Fandango is acquiring rival online ticketer MovieTickets.com


A consolidation in the advance movie ticketing space is happening today, with Fandango’s announcement that it’s acquiring rival MovieTickets.com for an undisclosed sum. The deal, which is expected to close before year-end, will help Fandango expand its international footprint, particularly in Latin America, as well as bring new cinemas to its ticketing platform.

Headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, MovieTickets.com today serves moviegoers in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Latin America. That means in addition to helping Fandango gain more ground in Latin America – particularly in popular moviegoing countries Argentina and Mexico, Fandango says – the acquisition will allow Fandango to establish a presence in both Canada and the U.K. for the first time.

The deal follows other efforts Fandango had underway in Latin America, after announcing a new brand strategy for the region. This included new online and mobile ticketing destinations at Ingresso.com in Brazil, and Fandango Latin America (www.Fandango.lat, previously known as Cinepapaya) in several Latin American countries, including Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia.

Fandango says that MovieTickets.com will continue to operate from its HQ in Florida after the acquisition completes.

Beyond the regional expansion benefits arising from the deal, MovieTickets.com will also bring new cinemas to Fandango’s network, including National Amusements, Cineplex, Landmark Theatres, Marquee Cinemas, and several independent theater chains. Prior to the acquisition, Fandango already had partnerships with over 80 percent of the U.S.’s theater chains with online ticketing capabilities.

MovieTickets.com isn’t Fandango’s only recent acquisition focused on international expansion and broadening its service. In 2016, Fandango bought Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes from Warner Bros. Entertainment, giving it the ability to help users learn more about movies and read reviews.

Fandango also last year bought movie streaming service M-GO from joint owners Dreamworks Animation and Technicolor, which it later rebranded FandangoNOW. That service now offers thousands of movies and TV shows for rent or purchase.

Other acquisitions include Brazil ticketer Ingresso.com and Peru’s Cinepapaya, referenced above.

With the addition of MovieTickets.com, Fandango’s suite of apps will reach “hundreds of millions” of moviegoers worldwide, the company claims.

“MovieTickets.com has done a terrific job, building a popular and trusted brand with millions of loyal customers and hundreds of exhibitors, and has been a champion of serving theater circuits large and small for nearly two decades,” said Fandango President Paul Yanover, in a statement. “We look forward to sharing an array of mobile and social media innovations with their customer base to enhance the movie discovery, planning and ticket buying experience.”

The deal is expected to close in Q4 2017.

Featured Image: Mikael Damkier/Shutterstock (IMAGE HAS BEEN MODIFIED)

Report Probes Social Media’s Threat to Democracy

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others may pose a threat to American democracy, suggests a new report from The Omidyar Group.

The report follows recent disclosures about targeted dark post advertising, fake news and other abuses propagated by Russian troll farms during the 2016 presidential election.

Among the questions the report raises is whether the U.S. government may need to take steps to protect the public from future influence campaigns that could undermine the very foundation of a free society, wrote billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar in a Washington Post op-ed published earlier this week.

“For all the ways this technology brings us together, the monetization and manipulation of information is swiftly tearing us apart,” he wrote. “From foreign interference in our elections to targeted campaigns designed to confuse and divide on important issues, groups looking for an important way to infiltrate and influence our democracy have found generous hosts in the world of social media.”

Bias, Manipulation, Intolerance

There are six major ways social media directly threatens democratic ideals, according to the report:

  1. Facilitating echo chambers and hyperpartisanship;
  2. Spreading false or misleading information;
  3. Conflating popularity with legitimacy;
  4. Providing tools for political manipulation;
  5. Allowing microtargeting to influence behavior change; and
  6. Amplifying hate speech, intolerance and exclusion.

Facebook plans to release information regarding the extent of Russian efforts to target U.S. voters, COO Sheryl Sandberg told Axios in an extensive interview, but she hedged when asked specifically whether the company was aware of collusion between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign.

Facebook previously handed over direct evidence to congressional investigators, Sandberg said, and it has hired 4,000 additional people, employed machine learning, and taken several other major steps to better police its internal systems.

I See You

There needs to be greater transparency about election-related ads on social media sites,” said Darrell West, director of the Center of Tech Innovation at Brookings. “Right now, it is impossible to see who is behind large advertising campaigns, and that is corrosive of American elections.”

Voters need to know what is happening in order to judge a political campaign, West told TechNewsWorld.

It’s difficult to know the exact impact of these campaigns on voter behavior, but large online campaigns can be important, he added.

People rely on social media platforms to communicate with each other, conduct business and form opinions, said Dan Nadir, vice president of digital risk at Proofpoint, but the Internet wasn’t designed with trust in mind.

“Often our confidence in an email, a website, a social account, or even a mobile app has no technical basis,” he told TechNewsWorld, “and we need to recognize how easy it is to abuse it.”

Omidyar does a good job laying out some of the election-related problems with social media, but the solutions offered, while well intended, miss the mark by a bit, observed Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“Though he’s spot on in criticizing how online media can be used to promote bogus information and spread partisan messages, simply regulating social media sites isn’t likely to succeed,” King told TechNewsWorld.

The Omidyar proposal would require the federal government to go on a “new and highly radical round of business and financial regulations,” King said. “In addition, such a change would likely eliminate or drastically reduce anonymity of online social media users.”

It would be ideal if social media firms like Facebook, Google and others voluntarily adopted some of Omidyar’s suggestions, he suggested, but doing so would hurt their revenues significantly.

Unless a larger number of voices call for major reform, wholesale changes are unlikely to happen, King said.

