LG V30 review: LG’s latest flagship needs more polish

The LG V30 caught me by surprise. The G6 was a strong contender when it was released earlier this year, but we’ve seen so many flashy flagships hit store shelves since then that I almost forgot LG was preparing another phone for the fall. And when the V30 finally showed up, I couldn’t quite believe it. This? This is an LG phone?

Well, yes, it is. And by excising gimmicks and rethinking its designs, LG has cooked up one of its most impressive smartphones ever. The level of polish on display is generally excellent too, which, unfortunately, throws the flaws this phone does have into sharp relief.

Hardware

With each new model, LG’s V series has grown more conventional. It all started with the über-masculine V10 two years ago. The V30 is much tamer, and you’d never guess they were related. That’s actually a good thing. The V30 is supremely sleek by LG standards, with rounded edges and panes of Gorilla Glass 5 that gently curve to meet a gleaming metal frame. It helps that LG ditched the gimmicky second screen that its predecessors used — it was of dubious value to start, and the phone is more streamlined without it. It’s not the most striking smartphone out there — Samsung devices generally have more of that wow factor — but LG has dramatically refined its approach to design, and the V30 feels great as a result.

It’s surprisingly comfortable, too, especially considering it has a 6-inch OLED screen. It wasn’t that long ago that phones with screens that large were enough to make your hand hurt, but the V30 is perfectly usable with one hand. It doesn’t hurt that the V30’s fingerprint sensor is located on the phone’s back, since it’s very easy to reach with an index finger that’s usually resting right next to it.

Despite the fact that the V30 is remarkably slim and light, LG didn’t skimp on the good stuff either. Unlike some other flagship phones we’ve tested this year, the V30 still has a headphone jack and a spot for microSD cards as large as 2TB on its SIM tray. Our review unit came with 64GB of internal storage, and that’s plenty for most people, but I’m not going to turn my nose up at expandable storage options.

The V30’s body is also rated IP68 for water and dust resistance, a feature last year’s V20 notably lacked. It comes at a cost, though: the phone’s 3,300mAh cell is sealed so you can’t swap batteries like you could with the V10 and V20. At first I was a little disappointed, but it’s not hard to see why LG changed course. Removable batteries make phones bigger, and people are used to plugging in whenever they can.

Display and sound

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When you crank up the brightness on the V30’s 6-inch, quad HD screen, it looks pretty nice: colors are punchy without being lurid, and you can pick out lots of detail on this pixel-dense (538ppi) panel. That’s the nicest thing I can say about this screen. See, LG has caught a lot of flak for the panels it put in the Pixel 2 XL, but the situation is worse in the V30. As with the XL, the V30’s screen has a noticeable blue cast from odd angles. I didn’t mind it much on the Pixel 2 XL, and I don’t mind it much here. It’s a notable shortcoming for a phone of this caliber, but I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a deal-breaker.

What’s more troublesome is the level of grittiness and uneven lighting that’s apparent on the V30’s screen. It’s less noticeable when the panel’s brightness is cranked, but it’s quite annoying when it’s dark and I’m trying to read in bed. At first I actually thought my screen was dirty, but it soon became clear that that’s just how it was made. I ran into this issue with our pre-production V30 test unit too. The egregious banding I saw on the pre-release phone is gone, but I hoped LG had started using better panels.

Thankfully, the audio situation is much better. Listening to music through the phone’s single, bottom-firing speaker is pleasant enough, but everything changes when you plug in a pair of headphones and fire up the built-in Hi-Fi DAC. Not only does music get substantially louder, but it sounds a little more natural and lively too. And that’s with the sound profile set to the flat, “normal” mode. If your tastes are a little more particular, there are four other EQ presets to choose from, as well as a handful of “digital filters” that let you further tweak the sound. That’s overkill for most people, but there’s no denying that even leaving the DAC’s settings alone produces better audio. It’s gotten to the point where, even on days when I’m testing other phones, I make sure to keep the V30 in my bag to help drown out the din of the subway.

