Large Text Phones

A site describing which mobile phones are available with large text/font size settings, how to adjust text size, and other features for those of us with poor eye sight.


With so many handsets flying onto the market, it’s about time someone made a resource to show which are best for those of us who do not have 20/20 vision.

The mobile industry seems to be completely clueless, and while things are improving, they are doing so waaaayyy toooo slowly. Five years ago Nokia had the audacity to reply to one of my emails and suggest I ask my friends to text me in caps lock to help me see. I recently spent hours in local phone shop trying to find a handset that could display large text without costing the earth. In all four of the shops I tried the staff didn’t have a clue how to help. They brought out tantalising handset after tantalising handset, most of which had absolutely no adjustable font size settings.

So, hopefully here you will be able to find two things. Firstly, an update on which phones have decent size settings, and secondly it would be good if we could apply a little pressure on the mobile industry, afterall there are thousands of us with less than perfect vision, and it would be so easy for them to make every phone accessible.

It is worth pointing out that these phones will be usable for people with poor eyesight and possibly people with a visual impairment at the less severe end of the spectrum. If your sight is bad enough to require speaking phones then the RNIB have some excellent factsheets here.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Making text larger on Android mobile phones

There is a lot of moaning online about 'Android' phones and their small font size. Android is an operating system that runs on a number of touch screen phones. It seems like when making the operating system Google opted not to make the font size adjustable. This is a real shame as to do so would have been so easy on such sophisticated handsets.

In the mean time there are number of things you can do to make the text larger on Android phones. None of these options are perfect, so if you are looking to buy a new mobile and have poor eyesight I wouldn’t recommend one of the Android range. However if you already have one, these might help a bit. I haven’t managed to get hold of a handset to check these fixes, they are from online research alone.

Large text for SMS on Android

The ‘ChompSMS’ app lets you increase the font size of SMS. It also lets you change the background colours, I find inverting colours so to display white text on a black background always makes things clearer. An alternative app is ‘Handcent SMS’

Large text for general menus

The ‘Spare Parts’ app can apparently change general text size on an Android, however it is apparently rather inconsistent and doesn’t save changes well. Give it a go and let me know how it works for you!

Increase font size for browsing the Internet

The Opera mobile browser has an extra large text size which could be good.

Please let me know how you found all the above, and any other fixes you have come across.

Review Blackberry Curve 8520

Note: Whilst this is a review of the Curve 8520, I am under the impression most Blackberrys have similar accessability features.

Adjustable font size up to size 14, colour scheme options (inverted, greyscale)

Tiny lettering on the tiny keys, (I guess you could learn which keys are which) Small print when browsing the internet, setting up email and with certain apps.

Definitely an option for those of us with poor eyesight.

How to change font size:
Go to the main menu> Options > Screen/Keyboard > Font Size

How to change accessibility features:
Main menu > Options > Advanced Options > Accessibility

Full Review

Apparently all Blackberrys have pretty impressive customisable font size, which can make the text pretty large. It is also possible to invert the colours so as to read white text on a black background. The downside of this is that your homescreen (Blackberry jargon for ‘desktop’) looks very strange with an inverted photo. I found a neat way round this, simply edit an image on your computer so that its colours are inverted, then email it across to the phone. When you invert the colours on your phone the image will look normal again.

In terms of general usability, the Blackberry Curve 8520 keys are rather small. I got used to this quickly, however did find it tough to read the lettering on them. Eventually I think I will get the hand of where each key is and what it does. So while this may be a drag at first, the problem will eventually be overcome.

Setting the text to a large size 14 and inverting the colours made sending and receiving texts and emails a walk in the park (I have approximately 1/3 average vision). It also changes the size for all the menus and option screens.

I did find it frustrating at times that the phone would display tiny text when changing settings, for example when setting up email accounts. Similaly some of the applications you can download onto the phone have tiny text, and browsing the internet takes a lot of zooming to become manageable, and even then it is only just doable. A no brainer solution for blackberry would be to make it possible to configure the email accounts through your computer using the supplied USB cable. Similarly it would be an improvement to be able to set the accessibility settings and text size in the same way.

However, all in all this is definitely a usable phone for those with poor vision, and the Blackberry has an extremely impressive array of features including an organiser and support for multiple email accounts.