Despite legitimate concerns about the role of social media in the 2016 election, a lot of what took place was new for everyone, and social media executives should not be treated as though they were capable of seeing the future, said Chris Calabrese, vice president of policy at the Center for Democracy & Technology.

“I don’t think we want to pick on a particular tool and say this is the problem,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Nor do I want to say the solution is some kind of government censorship. That’s not something we want to endorse.”

It’s not surprising that Russia or any other outside entity would try to influence U.S. elections, said Richard Forno, assistant director of the UMBC Center for Cybersecurity.

However, “I think the broader danger is that social media was part of a concerted effort to undermine not just the outcome of the election, but to sow distrust in the electoral system,” he told TechNewsWorld, “and the very sources of information that a citizenry needs to make informed decisions about their political status and/or future.”


David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain’s New York Business and The New York Times.

Steve Jobs would hate this rumored iPhone accessory

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Apple took a page out of Samsung’s design book with an edge-to-edge OLED screen for the iPhone X — and if a recent rumor is true, the Cupertino company might adopt another staple of the Note line for iPhones in the not-so-distant future. 

iPhones could be given a stylus-type accessory as soon as 2019, according to a rumor from “industry sources” provided to the Korea Herald and picked up by MacRumors. Apple engineers are reportedly already at work on a device for the iPhone in the same vein as the Apple Pencil, which has been compatible with iPad Pro tablets since 2015. 

The sources claim Apple is “in talks” with several companies that could partner to make the pens. The device will likely be a “supercapacitor” type stylus, which is cheaper than the electro-magnetic resonance technology Samsung employs in the Note line that requires panels underneath the phone’s screen.  

Revered former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was vehemently against a stylus for the iPhone, famously mocking the idea when he unveiled the first version of the device a decade ago. 

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But Apple has broken from some of Jobs’ doctrine since he passed in 2011, and he notably walked back some of his own lofty declarations even while he was alive. Jobs was against phablets too — and now the Plus versions of the iPhone are an integral part of Apple’s smartphone strategy.  

Apple is rumored to introduce a massive 6.46-inch iPhone next year, which could be the perfect launching point for a stylus to ramp up productivity. The big screen phones have been around for a few years now, and bumping the size could serve as a justification for what would likely be a pricy add-on.

We can’t say for sure whether we’ll be writing notes on our iPhones in two years, since these are just early rumors, but one thing is for sure: If we do get an iPhone version of the Apple Pencil, Jony Ive & Co. had better recreate the sublime design perfection of the Apple Pencil Case, Mashable correspondent Jack Morse’s favorite thing in the entire world.   

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Games developer Supersolid raises $4M Series A round led by Index Ventures


Supersolid, a London-based mobile games developer with more than 50 million downloads under its belt, is best known for the smash hit games like Super Penguins, Adventure Town and Pororo Penguin Run. It was created by a team of highly experienced mobile and social games veterans with backgrounds in EA, Playfish, Glu and Macrospace. That turns out to be a powerful combination, because the company has now raised a $4 million Series A investment round, led by Index Ventures.

Yesterday it also launched Home Street, its new home decoration and life simulation game. Think Sim City with home furnishings meets Shaker (assuming anyone gets that reference!). After being the featured “Best New Game” on the Apple App Store globally, as well as the entering the top spot for “New Games” on the Google Play store globally, the company says it achieved 200,000 installations in the first 24 hours of its launch.

The investment will be used to expand the company’s 30-person team in London, and develop Home Street by signing partnerships with entertainment, retail and lifestyle brands. In the game, players design their dream home down to the last detail. It’s also a social network where players collaborate and chat with each other (hence my Shaker comparison). CEO Ed Chin says the game is a “deep, engaging and interactive world.”

Ben Holmes, Venture Partner at Index Ventures, commented: “This investment underscores our belief in the team and their formula for making fun and distinctive games.”

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Build a crazy augmented reality iOS app for just $15

Learn how to make phone apps that actually work.
Learn how to make phone apps that actually work.

Image: pexels

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “There’s an app for that.” But do you know why there’s an app for just about everything? Because there are very few barriers to entry for creators. When you have a brilliant idea and, shockingly, there isn’t an app for that, you can just go ahead and create that app and, suddenly, there’s an app for that!

Ah, so you don’t know what you’re doing, you say. Well, there’s a course for that. If you’ve got a hankering to start creating your own iPhone and iPad apps, but aren’t quite sure you’re technically savvy enough to do so, allow this iOS 11 and Xcode 9 training course to change your mind. It’s available now for just $15.

This 55-hour online course will introduce you to the most recent developments in the world of Apple developers, getting you up to speed on coding for iOS 11 using Swift 4 and Xcode 9. Rather than just telling you what to do, however, this course will show you by helping you create 25 real iOS 11 applications from scratch. From simple games to powerful utility devices, you’ll get valuable hands-on experience creating apps using the newest native features of iOS 11 devices.

Speaking of those native features, this course includes a tutorial in using ARKit, one of Apple’s most exciting new developments. With ARKit, you can build your first Augmented Reality app using the camera to display 3D, virtual models in your immediate environment. This new technology has a ton of potential, and major companies like Ikea are already taking notice.

You’ll also learn how to take advantage of the newest iMessage improvements by creating your own extensions and sticker pack applications. 

Ultimately, learning iOS development can also give you career flexibility. You can indulge your “why isn’t there an app for that” ideas on your own time while adding a valuable career skill to your resume that could help you stand out in the job market. This training course contains 55 hours of education to let you do just that. Right now, you can get it for more than 90 percent off the retail price at just $15.

