Samsung Jitterbug5: Easy-to-use Flip Phone for Seniors (GreatCall)

Jittterbug5 senior phone, closed

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Reminiscent of the early 2000’s clam shell style phones, the Jitterbug5 is a Samsung flip phone that was specifically designed for the elderly. This phone is available on GreatCall, a MVNO carrier on Verizon’s network.

The Jitterbug5 is an excellent phone for seniors, with large text on screen, big backlit buttons, and no complicated features that are unlikely to ever be used anyway. This is a phone to make and take calls, period. Due to its clear, powerful speaker, conversations are loud and easy to understand. For those using a hearing aid, the phone is M4/T4 compatible.

Says BdgBill, in a comment on Lifehacker.com:

“Jitterbug! – It doesn’t have a bunch of confusing features I don’t understand. The buttons are nice and big! If I need help or forget where I live, a friendly operator will help me!”

Text on the inner screen is large and easily readable, with black text on white background — fortunately, no fancy backgrounds are used here that make the writing difficult or impossible to read. Same goes for the buttons: They are big, with large numbers on them, and arranged to be as intuitive to use as possible. There’s a numerical keypad, up/down navigation, a YES and NO button to answer dialogue questions, the red 5Star emergency button, a power button, and that’s it.

Jitterbug5 seniors phone, open

Volume up/down buttons are on the side of the phone and standard size, so those may be difficult to use for some.

A distinct feature of this flip phone is its dedicated 5Star button which will instantly connect its user with a trained Medical Alert Service operator when pressed. This is a paid service that can be invaluable in the case of an emergency, medical or otherwise. Customer support, whether for medical emergencies, technical help, or otherwise, is reported to be nothing short of excellent: Fast to respond, polite, and professional.

Be aware that this kind of service comes with a price tag though: Monthly rates are above average, starting at $24.99 including 50 free minutes and the 5Star service, or $14.99 without 5Star — prices may change without notice, so check the GreatCall web site for up-to-date details.

The JitterBug5 does have a calendar and the ability to send text messages, but that’s not what it excels at. It can’t access the internet or perform other smart phone-like tasks, either. It comes with 2 simple games installed, so if you need a pastime you have some options there.

This phone was designed to be easy to use, and to allow elderly people to communicate with their loved ones. While it’s great at that, the phone does need an initial set up. The 250-page user guide may seem daunting at first look. It is very clear and well written though, and most of the procedures explained are really straightforward.

For many of the tasks explained, you might not even need to consult the guide at all. However, even though the manual was clearly written to be as thorough as possible, an elderly person with average or below average technical skills might need someone to help them with the initial setup of this phone.

GreatCall provide a convenient 17-page quick start guide that should get your phone up and running quickly. Note that the activation procedure is simplest if you buy your phone directly from GreatCall — but do feel free to check out the other vendors listed below for a better deal.

All in all, the way Samsung have optimized the design and features of the JitterBug5 for senior users is awesome. Once set up, the phone is extremely simple to use, and the 5Star Medical Alert Service is highly professional. The main downside to this phone is that the call plans from GreatCall tend to be a bit on the expensive side.

Samsung Jitterbug5 Technical Specs:

Battery1780mAh
Bluetoothv2.1, EDR
BrowserNo
Camera1.3MP
CarrierGreatCall
ColorsRed, grey, white, blue
Dimensions2" x 0.8" x 3.9"
Display (external)1.3"
Display (internal)2.2"
Email clientNo
FlashlightNo
Form factorFlip
FM radioNo
GamesYes
GPSYes
Headset jack3.5mm
Hearing aidM4/T4 compatible
LanguagesEnglish
MP3 ringtonesNo
RuggedNo
SD card slotNo
SIM card slotNo
SpeakerphoneYes
Speed dialYes
Standby time25 days
Talk time5h
USBMicroUSB
VibrationYes
Voice dialYes
WaterproofNo
Weight3.8oz