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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    Microsoft introduced its Band wearable this past fall, a cross-platform fitness tracker that packed features like GPS reception and a UV sensor which helped elevate it above the pack of lesser-equipped activity tracking competitors. And while it was capable of doing quite a bit out of the box, the great thing about smart wearables is how they continue to evolve with the arrival of new software. This week, Microsoft's bringing just such an update to the Microsoft Band, introducing new biking functionality, a web-based dashboard, better service integration, and opening an SDK for third ...

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    Last week we heard that Google was getting ready to breathe some fresh life into Wallet, not content to sit idly by and let Apple Pay dominate the mobile payments game. It wasn't clear exactly what was going to happen, but it sounded big, and it sure seemed to fit well enough with earlier rumors that Google could be considering acquiring mobile payment competitor Softcard (the one with all the carrier involvement). As it turns out, we won't be waiting until I/O to learn just what Google's up to with Wallet, and today the company starts sharing news of Wallet's next chapter, which will find ...

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    Pebble's countdown timer – the one we saw go live late last week – is already down to less than a day, promising big news tomorrow morning. Rumors have suggested that we could be looking forward to the next generation of Pebble hardware, one that would finally bring the smartwatch into the world of color. Specifically, we've heard that the first Pebble with a color display could be just about to debut, one that would also see the wearable's screen grow to a slightly wider aspect ratio. We'll have official word soon enough, but in the meantime it looks like the cat might be out of the ...

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    One week from now, the mystery will be over. Samsung will have its Unpacked event behind it, and we'll be talking about the Galaxy S6 no longer in the context of rumor and theories, but as a phone that's very much here, having just launched in Barcelona. Until March 1 rolls around, however, it looks like there are going to be plenty of last-minute reveal to keep us busy, and some of the latest come from Samsung's US carrier partners, as they share some interesting new imagery of the next Samsung flagship. So far we've been talking about a regular flat-screened Galaxy S6, as well as a model ...

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    One week ago, LG made it clear that it wasn't going to wait around for MWC 2015 to get started before it began revealing new hardware, and gave us an early taste with its announcement of the Watch Urbane. Really, that kind of behavior is nothing new from the manufacturer, having a long history of pre-expo launches like this. Today it continues to earn that reputation with another run of pre-MWC news, revealing a series of four new Android mid-rangers. Unlike last year, where it brought us a number of new L-series handsets, today's launches drop any pretense of a numbering scheme, arriving ...

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    Google Wallet sorely needs some reinvigoration. The aging service is seeing itself hugely outpaced by newcomer Apple Pay, and if Wallet has any hope of rising to meet Apple's challenge, it's going to take some fresh new ideas. We've already hear about a couple ways Google could be thinking to get Wallet back on track, including rumors of a Softcard buyout and a new Bluetooth-based payment system that wouldn't rely on NFC. Now a new report claims that Google will be introducing its next Wallet plans at I/O 2015, and it could be doing so with the backing of some major carriers. Google Wallet ...

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    Children can be some of the most enthusiastic consumers of content, always looking for something new, and eager to see it all. But the internet can be a big, scary place, with plenty of dark corners not safe for young eyes, and content discovery tools aren't always tailored to the needs of a younger audience. Rumors have been going back about a year now regarding Google's efforts to make YouTube more accessible for children, and now we hear that a new YouTube Kids app will be debuting next week. The app, which will initially be Android-only, is set to arrive on February 23. Beyond just ...

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    The Apple Watch is going to be one hell of a premium product when it goes up for sale in the next few weeks, with even the base model costing more than the majority of smartwatches already on the market. And as you start moving up into the fancier and fancier models, that price tag is only going to grow. But just how high will it get? Shortly after Apple made its wearable official back in September, we checked out a well-reasoned analysis that suggested we'd see the gold-bodied Apple Watch Edition sell for somewhere around $5,000. As retail availability looms, people in the know are ...

