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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    In two weeks (and a couple days) we'll find ourselves in beautiful Barcelona, Spain ready to dive headfirst into Mobile World Congress 2015. That's going to mean event after event, and announcement after announcement, but even with all the myriad products fighting for out attention, there are a few we're anticipating that are just too big to be lost in the sea of competitors, with the Galaxy S6 arguably at the top of that list. With its Unpacked event creeping up over the horizon, Samsung's already getting started with its promotional push for this new hardware, taking to social media to ...

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    Last summer at Google I/O 2014, Google delivered a product that aimed to be the antithesis to expensive head-mounted virtual reality systems like the Oculus Rift or the then-upcoming Samsung Gear VR: Google Cardboard. You might have been forgiven for thinking the built-from-actual-cardboard accessory was a joke, but Google was really proving something important here, that simple VR viewers could deliver a solid 3D experience without costing an arm and a leg. In the months since we've seen plenty of manufacturers adopt those Google Cardboard plans to create their own affordable kits and ...

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    It used to be that if you wanted a bright, saturated, high-contrast OLED display on your Samsung mobile device, that meant going with one of its smartphones; for years we've associated such panels with flagship models like the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series. Despite a singular OLED-based tablet years ago, Samsung's tablet lineup had become firmly associated with LCD panels. But still, occasionally we'd catch wind of rumors that Samsung was working on a new OLED tablet project, and last year all that talk finally came to fruition in the form of the Galaxy Tab S. We got both 8.4-inch and ...

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    We first heard about Motorola's Valentine's Day promotion late last month, which offered the opportunity for shoppers to save up to $140 on the company's products. While that was nice of Motorola to offer, it was a very limited-time deal, and you had to register a week ago Monday to take advantage of it. Failing that, there was also a $100-off offer, which you were to have until Valentine's Day itself to use. With February 14 fast approaching, Motorola is giving shoppers a little more leeway, stretching this sale's end date through next Tuesday. From now through February 17, if you spend ...

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    There's a lot to like about the Surface Pro 3, making it little surprise that Microsoft's been selling a boatload of the tablets. Beyond the full-blown Windows experience that the tablet offers, making it a prime tool for mobile productivity, one of the Pro 3's real stand-out features is the Surface Pen, a precision pressure-sensitive active stylus tracked by the tablet's digitizer panel. If you were already a fan of what the Surface Pen delivered, there's good reason for you to be excited about future Surface tablets, as Microsoft is reported to be in discussions to purchase the firm ...

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    Despite the push we feel to keep more and more of our content in the cloud, phone storage has still been pushing its way up over the past year, and while we may not be fully past the days when manufacturers feel justified giving a flagship model a paltry 16GB of flash, the arrival of new larger-capacity options like the 128GB you can find on current-gen iPhones is more than welcome. With our phones now able to store more content locally, developers are being given clearance to better take advantage of all that space, and today we learn of Apple doubling its app limit for iOS software. It ...

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    Xiaomi has found itself become one of the biggest names in the smartphone game, though to many users in the West it's still a mystery. Considering how you won't see any Xiaomi phones at your local Best Buy or Verizon store, that's hardly surprising. So when we heard earlier this month that Xiaomi was planning a US press event, our interest was piqued: was the company actually considering bringing its phones to the States. Alas, that hope was quickly shut down, as a representative clarified that Xiaomi wasn't about to announce its forthcoming entry into the US smartphone market. Today, ...

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    Do you care if your smartphone OS is open source? There are untold millions upon millions of users out there who couldn't care less, only interested in the end functionality their phones offer. But then there's also this contingent that's very interested in keeping things nice and open, users who naturally flock to platforms like Android, and even more specifically, to independent custom ROM projects. This affinity is one of the reasons it was so great to see manufacturers like OnePlus publicly embrace open-source software from Cyanogen Inc. (above) – well, up until their falling-out, at ...

