Posts by Stephen Schenck

Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits Read more about Stephen Schenck!

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    OnePlus is a company that seeks to give its users impeccable value for their smartphone-buying dollar, and while that means paying a lot less for your handset than you might with a bigger-name OEM, it can also mean making a few sacrifices along the way. With last year's OnePlus 2, users did without a number of features that we might expect to see on a more full-featured flagship, especially in the power department: not only did the phone lack a wireless charging option (forgivable), but there was no quick-charge mode to be found (a much harder pill to swallow). Can we expect OnePlus to ...

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    The story of the FBI's efforts to access the iPhone 5c in its San Bernardino terrorism investigation may seem like it's over – and has been over for weeks, following the agency dropping its efforts to force Apple to help break into the phone – but the story keeps going strong. And why wouldn't it? This one has it all: technology, civil liberties, national security – we could go on. And even with the meat of the story wrapped up, we're continuing to learn more and more about how this all went down. Last week we got our first sense of just how much the FBI paid for access to whatever ...

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    Sometimes it feels like choosing a mobile carrier is practically rolling the dice when it comes to your smartphone's update future. Will you end up on the luckier side of things, ending up closer to the front of the line when updates finally start heading out, or will you be like those kids with Z last names, doomed to be at the back of the stage on graduation day? HTC fans on AT&T know what the waiting game is like all too well, and while we've seen Android Marshmallow updates come to both the HTC One M8 and One M9 months ago across multiple carriers, AT&T users have been left ...

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    Apple used to sell just one size of iPhone. But now, between the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE, there are three different … iPhones? iPhone? iPhone models? In a debate better suited for a grammar-school classroom than the digital halls of Twitter, Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller has taken some users to task over how they form the plural of Apple products – and in doing so, has created quite the little controversy for himself. It all started innocently enough, with a tweet about “iPads Pro.” That's an awkward construction, and we'd probably find ourselves ...

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    We get it: you want a fancy new smartphone, but you don't feel like paying full price it. Certainly, we've all been there. So you scrounge through carrier listings, hoping for a good deal, or maybe keep your fingers crossed that some generous retailer will come through with a bargain. Eventually, you probably will stumble across a price you can live with, but that deal's not always one without its trade-offs. Take, for instance, the Samsung Galaxy S7 offer we shared with you last week: sure, an eBay seller was letting the phone go for just $500, but we were talking about a refurbished ...

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    A smartphone's connectivity is its lifeblood, and without access to voice, text, and most importantly data services, a handset's value quickly starts taking a nosedive. And while we accept the face that we're going to have to pay up for access to that kind of connectivity, no one likes getting his with chargers well in excess of what they were expecting. That's why we were so excited last fall to hear about a big decision the European Parliament made in regards to roaming fees, looking to put an end to them altogether by mid-2017. While that's still a ways off, we're just about to cross an ...

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    Whether you're venturing out into a new neighborhood of a familiar city, or trekking to destinations halfway around the globe, smartphones can be indispensable tools for making your journey enjoyable, efficient, and memorable. From travel apps that recommend the best places to stay, to navigation services that connect us with local public transit options, to real-time translation software, there's no shortage of ways our phones can enhance that travel experience. Recently, leaks started talking about a new travel app Google was cooking up, as it recruited early testers. Today new details ...

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    The past year has been one where Google's really started moving security to the forefront of the Android experience. Between the rise of fingerprint scanners on Android devices (and corresponding API support), the publication of high-profile exploits like Stagefright, and the company's move to deliver monthly security updates for its Nexus lineup, Google's been tackling the issue of device and data security from all angles. Those efforts extend to keeping apps safe, and Google's long taken steps to make sure that not only are Play Store apps as trustworthy as can be, but that risks from ...