Software

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Sorry, Oreo fans — while the V20 was the first device to ship with Nougat last year, the LG couldn’t finagle the same sweetheart deal for the V30. Instead, it runs the most recent version of Nougat (7.1.2, for those keeping count). Still, multi-window mode is handy as ever for running two apps at the same time, and they get more room to breathe, thanks to the V30’s 18:9 aspect ratio. Google’s Assistant is present as well, and remains (to me, at least) the gold standard for smartphone virtual assistants.

There are a few things that you’ll need to get used to, though. By default, the V30 doesn’t have an app launcher, so all your newly downloaded apps get splayed across your home screen. It’s easy enough to revive the traditional launcher, and it’s worth the effort if only for the handy app search bar.

And remember how earlier V-series phones had the weird second screen above the main display? That’s gone. LG stuck those shortcuts and controls into what it calls a “floating bar.” It’s off by default, and I’m really not surprised. The ability to change tracks or add an event to your calendar is nice, but since there isn’t a dedicated screen that’s always on to access those shortcuts from, you have to unlock the phone before you can get at them. I appreciate LG trying to maintain some feature parity between its new and older devices, but the floating bar is a poor replacement for a gimmick that was of debatable utility in the first place.

The rest of LG’s built-in apps are as colorful and useful as always, and some widgets have been slightly redesigned to make use of the bigger screen. They’re nothing to write home about, though.

What is worth discussing, however, is the bloatware situation. Our review unit was provided by Verizon, and as such, it’s filled to the brim with apps nobody asked for. There are seven apps in a home screen folder conveniently labeled “Verizon,” two pre-loaded games and four Yahoo apps. (Just a reminder: In addition to owning Engadget, Verizon also owns Yahoo’s media properties. Verizon has no editorial control over us, though, so I’m going to keep blasting it for its obnoxious pre-loaded apps.)

Most troubling is the addition of AppFlash, a home screen panel that offers quick access to frequently used apps, news stories and a search bar that surfaces local hotspots. It sounds useful enough, and it is, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation is firm in its belief that AppFlash amounts to spyware. Thanks, but no thanks, Verizon — it’s all pretty easy to uninstall or disable.

Camera

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The V30’s main draw is its dual camera, and with good reason: It’s one of the best LG has ever made. The star of the show is a 16-megapixel main shooter with a f/1.6 aperture, and it’s complemented nicely by a 13-megapixel wide-angle camera. Other smartphone makers have invested in other kinds of dual-camera setups (most notably Huawei and its secondary monochrome sensors), but I’ve always preferred the telephoto/wide-angle combo, since it offers more flexibility.

Images captured with the main camera feature lots of detail and bright, natural colors when there was lots of light around. Consider me impressed. Low-light performance wasn’t amazing on the pre-production V30 we tested, though, and it hasn’t gotten much better here. The main camera has optical image stabilization and a very wide aperture — that’s normally a winning combination, but it’s not perfect here. Sometimes I’d get a great shot without thinking about it. Most of the time, though, the V30 struggled to pick up fine details in dim lighting that the Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone 8 Plus gathered with no problem. Sadly, that’s not the kind of thing LG’s myriad photo modes and filters can fix.

Meanwhile, the wide-angle camera routinely churned out pleasant-looking landscapes, and being able to capture more of the space around you without moving is definitely helpful. It struggled to pick up detail in some situations, but that’s not a surprise, since it shoots at a lower resolution. Even so, it’s a big improvement over the V20’s wide-angle camera, which produced a ton of distortion around the edges of photos. It also churns out passable wide shots in dim lighting, especially if you’re willing to fiddle with settings, but your best bet is to stick to the main camera. Devices like the Note 8 and Google’s new Pixel 2 series are better all-around still cameras, but respectable image quality and nuanced controls mean the V30’s camera is a serious contender.

