The first Jitterbug phone was released almost three years ago, and since then, the name Jitterbug has become synonymous with senior-friendly phones. Indeed, that was the target demographic of GreatCall, the company behind the Jitterbug phone and service. The original phones were the Samsung Jitterbug Dial and the Samsung Jitterbug One Touch--both are large, easy-to-use phones with big buttons, which are great for the elderly or for those who like a really simple phone. The Dial had a regular number keypad, while the One Touch only had three buttons for emergency purposes. They both were designed to make and receive calls and little else.
Now, Jitterbug has released a new phone that is just as easy to use, but it has a few more features. Perhaps meant to entice more than just the elderly, Jitterbug calls the new Samsung Jitterbug J "the phone for everyone." The two most notable additions to the Jitterbug J are the capability to send and receive text messages, and Bluetooth support. Aside from that, it has pretty much the same features as the old Jitterbug phones.
The Jitterbug phone is tied to the Jitterbug service, which is a mobile virtual network operator that piggybacks on top of other carriers. The company has made deals with various major CDMA carriers as well as several regional providers to provide nationwide coverage. However, note that the Jitterbug service isn't available everywhere--you'll have to check to see if your area is covered. Therefore, when you buy the phone, you're also buying into the service-you can't just use a Sprint or Verizon account, for example. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, since part of the appeal of the Jitterbug is that you can get 24-hour operator services by dialing "0."
The Samsung Jitterbug J is not cheap though, as it is available for $147. There's also a one-time setup fee of $35, though this is waived for each additional user. However, there's no contract required. Rate plans start at $14.99 a month for 50 anytime minutes, all the way to $79.99 a month for 1,000 anytime minutes and 500 nights and weekend minutes. You can also choose the prepaid plan option for $0.05 to $0.35 per minute.
On the outside, the Samsung Jitterbug J is the spitting image of the Jitterbug Dial. It is a big, rounded clamshell like the original, measuring about 4 inches long by 2 inches wide by 1 inch thick and weighing at a rather hefty 4.4 ounces. It comes in both dark gray and white. On the front is a 1-inch monochrome external display that shows basic information like the time, date, and caller ID. Underneath the display is a rubberized volume rocker, which seems like an odd place for it since you have to reach behind the phone to adjust the volume. The phone feels very comfortable in the hand, and thanks to the soft rubber ear cushion surrounding the speaker, it feels comfortable when held against the ear as well. According to Jitterbug, the ear cushion is built to accommodate hearing aids too.
As with the original Jitterbug, the Jitterbug J has a dial tone when you open it. This definitely makes the Jitterbug J feel like a real landline telephone, which is a good thing for those who may not be familiar with cell phones. The main display is a nice and colorful 2.2-inch display with 65,000 colors. It's very bright and you're immediately greeted with a simple scrolling list of options that range from Voice Mail to Phone Book, along with your phone number at the top. You then select an option on the list by hitting either the Yes or No button in the navigation array. There's no crazy wallpaper to select or any fancy animated menu icons--the navigation is just as simple as can be. So simple that you can't even customize the display all that much--you can't change the brightness, the backlight time, or even the font size. Not that you'd want to change the font size anyway, the font size is already quite big. The fanciest thing you can do to customize the look of the display is to change the colors of the upper and lower border.