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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    If you're looking to pick up a Nexus 9, Google's only too eager to ship one your way; both the 16GB and 32GB Nexus 9 are currently in stock, in either black or white (sorry, sand fans). At least, that's the situation with the WiFi-only version of the tablet, and while that might cut it when you've got a smartphone to tether to, what if you're craving the fully independent connectivity you only get with an LTE-capable tablet? Google hasn't yet begun sales of the LTE-equipped Nexus 9, noting only that it's “coming soon.” But how soon is “soon?” While Google's still not talking, one ...

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    Back in early September we saw pre-orders open for the Meizu MX4, a 5.36-inch Android-based handset (Meizu's Flyme OS) with a 1920 x 1152 resolution (we know: weird), octa-core MediaTek SoC, and 20.7MP Sony camera. Solid enough, sure, but quite a bit short of a bleeding-edge spec powerhouse. Just a couple months later, Meizu is already looking to outdo itself, and this week has revealed its latest flagship, the MX4 Pro. The MX4 Pro shares quite a bit with its predecessor, while also making some notable upgrades. The screen grows slightly to 5.5 inches while getting a big resolution bump, ...

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    The latest smartphones, on both Android and iOS, are configured to enable device-level encryption by default; no longer is simply having one of these handsets in your possession enough to read the data stored within, requiring user authentication before information can be accessed. As far as smartphone users are concerned, this is a great development, securing our personal info against the prying eyes of both criminals and occasionally-over-reaching law enforcement. Unsurprisingly, the US government isn't quite so pleased about this practice, and it's wasting no time in pulling out the big ...

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    Issues surrounding the state of “free” apps on our phones and tablets are some that have managed to stir up surprising amounts of controversy in recent years. Consumer groups and trade regulators have long been concerned with the degree to which in-app purchases have managed to transform outright-free apps into technically-free-but-beating-you-over-the-head-to-spend-money ones, a subject most recently lampooned by South Park earlier this month. Apple's been a regular target for such complaints, and we've already seen the company take steps to limit unfettered in-app purchases and make ...

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    “Where the hell did I leave that phone? I could call it – I think the ringer might be on. Wait... what's my number, anyway?” Sound familiar? If you count yourself among the absent-minded, you're in good company, as plenty of us regularly find ourselves losing track of our smartphones. Online tracking services help to a degree, but if you're sure the phone is somewhere inside your house, a local solution can sure help speed things up. To that end, Motorola has just launched its latest mobile accessory, the Motorola Keylink Bluetooth fob. Keylink works with the Motorola Connect app for ...

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    It's been about six months now since Google announced its Android One project at Google I/O, an effort to streamline handset development and empower manufacturers to quickly and easily get cheap, versatile hardware into the hands of customers. If you're a smartphone user in the West, you may not be up on all the Android One developments since, but shoppers in India have already had the opportunity to get on board the Android One train for a couple months now. One of the many selling points of Android One has been the level of control Google has over software, with promises of speedy system ...

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    With smartphones having risen to the the level of popularity they now enjoy, and more and more users making their phones a major, if not the primary way they interact with websites, it's hardly a surprise that many sites deliver mobile-optimized versions of their content, designed to better fit on smaller screens and support the sorts of interactions favored by touchscreen input. But not every site has gotten the memo just yet, and it can be frustrating when you're using your phone to pull up a page that seems to be doing all it can to make your life difficult: tiny text, or maybe a ...

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    Right at the tail end of last week, Jolla popped back on our mobile radar as the company posted a teaser to its website, notifying us that “something big” was on its way this week. But what? We speculated a little about what that “big” could be in reference to, and one compelling theory was that Jolla might be working on a physically larger device than the sort of Sailfish OS-running phone it launched back in 2013. Sure enough, today the company confirms out suspicions, announcing a crowdfunding effort to build the first Jolla Tablet. It's an unusual approach to creating new mobile ...

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    Wearable devices promise to be absolutely huge this holiday season, with more products out on the market than ever before. And while smartwatches might not be for everyone, with price, compatibility issues, and the promise of even snazzier products just months away serving to temper consumer enthusiasm just a tad, wearables of the activity tracker persuasion are that much more affordable and gift-friendly. Google's been doing all it can to make Android a welcome home for such devices, releasing Google Fit late last month and just this week starting distribution of a Play services update ...

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    Android 5.0 Lollipop updates started arriving for Nexus phones right around the middle of last week. We saw factory images, OTAs, and everything we needed to start using the latest Android system software on our favorite Nexus models. With that hurdle out of the way, our attention starts turning to Google Play edition models, which while they aren't privy to quite the same super-fast updates as Nexus devices (even if some other companies did give Google a run for its money this time around), are often right behind with update of their own. HTC looked like it was going to be the first OEM ...

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    First we had Facebook on our phones. Then there was Facebook Messenger, which – if we felt like it – we could use for instant communications with our friends. But eventually Facebook took that choice away and made the use of that second app mandatory if we wanted to keep sending and receiving messages. Today we see what looks to be the latest volley in this push towards a separate Facebook app for everything, with the introduction of Facebook Groups. As should be painfully obvious from its name, Facebook Groups is all about creating, discovering, and keeping up with your favorite ...

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    There's a new iOS beta out for devs this afternoon, only this time around the interesting stuff doesn't really involve new features for the iPhone or iPad, but for Apple's burgeoning wearable platform, the Apple Watch. With the release of the WatchKit framework today, Apple is giving devs the tools they need to start crafting the software that users will first interact with when the smartwatch goes up for sale early next year. And in doing so, Apple's offered the rest of us a little insight into the types of app experiences we can expect. Well, at least some of this falls into “app” ...

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    Late last month we saw Microsoft get into the fitness tracker game with the launch of the Microsoft Band, a cross-platform wearable with GPS, messaging support, and even a UV sensor. While the company was quick to put its Band up for sale, initial stocks were low, making it tricky to get your hands on one (at least we managed to, bringing you our review in the process). But now the Microsoft Band is seeing its stocks replenished, as Microsoft begins to make more available in its online store in just a couple minutes. Starting this afternoon at 1pm Eastern (which is right about now if ...

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    Two weeks back HTC got its Hot Deals started with one hell of a sale, making the brand-new Nexus 9 available for half price. A week later we saw the company follow that up with an offer that would knock $350 - this time more than half price - off the no-contract HTC One M8. Now Tuesday has once again rolled around and we're ready to learn about the company's newest offer. This week you have your pick of products, with HTC knocking fifty percent off your choice of phone accessory. Now, what counts as an "accessory?" Will the RE camera make the cut (not likely)? The sale goes live in just a ...

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    How does a smartphone manufacturer strike the right balance between giving shoppers the options they're looking for and not flooding the market with device after similar device? Deliver too few and you risk missing out on the hardware sweet spots that draw the most sales, while too many and it's hard to make any one model stand out. In the past we've criticized OEMs for falling too far on both sides of the fence, and now it looks like at least one of them is interested in changing its tune a little, as Samsung announces plans to seriously pare down its 2015 phone offerings. As you might ...

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