PartyWith’s new app is part event-finder, part friend-finder


Having just returned from an overseas vacation where I “partied with” a number of locals met spontaneously while out at concerts, bars and other events, I can’t quite wrap my head around the need for a dedicated app for travelers wanting to meet locals to hang out with — doesn’t this just happen naturally? But that, at least in part, is the premise behind today’s official launch of PartyWith, a revamped version of the app previously known as Party with a Local.

Founder Dan Fennessy notes the app has outgrown being only for travelers, but poking around in the app, that seems to still be a top use-case.

To be fair, PartyWith isn’t exactly carving out new territory in online networking — it’s part of a growing trend. (And perhaps I’m just showing my age when expressing a desire to meet people in real life instead of through apps, as is the millennial way.)

After all, a number of social networking companies are today exploring the idea that people are turning to mobile apps to make friends, not just find dates. Tinder attempted to expand beyond dating with Tinder Social, while Bumble launched a friend-finding feature Bumble BFF as well as professional networking option, BumbleBizz. Even Facebook is dabbling with helping strangers connect at events through its “Discover People” feature and other options.

Plus, several startups are attempting mobile friend-making, as well, like Shapr, Patook and HEY! Vina, for example.

PartyWith’s differentiator from these efforts is its focus on events — specifically, nightlife. Even if you aren’t quite sold on its social aspects, it could serve as a way to find out what’s happening in a city you’re visiting.

These events are added by the app’s users, as the startup doesn’t yet have formal relationships with event organizers. However, it has tested working with brands, including Budweiser, TimeOut, and Thrillist, among other alcohol brands, to help bring people to their sponsored events.

When you first launch the app, you’re asked what kind of parties you like (e.g. clubbing, comedy, arcade, cocktails, dive bars, festivals, live music — or you can pick music genres like punk or jazz, etc. — and much more).

You can then fill out your profile further and browse the upcoming events in your current city or elsewhere, post your own event, explore the profiles of other users and chat, or post a “party status.” The latter is basically a shout-out about what you’re up for. The app also offers some suggested statuses, like “Let’s go clubbing,” “Let’s go out as a group,” “What’s good tonight?,” “I need nightlife tips,” etc.

According to Fennessy, an Australian living in Amsterdam and former cartographer for Lonely Planet, the revamped version of PartyWith has made some changes in order to clarify that it’s not a dating app. It removed the gender filters, he noted, because that was encouraging some people to use the app in the wrong way. It’s not for dating or hookups, it’s for making friends.

A participant in Techstars Connection, which had its demo earlier this year, the app has grown to more than 170,000 users, Fennessy claims. It’s most popular in Amsterdam, New York and São Paulo at present, but is accessible worldwide.

Longer-term, the goal is to move PartyWith into other verticals, by connecting people who want to meet up for meals, drinks, playing or watching sports and more, Fennessy says.

A team of five from five continents, PartyWith has $430,000 in funding from Techstars, ZX Ventures, AB InBev, and other angels.

The new version of PartyWith is available as a free download on the App Store.

Airbnb’s home-hotel hybrid will open in Florida next year


While Airbnb continues to grow its number of hosts and guests on the platform, sending the hotel industry into a frenzy, landlords and building owners don’t share the same enthusiasm for the home-sharing platform as Airbnb users.

But the company has a new plan that gets each party on board with home-sharing.

The company is collaborating with development firm Newgard Development Group to build a 324-unit building in Kissimmee, FL that will be branded as an Airbnb building. Tenants in the building will be able to rent their apartments or individual rooms (exclusively on Airbnb, of course) for up to 180 days of the year, and will be encouraged to do so. The first building will be called Niido, powered by Airbnb.

Airbnb guests who rent units in the building will have access to hotel-style amenities, which includes an app for hosts that can remotely trigger a MasterHost, presumably a Niido employee, to handle things like check-ins, cleanings and linens. Guests will also have access to an on-demand concierge, as well as luggage storage.

Tenants who choose to rent out their spaces on Airbnb will be automatically enrolled in the company’s Friendly Buildings Program, which launched in September of 2016. The program allows hosts to share revenue from each rental with the landlord or building owner.

Airbnb says that 11,000 units are enlisted in the Airbnb Friendly Buildings Program, which is a relatively small number, considering Airbnb has more than 4 million listings on the platform. Still, the program is relatively nascent and likely will build momentum on the heels of the Niido project. On average, tenants share 15 percent of revenue with landlords/owners.

Bloomberg reports that Airbnb won’t have an ownership interest in the building, though it isn’t clear if Airbnb is charging a licensing fee for the use of its brand name. Newgard, on the other hand, will share in profits from the building’s Airbnb rentals, which it will use to develop similar properties.

We reached out to Airbnb for more information on how it will generate revenue from this project and others like it, other than the general growth of home-sharing.

Niido in Florida will open in the first quarter of next year, with another property planned for somewhere in the southeastern United States.

Featured Image: Ron Reiring/Getty Images

Stay Pixel-perfect: Seven of the best Pixel 2 cases and covers

If you’re looking for a smartphone that represents the very best Android experience, you rarely need to look further than Google’s own Pixel phones. The Pixel 2 range comes complete with the latest improvements to the Android experience, including Android 8.0 Oreo, Daydream VR, and the powerful Snapdragon 835 processor. It’s not a bad looker either — the glass strip from the original Pixel phones has returned, and the rest of the phone is clad in an attractive unibody metal shell.

Of course you want to protect those good looks. A smartphone’s lifespan is anywhere above two years, and it’s best to keep your phone looking as good as the day you bought it with a protective case that will keep it safe from dirt and scratches, and insulate it from sudden shocks like drops and bumps. But choosing a case can be a complicated affair — do you want a slim, sleek gel case or an executive-style leather wallet? Ultra-protection against drops, or something with a little more style? The right pick can be hard to find — and that’s why we’ve put together a list of the best Pixel 2 cases that you can buy to keep your phone protected.

