What phone should I buy? Legally blind

Hardware & Accessories

Hey everyone!

I am considering buying a new iPhone since my current phone, an iPhone 6s Plus, is getting slow and my VoiceOver is strugglling with focusing and reading the text I tap on and that is really bothering me. It's not like my phone is broken, and that's probably what brought me here since I am uncertain whether I should buy a new phone now or wait. I visited an Apple Store and they adviced me to reinstall my phone but that would cost some money and I don't know if it's worth it since they could not say if that would fix the problem or if a new phone was the only solution.

So then if I am to buy one now, which one should I buy? I have had my phone for 3 years now, and I got it because of the big screen.

I am legally blind, which means that I have some vision so I can see a picture if I can zoom, the screen is big and the quality of the picture is good. Therefore the screen is extremely important to me, probably one of the most important things. What I also need in a phone is good accessebility for VoiceOver since I need to use it to read text and to write on the keyboard. GB is not very important since I don't really take a lot of pictures and videos. I also love the idea of being able to send a Memoji so that I can talk instead of writing, because writing is very tiresome for me on the iPhone since I am pretty new with Braille so yeah it takes me a lot of time to write a message, haha ...

But looking at all these models I really can't say which phone is the best for me. Maybe the Xs max? Or is it wasted money? Is it difficult to use for people with low vision like me? What are your experiences (both good and bad) with the different models?

I hope you guys can come with some good advices!

Thank you very much in advance!!



Submitted by Ishkabibble on Sunday, September 30, 2018

Hi Amelia,

I don’t own an iPhone at the moment, but i think i could provide some suggestions to you, seeing as i have studied the newest iPhone lineup to aid me in convincing my parents to get me a phone.

all of this year’s models have bigger screens than the biggest of last year’s models, (the iPhone 8+ with a 5.5-inch LCD display), so even with the regular XS, or possibly even last year’s iPhone X, you would get an ample amount of screen space in a small package. the iPhone XS Max has been compared by sighted users to an iPad Mini, so it is extremely big, at 6.5. i heard from some reviewers that since the display is edge-to-edge, it is harder to reach for the top of the screen with your hand, since the display is so large.

the iPhone XS is 5.8, which is larger than the 6s+ you currently own, so even if you buy that, it would be big enough. take this with a grain of salt, however, because i also heard that the XS does not support Zoom.

the iPhone XR, coming out in late October, has a 6.1-inch screen, so you should be happy with this model if you choose to buy it. it is also the cheapest, starting at $749, so it might be the best choice for you.

also keep in mind that you could get last year’s iPhone 8+, which has the same display size as the phone you currently own.

overall, all the current iPhones have large displays, so all of these would be good choices for you. if you would like to use Zoom, the iPhone XS does not support it, so you would be better off with the XS Max or the XR. however, the xR has an LCD display with lesser PPi, (pixels per inch), so if you want superior display quality, the XS Max would be your best bet. however, the XR is much less expensive, and still sports the edge-to-edge design coupled with a lot of screen real estate. plus, the LCD used in the XR is supposedly the “best ever made”, so yu would probably get superior display quality still.

hope this helps! sorry for the long comment.


Submitted by ming on Sunday, September 30, 2018

see you'd like Face ID or Touch ID!
if you like the touch ID better. I think IPhone 8 or 8plus is the best!
but, if you don't mind trying new thing. and see the face ID is work in your side or not. you can get the IPhone 10S or 10 S max.
or later you also can think about IPhone 10r.
3 of them are using Face ID.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Sunday, September 30, 2018

If you are total blind get the new xr. However if you can see and you want to take photos the xx will do. Using the new iPhone is easy and as you may be aware the home button is history. The only thing in the xr does not have 3D use. If I am planning to get one in the future, it will probably be xr. Camare is nice but if you are total blind how can youuse it. To much money for feature you are not going to useis not logical

Submitted by alex wallis on Sunday, September 30, 2018

xs max has the best battery out of all the new phones though, and also more ram than xr and xs.
now as to one of the phones not supporting zoom I doubt it means zoom as in the accessibility function, surely it means something to do with zoom and the camera, also if you heard zoom isn't supported, heard means you don't know for a fact, it might be worth checking with apple accessibility so your not accidentally giving out information that might be incorrect.
but as others have said it depends what your looking for, if you can it would probably be worth going into an actual apple store to look at phones in question and even try them out if this will be your first phone so you can try face id vs touch id etc.

