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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    Arguably the busiest markets for smartphones right now are those in Southeast Asia, where the fortunes of companies are made and lost over their abilities to capture the buying power of shoppers faced with an increasingly attractive array of options. That's meant a lot of very affordable hardware, and some of it relatively high-spec. Companies like Meizu have managed to do quite well for themselves in this space, and late last month we saw the company introduce its latest handset, the M1 Note. The very iPhone-looking model arrived with a 5.5-inch 1080p display, but phones that large – ...

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    Back when HDTV really took off a decade ago, displays everywhere started transitioning from the 4:3 aspect ratios with which we'd been familiar to much more widescreen ratios like 16:9, 16:10, or even those more extremely stretched. That may have made a degree of sense for entertainment hardware on which media consumption was the primary use-case, but what about general purpose computing devices like smartphones and tablets? While widescreen is still the standard, certain manufacturers have been pushing back against the grain, and especially on the tablet side of things, we've seen many ...

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    When MWC gets started in another few weeks, we fully expect to see smartphone and tablet companies deliver a deluge of new products all at once. And while many will do just that, HP has apparently decided that it can't even wait that long, today announcing a boatload of new tablet hardware running the gamut from Android to Windows, as well as pen input device that's not quite like any we've seen before. Let's start with the Android models, and arguably the stars (relatively speaking) of HP's show are the new Pro Slate 8 and Pro Slate 12. They both run Snapdragon 800 SoCs, have 2GB of RAM ...

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    With the clock ticking down until Microsoft's Windows 10 event tomorrow, we find ourselves hugely excited for all the news we're about to get about the company's plans for its next generation of not just a mobile operating system, but a unified platform that will touch phones just as much as it does laptops and tablets. While the event might mark the upcoming availability of a Windows 10 preview for phone, it's bound to be quite a bit longer before the official release ready. When that day does arrive, Microsoft's already stated that current Windows Phone 8 Lumia models will see the ...

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    After months and months of rumors and leaks attempting to get to the bottom of HTC's plans for its next flagship, our picture of what to expect from the One M9 took a big step into focus earlier today, with the leak of some believable-looking photographs of purported One M9 hardware. The design didn't stray far from the One M8 (and M7 before it), but while these images were far-and-away the best we've seen to date, they didn't give us a complete overview of the handset – the choice of angles and cropping ended up keeping portions of the hardware obscured. Luckily for us, the arrival of ...

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    Right now, the hot Qualcomm SoC everyone seems to be talking about is the Snapdragon 810: which phones will get the 810 first, and what do all those rumors of production issues mean for availability? And while the 810's top-shelf performance means that we'll be paying attention to it for some time to come, it's still a chip that was announced coming up on a year ago; when will the 810 find itself overshadowed by something new? While the “when” of that remains to be seen, a new leak attempts to help us out with the “what” a little bit, laying out Qualcomm's plans for its next ...

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    Microsoft's got its big Windows 10 event tomorrow, where we'll get our latest insight into how the company plans to move forward with the evolution of its operating system and the ecosystem of devices and services that support it. That's going to mean big things for mobile, especially with the emphasis Microsoft seems to be putting on unifying devices across traditionally disparate categories; the lines between phone, tablet, game console, and classic PC will all start getting more and more blurred. But is all the news that's set to happen going to be taking place on the software side of ...

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    Sometimes you want your photo or video to accurately reflect the real world – device makers keep upping the ante when it comes to camera hardware and software in efforts to make their models capable of the cleanest capturing possible. But sometimes you want to play around with the way things look, and for that we have filters. Apps like Instagram have brought use of such filters into the mainstream, and beyond photos, we've also seen them applied to videos. Over the weekend a new YouTube update surfaced, and while the feature isn't there quite yet, some teardown work reveals development ...

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    Google's latest Android release is 5.0.2, though that might come as a surprise to even many Nexus users, as the company's been a little slow in getting updates out to its own flock of pure-Android hardware. First the 2012 WiFi Nexus 7 saw a factory image land back in December, and just last week a couple new images arrived for the 2013 WiFi Nexus 7 and the Nexus 10. If you've got a locked bootloader and aren't too wild about backing up your data just to flash a factory image, you may have been holding off on updating. In which case, we've got good news for you, as OTA packages for a couple ...

