Mobile Alert Systems: Comparison Testing

By: the Editorial Team.  Updated: September 10, 2021.

 

mobile alert systems, reviews and comparison tests

 

We did hands-on, comparative evaluations of mobile alerts: a specific sub-category of medical alert systems — with the goal of helping people choose the best products in this category.

 

Overview, Background, and Context

At Tech-enhanced Life, our community of technologists, Longevity Explorers, and children of aging parents have been conducting hands-on, comparative evaluation of a wide variety of different medical alert products for years.

Our first comparative evaluation of mobile medical alert systems was done in 2015, and much of the details we learned in that evaluation are still relevant. You can see the original evaluation results here.

This page contains our most recent evaluations, and recommendations for the best mobile alert for specific life situations, current as of the date of last updating (see top of article). 

If you know you want a mobile medical alert system, read on. If you are just starting your research about medical alerts and need to understand what matters and why, start with our Topic Hub: Medical Alert Systems Selection Guide.

 

Table of Contents

 

 

 

What is a Mobile Medical Alert System?

We think of medical alerts as coming in two basic categories: systems to use "at home", and systems that are good both at home, and while you are "out and about".

A Mobile Medical Alert System is simply a medical alert system that incorporates technology that lets it operate when it is "out and about", rather than solely when it is in your home. 

An important decision to make, if you want a medical alert to use when "out and about", is between the conventional form factor for a mobile medical alert (a pendant with a large button you press in emergency), or one of the newer type of "medical alert watches", that look like a watch and often also include extra smartwatch features like step counting.

This article deals with conventional mobile medical alerts. 

Medical Alert Watches are their own category. You can learn all about them (and which we recommend, and why) at the link below.

 

Why Would You Want a Mobile Alert?

A mobile medical alert benefits anyone who has a lifestyle that involves (a) needing a medical alert and (b) spending significant time outside the home alone.

For example, for a person who goes for walks in the country by themself, or walks anywhere alone, or visits the shopping center alone, an "at home" medical alert will not function in any of those settings.

For more background on the different types of medical alerts, and which is most suitable for whom, see the Learning Module from our coverage of medical alert systems.

 

Some Negatives of Mobile Medical Alerts

There are some downsides to a Mobile Medical Alert.

To be able to communicate when out and about, the device needs to incorporate a cell connection. Many also include connection to the Global Positioning System (GPS), which requires a second wireless technology. These features makes mobile alerts bulkier and more power hungry than the "at home" products — which only work at home and thus do not need this wireless technology (they include a different wireless technology capable only of much shorter range, but requiring less power).

In addition to size, the main negative consequence is that mobile alerts need to be recharged relatively frequently.

Whereas some "at home" medical alerts contain a battery which you only need to charge maybe annually, a typical mobile medical alert needs recharging somewhere between daily and weekly, depending on the model and brand (with some outliers with lesser features that last for perhaps a month). 

 

 

About Our Research

We started evaluating medical alert systems when members of the Tech-enhanced Life community told us they were having great difficulty making sense of the competing marketing claims, and that there seemed to be no objective source of information on the Internet about these products.

In our initial evaluations we acquired, and did in-depth, hands-on evaluation of over 50 medical alert products, and then published our research in the form of a "Guide" and "Selection Tool" — so others could benefit from our work. We have updated this research multiple times, and expanded it, and today it represents a rather comprehensive resource for anyone who needs to find the right medical alert for a specific life situation.

The people who do the actual evaluations are technologists rather than journalists, and are themselves either older adults or the children of aging parents.

And for our initial research project, we recruited a panel of expert advisors to guide our questions, including clinicians and aging services professionals with extensive experience in working with the older adult population that uses these medical alert systems. Professional competencies in the advisor panel included social work, physio-therapy, and nursing, and experience operating independent living communities.

We strive to produce independent and objective research — with a focus on helping older adults and their families. 

Thus, our research is NOT funded by any of the vendors. Nor do we accept sponsored content or allow the medical alert manufacturers or distributors to influence what we write. For our initial research project we acquired all the products at our own expense, without the vendors being aware we were conducting the study. As we subsequently updated our research, we sometimes ask the vendors to loan us the equipment.

We do sometimes use affiliate links, which means that if you purchase products that you learn about on this website, we sometimes receive compensation as a result of being a member of an affiliate program. See How we Fund our Research

 

 

How to Choose the Best Mobile Alert for an Individual

  • If you want to understand the entire category in depth, develop your own "desired feature list", and then study in-depth reviews of products that include those desired features: we developed a Learning Module and a Selection Tool that allow just that. 
     