LK Ultra Slim Gel Case — Clear ($9)

LK best pixel 2 cases

We always like to kick off these round-ups with some of the slimmer and less restrictive case options. This clear, TPU gel case from LK ticks all the right boxes if you’re looking for a case, but don’t want to compromise the unique look of the Pixel 2. The flexible TPU easily snaps around your phone, resists stains, and is so slim that you’ll probably forget it’s there. A raised edge along the outside of the front of the case protects your phone’s display when placed face down, and specially formed button covers match the placement of the buttons on your device, giving extra protection against dirt to those vulnerable areas. While it won’t offer as much protection as some of the other cases on this list for more serious drops and knocks, it will certainly resist scratches and give some protection to the device inside. A good choice if you want a case that doesn’t obscure your view of your phone.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Olixar ExoShield Tough Case — Clear ($11)

olixar best pixel 2 cases

Another clear option that doesn’t obscure your phone from view, Olixar‘s ExoShield for the Pixel 2 is perhaps the next step up in protection from a standard clear case. Using elements of stiff polycarbonate, as well as TPU, means that the ExoShield has the flexibility to lend additional grip and impact-absorption to your phone, and to resist damage that other TPU cases might lack the structure to resist. In particular, Olixar has reinforced the corners of the case — since the corners are the areas most likely to take the brunt of any fall. It’s also a slim-fitting case, adding barely any bulk to your phone — though the slight increase in size on the corners may mean it’s not for everyone. However, it’s good all-round protection (including a raised edge around the front, again protecting the screen), and is a great choice for anyone who wants protection, but doesn’t want a bulky case.

Buy one now from:

Mobile Fun

Ringke Bevel Case ($7)

ringke best pixel 2 cases

There’s nothing technically extraordinary about Ringke’s Bevel case. As a TPU case it covers everything that you’d expect from Ringke — good protection from scratches against the exterior of the case, and some protection against impacts and drops from the soft TPU material. A raised edge around the screen and camera cut-out keep those areas from touching surfaces and getting scratched, and it comes with all the cut-outs for ports and button covers that you’d expect. But this case really caught our eye because of the stunning looking bevel pattern that takes it to another level beyond the usual gel case. It’s a slim, translucent offering that adds another layer of style to your already stunning phone. It’s also available in Smoke Black and Clear if the Rose Gold doesn’t tickle your fancy.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Spigen Neo Hybrid Herringbone Case ($16)

spigen best pixel 2 cases

Spigen is one of the finest names in device protection, and it’s a measure of a device’s success whether or not the veteran case creators are putting out their full range for it. The Neo Hybrid is always one of the standout designs. We’ve seen the winning combination of TPU and polycarbonate earlier on this list, and the Neo Hybrid doesn’t disappoint in terms of toughness. Drop protection and resistance to outside scratches is heightened with Spigen’s shock-absorbent TPU and hard outer polycarbonate shell. Spigen cases feel and look good, and the Neo Hybrid is no different in this regard, with a herringbone look that brings a whole new style to your Pixel 2, and a weighty feel that screams of a high-quality construction.

Buy one now from:

Amazon Spigen

Tauri PU Leather Wallet Case ($10)

tauri best pixel 2 cases

If you’re looking for something a little more executive and sleek, then this leather-style wallet case from Tauri might be your thing. Made of a synthetic PU leather that’s durable and easy to keep clean, this case is designed to wrap around the front of your device when not in use, protecting your screen from scratches and damage while in your bag or pocket. It also folds into a handy kickstand, perfect for hands-free media viewing, video calls, or just setting up at the side of your bed like an alarm clock. Built-in card pockets mean that you can consolidate your credit cards and cash into the case, or use it to keep loyalty cards in when you pay with Android Pay, giving you the option of leaving your wallet at home.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Speck Presidio Grip + Glitter ($45)

speck best pixel 2 cases

The perfect case for anyone who wants to make a statement with their choice of accessories, the Speck Presidio Grip + Glitter is a gorgeous case that offers fantastic protection. Speck’s drop protection pedigree is well known, and Speck claims that the two-layer construction will keep your Pixel 2 safe against drops up to 10 feet — though we don’t recommend you testing that claim. It’s also a looker, if you like the style. The shimmering crystal finish isn’t all style with no substance either, as the pattern on the back aids grip on your phone, making sure you can keep hold of your phone while still looking good. It’s slim in design, and a fantastic choice to keep your phone looking great and well protected — even if it is on the pricey side. Still, Speck’s a name worth paying for.

Buy one now from:

Speck

Moment Photo Case ($30)

moment best pixel 2 cases

If prior performance is anything to go by, the Pixel 2 is likely to have an incredible camera. Google is using a whole new method of machine learning to bring out a host of new camera tricks, so why not get a case that complements your shooting style? This case from Moment has been specially designed to facilitate easy use of your Pixel 2’s camera, with curved edges and a textured back that helps you to keep your grip, an attachment for wrist straps, and a durable construction that puts your mind at ease while shooting. The real draw here, though, is Moment’s range of additional camera lenses that clip on top of the case itself, letting you shoot with wide angle, fish-eye, macro, and a telephoto zoom. While the lenses are on the pricey side, if you’re looking to get serious with your smartphone photography, then this case is worth a look. But even if you’re not interested in the lenses, this is still an attractive case that offers good protection.

