Jitterbug Cell Phone - Easy and Keeps you Safe

More than Just Big Buttons

Jitterbug phones are designed to be easy-to-use, helpful and (somewhat) affordable. Let's find out if they meet that goal.

Update: Jitterbug5 Review

Check out my review of the Jitterbug5.

A Jitterbug cell phone has one feature which can really come in handy: a dedicated operator line you can call for assistance with dialing.

The Jitterbug phones either have big buttons or a touchscreen so you can dial quickly and easily. Their phone plans run as low as $15 a month, however it can become expensive if you're not careful, so read on . . . .

What's in a Name?

Well, the word Jitterbug is probably meant to convey the swing or rock and roll dances of the past. So, if you were Sweet 16 in 1935 when Cab Calloway had his Jitterbug hit, then you are about 95 years old today. If you’ve made it to 95, then congratulations! If you need a mobile phone, you might find the Jitterbug cell phone useful if you forget numbers or how to use the handset’s phone book which your grandchildren have set up for you (even if know you could do it yourself).

If you were Sweet 16 in 1959 when the rock and roll versions of the Jitterbug were popular, then you are 71 years old today. You may find the Jitterbug useful, even if you want an iPhone.

And, if you were Sweet 16 in 1985 when “WHAM!” had their hit “Wake Me Up Before you Go Go” with the line “jitterbug into my brain”, then you are 46, a couple of years younger than me. If you're like me, you may a few senior moments now and then, but you may be interested in their touchscreen smartphone.

The Inventors

The Jitterbug phone was invented by Arlene Harris, and her husband, Marty Cooper, invented the first cell phone!

In 2007 the Reader's Digest voted the Jitterbug one of the 100 best things about America.


This first general Jitterbug phone was followed by the Jitterbug J, JItterbug Plus, Jitterbug 5 and Jitterbug Touch 3. There was also a basic Samsung R100 handset.

Previous Models

There are two previous Jitterbug models: one with a basic keypad with large visible buttons to dial, and one with just three buttons which you can set to call emergency numbers.

Jitterbug One Touch 3-Button Phone (discontinued)

A reader has written, "Your recommendation of the Jitterbug phone is right on except that they have discontinued the 3-button model and will not activate it if you purchase it from a different source...too bad because it was perfect for someone who is baffled by cell phone technology".

So you have to choose the Jitterbug Plus or the R100.

(They have also introduced an emergency device which may be a solution for some, though you can't make regular phone calls with it.)

Anyway, this phone had three big buttons: “OPERATOR”,”TOW”, and “911”. In addition you can use the up and down arrows to choose from “FRIEND”, “HOME”, and “TOW” (again), or “MYPHONE”. You can ask their operator to set it up for you or even do it online.

This makes it easy to set up or update the phone list for your parents or grandparents phone, rather than asking them to do it themselves or going through an operator.

Jitterbug Dial

As the name implies, you can actually dial a phone number with this phone. It’s got large easy-to-read buttons. It is true that some of those tiny phones now available sometimes make it very difficult to dial a number unless you use your nails.

As mentioned above, this phone was replaced by the Jitterbug J and the Jitterbug Plus.

Jitterbug Battery

The battery will last on standby mode for about 11 days. The talk time when fully charged is about 4 hours. It takes about 2.5 hours to charge the battery.


The parent company, Great Call, uses Verizon to provide the network coverage for these phones. So you can call anywhere in the US and Canada without roaming charges. And speaking of . . .


You can apparently call anywhere in the US and even use it in Canada. Unfortunately, you cannot yet buy a Jitterbug phone from a store in Canada but if you get it online, you can use it in Canada during short trips (but not for an extended period as your main phone).


While I was initially skeptical of the Jitterbug cell phone, I now think the Phone service is actually well-thought out. The Jitterbug makes calling easy both with its physical features and in the way you use the phone.

Got more questions? Check out the ratings, questions and reviews on this phone submitted by visitors to this site.