Raz Mobility SmartVision 3 – An Accessible Android Smartphone

Raz Mobility has tamed the Android smartphone’s screen reader, TalkBack, and packaged it in a phone with a number pad you can feel in a smartphone! The SmartVision3 puts the user back in control of the Android TalkBack screen reader by using navigation buttons instead of gestures and simplifying the menu with up, down, and enter buttons. Gone are the memorization of a gazillion gestures and all the double-tapping and swiping on a screen. However, individuals who are comfortable using gestures can do so to control the phone’s functions. 

Physical Description 

The SmartVision3 is about the same size as many other smartphones (about 6.3 by 2.7 inches), but the face of the phone is not entirely glass. The display takes up about half the front-facing side. The other half is a standard phone keypad, with navigational buttons between the display and the keypad. Above the volume keys, there is a separate key on the phone’s right side to activate dictation and summon the Google Assistant. Other specs include:  

  • a 16 MP camera  
  • 64 GB of memory and a slot for an SD card, which could add 128 GB of storage and 
  • an audio jack for 3.5MM earbuds or other accessories. 

Navigation Features 

Two features unique to the SmartVision3 include the navigation buttons working with TalkBack and a simplified menu structure. “Simple” does not mean fewer features or apps. The SmartVision3 Android phone has access to the apps on the Google Play Store and has many installed apps, including Google Lookout and Book Reader for DAISY books. 

Operating the Phone 

The SmartVision3 turns on with the power button on the top right corner. TalkBack is on at startup, and the home screen appears with a refreshingly subdued menu containing:  

  • Time and Date  
  • Applications  
  • Contacts  
  • Phone and  
  • Messages.  

Moving around the screen is done with the navigation keys between the display screen and the keypad. The center of the navigation keys is a joystick, comprised of four directional buttons surrounding a circular OK button used for selecting an item. There are two navigation buttons on either side of the joystick:  

  • top left is the Home Button  
  • bottom left is the Menu button  
  • top right is the Back button, and
  • bottom right is the Delete button.  

For users unfamiliar with the usual TalkBack gestures, these navigation buttons take their place and, for the most part, are far more intuitive. Users familiar with the TalkBack screen gestures can use them on the screen. 

Additional Accessibility Features 

The SmartVision3 offers most other accessibility features on Android phones, such as font size, color correction, magnification, etc. In addition to the standard Android accessibility options, there are several options in the Kapsys Accessibility Menu.  

The Kapsys Accessibility menu contains additional accessibility features, like Magnitext, which magnifies, scrolls, and alters the color of text, making it more readable for users with low vision. It also contains the Accessibility Menu typically found in the Android Accessibility settings.  

By default, pressing the volume up and down keys together turns TalkBack on and off. However, turning on the Accessibility Menu feature in Kapsys will instead open a menu with other customizable features, like Select to Speak or Magnification. I found this was one part of the phone setup that was less than intuitive. For example, in the Android Accessibility menu, Select to Speak was turned on but never became visible as an option until I enabled the Accessibility Menu in the Kapsys Accessibility menu. Once found, however, these features worked as expected. 

The Kapysys Accessibility Menu 

The Kapsys Accessibility menu also contains several options to customize keyboard shortcuts on the phone. Keyboard Shortcuts, by default, have the # and a number used to open a specific setting, which can be changed as desired. For example, pressing the #1 keys will report the phone status. Likewise, Quick Access assigns numbers to a contact’s phone number. Like other phones, a long press on the number 1 will call voicemail. Typing on the numeric keypad is a built-in shortcut for navigating the menu. There is a lengthy alphabetic list of the applications when Applications is selected from the menu. You can navigate it by pressing the down button until you find the desired application. Pressing the number 5 three times quickly will type an “L” into the search box and return the applications that start with “L” (Light Detection and Lookout). 

User Guide Available on Device 

Kudos to Raz Mobility for adding the User Guide as one of the options in the Applications menu. Finding the User Guide in the Applications menu is straightforward: press the down button to get to it, the OK button to select it, and the down arrow again to read through the sections chosen. While the User Guide does not cover Android or TalkBack-specific topics, directing users to the appropriate guide online, it does a great job of covering the basics of the SmartVision3. 

Dedicated Button for Easier Access 

One of the great features of this phone is a dedicated button for activating dictation or the Google Assistant. A long press on the button enables dictation whenever a text box opens, whether searching or texting. A short press wakes up the Google Assistant. You can use the Google Assistant for all kinds of things, including:  

  • Getting the weather  
  • Checking the time  
  • Answering a quick question  
  • Calling or texting 
  • Recording a quick note by opening the Notes app, pressing the Dictation button, and speaking a note. 

Purchasing Options 

The SmartVision3 adds a whole new dimension to Android accessibility and ease of use — coupling the TalkBack screen reader to a large print, high-contrast keypad. TalkBack makes the phone accessible, and the touchpad makes it much more useable for anyone unfamiliar with the typical gesture required to navigate. The SmartVision3 is available in two packages, Basic and Premium. The phone in both packages is the same. The Premium package adds accessories, like a wireless charger, lanyard, screen protector, and case. For a comparison, check out the SmartVision2 Specifications page. The Basic Package is available from the SmartVision3 website for $539, and the Premium package is $599.