Sturdy build; Dependable call quality; Easy-to-use, uncluttered interface; Robust emergency and wellness services; Easy photo-sharing
Adding services increases costs ; Battery life and signal strength indicators hidden; Calls and ringtones could be louder
The Jitterbug Plus is a well-designed phone for aging baby boomers and seniors that makes it easy to stay in touch with loved ones and get medical help when needed.
Much like the modern film and music industries, cellphone manufacturers generally market and cater to the young, hip and technologically fluent crowd. GreatCall continues to buck this trend with the Jitterbug Plus, which combines a durable build, easy-to-use menus and multiple emergency and wellness services aimed at baby boomers and seniors who are reluctant to give up their landlines and/or find smartphones intimidating. While the costs that come with combining the multiple services can be prohibitive, those same services can prove to be priceless in case of an emergency.
Volume controls are located on the left side of the phone, while the right side houses a micro USB jack for charging and a 3.5mm connector for headsets and hearing aids. The back of the phone has a hole that you can loop a lanyard cord through. Removing the battery cover proved to be difficult, but it's not something that we suspect will be done often.
When closed, a 1.3-megapixel camera is perched atop the front of the phone, while the 1.3-inch color display directly underneath gives users the date, time and indicates whether the phone is enabled with GreatCall's 5Star service (more on that later). While the megapixel count is dated by today's standards, this phone is geared toward folks who probably don't concern themselves with having a phone that's able to snap high-resolution images.
Flipping the phone's lid up reveals the Plus' 2.2-inch color screen, along with a large, clearly labeled number pad. All of the buttons, along with their labels (which sport white print), are big, making them easy to see. They're also easy to press, and are backlit in white. The layout couldn't be more simple: At the top left are buttons for Speaker and Yes, and on the right is an On/Off and a No button. An Up/Down arrow rocker buttons sits in between. Below these buttons is a standard number pad.
The phone itself sports a durable build and kept on ticking without any issues after our test drops. We evaluated the Plus' build by dropping it onto a hardwood floor from pants pocket height (about 2 1/2 feet) six times: three with the phone open, and three while it was closed.
There's plenty of space and gaps around the text and graphics, making for a clear and uncluttered user experience. We would have liked to see time, signal strength and battery life indicators in the main menu; The latter two are hidden in a menu labeled "Phone Info."
Another nice throwback aspect of the Jitterbug is that, when you flip it open, the phone emits a dial tone, like a traditional landline.
Our interactions with 5Star Urgent Response, LiveNurse and customer service agents were smooth and headache-free. Regardless of which department we contacted, the average wait time to connect to an agent was less than a minute no matter what time of day or night we called. When we contacted 5Star Urgent Response, we asked the agent to add a contact to the Plus' "Phone Book" menu. The agent promptly asked us for the contact's name and number. After about 15 seconds, we were told that the contact had been added, though he cautioned that it may take up to four hours for the contact to appear in the "Phone Book" menu. Despite that, the contact appeared less than 20 minutes after the call ended. The call itself lasted roughly two minutes.
Other services include the Wellness Call, a weekly 4-5 minute motivational call, and a Check-in Call, which will call you up to six times a day and notify a friend or relative if you don't respond. Each of these services cost $4 per month.
While MedCoach is free, 5Star Urgent Response costs $14.99 per month, and LiveNurse will set you back $3.99. Both 5Star Urgent Response and LiveNurse offer a 30-day free trial, but if you opt for a number of services, the monthly rate for using a Jitterbug Plus can skyrocket quickly.
Voice Quality, Ringer Volume and Battery Life
Whether using the headset or the speakerphone, calls sounded very clear over Verizon Wireless' network, even when we tested it through a tornado warning (we were indoors at the time). The maximum volume on the headset and speakerphone could be louder though, as audio can get drowned out when traversing through a busy area. The same goes for the ringer's volume.
Plans and Pricing
When combined with the multitude of medical and wellness services, owning a Jitterbug Plus can be as pricey as a regular smartphone plan. The Jitterbug Plus is currently offered from GreatCall's site for $99, plus a one-time activation fee of $35. Plans start at $14.99 per month for 50 minutes, and go up to $79.99, which gets you unlimited minutes, texting, photo sharing, voicemail, LiveNurse and the Wellness Call.
|Memory Expansion Type|
|Display (main)||2.2-inch color LCD|
|Display (secondary)||1.3-inch color LCD|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 2.0 EDR|
|Front Camera Resolution||1.3MP|
|Talk / Standby Time||5 hours/25 days|
|Size||3.9 x 2 x 0.77 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|