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Unboxing the SumUp Card Reader

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the SumUp Card Reader

First things first: SumUp provided us with a free card reader for the purposes of our review. Our opinions are entirely our own.  

The mPOS scene has thinned out recently, leaving only a few really great options and a smattering of so-so ones. That’s why we’ve been keeping an eye on the European mPOS service SumUp (see our review) for a while now, waiting for the promised US launch. With its card readers finally shipping, it’s time to take a look at what SumUp has to offer.

This post is focusing exclusively on the SumUp card reader. Want to take a look at the entirety of SumUp’s services? Check out our full, in-depth SumUp review.

I was certainly hoping that the SumUp reader might have a little bit of European sophistication to it, and the packaging certainly doesn’t disappoint. It’s sleek, it’s elegant — dare I say, it’s downright sexy? I rarely feel that way about hardware, let alone packaging, but it’s true. The art along the sides and back of the box is subtle but creative.

It almost reminds me of a ring box — like SumUp is proposing: “Will you be our merchant?”

SumUp card reader in its box

I’d say yes.

Anyway. As I mentioned, SumUp is a European company serving 1 million merchants in 15 countries. It’s just recently launched its reader in the US, despite announcing the move back in late 2015.

The biggest difference you’ll notice is that the European reader has a PIN pad integrated. This is because chip and PIN is far more common over there than chip and signature transactions that the US has come to favor. However, according to SumUp, the dimensions are exactly the same and the overall look is similar enough that I suspect it’s the same device, just without a PIN pad cover.

You’ll also see my photos are a little bit different than the stock photo that SumUp provides. The center “S” is just a sticker, you can peel it away. I like it, though.

Along with the reader, the package includes a microUSB charging cable (stashed underneath the device; not pictured here). In the lid of the box, you’ll find a quick startup guide (look online for more detailed information), as well as a sticker that marks forms of payment acceptance, which is a really nice touch.

SumUp card reader with manual and sticker sheet

That’s all that comes in the box, so you may need to buy a wall charger (or an external battery) to keep the device charged as needed.

SumUp Card Reader Features

The SumUp card reader accepts magstripe, EMV, and NFC payments all in one device, which is nice. For comparison, Square’s Chip + Contactless reader only includes EMV and NFC — no magstripe reader. For that, you have to plug in the basic free reader.

There’s a power button, a lock slot, and a microUSB port for charging, and that’s it. There’s not even a Bluetooth pairing button, which stands in contrast to the Miura M010 (currently in use by Shopify and PayPal, and also available for Square).

SumUp card reader top viewThe EMV card slot is located at the top of the reader, while the magstripe reader is located at the back of the reader. The NFC indicator lights are at the bottom of the device — discreet when not activated.

SumUp card reader back view

This really is simplicity at its best.

SumUp Card Reader Specs and Design

As I said, the SumUp reader appears to be just a PIN pad-less version of the European device. It measures 3.3 x 3.3 x 0.9 inches (84 x 84 x 23 mm HxWxD) and weighs 5 oz (142 g).

SumUp card reader in hand

it’s a little bit too wide to fit comfortably in my hand, but I do have rather dainty hands. And it’s not terrible, just slightly too big. Just 2 or 3 millimeters would make a world of difference here. Others might find it’s perfect to hold in their hand.

In all, I like the placement of everything here. It’s efficient and effective.

I have just two issues. First, the cover of the reader is very glossy. It’s going to smudge very, very easily. I know it would drive me nuts to be constantly wiping it down. It looks fantastic, but the maintenance just seems annoying.

Second, in addition to being just slightly too bulky to hold comfortably, the device is front-heavy. It doesn’t feel well balanced. Someone prone to klutzy moments (Hi, that’s me!) could easily drop the device if not careful.

However, one thing I really like is the battery this device packs: It’s rated at 1300 mAh, which is, as far as small electronics go, kind of a big honking deal. The iPhone 5, for reference, had a 1440 mAh battery. The Miura M010 has an 800 mAh hour and in the field, it’s lasted 8-10 hours with moderate use. So I would expect you should get a decent amount of use out of the SumUp reader.

