GreatCall Cell Phones & Medical Alert Systems

Senior-friendly mobile phones and wearable medical alert buttons

8.3 / 10 Our rating methodology (aka SecureScoreTM is a combination of our research, product testing, customer sentiment and several other factors.
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Travis Goodreauhttps://www.safehome.org/security-advisors/travis-goodreau/

Overview of GreatCall

GreatCall isn’t your average medical alert brand. Both a cell phone provider and a medical alert company, it offers unique solutions for reaching emergency responders. You can also use their exclusive concierge services, like on-demand phone consultations with doctors.

The most popular GreatCall products are their Jitterbug mobile phones, which we recently reviewed in detail along with GreatCalls wearable alerts. Jitterbugs have big buttons and other senior-friendly features, and we like that they’re powered by Verizon, America’s fastest cellular network.1 Also impressive is GreatCall’s medical alert button with GPS, Lively Mobile Plus. Like another favorite of ours, Philips LifeLine, this device/plan offers ultra-fast response time.2

Did You Know: GreatCall Jitterbug cell phones can call for help from across the house when synced to a GreatCall pendant.

From what we’ve seen, GreatCall is a leader in mobile phones and alert systems for seniors. But you’re probably wondering about costs and fees, and whether or not GreatCall has a plan that will work for your budget and lifestyle. Don’t worry, we’re going to take a closer look at their products, pricing, and services to see how this brand compares to other top contenders like Medical Guardian. It’s all right here in our in-depth look at GreatCall.

Key Features

The best features of this system

  • In-Home & Mobile Monitoring
  • Cellular Monitoring
  • Fall Detection
  • GPS Location Tracking
  • Low Monitoring Fees

GreatCall Devices & Pricing

GreatCall Equipment

GreatCall Equipment

It’s important to know that GreatCall charges separately for equipment and service (as many companies only charge for service). Here’s a look at the regular prices for their Jitterbug phones and Lively wearables. If you’re on a tight budget, AARP membership discounts and other savings might apply.

GreatCall DeviceGPSWaterproofFall DetectionEquipment Price
Jitterbug Smart2Built-inNoNo$149.99
Jitterbug FlipBuilt-inNoNo$99.99
Lively Mobile PlusBuilt-inYesYes$49.99
Lively Wearable2From synced phoneNo, but water resistant (shower safe)Yes$49.99

Alert Systems & Packages

Note that GreatCall currently sells the four medical alert devices as outlined above. These are the Jitterbug Flip phone, the Jitterbug Smart2 phone, the Lively Wearable2 button that syncs with mobile phones, and the Lively Mobile Plus button with its own cellular chip for sending alerts. We think it’s a decent product lineup, as many brands only offer two or three options. But let’s see what each of the packages and plans offer you, and who they’re best for.

GreatCall Mobile Phones

Jitterbug Flip

GreatCall Jitterbug Flip Phone

GreatCall Jitterbug Flip Phone

The ever-popular Jitterbug Flip is a folding mobile phone made by Samsung. Easy to use, it has a simple large-print menu and big keypad buttons, including a red HELP button for emergency calls. Included perks are dialing and texting by voice, a 2MP camera, Brain Games for mental sharpness, and a reading light with magnifier. The phone has 1GB of storage and costs $99.99. However, the no-contract service costs start at $14.99 per month, so that’s something to keep in mind. Jitterbug phones use the Verizon network.

Best For: The Jitterbug Flip is best for seniors who prefer a simple mobile phone with around-the-clock protection

Jitterbug Smart2

Jitterbug Smart2

Jitterbug Smart2

As the bigger brother to the Jitterbug Flip, the Jitterbug Smart2 is a Samsung Android phone with 16GB, a 5.5” screen, and a choice of two setups. With the simple layout, apps appear in a list. With the advanced layout, apps show in the traditional way with icons (we like this one!). With either layout, a digital 5Star button shows at the bottom of the screen. Special features include voice dialing/texting, a 13MP camera, Brain Games, and an earbuds jack. The full price is $149.99, and service starts around $18 per month.

Best For: The Jitterbug Smart2 is best for seniors who want a more advanced mobile phone experience with 24/7 emergency coverage.

FYI: In most cases, you can transfer your current mobile number to a Jitterbug phone. We always recommend doing so to keep things simple.

