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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    BlackBerry may be planning to introduce a new smartphone that skips BB10 entirely and runs Android, instead: so say rumors that emerged about a week ago. Since then, we've been trying to get a better sense for just what form this device might take – assuming that the reports have a glimmer of truth in them. That's led to a lot of talk about hardware, including the theories that this Android-based BlackBerry could be the slider the company showed off at MWC (one subsequently rumored to have some seriously high-end hardware), or maybe something developed with the help of Samsung. There's ...

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    Remember a couple months back when word arrived out of China that Nokia was gearing-up to get back into the smartphone game in 2016? It not only sounded quite promising, but also like the logical outcome once enough time had passed since the Microsoft deal and Nokia was contractually free to enter the market again. But just days later, Nokia fired back with a formal statement denying the report, stating that it “has no plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets.” But wouldn't you know it – almost immediately after that statement was issued, the company was back on social media ...

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    Yesterday, OnePlus got the ball rolling on official details about the forthcoming OnePlus 2 as it disclosed its choice of the Snapdragon 810 as the SoC that will power the handset. That announcement has served to act as the catalyst to get lots of people talking about the phone, speculating about performance and pricing. OnePlus hasn't been blind to all this, and today it issues a formal “chill out” message, telling its fans to stop listening to all the rumors – and offering a little insight into OnePlus 2 pricing in the process. OnePlus talks about component costs, and how the ...

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    Motorola's Moto G has always been a very affordable handset. Its specs and configuration options fall short of big brother Moto X, but dollar-for-dollar it may be an even better value, especially if you're not sweating the loss of luxuries like LTE speed. When the 2014 edition premiered last September, its $180 price tag really helped the phone to stand out: it was better-equipped than other extreme-budget smartphones, while still coming in respectably short of the $200 mark. In the months since, we've seen a few sales that have let shoppers snatch the Moto G up for even better prices, and ...

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    One of the better parts of the TouchWiz UI on Samsung phones is the easy access users are offered to system settings – and specifically, the powerfully customizable quick settings panel up in the phone's notification shade. Giving users one-touch access to plenty of phone features, quick settings can also be re-ordered and optimized for the set of options you use most. At least, that's the way it's supposed to work, but recently Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge users have been running into some problems, with many of those quick settings options up and disappearing. The good news is that ...

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    Windows Phone fans are used to dealing with a limited selection of smartphone options from carriers, and that's been just as true for Verizon as any. Shopping for such models in its stores, you'd find yourself presented with some very slim pickings: there's the One M8, a high-end (if not aging) model, and the new LG Lancet, a lower-end FWVGA phone. What about something that splits the difference? Ever since last summer, we've been following reports that the Lumia 735 could make its way to Verizon, and after a number of false starts, those rumors picked up in earnest again last month. ...

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    The Motorola Moto 360 may be getting a little long in the tooth by this point, but some recent price cuts have served to help keep the Android Wear smartwatch on our short list of wearables worth wearing. The biggest problem, at least lately, has been software availability: while the new Android 5.1.1 Android Wear release had already started arriving for some of its competition, it was a no-show for the Moto 360. Back at the start of the month, Motorola confirmed the delay, blaming it on unsatisfactory performance and assuring users that it was working with Google to get things up to ...

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    In just a couple more weeks, Q3 2015 will be upon us, and as we've noted before, that's going to mean a period full of some of the highest-profile smartphone launches all year. One of the many handsets we're expecting to see debut is the follow-up to last year's OnePlus One, and though the manufacturer has long confirmed that a OnePlus 2 is in the works, so far it hasn't shared many details about the phone. Today that all starts changing, as the manufacturer shares one of the most important components that will go into making up the OnePlus 2: a Snapdragon 810 SoC. The decision to go with ...

