There are a lot of really sexy, high-tech and delightfully complex handsets on the market these days. Your average cell phone can not only make calls but also provide you with accurate directions, browse the web, post to Twitter, play games and shoot high def video. These are all very important functions that most of us use almost daily, but if you put that same device in the hands of an elderly person who doesn’t happen to be pretty tech savvy it can quickly serve to confuse, confound and frustrate. When my Grandfather finally decided it was time to get a cell he took a look at what was available and settled on a standard, non-descript Samsung flip phone. It did what he needed it to do, was cost-effective, and had good battery life. The only problem was the keys on the keypad. They were so small that he had to put on his reading glasses and bring the phone fairly close to his face in order to dial. It’s issues like this that prompted the creation of the Jitterbug, a cell phone designed with the elderly in mind.
The phone itself is a standard flip phone design with a few important tweaks to better serve its intended audience. The first thing you’ll notice when opening the phone are the large face keys. Each key fits the thumb comfortably and completely to prevent false keying and the numbers are very large to help those who may have poor sight. The screen is nice and bright with large text that is easily readable in most lighting conditions. The UI is pretty sparse and rightfully so. It has no other function than to function well. As the user navigates the menus with up/down buttons they are asked yes or no questions in plain language to make their selections. This all makes navigating the phone a snap. The talk time of the phone is roughly 3 hours depending on usage. Call quality is clear and solid, the sound is not particularly tinny or washed out though I do think the speakerphone could be a bit louder as I could see this feature being used by the target demographic quite a bit.
Overall the Jitterbug is an easy, simple device to use that really seems to fulfill its purpose. Its design philosophy is functionality and usability and it succeeds in both categories.
- Large, easily readable keys
- Clear, bright screen
- Easy to use
- Cost, $147 for the handset plus a $35 one-time setup fee
- Speakerphone is a bit quiet