Landline-free medical alert systems with upgrades for caregivers & style-conscious seniors
We’ve been testing MobileHelp for years now. We’ve always named them among the best affordable medical alert brands, and this time’s no different. During our latest in-depth testing of MobileHelp, we discovered that modern features really set the brand apart.
For starters, most of their systems come with a cellular chip (they work without landlines) and send alerts over AT&T’s 4G network. Also, MobileHelp can monitor TrelaWear jewelry-inspired pendants. So if you’re looking for fashion-forward peace of mind for yourself or a loved one, this might be a good fit. And they also offer a neat tablet-based alert system, which actually convinced one of our “forever young” parents to get emergency backup.
That said, we aren’t wild about all MobileHelp equipment. For on-the-go coverage especially, we’ve found certain competitors to have better alternatives. And their devices aren’t waterproof, which we didn’t love. So if you’re wanting to get the scoop on MobileHelp — the good and the bad — we’re sharing it all with you today. So let’s get started!
MobileHelp was founded in 2006. The brand quickly gained traction, and now they make equipment for other brands we research and test like Medical Guardian and ADT. The company is directed by CEO Robert S. Flippo, formerly of Motorola and Zoom.
Here’s a sampling of MobileHelp’s major milestones:
MobileHelp now serves more than 250,000 people. They also operate ClearArch, which helps companies deliver telehealth services. Needless to say, MobileHelp is a well-established leader in the field. But let’s see how well their devices perform in the real world, and how they can help seniors age with confidence.
Did You Know: MobileHelp’s maximum in-home range of 1,400 feet is the best in the business. Limits of 500 to 1,000 feet are most common.
Signup was the hardest part of our MobileHelp experience. To be honest, the choices were confusing. For instance, how is ‘On-the-Go’ different from ‘Complete Protection’? We studied product descriptions for longer than we’d like… then called to confirm our understanding.
Fortunately, a MobileAgent expert answered right away, and thankfully there was no sales pressure whatsoever! So we ordered MobileHelp online. Here are a few things to note:
Installing a standard cellular MobileHelp system is easy: All we did was plug the base station’s electrical cord into a wall outlet. A green light shows that the system is ready for use. If we choose the landline system, we’ll just have the extra task of connecting a phone jack cord, which is included.
Setting up Mobile Touch (the tablet system) is more time-intensive. It has a user-friendly wizard, but as caretakers, we’d handle setup for a subscriber. We can test a system right away with its dedicated Test button. We like this feature because it feels relatively low stress; other brands have you press an emergency button, then explain to the operator, “This is only a test.”
Using MobileHelp equipment is easy. When we pressed the wearable help button or wall button, we got an operator on the line pretty fast. All the base stations have Help buttons, too. If we like, we can carry the Mobile Device (the portable base station) and press its button; we don’t need a wearable except for convenience. And if we upgrade with fall detection, a neck pendant will usually call for help automatically if we take a tumble.
Pro Tip: We always recommend signing up with the fall detection upgrade, but it’s important to know that the technology isn’t 100% accurate.
We found MobileHelp pendants to be comfortable to wear and quite fashionable. The standard neck pendant isn’t the smallest on the market, but it isn’t too chunky for comfort. The TrelaWear pendant is lightweight (1.8 oz) and discreet; in our opinion, it can complement almost any woman’s wardrobe from Gen Z on up.
As for wearing a MobileHelp button on the wrist, we like how any standard watch band is compatible. This helps make our emergency backup look discreet. A hypoallergenic (Latex-free) wristband is included, too.
MobileHelp works with Rapid Response3 to monitor alerts 24/7. Rapid Response has been in business since the early 1990s and is known for fast average response times; with their partnership, MobileHelp recently reported a 17-second average. Dispatchers speak English and Spanish, and they have access to translators for hundreds of other languages. And judging from anonymous employee reviews, workers feel taken care of in the Rapid Response culture.4
Their call centers are in Syracuse, NY, and Corona, CA. We think the bicoastal setup is strategic in case of an earthquake, hurricane, or other disasters. We call this “redundant monitoring” in the business. And in this context, redundant is good! Overall, we were quite impressed with MobileHelp’s 24/7 monitoring.
