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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    The start of Apple Watch sales is still a long way off, giving us plenty of time to play our favorite new game: predict how strongly Apple's smartwatch will sell. After all, this is a product very unlike anything the company's given us before, and while it has its excellent reputation to rely on, as well as its crack marketing team, convincing shoppers to go out and try something new can be a tricky maneuver. One week back, we looked at rumors coming out of Apple's own supply chain that suggested the company was planning to sell something like 30-40 million units. Now a new analyst report ...

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    This year, more major carriers than ever before are interested in the latest Nexus smartphone, with all the big players here in the US either already selling or soon planning to welcome the Nexus 6. And while that's great for the phone's exposure, the way these sales have been happening is a little unusual. While most handsets that sell full-price in the mid-$600 range (like the Nexus 6 does) see on-contract pricing of about $200, the Nexus 6 has been attracting the kind of premium pricing normally seen with more expensive devices: AT&T asked $250 for the phone, while Sprint wanted ...

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    Motorola's Moto 360 still feels like a relatively new smartwatch: it only went up for sale a couple months ago, and new variants continue to arrive. But it's easy to forget that this guy's been official since all the way back in March, over eight months ago. In that light, is it too soon to start thinking about what Motorola might be planning for a second generation Moto 360, maybe one that could launch sometime in the spring of next year? That's the talk emerging out of Russia this week, as comments from a Lenovo exec make it look like a new Moto 360 could be right around the corner. ...

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    The past year has seen the arrival of one of the bigger developments to smartphone screens in recent years, with sapphire panels coming to affordable consumer-focused phones for the first time. Those may be headline-grabbing, but they're still quite rare, and for all the attention we've been giving sapphire, it's Corning and its Gorilla Glass 3 that have been the workhorse of the industry, protecting the displays of flagship handsets from manufacturer after manufacturer. Having launched all the way back in early 2013, though, even Gorilla Glass 3 is getting a little old; now it's time for ...

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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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