GreatCall Wearable Alert Systems

Lively Wearable 2

GreatCall Lively Wearable 2

GreatCall Lively Wearable 2

This innovative button can upgrade your current smartphone with fall detection, 5Star emergency service, Urgent Care medical calls, and other GreatCall benefits*. You can wear it around your wrist or neck, and it works when within Bluetooth range. We like how it’s waterproof (approved for swimming) and works for about four months per battery. Also, it doubles as a pedometer, with step counts displaying in the app. The full price for this handy device is $49.99. And the monitoring starts at $24.99 per month, contract-free.
*Compatible with iOS 8.0 and later, and Android 4.4 and later

Best For: The Lively Wearable2 is best for folks who want advanced emergency alert coverage, but without investing in a new phone

Lively Mobile Plus

GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus

GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus

While we think other GreatCall products are more unique, Lively Mobile Plus is similar to all-in-one GPS buttons from other medical alert brands. A big advantage though is its average response time of under 10 seconds (lighting-fast from what we’ve seen). Also, it offers two-way voice and uses Advanced GPS for more precise locating. This device is rain-safe and can clip to your waistband, pocket, or purse. It holds a charge for up to 80 hours. The full price is $49.99. And 24/7 monitoring starts at $24.99 per month.

Best For: The Lively Mobile Plus is best for seniors who are seeking a convenient alert system with GPS and ultra-fast response time

Did You Know: If you call 911 from a regular cell phone, accurate GPS info isn’t necessarily relayed to dispatchers!3 Services like GreatCall can help pinpoint your location.

GreatCall Accessories & Costs

You’ll probably want a few accessories if you choose GreatCall for yourself or a loved one. We found that the pager-sized Lively Mobile Plus is most convenient when used with a belt clip ($9.99). But if you want fall detection, you’ll need to wear it on a lanyard ($14.99). Also, it’s wise to use a screen protector, especially with the Jitterbug Smart2 ($9.99).
Here’s a helpful pricing chart of these and other GreatCall accessories, add-ons, and upgrades.

GreatCall AccessoryOne-Time CostProduct Description
Gel Phone Case$19.99Protective wraparound case for Jitterbug Smart2; choice of red or blue
Car Charger$24.9912V charger with 40″ coiled cable; versions for Jitterbug Flip and Smart2
Screen Protector$9.99An extra layer of protection for a Jitterbug phone; guards the screen against scratches
Bluetooth Headset$29.99Wireless Insignia® headset for streaming music and answering phone calls; adjustable for comfort
Lanyard$14.99A neck cord in black for Lively Mobile Plus; keeps the medical alert button easily accessible and facilitates fall detection
Lively Mobile Plus Belt Clip$9.99For attaching the GPS button to a belt, purse, or pocket

GreatCall Services

Special services — like GreatCall Rides, for instance — help set this brand apart from other cell phone and medical alert providers we’ve tested. Some services are included with GreatCall’s $19.99 per month Basic plan, while others are only available with the Preferred ($24.99) or Ultimate ($34.99) plans. The nice thing is that they are available one way or another, which is more than most brands can say.

Here’s a roundup of the special services you can expect with GreatCall.

GreatCall ServiceService Description
Fall DetectionSends a fall-specific emergency signal if a wearable detects a sudden slip or fall
5Star Monitoring24/7 connection to expert emergency response personnel in case of emergency
Urgent CareOn-demand phone consultations with doctors and RNs, plus an audio library on common health concerns
Personal OperatorUnlimited help with phone numbers, addresses, appointment scheduling, and more
GreatCall LinkMobile app that lets caregivers use GPS tracking and receive alerts if the subscriber calls for help
GreatCall RidesConcierge service for arranging Lyft rides with drivers trained to work with seniors

Now remember, not all of the services listed above are available across all devices, packages, or plans. So we created the table below to summarize the availability of services for each GreatCall device. This should help you narrow down your choices to find an option that works for you or your loved one.

GreatCall ServiceJitterbug Smart2Jitterbug FlipLively Wearable2Lively Mobile Plus
Fall Detection
5Star Monitoring
Urgent Care
Personal OperatorXX
GreatCall Link
GreatCall RidesXX

GreatCall Current Deal

Save 50 percent: For a limited time Lively Mobile Plus is selling for $24.99 on the company’s website. Another thing to consider is a longstanding GreatCall deal offered through AARP. If you’re an AARP member, you can save $5 per month on monitoring or cell service. Not bad.

Note that shipping is always free, and other discounts might be active on a rolling basis. See GreatCall’s website for the latest special promotions, deals, discounts, and savings.

Overall Value of GreatCall

GreatCall 5Star Urgent Response

5Star Urgent Response

Choosing a GreatCall alert system can be smart if you’re on a budget. If you or your loved one needs cell phone service anyway, then a GreatCall Jitterbug phone wouldn’t cost you any extra per month. Mind you, GreatCall’s lowest advertised rate of $14.99 doesn’t cover everything we typically look for in a medical alert system.

