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Written by
Updated onJun. 06, 2022

Jitterbug Phone Review: The Flip2 And Smart3

Key Takeaways

  • The Jitterbug phone, made by Lively, comes in two models: the Flip2 and Smart3 and can be used as a medical alert device with the Health and Safety package. 
  • The phone is designed specifically for older adults with voice-to-text features, large buttons, an amplified speaker, and X…
  • You can customize your Jitterbug plan, from pay-by-the-text options to all-inclusive packages.
  • The Urgent Care feature allows you to consult with a board-certified doctor or registered nurse (RN) directly from your Jitterbug phone at any time.

Jitterbug Phone Overview

Jitterbug phones are in a category of their own. A hybrid of a simple phone and a medical alert system, the phone offers supportive technology for those who want to safely age in place. The cell phone’s intuitive interface makes it uncomplicated to connect with family to summon help in an emergency.

There are two Jitterbug phone options: the Flip2 (flip phone) and Smart3 (smartphone). Both the flip phone and smartphone are simplified versions of typical cell phones on the market, so users are able to get the most from all the phone’s features whether or not they are tech-savvy.

Jitterbug phones are senior-friendly in that they have a number of features to accommodate an aging adult’s health, safety, and comfort. First, the home screen is reliably simple for easy interfacing with the main menu. Features like the backlit keypad and large numerals, voice-typing, and amplified speakers accommodate those with vision and hearing impairments.

Dr. Lynn Anderson, who holds a Ph.D. in Natural Health, bought a Jitterbug phone for her elderly father. “He was having a hard time seeing the buttons on his cell phone,” she said. “When he changed to Jitterbug, suddenly he had buttons he could see and an easy way to use a cell phone.” She added that the Jitterbug flip phone for older adults accommodates those with dexterity issues: “Not only are the numbers bigger, but it is easier for arthritic hands to use.”

Lively’s Health and Safety packages make Jitterbug devices more useful than the average cell phone—these plans push Lively phones into the category of medical alert devices. Lively products are continually ranked among the best medical alert systems, and their phones also offer 24/7 emergency monitoring. Of course, a Lively phone isn’t your classic Bluetooth medical alert system with fall detection, and unfortunately, fall detection technology can’t be added to a Jitterbug. For fall detection, you may want to consider the Lively Wearable2 pendant.

Pros and Cons of Jitterbug Phones

Pros
  • Both phones have a large screen, simple navigation, voice-to-text communication, powerful speaker, and other features designed specifically for older adults

  • Can be used a medical alert device with an emergency button that connects to a 24/7 monitoring center

  • The Smart3 $149.99 equipment cost is affordable compared to standard smartphones

  • Multiple health and safety packages and data plans to choose from

Cons
  • Fall detection not available

  • Options are limited to just two styles: the Flip2 and Smart3

  • Any data over your monthly allowance costs 10 cents per megabyte (MB)

How Are Jitterbug Phones Different From Regular Phones?

The Jitterbug Flip2 and Jitterbug Smart3 are similar to many flip phones and smartphones. The big difference is that Lively cuts out complicated, unnecessary features—then adds basic health features to keep users safe.

Traditional cell phones are not the safest personal emergency response systems, since they rely on users having the ability to dial 911. With Lively’s health and safety package, Jitterbug phones become a medical alert device. If a user experiences a fall or other medical emergency, they can hit the Urgent Response button to reach a trained professional any time, day or night. The system tracks users through GPS so Lively can send a medical team, locksmith, or roadside assistance to the user’s exact location.

Get exclusive support with your Jitterbug phone that isn’t available with a standard cell phone. Top-tier Jitterbug packages include 24/7 access to medical professionals and caregiver support. Enjoy a personal operator who can help you with customer support or technical questions, as well as an urgent care service. Connect with an registered or doctor directly from your Jitterbug phone for around-the-clock medical advice.

How Do Jitterbug Phones Work?

Jitterbug phones are designed as both a straightforward cell phone and a health device for older adults. Your experience will largely depend on which phone you choose: do you prefer to keep things simple with the Flip2, or do you want the Smart3’s large screen, email access, video chatting, and navigation features?

Lively’s Health and Safety packages are what make Jitterbug phones a medical device. In case of a fall, the phone can act as a medical alert device by connecting you to trained professionals. Depending on your subscription, your phone may include an emergency button, access to urgent care, help from a Jitterbug operator, and even the ability to arrange for rides and medication refills.

Jitterbug offers two “Talk and Text” plans. Your cell phone plan decides how much you can do with your phone. Users who want a phone for the basics—calls and a little texting—can stick with the simple Talk and Text plan for $14.99 per month. Those who intend on making lots of calls and want to text freely should go with the Unlimited Talk and Text Plan for $19.99 per month.