More than anything, though, LG built the V30 to shoot video, and it shows. The V30 offers a truly remarkable level of control over the footage you capture — perfect for YouTubers and would-be videographers. We did a separate deep dive into the V30’s cinematographic chops here, so I won’t rehash everything we learned. Long story short, the V30 can do more than stand in for a proper video camera in a pinch — it could feasibly replace one for some people. Ultimately, it’s all about the control, and there is a lot of that available here.

Of course, you don’t need to be a Kubrick wannabe to get great video results. A handful of features help imbue footage with an almost professional flair, like color presets that can drastically change the feel and atmosphere of your shots. Personally, I’ve fallen in love with LG’s slick point-zoom feature. Tapping on the screen locks a focal point, and you can zoom in and out of it, even if that point is off in the corner of the frame. It’s these little additions that no one else has thought of that make the V30 such a pleasure to use. Here’s hoping LG makes still-image quality as much of a priority as video next time.

Performance and battery

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Like a lot of other flagships this year, the V30 runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chipset, along with the Adreno 540 GPU and 4GB of RAM. It’s a well-worn combination, to be sure, but it’s definitely an effective one. The V30 has been a speedy, smooth companion — lag was virtually nonexistent as I bounced between apps. And it didn’t break a sweat when I fired up intense games like Afterpulse and Tempest.

LG V30 Google Pixel 2 XL LG G6 Galaxy Note 8
AnTuTu (total) 145,783 159,382 141,065 16,673
3DMark IS Unlimited 28,193 39,235 30,346 38,960
GFXBench 3.0 1080p Manhattan Offscreen (fps) 49 52 42 55
CF-Bench 61,958 N/A 24,748 67,415

When it comes to day-to-day use, the V30 is pretty average. On a typical day, I’d pull the V30 off the charger at around 8 AM, take it to work, run it through my usual routine, and get a low-battery warning at around 9 PM. That’s not bad — I got similar results out of the Galaxy Note 8, and I’ve occasionally found the V30 still clinging to life after nights when I had forgotten to charge it. Thankfully, the phone is pretty quick to charge: When it’s completely dead, a 15-minute top-up was enough to get the V30’s up to between 25 and 30 percent. Another 15 minutes on top of that usually pushed the phone close to 55 percent. A bigger battery would’ve been nice, but you won’t have trouble getting through the day if you make at least one pit stop at a wall outlet.

The competition

The V30 is the most appealing phone LG has made in a long time, but the smartphone competition this year is incredibly fierce. Samsung’s Galaxy S8 Plus runs with the same chipset but pairs it with an almost flawless Infinity Display — the V30’s OLED screen simply doesn’t stack up. Samsung arguably also wins on design, and the S8 Plus packs a first-rate 12-megapixel camera. Then there’s Google’s Pixel 2 XL, a device that’s very closely related to the V30. The Pixel display is similar to the V30’s, but thankfully, it doesn’t have the same grainy look as the LG. Plus a cleaner version of Android means the Pixel just feels a little bit faster. There are strong reasons to pick either of these phones over the V30, but here’s what it boils down to: If you’re serious about audio and video quality, the V30 wins.

Wrap-up

Chris Velazco/Engadget

When I first took the V30 for a spin, I was surprised by my own optimism. At last, LG had made a phone that seemed to tick all the right boxes. After more prolonged testing, I’m not quite as enamored — thanks mostly to its questionable screen. Still, I’m impressed with what LG has managed to accomplish. The V30’s design and build quality are first rate, performance is up to snuff for a flagship, and I’m in love with the way this thing sounds. Hopefully, LG irons out these sketchy screen issues, because otherwise the V30 is a worthy phone in danger of being overshadowed.

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Samsung’s latest imaging sensors may rid smartphones of camera bumps

As Apple, Samsung and (perhaps, surprisingly) Google battle to claim the top spot in smartphone imaging, we’ve been left with lenses jutting out of the device, or in the case of the Note 8, a thicker phone. The iPhone 8 and Pixel 2 may be the latest offenders, but Samsung thinks its latest imaging sensor can keep things slim with its duo of new ISOCELL sensors: two different components with different selling points.

