MobileHelp vs GreatCall

COVID-19 Update: Medical Alerts are considered essential devices during the COVID crisis, so monitoring and customer service centers are still open and ready to help. To learn more about how these and other essential products can keep older adults safe and connected during this crisis, take a look at our list of 10 essential products.

Getting older often leads to challenges such as vision loss, limited mobility and reduced balance that can increase the risk of suffering from a sudden fall or other medical emergency. In fact, one in four Americans aged 65 and older experience one or more accidental falls every year, making falls the leading cause of acute and fatal injuries among seniors.

Not only are falls linked to serious injuries in older adults, but the fear of falling or needing emergency assistance can lead to premature placement in a nursing home or other care facility. The good news is that seniors and their caregivers can now choose from dozens of medical alert systems which connect subscribers to a 24/7 monitored call center at the touch of a button. These simple devices can provide seniors with the security they need to feel safe while at home and in the community.

MobileHelp vs. GreatCall — Which One is Better?

Shopping for medical alert systems can be overwhelming, given the wide variety of devices, services and features available on the market today. To help you pick the right personal call system for yourself or a loved one we’ve created a series of side-by-side comparison articles that make it easy for you to understand the costs and options offered by the leading medical alert companies.

Today we’re reviewing MobileHelp and GreatCall. Below you’ll find a table that outlines all the must-know details about each company followed by the pros and cons of each, the pricing, and our pick for the best medical alert system.

MobileHelp GreatCall

COSTS

Up-Front Equipment

$0-$349.95

$49.99

Monthly Monitoring

$19.95-$41.95

$14.99-$39.99

Activation Fee

$0

$25-$35

CONTRACT

Long-Term Contract?

No

No

Optional Monthly Add-Ons

Fall detection +$10/month

N/A

FEATURES

Water-Resistant Wearable Devices

Yes

Yes

Fall Detection

Yes

Yes

GPS Location Monitoring Available?

Yes

Yes

Mobile App/Online Dashboard

Yes

Yes

RELIABILITY/PERFORMANCE

Connection

Landline or cellular (AT&T 4G/LTE)

4G/LTE cellular (AT&T network)

Range (From in-home base unit for landline service)

Up to 600′ depending on the location

N/A

Battery Life on Help Button

In-home pendant and wrist button are non-rechargeable and rated to last 5 years

Up to 48 hours for the MobileHelp smart watch

Up to 24 hours on the mobile GPS pendant

Battery in Lively Wearable never needs charging, can be replaced by user as needed

Battery Back-up on Base Unit

Up to 30 hours

N/A

OPTIONAL ACCESSORIES

PIN-protected lockbox

Up to 3 wireless wall-mountable HELP buttons (for in-home systems)

TRELAWEAR smart pendant

N/A

Overview of MobileHelp

Based in Boca Raton, Florida, MobileHelp offers a wide range of in-home and mobile medical alert systems monitored by their U.S. call center. MobileHelp only hires operators who have at least two years of post-secondary education or who have completed a minimum of two years of military service. The company uses a third-party translation provider to answer calls for help in over 200 languages.

MobileHelp’s emergency call buttons include a basic in-home device that can connect to either a landline or cellular network, mobile medical alert buttons, a medical smart watch, and a collection of jewelry-style medical alert pendants. Fall detection and GPS location tracking is available on compatible devices, and there is a caregiver app that authorized user can access to check the location of their loved one.

One of the most innovative devices offered by MobileHelp is the MobileHelp Smart, a Samsung smart watch that is specially made for use as a medical alert button. This watch is equipped with a cellular transmitter that connects with the AT&T 4G network nationwide, a speakerphone and a few select health tracking apps. Users need to pay $349.95 to purchase this smart watch in addition to the monthly monitoring fee, and the watch must be recharged on the wireless charging cradle every two days.

The company also offers the industry’s only dual help button system, the Mobile Duo, which lets two users in the same household share the cost of a mobile medical alert system. This system includes fall detection and GPS locating anywhere there is AT&T cell service, making it a good option for couples who are active in the community.