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    We're expecting tons of new mobile hardware at MWC: big-name devices like the HTC One M9 and Samsung Galaxy S6. But for Motorola, this isn't really the time of the year we'd normally expect a lot of new devices, and fittingly, the rumor mill's been relatively quiet about upcoming Motorola models. But now the manufacturer is sending out notices to the press that it's got something brewing for next week, and that we can expect an “exciting announcement” on February 25. So what could this news be? The most obvious answer – and really, the only upcoming Motorola model we've seen any sort ...

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    For the better part of a year now, we've been looking forward to a world where Android would let users control phone settings with the sound of their voices. After all, considering how good Google's voice recognition is at performing searches or helping us send text messages, it didn't seem like a very tall order to be able to tell our phones to adjust screen brightness or turn on Bluetooth. Last May we looked at some early progress, where speaking commands about such system settings would bring up links to the appropriate controls, but stop short of actually changing those settings – it ...

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    Smartphone companies have been giving users unprecedented levels of access to in-development software, going back months and months now. Google released its Android L preview back in June of last year, long before the Lollipop name was even confirmed, and earlier this month we saw Microsoft draw back the curtain on the Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones. Now Apple could be looking to get a piece of that action for itself, as reports claim that the company is just about to introduce iOS public betas. Apple already has experience with public betas on the desktop side, inviting users to ...

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    With MWC 2015 so close we can nearly taste it, Samsung has been stepping up its promo game, and going back about a week now we've been seeing it drop teaser spots for “the next Galaxy.” The first one seemed to call attention to the phone's camera, while the second had us thinking about exceptional performance and battery life. Now a new one's out, this time focusing on how Samsung's building the hardware. Samsung's new video talks about its use of “beautiful things” in crafting its Galaxy hardware, and while it doesn't out and say it, the muted neutral tones and thin slabs we see ...

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    Expectations are high for HTC's March 1 pre-MWC event, especially now that the company's essentially confirmed the presence of the HTC One M9. Well, the new One bit is official, anyway, so unless all these One M9 rumors have been hugely missing the mark, that's what we're going to get. The HTC US Twitter account has been trying to drum-up excitement about the manufacturer's new hardware, and its most recent messages, going out earlier today, talk about “something HUGE” it's been working on. The easy interpretation there is that we're looking at the One M9: “huge” as in the next ...

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    Whether you're using a full-blown smartwatch, a more bare-bones fitness tracker, or even the sensors on your own smartphone, there's all sorts of data ready to be gathered about your activities, crunched by some helpful software, and turned into useful reports you can quickly analyze. Maybe you track steps, monitor sleep patterns, or count burned calories, but now a future smartwatch from Geeksphone aims to analyze some ... interesting other behaviors. The Geeksme smartwatch will feature a circular face with monochrome OLED display, and offer your usual assortment of sensors – so far, ...

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    It's no secret that governmental agencies the world around are using all sorts of techniques to monitor what we do on our smartphones. Sometimes that's using a court order to get access to a suspect's device; sometimes that's convincing a carrier to hand over bulk records for all its subscribers, guilty and innocent alike; sometimes it even means setting up a fake cellular tower to trick our phones into giving up information on themselves. But now a new report shines light on what could be one of the most far-reaching efforts to date, as British and American spies infiltrated the company ...

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    This morning we alerted you to the presence of a big countdown timer on Pebble's website, ticking away in anticipation of Tuesday morning. But when Tuesday finally does roll around, what's going to happen then? We mentioned a couple theories, including the possibility of getting a peek at that new hardware the company mentioned recently, but wondered if it might be too soon for such news. Now a new rumor suggest that new hardware could very much be on the menu, and also gets into a few details about just what this new wearable might deliver. So far, Pebble's been a monochrome game: both ...

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    By this point, it feels like expectations for the HTC One M9 have largely zeroed-in on what we're likely to see HTC reveal at its March 1 event: from the handset's design to hardware specs, leaks and rumors have slowly crystallized into the understanding we now have. But while that Duo-Camera-less, five-inch, 1080p One M9 may be a safe bet, we can't quite say the same for the rumored One M9 Plus, descriptions of which have remained a little more nebulous. Today we try and cut through some of that uncertainty by taking a look at some possible benchmark data for the handset. Over on ...

