Jitterbug Review 2024: Cellphone for Seniors

Jan 08, 2024
Fact Checked
Lively offers a flip phone and smartphone that connect to a 24/7 monitoring center.
Flip phone and smartphones with medical alert functionality
Lively 24/7 monitoring center services
Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa capabilities

Key Takeaways

Lively Jitterbug phones are specifically designed for older adults or anyone wanting a more simplified phone. Both the Smart4 and Flip2 have list-based menus for easy navigation, an extra loud volume option, the ability to call contacts and send messages with your voice, and more.

Jitterbug phones also offer health and wellness features. The Lively monitoring center can dial 911 for you, and it can dispatch designated contacts and nonemergency services to your location, such as roadside assistance or a locksmith. Unlike most current phones on the market, you aren’t locked into a contract. You’ll pay for your Jitterbug phone month-by-month and can cancel your service at any time.

Why you can trust our expert review

Hours of Research
Surveys Deployed
Brands Tested
Experts Consulted

Our Reviews Team spent more than 2,500 hours conducting in-depth research on medical alert systems. During our process, we:

Read more about our medical alert systems review methodology.

Why Jitterbug is one of our top cellphone picks for older adults

Lively Jitterbug phones are a great option for older adults who want to upgrade their current phone at a more affordable price. This is especially the case for the Smart4 device, which is only $149.99, while smartphone competitors start at $400. The Smart4 also has one of the largest touchscreens on the market at 6.75 inches.

Our Reviews Team also likes that Lively only offers unlimited talk and text plans. You won’t need to reload your minutes or pay extra for going over monthly minute limits.

Both the Smart4 and Flip2 have simple navigation menus and accessibility features, such as voice-to-text, text read-aloud, and an extra loud speaker setting. Depending on the phone you choose, you’ll be able to use Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa to make calls, send text messages, check the weather, and more with your voice.

Both phones come with the option to access emergency help through the Lively Urgent Response app. Urgent Response connects you to a 24/7 monitoring center straight from the Flip2 keypad or Smart4 touchscreen.

Pros and cons of Lively Jitterbug phones

Large screen, keypad, and hearing aid compatible
Optional medical alert feature
Can keep your current phone number
Telehealth features available
No contract; cancel service at any time
No quarterly or annual plan discounts
$10 restocking fee if returned

Comparison of Jitterbug cellphones, as of January 2024

Provider Device cost Data plan available Smartphone device Connection type Battery life (hours of talk time) Location tracking Visit Site
$99.99 No No Cellular (4G) 12 Yes Visit Site
$149.99 Yes Yes Cellular (4G) 37 Yes Visit Site

*Device is regularly $149.99 but is only $74.99 until Dec. 31, 2023.

Jitterbug Smart4 smartphone review

Jitterbug Smart4

Key Features
  • Starting monthly cost (with paperless billing): $24.99
  • Device type: Smartphone
  • Device dimensions: ‎6.6 inches x 3.01 inches x 0.35 inches (length x width x height)
  • Device weight: ‎6.7 Ounces (oz)
  • Connection type: Cellular (4G), Wi-Fi, GPS
  • Battery life: 37 talk hours
Pros and cons
Pros $149.99 equipment cost is lower than most smartphones ($400-$999) Large touchscreen (6.75 inches) Front and back camera Voice-to-text feature available Video call capability Cons Must purchase data plan ($5-$30 per month) Fall detection not available Touchscreen may be more difficult for some to navigate
Additional information

You can make video calls, take pictures, browse online, use your favorite social media apps, and more with the Jitterbug Smart4. The Smart4 uses an Android operating system, so you can download and use any app available on Google Play. This device also has a back- and front-facing camera lens, so you can snap photos and selfies with your family and friends.

The word “simple” is not usually used to describe a smartphone, but Lively has designed a smartphone with simplicity in mind. The phone has a 6.75-inch screen, which is considered large compared to the average smartphone devices that are usually between 5.8 to 6.2 inches. Our Reviews Team likes the large icons on the list-style menu for easy navigation. We also like that you can enlarge text and images by tapping the screen three times, meaning you won’t need to change your phone’s settings each time you want to zoom in.