  • If you don't want to do all that work, and just want to be told what you should buy: we developed a series called Just Tell me What to Buy.

If you have got this far, and are sure you need a Mobile Medical Alert System, below are our specific recommendations for this category. 

 

 

Mobile Alert System "Short List"

There are many mobile medical alerts today. Most of the major medical alert vendors have a product like this in their lineup. They are typically called a mobile medical alert, or some similar term.

In this comparison article, we have included a "short list" of mobile alerts that performed well, and have a range of features that make them appropriate for different types of people.

 

Mobile Alert Short List

Caption: Mobile Medical Alert Systems

 

 

Short List: Included in this Comparison

Over the years we have evaluated rather a lot of products in this category of mobile medical alert systems.

For simplicity, we have included here those that are currently available, and which score relatively well in our evaluations. There are other mobile alerts we also evaluated, but did not include in this comparison article. To see the entirety of the products we have evaluated, use our Selection Tool. If you are interested in some of the historical evaluations, see "Mobile Medical Alert Evaluation: Archives".

The products we include in this comparison are as follow. [links go to our detailed reviews, where you can also find links to manufacturer's websites]

[NOTE on appearance. In 2021, the Freeus Belle + looks different than the version we tested in 2018. Our 2018 test model is identified in the picture above as "Freeus Belle + 2018". In 2021, both the Medical Guardian Active Guardian and the LifeFone At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice in Pendant are based on the Freeus Belle + and have the appearance of the Medical Guardian Active Guardian in the picture above.]

 

Selection Criteria

The two criteria for the products we analyzed in our "mobile alert" research were that they:

  • work everywhere there is cell coverage; and
  • are "monitored" (ie a professional responder recieves the alert rather than friends, family, or a direct call to 911).

Our selection tool identified 20 products that met these criteria for our initial evaluation. However, many of these are actually the same product, sold under different names by different distributors (it is rather confusing) See footnote (2) for some extra details.

In our original research back in 2015, we focused on products available in the USA, chose one example of each of the products that are resold by multiple distributors, eliminated a handful of products based on their feature set, and narrowed down our selection for testing to 5 hardware products (corresponding to 11 of the products on our list).

Each year since, we have evaluated any new products that have come to market, and updated the analysis accordingly. 
 

 

 

Comparisons

These products have many similarities but some important differences.

You can read additional details in each individual review, and in the historical evaluations here. But here are the key take-aways.

 

Distributors vs Manufacturers / Developers vs Monitoring Services

We think of a medical alert service as having three elements.

  • there is the actual product itself (the "system" / pendant etc etc);
  • there is the "monitoring service" in which a professional responder answers the "call for help" and performs triage by talking with the wearer of the alert and then if necessary calls emergency services;
  • there is the distribution, sales, and customer service aspect, in which the vendor takes your order and answers questions and bills you.

While a handful of the medical alert vendors perform all three of these elements themselves, the more typical model is for the medical alert vendor you actually deal with, or find on the Internet, to focus mainly on the sales and support element. The equipment itself is often made by one of a handful of third parties. And the monitoring service is often subcontracted to one of a (different) handful of call centers that specialize in this type of monitoring.

It's worth highlighting this aspect, because it is not well understood or much discussed, but is very relevant to this comparison article.

Most of the medical alert vendors you will find on the internet acquire the products from third party OEMs (original equipment manufacturers)  and rebrand them and sell them. This means that you can often find the exact same basic product, sold by two different vendors under different product names. This is confusing.

 

Note that Philips Lifeline and GreatCall develop and distribute their own products, and operate their own monitoring call centers.

MobileHelp develops and distributes its own products, but also resells them through other medical alert companies.

And companies like Medical Guardian, Bay Alarm, and LifeFone focus on customer service and support, and distribute products made by other companies (such as MobileHelp and Freeus). Note that there are other medical alert distributors that also sell rebranded versions of the MobileHelp and Freeus products mentioned here. If you come across those, and are considering them, you may find a review of them using our selection tool

 

Similarities

All of these products are designed to "work anywhere" (at least anywhere there is cell service). All involve some type of "wearable" that you carry with you at all times. When you activate the alert (or the built in fall detector in some cases activates the alert), a person in a call center responds and helps you (calling 911 if need be). And in each case, that responder can talk directly to you through the wearable and you can talk back to them.