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    It may be around the time of MWC, it may be closer to summer, but one way or another, LG is gearing up to launch its next flagship, the G4. Reports about the phone's hardware have suggested it could arrive with some top-tier specs, while maybe even coming in a little smaller than last year's G3. But just how will it arrive? Piece by piece, we're trying to collect what evidence becomes available, and a new development from over the weekend might just reveal a little detail about the G4, as a User Agent Profile for a possible variant surfaces. What we're looking at is a file describing the ...

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    Are we finally starting to close in on Samsung's true intentions for the Galaxy S6, or just finding ourselves more misled as new rumors arrive to muddy the issue? Some of the recent talk about Samsung's plans for its Galaxy S6 has started to really divulge from earlier descriptions of the hardware, raising the possibility that the phone might not use metal to the extend we once thought, and could instead feature a largely glass exterior. But not everything we've heard about what Samsung's up to has been crumbling in the face of new rumors, and now we're looking at one item that revisits an ...

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    Can you barely keep track of how you're supposed to buy the OnePlus One? We don't blame you. At least when your only option was that invite system, the process was straightforward enough, but recent months have seen those invites joined by pre-orders, as well as sporadic periods of outright availability. If that latter option sounds far preferable than the alternatives (and really, that's understandable), you're going to want to mark tomorrow down on your calendar, as OnePlus prepares to accept new One orders for a two-hour window. OnePlus One orders will be open to anyone interested in ...

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    Here in the US, Sharp hasn't really been a major smartphone brand. There were even years where we'd hardly find ourselves talking about the manufacturer at all, though last summer Sharp became a much harder company to ignore with the launch of the Aquos Crystal on Sprint that wasn't just very affordable, but also sported an eye-catching design with some preposterously narrow bezels. Today's Sharp news doesn't bring us word of any additional models for the States, but we're still a bit fascinated by what the company’s up to now, as it launches a couple new models in Japan, including an ...

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    Having just finished talking about the latest rumors to address Samsung's smartwatch plans for MWC 2015, it's only fitting that we now turn our attention to the other major launch we're looking forward to from the manufacturer. So far, one of the primary components of Galaxy S6 rumors has been the idea of Samsung finally moving to a predominantly metal design, and a number of leaks have attempted to provide evidence for that theory. We may want to start reconsidering just what we saw in all those, as the latest GS6 rumor now asserts that Samsung will keep its metal bodies as the tell-tale ...

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    With the end of January now in sight, February looming close over the horizon, and MWC just beyond that, it's an exciting time to be talking about upcoming Samsung hardware. For that trade show getting underway in just a few weeks, expectations are high for Samsung to deliver not just a Galaxy S6, but maybe also a Galaxy S6 Edge and a companion smartwatch. Rumors about that wearable have started getting quite detailed in recent days, discussing not just a circular screen, but also a twisting bezel ring control for interacting with the smartwatch's UI. Today we hear about the latest attempt ...

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    Remember when the big battle in mobile payments was Google versus the carriers? Or more precisely, Google Wallet versus Isis? With AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon all on the Isis team, and some taking technical measures to retard the spread of Wallet, it looked like we were ready for a showdown. But then Google freed Wallet from the constraints of secure hardware elements, Isis turned into Softcard, and Apple Pay landed to new controversy. And really, except for news of Isis/Softcard's Windows Phone compatibility, it felt like momentum for that whole project had seriously stalled. Well, ...

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    Nokia launched the affordable Lumia 635 all the way back in April (making this a proper Nokia Lumia, before Microsoft transitioned the family over to its own branding), and in the months since, we've seen the phone come to more and more carriers. Over the summer, networks like T-Mobile and AT&T got their hands on the phone, and back in December we got word of the phone finding some new homes: Boost and Virgin now sell the phone for their no-contract plans, and we heard that Sprint would eventually be picking it up for regular postpaid plans. Today's the day that finally happens, as ...