Its 12-megapixel Fast 2L9 sensor uses “Dual Pixel” tech to speed up its auto-focus, shrinking pixels to 1.28μm, down from 1.4μm in its predecessor. And what the heck does that mean? It should improve improve the speed it takes for future smartphones to focus, as well as the ability for the camera to keep locked-on and track moving objects. Samsung promises this is all possible in low light too, vowing that it’ll keep your next (presumably Galaxy-branded) smartphone bump-free, while also delivering ‘bokeh’ depth of focus effects with just a single lens.

The ISOCELL Slim 2X7, like its name suggests, will be able to slide itself into even more slender smartphone designs, despite its meatier 24-megapixel spec. It’s the first mobile image sensor to have a pixel size below 1.0μm — 0.9μm apparently, helping shrink that sensor size, but keeping color fidelity and low noise thanks to Samsung’s improvements with its ISOCELL tech and pixel isolation.The Slim is also built for improved low-light photography. It does so by combining four neighbouring pixels to work as one, increasing light sensitivity. It’ll still be able to tap into all 24 megapixels when lighting conditions are better. Samsung pitches it as a sensor that works at its best, regardless of how much light’s around.

Ben K. Hur, Vice President of System LSI Marketing at Samsung Electronics says in the release that the sensors are “highly versatile as they can be placed in both front and rear of a smartphone.” Better selfies too, then.

Source: Samsung

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ZTE’s latest big-screen phone packs dual cameras for $129

While the rest of the tech world gets ready for the return of Samsung’s Galaxy Note line, ZTE continues its quiet takeover of the budget phablet market. Every year since 2014, the company has released a low-cost handset with a large screen, generous battery and surprisingly modern features (think: fingerprint sensors and USB-C ports). This time is no different. The 6-inch Blade ZMax is now available for pre-order via MetroPCS, and will be in stores on August 28th, starting at $ 129.

What stands out about this year’s model is that it has dual cameras — an unusual feature at this price. A slew of $ 200 phones unveiled at CES all featured the same iPhone 7 Plus–like setup, but the Blade ZMax is the first to offer it for less than $ 150. With the pair of sensors on the back, you can take pictures with artificially blurred backgrounds to highlight your subject. The Blade ZMax’s 16-megapixel RGB sensor captures color information, while its 2-megapixel monochrome counterpart takes care of details. During my brief time with the new handset, this system worked, blurring out chairs and desks in the background while keeping the man in the foreground crisp.

The Blade ZMax’s images fall short of those taken with iPhone 7 Plus, though. Apple’s software delivers cleaner, sharper pictures with better-defined edges between the subject and the background. Upon closer inspection, I also noticed a halo effect around the subject in shots taken with the Blade ZMax. It could be because I was using a defective unit, although ZTE hasn’t responded to my question as to whether this was the case. Still, the artifact was minor enough to overlook, and I’m not going to nitpick about a device that costs less than a night out with friends.

There’s really not much else to say about the Blade ZMax. Its rear is covered with a grippier dotted texture than its predecessor’s matte cover, while its battery is now 4,080mAh, up from 3,400mAh on last year’s model. Impressively, the phone is ever so slightly (0.03 inch) slimmer than its predecessor, despite that larger cell inside. But I still prefer the older handset’s aesthetic, which featured a blue rear with rose gold accents. The new rubbery cover feels comfortable, but it looks dull.

ZTE also opted for Japanese company Asahi’s Dragontail glass on its display instead of Corning’s Gorilla Glass. We’d seen this material on the Neo Reloaded as well, but Dragontail hasn’t shown up in other phones yet. From my time with the Blade ZMax, the different glass had no noticeable impact on the screen’s quality; colors and text on the 6-inch full HD display looked about as rich and sharp as on competing devices I’ve tested.

