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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    Google's working on plans to offer cellular service directly to users, operating as an MVNO: the company has confirmed that much, leaving us to wonder about the details. And while Google I/O may soon bring new info about the company's ambitions, today we get some early insight into how this all might work, with the discovery of a Nexus 6 firmware image containing an apparent account management app for this MVNO. The app goes by the name Tycho and also makes reference to the Project Nova codename for the MVNO service itself we've heard before, as well as suggests a new internal codename for ...

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    Is Motorola burning thought old Moto 360 stock in preparation for a new model? Late last week we drew your attention to a rare Moto 360 price cut, with a couple big retailers offering some sizable discounts on the Android Wear smartwatch. But for as attractive as that $180 price was, it turns out that an even better deal was just days away. Now Google itself is following in Amazon and Best Buy's wake as it cuts the Moto 360's sticker price even further, bringing the wearable down to a scant $165. Compared to the $250 base price the watch went for just a week ago, that's a tremendous deal, ...

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    As Apple Watch pre-orders opened last Friday, and the first shoppers swarmed to get theirs in, we saw estimated ship times slip further and further back. After a few hours, it was looking like if you were to submit a new pre-order, you had basically no chance of seeing your smartwatch arrive before June. That's a frustrating position to be in, especially considering how long Apple fans have been waiting to get their hands on this wearable in the first place. Luckily, those June ETAs may not be set in stone, and today we take a look at one reason Apple Watch shoppers might have cause to ...

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    Last year brought us not just the debut of the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, but also a new range of similarly inspired handsets, the Galaxy A-series phones. First we had the Galaxy A3 and A5 last fall, followed a few months later by the Galaxy A7. The combination of clean, premium designs and respectably mid-range specs looks like it's one Samsung will return to, and today we get our first inkling of just how the next model might look, with rumored specs describing a possible Galaxy A8. The Galaxy A8 sounds like it could make a few departures from existing A-series models, beefing-up specs and ...

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    What do you look for in your mobile provider? The best network coverage? The most affordable rates? Sprint thinks that putting a priority on customer service is going to help it stand out, and that's just what it's doing for its latest effort, making moving to a new phone as easy as possible with the introduction of its Direct 2 You in-home phone “shopping” experience. Direct 2 You brings a new phone right to the homes (or offices, or wherever) of Sprint users, delivered by a Sprint employee who introduces the new device, helps set it up, and transfers customer data over to the new ...

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    Voice commands already let us do so much with our phones, from running searches, to composing text messages, to even turning on and off our home lights. But for as much as we can do, we're really only just scratching the surface, and we're sure to see voice-control functionality expand into new and unexpected areas in the years to come. Right now, the next to arrive is voice-based phone unlocking, as Google starts going live with Trusted Voice. Evidence had already surfaced in Google Play Services pointing to the forthcoming arrival of Trusted Voice, a new component to Smart Lock that ...

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    Being able to access the files on our devices is something many of us just take for granted. Coming from a PC background, or using Android on your phone, the ability to browse local storage -viewing, moving, and generally working with files- almost feels like an unalienable right. But the situation’s always been quite different over on the locked-down iOS side of the fence, with Apple not making it particularly easy for users to interact with the file systems on their phones. Sure, there's always jailbreaking, but we've also seen the emergence of powerful utilities that allowed data ...

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    CyanogenMod 12S for the OnePlus One is due soon. Really soon. Well, technically it's overdue at this point, with OnePlus initially telling us that the software would be out by March 30, but we're referring to the most recent update: last Friday word arrived that certification was complete and the software could be expected “in the next few days.” We took that to mean “early this week,” but just when will that be? As we post this news, CM12S still hasn't landed, but OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has posted another update, giving us the odds of seeing it arrive over the next few days. ...