All of these products communicate to the responder via the cellular network. The hardware products all include the components to do this in the product itself, and they do NOT use your cell phone or your cell minutes, or require you to worry about the cellular connection. 

 

Key Differentiating Features

The obvious differences between these products are:

  • whether or not they have built in automatic fall detection; 
  • whether or not they have built in location capability (GPS) (by 2021 this is pretty much standard in all products);
  • battery life (time between recharging — all have a rechargeable battery);
  • the cellular network on which they operate.

Price is also a very important differentiator for many people, of course.

 

PRODUCT

Automatic 
fall detection

Location 
capability

Battery 
life (3)

Annual Price
no
auto-fall
(1)

Annual Price 
incl.
auto-fall
(1)

Network

GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus

Yes GPS 1-3 days $350 $530 Verizon
Philips Lifeline GoSafe 2 Yes GPS+

1-3 weeks in our tests!!

Philips Lifeline claims 2-3 days.

  $699 AT&T
Medical Guardian Active Guardian
(rebranded version of the Freeus Belle+)
Yes GPS+ up to 5 days $440 $560 AT&T
LifeFone At home, On-the-Go GPS, Voice in Pendant
(rebranded version of the Freeus Belle+)
Yes GPS+

up to 5 days

(30 days if no fall detection capability)

$480 $540 AT&T or Verizon
LifeFone At home, On-the-Go GPS
(rebranded version of the MobileHelp Duo)
Yes GPS

1 day (mobile base station)

pendant: long

$444 $564 AT&T
MobileHelp Duo Yes GPS

1 day (mobile base station)

pendant: 18 months.

$444 $564 AT&T

Medical Guardian Mini Guardian

Yes GPS+ up to 5 days $440 $560 Verizon 

Notes:

  • (1) some of the products have automatic detection of falls as an optional extra. The pricing reflects this. "no auto-fall" means the price of the system without the auto-detection capability for falls. "incl. auto-fall" means the price including this auto-detection capability.
  • (2) GPS+ means that the product includes GPS and some other location technologies (eg WiFi). 
  • (3) see section below on battery life for more details. 

 

 

Our Comparison Test Protocol

Here is how we conducted our initial evaluations of this category of medical alerts in 2015.

"Over a period of two months I routinely wore some or all of these products during my daily routine. I learned which ones were convenient to use and which were not, although that is quite subjective. Every now and again I sat down at some location where I thought I would want to be sure the products worked, and one after the other I pressed the alert buttons and waited for the responder to come on the line.

In each case, I timed how long it took between when I pressed the button and when the responder started talking.

When I spoke with the responder, I explained we were testing the system, and asked them to tell me "where I am right now?". Typically, they were able to give me a street address and exact GPS coordinates. I cross checked these with my map.

I carried out this routine on 20 occasions in 15 different locations, mostly in the San Francisco Bay area, but once on a roadtrip to Sacramento and several times in Tahoe City. The locations ranged from out on a trail during a small walk, to on the seventh floor of the parking garage I use to go to evening events downtown. I included both indoor and outdoor locations, and tried to select the locations based on where I would expect people's everyday routine to take them." .... Richard Caro

As we added new products, or retested old products, in subsequent years, we used a simplified version of this protocol — but the same basic idea: real-world, day-to-day, evaluations.  

 

General Impressions

The professional responders who answer the "call for help" have almost always been friendly and pleasant. 

 

"Works Everywhere"? The Cell Networks

In our testing in the San Francisco Bay Area we saw very few problems due to cell network coverage. However, in areas where one or other of the carrier networks has better coverage than others, this could be an important differentiator. As you hone in on a specific product, check that the carrier it uses (see table above) has good coverage where you want to use the product. 

In 2021, the mobile alert products use varying "generations" of cellular network. We prefer to see a product that uses a 4G network at a minimum. 

 

Response Speed

All the hardware products we have evaluated had fairly good response times.

Most typically, it takes a minute or so between when you press the button and when someone "answers". And in almost every case there is an answer in less than 2 minutes.

However there were some significant differences if one feels that minutes matter.

At one extreme, the GreatCall products have very fast response. The responder was usually talking to us within less than 15 seconds of pressing the button in our initial evaluations back in 2015, and in more recent testing, response time is still the fastest in the category, and typically less than 30 seconds.