Although it has a more rugged aesthetic than its predecessor, the Blade ZMax is a well-rounded device for the price. In fact, it’s the only 6-inch phone around with relatively modern features for less than $ 150. There are some compromises you’ll have to tolerate in exchange for the savings, but people looking for a new handset with a large screen will find the Blade ZMax a promising option.

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Sony’s latest Xperia is a terrific slow-mo shooter, with caveats

At long last, Sony has made a seriously compelling flagship. Not only is the Xperia XZ Premium the best-looking handset the company has made in years, but it also boasts a high-end camera capable of extreme slow-mo video recording. It’s also one of the first phones to use the Snapdragon 835 chipset, which supports Gigabit LTE speeds where available. Plus, it has a sumptuous 5.5-inch 4K display that is HDR-ready. That’s a whole lot of reasons to check out the phone, but is it worth splurging $ 800 on? Well, that depends on your needs.

The XZ Premium certainly looks and feels every bit as expensive as it is. It sports the same somewhat boxy silhouette that the Xperia line is known for, but the gently curving sides, Gorilla Glass-covered front and back and super shiny finish make it attractive and comfortable to hold. In fact, it’s so shiny that the phone’s rear can double up as a mirror.

Because the XZ Premium is a relatively large phone and also due to its slippery, glossy finish, though, I often came close to dropping it. The good news is, if you drop it into a puddle, the XZ Premium should survive, thanks to its water-resistance.

Although it has a strikingly pretty frame, the XZ Premium’s real highlight is its camera. It has a 19-megapixel sensor that uses Sony’s new 3-layer technology to snap more rapid-fire pictures than before. It also shoots 4K video that’s nice and steady thanks to digital 5-axis stabilization. I liked how pictures and videos turned out — they were colorful, crisp and vibrant. In fact, I was most impressed when the series of pictures I snapped from a fast-moving cab all turned out sharp and distortion-free.

What truly stands out about the XZ Premium is its ability to shoot slow-mo videos at up to 960 fps. That’s four times the framerate of the iPhone 7 Plus, which shoots 240fps at the same 720p resolution. The resulting clips are mesmerizing and smooth. Most importantly, all my subjects looked impressively clear even at snail’s pace.

Recording slow-mo comes with a few caveats, though. For one, you’ll only capture good-quality footage under optimal lighting conditions, like outside on a bright day. Any time I tried to shoot in the evening or even indoors, the image got noisy.

There also aren’t many reasons to use extreme slo-mo. A lot of the action I tried to record wasn’t fast enough for it to really look interesting. From waving hands to jumping friends, most regular activities barely show up as movement.

When it comes to faster action though, the XZ Premium really shines. I caught a bird mid-flight, butterfly flitting by, drops of water shooting out of a fountain, and the resulting slow-mo footage was stunning. But even then, the way the feature is applied in the camera app makes it challenging to get the results you want. First, you need to enable slow-mo mode, hit record, then press the onscreen trigger button (not to be confused with the dedicated physical camera button on the phone’s right edge).

The device saves about 3 seconds of slow-mo each time you push the button, and you can use it repeatedly as you’re recording, but you can only slow down short segments at a time, so you’ll really need to know what to expect when you’re shooting.

I understand Sony did this by design to prevent slow-mo enthusiasts from quickly eating up storage with these clips. But, unlike the iPhone, you can’t edit the footage after the fact to pick precisely when the slow-mo kicks in. You also don’t get any say over how long you can shoot in 960fps. Offering these options would make the feature much more useful.

Overall, though, the XZ Premium’s camera is a speedy shooter that delivers excellent quality. Its 13-megapixel front camera takes sharp, vibrant selfies even in low light. The pictures looked particularly vivid when viewed on the XZ Premium’s lovely 4K display. Sony used the same technology in its Bravia TVs in this handset’s panel, and it pays off. Everything from Instagram pictures to YouTube videos were rich and sharp.