Buy one now from:

Amazon Moment

LG V30 review

The LG V30 is the best smartphone LG has ever made. But just because it’s the best LG can do, doesn’t mean it’s the best you can buy. This year more than ever, the competition is incredibly stiff. After the LG G5’s failure, the company attacked 2017 with vigor, releasing the G6, the Q6, and now the V30. It’s a really strong line-up, and completely different from the company’s previous attempts to win over smartphone buyers. In our LG V30 review, we examine why the V30 is LG’s finest hour — and how its approach to camera and video technology differs from others.

Eye-catching and minimalist

The first casualty of LG’s latest smartphone assault is, ironically, the LG G6, which released early this year. Given the choice between the two, you should pick the V30. It’s more powerful, it’s lighter, it has a better camera, and it’s better looking.

While the G6’s 18:9 aspect ratio screen was a trendsetter, the design around it wasn’t refined. LG has changed that with the V30. The body is slimmer, smoother, and more rounded. The “bezel-less” smartphone design trend continues, where the edges flanking the screen are slimmer than ever. It’s less masculine, and more svelte. It’s more breakable due to the glass rear panel, which is attached to a metal chassis; but LG has put the phone through 14 military standard toughness tests, so it shouldn’t break at the first hint of a drop. That’s not necessarily the case, however, as the rear glass on one of our early preview units cracked after a short, three-foot drop to the floor — we recommend grabbing a case.

On the back of the phone is a fingerprint sensor, which is sensibly placed in the top center of the phone, away from the camera lens. Hear that, Samsung? It’s very fast to unlock the phone, but there’s another alternative we’re enjoying a lot— face unlock. It doesn’t use an iris scanner like the Galaxy Note 8, but it’s still very effective. It works from the always-on lock screen too, and we found it to be faster than the Galaxy Note 8’s face unlock system.

The fingerprint sensor doubles as the power button, and the volume rocker can be found on the left edge of the phone. On the bottom edge, you’ll find a USB Type-C charging port, next to a bottom-firing speaker. Don’t worry — there’s a headphone jack, and it’s at the top.

The LG V30 can compete with the best and is the best phone LG has made

LG has sealed up the V30 like the G6, which removes a previous V-series standard feature: A replaceable battery. There’s a reason for this sacrifice — an IP68 water resistance rating. That means you should be able to take the V30 underwater up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. While many will lament the loss of a replaceable battery, this is a worthwhile trade in our book. Battery packs are cheap and plentiful these days, and the V30’s battery lasts an amazingly long time (more on this later).

The V30 is beautiful, eye-catching, minimalist, and incredibly stylish. We love the cloud-silver color option, but there’s a sleek black model available from some carriers. Sadly, our favorite Moroccan blue variant isn’t available in the U.S. The V-series evolution from ugly duckling (sorry, V10) through the rather faceless V20, to the jaw-dropping V30 is pleasing to behold.

It’s not all good news, though. The V30 doesn’t feel as high-end as the iPhone 8 or the Note 8 when you hold it in the hand, largely because it’s lightweight and it feels a little cheap. The curved edges also make the V30 quite sharp to hold. It’s not that comfortable, and the metal chassis makes the device slippery. Looking at the V30 is wonderful; holding the V30 isn’t quite so good.

But all these design and style changes are evidence of confusion. The V-series was often indirectly promoted as a business phone, like the Samsung Note and Huawei Mate series; but it never really felt like such a device. We found it to be the technical showcase for LG, excelling in the camera and audio department.

LG V30 back offset

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The V30 is even less of a business-first phone, and is really the flagship device the G6 should have been. Still, its sophisticated looks mean it’s just as much at home on the boardroom table as it is peeping out from the pocket of your skinny jeans. We love that, and it’s a testament to LG’s thoughtful design approach to this year’s smartphone range.

Back to inkier blacks

Welcome back OLED. We’ve missed you. The V30 is LG’s first phone to use an OLED screen since the G Flex 2, a surprising statistic given the company’s devotion to OLED panels on its excellent televisions. We’re partial to OLED screens because they offer incredibly inky blacks and great color accuracy. You’ll be happy LG brought it back, because the V30’s screen is gorgeous. It has a 2,880 × 1,440 pixel resolution, with blacks as deep as night and colors so vibrant and realistic you won’t want to turn away. Video is a delight — make sure you try Netflix’s HDR10 content to really see what the V30 offers — and the 6-inch display size is perfect for longer viewing periods.

Welcome back, OLED. We’ve missed you.

As we mentioned earlier, the V30 has a nearly edgeless display, with bezels above and below the screen smaller than those on the LG G6. The screen ratio is 18:9, so it’s longer and thinner than traditional phones like the OnePlus 5. The benefits include more room for list-based apps like Twitter and Facebook and for web-browsing in general, plus for certain movies and TV shows available on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

While we like the V30’s screen, the curved edges can be frustrating. It’s incredibly sensitive around the sides, where certain apps can be activated by accident, and touching the sides with your palm can prevent characters from being pressed when typing.

Fast and smooth performance, no Android 8.0 Oreo

Design isn’t the only reason the V30 beats the G6 — the second is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor inside, rather than the Snapdragon 821 in the G6. Samsung reportedly cornered the Snapdragon 835 market for the Galaxy S8 earlier this year, which is why LG wasn’t able to use it. The G6 isn’t slow, but the V30 is noticeably faster, smoother, and more pleasurable to use.

We have yet to run into any hiccups with performance, and the 4GB of RAM certainly has to help. Switching between apps is fast, apps launch swiftly, and multitasking is buttery smooth. We’ve played games such Tiny Archers and Maximum Car and they ran perfectly.

