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 VAIO brand's been going through a bumpy couple years now, and back in 2014 we saw Sony sell the majority of its interests to Japan Industrial Partners. In the time since we've witnessed the VAIO name reemerge not only with new tablets, but also pushing into handsets with the launch of an Android smartphone (above). Now it looks like VAIO is about to expand its phone interests across platform lines, as rumors suggest the company is just about to introduce its first Windows 10 Mobile handset. VAIO was already revealed as a manufacturer that would be producing Windows 10 Mobile handsets ...

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    Apple's supposed to have a big launch event in mid-March, and with just a few weeks to go between now and then, the leaks and rumors have seriously been picking up in earnest. A lot of the recent chatter hasn't concerned the four-inch iPhone 5se, nor the new Apple Watch hardware, but what Apple has in the works for its next tablet: the iPad Air 3. Last year passed us by without a new iPad Air model, but now all indications have been pointing to Apple finishing up work on a new edition, one that will mirror the jumbo-sized iPad Pro in more than a few ways. We've already seen one leaked ...

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    The past few weeks have offered us our latest glimpse into the books of the biggest companies in mobile, as firms like Apple, Microsoft, LG, Samsung, and more all report their latest financial figures. That's left us with at least one more giant still needing to share its most recent performance data, and today Google – or rather, Alphabet – comes through with news of respectable Q4 growth, topping off a big year that brought in some $74.5 billion in total revenue. Looking at Alphabet as a whole, we see quarterly revenue of $21.3 billion, contributing to a net profit just shy of $5 ...

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    To what extent is a Nexus phone a Google phone? Sure, Google's intimately involved in the process that brings these handsets to market, but in the end it's working with another manufacturer, and inevitably we see traces of their influence bubble up to the surface. Now a new report suggests that going forward, Google's going to be taking a much more hands-on role in the Nexus lineup – and limiting the amount of input its manufacturing partners get to exert in the process. Just what level of involvement are we talking about? Well, the report's not exactly clear, and Google itself may still ...

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    It's a new month, and you know what that means: Groundhog Day is nearly here! Well, that, but also Google's latest series of Android security updates is hitting the Nexus family of devices. This afternoon we see an influx of newly updated factory images landing for the whole Nexus series of phones, tablets, and set-top boxes, as Google simultaneously posts its list of security vulnerabilities being addressed by these new releases. All told, Google's patching five vulnerabilities it considers critical, as well as just as many issues classified as lower severity – though a number of those ...

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    There's no shortage of data wearables can gather about what we do and how we move around, counting steps, measuring heart rate, and even recording how much sleep we get. Tracking all that info and having access to the data can be hugely empowering for users looking to optimize their physical activity and make some smart changes to their daily routine, all in the interest of promoting fitness. But would you be so happy about handing all that personal data over to someone else? That's just what the freshman class at Oral Roberts University is doing, as the school introduces a mandatory ...

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    Last week, our picture of what to expect from Samsung's next flagship finally started becoming much more clear, as some of the first really convincing Galaxy S7 renders leaked: we had a smaller flat-screen Galaxy S7, joined by a slightly larger Galaxy S7 edge. And while neither looked like a huge departure from the Galaxy S6, we heard that we might be able to expect at least minor external tweaks, and specifically in regards to the main camera on these phones. Problem was, the renders we had at the time only gave us front and slight side views. We still don't have shots of the phones from ...

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    Apple's rumored March event is shaping up to be one to rival even the annual fall iPhone launch, and we find ourselves getting the four-inch iPhone 5se, some next-gen Apple Watch hardware, and maybe even Apple's next tablet, tipped to be a new iPad Air model. Reports have recently looked into what changes we could expect from the iPad Air 3, including picking up a few iPad Pro features, and maybe even adding a flash to its camera in the process. One week back, we looked at a schematic leak that appeared to support those rumors, and today we check out an early case design that's singing ...