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    Yesterday we learned about a potentially nasty situation brewing with the software on many Samsung Androids, as a vulnerability discovered in the SwiftKey-designed keyboard such phones shipped with could present an attacker with the opportunity to sneak some malicious code onto the handsets. And despite the security researchers having notified Samsung late last year, it wasn't clear just which, if any phones had been patched to address the issue. We asked Samsung just what was going on in its efforts to patch the hole, and today the company's issued a statement explaining what it's up to. ...

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    BlackBerry rumors have been heating up over the course of the past week, all circling around an idea that's either outright crazy or just crazy enough to be true: that BlackBerry could produce an Android-running smartphone. After first hearing about this notion of the company dropping its own BB10 OS for a forthcoming model, the story evolved with the new angle that this device could be a joint BlackBerry/Samsung collaboration. Today we check out some new developments from a pair of sources, both as we hear about some possible specs for this hardware, as well as get to see an image that ...

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    Flash back to one month ago: we were just about to hear rumors that Samsung could break from its traditional launch of the next Galaxy Note phablet at IFA in Berlin and might introduce the Note 5 over a month early, sometime in late July. Just days later, Samsung would publicly deny the rumors, suggesting that the Note 5's unveiling would follow a more traditional schedule. But now that talk of an early Galaxy Note 5 launch is back, this time with a slightly less premature (and correspondingly, slightly more believable) spin on it. Instead of premiering at IFA in early September, this new ...

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    ASUS already offers smartphone shoppers a lot of wildly different options under the same ZenFone 2 name. Just the other day we were talking about the sheer number of different phones being sold as ZenFone 2 models, varying in everything from screen size, to SoC choice, to RAM amount. And as if the two new ZenFone 2 models we learned about earlier this week weren't enough, not it looks like we've got yet another one incoming, a model that pushes the technical specs of the series to the limit. Right now, the crown jewel in the ZenFone 2 lineup has been its 4GB RAM option, a rarity in the ...

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    Nokia's a company with its finger in many pies, and beyond its work with building phones, writing the software behind them, and developing all manner of services for these devices, it's also played a key role in the formation of the communication standards they use. Companies that want to develop their own handsets that use these patents need to reach agreements with Nokia over licensing, and we've seen plenty of manufacturers do just that – HTC inked such a deal back in 2014. Now LG's the latest to license Nokia patents, with the two firms announcing their deal today. Maybe the most ...

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    SwiftKey makes one of the more popular software keyboards around, so it's little surprise that Samsung partnered up with the company to have it create the keyboard you'll find on many popular Samsung phones. Unfortunately, it's recently come to light that this software contains a potentially devastating security vulnerability that could give an attacker a foothold into your smartphone. The vulnerability has to do with the way the app checks for new language packs. Even if you're not using it as your primary keyboard, the software occasionally polls a server to look for new languages. ...

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    A little knowledge is a powerful thing, and here in the States, restaurants have been getting a lot more transparent about what they're feeding us in recent years. While you once may have acted only on the intuition that your Double Whopper probably didn't make for the most diet-friendly lunch, these days it's comparatively easy to get some nice hard numbers about calorie count, fat content, and sodium levels. Now Google's helping to make this information even more available, as it teaches its search tools to provide users with nutrition data from lots of popular chains. Pull out your ...

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    Yesterday we learned that the latest preview release of Windows 10 Mobile was nearly available, all because of the voices of you, its users. While the new 10136 build was looking ready to go, there was one big problem: a glitch prevented users from easily upgrading from existing preview builds, requiring them to go all the way back to Windows Phone 8.1 first. Microsoft asked testers if they still wanted 10136 to come out now, even if that meant jumping through some hoops with the Windows Phone Recovery Tool, and the “yes” votes won out. Today Microsoft makes good on the wishes of those ...

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    Last month, Microsoft announced that it was taking the leash off its digital assistant Cortana and letting the service run wild across mobile platforms, confirming plans for both an Android and iOS app. The company warned us that the iOS version could still be a few months off, but the Android release was set to debut quite soon, tipped for availability by the end of June. It looks like those release plans have hit a snag, though, and in a new post today Microsoft informs Cortana fans that they'll have to wait a little longer before they can try it out on Android. The new plan, according ...