We’ve run some benchmarks to see how the LG V30 performs:

  • AnTuTu: 171,669
  • Geekbench 4 CPU: 1,894 single-core, 6,194 multi-core
  • 3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme: 3,419

The V30’s scores are in line with other smartphones that use the Snapdragon 835. It slightly beats out the Samsung Galaxy Note 8’s AnTuTu score of 167,946, but perhaps to Apple’s testament, it falls short of the 222,462 score of the A11 Bionic processor powering the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. The V30 runs Android 7.1.2, and LG hasn’t shared a timeline with info on when Oreo will arrive. Oreo introduces new features such as picture-in-picture mode and Notification Dots, which you can learn more about in our in-depth Android 8 guide .

Does the lack of version 8.0 mean the software experience is poor? Not at all. Nougat is still a great version of Google’s Android mobile operating system. LG packs plenty of customizable features into the phone, such as how you can double tap the screen to wake it or turn it off; and Smart Settings lets you create profiles so the phone automatically turns the notification sound on when it detects you’re at home.

LG’s Android skin, the theme that makes the software look unique to LG, has come a long way. It’s still not our favorite looking Android skin, and it can look rather dated in some parts of the interface, such as the Settings menu.

Previous V-series phones had a secondary display above the main screen showing notifications, shortcuts, and other information. This feature has been retired for the V30 due to the new bezel-less shape, and it has been replaced by a software alternative. The “Floating Bar” is an expandable arrow icon that sits anywhere on your home screen, and you can customize it with shortcuts. Tap on the arrow icon and the bar expands, giving you one-click access to important contacts, and apps you don’t want to clutter your home screen with.

We liked the quick access to music controls because they really saved time and extra taps, and the app shortcuts can be handy if you’re the type who likes to control what your home screen looks like. We didn’t find quick access to screen capture tools useful. The V20’s secondary display was glanceable, the new “floating bar” isn’t. If you use Android widgets, it’s a similar notion, but it’s not a functional replacement for the secondary display.

A camera for creatives

The G6’s camera is good. The LG V30’s camera is better, and not just because of the f/1.6 aperture — a smartphone first. The wider aperture means the V30 is capable of taking in more light.

But the V30 excels because of video performance. LG says it’s tapping into the growing obsession with video, as the company claims 78 percent of Millennials take video on their phones once a week. Get the V30 in these people’s hands, and they’ll be shooting video a lot more than that.

The LG V30 is a masterful movie-making machine.

The reason is Cine Effect, which at its heart is a collection of 15 filters for video, made to replicate typical movie genres. These include filters such as “romantic comedy,” “thriller,” and “blockbuster.” But these aren’t your average Instagram filter. LG’s Cine Effects are live, responding to environmental changes to maintain the look (something that’s not needed with still filters), and color tuned by Hollywood cinematographers. It’s a pro mode without the challenge of mastering a pro mode.

How do they change your video? What’s interesting is LG’s decision to create them according to mood and feeling, rather than trying to sum up a look with an obscure word. It really helps pick the right effect for the situation. In addition to changing the look, Cine Effect has a clever Point Zoom mode that lets you choose a subject on screen, then use a slider to zoom in on it. The effect is cinematic, and output can give the impression you’re using a more expensive, professional camera.

Put all this together and the end result can be startling. Yes you need to be creative, and have a story you want to tell in mind; but the V30 has the ability to make those ideas reality in a way other phones don’t. We gave the V30’s Cine Effect a workout when the phone was announced in Berlin, and had a lot of fun doing it. That’s key, because shooting video is harder work than taking stills, and it needs to be enjoyable and worthwhile for us to put in the effort.

It’s not perfect though. The V30 doesn’t have an editing app to put your movie together, and the zoom mode isn’t dynamic, so if your subject moves you end up zooming in on nothing.

Take stills, and the V30 is equally impressive due to its 13-megapixel f/1.9 wide-angle dual-lens camera. Unlike most other dual-lens cameras, the V30 doesn’t bother with the blurred background bokeh effect. Instead the second lens takes 120-degree wide-angle shots, and they can be spectacular. The creative opportunities are huge, provided you are in the right place at the right time.

It’s not a camera mode you’ll use all the time, but put it in front of a beautiful vista, sweeping cityscapes, or anything that needs, “taking in” with the naked eye, and the V30 will capture it like no other camera. LG has also worked hard to minimize the distortion, or fish-eye effect, and has done a great job. Now, straight lines remain almost straight at the edge of the frame, making images more natural, and far less surreal than those taken with the G6.

It’s joined by a 71-degree angle 16-megapixel main lens with an f/1.6 aperture. Night shots do look great, but the V30 still needs light to bring out the best. The selfie camera is the same as on the G6, with a wide-angle setting and a comprehensive beauty mode. It hasn’t been reworked like the rear camera, but arguably it didn’t need much improvement.

The V30 is a masterful movie-making machine. We’ve been shooting product videos with it, and have been very impressed with the results.

Battery and audio

LG says the V30 doesn’t need a battery with more capacity than the G6 due to the energy efficiency of the OLED screen and the battery-saving technology inside the Snapdragon 835 processor. The good news is LG’s right. The battery life on the V30 is impressive, as we consistently saw a day and a half from its fully charged 3,300mAh cell, even on the pre-production software, with medium to heavy use. On the final retail unit, we continually found ourselves arriving home around 6 p.m. from work with just under 50 percent remaining.

Wireless charging is included for convenience, as is fast-charging using LG’s.