The XZ Premium is also the first smartphone to support HDR, which appears particularly saturated and colorful on this screen. There’s not much HDR media floating around at the moment, though, so it’s not something you’ll notice a lot during typical use. Still, it’s a nice touch.

Frankly, I don’t have many complaints about the XZ Premium. It held up under intense multi-tasking thanks to the powerful Snapdragon 835 chipset, and the battery generally lasts a full day. Plus, recharging is surprisingly fast — I usually get about 50% of juice within 30 minutes of plugging in.

Like other high-end phones this year, the XZ Premium also runs Android Nougat, and Sony’s overlaid skin here is lighter than on previous Xperias. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test gigabit LTE, since it hasn’t been deployed in the US yet.

Ultimately, there are many reasons to like the XZ Premium, but at $ 800, it costs as much as flagships from Samsung and Apple. The thing is, even though its standout slow-mo feature will only appeal to a very select group of people, the XZ Premium is a flagship that can finally contend with the Galaxies and iPhones of the world. Sony (and its fans) should be very proud.

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Alpine’s latest receiver brings wireless CarPlay to all

Apple CarPlay has finally gone wireless. After debuting the technology at CES this year, Alpine is now shipping the iLX-107, the first CarPlay receiver with support for wireless connectivity. And considering the tech world’s general disdain for wires and cables, it’s a surprise it’s taken this long to reach the aftermarket.

The receiver (compatible with the iPhone 5 and later) lets CarPlay be accessed through the touchscreen and Siri voice control. You’ll get the full CarPlay experience: make calls, read texts, choose music and get real-time traffic updates. Plus, depending on your car you’ll get customized vehicle information too, such as park assist. There’s no longer any need for the proverbial Lightning cable: simply connect your phone via WiFi or Bluetooth.

While CarPlay receivers have been kicking around for a while, this is the first to support wireless connectivity — a function that began development in 2015 but didn’t find an infotainment home until late 2016 when it was added to the 2017 BMW 5 Series Sedan.

Despite growing demand for such systems, very few manufacturers have the tech built into their cars, so it’s still very much a novelty. Perhaps this is the argument for the iLX-107’s eye-watering $ 900 price tag.

Source: Cision

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Latest version of iOS solves iPhone 6’s shutdown issues

Some iPhone 6 and 6s devices have been randomly shutting down over the past several months. iOS 10.2.1 was designed to fix the issue, and Apple says it has successfully solved the problem for most people who’ve already installed it. Cupertino told TechCrunch that 10.2.1, which has already been downloaded by roughly half of all iOS users, has led to an 80 percent reduction of unexpected shutdowns in iPhone 6s and 70 percent reduction in iPhone 6. TC says the affected phones unexpectedly shut down due to sudden spikes of activity in older iOS versions that cause older batteries to malfunction.

A spokesperson told the publication:

“With iOS 10.2.1, Apple made improvements to reduce occurrences of unexpected shutdowns that a small number of users were experiencing with their iPhone. iOS 10.2.1 already has over 50% of active iOS devices upgraded and the diagnostic data we’ve received from upgraders shows that for this small percentage of users experiencing the issue, we’re seeing a more than 80% reduction in iPhone 6s and over 70% reduction on iPhone 6 of devices unexpectedly shutting down.”

Apple also told TechCrunch that it has given the older iPhones the ability to restart without needing to be plugged in. Before the fix came out, people had no choice but to plug in their phones whenever an unexpected shutdown happens. In addition, the tech titan will roll out another feature in the next few days. If the latest version of iOS deems your battery to be too old and worn down, you’ll see a notice in settings telling you that “your battery needs service.”

Apple didn’t give an advice on what to do if version 10.2.1 doesn’t fix the problem for you. But if you’ve been experiencing the same issue, try installing the platform update first before getting your battery replaced.

