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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    When all the content we were looking for online existed as websites, Google's job was pretty straightforward: index that content and connect us to the most relevant among it based on our search queries. But as apps rise to fill some of those spaces once occupied by websites alone, Google's had to adjust. One big way it'd been doing that is through its app indexing program, which introduces app-specific content to mobile searches. For instance, you might look up data on a local restaurant, and Google could direct you right to the Yelp app already installed on your phone. Problem's been, ...

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    How do you get written data onto your smartphone or tablet? You can take a picture and process it with an app like Microsoft Office Lens. A stylus will let you write directly on your device's screen, and while some of the capacitive ones can be a little unsatisfying, setups taking advantage of a dedicated digitizer (like in Galaxy Note models) can offer much higher fidelity. Maybe one of the most interesting solutions is a smartpen, a handwriting tool that looks and works like a regular pen, but can digitally capture its movements and relay them to a connected device. Livescribe has a ...

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    When Google Cardboard premiered at I/O last summer, it felt like some odd combination of a joke, an afterthought, and maybe a passing distraction. After all, Google couldn't really be serious about a passive VR viewer that was little more than a couple lenses and a cheap frame, could it? But what Cardboard lacked in polish it made up for in accessibility and flexibility, and the low barrier of entry it offered has allowed more smartphone users than ever before to enjoy a real 3D experience on their phones. In the time since, we've seen dozens upon dozens of manufacturers come out with ...

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    Carriers have any number of reasons for why they begin and end sales of smartphones when they do. New phones may arrive due to freshly inked deals with manufacturers, and vanish to make room for new models. So when word arrived yesterday that T-Mobile was halting sales of last fall's ZTE Zmax phablet, you might not have batted an eye at the news. But as more of this story comes to light, the Zmax's disappearance from T-Mobile's lineup is anything but ordinary, and there may be a very unusual reason why the carrier is putting a stop to sales. A leaked memo informed T-Mobile retail stores to ...

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    A soda can, airplane fuselage, and your iPhone may all be crafted out of aluminum, but that doesn't mean you should expect the same things from all of them. The main reason is that we're not talking about pure elemental aluminum, but various aluminum alloys: mixtures of aluminum with other trace elements in order to modify its physical and chemical properties. Some may be harder, while others softer and easier to machine. Now a new rumor claims that Apple could be thinking about changing-up which aluminum alloys it uses for its products in an effort to make the next iPhone more durable. ...

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    Over the weekend, the LG G4 floodgates opened, with a leaked LG microsite divulging so many of the phone's assets that it might as well have already launched. Officially, though, we're still waiting for LG's April 28 event, and in the time leading up to the festivities, the manufacturer is continuing to tease the phone. Overnight we shared with you a video highlighting the G4's quad HD display, and now we get to check out some new still shots, as LG shares them on social media. The image you see up above arrives with the note that the G4's attractive leather cover is tanned via a ...

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    Just about a week ago, Microsoft made available the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview release for its Lumia smartphones, giving users a chance to check out the progress the company is making on new Windows 10 features. Maybe the best thing about this new release was the sheer number of phones compatible with it; Microsoft hugely expanded its list of supported hardware from the very limited initial preview we got back in February. But not all of those handsets are playing nicely with the new build, and with a few of them, Microsoft's going so far as to stop making the preview available ...

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    Back in the early days of 2015, a report surfaced that Cyanogen and Microsoft had been talking about business, and Microsoft was interested in sinking a $70M investment in the custom ROM maker. It was an almost scandalous suggestion, tantamount to Microsoft backing Android (but at least not Google's Android), and while it made for a good story, a couple months later we heard that the deal as described wouldn't be happening. What might be possible instead, this new info suggested, was that Microsoft could be making a deal to get some of its apps on Cyanogen-running phones. Sure enough, ...