Submitted by Pangeran Satry… on Monday, October 1, 2018

I'd like the iPhone XR, with the cheaper prise, you can get the latest apple most advanced technology... The iOS 12 will be running smoothly too in this device.

Submitted by Ishkabibble on Monday, October 1, 2018

optical zoom is available on the XS because of the dual camera setup. i read the accessibility feature wasn’t on the XS from BGR. I can post the link to the story later.

Submitted by Emilia on Monday, October 1, 2018

In reply to by Ishkabibble

Thank you everyone for replying! It means a lot!

The screen cannot be too big for me, I need to use both hands either way because my hands are small. It's much more important that I don't need to strain my eyes too much and the bigger the screen, the less tiresome it'll be. Quality is also important because then I might be able to see pictures I wouldn't see on my current phone.

I also use the camera to take pictures of things and then I find the picture in the gallery and zoom in on it so I can see signs, people dancing on the street or things like that, so I use my phone to support my remaining sight - I am not completely blind.

Do any of you know how VoiceOver works on these new phones? Is it better\worse? Is it compatible with Braille key boards? What about Siri? And what about Face-ID - do you thing that will pose a problem for me since I have such poor vision?

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Monday, October 1, 2018

Before deciding what phone to buy, if you have the option, make a trip to the Apple store. Buy whichever phone you feel most comfortable handling. If you have doubt, make sure it fits your hands and is not uncomfortable to hold. Also, make sure with the new screens that you are going to be able to navigate the whole screen without stretching your grip too much.

Submitted by LaBoheme on Tuesday, October 2, 2018

zoom is supported on every single phone, what you are talking about is the so called "display zoom", it automatically blow up everything in proportion so all icons and texts are bigger. take the home screen for example, the zoom view will have larger but less icons, one row less. you can still zoom your webpage manually.

there is a reason why display zoom is not supported on the x and XS, this article gives a good explanation:

Submitted by alex wallis on Tuesday, October 2, 2018

just a thought if you use the camera to take photos of things to see them better, the iPhone does actually offer a specific feature called magnifier where you can point your camera at stuff and it will actually magnify it in realtime without having to take a photo, I guess its like a live video feed or something.

Submitted by Ishkabibble on Tuesday, October 2, 2018

In reply to by LaBoheme

I read stuff extremely fast at 100% speech rate using Alex; no wonder i missed that

Haha no worries!

But hey guys whats up with the so-called besuty mode on the iphone xs and iphone xs max? Apple is going to make an off switch for it right?

Submitted by alex wallis on Tuesday, October 2, 2018

I have no idea what your talking about there, besuty? think you made a typo there.

Sorry my phone is kidding around. I meant Beauty Mode. I just read about it and it seems like the new iphones are forcing makeup and smoothing on your skin and there is no off switch to make it go away ...

Submitted by alex wallis on Tuesday, October 2, 2018

aah right I think I vaguely read something about it, but I don't pay much attention to all the camera nonsense as it isn't of any interest to me the only reason I care about cameras at all is for improved accuracy when reading text or identifying objects.

Submitted by Ishkabibble on Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Oh, that. Beauty mode, or Beauty-gate, as Unboxed Therapy calls it, is a combo of aggressive noise reduction and reduced contrast. (I only read about it a little, and a while ago.) it basically makes people look younger and have pinker skin tones, as well as less wrinkles. No off switch. But it doesn’t matter to the AppleVis community that much, i don’t think. It’s not that important at all

Submitted by Remy on Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Hello Emelia,

I'm glad you posted this question as I am in a very similar position (same phone, even). For me the size of the screen is certainly important, but so is the camera. I do a lot of OCR in my daily life, both on paper and on screens. I find my 6S plus and even my Ipad Pro 9.7 don't always do a good job with scanning screens, no matter what OCR app I'm using. Some are certainly better than others, and ironically given its price, KNFB reader is one of the worst. I am hoping having a better camera will improve the clarity of magnified text captured with the built in magnifier app or a few of the various other magnifier apps I have, and that it will do better with OCR. Given that the XS max is $1500 canadian - around the same price as a decent laptop - I'm very hesitant about choosing it, even though I think it might be my best option. My real question is how much of a best option would it be really? It's a hard choice, and I can't really go to an Apple store and try one out. I know anything I get will be a decent upgrade from my 6S Plus. Just as my 6S Plus was a pretty big upgrade from my 4S. I also need to buy outright, because phone plans in Canada are abismal compared to the states, and I'm currently on a grandfathered one which is far better than anything they have right now.

