GreatCall, Lively Wearable: Review

Lively Wearable 2

The Basics

Product name: Lively Wearable 

Manufacturer / Distributor: GreatCall

Compilation: October 2017. Updated Q2 2020.


This page contains our GreatCall | Lively Wearable review.



Analyst Summary: GreatCall | Lively Wearable

This is a very interesting addition to the medical alert landscape, solving several problems that are common among other product offerings. However, the design tradeoffs the company has made in developing the product mean that it also has some limitations.

Our overall take on the Lively Wearable is that it is an excellent solution for a specific type of person. But probably not suitable for the majority of older adults. Read on to learn more about why we say that, and which type of person it is especially good for.

Update: This review was updated to cover the Lively Wearable 2 in Q2 2020.


A Different Approach to Medical Alerts

Nice form factor

The unusual aspect of this medical alert is that it combines a small convenient form factor with the ability to "go anywhere". The button itself is quite a lot smaller than say the "Lively Mobile" from the same manufacturer.

The reason this is possible is that much of the actual functionality of the medical alert is contained in an accompanying smartphone "App". And so the sheer volume of stuff that needs to be squashed into the button is much less than for other "go anywhere" medical alerts.


How it works

The way this product works is that you have a relatively innocuous medical alert "button" which you can either wear like a watch or as a pendant. And then an App on your smartphone that does the work of using GPS to know where you are, and then if you press the button, of calling the call center for help.


Need a smartphone with you

Because the smartphone does much of the work, this medical alert will only work correctly when you have a smartphone relatively nearby. We did not test exactly how nearby the smartphone needs to be but we think it is likely of the order of 30 feet or so. So you don't need the smartphone on your person at all times. But you can't leave the house without it. And you probably can't go to the end of your large garden without your smartphone and expect this alert to work either.

This is the one big "issue" with this product. If you are the sort of person who has a smartphone on them at all times, this product might be an excellent choice. But if you like to leave your smartphone behind, or often turn it off and leave it in your purse, this product would not be a good choice.


Greatly improved cosmetics. But still not great.

One of the positive aspects of this product is that it looks a bit like a "Swatch". We showed it to several of our explorer circles, and the general response to the cosmetics was much more positive than most medical alerts we have tested. You can hear what explorers thought about the Lively Wearable at the discussions below:


UPDATE: March 2020:

The model we originally tested was a white one (the Lively Wearable 1), and some of our explorers liked the color while others did not. In Q1 2020 GreatCall came out with a newer version of this product, called the Lively Wearable2. It is black and looks quite stylish. In Q2 2020 we acquired and tested the Lively Wearable 2 as well, and updated this review where needed.

Lively Wearable

With the original white model, after wearing it around for a month or two, it started to show some wear and tear. We are unsure if the new black model is also more robust, as we have not done any sort of "extended wear test". But the black color seems less likely to show the wear.

For the original model, our comment was "It is made of plastic and not really very elegant. While it is a lot better than many of the other medical alerts out there, we think there is still a long way to go before one would be proud to wear it."

We have the same observation for the Lively Wearable 2, especially when juxtaposed next to something like an Apple Watch.


Some excellent performance qualities

This product connects to the GreatCall call center, which we have talked about in reviews of other GreatCall products. The responsiveness of the operators is excellent. Read our extensive comparative evaluation of mobile medical alerts to see further discussion of how this company's responsiveness compares with the competitors.

The Lively Wearable also takes advantage of the smartphone's ability to use GPS to know where it is. This seems to work rather well, and better than many of the standalone medical alert systems. This is also discussed in the mobile alert comparative analysis above, with some additional information in our comparison of medical alert Apps.

Unlike many of the mobile alerts that need charging every day or two, this one has a battery that for us lasted about a month before it needed to be replaced (in our tests of the original model). It is a small battery you can replace, not a rechargeable. We have not tested the battery life of the new model introduced in Q1 2020, but would be surprised if it was not at least as good.

You can wear this product in the shower, which is important. And because it does not need daily charging and can be worn on the wrist, we think you are much more likely to actually wear it in the shower than bulkier pendant-type products, or products that need daily charging.


Some design flaws

Apart from the need for a smartphone, and the "not perfect" appearance, we noticed two major areas of imperfection (or at least of "irritation") in our testing of the original model. We don't think they are deal killers, however. But something to be aware of.


