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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  • by | April 14, 2014 10:58 AM

    You've seen our Windows Phone 8.1 video review. You've may have caught us talking about WP8.1 in our live Hangout this morning. But are you ready to stop hearing other people tell you about their own experiences with Microsoft's latest mobile platform update and start forming some opinions for yourself? We've been eagerly awaiting Microsoft's release of the WP8.1 preview for developers, and got news a few days back that we should expect its distribution early this week. Sure enough, Monday is here, and with its arrival Microsoft has released the WP8.1 preview. So how do you get the ...

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  • by | April 11, 2014 8:14 PM

    Remember just a few short years ago, when golden smartphones were the epitome of cheese? Perceptions sure have shifted, and now we're seeing gold options become regular offerings from top-tier manufacturers. There are also two distinct camps we're talking about when discussing gold smartphones: those that are gold in the sense that they're gold the color, and those that are gold in the sense that they're actually made from the precious metal. With the new HTC One M8, we get it both ways, either as a the “amber gold” color option, or as a 24-karat gold plated edition. While you probably ...

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  • by | April 11, 2014 7:13 PM

    Last fall, the long-rumored Amazon smartphone started sounding pretty interesting, as reports distinguished it from run-of-the-mill slates by suggesting that Amazon would give the phone an elaborate series of eye-tracking cameras, capable of producing pseudo-3D parallax effects without the need for a specialized display. That rumor's now back alongside news that Amazon's been showing off the hardware to developers, and some new updates on the company's plans for the phone help us narrow-down when to expect an official announcement. Back in March, we heard that Amazon would launch the phone ...

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  • by | April 11, 2014 5:35 PM

    Should we even be surprised at this point? Time and time again, smartphones roll off the assembly line with all these cool features baked-in, and then carriers go and get uppity about them for one reason or another, and leverage the largely undeserved power they hold over OEMs to force the deactivation of specific abilities. It's a struggle we've been following for years, seeing casualties like NFC payments or unlockable bootloaders get hit along the way. The latest incidents to come to our attention have affected Samsung's Galaxy S5, and earlier this week we talked about how multiple US ...

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  • by | April 11, 2014 4:50 PM

    Making a smartphone with the intent of having it sell for a budget-conscious price is a tricky balancing act. Sure, you can build a stupid cheap handset just by giving it ancient hardware, but there's a law of diminishing returns there – at some point, you're not saving any more money by going with lower-end tech. At the same time, even if you go with conservative but still decent hardware, if you're not pricing the phone low enough, it's still not going to sell. Some manufacturers have been very successful at finding this balance; companies like Motorola and Nokia certainly come to ...

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  • by | April 11, 2014 4:04 PM

    Swing by your favorite your favorite carrier or electronics retailer today, and you'll likely find the Galaxy S5 up for sale; today marks the start of broad availability for Samsung's flagship Android, so shoppers shouldn't run into any problems trying to get their hands on one. At least, that's the case for the regular-old Galaxy S5 models, but what if you want something a little more flexible? We haven't seen any sign of a Google Play edition GS5 just yet, but a developer model may be the next best thing, and today sees Samsung begin preparations for the release of just such a GS5. Right ...

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  • by | April 11, 2014 3:00 PM

    Smartphones with beyond-1080p 2K displays are by now very much a reality, but we've yet to see much in the way of examples from manufacturers popular in the West. That's left us anticipating when our favorite OEMs are finally going to come out with 2K phones of their own; will Samsung make the move with the Galaxy Note 4? Or what about LG with its G3? The latter there is probably the strongest contender at the moment, and we've already seen evidence from multiple sources that appeared to suggest the G3 would indeed end up with a 2560 x 1440 panel. Today the latest support for that theory ...

