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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    Are you tired of the cookie-cutter smartphones being brought to you by the major manufacturers in the market? This years model of so-and-so's flagship is little more than a spruced-up version of last year's, or maybe with a design element or two copied from a competitor? It's this feeling of “there's nothing new anymore” that may be driving more and more shoppers to check out the options from new faces on the scene: companies like OnePlus. Last month we learned about an eye-catching new option, as pre-orders got underway for the security-focused Turing Phone. At the time, it wasn't ...

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    Smartphones are well used to dealing with the fallout from glitchy software, and it's hardly a rarity when we see a new handset arrive, only for there to be a launch-week update already available for it. But some problems run a lot deeper than some buggy code, and issues like the one Samsung's facing with the Galaxy Note 5 and its inability to gracefully deal with unintended wrong-way-around S Pen insertion can prove far more difficult to address. We're wondering if the new OnePlus 2 may find itself in a similar situation, as we hear about a failure with the capacitive home button on the ...

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    Yesterday we shared with you an interesting, if not just a little bit confusing story about what was going on between manufacturers of unlocked smartphones and T-Mobile, where phones that should be fully capable of using the carrier's band 12 LTE were finding manufacturers disabling that support – phones sold unlocked and seemingly independent of T-Mobile. It appeared that an issue with VoLTE support and E911 routing was being put forward as the explanation for such actions, at least by Motorola as it killed-off band 12 access for the GSM edition of the new Moto E, but the full picture ...

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    Next week's IFA expo in Berlin doesn't just mean the debut of plenty of new phones, tablets, and wearables, but also a hell of a lot of accessories designed to go with all these products. And while we'll have to wait until then before we get to see everything that's arriving, today LG's offering a little preview of at least one of its new gadgets for IFA, sharing news of its unusual solid rollable wireless portable keyboard. You may be familiar with flexible roll-up keyboards, as well as solid keyboards that fold for portability, but LG's Rolly Keyboard design is unlike any we've seen ...

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    Sony's got some smartphone news to share with us at IFA next week, and rumors sure have been insistent that we can expect the manufacturer to unveil its latest Xperia Z5 family of flagships. The most recent has suggested that could include not one, not two, but three handsets, including a 4K-resolution Z5 “Premium” edition. While we wait to see if that kind of pie-in-the-sky hardware actually shows up, some new support has arrived for one of the slightly more conservative Z5 spec rumors, with the publication of a few images that appear to be official press shots of the Xperia Z5, ...

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    If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Instagram should consider itself overwhelmed with adulation, as the photo-sharing service has spawned a seemingly endless parade of competitors. And while many of them have attempted to offer their own twist on Instagram's formula, the company’s offerings have remained remarkable consistent; sure we see the launch of new filters, and video support arrived a while back, but Instagram's bread-and-butter has remained its square 640 x 640 photos. Last month we shared news with you of a long overdue resolution bump, raising the cap to 1080 x ...

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    It's been about three weeks now since the usual nebulous rumors of a late-summer Apple launch event started taking form, zeroing in on one date: September 9. And while that initial report sounded a wee bit unsure of itself, subsequent rumors have circled back around on, if not that precise date, at least a narrow timeframe bordering it. But even with this feeling like a sure thing, all the speculation in the world can't replace some good old fashioned confirmation. That's just what we have this afternoon, as Apple goes official with its plans for a September 9 announcement. Obviously, ...

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    Amazon never really set out to be a company that designed and sold its own mobile hardware, but a heck of a lot has changed since its early days as an online bookstore. From the initial success of the Kindle e-reader, Amazon's expanded its hardware offerings ranging from the affordable Fire tablets, to its Fire TV set-top box, to the unusual Echo. And while Amazon's had a few hits in there, it's also seen its share of misses, maybe most notably with last year's Fire Phone. It's failures like that one that may be responsible for some big changes happening at Amazon's Lab126 hardware ...