Battery Compartment

The battery for this product is contained in a compartment under the pendant. The cover is made of plastic and we found it jammed after a few uses. Further more, the slot you are meant to use to unscrew the battery compartment is quite flimsy and wears out after some forceful attempts to tighten and losen it. After a couple of months, the cover was stuck and we could no longer replace the battery. No doubt we could have found a way to get it off with some suitable tools, but at that point we lost enthusiasm and gave up. :)

Lively wearable battery compartment

Battery compartment: Lively Wearable 1

The black Lively Wearable 2 does not seem any different as far as the battery compartment is concerned, so we anticipate some similar problems. Although so far in our testing the problems have not recurred.

Be cautious about how you open and close the battery compartment.



Another "irritation" was related to the need to "pair" the medical alert with the smartphone App. This is an essential step and was not all that easy.

When setting the Lively Wearable 1 up initially the pairing went fairly smoothly. However a week or two later after my smartphone ran out of charge in the middle of the day, I found that after the phone started up again, the pairing was lost. And it took me multiple tries to get the pairing working again.

For me this was an irritation, but not a fatal flaw. However I think there are many older adults who would find this quite problematic, and if you (or the person for whom you are shopping) is not an expert "pairer" of phones and accessories, I would watch out for this issue.

It is possible that the Lively Wearable 2 pairing is more robust. But even in the first week of testing, it lost pairing once. It was able to repair itself automatically however. We did not test the Lively Wearable 2 for long enough to see if this pairing issue recurred or not. 


Voice through speaker now

A nice improvement between the Lively Wearable 1 and the Lively Wearable 2 is the way it handles things when you make an emergency call.

When you press the actual button on the medical alert, what happens is that the button sends a signal to your smartphone which places a call to the GreatCall call center.

When the emergency responder from the call center talks with you, their voice comes from the smartphone (via the Lively App you add when you set everything up). In the Lively Wearable 2, the system automatically turns on the speakerphone so you no longer need to put the phone to your ear to hear the responder. This was a definite flaw in the first version of the product, and it is great to see it has been fixed.


Fall Detection

This product does have automatic fall detection, which is good. However for it to work correctly you need to wear the product as a pendant and not as a wrist watch-style device. For some people this is a draw back, but for others it will be fine.





Where to buy it or learn more*: (this takes you away from our website)


* Disclosure: If you use these links 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. In some cases we ask the vendor to loan us the products for review. See How we Fund our Work.



Product Line & Company: GreatCall

GreatCall is a well regarded leader in design of senior-friendly products, and makes the popular Jitterbug and Lively phones, as well as the Lively Mobile Plus mobile medical alert pendant and Lively Wearable.

The "5 star response services" that work on each of the emergency devices above can optionally include some very interesting services that go far beyond the traditional emergency responder service. These extra services include 24/7 access to a doctor or nurse, and use of a caregiver connection application called GreatCall Link. .........Read more


About this Research

This product review is part of an extensive series of medical alert system reviews of over 50 products, including hands-on evaluation and real-world testing of the most promising ones, in real-world situations.

These reviews and analyses are part of our Research Project designed to help older adults and their families Choose the Right Medical Alert System for YOU — the result of which is our Medical Alert Systems: Selection Guide.

We have tried hard to make this research as independent and objective as possible. It has not been funded or sponsored by any of the vendors of these products, and includes no advertising or "sponsored content". The team that conducted this research has strong scientific, clinical, and aging services backgrounds. You can read more about the team that did this research at the links above. 


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We are currently raising contributions from those who find our work valuable to complete some new research initiatives, all targeted at helping older adults live better for longer. And we are always looking for contributions of ideas about what to work on, or help executing some of our projects.

Learn More: Help Support our Research.




from CAROL SAUL (unverified) at October 29, 2020

Can one get the time from the Lively Wearable?


from tel-editors (member) at November 05, 2020

The Lively wearable does not tell the time. As you can see on the image the face is blank. However to work you need to be near your cellphone, which does tell the time.


from Olga Van Atten (unverified) at November 04, 2020

Question, at night do you need to wear watch to bed? Or just have it on night stand next to smart phone?


from tel-editors (member) at November 05, 2020

You do not need to wear it. But if you get up and fall and are not wearing it, it may not be very useful.


from John Callahan (unverified) at January 01, 2021

Do you need to have it near your cell phone all the time or if farther away does it disconnect and you have to totally restart it?


from Carolyn Lawson (unverified) at February 05, 2022

What kind of batteries does it use and are they expensive?!

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Last Updated: October 19, 2020.

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Review Star Rating: 
3.0 Stars