Use your voice to make calls, navigate your phone, search the web, or ask questions with the Google Assistant app. Google Assistant is included with your Smart4 and can be used by pressing the button on the left side of your phone or by saying “Hey Google,” followed by a command or question. Want to check the weather before meeting a friend at the park? Simply ask, “Hey Google, what is the weather like today?” and you’ll receive a verbal weather report from your phone.

Keep in mind that all Jitterbug smartphones require a data plan in addition to a minutes and texting plan. The Jitterbug Smart4 replaces the former model, Jitterbug Smart3.

Medical alert functionality

Unlike standard medical alert devices that only have a few functions outside of 24/7 monitoring services, the Smart4 is primarily a smartphone that comes with the Lively Urgent Response service (the medical alert function) as an add-on option.

With Lively Urgent Response, you can access the 24/7 monitoring center in two ways. You can press a button that’s always available at the top or bottom of your screen, or if you’ve fallen and can’t reach your phone, you can say, “Hey Google, call Urgent Response” or “Alexa, call Urgent Response,” which prompts your phone to contact the monitoring center. After initiating the service, a staff member will dispatch emergency responders to your location, alert your emergency contacts, or do both, depending on the severity of the situation.

It’s important to note that Jitterbug phones will not help prevent falls, but even medical alert systems with fall detection do not prevent falls. Medical alert devices with fall detection technology are meant to be worn around your neck and are designed to automatically contact the monitoring center when the built-in sensor detects a fall.

“Fall detection technology in medical alert devices typically relies on sensors that detect sudden changes in position and acceleration such as when the device is rapidly and abruptly displaced during a fall,” said James Walker, MD, a medical advisor at Welzo. “However, when the device is not worn around the neck, it may not be able to detect falls accurately or consistently, as the device may not be in close proximity to the body during a fall.” Lively Jitterbug phones do not support fall detection since they are designed to be placed in your pocket or purse and not around the neck.

User friendliness

The Smart4 is designed for easy use starting with its menu layout, which features your apps in a scrollable list labeled with large text, as opposed to the standard smartphone grid layout. This device also has facial recognition technology, which lets you unlock your phone by looking at the screen instead of entering a passcode whenever you want to use it.

We also like that the Smart4 comes with Google Assistant, which allows you to use your voice to perform tasks instead of scrolling or swiping. Simply say, “Hey Google, text (contact name).” Google will reply, “OK, what’s your message?” and you’ll dictate the message you’d like to send. Google Assistant then reads back the message and asks you to verbally confirm that it’s correct before sending it.

Our Reviews Team also likes that the Smart4 is hearing aid compatible. This means the phone reduces unwanted noise a hearing aid would receive when the user is talking on the phone, according to the Federal Communications Commission. [1]

The Smart4 has been tested and rated under the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) C63.19-2011 hearing-aid compatibility standard and has an M4/T4 rating. This rating indicates that the phone reduces feedback noise and is compatible with a hearing aid telecoil.

When deciding between a smartphone with a touchscreen and a flip phone, you should involve the primary user of the device as much as possible, according to Christopher Norman, a geriatric nurse practitioner based in New York state.

“As we age, our skin changes: The collagen (a protein) under our skin thins out, and we don’t provide as much oil or sweat,” said Norman. “This accounts not only for wrinkles, but it results in skin that is more dry. If you’ve ever tried to use a touchscreen with very dry skin, it doesn’t work as easily.”

He pointed out that fine motor control, dexterity, and visual clarity are other factors you should consider when shopping for a touchscreen smartphone.

With its simple touchscreen layout, two camera lenses, access to Google Play apps, and built-in Google Assistant, the Jitterbug Smart4 can compete with most smartphones on the market (at a much lower price). Optional medical alert services and health and wellness features make it a health and safety device—disguised as a smartphone.

