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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    Amazon entered the smartphone market earlier this year with some big dreams, giving its inaugural Fire Phone some hardware and software that wasn't quite like anything else out there. Unfortunately, higher-than-expected pricing, combined with carrier exclusivity and some regrettable battery life, ended up souring many potential users to the idea of the phone. Still, Amazon's done what it can to try and breathe a little life into the Fire Phone, like that very attractive Black Friday pricing we saw. That trend continues this month as the manufacturer starts sending out a big update to the ...

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    With all the distractions modern life throws at us, it's so easy to find ourselves getting off-task. Sure, you were supposed to get that invite list for the party put together by this morning, but then the new Taylor Swift album dropped, and Far Cry 4 came out, and have you guys seen that how-to-gift-wrap-a-cat video on YouTube? Back in August, we were looking at a number apps that we thought were ideal for the back-to-school season, and that group included Todoist, perfect for keeping you on top of the tasks you need to complete. Today we check out a Todoist update, bringing the app ...

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    Didn't we just see Google release a new version of its Maps app for Android? Sure, and we mentioned that update alongside a slew of other Google apps with new versions on the way as part of an update-Wednesday post a couple weeks back. And even after that, there were those new features for European users. But this is a new week, and a new Maps update is upon us. While there are no huge UI overhauls or anything so severe, you will find a number of new features and settings buried within, some of them looking quite useful. Don't like how navigation defaults to that car-GPS-style first-person ...

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    All the way back in September, when Microsoft was introducing new Windows Phone hardware like the Lumia 830, it also had an announcement to make about new firmware on the horizon: Lumia Denim. The update was set to deliver features like 4K video recording – when it got here, that is. Word was that Denim would hit WP8.1 Lumia handsets starting sometime this quarter, but it's been seriously slow to arrive; so far, there's some early evidence for distribution to phones in China, but users in the West remain out of luck. However, that may be just about to change, as Microsoft's spotted ...

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    It has been entirely too long since we've talked BlackBerry with you. There's a good reason for that, as the platform's downward slide has continued unabated throughout 2014, with the latest global figures showing BlackBerry sales dipping to below one percent of the total market. But the company isn't giving up without a fight, and today we once again turn our attention to Waterloo as BlackBerry formally launches its latest smartphone, the BlackBerry Classic. If the look of the BlackBerry Classic seems familiar, that's because it's doing its best Bold 9900 impersonation; BlackBerry ...

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    OK, so OnePlus just hit a significant setback with that Indian sales ban for the One. But even with that issue hanging over its head, the company is still finding the time to celebrate. After all, today marks the one year point from the day its website first went live and it sent out the press release that would announce its formation. Sure, it would still be a couple weeks before we learned about the One and its Cyanogen-powered software, but today's when that dream first really got rolling. To commemorate the occasion, OnePlus has a lot happening today, including the launch of a new ...

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    A few hours back we took a look at some hardware that might just be one of the next smartphones to emerge from OnePlus, but even if you've already got yourself a OnePlus One (or are now just waiting for yours to arrive, having placed an order with those temporarily-fully-open sales) there's cause to be excited as today OnePlus reveals a new enhancement coming to the phone's software – as well as teases what might just be a new accessory due tomorrow. Just like HTC phones have used Beats software to help add a little something extra to their audio output, OnePlus is teaming up with a ...

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    Of all the major Android manufacturers out there, Sony's been one of the most vocal when it comes to supporting the dev community, and a big part of those efforts has been Sony's work at making AOSP builds available for many of its models, phones and tablets alike. We've been watching it work at this for years now, and today the company announces that it's just hit a pretty noteworthy accomplishment along these lines, completing AOSP coverage for every Xperia model running a Snapdragon chip that's been released this year. The last hold-outs to join the rest of the Xperia family with AOSP ...

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    Have you made paid for something in a store using your smartphone? Whether you're taking advantage of Google Wallet or Apple Pay, there are now more ways than ever before to use your smartphone to share payment data with a retailer. With the mobile payment market only expected to expand, everyone wants a piece of the action, and a new rumor claims that Samsung is interested in bringing such a service to its phones (well, beyond the existing Google Wallet support) in the near future. What makes this so interesting, though, and more than just a “me too” copycat action, is the broadly ...

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    Android users who are shopping for a smartwatch are faced with a tough decision: Android Wear or not. OK, there's a lot more to it than just that, but the arrival this year of a cross-device smartwatch framework in Android Wear made some of the more limited alternatives start looking a bit less attractive. Sure, Samsung's got some interesting hardware, like watches with built-in cameras, but you can only use those with Samsung phones. And Pebble's been a favorite if you want a cross-device, cross-platform option, but will developer interest in Wear ultimately draw focus away from the ...

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    Last Wednesday, Google announced that a big update was on its way out to Android Wear users, with an Android 5.0 Lollipop release coming to give Wear new accessibility features and lay the groundwork for a new generation of watchfaces. Google expected the update to hit smartwatches everywhere within a week, and Motorola reached out to 360 owners to confirm an even speedier timetable, intending to update its hardware by yesterday. If you're still looking at a 360 with no update today, you're not alone, and Motorola has now responded to the delays with a revised ETA. Instead of that missed ...

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    Back in June we saw Huawei introduce its Honor 6, a five-inch Android with some pretty flagship-level specs, including 3GB of RAM and that new Kirin 920 SoC. But you don't get to be the number-three smartphone seller around by sitting back and letting good enough be good enough, and now Huawei's already back with a follow-up, introducing the slightly larger Honor 6 Plus. We move from 5.0 up to 5.5 inches for the 6 Plus, while keeping the same 1080p display resolution. The SoC upgrades to a Kirin 925, ready to support high-speed LTE Cat 6 networks, and the 3GB of RAM returns. There's 32GB ...

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    Remember back when voice minutes were what you looked at when weighing cellular service plans? Five hundred here, one thousand there? And we were so obsessive over taking full advantage of these precious minutes that carriers started offering “rollover” plans, where the unused minutes from one month wouldn't evaporate at the end of the billing cycle, but add themselves to your allotment for the following month. With 2015 nearly upon us, minutes are old news, and these days its data on eveyone's mind. T-Mobile figures what worked for minutes will work for data, and in today's latest ...

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    Among the numerous smartphones we're looking forward to in 2015 is the follow-up effort from OnePlus, which earlier this year introduced its inaugural OnePlus One handset. Rumors have already taken a shot at identifying some of the hardware to expect from this anticipated OnePlus Two, and one idea has been that the new phone could come in a bit smaller than its predecessor, shrinking down the One's 5.5-inch display. Now a leak attempts to reveal just such a device, though not as the OnePlus Two, but some kind of OnePlus One Mini. That's supposed to be it up above (and below), with a ...

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    The Lumia 535 is Microsoft's latest smartphone, and while it may be most noteworthy for being the Lumia that finally ditched all its Nokia branding in favor of a pure-Microsoft approach, it's also a solid mid-ranger in its own regard. Or at least, it would be, if it weren't for the presence of an annoying little glitch. Users have reported issues with getting the phone's touchscreen input to function properly, specifically citing frustrations over taps going undetected, or the screen even being too sensitive for its own good. The good news is that salvation may be arriving soon, as ...

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