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  • by | April 11, 2014 1:02 PM

    Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know that today marks the day when Samsung's Galaxy S5 makes it presence felt at smartphone retailers around the globe. The brand new flagship becomes available today at stores in 150-some countries, giving smartphone fans everywhere a chance to get their hands on this hardware. Given Samsung's might, the prominence of the Galaxy S brand, and the fact that the GS5 didn't make any major missteps, and we're expecting the handset's retail reception to go over quite swimmingly. It will be some time before we have some hard sales number to ...

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  • by | April 11, 2014 10:54 AM

    The day is here: Samsung's Galaxy S5 has just hit the shelves at retailers around the globe. As HTC simultaneously makes the One M8 available in additional places, as well, we are geared up for a serious showdown of the Android heavyweights. While no one's really sweating Samsung's outlook here, HTC very much could stand to use a win, as the company's been struggling to turn a profit lately. In the aims of driving as many sales towards the One M8 as possible, the manufacturer has apparently been distributing training material to retail employees which highlights the M8's benefits over the ...

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  • by | April 10, 2014 7:57 PM

    How many different ways are there to build a tablet? Sure, you can add stuff like a kickstand, or go with a lopsided design like Sony's experimented with, but when we're constraining things to a traditional rectangular, flat form factor, our options seem pretty limited. That's one of the reasons we're so intrigued by a new Samsung design patent to surface, revealing a tablet with a finger-sized hole in one corner. As this is a design patent, Samsung doesn't need to explain what the hole is there for, and it doesn't. Instead, we get four pages of imagery, devoid of explanation. How do we ...

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  • by | April 10, 2014 5:45 PM

    Last year, rumors were flying around hot that Microsoft was putting together a pint-sized version of its Surface tablet, the presumed Surface Mini. From the sound of things, we'd be getting a device with a display in the seven-to-eight-inch range, and that the aspect ratio might change to an iPad-style 4:3. But then by the time 2014 started looming over the horizon, these Surface Mini rumors began drying up, and we haven't heard anything noteworthy in several months now. All of a sudden, though, the Surface Mini is back in the spotlight with new rumors discussing the tablet's hardware, ...

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  • by | April 10, 2014 4:54 PM

    Yesterday we shared with you some depressingly lame news about the US release of Samsung's Galaxy S5, learning that the handset as being sold for operation on AT&T had one of its more interesting features disabled, the “download booster” that enabled the phone to retrieve a large file over WiFi and LTE connections simultaneously, pushing speeds higher than any one connectivity option could hope to provide alone. It's not the sort of thing we'd see ourselves using every day, but it would be a nice option to have when running up against a massive download, and if Samsung already went ...

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  • by | April 10, 2014 4:09 PM

    Ever since Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8.1 at Build last week, we've been anxiously awaiting the release of the WP8.1 Developer Preview – OK, so it's been on our mind since even before Build, but now it's so close we can almost taste it. We've heard a few specific dates mentioned for its availability, and the first-such – April 10 – has finally come with no corresponding release. Earlier this week we heard Joe Belfiore talk about the software coming out during the “first part of April,” and today he gets much more specific, tweeting that fans should “check in early next ...

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  • by | April 10, 2014 3:29 PM

    Google Glass has been available to participants in Google's Glass Explorer program for over a year by now. Participants willing to be Google's real world Guinea pigs and fork over $1500 for the headset have been able to get an early start on enjoying this next big wave of wearable technology, but the path to getting your hands on Glass hasn't been entirely straightforward. With broad commercial sales not yet open, buying Glass first meant being chosen specifically by Google, though later we saw availability open up a little. While we're still waiting for that day when Glass might be ...

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  • by | April 10, 2014 1:30 PM

    Back at the tail end of February we heard about an improvement Google was working on to the way Android helps protect users against malicious software, building off the existing Verify Apps framework that evaluated apps at the time of installation to introduce a system that continually monitored apps to check for ne'er-do-wells, even after the software was already loaded on your phone. Today Google confirms that report and announces the introduction of this newly enhanced scanning service. While this is largely a better-safe-than-sorry measure, and most users who get their apps from ...

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