I needed help or had any questions about my GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus, I could either call the company directly, check out their online help center, which I found really useful, or fill out a form online. I didn’t run into too many problems testing out the Lively Mobile Plus, but it was good to know that if I did, I had options.

What I Paid Monthly with GreatCall

BasicPreferredUltimate
Urgent ResponseYesYesYes
Urgent CareNoYesYes
GreatCall LinkNoYesYes
Fall DetectionNoNoYes
Monthly Price$24.99$29.99$39.99

On a monthly basis, I paid $39.99 to use my Lively Mobile Plus, although there are cheaper options available for $24.99 or $29.99 with the Basic or Preferred plans, respectively. But again, I wanted the Ultimate package mainly because it’s the only plan with fall detection, which, in my opinion, makes it more than worth the extra $10 a month. These plans apply to the Lively Wearable2 as well.

For the Jitterbug phones, pricing worked a bit differently, with monthly costs ranging from $19.99 to $34.99.

BasicPreferredUltimate
5Star ResponseYesYesYes
Brain GamesYesYesYes
Urgent CareNoYesYes
GreatCall LinkNoYesYes
Personal OperatorNoNoYes
Monthly Cost$19.99$24.99$34.99

Now, keep in mind that that monthly fee covers GreatCall’s services specifically, but you could also use the Jitterbug phones for talking and texting only. Here’s what you’ll pay:

Monthly MinutesPriceMonthly TextsPrice
250$14.99500$3
1000$19.991000$5
25000$29.992500$10
Unlimited Talk and Text$39.99Unlimited Texts$15

I was a bit disappointed that GreatCall didn’t offer any bundles, but with only four products available, I guess they don’t want to lower their prices. However, if you want multiple buttons or phones, these monthly costs could definitely add up. If you want to break down GreatCall’s pricing even further, read our GreatCall price page.

Concluding Thoughts

The GreatCall Lively medical alert system.

I had a really good experience buying, setting up, and testing out GreatCall. It’s certainly a top pick when it comes to the best medical alert systems, even if their devices are a bit disappointing when it comes to battery life. But for someone looking for a reliable medical alert system though, GreatCall definitely fits the bill.

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