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    Does smartphone resolution growth know no bounds? Just as 720p has given way to 1080p, the era of phones with 2K quad HD displays is now very much upon us. And no sooner have we seen the arrival of quad HD phones like the Samsung Galaxy S6 that we find ourselves wondering about what's next – and certainly, rumors have already suggested that Samsung could be looking to move past 2K for this fall's Galaxy Note 5. As luck would have it, just as we start really thinking about 4K-class screens on smartphones, Sharp has gone ahead and announced just such a component, a 5.5-inch panel with a ...

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    With so many players in the streaming music game, it's becoming increasingly difficult to make your service stand out. You can try and undercut everybody else on pricing, but you're largely at the whim of record labels, and that whole endeavor is just a race to the bottom (where no one wins). New entries like Tidal have bet on providing higher-quality audio than their peers, but it remains to be seen if users will respond (or even care). Apple seems to be working on a re-tooled Beats Music as its next big streaming offering, and a new report claims that one of the ways it intends to ...

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    The most advanced mobile hardware in the world, easy-to-use, feature-packed, and compatible with all the top-shelf software you could hope for, isn't going to do any of us any good if it runs down its batteries too quickly. As the wearable market matures, and we squeeze powerful hardware into smaller and smaller form factors, having enough battery capacity to meet demand becomes a rowing problem. Plenty of companies are working hard to advance current battery technologies, and one of the latest firms to get involved is none other than Google. Google's battery efforts started out as it ...

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    The Apple Watch is expensive, any way you slice it, so it's no surprise to learn that customers are looking to get the most out of their smartwatch-buying dollar. If you're trying to save a buck, you may already be considering a Watch or Watch Sport with the rubber Sport Band, the most affordable strap option. For a moment it seemed like there might be a way to get even more value out of the Sport Band, but those plans are now finding themselves going up in smoke. Here was the intent: it may have caught your eye that Apple's advertising that these models come with two straps in the box, ...

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    OnePlus did something a bit stupid a little over a month ago. With no real guarantee that this would happen, it told its users to expect not one, but two major software releases for their One handsets in just a matter of days: the first arrival of OxygenOS, and the long-awaited CyanogenMod 12S update. And then one after the other, they both missed their due dates. OnePlus shot right into damage control mode, and in the days since we've finally seen the release of OxygenOS. But CMS12S, on the other hand, has been a no-show. It's still not quite ready to go live, but today we get a ...

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    We knew it was coming: after waiting for two months since the initial release, earlier this week Microsoft indicated that it intended to make the next public Windows 10 Technical Preview available today. Right on schedule, the new preview build is out, ready to be installed on more Lumia phones than ever before. How many phones? Well, not all-all of them, but a hell of a lot more than last time around. As we mentioned earlier, the list now includes models like the 1020, 1520, 925, and 928, though it does miss a few notable handsets like the 930 and Icon. For what it's worth, Microsoft says ...

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    What makes Nokia “Nokia” these days? The company's sold off its smartphone manufacturing arm. We have that new Nokia N1 tablet, but that's arguably as much a Foxconn product as a Nokia device. Is there any pure Nokia left? Well, on the software and services side we've continued to see progress, maybe most visibly though its HERE apps. But even that may not last forever, as we get word that Nokia could be considering selling off HERE Maps. Nokia's reportedly considering selling HERE in order to focus more on wireless networking, and while no deals may be moving just yet, bids on HERE ...

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    There's little denying it: if you're shopping for a smartwatch today, you're looking at the Apple Watch. You may not end up buying Apple's new wearable (and certainly, even if you are interested, you're going to be waiting weeks and weeks –and weeks– until you get yours), but its arrival spells a whole new level of fierce competition for the rest of the smartwatch field. As such, it's not too surprising to see other companies taking steps to make sure their own offerings don't escape the attention of shoppers, and to that end we're seeing the Moto 360 hitting some of its lowest prices ...

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    Did you get your Apple Watch pre-order in seven hours ago when they first opened? If you did, you're in good shape, and may be just a few weeks away from getting your hands on Apple's first smartwatch. But maybe you weren't quite sold yet on what Apple's doing here and wanted to take your time – maybe even schedule one of those in-store demo appointments to get some hands-on time with the wearable. While that sounds like a smart move, that delay may end up costing you (at least in terms of time), as Apple Watch shipping estimates keep right on sliding back and back. Going into this, we ...