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    All too often, when we're looking at new forms of content on our phones, we find ourselves with a chicken-and-the-egg problem: maybe you've got a 4K camera on your phone, but chances are it doesn't also have a 4K screen. We saw something like this back in the day for that hot minute when phones with autostereoscopic 3D displays were a thing, and now we're facing a similar problem with the rise of VR viewers: sure, we can create limited still panoramas with our existing phones, but how do we create the kind of immerseive, 3D, all-around video that's just asking to be viewed with the likes ...

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    USB type-C is here in full force, offering convenient reversible cables, high power throughput for fast charging, and maybe even the dream of a brighter, more prosperous tomorrow. Or at least, it would, if we weren't still just a bit sore about having to buy a bunch of new accessories to support it. If your latest smartphone (or hell, even laptop) purchase has brought you into the world of USB type-C connectivity, you've probably already started arming yourself with all manner of cables, but that's just part of the solution. Now Sony's announcing a new USB type-C accessory that looks ...

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    At this point we've heard a ton about what to expect from the Galaxy S7, and we're looking forward to a launch just a few more weeks away. But what's proved impressively (to Samsung's credit) difficult to come by has been imagery of the actual hardware. At least, early renders made a few attempts, and we checked out a shot earlier this week that might be the real deal (if it weren't so obscured by a testing rig), but a really convincing, fully revealing shot of the phone remianed elusive. Earlier this week, leak superstar Evan Blass teased us on social media with some promises of HQ Galaxy ...

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    If you're a company making mobile devices right now, you're either already developing your own virtual reality hardware, or you're seriously worried about missing if you don't. Samsung and HTC have already made efforts to get in on the ground floor, and as high-profile devices like the Vive and Oculus Rift get ready to reach consumer hands, we're hearing about more and more companies putting serious efforts into making sure that they don't get left behind – firms like Google, doubling down on early interest and recruiting new talent to keep ahead of the VR curve. The latest company to ...

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    MediaTek may not be on the short list of SoC companies whose chips you seek out when buying a new phone, but the company's latest components have delivered some solid performance for their price, and it's felt like the company's status has been on the rise. Unfortunately, a new discovery casts a shadow over all that, as it's revealed that a number of MediaTek-based phones shipped to the public with a development debug backdoor still in place, potentially opening users up to malicious attacks. The problem code was intended to allow Chinese carriers to fully test these handsets prior to the ...

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    Of all the upcoming big smartphone flagship launches, both those we're expecting for MWC and those that might land in the weeks thereafter, few models have leaked to nearly the extent the LG G5 has. From schematics, to renders, to images of actual hardware, we've had ample opportunity to get an early look at this phone, and while there are plenty of details we're still hoping to see confirmed, by this point we've got a pretty strong sense of how the handset's coming together. Maybe the one thing we've been missing throughout all this is some nice hands-on video footage of the G5, giving us ...

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    CES 2016 may not have given us much in the way of high-end, really appealing flagship devices, but for manufacturers looking to flesh out their lineups with some new affordable options, there were plenty of opportunities to showcase new gear. ZTE did just that with some of its new offerings, bringing out both the Avid Plus and Grand X 3. Today we're taking a closer look at the latter as Cricket begins sales. When we checked in with the Grand X 3 back at CES, official carrier pricing wasn't final, but today we can confirm that Cricket is selling the handset for just about $130. For that ...

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    Peer up close at the glass surrounding your smartphone's display and you'll notice a few extra components tucked in up there: those include your front-facing camera, maybe a front-facing flash if you're lucky, and also a couple nondescript little dark circles. Plenty of us don't give those a second thought, but those circles make up the proximity sensor on our phones, letting the handset detect when we're holding it to our face, making a call (and preventing our cheeks from doing all sorts of touch-screen mischief in the process). While the prox sensor plays a useful role, phone makers are ...

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    By now, the controversy surrounding T-Mobile's Binge On platform is out there, and if you're a subscriber, you're either aware of what it's doing and have taken steps to ensure your continued access to high-quality streaming video, have enthusiastically welcomed the bandwidth savings at the expense of a little quality, or have concluded that you don't really care about things one way or another. T-Mobile, for its part, is committed to sticking with the system, and today announces support for a handful of new video providers, while tweaking the way users can toggle Binge On off or on at ...