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    Rumors about a new Motorola smartwatch have been heating up for about a month or so now, suggesting that the company's nearly ready to announce it second-gen Moto 360. We've seen evidence from official sources, heard that Motorola could be planning an IFA 2015 launch, and even had the opportunity to look at some in-the-wild pics that seemed to reveal the wearable undergoing some last-minute testing. Today we add to that collection of images of actual hardware with a new shot comparing this year's Moto 360 to last year's model, and appearing to confirm the existence of a new, smaller size ...

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    It's been over a month now since Samsung shared news of its latest tablet, the Galaxy Tab S2. With a 4:3 screen, it's unlike most Samsung tablets that have come before it, drawing plenty of comparisons to Apple's iPad. Considering the heavyweight specs that help power the Tab S2, it may even draw some shoppers away from Apple's tablet – once they can get their hands on it, that is. Last month, Samsung launched the device without many details about retail availability, and while we were hoping we might get to learn more about the Tab S2 at Samsung's Unpacked event earlier this month, it ...

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    Head on over to the online Google Store, and you'll find devices like the Nexus 6, Nexus 9, Chromecast, and Nexus Player, all up for sale. While that makes the site the go-to stop for Google's own hardware, there are a few third-party devices that still manage to score this kind of exposure: things like the Razer Forge Android TV bundle. Now we're seeing another manufacturer of Android TV hardware get its device added to the highly selective list of Google Store merchandise, as NVIDIA brings its Shield set-top box to the site. The Tegra X1-powered Shield box first launched back in early ...

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    As Amazon's Fire Phone started reaching its one-year birthday, it was clear the manufacturer was looking to unload old inventory. The smartphone's initially reception had been mixed, to put it nicely, and we failed to see the handset catch on with users in quite the way Amazon wanted. That's led to sale after sale, bringing the phone's price down into a whole different league than the $650 level where we saw the 32GB Fire Phone debut. Last month those discounts reached their lowest point yet, with Amazon selling the unlocked phone for just $160. Today it's doing itself one better, giving ...

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    When you purchase a smartphone through a carrier, like it or not, there's a solid chance that carrier has messed with your phone to one extent or another. Maybe it told the manufacturer to remove a key feature, like we used to see several US carriers do in regards to wireless charging, or to disable wireless payments so the carrier can push its own mobile payments solution. Maybe it's just something as simple as loading the phone with bloatware. But no matter how that meddling manifested, there's been the expectation that you could always avoid such headaches by purchasing your phone from ...

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    We're one week away from September 2, which means there's one week between us and news of the latest Sony mobile hardware. While the company's first IFA teaser was pretty nonspecific as to the type of devices we should expect, follow-up efforts have been clear that a new Xperia smartphone will be among them. Whether that means the launch of the Xperia Z5 family or not remains to be seen, but one thing Sony's made an effort to emphasize is the high-end camera performance of this new hardware. Earlier this week we saw Sony share a new IFA promotional message that drew attention to the ...

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    Earlier this month we got some bad news out of the Lenovo/Motorola camp, with news of some serious cuts to the workforces of both companies. Alongside word of that downsizing, we also learned of changes that would be coming to how Lenovo and subsidiary Motorola operate, with Motorola stepping up to fill R&D and manufacturing roles for Lenovo. What does that mean for the future of Lenovo as a smartphone brand? Today we begin to understand the breadth of these changes, as Lenovo Mobile reveals its intent to put its own smartphone brand to rest, transitioning many future handsets over to ...

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    Verizon's always been one of the more insular carriers in the US, and between its CDMA roots, its penchant for exclusive devices, and being just so damn large that it doesn't have to go out of its way to lure new customers, it's been one network that just didn't particularly play well with others. Slowly, though, the tide's been turning, both as the network embraces LTE connectivity and starts revising its service offerings to more closely mirror its competition. Verizon's latest move to give users more freedom seeks to correct some of those shortcomings, as we get word that the carrier is ...

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    Back in July, we took a look at an international customs database that appeared to reveal Samsung's efforts in testing the Galaxy Note 5 prior to its ultimate launch. What was particularly interesting was the model number involved: SM-N920F. That same one popped up a little later in July, too, and historically Samsung's the F suffix we see at the end to designate models intended for the European market. From all appearances, Samsung seemed like it was getting ready to bring the Note 5 to Europe, just like everywhere else … and then the phone launched, with no publicly stated plans for ...

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    Samsung plans to formally introduce its Gear S2 smartwatch – the company's first with a circular display – at the IFA trade show early next month. At least, that will be the wearable's official launch, but Samsung's not been shy about giving us a few chances to score an early look at the watch, first at its Note 5 Unpacked event the other week, and in a few official promo images that have emerged since. As we look forward to the grand IFA unveiling, Samsung's got something new for us along that same line, as a company exec shares another pre-launch Gear S2 pic, this time on Instagram. ...

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    Motorola is almost certainly about to introduce a new Moto 360 smartwatch, a model we've already seen pop up in leaks, featured in regulatory paperwork, and even spotted out in the real world. But for as imminent as the new wearable feels, there are still a good number of details we've yet to see fleshed out for the smartwatch, including the the full picture on size options and retail pricing. It may take us until Motorola's official launch announcement to see all our questions answered, but this week we get an early inkling of what we might expect, as one retailer publishes pre-order ...

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    This year, LG's already brought us a couple flagship-level smartphones, first in the form of the G Flex 2 back in the early days of 2015, followed some months later by the G4. While we normally wouldn't expect a lot more from the manufacturer, instead looking for it to fill out the rest of its yearly launches with a slew of lower-tier devices, this time around we were told to expect something a little different: back in March, we heard from an exec that LG was planning the H2 2015 launch of a phone that “stands above the G series” as some kind of super-premium option. We've been ...

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    The last few days have been thick with rumors about Verizon's plans for new Motorola hardware, suggesting among other things that the carrier is getting ready to give the US its only taste of the Moto X Play in the form of the exclusive Droid Maxx 2. Yesterday some images of back panels very much in the design of the Moto X Play, only with Verizon and Droid branding, arrived to help support that theory, and today we see it pick up even stronger support, upon the publication of a few pics that seem to reveal a complete Droid Maxx 2 handset. The hardware we see here is unmistakeably cut from ...

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    One of the many changes Samsung made for this year's Galaxy Note phablet concerns the handset's S Pen stylus, and for the Galaxy Note 5 Samsung came up with a design that allows the S Pen to be stowed away flush inside the phone, retrieved by means of a spring-loaded mechanism. The Note 5's already selling like hotcakes, but as more and more users get their hands on the smartphone, a few a running into a bit of a sticky situation with the redesigned S Pen, getting the stylus stuck in its holder – upside down. While it seems obvious that the S Pen isn't intended to be shoved into the Note ...

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    After months and months of remaining low key, Google ATAP's Project Ara modular smartphone effort popped back on our radar a little earlier this month, as we got word that plans for the initial public trial in Puerto Rico weren't going to happen as planned. While that was bad news, the team behind Ara quickly gave us new cause to be hopeful, talking about some interesting hardware changes it would make going forward, as well as announcing its intention to finally get those trials started next year (and maybe even in the continental US, to boot). We'll likely be getting a lot more Ara news ...

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    One of the most visible ways we see mobile electronics mature over time is how relative screen sizes grow, and non-screen components shrink, until these gadgets are utterly dominated by their displays; just compare an old phone like the Nokia 3310, all keyboard and speaker (with just a tiny screen), to a modern handset like the LG G4, with a screen that nearly fills the phone's face. We're already seeing signs of the same evolution happening with smartwatches, as early models like the original, chunky Pebble give way to screen-dominated models like Samsung's Gear S2. But some manufacturers ...

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    This year's IFA trade show is so close we can nearly taste it. Well, maybe that's just all the German food we'll be eating, but we're itching at the chance to descend upon Berlin and start bringing you all the big announcements from this year's show. Back at the start of the month, Sony sent out invites for its IFA press event, scheduled to fall on September 2. Ever since, we've been wondering about just which devices we could hope to see the company launch, and while we've certainly got a few strong contenders, nothing's official just yet. Sony's keeping us guessing up until the end, and ...

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