Target launches Wallet for in-store mobile payments

Image credit: Target

Paying for items used to be so simple, but it continues to grow more complicated with the introduction of mobile wallets for specific companies. 

Target is the latest to jump on the trend, as today the mega retailer announced its new Wallet for mobile payments, which can be found on both the iOS and Android versions of the Target app.

As with many other mobile payment systems, Wallet is a way of checking out with your smartphone at the register. At Target (as with Walmart), this is essentially the only way you can do this as the retailer doesn't accept Apple Pay or Android Pay. (Samsung Pay reportedly works at Target for some users because it's not based on NFC.)

The main appeal of Wallet, though, is that it allows users to both pay with the app and scan coupons from the company's Cartwheel program and automatically apply the discounts. Paying for items and applying Cartwheel discounts used to take two different steps, but the Wallet allows Target shoppers to simplify those multiple steps into one.

Seeing red

The catch, for now, is that you need to have one of Target's REDcards for debit or credit purchases to use the app, but Target plans to extend the service beyond RED members at some point in the future.

Target's announcement post plays up how much faster this process is compared to "other payment types," which presumably refers to traditional swipe and chip-and-PIN methods. Naturally, it neglects to mention that Apple Pay and Android Pay would be faster still as they remove the extra step of having to open an app.

You also can't use gift cards with the Wallet feature at the moment, but that feature will be coming "soon."

Whether users gravitate to Wallet is another question, but Target is certainly doing what it can to stay up to speed with rivals.

  • Scrambling for a gift? Check out our best tech 2017 guide!

Finns burn through mobile data

 If you ever see a Finn staring at his mobile phone, chances are that he’s watching a video.  According to figures from GlobalData, users in Finland churn their way through 13.3GB per SIM every month, nearly six times the European average and more than 18 times the data usage of Slovakia, the least data driven country.

The figures are slightly misleading, however. Some countries, such as France and the UK have low monthly mobile data figures because of the large numbers of low data-intensive M2M cards that are bringing down the average. In the UK, for example, average monthly mobile data usage is 1.98GB, but smartphones use up to 2.6GB and connected data devices 2.8GB; only the 291MB of the M2M brings down the average.

Video usage

Users from all countries are increasingly turning to data, often driven by high usage of video. A survey last month from OpenWave Mobility found that the high volumes of HD video was not only adding to the data being used but was causing operators to struggle to cope.

But some operators are doing their best to encourage this high use and that can lead to some rather unusual countries being known as heavy users, even though they’re not countries with traditionally large mobile computing history. This is generally down to operators offering unlimited data packages.  These countries include Austria  with 5.7GB per SIM, Poland (3.7GB) and Russia (3.5GB). 

  • Best mobile deals this December

The best iPhone 7 Plus cases

The iPhone 7 Plus is one of the most expensive phones in the world that doesn’t come encrusted with diamonds, or inlaid with real gold – so if you scratch this palm-filling wonder a week after buying it, you won’t be happy.

There’s no way around it: you need a case.

A case may alter your phone’s lines a bit, and separate your hands from all that lovely aluminum, but let’s be honest: do you really trust yourself to keep a phone this pricey in good nick?

That’s what we thought – and that’s why we’ve created this list of 12 brilliant iPhone 7 Plus cases.

Note: we've ranked these from cheapest to most expensive according to prices at time of writing.

The only thing better than a case is no case, at least until you drop your phone, and this Dockem sleeve aims to combine the best of both worlds, by giving your iPhone 7 Plus a cosy case when you’re not using it, and leaving it naked and free when you are.

The inevitable downside of this is that your phone also has no protection when in use, but if you’re more concerned about your phone’s safety when it’s out of your hands than in them this could be a good option, and it doesn’t hurt that it looks suitably classy too.

Wooden cases are arguably among the most stylish around, and definitely among the most unusual. This YFWOOD case mixes things up further though by using three different shades of wood for a distinctive patterned finish.

Like most other wooden cases the edges are still plastic, which slightly spoils the look when viewed from an angle, but viewed from the back this is a stunning case and one that won’t break the bank.

Simple and classy, the Cygnett UrbanShield is the kind of case we can get on with. This year Cygnett has dumped the cut-out for the Apple logo too, and the case looks a lot sleeker as a result.

It’s a basic case – a clip-on plastic shell designed to avoid dings to your iPhone’s aluminum frame, but it has some sweet finishes tailored to match the classic pink, silver and black colors.

The two silvery versions have a thin plate of brushed aluminum on the back, while the black uses carbon fiber, and the pink a panel of silicone for a soft-touch feel.