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    Mobile payment systems like Apple Pay can be great when you're traveling light, wanting to keep your pockets card-free while still being able to make purchases. And while there are a growing number of places that let you make mobile payments with such systems, what do you do when there's no NFC support available – or worse, when a business is cash-only? Some evolving bank partnerships may hold the solution, as Apple reportedly works with Bank Of America and Wells Fargo to bring Apple Pay support to their ATMs. Wells Fargo has already been working to bring Android Pay support to its ATMs, ...

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    There's a new era upon Microsoft: Windows 10 is here, the company's phone strategy is shifting, and all this spells significant changes to how the company makes its money. Now it's time for Microsoft to reveal its latest quarterly financial performance, and while it can point to a lot of successes – growing revenue in cloud services, Office products, and servers – there's a bit of an across-the-board slump, with especially pronounced hits in phone revenue. All told, Microsoft's looking at a quarter where it brought in some $23.8 billion in revenue, leading to a net income of just about ...

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    With the rise of both Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, it feels like if you fancy yourself a serious smartphone manufacturer these days, you're expected to offer users a bespoke mobile payment system. Last fall we heard that LG could be the next company to introduce something along those lines, with word that the so-called G Pay could be nearly ready to debut. But unlike Apple's pure-NFC system or Samsung's that uses NFC in concert with magstripe emulation (while keeping all the hardware on your phone), this LG system might just require the use of its own physical payment card. But how exactly ...

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    Earlier this month, in the middle of CES, panic swept over long-time Motorola phone fans: was Lenovo killing off the Motorola brand as we knew it? Calmer minds quickly prevailed, and the shape of story subtly shifted: sure, we wouldn't be seeing “Motorola” splashed prominently across future handsets, but we hadn't been for some time anyway, and the retention of the “Moto” brand, even if in the form of “Moto by Lenovo” would help upcoming models keep some connection to the past. Still, there's an understandable undercurrent of anxiety to all this, and a lot of users might sleep ...

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    HTC fans have given the company time after time to deliver a One-series flagship that can live up to expectations. That's brought us some stunningly beautiful handsets, and ones that did more than a few things right, but none have been enough to really turn the manufacturer's business around, always leaving us wanting just a little more. Will the phone codenamed Perfume, the one a lot of us are expecting to see launch as the One M10, be able to correct past mistakes and give HTC the hero phone it deserves? The latest hardware report sure has things sounding hopeful, as it suggests HTC is ...

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    If there's one word that's thrown around a bit too liberally in the mobile tech field, it's “smart.” Sure, plenty of devices offer great connectivity options, run all manner of software, and are capable of some pretty impressive feats, but does that imbue them with some kind of indescribable quality of intelligence? We're probably just as guilty of overusing “smart” as anyone else, but today we find ourselves looking at one feature sporting that “smart” label that might just make good on its boast, as the Smart Connector in the Apple iPad Pro is spotted delivering firmware ...

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    We don't ask a lot from the power adapters that feed out favorite mobile devices: they should be compact, easy to store, offer ample cable length, and if they can do all that without electrocuting us or bursting into flames, so much the better. Unfortunately, those latter concerns seem to have become a bit of big ask for a distressingly growing number of firms, like we saw last week when Microsoft found itself issuing a recall for faulty power adapters shipped with a number of Surface Pro models. Now it's Apple's turn to face the music as the company shares word of its own recall, ...

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    The claws are out. Both Samsung and LG have major new smartphones just over the horizon, and you'd better believe that once the Galaxy S7 and the G5 are official, we're about to see some serious PR muscle deployed in the hopes of drumming up public interest in those new flagships. But for LG, at least, the company's not content to wait around for that new hardware to land before going on the offensive, and its social media team appears that it can't help itself but to throw some shade at Samsung as the latter tries to play up its quick-charging tech. All Samsung wanted to do was to remind ...

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