Submitted by Ishkabibble on Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The $1500 price tag isn't true for the same models with lower storage capacities. The 256gb is I think $100 lower than the one you are referencing, which is the 512gb one.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Well I called ATT and got a nice deal. I got a free iPhone 8 and got the XX 240 memory for the same amount I was paying for my iPhone 7.

Submitted by david s on Wednesday, October 3, 2018


Here is what I would do. If you are in the US, go to the Apple store and get the battery replaced for 29 US dollars and restore your phone to factory IOS 12. Try it and see if it works for you. If not, sell it and buy a new iPhone.

Since you have usable vision and enjoy taking pictures, get the XSMax instead of the XR. The Max has dual lens rear camera so when you zoom the pictures you took, the details will be better. The XR only has one rear lens.

The SXMax also has a sharper and crisp display compared to the XR. Some folks with limited vision say a sharper picture is better because it does not look washed out or fuzzy.

If you like the feel of an plus sized iPhone, the XSMax is about the same size. The XS will feel a bit small.

As far as OCR, all the phone will function the same. A single lens will not work better or worse than a dual lens.

HTH and good luck.

Submitted by tunmi13 on Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Personally, I would wait for the iPhone ITS and ITS Max prices to decrease.
I would get something that could last you for san another 3 years, then switch out again.
For example: You have the iPhone 6S Plus, you could advance one generation, or even two generations, upward.

So, from an iPhone 6S Plus to an iPhone 7 Plus, or an 8 plus.

Submitted by Ishkabibble on Thursday, October 4, 2018

Always get the newest phone available, unless it’s 1 or 2 months away from September. Getting the newest handset will mean getting the longest support, the most advanced features for the longest time, and being able to keep your phone for longer. Right now, all of the phones are good, it just depends on what circumstances u are in.

Submitted by Emilia on Thursday, October 4, 2018

Thank you everyone for all the good advice! It helped me to decide and to feel confident in my choice. I also helped others who are in similar situations by posting here:)

I will call the Apple Store today to buy my iPhone Xs Max and give Apple this phone so that my new phone wont feel so expensive, haha. I think its worth the money though since it seems that the Max has all the features I need and want in a smart phone:)
I am really grateful for all your thoughts and good advice and I also hope that you Remy can find a decision on which phone suits your preferences the best! Luckily there are more than one option to choose from:)

I am so glad I posted here and I will keep reading and posting on this helpful site!!

Submitted by Mark SARCH on Thursday, October 4, 2018

Hi Amelia sorry to get late to the party
so I seen so many answers here some of them are good and another just politico answers.
The best suggestions to you few people has already recommended to you, before to get a new device
* I red your initial post and you wrote reinstall but will have some extra charge.
may you are referring to a factory restore, this process is free and basically is wipe the device and reinstall a fresh copy of iOS you will not lose your data or info if you have a backUp iCloud or iTunes wherever is better for your needs.
* replacing the iPhone battery will improve the performance and as someone recommend yes apple has some program to all costumers of iPhone 6 and newer to replace the battery for the price of US$29.99 plus taxes and fits
this program is only available until December of the current year
my suggestion is go to the local apple store and get the new battery and see if your current iPhone 6S Plus work better
* Also before to jump and get a new iPhone X edition 2018 should you wait until apple has the 3 models on the retailers
XS, XS Max and XR
do a deep comparison and pick the best for you.

I been saying in this forum for a while the price doesn't matter always if the device is wort it according to your needs.
per example if the apple watch will include sensors to help to check the blood sugar and blood pressure and the price will cost around #1,000 I will pay for sure I will however none of those features are available now per haves $399 is not worth it for me now because doesn't cover my needs.
same with the new iPhone XS as I am completely blind in my case doesn't matter the how good or bad is the display because always is off most of the time or all time is the screen off hopefully you got the point, but for you as you are legally blind and the most important is see the mayor details possible so then the screen is very important to you right
if the device that you are looking and fits your needs even when you have to spend over $US1200 doesn't matter because is going to wort in your case
here some info about the beauty mode and gates this youtube channel is neutral not apple fun or android fun