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    The week is nearly over, and despite what rumors from last Friday would have us believe, it doesn't look like we're going to see the public release of Apple's iOS 8.1.3 update. So what happened? Did someone get their wires crossed and instead that news was supposed to be about the 8.2 beta we saw devs receive? Maybe not, as today word arrives of a new 8.1.3 build that's in testing, as well as some early work towards iOS 9. Remember how we heard that Apple has tasked its retail employees with helping it do some real-world testing of iOS 8.1.3 before the update went wide? Well, evidence ...

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    Is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 SoC a big headache for everyone involved, or is the next-gen chip going to help supercharge 2015's smartphone lineup? Despite all the potential that appears to be there, the introduction of the 810 to consumer devices has been plagued by reports of hardware problems, incomplete software, and delays that would push back broad availability. Qualcomm's been doing its darnedest to downplay such allegations, but they've continued regardless. This week saw the launch of the newest Snapdragon 810-powered handset, the Xiaomi Mi Note Pro; does that mean that these ...

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    It's happening: the big late-Q1 smartphone launch season is within sight. HTC's invite for its big MWC event is out, and it may just foretell the arrival of the One M9. And while we don't yet have a date for Samsung's event, expectations are high that we'll be seeing that manufacturer introduce its Galaxy S6. Overnight, we checked out some of the latest GS6 info to become available, seeming to confirm rumors of the phone getting a quad HD display and a 64-bit SoC. Now a new rumor is turning its attention to a different bit of the GS6's anatomy, talking about some changes Samsung may be ...

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    It's been about a month now since we've had anything to tell you about rumors for OnePlus's second-gen handset, the presumptive OnePlus Two. While the manufacturer has confirmed that the phone's coming, very little's been known to date about just how it might differ from the OnePlus One. One of the few specific details that's been mentioned is that OnePlus could give us a phone with a screen that's slightly smaller than the original 5.5-incher. Then again, evidence of a possible mid-range OnePlus One Mini arrived to confuse the issue, leaving us unsure if this was the direction OnePlus ...

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    ZTE didn't bring a ton of new devices to CES last week; we got to check out the Grand X Max+ for Cricket, as well as that Spro 2 portable projector, but that's hardly a big spread for a manufacturer as large as ZTE. Still, while not much was launching at the time, the company obvious has plenty of additional hardware in its development pipeline. Today we get an early look at what seems to be one such model, as a reseller lets slip a few advance pics of a phone that might just be the Blade S6. The images you see here apparently came from reseller GearBest, and while the pre-order page for ...

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    Four weeks back, Google got the ball rolling on Android 5.0.2, dropping a factory image for the first-gen Nexus 7. Despite concerns that it might be a minor, forgettable, maybe even hardware-specific update, a closer look at the code did manage to reveal some important changes, maybe most importantly a fix to make sure that flash file system cleanup occurred as intended. While 5.0.2 is proving to be slow to spread to other models, today we see some of the first signs of progress, as Google releases factory images for a couple additional Android tablets. Today Google adds Android 5.0.2 ...

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    Samsung may not have brought any new smartwatches to CES this year, but word is that the company's been putting something together with the aim of introducing it during MWC in early March. Unlike Samsung's prior wearables, this new one has been rumored to be a round-screened model, in the vein of the Moto 360 or LG G Watch R. We've heard that this could be another Tizen model for the manufacturer, but beyond that, there haven't been many specifics mentioned about Samsung's intentions for this purportedly model codenamed Orbis. This week we start to get into details, as a new rumor ...

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    LG's launch of the G4 may still be a few more months out -the G3 (above) didn't go official until late May last year- but we're already starting to get a sense of what to expect from the hardware. Part of that is thanks to the introduction of the G Flex 2 at CES last week, which just set a pretty high bar in the specs department. But what in particular will LG carry forward from models like the G3 and G Flex 2, and where could the G4 see advancements of its own? This week, one source attempts to give us an idea of just what we might get. The G Flex 2's Snapdragon 810 should make a return, ...

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