If you are in the market for an accessible mainstream smartphone, you have 2 choices available. You can choose an Apple iPhone or an Android phone. There are arguments about which is the most accessible. Apple offers a very good out-of-the-box experience, with phones that are regularly updated that have a long-life cycle i.e. the time between the release of the product and the time when it no longer receives updates. Apple also has a network of shops offering apple products as well as technical support and advice/training.
Android is much more customisable, but until now you really had to choose a Google phone such as the Pixel if you wanted regular updates.
Android phones are available from as little as £50. But as well as considering the processor and the amount of RAM and other specifications, it is also necessary to find out what version of Android is installed and then make an educated guess as to whether the phone is likely to get updates. Many phone manufacturers choose to put their own software on phones and change the way they look.
As a result of all these variables, buying an Android phone can be really very difficult, and it can be hard to get good independent advice about what you should buy.
In order to give more choice and to introduce some stability, Google has recently introduced a program called Android One. Phones that meet the Android One standard run plain Android, otherwise known as stock Android with the minimum of other software installed. They should get updates for at least 2 years.
Currently, in the UK, the Android One phones are generally made by Nokia, but Motorola is due to release an Android One phone by Christmas. There is more information about Android One available at https://www.android.com/one/
Note that not all these phones are available in the UK.
These phones include the Talkback screen reader and the ability to magnify the contents of the screen using magnification gestures. There is not as much out there in the way of tutorials on Android as there is for the iPhone, but if you are interested in trying Android and you are prepared to learn and experiment yourself, there has never been a better time to do this. Producing phones with guaranteed updates should help give piece of mind for anyone who wants to try Android for a reasonable price.
A phone such as the Nokia 5.1 can be bought for under £200 which is well worth considering for those on a budget. The cheapest current model of iPhone costs more than twice this price.
Here’s a link to the John Lewis website selling the Nokia 5.1 for £189: https://bit.ly/2CPmsb8
Written by Graham Page, ELVis Assistive Technology Adviser