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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    What's HTC up to this year with its Butterfly series of Androids? While in the past it's been something like a One-relative with a focus on Asian markets, this year we have the One M9 Plus, which also hits a lot of the same notes we'd expect from a Butterfly model. Indeed, just last month we were checking out some Butterfly 3 rumors that suggested the phone could get a quad HD 5.2-inch display, just like on the One M9 Plus. This week some possible Butterfly 3 specs have been uncovered via benchmark, and while they still share some important similarities with the One M9 Plus, it's starting ...

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    It's that time again: three months have passed since we last got the chance to check out some Microsoft financial data, and now quarterly figures are once again due. Have the early months of 2015 been kind to Microsoft and its mobile hardware, or will we see evidence of a post-holiday-season slump? Let's waste no more time and get right to the numbers. The good news overall is that revenue is up, even if slimming profit margins mean that Microsoft is keeping less of it. Compared to the same quarter a year ago, revenue's up six percent to $21.7B, but income is down five percent, coming in ...

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    The four-inch iPhone that's been rumored to return to join its now-larger brethren for the next generation of Apple's smartphone hardware may not be happening this year as anticipated – at least not according to the latest analyst report we've seen. But even if that model is still a long way off, could there be hope for another petite iOS device? That's what we're wondering this afternoon as we check out a rumor that Apple's finally getting ready to deliver a new iPod touch, one that could arrive later this year. Considering how long it's been since Apple really updated the hardware of ...

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    For a company that released as many smartwatches as it did in 2014, Samsung has seriously slowed things down for 2015. For months now we've been expecting the company to launch its next-gen model, but the early year expo season has passed without the hardware arriving. Rumors have suggested that this next smartwatch, possibly in development as the Gear A, could represent a significant departure from past Samsung designs, ditching a rectangular display in favor of a circular screen. And while so far that's been the subject of rumor and speculation, it's now looking all but confirmed, as ...

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    How does a company like Yahoo stay relevant in a world where we've long moved past the days of manually indexed websites, a world where out-Googling Google at pure search seems like a gargantuan task? Instead of trying to relive past glory, Yahoo instead has its sights set on the future, and in an earnings call this week, CEO Marissa Mayer discussed one of the ways her company intends to do just that, moving into the realm of voice search and personal assistant services. Just like Apple has its Siri, Google its Google Now, and Microsoft its Cortana, Yahoo wants a voice assistant of its ...

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    It may be the one-year anniversary of the launch of the OnePlus One, triggering a symbolic sale over at the manufacturer's site, but that's not the only news happening in the smartphone's world today. Earlier this week we learned that OTA distribution of the CM12S update for the One had been put on ice, ostensibly to introduce a new feature. Today OnePlus and Cyanogen get that update moving back out again, and in doing so offers a slightly different explanation for the initial halt. To hear Cyanogen's Steve Kondik tell it, the main reasons for stopping distribution earlier this week were ...

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    Samsung's Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge are here, and have been for a couple weeks now. And while that means that loads of new owners have already picked up the phones, the experience hasn't been quite complete yet – at least not if you were looking to check out the same immersive 3D stuff Samsung talked about at its GS6 launch event: we still need the Gear VR. Samsung introduced its second-gen VR headset alongside the GS6 and GS6 Edge, a redesigned model to accommodate those smaller displays, while also improving focus depth and strap layout. Now it's nearly finally time when you can ...

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    Nokia's been finding itself in the news a surprising amount this month, thanks not only to word of its Alcatel-Lucent acquisition, but also rumors of the company's return to smartphones next year. But what got this Nokia train started was a report claiming that the company was looking to offload HERE Maps. At the time, we only heard a few general guesses about who might be interested in purchasing it, but this evening some new sources speak up about several companies Nokia is supposedly pursuing in the hopes of finding a buyer. That group includes big names like Apple, Amazon, and ...

