The Jitterbug Flip for GreatCall is a simple clamshell flip phone with a few handy features that make it a fantastic choice for seniors and people with special health needs.
For $99.99 (full retail price) you get a large, bright display with a simple menu; a big, backlit keypad; and a dedicated 5Star Urgent Response button that can summon emergency help.
The Flip also has good call quality and excellent battery life.
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While the Flip primarily uses Verizon's 3G network, which will be turned off at the end of 2019, we learned in November 2018 that it will receive a software upgrade to enable better call quality and support for Verizon's 4G LTE network, which will stay online for at least the next 10 years.
So we are happy to keep recommending this simple phone as an Editors' Choice.
Design, Display, and Physical Features
The Flip ($74.99 at GreatCall) is a shiny red plastic clamshell (it also comes in gray) that measures 4.3 by 2.2 by 0.7 inches (HWD) and weighs 4.7 ounces.
It's a bit larger and heavier than the Doro PhoneEasy 626 (4.0 by 2.0 by 0.7 inches, 3.7 ounces), but that's due to its bigger display and keypad, which are worth the increase in size.
The front of the phone has a 1.44-inch, 128-by-128-pixel display that informs you of the time, date, and whether 5Star is enabled, as well as incoming calls and text messages.
Although it's a color screen, it usually only displays monochrome text to conserve battery.
There's a flashlight button and volume rocker on the right side of the phone, and a 3.5mm audio jack and micro USB charging port on the left.
The bottom has connection points for use with an included charging dock.
The back is also made of plastic, but it's a bit less glossy than the front.
You'll find some GreatCall and Alcatel (the manufacturer) branding on the rear, below the very loud speaker.
Peeling the back cover off gives you access to a removable battery and SIM card slot, but there's no micro USB card slot.
Flipping the phone open takes you to the main 3.2-inch, 480-by-320 color display.
It's very bright, with good viewing angles and excellent outdoor visibility.
Text is large and clearly defined, which should make it easier to read for users with diminished eyesight.
Below the display is a big backlit keypad with a standard number layout.
There are some additional buttons including controls for power, speaker, yes, no, and up and down.
At the bottom of the keypad is the 5Star Urgent Response button.
Pressing it connects you to a 5Star operator who can get you help from emergency services.
All of the buttons are textured and responsive, aside from the 5Star button, which is slick and gel-like.
One press of the 5Star button will automatically connect you with an operator, but you can deactivate the button in the Settings menu.
Network and Service Plans
GreatCall uses Verizon's network and has special services for seniors and their families.
As a result, prices are pretty high for a prepaid phone.
There is a complicated set of tiers of minutes, texts, and health-care services.
For 600 minutes and basic emergency services, you'll pay $30 per month.
Amp it up to include GreatCall Link, add a live operator you can talk to any time, and throw phone insurance in, and you're paying $45 per month.
Unlimited talk and text is another $10 per month.
5Star, GreatCall Link, Urgent Care, and the live operator are all unique GreatCall features that you don't find on competing, senior-focused carrier Consumer Cellular.
They all involve getting in touch with humans, in some way: 5Star when you feel scared or unsafe, Urgent Care if you need to talk to a doctor or nurse, or the operator just for someone to help you use your phone.
GreatCall Link is a smartphone app that family members can use to check the location and status of a Jitterbug user.
If you don't need any of those services, Consumer Cellular's Doro 7050 is a better value in terms of a simple phone.
But those services can give real peace of mind, especially to frailer folk who are living on their own, and to their families.
It really depends on what you need.
Call Quality and Battery
Right now, the Flip makes calls using Verizon's old 3G CDMA system, but soon it will also support phone calls in HD quality over LTE bands 4 and 13.
That will allow for nationwide coverage even after the CDMA shutdown in 2019.
The combination of CDMA and LTE gives the Flip better Verizon coverage than the Kyocera Cadence LTE, at least for now.
When the 5Star button is pressed, it uses both GPS and Wi-Fi (if near a Wi-Fi network) to provide location to the emergency response agent.
That said, the Flip cannot connect to Wi-Fi otherwise, but Verizon has excellent coverage across the US.
Call quality is good.
Voices are clear and free from garbling, though they have a somewhat robotic tone.
Earpiece volume and speaker volume are both very loud, and noise cancellation is excellent, eliminating any trace of background noise in our tests.
The phone is M4/T4 hearing aid compatible and can pair with headsets via Bluetooth 4.0.
Battery life is a particularly strong point.
The phone clocked 10 hours and 1 minute of talk time in our test, in which we connect a voice call continuously.
The phone has several days of standby.
The battery is also removable, so you have the option to swap it out for a fresh pack, and the included charging dock is easy and convenient to use.
Performance, Camera, and Software
The Flip is actually based on the same hardware as the Alcatel Go Flip on Sprint and T-Mobile; we like Jitterbug's version better because we don't care for the Go Flip's software.
The phone has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor under the hood, which is a basic, older smartphone chip.
There isn't much you can do beyond making calls, sending texts, and taking pictures, and the Flip has more than enough power to perform all of these actions smoothly.
The camera is surprisingly decent, considering it's only a 2-megapixel sensor.
It takes clear, reasonably detailed pictures in well-lit environments, though in lower-light settings images become muddy.
Digital zoom is available in a separate Magnifier app, and allows for 5x zoom.
The Flip has a simple operating system with menu options that are customized so most interactions can be answered using the yes or no button.
On the home screen, you'll find a bar showing your phone number across the top, a list of apps you can scroll through with the up and down buttons, and a brightly colored bar asking if you want to select something.
You choose apps by pressing the yes button, and exit by pressing the no button.
With the Flip, you can typically access all major functions with just two or three clicks.
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That said, there can be such a thing as too simple.
For instance, voice dialing and predictive text aren't available, and basic information about battery status and signal strength isn't readily available without selecting Phone Info.
There's no way to change brightness, and you won't find any games, a web browser, email, or anything extra aside from MyWorld, which gives you the weather in your location.
Given the paucity of frills, it's surprising you only have 1GB of internal storage available out of 4GB total.
It's hard to imagine the fairly simple operating system taking up that much space.
Despite this, storage should be more than sufficient because there's very little you can do to fill the phone up, beyond taking pictures and sending texts.
According to GreatCall, the Flip should be able to hold a thousand photos, two hundred contacts, and fifty texts.
Comparisons and Conclusions
The Jitterbug Flip is a simple, no-frills flip phone that makes calls, send texts, and can get you quickly connected to emergency services.
It's notably more expensive than the Doro 7050 on Consumer Cellular, both in terms of the handset and the service plan, but the Jitterbug has two things that the Doro doesn't: Verizon's coverage map (as opposed to AT&T's) and GreatCall's set of health and safety services.
GreatCall also offers a simplified smartphone, the Jitterbug Smart2.
But while the Jitterbug Flip is a nearly perfect marriage of form and function, the Smart2 is sluggish and feels like it's biting off a bit more than it can chew.
The Flip is the phone to get if you're looking for those GreatCall health services.
The Jitterbug Flip and Doro 7050 appeal to slightly different demographics.
The Doro 7050 is for folks who just want a simple flip phone, without the frills.
The Jitterbug Flip takes health and safety to a new level, and is a better protector for people who need care.
We're happy to let them both hold Editors' Choice status.
Jitterbug Flip (GreatCall)
The Bottom Line
The Jitterbug Flip for GreatCall is a fantastic phone for seniors or anyone who needs a super-simple device, thanks to its easy-to-navigate menu, highly visible display, and dedicated 5Star Urgent Response button.