Jitterbug Flip2 review

Jitterbug Flip2

Jitterbug Flip2
Key Features
  • Starting monthly cost (with paperless billing): $19.99
  • Device type: Phone
  • Device dimensions: 4.3″ L x 2.19″ W x 0.75″ H
  • Device weight: 4.7 oz
  • Connection type: 4G
  • Battery life: Up to 12 hours of talk time
Pros and cons
Pros Backlit, large keypad Front and back camera Amazon Alexa voice commands Cons Fall detection not available Internet browsing not available
Additional information

The Flip2 is a standard flip phone that comes in your choice of red or graphite. A charging cable, wall charger, and charging dock are included with your phone, and the phone beeps to let you know it’s charging.

Our Reviews Team likes that you can use either the plug-in cable or dock to charge your Flip2. “The charging port on a phone is often small, and someone experiencing low vision, or hand/finger stiffness, weakness, numbness, or pain may have difficulty with the fine motor and visual preciseness needed to accurately plug in the cord,” said Heidi Huynh, an occupational therapist and owner of Ascend Therapy Services. “This charging dock allows a looser, larger grasp to place the entire phone in the cradle for easier charging, saving someone time and frustration.”

You can set up speed dial for certain family members and friends, which allows you to call them by holding down one keypad number. Want to switch to speakerphone during a call? Press the Speaker button at the top left of the keypad, so you can talk hands-free or hear your conversation more clearly. No need to search through the menu or settings for the speakerphone function during your call.

Like the Smart4, you can use your voice to navigate your Flip2 and ask simple questions, but instead of Google Assistant, you’ll use Amazon Alexa. You don’t need an Amazon account to use Alexa on your phone, but if you connect Alexa with your Amazon account you’ll get more specific answers to questions like, “Alexa, what is the weather today?” based on the location set up in your Amazon account.

Medical alert functionality

Like the Smart4, the Jitterbug Flip2 is both a phone and a medical alert system. You can connect to a 24/7 monitoring center by pressing the Urgent Response button on the keypad. In case the call was accidental and you need to cancel it, there is a six-second delay after pressing the Urgent Response button.

You don’t have to wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace to stay connected to the monitoring center when you’re inside or outside your home—the small phone in your pocket or purse is all you need.

User friendliness

The Flip2 has all the perks of a simple flip phone with additional accessibility features. The keypad numbers are large and light up, so you can navigate your phone even in low-light settings. Our Reviews Team likes the clearly labeled Speaker button at the top left corner and the large red Urgent Response button at the bottom center.

Jitterbug Flip2 vertical main menu showing functions, like calls, text messages, contacts, and more

You can change the font on your phone to extra large in settings, and you can also adjust the volume level from Low to Super High. It also has a setting called Read Out that reads the phone menu out loud as you navigate it, which may be helpful for those with low vision. These settings are in the Accessibility section of the Settings menu.

Like the Smart4, the Flip2 is also hearing aid compatible and has a smart assistant to help you navigate your phone with your voice. Say “Alexa” followed by a command to call, text, or other phone navigation to use the Amazon Alexa smart assistant feature.

The Flip2 user guide offers step-by-step instructions (with pictures included) to help you connect your phone to your Amazon account to use this feature. If you’re looking for an uncomplicated flip phone with access to 24/7 monitoring and health and wellness features, the Jitterbug Flip2 may be the right option for you or someone you care for.

How much do Jitterbug phones cost?

Comparison of Lively Jitterbug phones and prices, as of January 2024

Lively Jitterbug PhoneJitterbug Smart4Jitterbug Flip2
Starting unlimited talk and text plan$19.99*$19.99*
Starting data plan monthly cost$5N/A
Cost of the phone$149.99$99.99
Activation fee$35$35

**The totals shown are costs for your monthly service only. They don’t include taxes and fees. Plans include a $5 monthly discount for participation in paperless billing.

The $149.99 price for a Jitterbug Smart4 is hundreds of dollars less than most current smartphones on the market. iPhones can run between $400 to more than $1,000, depending on the model and whether it’s new or used. Google Pixel phones cost between $400 and $900.