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    HTC's next flagship is so close, we can almost taste it. In just a manner of days, the HTC 10 will descend on markets around the world, giving users everywhere some of their first experiences with the handset. Back when we reviewed the HTC 10, we called it “a great smartphone, with amazing build quality, powerful specs, and just a need for a couple of tweaks in its camera software,” and wouldn't you know it, but just such a software update has landed in time for the phone's wide release, boosting camera performance in the process. With all the pieces falling into place, you may be ...

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    Voice-powered assistants are becoming more and more popular ways for users to get access to data, using them to conduct searches and connect with the websites holding  answers. But for as powerful as they are, use of such services can mean making certain compromises. Take Google's voice search on Android devices, for instance: you can ask it to search for anything you choose, but it's only going to give you results from Google's own servers – there's no easy way to conduct a Yahoo search, or a Bing search. But over on Windows 10, users have been able to get a lot more flexibility out of ...

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    Creating apps that give users powerful new ways to access Twitter has long presented an uncomfortable situation for developers: get too successful, and your app essentially shuts down. The problem's been Twitter's use of tokens that allow distinct users to connect with a third-party app, and so far there's been a hard limit of 100,000 per title – hit that many, and you couldn't sign on any new users. Earlier this week, popular Android Twitter app Fenix found itself running into that all-too-familiar fate, causing its developer to pull the app from the Play Store. Today Fenix returns, ...

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    Google's acquisition of Motorola meant a lot of changes for the smartphone maker, but the company had some great talent on board that helped it through that period of adjustment. And no sooner had it adapted to life at Google than Motorola found itself being passed on to a new owner, as word of Lenovo's acquisition plans arrived in early 2014. That meant some staffing shake-ups, and a few months later Motorola's Rick Osterloh found himself rising to the role of President and COO. Osterloh stuck around as the Lenovo transition took shape, but last month we got word that he, too, was leaving ...

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    Mobile software and advertising have a long and sometimes tumultuous history. Ads help compensate developers for their time and effort, and a successful campaign can go a long way towards encouraging those devs to create more of the apps we love. But sometimes we've had enough of ads, and we pay to upgrade to an ad-free experience; sometimes we pay to upgrade and ads (in one form or another) continue to persist. And then there are those times when we've simply had enough, and we don't want to see any ads at all. If you find yourself in that latter mood often enough, Google's got some good ...

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    Smartphone users today have more opportunities to try out in-development software than ever before. From Apple's public iOS betas, to Android's developer preview for Nexus hardware, to the Microsoft Insider program, users who aren't afraid of dealing with a few rough edges can check out the latest software well in advance of any wide release. Sometimes the inevitable beta bugs are minor, and while the user experience may be a little wonky, everything's ultimately still functional. Then again, sometimes things are so thoroughly broken that using the software at all becomes an exercise in ...

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    Apple's one of the most successful brands on the planet, and its smartphone lineup has seen strong demand in markets the world around. But while sales may be doing alright, growth has recently seen a big drop-off, and Apple's struggling to find ways to boost profits even higher. One obvious-seeming way to help out in that department would be bringing Apple retail stores to areas that currently lack them, and that's just what the company's been working on in India for some time now. The problem is, India's got some laws in place that discourage the sort of manufacturer-run store Apple's ...

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    For Android devices, it's almost a badge of honor getting listed for sale in the Google Store. It's not like Google sells just any hardware, so you've got to be something special to make it into this exclusive club. Beyond Google's own Nexus lineup, that includes some third-party Android TV boxes, but maybe the easiest way to get your hardware in the Google Store is to launch an Android Wear smartwatch. Today we've got big questions about the fate of one of those wearables, as Google appears to have shut down sales of the Moto 360 Sport. As you may recall, the story of the Moto 360 Sport's ...

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    When we're looking at the biggest smartphone brands around, it's almost not even worth paying attention to the top two: Samsung dominates the market, and Apple's got itself a reasonably comfortable second-place spot. But move a little further down the list, and the fight starts getting interesting. Huawei's been a distant third for a while now, but could the company ever get to the point where Apple needs to be worried? And while Xiaomi and Lenovo filled out the top five last time we looked, will their fortunes hold? The latest global shipment figures are out, and they show some big ...