Pros of MobileHelp:

  • Two U.S. call centers staffed by experienced emergency operators
  • Cellular services provided through the AT&T 4G wireless network
  • One of only a few medical alert companies that offer a medical alert smart watch
  • Offers the TRELAWEAR jewelry-style medical alert pendants that can be used in place of traditional medical alert buttons
  • No contracts
  • The MobileHelp app lets authorized caregivers and loved ones check on the status of a user through a mobile phone, tablet or computer
  • The MobileHelp smart watch includes a step counter, GPS locator, prominent help button and wireless charging cradle
  • The Mobile DUO system lets two users in the same household share one medical alert system

Cons of MobileHelp:

  • Monitoring fees are not locked in and may increase over time
  • The high upfront cost of the MobileHelp Smart watch may be prohibitive for some users
  • Fall detection isn’t offered on the MobileHelp Smart device
  • Subscribers need to pay for a full year of service in advance to get the lowest possible monitoring price

Overview of GreatCall

GreatCall is the medical alert arm of Best Buy, the nationwide electronics retailer. GreatCall also has a lineup of senior-orientated cell phones known as Jitterbug.

GreatCall has two medical alert devices, the Lively Wearable and the Lively Mobile Plus. The Lively Wearable is unique in that is works in conjunction with a compatible smartphone running either Android or iOS (Apple). When a user presses the Lively Wearable button within range of their linked cell phone, the system automatically launches the speakerphone on their cell phone and places a call to the GreatCall monitoring center.

The Lively Mobile Plus is an all-in-one medical alert device that includes fall detection, GPS locating and nationwide coverage through an integrated cellular SIM card. Both GreatCall medical alert devices are waterproof, making them safe for use in the shower. Unlike many other medical alert systems, there are no base units connected to either GreatCall device.

In addition to the usual 24/7 medical alert monitoring services, GreatCall offers an Urgent Care service that connects callers with a medical doctor or registered nurse.

Unfortunately, GreatCall has experienced ongoing supply issues with both of these medical alert devices, and neither one is currently available for purchase.

Pros of GreatCall:

  • Help buttons are safe for use in wet environments
  • $25 referral credit provided through the Refer-a-Friend program
  • GreatCall operators are IAED certified and trained in CPR
  • Call response service is available in over 100 languages through a third-party translation company
  • Offers optional Urgent Care service that connects callers with a registered nurse or board-certified doctor without insurance or a co-payment
  • Battery on Lively Mobile Plus lasts up to 80 hours on one charge
  • A magnetic breakaway lanyard is included with the Lively Mobile Plus

Cons of GreatCall:

  • Fall detection feature only works when devices are worn around the neck on the included lanyard; Lively Wearable does not detect falls when worn on wrist
  • Subscribers who cancel within 30 days are charged shipping fees, taxes and an undisclosed restocking fee
  • GreatCall’s Lively Mobile device was temporarily recalled in mid-2019 because the fall detection feature didn’t work as advertised
  • Service may be unreliable in areas where Verizon cell service is poor
  • For fall detection service, subscribers must pay for the Ultimate Health & Safety Package, the most expensive option offered

Price Comparison

GreatCall monthly monitoring costs start at $24.99 for the Lively Mobile Plus, while comparable service from MobileHelp costs $19.95 per month. GreatCall customers must pay $49.99 for either GreatCall device, and monthly monitoring fees start at $14.99.

By comparison, MobileHelp’s equipment is included in all service plans with the exception of the MobileHelp Smartwatch and the TRELAWEAR pendant, which must be purchased separately. Neither company charges activation fees.

Our Pick

While we like the devices offered by both MobileHelp and GreatCall, we recommend MobileHelp because GreatCall has had ongoing supply chain issues that have impacted the availability of their medical alert devices. We like the features offered by GreatCall and the low price of the Lively Wearable device, but we simply can’t recommend a company that isn’t able to maintain a reliable supply of the hardware that’s needed to make its services function.

On the other hand, MobileHelp’s full lineup of devices are available for shipping right away, making this company a better bet for those who are deciding between MobileHelp and GreatCall. We like the wide range of service plans and products offered by MobileHelp, and their monthly monitoring costs are comparable to similar monitored medical alert services.

Compare More Medical Alert Systems

To learn more about other medical alert systems, take a look at our other head-to-head comparisons of the top emergency call devices and systems.