Pro Tip: If you upgrade with texting and data plans and concierge services, it’s still much cheaper than your typical mobile phone plan – with the added value of emergency alert coverage, a personal operator, and other senior-friendly features.

As for the wearable units, here too they offer competitive rates, starting at $24.99 per month. It’s a bit disappointing that the equipment isn’t free, unlike with Bay Alarm Medical and some other favorite alert systems of ours. Also a bit discouraging is the $35 activation fee; it’s not the norm with medical alert buttons. But we think GreatCall wearables are superior to other systems out there in terms of response time, plus they have GPS.

All in all, you could spend slightly less per month with a home-only alternative from Bay Alarm Medical, Life Alert, or a similar provider. But for some of the best plans, packages, and pricing, we have to say that GreatCall is indeed a “great call.”

GreatCall Company Background

GreatCall was founded in 2005 by a southern California couple already known for revolutionizing mobile communications. Arlene Harris had developed game-changing code for pagers, and Martin Cooper was considered the father of the cell phone.4

The original purpose of GreatCall was to showcase Harris’s new code, called SOS, for emergency communications. The first Jitterbug phones with this technology hit the market in 2006. Well-designed and built by Samsung, they were well-received from the start.5 Within a few years, GreatCall added services such as Urgent Care for on-demand medical calls and MedCoach for text-based pill reminders.

Today the company is owned by Best Buy and maintains an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.6

GreatCall FAQs

Does GreatCall require a long-term contract?

No, all the devices offer month-to-month service. You can cancel anytime without a fee.

Do they charge for activation?

Yes, each account has a $35 activation charge.

What is 5Star?

5Star is GreatCall’s operator network. Agents can see the user’s location and provide help whether a person is lost, feels nervous walking alone, or is having a medical emergency. 5Star agents are trained in gerontology and social work and are IAED-certified.

What happens if I dial 911?

Jitterbug phones have dedicated buttons for reaching 5Star agents. If you call 911 instead, 5Star will get notification. An agent can join the call and give your location to the 911 operator. The agent can also provide relevant information about your health. GreatCall will stay on the line until help arrives. Meanwhile the agent can reach out to your personal emergency contacts and add a registered nurse to the call.

Which GreatCall product is best?

If you could use a new smartphone, then Jitterbug Smart2 is best. If you’d like a simpler phone, Jitterbug Flip is best. You could also get a Lively Wearable2 to connect with a Jitterbug or your current phone. The fourth option, no phone required, is the Lively Mobile Plus GPS button.

Can I return GreatCall equipment?

Yes, returns are accepted within 30 days. However, refunds aren’t given on phones that have used 30 minutes or more of air time.

Citations
SafeHome.org only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Verizon Communications. (28 January, 2020.). Verizon Wins RootMetrics Overall Performance Award for Record 13th Consecutive Time.
    https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/01/28/1975849/0/en/Verizon-wins-RootMetrics-overall-network-performance-award-for-record-13th-consecutive-time.html

  2. GreatCall. (Retrieved 20 May, 2020). Lively Mobile Plus.
    https://www.greatcall.com/landing/lively-mobile/bestbuy

  3. WPTV.com. Smink, S. (14 May, 2018). Why 911 Can’t Always Find You If You Call from a Call Phone.
    https://www.wptv.com/news/local-news/investigations/why-911-cant-always-find-you-if-you-call-from-a-cell-phone

  4. Encyclopedia.com. (Retrieved 22 May, 2020). Martin Cooper.
    https://www.encyclopedia.com/people/literature-and-arts/music-history-composers-and-performers-biographies/martin-cooper#2506300048

  5. NYTimes.com. Pogue, D. (28 December, 2006). Brilliant Ideas That Found a Welcome.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/28/technology/28pogue.html

  6. GreatCall: Better Business Bureau® Profile. (Retrieved May 20, 2020). BBB.
    https://www.bbb.org/us/ca/carlsbad/profile/cell-phone-supplies/great-call-1126-8004087

Reviewed By
Travis Goodreau
Safety and Security Advisor
Travis is a retired Burglary Detective, having tallied 5,000+ burglary and theft cases throughout his career. He also served as an Arson Investigator, where he cracked the case of a serial arsonist, and made the arrest and prosecuted the would-be bomber of ABC-7 Studio in LA. We couldn’t be happier to have him as a Safety and Security Advisor. Learn more about Travis here
Written By
Andrew Garcia
Lead Security Editor
As Lead Security Editor, Andrew strategically guides SafeHome.org and the resources we publish. He holds a BA in business, and has 10+ years of experience in content development. Today, Andrew edits and publishes articles, guides, and other resources to meet our rigorous standards. Learn more about Andrew here

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