LG V30 music

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

If you’re looking for a high quality audio experience, the V30 improves even on the excellent G6. A quad digital to analog converter (DAC) is inside, along with AptX HD for superior Bluetooth audio with a compatible pair of headphones. The Quad DAC comes into play with wired headphones, and boosts the audio across the range. If you haven’t heard AptX HD yet, you’re in for a treat. It’s great, and will change the way you think about wireless audio performance. A MicroSD card slot lets you store plenty of music too, though the internal storage offers 64GB of space that should be plenty for most people.

Price, warranty, and availability

There’s no official details on an unlocked version of the V30, but it’s likely LG will eventually sell one. For now, you’ll have to buy one from one of the major carriers, or through retailers such as Best Buy. The price tag ranges from $800 on T-Mobile to $840 on Verizon, but you can always purchase it on a monthly payment plan. For example, the V30 costs $27 per month for 30 months through AT&T, or $30 per month with an $80 downpayment with T-Mobile, which comes to $800 in total.

LG V30 Compared To

There’s also a V30+ model, which is the same phone but with 128GB of storage. It will be available from Sprint soon. You can check out our V30 buying guide for the full details.

LG phones come with standard one-year warranty that covers the device from manufacturing defects, but LG feels “so confident” about the V30’s quality that it’s offering a second year of coverage for free. You’ll have to register the device.

Our Take

The LG V30 is the best phone LG has made yet, and it can compete with the best from other major manufacturers in 2017. The V30 is an excellent choice if you’re excited about shooting great video, and want a camera that doesn’t just repeat the same old bokeh effect, but does something different.

Is there a better alternative?

Yes. This year we’ve seen a lot of good, new phones. This makes it a tough year for every smartphone manufacturer, and us as buyers. The truth is, the V30 is as good as a Samsung Galaxy S8. It’s as good as a current Pixel XL, and it’s as good as the HTC U11. It’s not better, but there’s no way you’ll regret buying it. You won’t regret buying any of these phones.

LG’s natural competitor is Samsung’s most recent Galaxy phones, and price may be the deciding factor here.  The V30 has more interesting features — from the wide-angle camera to the Quad DAC — compared to the S8, and Google Assistant, the only virtual assistant you really need. The Galaxy Note 8 is the closer competitor, but it’s a considerably larger, and bulkier. The V30 is cheaper than the Note 8, but more expensive than the S8. This may not be a coincidence.

We’re still waiting to put the new Google Pixel 2 XL through its paces, but early impressions are very positive, and it’s priced very closely at $850. Its camera is sure to be superb, and the promise of clean, regularly updated Android is very tempting.

How long will it last?

The IP68 water resistance and military-tough body make the V30 more durable than many phones, but it’s by no means indestructible. Put it in a case and the phone should withstand a fair amount of abuse. The technical specifications are the best you can get at the moment, so the V30 will easily last a two-year contract and beyond.

Unsurprisingly, LG’s custom Android skin will delay updates to the operating system, but we can expect Android 8.0 Oreo to arrive next year. Buying a Google Pixel phone is the only way to ensure the timely arrival of OS updates.

Should you buy it?

Yes. The V30 looks amazing, takes video that will make you look like a Hollywood director (or dream of being one), has audio that’ll make you weep, and a glorious OLED screen. It faces some very strong competition this year, but it’s right up there with the best.

Time for a new smartwatch? These are the 7 hottest deals available right now

While smartwatches aren’t as common as smartphones quite yet, they’re no longer enthusiast-only items either. The best smartwatches make your life easier by providing alerts to your wrist so that you don’t have to constantly find and pull out your phone. Many also provide a variety of fitness-tracking features, while others double as music players with support for popular services such as Spotify, Apple Music, and iHeartRadio.

Although Apple watches make up a large portion of the market today, most models are Android smartwatches, and the range of choices provides a good amount of flexibility in how you use them. Many analysts believe the smartwatch market will continue to grow in coming months as manufacturers add new features to their products and the technology becomes more affordable. So, if you’re ready to take the plunge into high-tech wearables and want to save some money, then read on for a handful of the best smartwatch deals you can score online right now.

Skagen Hagen Connected

Smartwatch deals Skagen Hagen Connected

Skagen is well known in the world of wristwatches, with a reputation for its sleek minimalist designs and subtle European style. It’s no surprise, then, that Skagen’s smartwatch offering, the Hagen Connected, looks so good.

At a glance, the Hagen Connected looks like any other analog watch, and it features a standard battery-powered quartz movement (which means no charging). Looks can be deceiving, however: This hybrid wristwatch also boasts a suite of smart features like activity tracking, phone syncing, message notifications, music control playback, and compatibility with both Android and iOS devices.

With its classic looks and low profile, the Skagen Hagen Connected smartwatch is a top choice for style-conscious users who want smart functionality without sacrificing aesthetics. This sleek wearable can be yours for $132 on Amazon, giving you a $83 (39 percent) discount, or you can grab the all-stainless model for $147 and save $58.

Amazon

Asus Zenwatch 2

Smartwatch deals Asus ZenWatch 2

Another stylish option with classic wristwatch aesthetics is the Asus Zenwatch 2. This wearable offers a similar look to the much pricier Apple Watch devices, but runs on Google’s excellent Android Wear firmware.

With Android Wear, the ZenWatch 2 does everything you need a smartwatch to do: Activity tracking, phone notifications, customizable watch faces, and more, along with new features like advanced gesture controls (letting you control certain functions simply by moving your wrist rather than using the touchscreen). The watch also offers both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity for easy syncing with your compatible Android and iOS devices. A built-in mic lets you answer calls and issue voice commands as well.