At the opposite extreme was Philips Lifeline. Their responder typically came on the line after well over a minute. The other products fell in between these extremes, mostly in the range of 30-60 seconds.

Does this matter? Well, it depends on the purpose for which you have the medical alert.

If you worry mostly about falling, breaking a hip, and lying there for hours, the difference of a minute in calling for help makes no difference at all.

On the other hand, if you worry about having some type of cardiac event and are hoping the emergency services people reach you before circulation loss leads to brain damage, minutes matter a lot.

 

Location Capability

The results in this section were a bit surprising in our initial evaluation, and the pattern we saw then continues in more recent products.

The big picture is that (at least out of doors) most of the products know where you are most of the time.

But they are far from "perfect". Each of them was off by a block or two at least once in our initial evaluation. In more recent testing this pattern continued.

If you can talk to the responder, and are alert, this may not matter. But if you are confused or have become unconscious, this could be important.

In using these products, a good rule to remember is that they can only "sort of" locate you. On the other hand, that is infinitely better than not being able to locate you at all.

The other point to note is that GPS does not work well at all indoors. 

For example (from the initial evaluations):

"When I simulated hurting myself on the seventh floor of the downtown parking garage, the systems all knew I was within a block or two of where I actually was. But none of them would have known which floor I was on (GPS does not know about height). This would make finding me tricky if I could not speak."

(See below for a special feature in this regard by the Philips Lifeline GoSafe 2).

 

Responder Training and Services

In this analysis we have not tried to cover the differences between the responder call centers that each of these systems uses.

Details that we currently think will be important differentiators for some people include: multi-language capability; level of responder training and certification; call center redundancy; whether or not the responders offer additional services beyond emergency response; and how well the companies protect and keep private the data they are collecting.

Many of the companies claim that they "have a US based call center", and suggest that distinguishes them from their competitors. However, we have yet to discover a responder among the products we have tested that is not in the USA, so we don't think that is a very useful differentiating feature.

 

Battery Life and Ease of Charging

This is a critical area of competitive differentiation.

Battery life and ease of charging has improved considerably since we started evaluating these products. The baseline for this category of medical alerts is that you are expected to charge them daily.

However, as of 2021:

  • Battery Life for the Philips Lifeline GoSafe 2 is extremely impressive. In our tests the lifetime was roughly two weeks! So a weekly charge seems very realistic, which would be a big step forward.
  • The Medical Guardian Active Guardian has a battery life in our tests of over 4 days.
  • The GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus had a battery life in our tests of over 3 days
  • The LifeFone At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice-In-Pendant has a version without fall detection with a claimed battery life of 30 days. The version with fall detection has a claimed battery life of 5 days.

While all the products have a light that tells you if charging is needed, the Philips product talks to you and is quite personable, and reminds you exactly when and how to charge it.

There is a very important subtlety in regard to charging. Most of these products have a form factor of a single "pendant" that you wear around the neck. It is the pendant itself that needs to be charged daily (or maybe every second day). This is not at all inconvenient, and you can charge it by the bed at night. However, it does mean that while you are charging the pendant you most likely are not wearing it, and that could be just the time you need it. Philips Lifeline makes a point that you can charge the pendant while wearing it, but we did not think that was at all realistic.

In contrast, for the MobileHelp Duo (and the LifeFone At Home & On-the-Go, GPS) the pendant has its own battery with a very long life (18 months, according to the manual). The thing that needs daily charging is the portable base station. And while that is charging, the pendant / wearable continues to work just fine, communicating with either the main base station or the portable base station depending on how things are set up. This makes it far more likely that one would keep the wearable on 24/7, and for many that may be a decisive factor!

 

Sound Quality

It is important that you can clearly hear the responder when they call you back through the wearable after you press the alert button.

The Philips Lifeline GoSafe 2 stands out in this respect. It is very loud and very clear. All the other hardware products had quite adequate sound quality.

Reviewer comments: "In noisy places I needed to put them near my head. If I were hard of hearing I would definitely favor the Philips Lifeline product in this regard, although I think the other products are quite acceptable."

 

Ease of Use, Appearance, and Wearability

The main problem with this whole class of products is that they are all quite ugly and they scream "I am old and frail and need help". Many of the older adults in our Explorer circles dislike that aspect of them, and we are frequently told this is a reason people don't wear them.