We’ve shied away from featuring too many super-tough iPhone 7 Plus cases, because they tend to add so much girth to the already-large phone’s thickness and width. However, the X-Doria Defense Gear is one of the slimmest cases to boast of having ‘military-grade’ protection.

What this means in practice is that you can drop the phone case’d-up from a height of 6 feet 6 inches and it should survive.

The case is made from a mixture of rubber, hard plastic and anodized aluminum. The special sauce is what X-Doria calls DropShield. Like most advanced materials used in cases, this hardens on impact, a state change that absorbs a lot of energy.

If you want a simple leather case but don’t want to be an iSheep and buy Apple’s own one, take a look at the Knomo Snap-on case. It looks great and is much cheaper than Apple’s, partly because the leather is just an inlay in a fairly standard polycarbonate shell.

It’s still real leather, however, and this means the parts that will take the brunt of abuse will be plastic, which don’t rip as a leather veneer can after serious mistreatment.

Knomo makes the Snap-on case for iPhone 7 Plus in five different shades, ranging from a pretty eye-popping orange to a much more interior design-inspired “lido” blue-gray.

Torro makes funky-looking leather flip cases that double as stands, and a stand comes in particularly handy with an iPhone 7 Plus, with its big screen just begging to be used for a bit of movie-watching while you’re bored on a long plane or train journey.

The case is made of real leather, and there’s neat stitching along the sides for a hand-made look. The black version has red stitching, while the tan one uses thread that blends into the leather much more.

Other notable features include a magnet to stop the screen cover flapping about, and a pouch on the front that’ll hold a travel or debit card.

If you want your iPhone to look serious and professional, you can’t go far wrong with a Cygnett UrbanWallet Flip. It’s a simple folio case that uses a real leather ‘lid’ and a plastic shell into which your iPhone 7 Plus clips.

There’s a metallic finish on this part that holds your phone, in a semi-successful attempt to trick your eyes into believing the shell is actually metal. The main draw here is that it’s a flip case, though, and a fairly smart-looking one at that.

The tricky part of designing a case is to find ways of sucking up impact damage without effectively wrapping the phone in bubble wrap.

Belkin’s Air Protect SheerForce tactic is to use arches in the case’s bumper sides, creating little compressible air pockets that absorb force rather than transmitting it to the aluminum sides of the iPhone.

It’s a cheap, low-bulk way of protecting the phone. This is a deliberately low-key case, with a transparent or translucent finish. The non-clear ones are tinted to match the various colors of iPhone too. This is a good pick if you want protection without lots of bulk or weird style influences.

The Spec Presidio Grip case doesn’t just to try to make dropping your phone no big deal, it wants to stop those drops in the first place. As well as some basic protection, this slimline case makes your iPhone much grippier, using embossed strips of rubber across its back.

If you do drop your iPhone 7 Plus a layer of – don’t laugh – Impactium will reduce the force transferred to the phone. This compressible material, which sounds like it was nicked from the Marvel universe, sits underneath a hard polycarbonate exterior.

OtterBox is best known for its ultra-protective cases. But unless you have hulk-like hands, you’re not going to want to live with a brute of a case on your iPhone 7 Plus. It’ll just be too much of a handful.

The OtterBox Symmetry does its best to find a middle ground. It’s a slim-ish case, but one with a chunky lip above the screen and dual rubber and plastic construction, to put more layers between the pavement and your iPhone. It comes in a selection of finishes, including the funky pattern you see here.

One of the classic iPhone cases is Apple’s own leather model. On the surface, it seems as simple as they come, a clip-on cover that keeps the phone’s aluminum exterior looking good as new without downgrading the look. Leather is as classy as aluminum, right? There are some touches that deserve a mention, though.

First, the finish is real “French” leather rather than a synthetic alternative. This means it’ll wear and age naturally rather than starting to peel off six months in.

The case also has its own buttons, sitting on top of those on your iPhone, and has a microfiber lining that hugs your phone. It comes in a whopping seven colors too.

The Portlandia of iPhone cases, the Grovemade Walnut & Leather is all-natural and, as it happens, made in Portland. Its frame is made of walnut wood finished with vegetable oil, its leather rear tanned with vegetable extracts.

It’s delightfully artisanal, and pretty delightful all-round actually. As Grovemade says, though, “the wood used in this product may be damaged by drops or other impacts. If a case that may break is not for you, please consider a rubber or plastic case.” You’ve been warned.

Grovemade also makes bumper-style cases, an all-walnut standard case and a flip case.

