Access Tech Review: SmartVision 3

Person Using the SmartVision3

Access Tech Review: SmartVision 3

By Karl Belanger

Smartphones are ubiquitous. People use them for calling, texting, navigation, and gaming. While current smartphones are accessible, using touchscreens nonvisually presents a learning curve. Getting used to specialized gestures and acclimating to typing on completely flat surfaces can even pose as deterrents to potential users.

Some relatively new products help bridge this gap, including the SmartVision 3 manufactured by RAZ Mobility. The SmartVision 3 is an Android smartphone that has both a touchscreen and physical buttons. One can continue using buttons while gradually learning how to use a touchscreen. The SmartVision 3 may not satisfy tech-savvy users wanting to get the most out of their devices, but it should be powerful enough for users who are just getting started.

Physical Description

The SmartVision 3 is a fairly large phone to include both the touchscreen and physical keypad. The top edge has the power button and a headphone jack. The bottom edge has a USB-C port and speaker. The right edge has buttons for volume and a voice assistant. The top third of the face of the phone is the touchscreen, and the rest is taken up by the keypad.

The keypad has a four-way navigation pad in the top center, with four buttons around it and a standard telephone-style keypad beneath.

RAZ Mobility offers basic and premium versions of the SmartVision 3, with the primary difference being the types of included accessories. The premium version comes with a case, lanyard, and wireless charging pad. As far as I can determine, the software is identical between the two versions.

Using the SmartVision 3

The SmartVision 3 uses a slightly simplified interface as compared to a standard Android phone. The home screen initially has basic applications such as phone and messages, and an option that brings up the full list of applications on the phone. Generally, users will press the up and down arrows to move through the list, and the center button to activate items. You can download apps from the Google Play Store, which will work with the keypad as well.

Pressing up and down is the equivalent of flicking left and right. Holding the left and right buttons changes the reading control, and pressing left or right moves by the selected control (reading controls include characters, words, etc.). The touchscreen supports all single-finger TalkBack gestures, but does not work with multi-finger gestures. This is unfortunate because many of the newer TalkBack gestures will not work—you have to approximate them using the directional arrows or the keypad.

To type on the phone, users press the numbers on the keypad to enter letters. It’s similar to how people text using older flip phones.

Limitations of the SmartVision 3

In addition to the lack of compatibility with multi-finger touchscreen gestures, there are a few other limitations that users should be aware of. The phone only works on the T-Mobile network, with T-Mobile or companies like Metro or Mint Mobile, which use the same network. The phone comes with a free three-month plan on Mint Mobile that you can redeem if you wish.

The SmartVision 3 has only 64GB of internal storage, but you can add up to 128GB via microSD card. This is especially useful if you want to store large files on your device.

Lastly, the phone runs Android 11, though the security patch is fairly recent. It is unclear whether the version of Android can or will be updated. This could lead to potential problems with app compatibility. Schools and employers may become reluctant to allow it on their network if the software falls too far behind.

My Experiences with the SmartVision 3

My experience with the SmartVision 3 has been generally positive. The phone feels responsive, and most apps work well. The phone is powerful enough to run most standard apps and some light gaming. I would not expect it to run more-intense apps, like those used for audio-video editing or graphically intensive games. The keypad interface works just fine, and I would actually recommend using that over the touchscreen.

If a sighted person wants to use the phone, it is still possible to turn off the accessibility by holding down the volume keys, though the directional keys don’t appear to do anything once accessibility is off. Allowing the arrows to work when the main accessibility feature is off would make the phone more compatible with some apps and games that are self-voicing and require TalkBack to be disabled.

Included Apps

The SmartVision 3 comes with a few accessibility apps, such as a color identifier, book reader, and a free trial of Kapten GPS. This seems like a solid app, with the added ability to accessibly explore the map and learn the area around you. The other apps are fine, but they don’t bring anything new to the table. The Kapten app was quite nice, and I was somewhat disappointed to learn that it isn’t available to install on my personal phone.

I tested the basic phone and messaging features of the SmartVision 3, which worked well. Because the phone has a tactile keypad, users can quickly dial extensions and navigate menus without having to find the numbers on the screen and listen to TalkBack competing with any spoken prompts. The messages program also works well.


The SmartVision 3 is a solid phone specially targeted at those who are uncomfortable with touchscreens or have other disabilities that make gestures difficult. The phone is powerful enough to handle most apps, though it may not handle intense tasks well. It’s unfortunate that it only works on the T-Mobile network, though the three free months of service is a nice touch. If you have good T-Mobile coverage in your area and you want something with physical buttons, the SmartVision 3 is definitely worth a look.

You can buy the SmartVision 3 Basic for 539 dollars or Premium for 599 dollars from the Raz Mobility site.