The Jitterbug is a new concept in cell phones. While many of today’s cell phones can take pictures, surf the Internet, and play music, the Jitterbug. can’t perform any of these tasks. It is simply put….. a cell phone that does only one thing. It makes and receives phone calls.
The Jitterbug was created for older people who appreciate the instant portable communication of a cell phone, but aren’t interested in having complicated menus and functionality.
Some reviewers have given the new Jitterbug cell phone and its target age group a bad rap. David Pogue of the New York Times says the Jitterbug is “for technophobic old people.” Eric Lin of PhoneScoop.com says that the elderly“need technology that addresses how our bodies decay over time.” Yet, if you read further into the reviews you find that no reviewer can knock the simplicity that the Jitterbug demonstrates so well.
Everything in the Jitterbug was designed for ease of use, but adequate attention was also given to the aesthetics. The result is a phone that is simple, yet elegant. Measuring 4” by 2” by 1” and weighing in at 4.4 ounces, the pearlized white clamshell phone is larger than most of today’s cell phones, but it is very good looking. The rounded edges are visually pleasing and make it easy to grasp. The Jitterbug. phone fits well into any size hand.The ear piece is padded in a rubberized material which helps target the voice in the ear. This also adds a bit of comfort and is good for people with hearing aids. You won’t have to constantly reach for your reading glasses to use this phone. The Jitterbug has a bright display. The keypad is amazingly large and readable as is the display on the screen. The phone’s good tactile feel will easily allow you to dial numbers even if you have poor vision. It also has a useful speakerphone.
The Jitterbug has several unique features that are not found in most other cell phones. First is the assuring dial tone indicating that the phone is ready to use. Second is that you will always know the number of your cell phone, it is printed on a sticker right below the screen.
With the Jitterbug. you don’t ever have to dial a number unless you want to. When you order you phone you submit a list of often called numbers and the phone comes preprogrammed with those numbers. You can also press the “0” button to have the Jitterbug operator place the call for you.
You won’t have to worry about complex nested menus either. There are none. Instead there is an on/off button, a Yes button, a No button, and two arrow keys to scroll through lists. When you turn on the phone the screen says “Voice dial?” If you press the “Yes” key and say “Call Mom”, the call is placed for you. If you press “No” you can scroll down the list with the arrow key and choose the party in your phone book that you wish to call. The voice-mail system and all other functionality also works with the Yes and No buttons. So the Jitterbug phone is very easy to use and quite intuitive.
The operator/concierge can not only place calls, he or she can also add numbers to your address book and perform any other assistive tasks. The operator is on call 24-hours a day. You “pay” for each Operator call with five minutes of talk time.
The battery life of the Jitterbug is estimated at three hours of talk time. Since it targets light and intermediate users, this, while not as long as some other phones, is adequate. There is no battery life indicator, but the phone beeps when it needs recharging.
The Jitterbug was created by Marty Cooper who invented the first cell phone. He partnered with his wife Arlene Harris to create Great Call Inc., the company that developed the phone. The phone itself was built to Marty and Arlene’s specifications by Samsung. Rich Rushforth and I talked to Arlene about how the company was formed, the need for the Jitterbug device, and more details about the Jitterbug phone on a recent podcast. It was a great interview which you can listen to in my Tech for Boomers podcase, Podcast 23.
The Jitterbug. phone is $147 and Great Call offers several service plans, including one as low as $10 a month for emergency calling only.They also have annual, pay-in-advance plans that bring down the service costs as well as the cost of the phone.
Great Call has an even simpler Jitterbug phone called the OneTouch. It has only three buttons. One for the Operator, one for 911, and one that can be customized to call the party of your choice. It has the same easy-to-use interface and is perfect for an emergency telephone.
While some may wise-crack about this phone, I find it a product that is well-designed, innovative, and useful. It is a great example of technology that meets the needs of people of all ages.