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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    There's little getting around it: if you want the best pictures possible from a digital camera, that means going with the physically largest image sensor you can afford. Unfortunately for the smartphone market, where space is hard to come by and pricing can make or break a phone, simply dropping in a humongous sensor hasn't been the obvious solution it might seem like. Still, we've seen signs of progress, like manufacturers choosing pixel size over resolution with flagship models like the Samsung Galaxy S7. Now a new report suggests that Samsung could be pushing the limits of smartphone ...

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    Traditional laptops aren't exactly our bread and butter here at Pocketnow, but mobile tech is mobile tech, and every once in a while a manufacturer puts our that's flashy enough, powerful enough, or just cool enough to force us to sit up and take notice; a little over a year ago, Apple did just that as it launched its incredibly thin new MacBook. For a few weeks now we've been wondering when a follow-up might roll along, and heard rumors about some new 13- and 15-inch models that could be due any month now – maybe making an appearance at WWDC. Well, Apple may have just set the dates for ...

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    Every year, we look forward to the big developer conferences behind some of the most popular mobile platforms out there: Microsoft Build, Google I/O, and Apple WWDC. With Google I/O on our calendar about a month from now, and Build already in our past, that just leaves Apple to come through with WWDC 2016, but so far the company hasn't confirmed precisely when its conference will fall. And while we still haven't heard a formal announcement, Apple may have just gone public with WWDC 2016 dates, sharing them through Siri. Users asking Siri when WWDC will happen are being told that Apple's ...

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    Two weeks back, BlackBerry finally gave us what we'd been asking for for so long (kinda), as the company got around to dialing back the price on its Android-running Priv handset. The unusual smartphone has always been a pretty interesting model, but its top-shelf pricing made it a difficult sell for all but the most ardent Blackberry enthusiasts. A price cut was exactly what the phone needed … but the scant $50 BlackBerry was willing to take off its sticker felt like too little, too late. Luckily, one retailer is stepping up to fulfill our dream of a Priv with a much more wallet-friendly ...

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    It's impossible to look at this year's big smartphone launches and pretend that spherical all-the-way-around “360-degree” video isn't a hot feature on the minds of some big hardware teams: both the LG G5 and Samsung Galaxy S7 debuted alongside their own handheld devices tailor-made for the purposes of capturing such immersive content, all ready to be enjoyed with your VR viewer of choice (though a regular phone will work just fine in a pinch). With the hardware landing, all we needed was some good software support, and a couple months back we heard that YouTube was getting ready for ...

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    Back in October, just weeks after the latest Nexus phones debuted, Google had another big announcement to make, as it revealed that podcasts (like our own Pocketnow Weekly) would soon be getting an official home within Google Play Music. Well, maybe “soon” wasn't the right word, because while Google announced the coming feature, and invited content creators to apply to have their own podcasts included, it didn't offer a start date any more specific than sometime in the months to come. Half a year later, we finally started to get some signs that this support was nearly ready to go live, ...

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    Shortly before the Apple Watch went up for sale last year, we learned about a little data port that was hiding under one of the strap connectors. At first it seemed like this hardware might be reserved for development models, but the smartwatch ended up keeping the interface for its final form. And while Apple itself didn't offer any consumer-facing uses for the port, it wasn't long before we learned about a third-party company interested in taking advantage of the connector, in the form of the battery-boosting Reserve Strap. By tapping into those pins, the strap was supposed to help ...

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    A few weeks back, Samsung quietly introduced a new app for Galaxy smartphones, offering users an alternate, highly customizable lockscreen along with new notification controls: Good Lock. While users were free to seek it out on Galaxy Apps and give it a spin for themselves, Samsung hadn't really drawn any attention to it yet, so it was understandably flying under the radar of many potential users. Today the company seeks to do something about that, formally announcing Good Lock and explaining a little about what it can do. Good Lock affords users a number of configuration options for ...