Standard ground shipping (three to seven business days) is free for both Jitterbug phones, while expedited shipping (one to three business days) is $20.

Unlimited talk and text plans

All plans offered for Jitterbug phones come with unlimited talk and text, Ask Lively, and Lively Rides. You’ll choose between three different tiers offering up to four additional features: Urgent Response, Link App subscription, Nurse On-Call, and Care Advocate. For more information on each feature, see the “Apps and accessories” section.

Basic $19.99

Preferred $39.99

Premium $49.99

Jitterbug Smart4 phone purchase page and optional features
The purchase screen of the Smart4 phone during our Reviews Team’s mystery shopping

Data plans

Your phone uses cellular data to send texts and emails, browse online, check social media, and do other online activities when it isn’t connected to Wi-Fi. All Jitterbug smartphones (Smart3 and Smart4) require a data plan, while the Flip2 does not.

When choosing a data plan for your Smart4, you’re selecting a certain amount of data you think you’ll use each month. Lively data plans are organized by gigabytes (GB), which are measurements of digital information.

Keep in mind that the Smart4 can connect to Wi-Fi, so you may only need a higher data plan if you expect to use your phone when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi, such as places outside your home without easy internet access.

Use this data calculator tool to help estimate how much data you’ll need based on your online activities. Keep in mind this is a third-party tool and may not be completely accurate, but it’s a good place to start.

You’ll choose one of the following data plans for your Smart4:

Lively data plans ranging from 1 gigabyte of data to unlimited data
Lively data plans ranging from 1 gigabyte of data to unlimited data

Ways to save on Jitterbug phones

Lively runs promotions on their current devices throughout the year, sometimes reducing the total cost of either phone by 25%–50%.

During a call with our Reviews Team, a customer service representative told us that if you call a team member to purchase a device, they are almost always able to offer special discounts on phones, or early access to deals that aren’t yet active through the website.

Your Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) may offer partial or complete coverage for your Jitterbug phone since it has features that work like a medical alert system. Check with your insurance provider to confirm whether coverage is available with your Medicare Advantage plan. Coverage varies by plan.

Another way to save money on your Jitterbug phone is to sign up for paperless billing. This will reduce your monthly bill by $5. Otherwise, the basic plan is $24.99 per month, instead of $19.99. If you use your mailed bill as a reminder to pay for your service, try setting an alert on your new phone to remind you to pay. You can also set up auto payment.

How to pay for Jitterbug smartphones

To pay for your device, activation fee, and first month of service (cellular plan and data plan if needed) you can purchase:

To pay for your monthly service you can:



P.O. BOX 4428


Where can you buy a Jitterbug phone?

You can purchase your Jitterbug phone online through the Lively website or over the phone. Jitterbug phones can also be purchased online from the following retailers:

If you purchase your Jitterbug phone through one of the above retailers, you’ll activate your phone on the Lively website or by calling the company. Our Reviews Team likes that you can keep your current phone number instead of trying to memorize a new one, but you’ll need to call the Lively activation team at 866-397-9291 to confirm your number is eligible to transfer before purchasing a Jitterbug phone.

Lively customer service

When we called Lively, our Reviews Team member was connected with a friendly and empathetic customer service representative in less than one minute. The representative answered all our questions. Our call felt more like a conversation than a sales pitch.

We really liked the advice the representative gave us: If you’re unsure about switching from your current phone to a Jitterbug phone, use the 30-day return window as a trial run so you can see how it works and if it’s the right choice for you. You can speak with a customer service representative over the phone or by submitting an online contact form.

Phone: 800-733-6632

Website: Online contact form

Jitterbug trial and warranty

You can return your Jitterbug Smart4 or Flip2 phone in “like new condition” within 30 days of receiving it, and Lively will refund the following:

You won’t have to pay to ship your equipment back to Lively, but you will be charged a $10 restocking fee. Lively will send a prepaid shipping label to use to return your phone and charging accessories.