Add-Ons for the SumUp Card Reader

At the moment, there’s no dock for the SumUp reader. You can at least secure it with a cable, though, if you’re worried about it accidentally wandering off. SumUp has told us the dock will be available sometime in Q1 of this year, so we’re hoping soon. I’m curious to see the design for it — I hope it’ll be as sophisticated as the actual device.

There’s also a stand in the works for the SumUp reader, and I really, really like it. It’s minimalist but also not hideous. There’s a warmth that comes with the wood that I really like.

SumUp all-in-one register

The stand itself, according to the site, is made from sustainable oak. It mounts the EMV reader in the stand itself, along with a thermal receipt printer and iPad mini.

Which brings me to the next point: Which devices can you connect to the SumUp app and reader? The good news is that SumUp supports both receipt printers and cash drawers. (You’ll have to check the UK site for compatibility until the US site is a bit more fleshed out.

  • Network Printer Star Micronics TSP100LAN / TSP143LAN / TSP 650 (NOT the USB version)
  • Mobile Bluetooth Printer Bixolon SPP-R200IIiK/BEGE
  • Mobile Bluetooth Printer Star Micronics SM-L200

Your cash drawer will have to be compatible with your printer of choice if you want the drawer to open when you complete a transaction.

Setting Up the SumUp Card Reader

If you look at the SumUp guide, it says you can get started in just two minutes. That may be true, but there’s no mention of how long you need to charge the device before use, or how to pair it.

I decided, since SumUp didn’t provide instructions, just to wing it and see how it went. First, I charged the reader for a few hours (again, no instructions included that say how long). Once that’s done, Here’s how to pair the reader:

  • Press the power button on the device and hold until the NFC contact lights along the bottom edge of the reader flash. You’ll see all four, then just one.
  • Open the SumUp app. Select an item or enter a quick-sale amount.
  • Press “Charge” and then select “Card Reader’ as your payment method.
  • The app will automatically search for nearby devices to pair with. You can check the serial number on the back of the device to make sure you’ve got the correct reader.
  • There’ll be a quick setup period (just a couple of minutes), and then you can swipe or dip the chart (or pay with NFC).

The process really is, as they say, stupid simple. I like that you don’t have to deal with activating Bluetooth on the reader and waiting for any other cues. Just make sure that you turn the reader on before you begin the pairing process.

Verdict: Is the SumUp Card Reader a Hit or Miss?

As you might have guessed, I think this is a definite hit. There’s little things I don’t like: the reader being just slightly too wide to hold comfortably, the cover of the reader being so smudge-prone, the top-heavy design. I wish the dock was already available, but like knowing that it’s already in the works and we’ll see it within the next couple of months.

The SumUp reader pairs with ridiculous ease. The lack of instructions might frustrate some of the less tech-savvy folks — but I promise, you can do it. And if you’re unsuccessful in pairing the device, the app gives you an option to call support right then and there.

The price is a fair deal, too: $69 for an all-in-one reader. It’s a nice middle of the road compromise between the Square readers and the more expensive reader used by PayPal and Shopify.

And then there’s the fact that SumUp has been in the mPOS game since 2012. Even if the company is new to the US market, it should have sufficient experience to minimize the number of holds and freezes on merchant accounts, putting it on par with other leading mPOS options.

All in all, if you’re shopping for an mPOS solution, you might want to look at SumUp. Check out our full review here, or go check out our breakdown of other mPOS hardware.

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Johnson has been writing about payment processing and mobile payments since 2014, and has been quoted in articles for Credit Karma and The Next Web, among others. She graduated from The University of Kansas in 2010 with bachelor's degrees in English and journalism.
Melissa Johnson

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Responses are not provided or commissioned by the vendor or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the vendor or bank advertiser. It is not the vendor or bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

    Cher Boch

    Melissa, you are an excellent blog writer!

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