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    It seems like the last few days have seen Samsung Galaxy S6 rumors taking a turn for the hardware side of things, revisiting the idea of the Galaxy S Edge, giving us hints about the phone's camera, or talking about what to expect from accessories. But it wasn't long ago when our GS6 focus was pointed at the phone's software, amid reports that Samsung was in the process of seriously slimming-down TouchWiz to deliver core functionality, while moving a lot of what had been perceived as bloat to optional add-on apps. Today we hear from a new source about what Samsung's up to, adding some ...

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    The day you've been waiting for has arrived: the Windows 10 preview release for existing Lumia smartphones is here. We've known to expect it for sometime in February, but after last week's rumored start to the preview failed to happen, we were left without a great sense of an ETA. All we needed was a little patience, because today Microsoft finally flips the switch, inviting curious Windows Phone users to get an early taste of Windows 10 on their phones. To get the preview on your phone you'll need to register for the Windows Insider program, though that's free and easy (hit up the first ...

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    Right now, when someone mentions an unannounced HTC smartphone, our thoughts immediately turn to the One M9. And while that may be the highest-profile of the company's upcoming handsets, it hardly exists in a vacuum. Besides the One M9 itself, we've heard about a possible One M9 Plus, as well new Desire models like the one codenamed A55. It's phones like that last one we're thinking about today as we check out a render of a previously unknown HTC smartphone. Shared by upleaks on Twitter, he admits that even he doesn't know quite what we're looking at here. Is this a blue-bodied phone, or ...

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    Samsung's got its next Unpacked event scheduled for March 1, and unless we've been hugely misreading the situation, that's the day we're going to see the manufacturer formally announce the Galaxy S6. OK, easy enough to believe, but what then? While it will be fantastic to see the GS6 go official, what most of you are actually interested in is getting your hands on the phone; when can we hope to see sales begin? Like the phone itself, this is something that won't be confirmed for a another few weeks, but today we get what looks like a solid guess at a couple windows for the start of GS6 ...

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    February 12 is upon us – the date we've been told to expect news about OnePlus's efforts to give its users a new software option beyond CyanogenMod, the new OxygenOS. We've already gotten some early looks at a possible OxygenOS candidate, but with so little formally known about this project, we've been eagerly anticipating today's update. Would we get word of a release timetable? As it turns out, OnePlus has something a little different in mind, and is taking today to introduce us to the OxygenOS team. If you're already a big custom ROM guy you're going to see some familiar names here, ...

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    Earlier today we showed you some very attractive-looking renders of HTC's presumed One M9, put together based on the images of hardware and existing renders that had already leaked. It still wasn't anything official, but it sure looked good. Previously, we had the chance to look at something similar done for the Samsung Galaxy S6, with fan renders taking a stab at building a 3D model based on what we had heard and seen to date. Since then, though, some new schematics have leaked, and now we've got some fresh renders to gawk over, constructed from that new info. We've still got that same ...

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    Has Google hit an impasse with Wallet? Apple may have gotten smartphone users talking again about NFC-based payments last year with the launch of Apple Pay on the new iPhones, but Google's failed to do much in recent memory to draw new customers to Wallet. Could user confusion over the tap-and-pay mechanic of it, including uncertainty about both phone and retail POS compatibility, be limiting adoption? Google may have its suspicions about just that, as we get word that it's been investigating a new payment method that works very differently from the Wallet we're used to. Google's ...

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    In the early days of March, our attention is going to be hugely focused on MWC in Barcelona. Companies the world around will be descending upon Spain to share all their latest products and services, and we're sure to see the launch of some very high-profile flagship devices. But not everyone is headed to MWC to talk about their latest stuff, and today we see NVIDIA start distributing invites for a March 3 event of its own, set to take place in San Francisco. All NVIDIA's saying at the moment is that this announcement will be all about gaming, and that the company plans to share some news ...

