BrailleNote Touch Plus versus Braille Sense Polaris, which is better for an iPhone user?

Braille on Apple Products

Hi, all. I am a completely blind iPhone user for about 8 years now, and I love it! I am about to graduate high school in about a month and as a result have to give my BrailleNote Apex and other loaned products back to my school district, so I will be without a notetaker. I use a notetaker almost every day in conjuction with my iPhone, so I want to find the best one for me, as an Apex really doesn't do much. I can do a lot on my iPhone, but I still use the Apex for word processing, emailing, and file management. I would also just really like a better and more versitile product to broaden my capabilities as a blind member of society. I found articles on the BrailleNote Touch Plus and the Braille Sense Polaris, but after reading them and doing further research I simply cannot decide which would be best for me and which is the best product overall. In addition, I have never used any sort of Android product before and am concerned on how that will differ to the smooth, easy-to-use, and reliable accessibility of my iPhone. I'd love to hear overall thoughts and recommendations from people who have used either or both a Polaris and a Touch Plus to help me decide which I should try to get.
Thank you,



Submitted by Chris Hill on Monday, May 11, 2020

Check the support policies and capabilities of both companies very carefully, it doesn't matter which product works better if one can be fixed and one can't.

Submitted by Jim D on Monday, May 11, 2020

I think you will get a lot of differing opinions on this as many people prefer one product over another. I've used both of these products and, while they are both good products, I personally prefer the BrailleSense Polaris. It is much lighter and more portable. The BrailleNote Touch has a large touch screen, which is great, but it makes the product weigh a lot and is rather fragile. I also believe the commands are a bit more intuitive on the BrailleSense. I have used the Polaris as a display with an iOS device and it works as expected.
Hope this is helpful, good luck with your decision making process.

Submitted by Dustin on Monday, May 11, 2020

Since they're both Android there's a lot of similarities. One thing I've experienced and heard that is currently better on the Polaris is handling math in documents. Although, both can, the Polaris is easier and handles larger equations. Additionally, Google Drive integration within the File Manager has been getting better on the Polaris.
Hims support has been tricky as of late where I hear HumanWares has gotten better.

When I spoke to company reps, the HIMS rep told me the Braillesense wasn't suitable for high-level maths. Google Drive and Desmos integration are pretty cool though, so I imagine it's fine as long as you don't need to do like Calculus or something.

Personally, I have a lot more faith in Humanware's product support. In the past, I've struggled to get help from HIMS in a timely manner.

Submitted by Ishkabibble on Monday, May 11, 2020

I have used both of the notetakers you have mentioned. I have used HumanWare’s products for quite a while now, (I started on the Apex, then upgraded to the Touch and am currently using the Touch Plus). I find that the commands and operating system structure vary widely between the HIMS and HumanWare notetakers. If you use an Apex currently I think the Touch Plus would be a better option, as the commands and the various menus are the same. Additionally, the Touch Plus has a newer version of Android which means better long-term app support. Since both of these devices are Android-based, you can run Google apps on them as well as whatever apps are available on the Play Store, so long as they are accessible in nature. I have Twitter, Spotify, Google Classroom and various other apps from the Play Store on my Touch Plus and they work perfectly. The Touch Plus also has a USB C charging port which is the standard for most electronic devices these days and the speakers are much better than those of the Polaris. Hope this helps. :)

Submitted by Skye on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Hi again, Thank you all for your feedback. I'm still deciding, but it's great to hear everyone's oppinions and what they like or don't like about one or the other. Also, just know that this forum will always be open to discussion.

Submitted by Samtastic on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

There is an issue where the Touch Plus gets disconnected from VoiceOver and you have to re-pair it. I don't know if this is an issue with VoiceOver or the Touch or if the Polaris experiences the same issues. You may want to join the Facebook groups and email lists for the BrailleNote and Braille Sense and ask other users. If you don't want to deal with the connectivity issues you could consider a separate display for your iPhone such as the Brailliant 14 or the Focus 14.

Submitted by Ishkabibble on Thursday, May 14, 2020

There used to be issues with Bluetooth lag and typing on Braille displays but they have been resolved. I find it easier to type on my Braille display in a pinch, as I don’t actually need to touch my iDevice’s screen to enter text. As for keyboards, the Focus Braille displays and the keyboard of the BrailleSense Polaris are much squishier than that of the Apex and Touch Plus (meaning they are not as clicky and quieter). If you are worried about noise levels when typing, the Focus and Polaris keyboards are not that loud, but they are harder to type with (longer key travel). You can also use the Touch’s touchscreen to enter commands even when connected to an iDevice which would be a convenient solution to typing quietly.

Submitted by Skye on Saturday, May 23, 2020

Hello again all,
Thank you everyone for all your kind words and feedback. After much consideration of both devices, I have decided to go with the Polaris. Despite me deciding, however, I am always open to more thoughts on this topic, and like I said before, this forum will always be open for discussion!
Thank you all so much!

Submitted by Skye on Monday, May 25, 2020

Hi again all,
Has anyone had experience with the Department of Rehab? If so, does anyone know how long it takes to get a device from them once the tech report has been sent?