Personal alarms are safety devices that, when triggered, send an alert to a pre-set number of mobile phone numbers or a 24-hour monitoring service. We lab test and review the latest models, including watches and pendants, to help you find the best personal alarm for an emergency.
Our test covers both watch and pendant-style personal alarms.
Our expert testers give every personal alarm a thorough workout to help find the models that:
Our interactive comparison tool helps you find out which brands are the best performers and which carry through on their claims. Our Recommended list will help you quickly see which models come out on top.
List of brands we tested in this review.
Price at time of purchase. We were surprised and a little disappointed by the pricing on these devices: from $140 up to almost $500 excluding the pricing of the SIM card. We checked on a large shopping website based in China and found pricing for some identical looking, and similarly featured, devices to the Live-Life, Mind Me and Safe-Life for around $50, or a tenth of what some are available for in Australia. Now admittedly these large websites tend to sell in bulk, but considering the scale of profit this might involve, their pricing in Australia is a bit steep. Sellers will say you are getting software and setup support, but we don't think this is worth the substantial mark-up.
enter value/s in increments of 1 between 140 and 498
We recommend models with an overall score of at least 70%.
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All personal alarms we tested came in either a watch (worn around the wrist) or pendant (worn around the neck) design.
Such a complex product means a good user manual is essential, which is the first thing we look at. We also check whether each product has email and telephone support. If the alarm needs a SIM to be inserted, we assess this, but most come with the SIM pre-installed. Configuring – and in some cases reconfiguring – each device is assessed, and scored based on how easy this is to do. Also assessed, where applicable, is activating an SOS, recharging, using the buttons, the shape of the device and whether it is easy to grip and carry.
enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0
Our tester, Scott O’Keefe, undertook several extensive journeys to track each of these devices, testing their mobile network reception, GPS accessibility, and battery life to find which ones perform the best. Reception testing was conducted from a number of areas, including a shopping centre, normal house and a harsher black spot area. Calls were made to the device, and SOS sent from the device to see whether they can be carried out and received. Our tester also conducted two longer multiple-stop journeys to see whether the GPS tracking functionality was effective throughout busy areas of suburbia.
Calls were made both to and from the device, to test whether the voice quality was clear and loud enough to hear.
A charging cradle is useful because it makes it obvious the device needs to be plugged in. It can sit in an obvious place in the home and it's less fiddly than a USB cover that needs moving. Some watches also have magnetic connections that only connect in a certain way, which means less mistakes in charging.
Does the device accept incoming calls?
Will the device auto-accept an incoming call? This would be useful if the user has fallen or is unable to move but able to speak.
Activates if the device falls rapidly – which then triggers an alarm to a contact.
Sends an alarm to a contact if the device doesn't move for a specified amount of time.
This is where you can set the device to tell you whether it has moved. Sort of the opposite of the non-movement alarm.
If the device starts moving rapidly, say by the wearer getting into a car or train, it creates an alarm to send to a contact with this information.
Geo-fencing allows you to set up a virtual fence and all the devices claim to have this feature. When the device crosses the perimeter it creates an alarm that sends a warning to a contact. Some do this via a radius, but we found the polygon setup was more useful. A radius only creates a circle, whereas a polygon means you can create a map that allows for some freedom. A multiple Zone option allows you to set the geofence for different positional points.
A Similar model is identical in most aspects except for a few. This means that a majority of its test results are identical so you can reasonably expect to get the same results from the model we tested, but for those aspects which aren't identical, we'll note these as "Not Tested" in the Compare tables.
A Tested model refers to a model that is still current and available in the Australian market. You should be able to order this model through your local retailer, or find it online.
These models can't be found in retailers or online or are no longer manufactured. You may still find these models on second hand websites, or in second hand dealers. Test methods may change over time, so criteria which can't be directly compared will contain an N/A.
An Identical model is exactly that. Performance characteristics will be identical and the only difference will be something trivial such as colour, which won't have an impact on performance.
These are models we haven't yet tested but that are available.