From there, Smart3 users should tack on a data plan to use internet-based activities like checking email, surfing the internet, or using navigation. You can buy these plans at 100MB, 500MB, 3GB, 5GB, or unlimited data options, depending on how much you expect to use the internet.

How to Purchase a Jitterbug Phone

Sign-Up Process

Signing up for your Jitterbug is as easy as purchasing your desired model from the Lively website. To get started with the Jitterbug Flip2 or Smart3, you won’t need to sign any long-term contracts. In fact, you have a 30-day trial to test out the device before you commit. If you don’t like the phone, you’re only out the $10 restocking fee.

Installation And Setup

Jitterbug phones do require a $35 activation fee. Once your phone arrives, head to the Lively site and click “activate now.” The website will guide you through the activation process, including transferring your existing number to your new phone.

Ease Of Use

Both Jitterbug phone models are made to be intuitive. Browse customer reviews and you’ll see the phrase “user-friendly” over and over. Between the large text, list menu, voice control, and large buttons, Lively phones are designed to win over users who might be intimidated by conventional smartphones.

Customer Service

Jitterbug’s customer support is built right into the phone’s design. The Personal Operator service calls on traditional operators, but this feature includes troubleshooting issues with the device, making calls, and even arranging Lyft rides.

Outside of this extra feature, the regular Lively customer support team delivers strong service. Customers rate the Smart with 4 stars and the Flip with 4.1 stars on Consumer Affairs, where users often reference reliable support when troubleshooting issues with the device.

24/7 Monitoring

In an emergency, users just push the Star button to connect to the 24/7 emergency monitoring center. After confirming your location and assessing the situation, the Jitterbug operator can summon the exact help you need, whether that’s a loved one to check in, professional medical help, roadside assistance, or even a locksmith.

Choosing the Right Jitterbug Phone

Both of the Jitterbug phones, the Flip2 and Smart3, are crafted with an eye to health, safety, and ease of use. The phones include large text and simple interfaces, along with health features like 24/7 access to Urgent Care advice from board-certified doctors and nurses.

Also, each phone doubles as a medical alert device. You only need to push the help button to be connected with Lively’s around-the-clock emergency monitoring center. Trained operators assess your situation and decide whether to send emergency assistance to your location. Both devices also offer Lively Link, a way of looping in selected contacts so that they are also notified in an emergency.

While the two phones share overlapping services, they vary widely in options, extra features, and user experience. Consider your own lifestyle and preferences to decide which phone is the best fit for your needs.

Jitterbug Flip2

Jitterbug Flip2

The Jitterbug Flip2 has the simplicity of a flip phone with more modern features. It’s equipped with a built-in reading light and magnifier for illuminating and enlarging reading materials. Extra large, legible buttons make texting on the keypad easier for vision-impaired users. The flip phone comes in two colors, red and graphite, in a sleek, clamshell exterior.

Fussing with the menu and apps can be tricky for those with vision or dexterity issues, which is why the Flip2 is equipped with Amazon Alexa. Users can use their voice to access many phone features through Alexa, like calling or texting, setting reminders, and checking the weather. Just address your phone “Alexa” to activate your phone’s listening ability.

You hope to never have to push it, but the big red star on the center of your keypad is one of the most supportive Flip2 features. This SOS button is active if you’ve opted for Urgent Response. It allows you to easily contact a trained operator to assess the situation, 24/7.

Jitterbug Smart 3

Jitterbug Smart 3

The Jitterbug Smart 3 is like a traditional smartphone with some key differences. Where many smartphones have complex features, lots of apps, and features for customization, the Jitterbug smartphone is made with simplicity and safety at the forefront.

The interface is easy to read and simple to navigate, especially for users with low vision or who just aren’t tech-savvy. The text automatically reads as large and highly legible. While the Jitterbug flip phone is the simpler option, the smartphone’s larger screen, at 6.2 inches, could be the better fit for those concerned with legibility. The screen also allows for sharp images during video calls.

For those with a hearing impairment, the speakers amplify sound. Some customer reviews advise switching the phone’s audio to the speakerphone during calls to discern speech with crisper sound. Voice-typing allows you to communicate with loved ones by speaking your message into the chat box rather than typing out your message on the keypad.

The phone seconds as a safety device for older adults.  You can address medical issues right from your phone—board-certified doctors and nurses are a phone call away. This is one of the main features that makes the Jitterbug a favorite of caregivers; they know their loved ones have a medical professional in their pocket.