  • Make the most of that big screen with the best iPhone games

The best Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus deals pre-Black Friday 2017

With its huge screen, superb camera and sleek dimensions, we've branded the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus as the best big Android phone on the market. Quite the acclaim, considering some of the competition. And a much more affordable alternative to the Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone 8.

If that's got you sold, then the good news is that prices slipped slowly downwards over the summer – probably thanks to the fervour around that Galaxy Note 8 launch. We have the full rundown of the best Galaxy S8 Plus deals right here, with the cheapest prices from the major networks – EE, Vodafone and Three – and O2 launching a sub-£30pm tariff that's really got our pulses racing.

The prices on the Galaxy S8+ are lower than ever, but if they still look a little rich for your blood, then you can buy the smaller Galaxy S8 for less or head over to our best mobile phone deals page for something completely different. But if it's the Plus-sized screen that you need, then we'll find you the best deal here.

And don't forget that many retailers and networks are chucking in freebies if you buy the S8+ through them. Take Carphone Warehouse as an example, who ise offering a Samsung wireless speaker with an RRP of £99.99 with selected deals.

See also: Galaxy Note 8 deals | Galaxy S8 deals | iPhone X deals |  iPhone 8 Plus deals | Mobile phone deals | SIM only deals | Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus review 

The best Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus deals this month:

Directly below we'll take you through all of the best value Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus deals available to purchase – handy if you don't want to wait until Black Friday 2017. This page breaks down the best deals in the UK, but if you're after the US or Australian pages, go to the best Galaxy S8 Plus deals in the US page or check out the best Australian Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus deals. 

If you want a huge Android phone with market leading specifications, an incredible display and a superb camera, then the Galaxy S8 Plus is a must for your shortlist. The price might still put you off, but this is for tech fans who crave the best of the best.

Read TechRadar's full Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus review

The best Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus deals on EE

The best Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus deals on O2

The best Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus deal on Vodafone

The best Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus deals on Three

Samsung Galaxy X: the story of Samsung’s foldable phone so far

Update: A patent has shown us what the Galaxy X's interface might look like, and we've also seen another possible design for the phone itself.

Foldable phones are coming – it’s only a matter of time – and it's looking increasingly like Samsung could be the first company to commercially launch one, possibly as soon as next year.

We may even know what it’s called, with the mysterious Samsung Galaxy X being the subject of several bendable leaks, foldable patents and flexible rumors.

But whether X marks the spot or not, we’re clearly entering a foldable future. To see how we got here and where we’re going, here’s the story of Samsung’s foldable phone so far.

Six years in the making

The idea of a foldable phone isn’t new to Samsung, in fact way back in 2011 the company showed off a prototype of exactly that.

The device looked chunky and awkward, but even back then it somewhat worked, remaining intact after 100,000 folds, with only a 6% drop in brightness at the center, where all the folding action happened.

This clearly wasn’t a commercial product, but later that year Samsung launched a concept video of a fully bendable (and transparent) mobile device, that could fold out from a phone-sized screen to a tablet-sized one, showing Samsung’s ambitions for the technology.

Production problems

While a device like the one in the video above is likely still years away even now, by 2012 Samsung was already hard at work trying to launch the first generation of flexible or foldable phones, but a report late in the year claimed that problems with the production of flexible screens would hold the first bendy display back until at least 2013.

That didn’t stop Samsung showing off another video of a foldable future though, highlighting all sorts of transparent screens, made from plastic that’s thin, light and flexible enough to fully fold or roll.

And as 2012 came to a close it seemed Samsung might be overcoming its production problems, with another report claiming that its flexible plastic screens were in the final stage of development, with the first phones sporting them likely to land in mid-2013.

Samsung’s bendy plastic screens got a more real-world debut at CES 2013, along with a name – they were now called ‘Youm’, though it was clear from the flexible prototype on show that Samsung was still far from putting a Youm display on a commercial device.

That was made even more clear when the tech was reportedly hit with new manufacturing issues in April 2013. Supposedly the previous problems had been solved, but now Samsung was apparently struggling with the encapsulation technology, which protects the screen from moisture and air damage.

Round the Edge

The closest thing we actually got to a foldable phone from Samsung in 2013 was the Samsung Galaxy Round. This was far from the prototypes and concepts we’d seen, but as the world’s first curved screen smartphone it was a big step in the right direction.

That was followed up by the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, which curved in a now more familiar direction, one which Samsung has since fully embraced with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and other phones with curved edges.

These are still far from being foldable, and while a Samsung executive did promise a truly bendable device by the end of 2014, whatever he was referring to never appeared.

Project Valley

Talk of foldable phones went a bit quiet until mid-2015, when it was rumored that an upcoming phone codenamed Project Valley could be foldable.

