Would people recommend the Smart Beetle braille display for a small and lightweight Braille display. for use with iOS?

Braille on Apple Products

Hello all.

I’am looking a small and lightweight Braille display.
I thinking of buying the smart Beetle from Hims.

The display support latest version of iOS?
The firmware of the display Upgraidable?
Thank you all.



Submitted by Austin Grace on Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Hello. I have had the Smart beetle since July of 2015 and love it!!!!! It has followed me from my 16 GB 6 plus, to the 6S plus, to the 6s and to my current 8 plus. It's very awesome and you can put the case around your neck. I forget it's there. Normally I have people asking me what is around my neck. It's a good conversation starter. I hope this helps you. :) Works very well on IOS 12.1. Now if this was last year I would have told you to wait until IOS 11 improved. I have been using my smart beetle since the late IOS8 days. I got it in July of 2015 and the only time I had a lot of trouble with it was IOS 11 when it first came out. Plus I think the prices of the smart beetle have come down from $1300 back in 2015.

Submitted by Romi Marin on Wednesday, December 5, 2018

In reply to by Austin Grace

Thank you Austin. If i buy iPhone XS or XS Max Smart beetle will work with this smartphones?

Submitted by Jake on Wednesday, December 5, 2018

I still own one of these displays, however I cannot in good conscience recommend them. They work fine with iOS, but I can't recommend dealing with HIMS as a company and the durability of not just mine, but others I've supported, is simply not up to par. Getting HIMS to honor their warranties is a difficult trick indeed, as they will make up excuses not to fix the device. For example, I'd had mine less than three months before I noticed the dots in cell four starting to fade. I sent the device to HIMS for repair under warranty, and they tried to tell me that I had spilled liquid into it, which I most certainly had not. Had I not had contact with the regional manager of HIMS before I bought the unit, I doubt I'd have gotten service at all! On top of that, they simply are not long-lasting. I've had mine less than three years, and I already have several faded dots that no amount of cleaning will help (one of them being cell 4 again). The final icing on the cake is that there is no way for you to give the unit a firmware update at all, and several minor but annoying bugs in the Beetle's firmware (such as random power-offs) have gone unfixed even in newer units.
In short, don't buy a Beetle. You're better off going for something else.

Submitted by Austin Grace on Wednesday, December 5, 2018

That's pretty messed up about the support thing. I never had a problem with their support. I have not had to deal with them this year but had to last year and in 2016. Also, please don't use a disinfectant wipe to clean it. I did that once and my braille display was not working at all. They had to replace the board on it.

Why would anyone use a disinfectant to clean a Braille device? Definitely a bad idea!
I wish my support experience with HIMS were isolated to me, but it's not. I had another friend who bought a Braille Edge and, no joke, it failed thirty minutes after it was unboxed (I was the one who unboxed and set it up for them). We called HIMS and they said they wouldn't service it because it had been purchased more than thirty days prior. We had to fight that, too, which made no sense as the warranty was one year, not thirty days. I've another friend with a Beetle (a newer revision than mine) who has gone through a similar experience to me. I know someone else they accused of breaking a charging jack when it was clearly a manufacturing defect upon arrival. All of these experiences have been since 2015, the most recent being my friend with the newer Beetle which happened this year.

Submitted by Sof on Friday, December 7, 2018


I can't say I don't recommend the Beetle because it's a little nice product, but I'm actually playing with a Focus Blue 14 and I have to say it's so far the best I have ever used with iOS. Its built-in "rocker bars", "Nav bars" and "selector" buttons are reeally handy to emulate iOS commands without having to remember a bunch of chord commands. We even have a button which simulates the "magic tap", to pause / resume music or answer / terminate a phone call, a feature I have never seen before on a braille display. Using one of their rocker bars, we can also switch from a page to another either vertically or horizontally. In a word, the rocker bars rock!


Submitted by Jake on Friday, December 7, 2018

Like you, I'm also demoing a Focus 14. I'd come in prepared to be disappointed, since the past several generations of Focus displays have been fragile, far more fragile than most others. However, they have really upped the game with the 5th gens and, unless I find something way better, will be buying one. The rocker bars are nice, but what I love is that its Bluetooth connection is rock solid and, unlike the Beetle, I don't have to fiddle with it and make sure I'm on the right Bluetooth channel to connect. If I'm working on my iPad, and I unlock my phone, the Focus will connect regardless of whether I've switched to the correct connection before hand (reminds me of the way the Vario Ultra worked). Plus, it's crazy comfortable to type with the new, revamped Braille keyboard (they finally fixed their horrible space bar!). I don't care much for VFO/vispero/Freedom Scientific's tactics as a company and have been disappointed by many of their products of late. That said, however, the 5th gen Focus 14 is amazing and they have a serious winner!
Note: Make sure, if you buy one, you spend the extra for the 5th gen. The 4th gen is cheaper, but does not have multi-device connectivity, has the old keyboard, and has a rather flimsy build. It also lacks the nice little scratchpad for taking really quick notes. Plus, the 5th gen uses USB C for its charging and computer connection so, if you have a new iPad Pro or recent Macbook, you can share the same charger (always nice to have one less cable). They call the 4th gen the Focus Blue 14, while the 5th gen will say explicitly that it's the 5th generation version. I don't know if the larger 5th gens are this good, but I'd guess they used the same build for all of them.