PROS / The SC118 features Jethro’s advanced SOS feature to quickly contact the people you need in an emergency.
CONS / It does not have a camera phone and cannot send or receive pictures.
VERDICT / The Jethro SC118 is designed around accessibility and convenience, with large buttons, a big, clear screen and reminder settings to help you keep your day on track.
The Jethro SC118 emergency mobile phone has much to offer in the way of use, durability, expected battery life and personal economics. The Jethro SC118 does not require a subscription service and is compatible with most mobile service providers and prepaid networks. The included SOS feature can automatically dial the emergency contacts you want. With all it has to offer, the Jethro SC118’s offering peace of mind is the best, which makes it the easy Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner for the best emergency cell phone available.
Design & Accessibility
The overall design of the Jethro SC118 is one of function. Its smaller-than-average size gives it an appearance that is attractive and stylish. At only 5.6 ounces, this device is the heaviest of the emergency phones we reviewed. The rubberized coating and large, raised buttons make for an emergency cell phone for seniors that doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall out of your hand.
The SOS feature is really what makes this phone. The recessed button sits comfortably on the back in a raised area makes it easy to find. Like other handsets in the Jethro line, depressing the button for one full second triggers an audible personal alarm alerting people in the area to your emergency. Your phone also begins sending a default SOS text message to up to five emergency contacts you or a care provider has programmed into the phone. The default text, of course, can be changed. However, it is recommended that beyond “SOS,” you keep the text relevant to your blood type, allergies and doctor’s name.
While the audible alarm is loud, it only sounds for 20 seconds, after which the Jethro SOS feature begins calling your listed emergency contacts. When answered, the SC118 immediately switches to speaker phone, allowing you or emergency responders to communicate hands-free with your emergency contact. There is one drawback to the Jethro feature that you may not be appreciate in your time of need. When a call to an emergency contact is rejected, the SC118 automatically calls the next emergency contact on your list. However, if that call goes to voicemail, you get to speak with their voicemail rather than going to the next number on your list.
Basic & Advanced Features
Where most phones have complex menus and indecipherable widgets, this emergency mobile phone is designed to be easy to use. It does more than just contact people in an emergency. Like many cell phones it has a standard calculator and locking keypad, and this phone also allows you to set up to 5 wake-up alarms. Like the other alarms, there is also a snooze feature that can be set from one to 10 minutes after the initial alarm.
The task list reminder function is fairly neat in appearance. The setup itself is somewhat involved, but once completed can be used for specific activities like daily medication reminders or broad notifications of birthdays and anniversaries.
It also works as an FM radio and an MP3 player. This means you can take your music with you anywhere you go. It is Bluetooth capable so you don’t have to worry about connecting wires, and has a microSD card slot, meaning you can listen to as many songs as your card can carry. Of course playing music continuously will deplete the battery, but the SC118 comes with a charging cradle, allowing it to stand charged and protected on any end table or night stand.
What also makes the Jethro SC118 stand out in the industry is its affordability. Because it has a low price point and is not dependent on a specific service provider, you can use this phone with a variety of services, including a prepaid cellular.
Despite its having a large, clear color display, this phone does not have a camera and the text messaging feature is not capable of sending or receiving pictures. Instead, when these types of messages are received, you're met with the message, "Non-Text Content" in large, clear print on the display screen.
Standby battery life is at a premium with low-usage cell phones like this one, so it is important to know what you can expect. The 800mHa battery in our test device showed normal wear over time, but lived up to the expected range of just over a full week on a single charge.
In our testing, we got 180 hours of standby time and 3.6 hours of talk time from a single battery charge. This is slightly less than the phone's documentation indicates. The published stats are 200 hours of standby and 4 hours of talk time. The difference could be because the battery that came with the phone was slightly smaller than one the documentation is based on.
On the other hand, the differences are negligible. The battery life you get on this phone will change depending on how you use it. The SC118 has a few features that can sap the energy from the battery. For example, when you use the task list and alarms, the available tones and vibrate feature will use your battery. Using the device's MP3 capabilities will also take power, but not as much as the FM radio that will eat about as much power as talking on the phone.
Help & Support
The Jethro website has plenty of tutorial videos available for you to get a broad understanding of the SC118. The manual, however, is where you get the fine details, which makes it the best reference for this device. While it is mostly well written, it also appears to be a rough translation. You may have to read a few passages twice. Fortunately, Jethro has a toll-free number so you can contact them for help with problem areas.
The biggest challenge in finding an emergency phone is finding one that is made for you. Simple feature phones can be monstrously complex and smartphones can come loaded with apps you don’t need and will possible never use. Somewhere in between are phones like the Jethro SC118 that are made with a specific consumer in mind. The Jethro brand is specializes in extending wireless technology for seniors, and the SC118 does an excellent job of completing that mission.