The Smart4 and Flip2 come with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty that covers the phone, battery, and accessories. Lively will repair or replace the product for free if it’s damaged due to manufacturing defects within the first year. This limited warranty does not cover wear and tear or accidental damage.

If you would like to protect your phone from the above damage, you can purchase a protection plan for $3.50 per month by calling a Lively Customer Care Advisor at 1-800-733-6632. While the paid plan guarantees Lively will repair or replace your device if your Jitterbug phone is damaged, you’ll still be charged the following fee if your phone needs to be completely replaced:

Lively apps and accessories for Jitterbug phones

You can view all health and safety features by clicking on Services in the main navigation bar of the Lively website.

Lively services screenshot
The selection of health and safety services available on Jitterbug phones

Urgent Response feature

Urgent Response is the Lively medical alert feature available for Lively Jitterbug phones and medical alert devices. You’ll press the Urgent Response button on your Flip2 or Smar4 to contact a 24/7 monitoring center staff member during a medical emergency, non-medical emergency, or other situation requiring assistance. All staff are certified by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch.

During your call, monitoring center staff will access the information you provided in your Lively account to share with emergency responders and family members. This may include medical history, emergency response instructions, contacts, and other custom information.

Lively Link app

Lively Link is a smartphone or tablet app designed for caregivers to check in with the Jitterbug phone user. Caregivers can download the app from Apple Store or Google Play. They must receive an invitation from the primary user to connect the Lively Link app to the user’s personal Lively account.

With the user’s permission, caregivers can track their location and daily activity as long as the user has their Jitterbug phone with them. Caregivers can check the phone’s battery level and will receive notifications when the user contacts the monitoring center.

Nurse On-Call feature

Get 24/7 access to registered nurses and board-certified doctors with the Nurse On-Call feature on your Jitterbug phone. Health care professionals are available to answer your medical questions, write prescriptions, or refill common medications. You’ll connect with a medical professional by pressing the Urgent Response button on your Smart4 or Flip2 and telling the monitoring staff you’d like to use Nurse On-Call—no appointment, insurance, or copayment required.

This feature is similar to visiting an urgent care clinic—it’s not designed to replace your primary care physician. When we spoke with Norman about this feature in our Lively medical alert system review, he advised users to be cautious if the Nurse On-Call medical professional doesn’t have access to their current prescriptions and medical history. “Convenience is wonderful, but when too many people are prescribing medications for you, it can be dangerous,” said Norman.

Care Advocate feature

The Care Advocate feature pairs you with a “care advocate” to set personal goals focused on what matters most to you, whether that’s health, finances, estate planning, or other interests. Your care advocate will develop a personal care plan with you and connect you with community resources to help achieve your goals. All care advocates are licensed social workers with a master’s degree.

Lively Rides service

Lively Rides is a ride service offered through Lively and Lyft for safe, convenient rides scheduled straight from your phone. No need to use an app—simply press “0” and tell a Lively Personal Operator where you’d like to go. The operator will give you an estimated cost and arrival time for your Lyft, and you’ll receive a notification on your phone when your driver arrives. All drivers have passed a background check and are insured.

Lively ride services are automatically added to your monthly bill, so you don’t have to worry about paying cash or getting an instant charge to your credit card. Use this service for trips to the grocery store, when meeting up with friends, going to the doctor’s office, or anytime you’d like someone else to do the driving.

Brain Games

Lively has partnered with Posit Science, a company founded by two neurologists in 2002, to include free games that help improve focus, attention, and memory. Brain Games are free and included with both the Jitterbug Smart4 and Flip2, so you don’t need to download them.

Jitterbug phone accessories

Lively offers phone accessories for a one-time fee. You can purchase extra accessories while buying your new device, or you can find a link on the menu under “Phones” on the Lively website.

