Samsung just took the lid off a new Android smartphone that aims at the mid-market. The Galaxy Core Advance promises a Galaxy device user experience with accessibility features for visually impaired consumers.

The new smartphone offers a Galaxy-like design complete with a 4.7-inch display and a Soft Feel coated back cover that offers a soft touch to the user and promises a more comfortable grip. Samsung said the back cover also increases the durability of the device.

The Galaxy Core Advance incorporates physical keys for frequently used features. For example, there are dedicated keys for a voice recorder, camera, volume, menu, home and power Relevant Products/Services functions. Samsung’s aim is to make the phone more user-friendly for consumers who are less comfortable with a touchscreen experience.

A Phone for the Visually Impaired

But what really makes the Galaxy Core Advance stand out from the smartphone pack is what Samsung calls “convenient usability functions and enhanced accessibility features” for disabled and visually impaired users.

Key usability and accessibility features include Optical Scan that automatically recognizes text from an image and reads it aloud to the user. Meanwhile, Light Sensing technology uses the device’s camera to sense light direction and brightness and Instant Voice Recorder that offers simplified access to make quick voice notes.

The device is also equipped with Screen Curtain that makes it possible for users to operate commands on a black screen to maintain privacy and save battery Relevant Products/Services life. Finally, the smartphone offers high quality TTS (text-to-speech) functionalities and voice guided camera functions to help users take pictures by reading out the number of faces detected and their standing location.

An FCC Requirement

We asked Roger Entner, a principal analyst at Recon Analytics, for his take on the new device. He told us there is a requirement from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for every carrier to sell a certain number of devices designed with visually impaired people and people with hearing aids in mind.

“This phone hits the target,” he said. “You can’t force people to buy these devices but you can force the carrier to have them available.”

Specs-wise, the device comes with Bluetooth 4.0, GPS with GLONASS for improved location accuracy and NFC with S Beam so users can share information such as YouTube videos, contact details and audio files with a tap. Other features include S Voice, S Translator, Sound & Shot, Group Play and Easy Mode.

The Galaxy Core Advance sports a dual core 1.2 GHz processor Relevant Products/Services, 16GB of RAM and 8GB of internal memory Relevant Products/Services. The device runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and will debut early next year in deep blue and pearl white.