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    A little under a month ago, back at the tail end of March, Sony offered some very important news about its Lollipop update plans. While earlier it had only affirmed its intent to make Lollipop available for the various phones and tablets making up the flagship Z-series of Xperia models, the situation was far less clear for other Xperia devices. At one point Sony was saying outright “no” to such updates, but it quickly backed away from that hard-line stance. And as we learned at the end of March, at least two non-Z models were very much in line for Lollipop: the Xperia T2 Ultra and ...

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    LG's G4 is set to launch in just a matter of days, and when sales of the phone finally begin, shoppers will be able to take one home in a number of attractive leather finishes. Don't worry, those of you who aren't the biggest fans of the leather-backed imagery that's dominated much of what we've seen from the G4 to date – even though the leather covers will be G4 options, they won't be the only ones, and we've already seen some more traditional plastic backs. But if leather is your thing, you're going to want to check out LG's latest G4 teaser video, which is all about -you guessed it- ...

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    Google's intention to launch its own MVNO and start selling cellular service directly to users has been confirmed for weeks now, leaving us to wonder about the specifics, including when this all might go live. We just heard a rumor claiming that Google was nearly ready to go, and would be formally launching the service todayi. Just as predicted, Google has officially announced Project Fi. Fi intelligently evaluates available network connections to find the best option for your phone at the moment, whether's that LTE, 3G, or a local WiFi network. Transitions between cellular and WiFi should ...

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    What stock software on your Android smartphone do you end up replacing? The browser? Sure, there are plenty of good alternate options out there. The launcher? A bit more in the power-user camp, but sure – why not? Some of us even see fit to replace the dialers on our phones, and today we see the arrival of a new option for those who choose to do so, as Facebook releases Hello for Android. Hello's big selling points are the degree of control it gives you over screening calls. By connecting to your Facebook contacts it can not only identify callers, but remind you of relevant events going ...

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    Apple's smartphones just are not having a lot of luck when it comes to SSL this week. Yesterday we told you about a problem affecting several hundred iOS apps, whereby it was theoretically possible that an attacker could intercept app data traffic. Well easy fix, right – just don't use any of those problem apps until they're updated? Fine for that issue, maybe, but today we learn of a new vulnerability for which there isn't yet any obvious fix, as researchers reveal a denial of service attack that can crash apps or even iOS itself over a WiFi connection. The attack relies on a special ...

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    Sony's Xperia Z4 just went official, and now we're already turning our gaze outwards to what's next. Yesterday we took a look at some model numbers for unreleased Sony handsets, and while we weren't able to positively identify any, some inferences based on past Xperia device numbering suggested they could include a new Z Ultra-style phablet, maybe the international version of the Z4 itself, and we've even heard the suggestion that a Z4 Compact could be represented there. We're thinking more about that latter model this morning, as an apparent carrier leak seems to confirm Sony's plans for ...

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    There was a time in not too distant history when LG's flagship smartphone had flat screens, and those with curved displays were reserved for the G Flex series. But with the G4 on the horizon, rumors started arriving that even this flagship model could be going the way of the G Flex, and picking up a curved screen of its own. In the time since, we've seen a number of officially sourced G4 images, and sure enough, it does appear to have a slight curve to it – really, really slight. Now we're getting some hard figures about the full extent of that curve, and there's a good reason it doesn't ...

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    Earlier this week, Sony dropped a bit of a surprise on us all, announcing the Xperia Z4 for Japan – a quiet press event, no international spectacle, just a new phone that isn't even confirmed yet for global release. It wasn't long after the Z4 went official that we started hearing a rumor about Sony's intentions for a proper worldwide flagship, though that could find us waiting until sometime next month. We're still not quite sure just how that phone might arrive, but a new finding today could offer a hint or two, as a handful of new Sony model numbers surface in Indonesia. It's that ...