Lively website screenshot showing accessories menu
Find the accessories list by selecting “Phones” at the top of the Lively menu

Optional Jitterbug phone accessories you can choose are:

Jitterbug cell phones compared to the iPhone

DeviceJitterbug Smart4iPhone 15
Cost of the phone$149.99Starts at $799
Screen size (in inches)6.756.1
Capacity (gigabytes)32Starts at 128
Battery life (talk hours)3780
Operating systemAndroidApple iOS
The Jitterbug Smart4 home menu may be easier to navigate compared to an iPhone.
The Jitterbug Smart4 home menu may be easier to navigate compared to an iPhone.

Lively Jitterbug phone customer reviews

Overall, Lively Jitterbug phones have mixed reviews across multiple sites. Lively has a Better Business Bureau (BBB) score of 1.16 out of 5 stars from 178 customer reviews. It has an A+ rating and is accredited by the BBB, indicating that the brand resolves customer complaints and responds to negative reviews.

There were only a few positive reviews at the time of writing. Positive reviewers praised the customer service department. A majority of BBB reviews were negative. Many reviewers mentioned poor customer service and a blackout in their phone service in late December 2022.

Lively has 1.5 out of 5 stars and a “bad” rating on Trustpilot based on 214 reviews. More than half of the reviews were one-star out of five, and Lively hasn’t responded to any as of this writing. Many positive reviews mention how easy the phones are to set up and learn how to use and overall peace of mind the Lively Urgent Response service gives them. Negative reviews touch on poor customer service and high monthly costs.

The Jitterbug Flip2 has 4.0 out of 5 stars on Amazon based on more than 2,700 reviews. Overall, it gets 3.4 stars for its ease of use and 4.0 stars for battery life. Reviews are mixed, claiming it’s either easy to use or that it’s difficult to set up and operate. The Jitterbug Smart4 has only been out for a few weeks as of this writing, so no reviews are currently posted on Amazon.

Bottom line

Lively Jitterbug phones are simple devices that have all the features of their flip phone and smartphone competitors—plus the ability to connect to a 24/7 monitoring center at any time of day for emergency or non-emergency assistance. Keep in mind that Jitterbug Smart4 and Flip2 do not support fall detection, so if this is a feature you need, consult our list of best medical alert systems.

Frequently asked questions

Unlimited talk and text plans required for each device range from $19.99–$49.99 per month. The Smart4 also required a data plan ranging from $5–$30 per month. So the monthly cost for the Smart4 starts at $24.99, and the starting cost for the Flip2 starts at $19.99.

Yes, the Smart4 and Flip2 offer accessibility features designed for older adults, such as a large screen, backlit keypad, voice commands, text enlargement, and hearing aid compatibility at an affordable price. Lively Jitterbug phone uses the Verizon network, which offers strong cellular coverage in the majority of the United States.

There are some downsides to Jitterbug phones. Our Reviews Team doesn’t like that Lively only offers individual plans, and there’s no family discount if you want to have a plan with more than one device. We also don’t like that Lively adds $5 to your monthly bill if you don’t sign up for paperless billing.

No, the Jitterbug Smart4 and Flip2 will not help prevent falls, but even medical alert systems with fall detection do not prevent falls. Lively Jitterbug phones also do not support fall detection since they are designed to be placed in your pocket or purse and not around the neck. That said, you can use your voice to contact the monitoring center from your Smart4 or Flip2 phone. If you’ve fallen and can’t reach your phone, you can say, “Hey Google, call Urgent Response” or “Alexa, call Urgent Response,” prompting your phone to contact the monitoring center.

Have questions about this review? Email us at reviewsteam@ncoa.org.


  1. Federal Communications Commission. Hearing Aid Compatibility for Wireline and Wireless Telephones. Jan. 28, 2021. Found on the internet at https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/hearing-aid-compatibility-wireline-and-wireless-telephones.
Miranda Riva is a writer and licensed Tennessee attorney who has written and edited legal content covering the topics of family law, business law, criminal law, environmental law, and estate law.
Christopher Norman Headshot
Christopher Norman Medical Reviewer
Christopher Norman is a Board-Certified Geriatric Nurse Practitioner and Holistic Nurse. As a nurse’s aide, registered nurse and now nurse practitioner, he has loved working with older adults since 2004.
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