If you’re wondering what the smartphone buzz is about, GreatCall’s original Jitterbug Touch was a decent introduction for its audience of aging Americans to the world of Android smartphones. Its successor, the Jitterbug Touch 2 ($159.99 direct), sacrifices the convenient physical keyboard found in the original Touch while upgrading almost everything else. It doesn’t beat our Editors’ Choice, the Jitterbug Plus, with its excellent call quality or ease of use, but it’s a close second. While you can get GreatCall’s 5Star urgent response service and suite of medical apps on an iPhone or other Android phone, the Jitterbug Touch 2 bundles everything with its simplified Android interface and GreatCall’s data and calling plans, saving you a few bucks in the process.
Measuring 4.9 by 2.5 by 0.45 inches (HWD), the 4.9-ounce Touch 2 is about 0.7 ounces lighter than its predecessor. The handset is a rebranded Huawei Ascend Plus. It’s boxy, black, and completely plastic. On the back panel there’s a flashless camera and speaker. The right-side panel houses the volume rocker. The Power button and headphone jack are on the top edge, and the micro USB port is on the left. Popping off the back panel reveals the 1,750mAh battery and microSD card slot. Around front, underneath the screen, are Android’s capacitive Home, Back, and Menu buttons. There’s no physical emergency button, but it compensates by integrating one into the lock screen.
The display is a 4-inch, 800-by-480 TFT LCD with wide viewing angles. While not particularly sharp, the screen reproduces colors fairly accurately. Text is large and easy to read; it’s a definite improvement from the Jitterbug Touch’s tighter 3-inch display. While the Touch 2′s Jitterbug skin enlarges text and app icons, Android’s stock on-screen keyboard is small by comparison; I wish GreatCall had kept the previous Touch’s physical keyboard.
Connectivity and 5Star Urgent Response
The Touch 2 integrates 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi on the 2.4GHz band, Bluetooth 2.1, and GPS for pinpointing your location. Pairing the Touch 2 with a Jabra Style Bluetooth headset was easy enough, but required a trip through Android’s settings page to accomplish (more on that later).
In my tests, call quality was decent at best. My voice came through loud and relatively clear, though it was occasionally robotic sounding. Using a Bluetooth headset resulted in a more static-prone call with less noticeable noise cancellation. Speakerphone call results were fairly similar, and the speaker is loud enough indoors, but it can’t cut it on a busy street. The Touch 2 has an M4/T3 rating for hearing aid compatibility, slightly lower than the M4/T4 rating of the Jitterbug Plus. In our call time test, the Jitterbug Touch 2 lasted an impressive 7 hours and 54 minutes, beating the Jitterbug Plus by 2 hours and 17 minutes.
GreatCall’s real draw is its 5Star urgent response service and suite of medical applications. With a few button presses, you can contact an agent that can offer assistance or dispatch emergency services. They can also call your designated emergency contacts in an urgent situation. The apps are available for iOS and Android phones, but it’s a $15 monthly subscription; with this phone, those services are included in the service plan.
GoPlans range from $24.99 for 50 minutes to $69.99 for unlimited minutes every month. Every level of the GoPlan includes unlimited access to the 5Star urgent response service and 24/7 access to certified nurses or doctors from your phone through the Urgent Care app.
Data plans range from 10MB for $2.49 to the highest offering of 500MB for $25 per month. The data plans aren’t designed for heavy web browsers and video viewers. The flexibility is nice to have, though 10MB can be depleted with just a few days’ worth of email checking.
Performance and Medical Apps
The phone runs on a dual-core ARM Cortex A5 processor clocked at 1GHz with 512MB RAM. It isn’t the fastest phone on the block, but there’s enough processing power to make simpler Android apps run smoothly. And while the Touch 2 is running on Android 4.0.4, the OS is very heavily customized.
The simple skin offers two tabs: one for your favorite apps, the other for your favorite contacts. The lock screen displays the date and time, your phone number, and the aforementioned button for quick access to the 5Star urgent response app. While certain actions like adding apps to your favorites list are simple enough, removing apps, connecting to wireless networks, and adding Bluetooth devices are still as complicated as they are with a regular Android phone; shortcuts for some of these tasks would have been helpful.
Besides 5Star for emergencies, the Touch 2 comes loaded with MedCoach and Urgent Care. MedCoach lets you schedule reminders for pills, call your pharmacy for refills, and access a drug database to add your prescription to your list of medications and vitamins. The Urgent Care app gives you access to a medical database where you can look up symptoms for illnesses, and lets you contact nurses and doctors able to prescribe common medications and diagnose conditions on the phone.
Speed isn’t a priority on the Touch 2, so gaming and heavy Web browsing isn’t highly recommended. Games like Subway Surfers and Temple Run 2 were playable, though the phone isn’t really geared toward gamers. Multimedia playback isn’t a strong suit, either, but I wouldn’t expect it to be with this type of phone. The Touch 2 handled most audio files, save for FLAC and WMA, but for video, it couldn’t play DivX, AVI, or Xvid files, and 1080p MP4 files were choppy. The rear-facing speaker isn’t terrible, but it sounds tinny at higher volumes. You get 2.1GB of free storage, with a paltry 146MB available for installing apps, though you can install apps via the microSD card slot that supports cards up to 64GB.
Camera and Conclusion
The 5-megapixel rear camera isn’t bad for basic, well-lit photos. In my tests, there weren’t any real exposure issues indoors, and images were reasonably sharp, as long as the subject was still. The 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera is slow to focus and shoot. Video recording resolution tops out at 480p, and looks noisy in low-light situations. Frame rates often dropped to around 12fps when recording in darker situations, but were up to snuff in more favorable, brighter conditions. It’s definitely good enough for sending a quick clip to a friend or family member.
The Jitterbug Touch 2 isn’t a great Android phone, but it is a good smartphone for seniors. It doesn’t have a physical SOS button like Snapfon’s ezTwo, nor is it as simple to use as GreatCall’s other offering, the Jitterbug Plus flip phone, but it does fill the void for aging Americans who want access to basic smartphone apps as well as peace of mind. It’s an Android phone that takes decent still photos and lets you connect with your family with the apps they use.
|Phone Capability / Network||CDMA|
|Screen Resolution||800 x 480 pixels|
|Dimensions||4.9 x 2.5 x 0.45 (HWD) inches|
|Screen Type||TFT LCD|
|Operating System as Tested||Android 4.0.4|
|Camera Resolution||5-Megapixel Rear|
|Available Integrated Storage||2.1 GB|
|Processor Speed||1 GHz|
|Screen Size||4 inches|
|CPU||ARM Cortex A5|
|Form Factor||Candy Bar|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc