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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    Motorola loves giving its smartphone users a bevy of customizable looks for their phones, whether we're talking about the Moto X and its fantastic array of colors and materials to choose from, or the numerous alternate rear shells available for the Moto G. But not every Motorola handset is nearly so lucky, and one of our favorite recent devices, the Droid Turbo, comes up seriously short with the aesthetic variety it offers shoppers. We're still nowhere near the number of options you'll find with other Moto models, but this week the Droid Turbo picks up a new color variant, coming to Best ...

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    T-Mobile may be the cool kid on the block, not messing with the Motorola Nexus 6 it sells in its stores, but not every carrier is committed to being so hands-off. As we looked at last week, the AT&T version of the phone has a few carrier-specific anomalies rendering it distinct from the unbranded model, but they're overly onerous. If you can't live with even those, enthusiasts have already worked out how to restore the AT&T Nexus 6 to a near-clean slate, as well as overcome the mandatory encryption (for the Nexus 6 on all carriers) we understand could be slowing down disk ...

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    “Deals. Want my deals. It's almost Thanksgiving. Where are the deals?” OK, OK, we hear you, and we've been busy compiling a list of the hottest Black Friday offers around. Look for our full feature to arrive tomorrow evening, and while those deals will persist through the end of the week (those that have gotten a head start, at least – as seems to be the standard practice this year), we just had to bring you news of one today, one that isn't lasting that long. Just like HTC pulled last week with its half-off accessories deal last Tuesday, Motorola's got a similar offer of its own, ...

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    A couple weeks back, the Android 5.0 Lollipop update explosion began, with both OEMs and Google beginning to make the new software for their own phones (or for their Nexus models) available. Motorola even beat Google with confirmation of updates for the new Moto G and Moto X, but not without a major limitation: that 2014 Moto X Lollipop update was only for the unlocked Pure Edition, meaning that if you picked the phone up through a carrier you were out of luck. Well, “temporarily inconvenienced” might be more like it, but now even that “temporary” bit flies out the window, with ...

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    Well this was inevitable: owners of smartwatches are eager to configure their wearables to reflect the latest styles, and watchface galleries have been quick to spring up and offer users a broad selection of options. But where do all these designs come from? Plenty are full-on originals, but you won't have to look hard to find faces mimicking designs from TV, movies, and video games, as well as those copying the style of popular “dumb” watches. And while Rare might be cool with people rocking a Goldeneye 007 watch layout, luxury brands like Omega aren't being so accommodating, and have ...

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    It's rarely good news when we start a story out with the caveat “you won't be buying this hardware,” but every once in a while some very much not-consumer-focused gear becomes available that's just so mouth-watering, we can't help ourselves but to share it with you. Back in April we took a look at Qualcomm's tablet development platform to highlight its then-new Snapdragon 805. Now it's time for the next generation of that hardware to emerge, as both a smartphone and tablet dev model packing Snapdragon 810 chips emerge. Let's start with the phone, which at 6.2 inches is indisputably in ...

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    Last week, we got what was one of our first insights into Sony's possible plans for the Xperia Z4, with the leaks of a few images purporting to reveal the phone's front panel. It looked close enough to the size of the Z3's that we weren't expecting the Z4 to make any radical departures size-wise, but that's about as much detail as the leak managed to provide. With rumors that the Z4 could launch as soon as Sony's press event at CES in January, will much more detailed leaks be soon to arrive? Well, it doesn't quite have the evidentiary spark of those hardware pics, but a new set of rumors ...

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    OnePlus brought us its One smartphone earlier this year, and the incredibly affordable, yet still quite powerful hardware has managed to win itself a good number of fans – at least so many that the manufacturer continues to struggle to keep up with demand (though the situation's definitely getting better). But for a couple months now, our thoughts have been drifting away from the OnePlus One and towards the idea of its sequel – OnePlus learning from its first effort and hopefully delivering an even more impressive follow-up. So far that's included ideas like a possibly smaller size ...

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    Earlier this week we saw platform upstart Jolla find itself back in the news, about a year after we first had the opportunity to go hands-on with the company's Sailfish OS-running smartphone. Jolla decided to turn to crowdfunding to support the production of its new tablet, and the response it's seen in just these few brief days has been phenomenal – as we mentioned earlier today on the Pocketnow Weekly, the effort has already passed the million-dollar mark. Capitalizing on all the publicity and support it's getting in light of this tablet news, Jolla has elected to direct some of that ...

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    If you're interested in music on your phone, there are tons of free options out there, all ready to stream high-quality tracks from popular artists, in exchange for you listening to the occasional ad. But start talking about video, and the situation changes: sure, we have the YouTubes out there, with their own free, ad-supported content, but the really good stuff is walled-off behind pay services like Netflix, HBO Go, and Amazon Prime. The latter made some big inroads on mobile earlier this year as we saw its streaming video come to Amazon's Android app, but it was still a subscription ...

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    It used to be that if your phone wanted to silently alert you about something, it would fire up the old notification light. At a glance, it was capable of grabbing your attention, and multi-color varieties could easily clue you in to what sort of content was waiting for you. But in recent years, it feels like the stalwart notification LED has fallen by the wayside, replaced by richer technologies that not only tell you about the presence of new info, but are able to directly share it with you – things like Glance, Active Display, or its cousin, Ambient Display – and that's to say ...

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    Now that carrier sales of the Nexus 6 have begun, we've had the opportunity to check out just what level of impact the involvement of these companies will have on the handset you take home. Really, what carriers like AT&T are doing doesn't look too, too bad – well, assuming that the phone functions at all. As it turns out, there seems to be a nasty bug affecting these Nexus 6 models, one severe enough to have AT&T sending its initial Nexus 6 stock back to Motorola. Revealed in a leaked AT&T doc, the situation is described as one of Motorola delivering the Nexus 6 with ...

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    Earlier this week we saw Apple distribute iOS 8.1.1 to its userbase, resolving a few bugs and delivering what were supposed to be performance improvements for older Apple hardware like the iPhone 4S, which had been struggling to meet the demands of iOS 8 with aging A5 SoCs and just 512 MB of RAM. Did Apple succeed in its goal? Some real-world testing suggests it did to an extent, though even these tweaks are insufficient to bring these models back to previous levels of performance. In an array of timed tests, iPhone 4S hardware completed tasks in essentially the same amount of time running ...

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    The only thing better than getting timely updates for your Android smartphone is also having a manufacturer that's very open about its own progress towards those updates; sure, we could just keep ourselves in the dark and learn about the updates once they're ready, but we're the sort of users who crave information, and we want to know about testing, ETAs, and all the steps on the road to release. HTC's been doing a great job about sharing its Lollipop update plans for the Google Play edition One M7 and One M8 this past week or so – well, it's doing fine so far as the sharing goes, but ...

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    With autumn very much making its presence felt, and the last days of 2014 looming ahead, the mobile electronics market is about to make another of its regular shifts, temporarily moving away from a time dominated by launch after launch, and instead focusing more on getting these products into our hands. We've just come off a couple big months of launches, led in by IFA in early September, and peppered with iPhone, iPad, and Nexus announcements in the weeks that followed. But now with the holiday season arriving as an unavoidable juggernaut, we're about to see the steady flow of new devices ...

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