LifeFone offers more than the standard three tiers of packages. The company's options include a landline device, a cellular base unit, a cellular unit with fall detection, a cellular unit with a mobile device, and the Numera Libris GPS mobile device.
For our review, we tested the cellular unit with fall detection, which features the MobileHelp CBS2-01 medical alert system.
For our review, we compared the prices of the available packages and graded the value. In this evaluation, LifeFone received a B- grade when compared to the pricing structure of other services. The base package's month-to-month cost is $29, which is slightly cheaper than average; the midrange cellular unit costs $34.95, which is close to $2 cheaper than average; and the premium mobile package costs $39.99, which is about $3 cheaper than average. However, none of these prices are the lowest available.
You can lower the monthly cost by $4 with each package by paying in annual installments, and this increases the overall value. But again, this is not enough to put LifeFone at the top of the list for value. In other words, LifeFone provides an above-average — but not the best — value.
The Results of Our Testing
LifeFone uses the MobileHelp CBS2-01 device, which is a popular system. Five of the services we reviewed use it. It's easy to understand why – the speakerphone has the best audio quality of any device we tested, receiving an A for quality. It's loud, but doesn't sacrifice clarity. Also, the unit has a display that features the time, temperature and cellular signal strength. It's the only system in our review that has a display.
The fall detection pendant received a B grade in our tests, because it was too sensitive. The pendant successfully recognized all of our simulated falls. However, when we dropped it from 12 inches, the fall detection activated 100 percent of the time. When we dropped it from 6 inches, the pendant activated 75 percent of the time. In other words, this fall detection pendant causes a lot of false alerts.
One of the best aspects of LifeFone is the fast call response time. On average, our calls were answered in 44.84 seconds. This was nearly 25 seconds faster than the overall average call response time in our review. In fact, it was the second fastest call response time, behind only GreatCall, whose response time averaged 20.67 seconds.
In addition to a fast response time, the call quality with the operators was excellent. We gave the operators at LifeFone a B+ rating. This meant that they spoke clearly without hurrying through the call. They also asked us for our name, rather than assuming we were the name on the account, which is great for security purposes, and they signaled when the call would end.
The only negative was that, on a few calls, the operators seemed bored and uninterested. When you're experiencing an emergency, you want the operator to answer the call with genuine interest. That said, we recognize that we may have caught a few inexperienced operators, or workers who were at the end of a long shift, which is excusable.
The Final Verdict
In some ways, LifeFone is similar to many other medical alert companies. You have the option to get a landline unit, a cellular unit or a mobile device, and the company uses the popular MobileHelp CBS2-01 in-home cellular system, which has the best speakerphone of any system we tested. The monthly cost is a bit cheaper than average, but its call response time is fast and the call quality is excellent. Overall, LifeFone is a good medical alert service, but doesn't quite do enough to stand out from the best.