At this point little was known about the device, which would apparently have two screens, but it was said to be in early development, so was unlikely to arrive for a while, if at all.

In September 2015 an “insider” claimed that we’d see a bendable phone in January 2016. It wasn’t clear whether this was Project Valley or not, but apparently it would come in both mid-range and high-end flavors. Though, of course, it didn’t arrive at all.

Samsung Galaxy X

In May 2016 Project Valley got a new name – the Samsung Galaxy X, which was believed to be the name it would release under.

According to reports at the time it would be ready for release in 2017 and would have a foldable 4K display, so that the resolution would remain high even when the phone was folded.

We were sceptical about that launch date at the time, and still are, as it sounds seriously futuristic compared to the phones we’re using currently.

But that’s not quite the full story so far. At SID 2016 Samsung showed off a roll-out display – but one which didn’t have a touchscreen layer, which would be pretty vital for a smartphone.

Then in June “people familiar with the matter” reported that we might see two foldable phones from Samsung in 2017 – backing up those previous Galaxy X reports.

Supposedly one would fold out from a 5-inch handset to an 8-inch tablet, much like the concept video Samsung showed back at the beginning of our story, while the other would fold in half like a cosmetic compact, along the lines of a folding phone patent we’d already seen.

We still weren’t convinced, but Samsung was clearly on the right track, with another patent looking to solve one of the biggest problems with folding phones – the ability to fold without damaging any internal components.

The patent described an “artificial muscle”, which would move in time with the screen bending to protect other components.

One of our most recent looks at what might be the Samsung Galaxy X came from a patent spotted by GalaxyClub, highlighting a long device, with a shape more like a remote control than a smartphone, but one which could fold down to half the size.

The shape doesn’t seem particularly practical, so we doubt this is the form the Galaxy X will take, but it’s vaguely along the lines of the phone-to-tablet convertible we’ve been hearing about, and a similar design has popped up since.

And talk of a 2017 launch hasn't died. In late 2016 we heard rumors that a foldable Samsung phone would launch early the following year, followed by another later in the year. One of these was said to have two displays with a hinge in the middle, while the other will apparently have a single flexible screen.

More recently we've heard again that the Galaxy X will arrive in 2017, but not until the second half of the year.

According to some sources, more than 100,000 units are going to roll out in the third quarter of the year – though plans for a 2017 launch could apparently be changed.

That gels with a tweet from tipster @mmddj_china, who claims the Galaxy X will land in Q3 of 2017.

Though elsewhere we're hearing that Samsung may only have a prototype ready by then, and supply chain sources speaking to DigiTimes are even less optimistic, saying that a small production of foldable handsets will be made in the fourth quarter of the year, but technical issues may mean we don't see mass production before mid-2018.

Other sources similarly say that several thousand dual-screen prototypes might land this year, but that a commercially available product won't.

Most damningly of all, one of Samsung Display's own engineers has claimed we won't see a foldable phone for a while, saying:  “Because the bezel-free display currently sells well, we still have enough time to develop foldable display. The technology is expected to be mature around 2019.”

Although more recent news comes direct from Samsung's mobile boss, and is a little better, as he claims the company is aiming for a 2018 launch, assuming it can overcome certain unspecified problems.

The Galaxy X could essentially have two screens instead of one. Credit: KIPRIS

And most recently of all we've finally had a look at the possible interface of the Galaxy X, revealing a familiarly Samsung UI, but where each half of the display shows a different screen, rather than just making everything bigger or smaller.

This interface was shown in a patent, which also gave us another look at the possible design of the phone, showing something with a laptop-like design, but a second screen where the keyboard would be.

The shape of things to come

That brings us up to today, and while Samsung has made some commercial progress towards a flexible phone, with curved screens on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8, on the surface it doesn’t seem much closer overall to a truly foldable display than it did way back in 2011.

There’s lots of talk of a 2017 launch, but that’s not the first time a questionably close launch has been rumored, and with a Samsung exec pointing to 2018 that's the earliest we'd expect to see the Galaxy X.

If anything, it may arrive even later, since another Samsung employee has said not to expect the Galaxy X before 2019.

But behind the scenes promising progress does seem to have been made. Over the years several key problems in development appear to have been solved – from making a screen that can be folded thousands of times without breaking, to avoiding damage to internal components.

So we still see folding phones in our future, and maybe even the not too distant future. A Galaxy X in 2017 seems very unlikely, but we may at least have seen some shots of it before the end of the year, and a 2018 or 2019 launch looks very possible.

  • LG is working on foldable screens too