It has been three years since the original Jitterbug launched and GreatCall is back with follow-up to its popular smartphone built especially for seniors. The Jitterbug Plus is GreatCall’s new addition to the Jitterbug lineup and while it has its downsides, it’s a phone that we can comfortably recommend to seniors.
In the three years since the original Jitterbug made its debut, GreatCall and Samsung have outfitted the Jitterbug Plus with some upgrades, upgrades that make the Jitterbug Plus much better than the first phone.
Our review of the Jitterbug Plus will highlight the highs and lows of the hardware and software that comes along with GreatCall’s new device.
The Jitterbug Plus keeps the same, clamshell design of the original Jitterbug. It’s comfortable to hold and small enough so that people with smaller hands can easily clasp it to make a call or send a text message. The Jitterbug Plus also comes with large keys which makes for easily dialing and texting.
The keys are also backlit so users can see them in the dark.
The two new biggest features of the Jitterbug Plus are the improved speaker, that in our tests was extremely loud and crisp, and fantastic battery life. GreatCall has claimed that the JitterBug plus gets 25 days of standby battery life and our tests don’t dispute that.
One thing that is missing from the Jitterbug Plus is a battery meter that is front and center. Finding it takes a bit of work and even though the Jitterbug Plus has fantastic battery life, it would have been nice to see an indicator front and center for easy viewing.
The display on the Jitterbug Plus is a tiny 2.2-inches. The screen is extremely bright and text is sharp and easy to read due to the display’s 320-by-240-pixel resolution.
Above that display is a speaker that is, again, very loud which is something that folks who are hard of hearing will appreciate.
The device includes large number keys and a unique layout for the function keys. At the top, users will notice two simple Yes or No buttons that are used to open and close options on the screen as well as a Spkr button that brings up speakerphone and two directional arrows to go along with a power button.
All work extremely well within the Jitterbug’s user interface.
On the front of the Jitterbug Plus we have a small screen that displays the time and date and at the top of the device there is a 1.3MP camera for taking photos.
The camera is on par with most front-facing cameras on high-end smartphones so while it’s decent, it’s not going to turn a user into an overnight Ansel Adams.
Overall, the hardware of the Jitterbug Plus isn’t going to win any awards. However, for what it is – the simplest phone one could get these days – it’s very well done.
The software on the Jitterbug Plus is unique in that it is vastly different than any operating system on the market. Instead of a full-fledged operating system, the Jitterbug Plus has a very simple user interface.
At the top of the screen, users will find easy access to their phone number which will come in handy in case of emergency. Below that, the Jitterbug Plus offers users an assortment of options including Calender, Settings, Phone Info where the battery information is located, Camera, My Photos, Voice Mail, Call History, Text Messages, and easy access to 5Star, one of the Jitterbug Plus’ unique features.
GreatCall’s 5Star Urgent Response service features an operator that is on standby 24 hours of the day, seven days a week. The operator will greet users by name and can help in case of emergency. The operator can also help manage a users Calendar or Phone Book should that service be needed.
Within Phone Book, there are several other options. Users can call 5Star Account support, get in touch with a live nurse or call the Wellness Alert hotline.
The software here is simple, easily accessible and comes with the support that owners of this type of device would need.
Is The Jitterbug Plus Worth It?
The Jitterbug Plus is made by Samsung and it checks in with a $99 price tag without the need for a contract. The phone’s pay-as-you-go plans start at $15 per month for 50 minutes and go up to $80 per month for unlimited minutes and text messages.
Unique services like 5Star Urgent Response and check-in calls cost more. 5Star Urgent Response is $15 per month and allows users to get advice from nurses and puts users in touch with a wellness agent directly. Automated check-in calls cost $5 per month. Medication reminders cost $10 per month.
Voicemail costs an extra $3 per month and it costs 25 cents to upload photos to places like Facebook.
Fortunately, GreatCall allows users to manage all the billing, applications and more directly from its website which makes it easy to keep track of the devices various services.
So unfortunately while the Jitterbug and its $99 price tag may seem cheap initially, this phone is a bit of an investment.
Those that can afford the Jitterbug Plus though will get a phone with a quality design, fantastic keyboard, great battery life and a host of features that will be useful to seniors who need the extra help.
It’s available in two colors directly from GreatCall’s website.