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    Amazon's recently been making inroads towards bringing more and more of its premium Prime streaming services to mobile users. Last year, that meant Prime video on Amazon phones, and just last week we saw Amazon tablets pick up the same support. Now it's time for audio to get some of that treatment, as an update to the Amazon Music Android app delivers support for Prime Music Stations. But couldn't Prime members already access lots of free music through the Amazon Music app? Absolutely, and beyond being able to play tracks from thousands of artists, you were able to pull up ad-free custom ...

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    Today's wearables market offer mobile technology junkies more options than ever before when it comes to smartwatches, but despite all the different devices out there, your options are still going to be limited by your choice of smartphone. If you want to use certain Gear models, that means needing to own a Samsung handset, or if you intend to pick up the new Apple Watch, you're going to need an iPhone. Android Wear's been open to the Android platform at large, but can it do even better than that? We've been hearing talk for a while about the idea of possibly bringing Wear support to iOS ...

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    We'll say one thing for HTC and its smartphone camera ambitions: it sure isn't afraid to keep trying. Sometimes that means UltraPixel sensors to enhance light sensitivity, sometimes it means a fancy dual-sensor arrangement to gather depth information, and sometimes it means just a whole lot of pixels, as we saw with the 20MP shooter on the One M9. And while we admire HTC's tenacity, the end results have left us a bit wanting. Case in point: the One M9. In our review we noted poor color saturation and excessive noise in low-light environments, among other issues. The good news is that there ...

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    This time last year, the OnePlus One was just about to launch. But here in 2015, we still seem to be quite a while off from getting a sequel. We know that a OnePlus 2 is coming -the manufacturer has confirmed as much- and even have had a general launch timeframe to expect, with the phone's debut set to fall sometime during the second or third quarters of the year – basically, between now and the end of September. But now we're hearing rumblings that even waiting until the summer's fading into fall might not be enough, with the arrival of reports that OnePlus could be looking at a ...

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    Some smartphones are able to make their way to market in the shadows, with little information about them going public before they see their formal launches. Others pop up in a rumor or two, maybe even starring in a super-blurry pic that gets leaked on social media. And then there are phones like the Sony Xperia Z4, where we spend more time looking at its dozens of pre-launch leaks than we spend with some phones over their entire lifespans. This week has already brought us a bunch of new shots of the Z4's hardware, and today we add a couple new entries to the ever-growing list, with the ...

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    The Galaxy Note is more than just Samsung's high-end phablet line: over the years it's found itself becoming the manufacturer's platform for trying out new things. With the Note 4 we saw Samsung introduce some firsts for the phablet's display, not only releasing the curved-screen Note Edge, but also making the phone its first wide-availability quad HD model (after the limited GS5 LTE-A edition). For this year's Galaxy Note 5, we've been expecting Samsung to push the limits of its display tech even further, and an early rumor going all the way back to last fall suggested it could do so by ...

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    A few weeks back, we gave five lucky Pocketnow readers the opportunity to get early access to some hot new smartphones as we teamed up with Huawei to hand out spots in its Friendly User Testing program. Members get early access to upcoming devices, testing them in advance of a formal launch. Huawei's not the only company offering its users that kind of experience, and today we get word of a similar program going into effect over at Motorola, as the company sends out invites for its new Moto Makers group. Motorola is distributing these invites to a select number of “fans and supporters” ...

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    Alcatel Onetouch launched its very affordable Idol 3 back at the start of March, with MWC in full swing. With some solid mid-ranger specs, the pair of phones (a 4.7- and 5.5-inch model) would have been attractive enough on their own, but it was the very low pricing ($200 and $250, respectively) that really helped make these two stand out. We knew at the time that both Idol 3 models would be making their way to the US eventually, but when? Today the manufacturer starts completing this release picture, as it shares news of the coming start to pre-orders. For now, we're only talking about the ...

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