The metal housing and band, when paired with tough Gorilla Glass 3, make this watch as eye-pleasing as it is durable, while an IP67 water resistance rating protects the ZenWatch against water at depths of up to one meter (it’s also completely shower-safe). The gunmetal gray Asus ZenWatch 2 is now available for $169 from Amazon, for a 15-percent discount of $30.

Amazon

Pebble Time

smartwatch deals pebble time smartwatch

Get all of your notifications at a glance with the popular Pebble Time smartwatch. The Pebble Time provides the same updates as your smartphone, including calendar events, text and emails, incoming calls, and more, but they go directly to your wrist.

The smartwatch has a built-in activity and sleep tracker, while also providing daily reports and weekly insights. It has a microphone for voice notes and quick replies, along with seven-day battery life.  It has a 9.5mm thin chassis with a curved, ergonomic profile, Marine-grade stainless steel bezel with PVD coating, matte and polished finishes, and tactile buttons for easy, eyes-free control.

The tough, 2.5D glass display is an always-on color E-Paper screen that’s water resistant up to 30 meters, complete with a durable glass lens. The Pebble Time smartwatch normally retails for $150 but is currently on sale for $74 on Amazon, providing a $76 (51 percent) discount.

Amazon

Fossil Q Wander

smartwatch deals Fossil Q Wander Leather Touchscreen Smartwatch

Get a fashionable smartwatch you’ll want to show off to your friends with the Fossil Q Wander smartwatch, which is currently 25 percent off on Amazon. This smartwatch model boasts a genuine leather band along with customizable dials and features. You can also change up your look on the fly when you choose a Fossil or Android Wear design by adjusting the colors and then adding the complications of your choice to your watch face.

With this watch, you can easily get notified of important texts, calls, social media messages, and emails, thanks to Bluetooth technology. It has built-in activity tracking, so you can monitor your everyday accomplishments including steps, distance, and calories burned. The smartwatch automatically syncs to your phone so you can keep tabs on your activity and notifications without even pushing a button.

Other features include the ability to control your music on your favorite music player and use the built-in microphone and speaker to perform a variety of tasks on the smartwatch using just your voice. The Fossil Q Wander leather band smartwatch regularly retails for $255 but is currently marked down to $179 on Amazon, saving you $77 (30 percent). The all-stainless version is also on sale for $193, saving you $$83.

Amazon

Huawei Watch

smartwatch deals Huawei Watch Black Stainless Steel Smartwatch

Get a durable smartwatch that you can adapt to your own signature style with a Huawei Watch, which is currently more than $100 off on Amazon.

This smartwatch allows you to use all your favorite apps on the go for a truly seamless experience. With this smartwatch, Google Now becomes your personal assistant. The watch also helps you stay on top of your health game with built-in fitness-tracking features including an enhanced heart rate monitor and sensors to track running, walking, and more. Thanks to Bluetooth, it’s compatible with most devices with an iOS 8.2 or Android 4.3 or later operating system.

The smartwatch is designed for those on the go and charges to 80 percent of capacity in a mere 45 minutes. A style accent all in itself, the Huawei Watch in black stainless steel normally retails for $400 but is currently on sale for $250 on Amazon, saving you $150 (38 percent).

Amazon

Samsung Gear Fit2

smartwatch deals Samsung Gear Fit2

Get the motivation you need to stay on top of your fitness goals with a Samsung Gear Fit2, which helps keep track of your daily activity levels, heart rate, and more. The smartwatch uses a wide range of tracking sensors to closely monitor your activity levels including steps taken, calories burned, heart rate, and sleep quality. It can even automatically identify the different types of physical activities such as running, cycling, and working out on the elliptical.

The smartwatch is water-resistant and features a curved, full-color super AMOLED screen that displays real-time activity stats along with texts and other alerts from your iOS or Android smartphone within Bluetooth range. Get credit for every step thanks to the built-in GPS that gives you accurate real-time stats and allows you to leave your phone behind. The watch features the S Health app, which you can use to you can set goals, check leaderboards, challenge others to step competitions, and share workout results with just the touch of a button

The smartwatch also acts as a stand-alone music player so you can store your favorite music on your Gear Fit2 or connect to your phone with Spotify to access millions of songs. Charging is easy with the included cradle. Score a Samsung Gear Fit2 for $126 on Amazon, after a $64 (34-percent) discount.

Amazon

Garmin Vívosmart HR

smatchwatch deals Garmin Vívosmart HR

Score a smartwatch that is comfortable to wear all day with the Garmin Vivosmart HR. The health-based smartwatch is sleek and stylish and displays all your stats on your wrist so clearly, you can even read it in direct sunlight.

The smartwatch displays steps, distance, calories, heart rate, and activity intensity along with text, call, email, calendar and social media alerts. The smartwatch uniquely reminds you to keep active via a move bar and vibration alert. It has an integrated barometric altimeter that tracks when you take the stairs and measures activity intensity through a feature called Intensity Minutes, so you can monitor your progress against weekly goals. For detailed calorie tracking, you can create an account at MyFitnessPal and link it to your Garmin Connect account, which allows you to compare calories consumed to total calories burned, as well as compete in challenges with others using your Garmin Connect account.

The smartwatch has a battery life of up to five days, as well as a convenient, non-intrusive touchscreen design. Pick up one today on Amazon for $96 after a $54 (36-percent) discount.

Amazon

Looking for more great deals on tech and electronics? Check out our deals page to score some extra savings on our favorite gadgets.

Update: Added the Skagen Hagen Connected and Asus ZenWatch smartwatch deals. Removed expired offers and updated prices.

We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and choose what we cover carefully and independently. If you find a better price for a product listed here, or want to suggest one of your own, email us at dealsteam@digitaltrends.com.

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