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    Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge may be one desirable smartphone, what with its nothing-quite-like-it display that curves over both sides of the handset, not to mention all the top-shelf hardware within, but it's also one whose launch has been mired by some annoying glitches. Earlier this month we shared with you reports that new users were finding their GS6 Edge handsets arriving with their screens all scuffed-up by minor (and some not-so-minor) scratches, and now we've got another issue to add to that list, with reports streaming in of users whose phones just can't seem to make their screens ...

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    Rumors have been going back months now that Google's looking to introduce a new level of customizability to Nexus device purchases. Last summer we checked out a leak claiming that a service called Google Workshop would allow users to design custom cases for their phones – the Nexus 5, to be precise. It would permit them to upload photos for a personal touch, or use stylized imagery from Google Maps – a feature dubbed MapMe. We haven't heard more about Google Workshop for a long time now, but now some of the first hard evidence for its existence may have just been uncovered, in the form ...

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    Huawei's brand new P8 and P8max are a couple high-end smartphones that place a premium on looks. Besides their aluminum bodies and very thin constructions, Huawei has made a point to emphasize just how much front panel space is taken up by the displays – especially with the P8max, which hits an 83 percent screen-to-body ratio. So while it's obviously important for Huawei to draw attention to these design elements, it looks like the company may be taking too many liberties in how it goes about that, as certain images on the company's site are making the active screen space on these phones ...

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    When Windows Phone first premiered, the lineup was full of models from prominent Android manufacturers: companies like HTC, Samsung, and LG. That landscape has very much changed in recent years, though there's still the occasional reminder of the past, like the HTC One M8 for Windows. But Microsoft may be turning to more of these old allies for upcoming Windows handsets, and a rumor from earlier this year suggested that LG could be cooking up a new one for Verizon. There's still a lot we don't know about these plans, but the arrival of a new render attempts to add some support to the ...

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    How many ways do you use your smartphone to help you get around? Whether you're getting turn-by-turn driving directions, checking public transit schedules, or booking flights, or phones connect us to software and services capable of keeping us on the go. In recent years, a new class of offering has emerged, with the debut of transportation networks like Lyft and Uber; just fire up an app, request a ride, and it's there before you know it. Now Uber's got a new promotion to get even more smartphone users trying out its service, giving new Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge owners a chance ...

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    The Huawei P8 isn't the only new Android the company is showing off today at its London event, and in addition to the flagship itself we also saw the launch of a couple related models, the P8max and P8 Lite. While the P8 Max scales things up to phablet sizes while keeping close to the same sort of flagship-level specs, the P8 Lite is much closer in size to the P8 itself, but sacrifices a few hardware components to emerge as more of a mid-ranger. In contrast to the 5.2-inch P8, the P8max pushes its screen size all the way up to 6.8 inches, while keeping its 1080p resolution. Huawei points ...

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    Huawei just introduced its latest flagship, the slim, powerfully equipped P8 (no more Ascend). With a sleek metal build and an emphasis on camera performance, Huawei's hoping the P8 has what it takes to compete against other spring heavyweights like the Galaxy S6 and One M9. And over the next few months, a ton of factors will end up helping to determine the P8's fortunes, from promotion, to pricing, to simple availability. As we wait to see how those all will play out, there's one set of data we can immediately start using to compare the P8 to some of its peers: its hardware components. ...

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    Google's ambitions grow loftier every year, expanding from phones, to wearable electronics, to self-driving cars. But for all the new avenues it pursues, some of Google's greatest strengths continue to reside in the core search business that made it a household name. Untold millions of us use Google to conduct searches every day, and rely on the data it provides to make so many decisions in our lives. Is Google providing us unadulterated, relevant search results, or does it skew its output in order to serve the company's own interests? That's what the EU is asking as it makes formal ...

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    Last year, Samsung's Tizen efforts turned out to be a bit uneven. The manufacturer had some good success with Tizen-based smartwatches, but the situation was a bit more rocky when it came to smartphones. The Samsung Z ended up becoming vaporware, though early 2015 brought us a real commercial model, the Z1 (above). More recently, rumors have suggested that Samsung's already been prepping a follow-up, and today we check out a few details, as rumors describe possible hardware for two new Tizen handsets. First up, we have the so-called Z2, with some lower-mid-range specs. The phone could get ...