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    When it comes to cellular carrier competition in the US, it's far from an even playing field. We've got Verizon and AT&T so far out in the lead that they've got well over twice as many subscribers as their closest competition. Then there's T-Mobile and Sprint fighting it out for third and fourth place, and while sometimes we like to talk about a “top five,” bringing US Cellular into the mix, that carrier's an order of magnitude smaller. That T-Mobile/Sprint balance has been showing the greatest likelihood of a shift, and while Sprint's been in third to T-Mobile's fourth, stagnant ...

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    We were so optimistic when we LG first revealed the G Flex 2 at CES last month; on first impression it looked like the manufacturer had done much to address some of the shortcomings of the first-gen model. But after spending some time with the Android smartphone, serious chinks in the armor began to show, and unavoidable issues with lag took a big chunk out of our enthusiasm. As we mentioned in our review of the phone, there's hope that LG will resolve some of those software issues in time for the US release; so when will that be? We've got our first confirmation of a date, as Sprint ...

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    MWC 2015 is still over a week away at this point, but that's not stopping plenty of companies in mobile electronics from getting started with their latest announcements a little early. For some, that's going to mean press events on March 1, while others can't even wait that long – companies like Qualcomm, sharing its next-gen SoC news this week. Now we've got our eyes on another manufacturer that looks like it's going to get in on this pre-MWC announcement action, as Pebble begins counting down to next Tuesday. The counter up on Pebble's site will hit zero in just about five days, at ...

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    Android smartphone manufacturers are still struggling to bring all their hardware up to Android 5.0 Lollipop, but Google's not been sitting idly by as they prep those updates. Instead, we've seen it deliver a number of further releases, from 5.0.1 and 5.0.2 to the mysterious 5.1 that's yet to even grace the Nexus lineup. Now we're wondering what might be next as HTC's Mo Versi makes reference to a forthcoming Android maintenance release scheduled for next month. Versi mentions the release in regards to HTC's plans for a GPe One M7 bugfix update, but we're less interested in that particular ...

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    A new HTC One smartphone is just about to launch: this is no longer up for debate. In a little over a week, while MWC 2015 is just getting warmed up, HTC is set to unveil the handset we're expecting to arrive as the One M9. But for the last couple years now, the company's flagship One-series handset has found itself flanked by a close cousin for Asian markets, the Butterfly. Last year's Butterfly 2 (pictured) got a bit of a late start, not launching until August, but this week we're already hearing about plans for a follow-up as rumored details emerge about the HTC Butterfly 3. Unlike the ...

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    Mobile payments are damn tricky. Between issues with compatible phone hardware, retailer POS systems, and payment processors, it can be amazing that solutions like Apple Pay and Google Wallet work as well as they do. Back in December we heard a rumor that Samsung could be looking into entering the mobile payment game for itself, and doing so in a way that could give it a big advantage over its competition. Today those rumors go official, as Samsung announces its acquisition of LoopPay. What's so special about LoopPay? Unlike NFC-based smartphone payment systems that only work with modern ...

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    You know those people who go out to a nice restaurant, order a spread of mouth-watering food, and then the moment it arrives at their table, whip out their smartphones to Instagram the heck out of it? On the scale of technology related social faux pas, it falls somewhere short of wearing Google Glass to an AA meeting, and truth be told, it's probably something we've been guilty of more than once ourselves. Regardless of whether or not you're a particular fan of the practice, it seems that Google may be working to give food-photo lovers some new ways to share and access such shots, as ...

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    It's been how long since we looked at new images of the Galaxy S6? For a couple weeks there it felt like we were seeing new pics of hardware arrive every other day – whether they were component shots, renders from case manufacturers, or even just independent mock-ups based on existing leaks. With Samsung's MWC 2015 Unpacked event closing fast, you'd think we'd be seeing the pace pick up, but there just hasn't been a lot in the way of interesting developments on the image front for the past week now. Today we get right back into that game, though, checking out some renders from case-maker ...

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