The Jitterbug phone can also act as a medical alert device in an emergency. If you opt for the Health and Safety Packages, your phone is monitored by a 24/7 response team. Press the emergency alert button to be in direct contact with a trained emergency operator who can track your phone’s location through GPS and dispatch assistance.

Health and Safety Packages Overview

Jitterbug phones can be used as a typical flip phone or smartphone. By adding on a Lively Health and Safety Package, these phones double as a medical alert device. Depending on the package, users have access to health support including 24/7 emergency monitoring, 24/7 medical questions, and even ride scheduling services.

Basic Package

The Basic Package can be added to a data plan for $19.99 per month. At this level, you’ll have access to 24/7 Urgent Response services. By pushing your phone’s help button, your location is automatically identified and operators will assess and decide if a medical response is necessary.

Preferred Package

The $24.99-per-month Preferred Package includes Urgent Response along with Urgent Care. This service includes consults with board-certified nurses and doctors around the clock. You can call any time with questions about a medication side effect or for health advice. Additionally, this level includes Lively Link, which allows you to select caregiver contacts to loop in the case of a medical emergency.

Ultimate Package

For $34.99 per month, you’ll get all the benefits of the Preferred Package with one luxury addition: the Personal Operator. You’ll have quick access to a friendly voice who can assist with scheduling Lyft rides, finding phone numbers and making calls, or giving driving directions.

Pricing Overview and Breakdown

The Jitterbug Flip2 requires a $99.99 equipment fee and has two pricing options. The Value Talk and Text plan is $14.99 per month, but it costs an additional 10 cents per text. This plan is made for those who text very little. The cost of the Unlimited Talk and Text plan is a blanket price of $19.99 a month for unlimited calls and texts.

The Jitterbug Smart3 requires a $149.99 equipment fee. Plans for the simplified smartphone start at 100MB per month for $2.49. You can get 500MB for $5 a month, 3GB for $10 a month, and 5GB for $15 a month. The highest-tier plan offers unlimited calls and texting for $30 per month. Note that the Jitterbug flip phone is not internet-equipped.

With both plans, going over your data plan costs 10 cents per MB. Both phones also require an activation fee of $35.

Why Choose a Jitterbug Phone?

These phones can be useful for older adults because of the larger buttons that are easier to see and touch. The added benefit of having a Health and Safety plan gives older adults and their loved ones peace of mind.

Why You Can Trust Our Expert Review

You deserve the best products for a better quality of life. As such, we strive to create honest, helpful reviews. Our experts independently research and recommend products we believe provide value in the lives of our readers. 

We’ve spent collectively more than 1,700 hours conducting in-depth research on medical alert systems. Our content is medically reviewed and unbiased to help you choose the right medical alert system for you or your loved one.

We did the following when researching Jitterbug phones and their medical alert features: 

  • Engaged in ongoing independent research
  • Consulted with geriatricians and adult caregivers
  • Mystery shopped the brands
  • Surveyed medical alert system users
  • Interviewed experts in the field
  • Read verified customer reviews from trusted third parties such as Better Business Bureau and Consumer Reports

Bottom Line

We recommend Jitterbug phones for older adults, as the hybrid design of these Lively phones make them useful as both an intuitive cell phone and a medical alert system. At the most basic level, the Jitterbug plan keeps users connected with family and friends. With add-ons and accessories, like Urgent Care and the Personal Operator, they really can improve one’s quality of life.

The Flip2 is well-suited to those who don’t want to fuss with lots of extra apps, but want a reliable and straightforward device that supports texting and phone calls—both accessible with voice-control—and safety features like 24/7 monitoring. The Smart3 is a step up from the flip phone, and users report that it’s less intimidating than your typical smartphone. The intuitive menu is easy to navigate, and the new model’s even larger screen makes it easier to enjoy video calls, maps, and legible text. The range of Jitterbug plans make these lively phones super customizable to every user.

Frequently Asked Questions

Lively’s Jitterbug phones operate on the Verizon network.

WRITTEN BY

Corey Whelan is a writer, health care professional, and Brooklyn, New York native. She is a reproductive health advocate who has helped countless patients through the trials and triumphs of infertility and adoption over the past 25 years. Corey's passion is sharing her knowledge of health and wellness through her writing, and no topic is off limits. She's mom to two grown children and two rescue dogs who captured her heart.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY

Jenny is an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner in NYC with a passion for working with aging adults and their family members. Prior to her clinical training at Vanderbilt School of Nursing, she worked in business and medical research at Harvard Business School and Massachusetts General Hospital. As a Caregiving Coach at Givers, Jenny helps family members manage the financial, emotional, and educational stresses of caring for their loved ones who are aging in place.