In this Post
I bought a new iPhone15 Pro Max back in September. I bought it because I am a blind user, the pro model of iPhone has a camera system that allows me to get lots of information about my visual surroundings like how far away people are or if people are even in the room with me and I wanted to take advantage of it. I got the new phone and the camera did not disappoint. In addition to the built-in accessibility features I just mentioned, my results with Be My Eyes, particularly Be My AI gave me more information than I strictly knew what to do with. There was just one problem—I had to hold my phone in my hands the whole time I was using it. Since I was using the camera system to navigate unfamiliar environments and troubleshoot computers where the screen reader wasn’t functioning, I needed a hands-free solution yesterday.
Enter the Harbolt Company
I started looking into equipment that would let me use the iPhone’s camera hands-free. Most of the options I found had two unacceptable problems:
First, the product was a body harness with a holster in the front. You can find any number of these on Amazon and other shopping sites. This would not work for me because I need something that at least tries to look professional for when I’m using the camera at my job. The harnesses are more suited to some kind of sport you want to video from your point of view.
Second, the product looked reasonably unobtrusive, but required the use of an adhesive to stick to the phone and hold it in place. I found this solution unacceptable because adhesives were out over time. Also, it’s hard to get that crap off of hard surfaces, meaning the trade-in value of my phone would automatically go down. There’s also the issue of the adhesive pad possibly blocking access to MagSafe and regular wireless charging, a sacrifice I was unwilling to make as the price of a hands-free camera system.
I eventually found a lanyard that appeared to be just what I was looking for. It attached to the phone through MagSafe meaning no sticky residue and the lanyard could be detached and attached at will. It also was a lanyard similar to the kind used for hold ID badges, so it would be fairly unobtrusive in a professional setting. For those of you who want to view the product firsthand, here is the link to the product:
The first thing you might notice upon clicking this link is that there are no pictures of the product at all. You also notice all the features I’ve listed here, as long as a 40+ minute description of the product.
I purchased the product in the middle of last week and it was here by Saturday. I’ve spent two days with it.
The First Problem
The first problem is there were no directions in the box. Along with the lanyard and MagSafe attachment, I got a random USBC cable with two loose end pieces and two Harbolt Company business cards. Self, I said, No problem. I’ll just listen to the audio description of the product.
The Second Problem
This lanyard also is available with an adhesive patch for phones that don’t support MagSafe. The majority of the product description talked solely about this aspect. By the time the description got to the Magsafe portion of the description, it was not as detailed suggesting the Magsafe and adhesive patch work the same way. There just wasn’t sufficient guidance on how to properly use the MagSafe feature.
The Third Problem
I couldn’t get the phone to stay upright. I tried over and over again to position the phone on the lanyard with the back camera facing out. When I would magnetically attach the phone to the lanyard and let go, the phone would rotate and end up upside down. I spent an hour dealing with this before asking a friend who bought the product not long before I purchased it. The friend said they had sighted assistance setting up the lanyard.
Thought I could Get Sighted Assistance
This isn’t my first time needing sighted assistance to set up a new purchase. Since nobody was going to be in my immediate area in the foreseeable future, I posted the link to the product to social media asking for assistance on how to set it up. It didn’t take long for me to receive the feedback that the seller had only lightning bolts in place of product pictures. Aside from having a conversation about how unhelpful that was there wasn’t much else to do.
The Support Experience
After a total of three hours with this product and not being able to successfully set it up, I decided to return it for a refund and use the money towards a product that would better suit my purpose. I found the seller’s contact form and sent a message asking for information on how to return the product, then I got some dinner. When I returned from dinner, I had two phone calls, two voicemails and a text message from the seller saying it would be easy for me to be told what I was doing wrong if I called for support. There was a lot of back and forth, and the short of it was that I felt like something was wrong with the product and I felt the best thing to do was return it for a refund.
Upon reading the return policies earlier today, I discovered I had to actually call for support before I would be permitted to move forward with the return. At this point, I’d been trying the product for two days and discovered the following:
- the magnet is extremely easy to pull off. I dropped my phone three times, stepping on it once.
- Even when I managed to get the camera to point outward, it was at such an angle that what was mostly in view was the ceiling.
I called for support just before sitting down to write this. More back and forth before the seller agreed to take the product back for a full refund minus a 15% restocking fee. I was left wondering what it would take for me to feel this issue is resolved.
What Do I Want?
The simplest answer would be a refund minus the restocking fee and a lesson learned about making sure a site selling a product has enough information to make sure I can get the support I need before purchasing. I’ve never really been good at keeping it simple, so what do I want?
I want the same experience the other buyers of this product are getting, according to the product description. I want a hands-free solution for this incredible camera system. What can the seller do to give me that?
This post has been heavily edited at the suggestion of a friend, and what I’m left with is this: The information about this product needs to be clearer. It doesn’t seem too terrible an inconvenience to me that there could be two sets of directions for the adhesive patch and Magsafe connector respectively.
The other important thing would be to include pictures of the product in use. Yes, this product seems to be intended for blind users, but sighted family and friends might not buy this without being able to look at the product before purchasing. The lack of pictures also hindered my ability to get sighted assistance from online communities, a resource I find invaluable and was incredibly frustrated not to be able to utilize.
What Can You Do?
There’s not much, I’m afraid. I mainly wrote this so you could be aware of the experience and base your own purchasing decisions on it.Maybe word of this review will get back to the seller and the directions will be updated. Things like that happen.
If you really want to do something, though, you can share this post on whatever social media you find it. I’ll be tagging the name of the business as part of this post and that should be enough to get it into the stream of Internet consciousness. Please do not @ mention them when you share. There’s a difference between communicating a subpar experience and harassing someone off the internet entirely.heInternet as a whole doesn’t leave a lot of room for self-improvement or redemption as it is.