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    At this point in time, we're probably just five months away from Apple's next iPhone models going official. We've already heard plenty about what sort of improvements the next generation of the company’s smartphones may deliver, including things like new SoCs, higher RAM capacity, and maybe even the Apple Watch's Force Touch. One idea that's been mentioned before has been a serious camera upgrade, with things like an optical zoom or maybe even a dual-sensor arrangement suggested. Now Apple's latest acquisition is adding fuel to that rumor fire, as the company scoops up Israel's LinX ...

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    When we're talking about upcoming OnePlus hardware, the phone that immediately comes to mind is the OnePlus 2, the flagship-level follow-up to last year's OnePlus One. Rumors have suggested that it could be a substantial improvement over the One, while not costing a hell of a lot more. And as we look forward to picking up some more concrete info about this smartphone, there may be another new OnePlus model we also need to keep an eye out for, as a new report claims that OnePlus is planning to introduce an even more affordable model. Bloomberg repeats the Q3 ETA we've heard before for the ...

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    The expression that “the children are our future” is fantastically trite by this point, but it nevertheless rings true. Maybe most importantly to mobile companies, today's children are growing up into tomorrow's consumers, and exposing them to devices and services now can help shape their future purchasing decisions. Maybe that's one of the reasons why Google's been showing so much interest in youth-focused offerings lately, like the recent YouTube Kids app. Today we learn about another effort along those lines, as Google announces the Designed for Families initiative for Google Play. ...

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    So often in life, you get what you pay for, and that's no less true with smartphones. Sure, you can find some fantastic deals on powerful yet affordable handsets, but if you want all those top-of-the-line specs and premium styling, expect to pay for the privilege. Right now, one of the most expensive phones around is the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, with its 128GB version pushing $1000. Is that cost justified? A breakdown of component costs offers some degree of rationalization for that sky-high price tag, suggesting the GS6 Edge really is one of the most expensive phones to build. From an $85 ...

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    Samsung's place in the smartphone world may not quite be as firmly guaranteed as it once was, with new competition delivering pressure in multiple market spaces. As Samsung makes adjustments to help it maintain its spot on top, other companies are trying to capture some of that Samsung success for themselves, and to hear a new report out of South Korea, Huawei is attempting to do just that by going right to the source, and luring Samsung employees over to its side. Specifically, we hear that Huawei has been recruiting Samsung user interface designers (the team behind TouchWiz), as well as ...

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    The past few hours have been busy ones for Sony rumors, as some new reports arrived that attempted to turn our current expectations on their head. One started looking past the Xperia Z4 -which Sony still hasn't launched- to the Z5, while the other took the position that we've been getting a little off-base with this whole Z4 business, and the phone that's actually featured in all those leaks and rumors has been one that will launch as the Z3 Neo. We're still not sure if there's any truth to that, but even if the specific device we've been talking about may be something else, there's little ...

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    It's coming up on that time of year again: the early-year expos and spring flagship launches are winding down, and we've still got months to go until IFA in early September, leaving us with the big platform conferences to keep us busy. First up is Microsoft's Build in just a couple weeks, followed by Google I/O about a month later. That leaves one more to pencil-in on our calendars, and today Apple arrives with the details we've been waiting for, announcing its Worldwide Developers Conference for June 8. Despite Apple using WWDC in the past to introduce its early iPhones, we're not ...

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    Google's working on plans to offer cellular service directly to users, operating as an MVNO: the company has confirmed that much, leaving us to wonder about the details. And while Google I/O may soon bring new info about the company's ambitions, today we get some early insight into how this all might work, with the discovery of a Nexus 6 firmware image containing an apparent account management app for this MVNO. The app goes by the name Tycho and also makes reference to the Project Nova codename for the MVNO service itself we've heard before, as well as suggests a new internal codename for ...

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