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    With two solid months passing between the release of the first Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones and this month's new version, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Microsoft might be taking its sweet time before a third build was ready to go live. Or maybe, at the very least, that we'd finally fall into that roughly once-a-month release schedule we were once told was the plan. So imagine our surprise this evening when Microsoft announced a new release just moments ago, as it starts making available build 10052. Compared to the build 10051 we got the other week, this one's less about ...

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    There's a war going on in the smartphone world right now, not one between platforms, or even between manufacturers: it's a war where everybody is fighting against bezels. Say what you will about practicality: a phone where its display runs right up to the handset's edge is an incredibly attractive prospect, and phone-makers have been doing their darnedest to be the ones who pull it off the best. While phones from big manufacturers like Samsung and its Galaxy S6 Edge may be the ones drawing the most attention to their screens, it's been a number of smaller Chinese OEMs who have found recent ...

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    WhatsApp may have started life as a simple messaging service, but after building up a user base that numbers in the hundreds of millions, the app's been working to expand its feature set into new modes of communication. Following some teases last year, WhatsApp for Android gained voice call support and the end of March. Windows Phone users are still waiting for the feature to come their way, but another platform is going to get there before them, as voice calling arrives for WhatsApp on iOS today. Well, the new version of the app is out, at least, updating WhatsApp to 2.12.1. That contains ...

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    We first caught sight of Google's Android 5.1.1 update back at the start of the month, mentioned in the release of a new SDK. Then last week, 5.1.1 was showing up on some official Android dev pages, measuring Nexus family audio latency. It sure felt like a release could happen at any moment, but when? Well, today's our day, as the first Android 5.1.1 release quietly appears as a factory image available for download. What's maybe most notable about the way Android 5.1.1 is emerging is that the first device to get it isn't a Nexus phone nor a Nexus tablet, but the Android TV Nexus Player. ...

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    What's a Windows Phone fan have to do to get his hands on some flagship-level hardware? Right now, such handsets on the platform are few and far between, and while there's hope that the situation is going to get better – especially with the forthcoming release of Windows 10 – firm information on specific models is hard to come by. But as we wait to learn more about what phones will emerge to lead the next generation of Microsoft Lumia devices, we get word of another future Windows model from an unlikely source, as Chinese manufacturer Elephone starts talking about its plans for a ...

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    The way we access the web is changing. For a growing number of people, their usage patterns are already heavily skewed towards mobile, and for many, mobile access is the primary way they get online. Google's all too aware of this, and we've already seen the company take steps to highlight content that's optimized for mobile consumption, like the way it started noting mobile-friendly sites in search results last fall. Today it's taking things one step further, making adjustments to its ranking algorithm that will award more favorable placement to sites that offer mobile-optimized layouts. ...

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    It would be fantastic if devices that once supported a service were guaranteed to keep doing so for years and years to come – that if Netflix works on your TV today, or your car streams Pandora, that it will keep right on working through future server-end upgrades. Sadly, that's not necessarily the case, and given enough time, client-side software can lose the ability to communicate with the service behind it. That's what happening to a number of YouTube-accessing devices right now, as Google updates its API and breaks compatibility with old viewers. The affected hardware includes old ...

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    The big news from OnePlus today concerns how it's selling the flagship One, doing away with invites and limited-time sales windows for good. But that's not the only thing that's happening with the phone today, and OnePlus's Carl Pei announced on social media that OTA distribution of the just-released CyanongenMod 12S update is being temporarily paused. While normally that would sound like bad news, it turns out it's happening for a pretty great reason, as Pei teases an new feature about to arrive for the One. CM12S distribution should get started again a little later this week, and it will ...

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    Your smartphone supports a lot of different radio formats, each bringing its own benefits to your handset. You've got LTE reception for mobile data, Bluetooth to talk to your accessories, and WiFi for data at home or work. But there's another radio inside many phones that can tap in to a ton of totally free news and entertainment: a standard audio FM radio. The hardware to support regular FM reception is often baked-in to the wireless chipsets employed by popular phones, but whether or not it's a user-accessible feature is a whole different story; despite hardware being physically capable ...

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