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    You may have spoken with Cortana, or asked Siri for her help, but have you checked in lately to see what Amazon's been up to with its own voice-powered service, Alexa? The system finds itself at the heart of the company's Echo smart appliance, which has recently been branching out into new form factors. Amazon's even encouraged fans to build Alexa-connected hardware of their own. Now one set of developers are looking to bring Alexa to our wrists, as they crowdfund a smartwatch featuring tight Alexa integration. The iMCO CoWatch runs Cronologics' custom wearable platform, including access ...

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    Modern smartphones may offer some fantastic value for their price, but when even a moderately expensive handset can still set you back several hundred dollars, this isn't an investment to be taken lightly. That's why we carefully research our options before buying, hunt around for a good deal, protect our handsets with durable cases, and take solace in the knowledge that even if the hardware turns out to be faulty, our purchase is covered by a warranty. When your phone stops working through no fault of your own, you look to the manufacturer to set things right, but now we're hearing that ...

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    Yesterday we found ourselves poking around Apple's environmental-efforts FAQ, after learning that the company had possibly slipped up and publicly described OS X as “MacOS.” Was this the start of a new branding initiative? We still don't know (and Apple has since changed the text to read “OS X”), but upon looking a little further we're discovering some other interesting information here, as the new Apple Environmental Responsibility Report boasts some impressive figures on the sheer amount of raw materials the company's been able to recycle. Remember Liam, the ...

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    Back in February, when Apple and the FBI were still gearing up to face off in a court battle over the extent to which Apple could be compelled to assist the agency in its efforts to break into a secured smartphone, Apple scored a separate victory on a similar case in a New York court. There, the judge ruled that the government's attempt to force Apple's assistance relied on an overly broad interpretation of the All Writs Act. The feds didn't like the sound of that, and have since appealed the ruling to a higher court. Today Apple filed its response to that action, and the language the ...

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    Limitations suck. Whether we're paying more for that over-mileage leased car, standing in the long line at the supermarket because we have eleven items, or having to check that slightly-too-large bag at the airport, it's no fun having to put up with added hassle just because you wanted a little more. This is doubly true for wireless data, and whether the consequences are added fees or reduced speed, going over your monthly data cap can be a real headache. That's what makes unlimited plans so alluring, but many carriers have been anything but willing to offer them. It's especially rare when ...

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    Summer's coming, and for a lot of us that means lots of opportunities to find ourselves separated from our hard-earned cash: vacations, concerts, dining out – hell, even air-conditioning bills. So if the looming season has you thinking that you should try and save some money while you can, we may have just the deals for you. After all, living on a budget shouldn't mean that you totally deprive yourself of some techy toys, and today we've got a couple of deals that can hook you up with that tech without breaking the bank. If you're looking for the lowest price in town on the Nexus 5X, ...

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    Here at Pocketnow, we love smartphones. LURVE 'em. Eat, sleep, and breathe smartphones. But we're also not monsters, and we know that there are situations during which our phones simply aren't to be used. You don't text while driving, you don't shoot selfies at a funeral, and you don't do anything -ANYTHING- with an illuminated screen when watching a film in a darkened theater. We thought the rest of the world was on board with similar beliefs, but earlier this week the head of the AMC theater chain talked about maybe finding a way to show movies where texting wouldn't just be permitted, ...

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    Smartphone manufacturers run the gamut from your Apples or your OnePluses, crafting a tight lineup of a few key models, to those who practically have a new smartphone for every day of the week (and every week of the month, and every month of the year) – companies like Samsung. Beyond its core Galaxy S and Galaxy Note models, the manufacturer has a veritable alphabet soup of additional handsets: models like the Galaxy J and Galaxy A series. Now it looks like Samsung is getting ready to add another letter to that roster, as new evidence turns up for a possible Galaxy C model. The first ...

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    Over the years, reports of Apple's home entertainment ambitions have ebbed and flowed. The Apple-branded television that once sounded like such a sure thing ended up being the stuff of vaporware, but at least we still had the Apple TV set-top box. That hardware's still been the subject of no shortage of rumors, especially concerning Apple's interest in producing its own video content, or selling access to major channels just like a cable company might. As Apple continues to work out just what it would like its role in app this to be, it's been giving Apple TV more and more features, ...