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    Google's intentions for this year's lineup of Nexus devices are anything but clear at the moment, and the company has deviated from past habits so many times in recent years, that's its tough to even form some general expectations of how many models we might be talking about, or what shapes/sizes they might take. At least one rumor has suggested that LG could return as a manufacturer, building one of two possible Nexus handsets. Now some new rumors out of South Korea discuss what the company could be planning for this phone. The big takeaway from this report is that this LG Nexus phone may ...

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    Calling all devs! Fancy yourself an Android expert? Or just a curious amateur who has a knack for tracking down potentially nasty security vulnerabilities? Google wants your help. The company is expanding its Vulnerability Reward Program to cover Android, inviting devs to track down security holes and offering to pay them cold, hard cash for their efforts. Depending on the severity of the bugs devs uncover, as well as the efforts they take to document and fix the issue (if they so choose), Google's reward structure is set up to offer them as much as $8000 for their work. But even a simple ...

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    Sony's recent smartphone flagship releases have been the story of one phone with many names. Japan got the Xperia Z4, only for Sony to bizarrely rename the handset the Xperia Z3+ for broader international distribution. But despite the new, confusing name, this was still very much the Z4 from head to toe. As if this story wasn't already odd enough, now there's one more new entry that not only picks up yet another name, but tweaks the phone's hardware in a couple key ways. Verizon will be the exclusive US home of the new Sony Xperia Z4v. And while this phone is 90% the Xperia Z4, it does ...

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    Maybe you're headed to that one store on the other side of town that carries the soda you crave, or planning to pop out for a late-night bite at a restaurant down the road – in either case, Google Maps is well equipped to point you in the right direction. But even if the app can get you there, there's little worse than arriving at your destination only to find out that it's closed. Luckily, the latest update to Google Maps for Android is set up to help prevent that from happening, gaining the ability to warn you when you're not likely to reach a business or attraction before it's closed ...

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    How many options do you have right now for unlocking your smartphone? PIN, pattern, trusted Bluetooth device, voice, face, fingerprint... the list goes on and on. With so many choices already out there, how's a manufacturer supposed to innovate? Sure, we hear rumors about iris-based unlocking every once in a while, and now a newly issued Amazon patent offers another system worth considering, as it describes a method for authenticating smartphone users based on the shape of their ears. Like fingerprints, the shape the ridges and folds forming our ears take is quite unique, and can be used ...

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    The smartwatch market is in the middle of some huge shifts. When 2014 got started, the major players looked like Pebble and Samsung, and Android Wear had yet to debut. The arrival of Google's smartwatch platform seriously shook things up throughout the year, and now we're in the middle of another big adjustment, as the Apple Watch goes after a whole new segment of shoppers in 2015. Understandably, all this motion means that dominance can quickly change hands, and we're seeing just how true that is in some new market figures produced by Strategy Analytics, demonstrating the extent to which ...

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    Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant may have debuted on the company's Windows Phone handsets, but it's on the cusp of expanding in a big way. In addition to the Android and iOS apps we saw the company announce last month, Cortana is also set to find a home on PC, and you may have already had a chance to give it a spin in a recent Windows 10 preview. While we generally think of Cortana as a software tool or a cloud service, today we also get word of an interesting hardware component that's just over the horizon, as Toshiba shares word of plans to equip all its upcoming Windows 10 laptops ...

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    Microsoft's clearly working on the next generation of Lumia hardware, phones that will be among the first models running Windows 10 Mobile. While there's nothing official just yet, rumors have already made quite a few stabs at working our what we might hope to expect from these handsets. One big feature on the minds of a lot of Lumia fans has been the return of a really great camera, and expectations have been running high that some of these upcoming models might deliver imaging performance that truly lives up to the PureView name. Now a new leak gives us reason to be optimistic, as ...

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