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    There's no getting over it: the BlackBerry Priv is one unusual smartphone, and that means it's not going to be for everyone. From the unusual vertical-slider design, to the beefed-up security software, to the simple fact that this is an Android phone built by BlackBerry, the Priv is anything but your typical smartphone. But even if all those oddities end up endearing you to the handset (and don't get us wrong; there's a lot to like here) there's still been one big stumbling block keeping the Priv from making its way into the hands of more users: a seriously top-shelf price tag. Recently, ...

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    Google's been selling Nexus hardware for years, offering shoppers a chance to take home a “pure” Android experience with some of the best software support in the business. Starting as a phone-only affair, the lineup's since matured with tablet options, as well as multiple handsets selling alongside each other. But in recent years, Google's love affair with Nexus tablets seemed to be waning, and the last such model we got was 2014's Nexus 9. Now the era of that HTC-made tablet is starting to come to a close, as Google puts an end to its Nexus 9 sales. As of today, Google's no longer ...

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    We got 2016 started with some rumors that weren't talking about new flagship phones a couple months away, or summer's hot new models, but instead some high-profile handsets probably landing until closer to fall: Google's next Nexus phones. Coming off a year of two such models, from two different manufacturers, the rumor suggested that Google would come back with another pair of handsets, but this time from one OEM: HTC. In the months since we haven't heard any better theories about Google's 2016 Nexus lineup, and this HTC idea has only picked up steam. Today a new rumor adds its own ...

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    This year's iPhone lineup is one that could mark some big changes for Apple's hardware, and over the past few months a series of leaks and rumors have attempted to shape our expectations for the phone. Bold moves could include dropping the phone's analog headphone jack in favor of a digital-only audio interface, and super-charging the photography experience for Apple's new Plus model with a dual-rear-camera setup. Some leaks have even seemed a little hard to believe at first, like imagery showing off an apparent iPhone 7 Plus with a rear iPad-Pro-style Smart Connector. Now a new ...

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    BlackBerry has this uncanny knack for keeping itself in the news year after year, despite its smartphone market share fading away into oblivion. But already this week we've heard about the latest software update to hit a BlackBerry phone, as the Android-based Priv gets its big Marshmallow release, and now we find ourselves checking out a possible leak that might just reveal the next generation of BlackBerry's handset lineup, as a set of renders and pics attempt to reveal the phones codenamed Hamburg and Rome. Company CEO John Chen has already confirmed his intention to release a pair of ...

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    It's been just about a month now since Microsoft gave us our latest look at where Windows 10 is headed, sharing news of the forthcoming Windows 10 Anniversary Update during its Build 2016 keynote. The feature-packed release, formally know by codename Redstone, is set to deliver things we've already spotted in testing through Insider previews, like support for the Bash shell, Continuum beaming, an easy dark mode toggle, and the introduction of the stylus-focused Windows Ink Workspace. In making that announcement, Microsoft confirmed plans to distribute the Anniversary Update this summer, ...

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    For as different as smartphones can be, we all expect them to provide certain basics: you start with a touchscreen, add a couple cameras, and toss in a bunch of standard wireless connectivity options. For the better part of forever, that list has also included an analog 3.5mm headphone jack, making connecting headphones or external speakers a snap. But lately it's felt like the tide is turning away from the classic port, buoyed by rumors that Apple could drop the headphone jack entirely for its next iPhone, pushing wired audio output over to the digital Lightning connector. While Apple may ...

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    More than most phones, the Nextbit Robin is a handset really defined by its software, deriving from that code its ability to intelligently offload apps and media the cloud. So we were understandably excited late last month when word arrived about some forthcoming Robin software updates, especially one due to land sometime in April that would bring the phone enhancements like a significantly faster camera and optimized speaker tuning. We're fast running out of days before May, but Nextbit has finally come through as promised, announcing the start of OTA distribution today. Nextbit's release ...

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