Most of these products are similar in appearance. They are a pendant that you wear around the neck with a large button you can press for help. We felt the "ease of use, appearance and wearability" was relatively similar in most cases. But, note the following.

  • The LifeFone At Home & On-the-Go, GPS (same hardware as the MobileHelp Duo) includes an extra component. It belongs to the "portable base station" flavor of product. As such, it is quite a bit more clunky than the other products. But it has a big benefit. Namely, it works both out and about, as well as at home, where it connects via its home base station. And the wearable itself can be quite a bit smaller than in the case of the "all in one" products that make up the rest of the list.

The final wearability issue has to do with whether you would wear each of these in the shower. All the products we recommend are capable of being worn in the shower. However they are fairly bulky, and we question how frequently people really wear them in the shower.

 

Weight of the pendants

Product name Weight (oz)
of pendant
Philips Lifeline GoSafe 2 2.1
GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus 2.0
Medical Guardian Active Guardian
(rebranded version of the Freeus Belle+)
2.1
LifeFone At home, On-the-Go, GPS
(rebranded version of the MobileHelp Duo)
1.0
Medical Guardian Mini Guardian 1.3

NOTES on weight (from reviewer):

  • This was done with our kitchen scale. I expect the relative weights to be accurate. The absolute numbers may be off a bit. I did not try and calibrate the scale.
  • The MobileHelp weight refers only to the pendant (the fall detection version). It also requires the portable base station of course, which weighs an additional 2.4 oz. However, this weight goes away when you are at home, and when out and about I am assuming it goes either on your belt or in your purse, and is not too bothersome as a result.
  • The Mini Guardian weight is from the company's website. We did not weigh it ourselves.  

 

 

Finding You When GPS Fails

Reviewer comments: "After testing these products I have the opinion that you don't want to fall and hit your head inside, in a large multistory building. With one exception, the responders explained to me that if the GPS was not giving a good reading and they could not talk to me, that would be a problem.

The exception is the Philips Lifeline GoSafe product. When I discussed this issue with the responder from Philips Lifeline, they explained to me that the pendant contains a very loud siren, and that if they get an alert and don't know where I am and can't talk to me, they will activate the siren to help the emergency responders track me down. This struck me as an excellent solution to the fact that GPS is not perfect."

 

At Home Connectivity

Each of these devices works wherever there is cell coverage. Some people have poor cell coverage in some parts of their house, and most of these types of products will not work in those places, because they rely solely on cell coverage to communicate to the responder.

The MobileHelp Duo (LifeFone, At Home & On-the-Go, GPS) products include a type of dual functionality.

When they are away from home they use the cell network to communicate, as do the other products. But when they are "at home", they communicate via a base station in the house. The communication between pendant and home base station uses a more robust type of wireless communication than the cell network, and is much less likely to have dead spots. So these two products are a bit more "perfect" than the others, in terms of working at home in areas where cell reception is bad. 

 

 

 

Best Mobile Alert: Recommendations, 2021

Since we started evaluating mobile medical alerts, the products have converged somewhat in terms of features and performance. In 2021 there are several we recommend, but think the differences are relatively subtle.

We think the right product choice depends on the type of life circumstance a person has. Here is our summary.

 

Want the Best Possible "Safety"

The Philips Lifeline GoSafe 2 represents the gold-plated Mercedes of these products, in terms of emergency response.

The performance seems excellent in all aspects that we tested, except speed of response. It has many nice "precision engineering features" which you can read about in our GoSafe 2 review (eg siren; loudness; ergonomics). 

Perhaps the most stand out feature is its battery life. In our tests, the battery lasted roughly two weeks before needing to be recharged. There are many situations in which this makes a big difference. (NOTE: the Philips Lifeline website claims battery life of "up to 2-3 days". We can't explain this discrepancy. If you try the device add a comment and tell us how long your battery lasts).

However, it looks like a medical product, which some see as a plus and some as a minus. It is not a lifestyle type of product at all. And it costs the most of the products we looked at. In addition, when the company discontinued the GoSafe, which had an extra home base station that helped when there was poor cell reception in the house, it eliminated an especially useful feature.

If response time is more important to you than these other advantages, then you should consider one of the GreatCall products recommended below.

 

Care About Additional "Lifestyle" Services

The GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus is more of a lifestyle product. It also seems to work very well as a medical alert. And the option with the lowest number of "services" is very cost competitive.