MobileHelp’s customer support phone line is open Monday through Saturday for non-emergencies. The hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. We should point out that competitors have Sunday hours, but still MobileHelp is easy enough to reach. MobileHelp also has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.5 In our experience speaking with their agents, we think that’s a fair assessment.
FYI: If you aren’t happy with your MobileHelp medical alert system, you can return it within 30 days for a prorated refund.
As noted earlier, we find MobileHelp’s equipment categories a bit confusing. So we’ll simplify things for you with new categories: “Protection At Home” and “Protection At Home & Away.” Fall detection and other upgrades can be added to any system below.
As you might guess, MobileHelp Classic is the oldest option in the lineup. It’s also the most affordable: Monitoring costs just $19.95 per month if we don’t add fall detection or other special features, and we can go without a long-term agreement. The equipment is provided free of charge, which we really like. Classic gave us up to 1,400-ft range from our home base station, and it has a sensitive microphone and a high-volume speaker for clear communication from across the house. The main features are:
Did You Know: If we’d prefer a go-anywhere medical alert system, MobileHelp Classic can be upgraded to one of the Duo kits described below.
MobileHelp Touch is a tablet computer-based kit. We like how it’s smaller than a typical medical alert system and also looks more discreet. When the system’s in standby mode, the screen can rotate images from our photo gallery, which is pretty neat. MobileHelp ships the tablet preloaded with apps for emergency alerts, brain games, messaging, medication alerts and more. Monitoring this system costs about $50 per month and up, and a six-month contract is required. Equipment is free and we weren’t charged an activation fee. The features include:
MobileHelp Wired Home is a landline-based medical alert system. Its base station keeps in touch from 1,300 feet, which in our experience, almost no other landline system can beat. And it works outside, too. Monitoring starts around $22 per month with a long-term agreement, or $24.95 if we choose month-to-month payment. The features include:
Important: MobileHelp buttons connect with base units for voice communication. The Classic base, which is sized like an answering machine, has a max range of 1,400 feet (almost five football fields). The Mobile Device (a portable base) is sized like a deck of cards and can work within 600 feet. The tablet base has range up to 350 feet.
MobileHelp Solo is MobileHelp’s most affordable “go anywhere” medical alert system. We did like the low monthly price; however, you’ll have to charge the mobile base daily, which is a weakness in our eyes. This system includes one wearable button for the neck or wrist, and MobileHelp doesn’t charge for the equipment. Monitoring costs $27.45 per month with an annual agreement, or $37.95 month-to-month. Main features include:
The “Duo” in MobileHelp Duo refers to the system’s two cellular base stations: one for home and one for away. To monitor a wrist button or pendant, we get the same long-range base station that’s featured in the Classic home-only system, plus the portable base for MobileHelp Solo. Keep in mind that the base stations are used for voice communication; there’s no audio in the wearables. And again, the equipment is free. Monitoring starts as low as $30 per month with a 12-month deal, while month-to-month monitoring costs $41.95 per month. Features include:
Mobile Duo, as the name suggests, is meant for two people. It consists of two waterproof buttons with portable base stations. The buttons get up to 600-ft range from their bases. We found the monitoring prices to be among the industry’s lowest for two on-the-go buttons. Service starts at around $34 per month with an annual agreement, and $44.95 when we choose month-by-month billing. Main features include:
These two charts show MobileHelp’s most recent prices. Keep in mind that prices reflect discounts for new customers; after a year the monitoring prices increase unless we’ve enrolled in MobileHelp Connect Premium.
|Protection At Home||MobileHelp Classic||MobileHelp Touch||MobileHelp Wired Home|
|Three Months||$19.95 per month||N/A||$24.95 per month|
|Six Months||$19.95 per month||$299.70||$22.95 per month|
|12 Months||$19.95 per month||$599.40||$22.95 per month|
|Fall Detection||$10 per month||$10 per month||$10 per month|
|Protection At Home & Away||MobileHelp Solo||MobileHelp Duo||Mobile Duo|
|Fall Detection||$10 per month||$10 per month||$10 per month|
If you’re looking for an alert system for yourself or a loved one, add-ons are a great way to customize your system to suit your needs. Thankfully, MobileHelp offers various free and paid features. Here’s a rundown of what to expect:
Neck pendants can process data that indicate a likely slip or fall. They can sense a quick change in our position in relation to the ground. If the data suggest a fall, our system will call for help automatically. This feature costs $10 per month with any MobileHelp subscription.
