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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    Right now, if you run a product name through the Google Search app on your phone, you'll likely see a bunch of sponsored links up top from retailers eager to sell you what you desire. Tap on through, visit the retailers' sites, and you're all ready to make your purchase. No problem, right? Well, as far as you're concerned, sure, but Google may have something else in mind. A new report out today claims that the company is thinking about getting more involved with sales facilitated by its search services, and that we may one day see the arrival of an option to buy products, right in search ...

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    Google's voice-controlled features can already do some wonderful things. You need only speak the words, “OK, Google, how tall is Tom Cruise?” aloud before your phone fires back with, “five feet, seven inches.” Or you can ask your phone what the weather's going to be like tomorrow, how many milliliters there are in a tablespoon, or who sung “Call Me Maybe.” And while Google's voice features are very good at answering things for you, maybe even more impressive are tasks you can accomplish directly with voice commands. This week, the service picks up a pretty interesting one, as ...

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    This year's been a bumpy one for smartphone giant Samsung. While the company is still selling a crazy number of handsets, little by little it's seen its market share shrink as competition starts chipping away at the Samsung's dominance. We've already seen companies like Xiaomi really step-up their smartphone sales, joined by other rising Asian manufacturers like Lenovo. Back at the end of October, we took a look at the state of the market in Q3 2014, reflecting on just what had shifted over the course of the prior year. Today, some new Q3 figures are available from a different source, and ...

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    By this point, most currently-supported Nexus devices have seen the release of Android 5.0.1 for their hardware. Google was quick to send out OTA updates for its WiFi tablets, and last week we started seeing the arrival of updates for phones like the Nexus 4 and Nexus 6. While all that was great, we were a little curious about what wasn't emerging: a corresponding update for the Nexus 5. Not only had an OTA not been spotted, but Google hadn't even added the 5.0.1 release to its repository of the Nexus 5's factory images. What gives? Google's still remaining quiet on the issue, but a ...

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    Late last week, we spotted the first sign that HTC's more affordable cover option for the Nexus 9 – the company's “Magic Cover” - was finally becoming available. At least, in very limited form: the only sales we saw were those going through HTC directly, and even then, only one of the four color options appeared to be available. But surely this was still good news, right? That the presence of one would suggest the others following just around the corner? Wouldn't you know it, but that's just what happening, with Google picking up the Magic Cover in the Play Store. Instead of just the ...

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    New Windows Phone handsets from Microsoft seem to emerge every few months. The Lumia 535 made its debut a little over a month ago, and back in September we saw the Lumia 830, 730, and 735 go official. While Microsoft may have called the 830 its “affordable flagship,” the specs really weren't up to what we typically consider flagship level – and really, that's the case for all these new models, positioned more as budget phones than anything with really jaw-dropping features or performance. So when can we expect a higher caliber of Lumia? Numerous sources have been suggesting the ...

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    Samsung formally announced the Galaxy S3 in May, 2012. Last year the Galaxy S4 went official in early March. And back this past February, we saw the Galaxy S5 debut. Little by little, the flagship launch event has been pushing its way closer and closer to the start of the year. Will 2015 follow with that pattern forward, or have we topped out, and late winter's probably the earliest we could hope to see a new Galaxy S model debut? To hear the latest rumor, Samsung could indeed be looking to make its launch event even earlier next year, and may have intentions on launching the Galaxy S6 as ...

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    Back in August, Google retired the Galaxy S4 Google Play edition. It had been one of only three phones to survive the big July GPe purge – the other two, the One M8 and Moto G, continue to be listed on Google Play to this day (though neither's currently available for purchase). But even with the GS4 GPe put out to pasture, support for the phone's far from over, and tonight we witness it join the growing ranks of Play edition models receiving their Lollipop updates. Models like Sony's Xperia Z Ultra and the HTC One M8 may have beaten the Galaxy S4 to the Lollipop update table, but ...

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    Going back a couple weeks now, information's been emerging about some new Samsung mid-range Android handsets: models SM-E500 and SM-E700. The limited specs we had available pointed to hardware that fell short of flagship level, and import logs for one revealed a valuation that came in close to the equivalent of $150. New information's slowly been arriving about this pair, expected to launch as the Galaxy E5 and Galaxy E7, and now some more detailed spec breakdowns have been leaked, further cementing that assessment of these models as mid-rangers. The Galaxy E5 is rumored to feature a ...

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    Being a user of Google products outside the US can be a bit (or more than a bit) frustrating at times. When new devices and services debut, and Google's not making a concerted effort for global availability, you can almost be assured that users in the States will have access long before you do. All the way back in May, Google released an update for the Android and iOS editions of Maps that improved upon the existing turn-by-turn navigation by adding lane guidance; when cruising around on a multi-lane road, no longer was there any guesswork involved in knowing if you were in the right place ...

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    It's been just about two months now since the HTC-made Nexus 9 first went official, and well over a month since sales have begun. But even this far into the tablet's life, not everything in the Nexus 9 family of products has been available for sale. For instance, we only just saw sales of the LTE-equipped Nexus 9 get underway today. And while the tablet's out in black and white, you still can't buy it in its sand color anywhere. On the accessory front, we knew to expect two case designs: the Keyboard Folio and the Magic Cover. The former, while expensive, has been available for purchase ...

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    So far today, we're not off to the best start when it comes to leaked pics of upcoming smartphones; that “Galaxy S6” that's been making the rounds is pretty clearly a fake. But before you get soured to leaks altogether, we've got another one that looks like it's going to hold up a lot better, as some pics emerge of what appears to be Sony's Xperia E4. As a budget model, the E4's not going to be as exciting as something like the GS6, and rumored specs like a quarter HD, five-inch display and a MediaTek MT6582 SoC aren't going to drive you wild with anticipation. But there's a place in ...

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    How badly would you like to see Samsung's upcoming Android flagship, the Galaxy S6? No, no – keep your right arm for now. Eventually we almost certainly will get a chance to see a legitimate Galaxy S6 leak, whether that first arrives as an individual component or two, or maybe a more fully assembled prototype. And today there's a pic going around that purports to give us a glimpse at just such a thing – you may have even seen it popping up on your social feeds by now. But be wary, as this shot is looking a lot like a fake. That's it up above, and on first glance it looks Samsung-y ...

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    Unlike the Nexus 6, which has been popping up for sale in the Play Store with the frequency of Halley's Comet, it's been substantially easier to pick up the Nexus 9 tablet. Whether you're going with the 16GB or 32GB edition, it's been a cinch to buy one from Google, to say nothing of HTC itself or other retail partners. At least, that's been the case for the WiFi version of the tablet, but its cellular-connected brother has been a little slower to materialize. Last month we heard from T-Mobile that sales of the LTE Nexus 9 would start sometime in early December, but no precise date was ...

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    Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 is a powerhouse of a phablet, and depending on the regional variant you have, it's running either an Exynos 7 Octa or a Snapdragon 805. Earlier this week we checked out a rumor that claimed Samsung could already be working on another hardware revision of the Note 4, one that would ditch that 805 for a next-gen Snapdragon 810 SoC. The idea makes enough sense – this is exactly the routine Samsung's pulled time and time again with LTE-A models of its flagships – but we really didn't have anything more than the word of an anonymous source to go on. Now we're ...

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