The reason we call it a "lifestyle product" is that it comes with a range of extra "services" that go beyond traditional emergency response, and which may be very useful to some people (including 24/7 access to a doctor or nurse, and a web-based application to connect the older adult with family and friends).

And the responders encourage you to call them for a variety of reasons that are far less extreme than "I've fallen and can't get up". For example, they encourage you to call if you get a flat tire or get lost.

It has some imperfections as an emergency response system (would not work in a room with poor cell coverage at home; less loud; no siren; would you really shower with it?). But many people will find the combination of performance and price hits the sweet spot. And if speed of response is important to you, this product has the best response time.

With a battery life of several days, it needs charging more often than the Philips Lifeline product. We think a good plan would be to plan to charge it daily.

 

A Competitor to Consider

If you want to broaden your search, products based on the Freeus Belle +m— such as the Active Guardian, from Medical Guardian, or the LifeFone At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice-In-Pendant — are also very good. While it does not have the lifestyle features of the GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus, its medical alert features are extremely similar. And Medical Guardian and LifeFone are very well regarded medical alert companies.

 

When Size Matters

Medical Guardian has a relatively new product called the Mini Guardian

We have not done a hands-on evaluation, but the specs on the website look excellent. You can see our review of the features at the link below.

As best we can tell, it has pretty much all the features we look for in this type of product, and is very similar in terms of medical alert function to both the GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus and the Medical Guardian Active Guardian, both of which we have evaluated and like.

AND, the key feature is — it is somewhat lighter and smaller than the competitors.

 

When Battery Life Matters Most

The LifeFone At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice-In-Pendant has a version without fall detection with a claimed battery life of 30 days. [The version with fall detection has a claimed battery life of 5 days.]

 

Special Circumstances

The above choices might not be ideal in the following situations:

  • poor cell reception in key areas in your house;
  • really need a much smaller, wrist-style "pendant";
  • can't manage the charging, even if it's only weekly.

The MobileHelp Duo product (and the numerous rebranded versions in our database — we bought the LifeFone At Home & On-the-Go, GPS) is a system that uses a base station while at home, but works via cell network when out and about. It is clunky, needing an extra portable base station. But if you normally carry a purse, or don't mind having a pouch on your belt, that may not matter.

The big advantages of the MobileHelp product (and its rebranded derivatives) over the other products above are:

  • It should work well everywhere at home even if you have poor cell reception.
  • You can wear a small pendant or watch-type button (with a long battery life) as the wearable — which might lead to wearing it more often.
  • The wearable can perhaps be less obtrusive in some cases if that is important.

The other big advantage of the MobileHelp product is that the MobileHelp wearable has a battery with a long life (over a year). This is because the part that needs frequent charging is in the portable base station (daily charging), whereas for the other products above it is in the pendant.

There are situations in which it might be an advantage not needing to charge the wearable daily or weekly. (You still need to worry about charging the mobile base station before going out, of course.)

 

 

 

What About Costs and Contracts?

The product costs change frequently, and the best sources for pricing are the websites of the vendors (see reviews for the website links). But see also the table further up the page.

Pricing can be confusing.

In general, there is an upfront fee to acquire or activate the product, and an ongoing monthly "monitoring fee". Some products have a much larger upfront cost, then a lower monthly cost.

We typically add up the costs and compare how much the product would cost in total over one or two years. This sometimes leads to surprising results.

Most of the medical device distributors have a fairly simple set of "terms". You can typically cancel the relationship on a month or two's notice.

However beware. It "used" to be the practice to lock you in to a lengthy, multi-year contract that was hard to get out of. And a handful of vendors still take this approach.

Our advice: ask specifically about the contract, and avoid any vendor that has a contract that obligates you for more than a month or two or three of service.

All the recommended products in this article have straightforward business terms with no long contracts. 

 

 

Learn More

To see more reviews and comparisons of medical alert systems, see our Topic Hub (green button below)

View our full Medical Alert Systems: Guide.

 

View our detailed product reviews (and find links to the manufacturer websites)

See the recommended product listings at the bottom of the page and in the side bar (if you are reading this on a big screen). 

 

 

 

 

Footnotes

(1) Pricing

In the table above we estimate a rough total annual cost for each product. The products typically come with some up-front fee, and a monthly fee, but we think comparing annual total cost is a good way to have a single number to compare.