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    With this week's launch of the HTC 10, we wrapped up the usual group of early-year smartphone flagship announcements. That means we've probably got a couple months of comparative down-time before we start seeing some serious summer-launch action, all ramping up in anticipation of IFA. One of the more significant handsets we expect to be part of that summer lineup is Samsung's next stylus-equipped Note handset, especially after the Note 5 moved up Samsung's launch timing to mid-August. Now a new leak gives us an early glimpse at how the manufacturer's plans for the Galaxy Note 6 might be ...

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    Right now, Apple's operating systems are pretty spread out, with separate forks focusing on particular use cases: we've got iOS for phones and tablets, tvOS for the set-top Apple TV box, and watchOS for the Apple Watch. Removed from all those, Apple continues development for laptops and desktops with new OS X releases. For a company so interested in making sure all the slight variations of its iOS-based platforms have their own branding, that disparity between iOS and OS X feels like a bit of an oversight – and that's a situation that only gets worse when iOS makes its presumptive step ...

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    Samsung, we get it: you're competing with the likes of Google and Apple in the mobile payment game, and going up against companies like that, with the backing of entire smartphone platforms behind them, can be a little intimidating. So it's understandable to an extent how far you're willing to go in order to turn Samsung smartphone users into Samsung Pay users, and keep your numbers looking good. So far, that's meant a lot of promotional offers, hooking new Samsung Pay users up with anything from free hardware, to free gift cards, in an effort to just get them using Samsung Pay at all. ...

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    When it comes time to instal a new version of Android on your Nexus device how do you get your software? If you've just got to have that update ASAP, Google always makes available factory images users are free to download and flash, but if you haven't already unlocked the bootloader on your hardware, installing one of those can involve data loss. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you're patient you can always just wait for your OTA notification to arrive and install your update that way. But between those two extremes there was another option, and while taking advantage of it was ...

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    Apple may have never gotten its day in court to make its case for why the FBI shouldn't be able to force it to develop software capable of breaking iOS security, but the fight over access to user data is far from over. The controversy surrounding the pressure the feds put on Apple to help it crack into a secured iPhone 5c was just the most recent and most public instance of the ongoing clash between the government and tech companies over encryption. And just as those companies behind the software and services that power our mobile devices aren't backing down from their commitment to user ...

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    A good software company is inventing new roles for itself all the time, looking to connect with users wherever it can and deliver the software solutions they need. Recently we've seen Microsoft really stepping up its efforts with keyboard apps, delivering its shortcut-laden Hub Keyboard for both Android and iOS platforms. But the Hub Keyboard hasn't been the only Microsoft software keyboard we've been hearing about this year, and back in January we got an early look at what Microsoft was working on in terms of bringing Windows Phone's Word Flow keyboard to iOS – including a convenient ...

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    Even when its competitors turned their backs on removable batteries, opting instead for fully-sealed handsets, LG has stood its ground, and year after year we see the manufacturer come back with new phones ready to swap out their batteries for fully-charged replacements at a moment's notice. But how many users actually take advantage of this option? We've seen the manufacturer try and stoke interest with bundle deals giving new owners free extra batteries and charging cradles, but what if you missed out on those deals? You may be in luck (with an emphasis on “may”- we'll explain in a ...

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    Let's face it: apps and media take up space, and as we turn to games featuring lavish 3D worlds or creating high-res 4K video, those storage needs only grow. Thankfully, phone manufacturers have (slowly) been moving to larger and larger storage options. That trends holds for yesterday’s new HTC 10, which launched with 32GB internal storage – no 16GB option here. And while that sounded good (especially with support for microSD expansion), we also heard about a 64GB model hiding in the shadows – even better, right? Well, so long as you can get your hands on it; HTC is now sharing word ...

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