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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    It has been entirely too long since we had the opportunity to talk about an iOS jailbreak, last touching base with jailbreak progress back when iOS 8 was still a developer beta. We've come a long way since then, with Apple releasing the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3, as well as making iOS 8 – and now iOS 8.1 – publicly available. Sometimes the arrival of new hardware and new software like that (not to mention new SoCs) can throw a spanner in the jailbreak works, derailing progress and sending devs back to square one. Fortunately, that doesn't seem to be what's happening ...

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    Apple very much does not like to get into a spec-measuring contest when it comes to its mobile technology. While Android OEMs may be quick to talk clock speed, SoC cores, GPUs, and RAM, Apple tends to be far less forthcoming with technical details; you may have noticed that our recent spec breakdown for the iPad Air 2 was forced to leave several key component fields blank, or make some educated guesses, as Apple had not formally disclosed such information. But even before the tablet hits wide release, we're already seeing some early benchmarks surface for its hardware, and as they arrive ...

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    Apple users may be getting their first taste of NFC this week, as Apple Pay service goes live in the US, but the Android smartphone club has been reaping the benefits of NFC for years now. Beyond payments, one of the things NFC has helped streamline is file sharing, and Android Beam gave users an easy way to share certain media with any NFC-equipped Android within reach. One of its biggest limitations concerned just which files it would let you share, and while you could Beam things like images from phone to phone with ease, you were out of luck if you wanted to pass along general-purpose ...

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    Weird for the sake of weird, or legitimately useful? It feels like that's a question we've asked of plenty of smartphones before, and despite some good intentions, a lot of them seem to have fallen more into the former category. That said, there have been some “weird” phones that were actually pretty compelling, like LG's curved-screen G Flex. This year we've got another phone with a curved display that's raising a few eyebrows: the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge. Will the wrap-around screen give users new, valuable ways to interact with their handset, or is this just a gimmick? We'll start ...

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    Samsung's got its Exynos chips. Apple's got its own A-series of SoCs. And to hear the rumors that have been flying about for the better part of two years now, LG's been eager to join them with some personalized SoCs of its own: the so-called Odin chip. But for as long as we've been talking about the Odin project, we've yet to see any results – when might the first Odin-running LG smartphone finally arrive? Last time we heard an update on progress, it sounded like the manufacturer's effort was still underway in the form of the company's model LG-F490L, a device codenamed Liger. But ...

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    It was late spring when we first started hearing rumors that Google was looking to snatch-up streaming music service Songza, known for its custom-tailored playlists designed to fit nearly every social situation on personal mood under the sun: uplifting tunes to start your day, peaceful melodies to lull you to sleep, and everything in between. A month later, that acquisition was confirmed, and today Google finally announces the fruits of that effort, with Songza integration coming to Play Music. Subscribers will be able to choose from these Songza-sourced curated playlists by specifying a ...

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    Back in late August, we caught wind of a new chapter in Nokia's evolution of HERE Maps, as the company announced plans for an Android release through a special partnership with Samsung. Sure enough, just a few weeks later we saw the software go live for Samsung handsets. That was well and good if you were a Samsung user, but what about the rest of us? Today Nokia pushes HERE Maps forward upon a wider audience than ever before, making the app available for Android phones everywhere. HERE Maps should work with any Android running Jelly Bean or better, though phones with at least a full gig ...

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    Mention “hot new tablet” to a mobile device enthusiast this week, and they're likely to assume you're talking about the Nexus 9 or one of Apple's latest iPad models. But those are far from the only tablet to recently catch our eye, and today marks an important step froward towards retail availability of one of the most notable tablets from last month's IFA launches, as Sony kicks-off pre-orders for its Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact in the US. We were hoping we might get some kind of news regarding US sales of the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact at the New York event Sony hosted earlier this month, ...

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    Windows Phone is in smack dab the middle of some major re-branding. We started talking about such rumors in earnest back in early September, but the evidence predates even that: Microsoft would pick up the Lumia name directly, dropping the “Nokia” bit in the process, and Windows Phone would shorten to simply “Windows,” emphasizing the connectedness of Microsoft's ecosystem across form factors. We may not have gotten any big formal announcement for the latter, but Microsoft essentially confirmed the news with its announcement of Windows 10. The effort to phase out Nokia has been ...

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    Back near the start of the month we were talking about Apple's plans for Beats Music, following its acquisition of Beats earlier this year. To hear the rumors, Apple was interested in making the streaming music service a whole lot more affordable, slashing the existing $10 a month subscription rate. Just how low did it intend on going? At the time, we didn't know. But now a new report is out detailing just how cheap things could get, claiming that Apple is shooting for a five dollar price point. Unfortunately, this info doesn't come from a first-hand source, but based on what's been passed ...

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    Smartphone shoppers have a ton of options when looking for a new phone, but for all the various manufacturers and mobile platforms out there, today's handsets have a bad habit of falling into the pattern of repeating the same old layout. Sure, some OEMs try and mix things up by moving things around, putting buttons on a phone's rear panel or tweaking existing designs, but it's the rare smartphone that really looks like it's doing something markedly different from its peers. Enter: LG and its AKA, a phone with a pair of eyes that change shape based on what you're doing with the handset. ...

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    One of the cooler (not to mention most useful) features Motorola brought to the Moto X was the phone's Active Display mode, showing you important notifications without having to first wake the phone. Since then we've seen the feature expand to other Motorola models, and with last week's launch of the Nexus 6, it sure looked like a similar mode was coming along for the ride. At least, the official Nexus 6 specs mention different standby times for whether or not “Ambient Display” is engaged. Now, thanks to a leaked ROM, we're beginning to get the details on how all this works. The ...

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    Two hot technologies find themselves at a crossroads at the moment, as the latest wave of interest in virtual reality hardware crosses paths with the ongoing evolution of smartphones. Efforts like Google Cardboard and Samsung's Gear VR may have gotten this ball rolling, and we're already seeing other manufacturers eager to jump on board, as well. Now we get word of what looks like it may be the next company to join them, as Oppo teases what sure seems to be a VR headset of its own. The company shared the above image on social media late last week, and it pretty clearly depicts an ...

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    It's been a couple months since we had cause to talk about Samsung's Galaxy Mega 2. A number of leaks helped reveal the phone to us over the summer, but the buzz around the phablet was quickly drowned out by Samsung's launch of the Galaxy Note 4. Nevertheless, the Galaxy Mega 2 has since gone official, and now it's nearly time for the Android to make its presence felt in the States, as AT&T shares plans for the start of Mega 2 sales later this week. This Friday, October 24, AT&T will have the Galaxy Mega 2 available for purchase both in stores and online. The phone will run ...

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    Big changes are coming for how smartphone shoppers purchase the OnePlus One, and last month we sat down to look at how this new no-invite required system is going to work. Invite codes will still be valid for those who have them and want to jump to the head of the line, but everyone else will be able to place pre-orders and then wait for OnePlus to produce their handsets. At the time, we knew that this pre-order system was set to get underway sometime late this month, but lacked specifics. With the clock running down on October, those details have finally arrived, with pre-orders opening ...

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