The pricing here is based on the prices shown on the company's websites as of February 2021. In some cases there are specific features you can add for additional cost, but we ignored that for the purposes of comparison — except for fall detection which we called out in a separate column. In our product analysis pages, we include links to the company websites where you can see the latest prices. Use the table above only as a guide please.

 

(2) Product selection background

The way the emergency response industry works is that a handful of companies make actual hardware products that are then remarketed under a variety of different names by a much larger group of resellers. This is why, when you look at our selection tool and search for products by characteristics, you see a number of identical-looking products with different names, from different vendors. Thus the results above apply to a broad range of products from different vendors.

We did not test the GreatCall Jitterbug, although it gets excellent reviews, simply because, as a cell phone with built in emergency button, it is a little different from other products in this analysis. It uses the same 5 star response service as other GreatCall products.

For each of the products we reviewed, you can read detailed, hands-on test results in the detailed product analysis for that product. We also have included some desk analysis for all the other products in our database. You can access all this material through our main report home page here.

 

 

The Medical Alert Email Series & Lecture

Get our series of bite-sized, email insights on medical alerts: 

  • It starts with a recorded overview lecture by Dr. Caro; and
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Detailed Reviews

LifeFone, At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice-In-Pendant

LifeFone Medical Alert

 

Philips Lifeline, GoSafe 2

Philips Lifeline GoSafe 2

 

GreatCall, Lively Mobile Plus

Lively Mobile Plus Medical Alert pendant

 

LifeFone, At-home & On-the-Go GPS

LifeFone, At-home & On-the-Go: Review

 

Medical Guardian, Active Guardian

Medical Guardian Active Guardian

 

Medical Guardian, Mini Guardian

Medical Guardian, Mini Guardian

 

MobileHelp, Duo

MobileHelp Duo

 

 

*Disclosure: If you use the links above when you buy products we write about, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate or other affiliate program participant. This does not affect the price you pay.

Beyond this, we have no financial interest in the products discussed here, and this article is not sponsored or supported in any way by any product vendor. See How we Fund our Work.

 

 

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Reader Comments: "Mobile Alert Systems: Comparison Testing"

 

from Niela Miller (unverified) at February 26, 2016

This is a relatively new alert system.  I am a Consumer Cellular customer and wonder how it stacks up against other  (we've got you covered anywhere) systems  ie whether to stick with the one offered by my phone company or get a separate one. 

 

from Richard-Caro (member) at February 26, 2016

Hi Niela: I have not played with the Ally. But if you look at the picture on their wesbite is seems pretty clear they are selling a rebranded version of the Numera Libris discussed in the article above. We bought a version from Medical Guardian called "Premium Guardian". But these are all the same basic product.

One thing to check on would be to find out which call center they are using for the responders.

If you are interested in this product I would follow the links to the detailed review of the product we did, which you can find in the article above.

 

from mmhandel3 (member) at September 14, 2017

Do employees in the mobile alert call centers receive more than latitude and longitude information from the GPS component of the pendants?

 

from Linda Jennings (member) at May 06, 2021

I am looking for a mobile alert for my 91-year-old father who lives alone. It looks like the three top recommendations for him are the Phillips, Great Call and Mobile Help.

My biggest concern at this point is the charging part. I think if he takes it off, he will forget to put it back on. I'm concerned that if he takes it off while he sleeps, he won't be wearing it when he uses the bathroom in the middle of the night. I am thinking he might be able to charge it while he eats his breakfast - that maybe that could become part of his routine over time.

Does anyone know how long it takes for these 3 alerts to fully charge? If you do and wouldn't mind sharing, I would be ever so grateful! Thank you!

 

from tel-editors (member) at May 06, 2021

Hi Linda: You are right to think carefully about charging. We don't have records of exact charging times for the products in the evaluation, and anyway they tend to vary from device to device. But if you thought of charging as taking somewhere between 1-3 hours, that would likely be a good starting assumption. Others with direct experience are welcome to add their views.

 

from Linda Jennings (member) at May 12, 2021

Thanks!  I'm thinkikng of going with the Phillips.  It lasts the longest so I'm guessing that if he charged it every day it would stay pretty charged, even if it didn't get to 100%.  And maybe have someone check it every week or so as a back up.  

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Topic(s): 
Key words: 
mobile medical alert, mobile alert systems, mobile medical alert systems, mobile personal emergency response systems

Last Updated: September 10, 2021.