Remember: Fall detection can be life-saving, but it isn’t foolproof. If able, a person should push the button when they need help.
With any home-only system, MobileHelp offers a second button for no extra monitoring charge. Two people can share an account, or one person can have the choice of wearing a neck pendant or wrist pendant at any given time.
A good handful of medical alert companies have lock boxes as an equipment option these days. A lock box is a combination lock that stores our house key for emergency responders. With systems for protection at home and away, MobileHelp provides a lockbox for free. For home-only protection, the box costs $29.95.
TrelaWear jewelry-inspired brass pendants have a 600-ft range from the Classic base station and Mobile Device. They work up to 250 feet from MobileHelp Touch. Recharging isn’t required, as the button battery life is three years. Prices vary, but you can expect to pay $99 or less for each pendant, and you get a choice of designs. Purchase includes a couple months of free monitoring.
This add-on is for MobileHelp buttons used away from home. The black leather design lends a discreet look to the system. Sometimes MobileHelp includes this carrying case for free. We’ve also seen it sold for up to $14.95.
Standard MobileHelp pendants can be upgraded with beaded lanyards. These have magnetic closures for safety. We think these lanyards are pretty for women of all ages, and the bead colors (clear and black) suit almost any outfit. But they aren’t cheap: lanyards sell for $19.95 each.
Wall buttons can work with MobileHelp base stations. We can affix them to surfaces with two-sided tape, or more permanently with hardware. MobileHelp charges just $2 per month to monitor each button, which is actually pretty cheap in our experience. But it’s important to note that these aren’t waterproof. We’ve found that other companies make panic buttons that you can stick to a shower wall, but don’t try it with these!
MobileHelp Connect is an app for subscribers’ family members and other caregivers. Some features are free, like emergency alerts and 30 location requests per month. Additional GPS tracking requests and medication reminders can be added for $5 per month.
As mentioned, medication reminders can be scheduled for $5 per month. The subscriber or caregiver can schedule reminders with the Connect app. Alerts show on the Classic base station or Touch tablet.
This add-on provides equipment insurance and more. It costs $5 per month. One perk is a fee waiver in case we damage or lose MobileHelp equipment. (They don’t charge for equipment use, but we need to return systems when service is no longer needed.) Also, Connect Premium locks our monthly monitoring rate, adds 30 location requests per month, and gives discounts on other MobileHelp services and equipment.
We think MobileHelp deserves a look as you try to find the best medical alert systems. Their website could explain the options better… but we mostly liked what we saw from this company. The long-range is definitely a plus for at-home protection, and the base station speakers are sensitive enough that we didn’t need a microphone on the wearables.
On the other hand, MobileHelp is less convenient on-the-go because we needed to keep the mobile base nearby for voice communication. Other brands offer GPS buttons that cost more to monitor but have voice built-in. So it really depends on your preferences and where you’ll be using a medical alert system most.
Overall, we think MobileHelp remains a solid choice with its mix of high-quality equipment, affordable rates, and A+ customer service.
MobileHelp. (23 July, 2013). MobileHelp® Introduces New M-PERS Automatic Fall Detection Technology and Cellular Base Station at International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
WWD.com, Lisa Lockwood. (April 9, 2020). Trelawear to Expand Life Safety Pendants Direct-to-Consumer.
Rapid Response Monitoring Services. (Accessed 29 April, 2020). Redefining the Monitoring Center.
GlassDoor.com. (Accessed 30 April, 2020). Rapid Response Monitoring Reviews.
Better Business Bureau®. (Accessed 30 April, 2020). MobileHelp: Better Business Bureau® Profile.