Source: TechCrunch

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Earin’s latest wireless earbuds tout AirPod-like controls

Fancy the subtle tap-based controls of Apple’s AirPods, but want something that’s not quite so conspicuous (or conspicuously targeted at iPhone owners)? Earin wants to talk. It’s introducing its second set of wireless earbuds, the M-2, and they promise a taste of AirPod-like control in a subtler design. You only have to tap an earbud to pause your music or answer a call — no reaching for your phone or fiddling with buttons. It’s not as sophisticated as the AirPods (you won’t be talking to Siri as easily), but the simplicity remains a big deal.

The M-2s are also more ergonomic than their cylindrical ancestors. Battery life hasn’t changed much, though: you can expect 3 hours on a charge, and the magnetic charging capsule will give you a total of 12 hours of listening. This is more for your workout than a long flight, in other words. Earin hasn’t divulged pricing, but the new earbuds should hit shelves near the end of the first quarter.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2017.

Source: PR Newswire

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Kohl’s is the latest retailer to roll out its own mobile payments

If you like to shop at Kohl’s and need an alternative to Apple Pay, Android Pay or Samsung Pay, you’re in luck. The retailer announced today that its own mobile payments platform, Kohl’s Pay, is now available to all customers nationwide. The company revealed last month that its take on payments would complement its existing mobile wallet app that gave customers a way to store payment info, organize rewards and collect promotions in the same spot.

Unlike retail mobile payment platforms from Walmart and CVS, Kohl’s Pay doesn’t allow customers to add their credit and debit cards to the app for use in stores. Instead, you’ll have to sign up for one of the company’s own Kohl’s Charge cards. While that might seem like an odd choice, TechCrunch reports that the retailer has 25 million customers actively using its credit cards with 60 percent of in-store purchases being paid for with Kohl’s Charge. That’s a substantial number of people you could bring to the mobile platform even if they can’t add any payment method they want.

The payments system is available inside the store’s existing mobile apps for Android and iOS. The Kohl’s app also doesn’t support NFC or tap-to-pay like Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay. Instead, it displays a QR code that’s scanned by the cashier at checkout. That code is used to not only handle payment, but to apply any savings a customer has stored in the app, too. When you combine the ability to pay to for items, organize discounts/promotions and track returns, exchanges and regular purchases, Kohl’s is giving its customers a handy shopping companion. And that’s on top of using the app to browse items, save gift cards to the mobile wallet and scan barcodes will looking around in stores.

Kohl’s still supports Apple Pay, including the ability to earn loyalty points when using that payment method on an iPhone or Apple Watch. It was the first retailer to do so and it was also the first store to allow customers to use its own credit cards with Apple’s payment platform.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Kohl’s

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Pebble’s latest update adds quick views and more shortcuts

When Pebble announced its latest Pebble 2 and Time 2 watches earlier this year, it also revealed several software improvements that would roll out not just to the new models, but to most other existing Pebble hardware. Today, the company is finally releasing that update. Now even old-school Pebble users can get Quick View peeks, shortcut buttons, a revamped Health app plus more email features for iOS users.

Available only to the latest Time edition devices, you can now press down on the watchface to check out upcoming events thanks to a new Quick View peek that takes up just a small sliver of the display. Tap it for more info or hit the Back button to dismiss it. There’s also a new Launcher menu — press Select to see it — plus an App Glances feature that gives you a preview of info without having to open the app.

The update also adds 4-button Quick Launch, which essentially lets you map the side buttons to specific shortcuts — you trigger them by long-pressing each key. You could do this before the Up and Down buttons but now you can do so with the Back and Select keys as well.

Seeing as Pebble is a lot more fitness-focused these days, it also took the opportunity to redesign its Health app. Now you’re able to quickly glance at weekly charts to get a better idea of your progress toward your step or sleep goals. You can also just press the up button on the watchface to access the Health app that much quicker. Pebble Health settings are also now in the main settings area instead of the Apps tab.

Last but not least, Pebble is also giving iOS users a bit more email functionality for those with Google accounts. At long last, iPhone fans can reply, delete and archive email directly from Pebble notifications, be it from Inbox, Gmail or the Mail app.

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