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    When you think of a smartwatch, which device springs to mind? A Pebble? Maybe an Android Wear model? Or what about the upcoming Apple Watch? While we regularly check out industry reports looking at which smartphone manufacturers are controlling the lion's share of the market, we haven't been so privileged as to get the same sort of data about smartwatches, leaving us a bit in the dark as to just who's succeeding and who's not. Today we get a rare glimmer of insight, with a new analyst report looking at sales through the end of 2014. Analysts at Canalys estimate about 4.6 million smart ...

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    Android Lollipop updates are finally starting to hit their stride, and while there are dozens and dozens of recent models that are still waiting, some of the heavy-hitters are seeing their updates arrive. Those have included phones like the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S5, HTC One M8, and LG G3. Now Samsung is hooking owners of its flagship phablet up with some Lollipop of their own, as the first reports start arriving of OTA distribution in Europe. Once again, it's those lucky smartphone users in Poland who appear to be getting first crack at this release, as they see their Note 4s being updated to ...

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    As wearables continue to catch on, fitness-tracking software's been rising in prominence, with systems like Apple's HealthKit and Google Fit arriving. And while many of us may associate those apps with smartwatches and fitness wearables, it's not like the sensors in those wristbands are unique to that hardware, and the same kind of accelerometers live in our phones themselves. But are you still better off using a wearable, or is your phone good enough? A new study attempts to find out just that. A research letter just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looks at ...

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    Have we seen the HTC One M9 yet? There have certainly been enough leaks, both in the form of images and first-hand accounts of the hardware, but between inconsistencies with some of those reports and claims that we've been misled by “decoy” hardware, it can be difficult to know what to trust. On the plus side, at least, there's a lot of potential evidence out there, and if you can separate the wheat from the chaff, there's also the potential to try and close in on HTC's intentions. That's just what one independent designer's been doing, and based on everything we've seen so far, has ...

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    Between all the phones, tablets, computers, game consoles, and smart TVs in our lives, we're always interested in learning about new ways to get our hands on quality content. Over the years we've seen numerous ways to bring content we'd normally get from cable TV or satellite to all these new devices: from sales of individual episodes through things like iTunes or the Play Store, to products like the Slingbox which acted as a bridge between your mobile hardware and old cable TV system. Now the Sling Media guys are up to something new, and earlier this year we saw an invite-only program ...

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    Earlier today we told you about a little promo Google's got going, where in exchange for you going over a security checklist to help insulate your account against attack from ne'er-do-wells, Google will bump your free Drive storage up by 2GB – not too shabby. Well, that's just half of the free-cloud-storage action that's going around today, and Microsoft's also looking to hook you up with some free storage, to the tune of a hefty 100GB. Register yourself a Bing Rewards account, and in exchange for signing up for OneDrive promo emails, Microsoft will give you 100GB of OneDrive storage – ...

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    Smartphone hardware, much like printers and coffee makers, hasn't been able to escape the grim specter of DRM. Apple's had it in Lightning cables since it did away with its 30-pin accessories, and we've already seen Samsung embrace authentication chips with cases for Galaxy-class phones. Now we're looking forward to the launch of the Galaxy S6 in just a few short weeks, and to hear the latest report, it could arrive with some newly-strengthened DRM for accessory validation. Much like Samsung is expected to use its own Exynos chips in all variants of the GS6, it could start manufacturing ...

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    Google I/O is a veritable smorgasbord of news for the Android fan. Last year's conference brought us stuff like the early Android L preview, the launch of Android One, further news of Android Wear, and even the debut of Google Cardboard: not too shabby, all things considered. So of course, we're eager to learn what's on the menu this year. We've probably got a little while to go before rumors really close-in on what we can expect, but at least we've now got a timetable, as Google shares the dates for I/O 2015. Google I/O will take place this year on May 28 and 29, again at San Francisco's ...

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    Third-party accessory makers don't always have it too easy. When there's a big high-profile smartphone getting ready to launch, they all want to have products ready to go as soon as it hits stores, but the manufacturers behind these handsets can be quite secretive about their designs. As a result, companies like those who make cases sometimes find themselves going behind the phone manufacturer to try and get some early insight into upcoming products – just look at last year and all the months of iPhone 6 cases we checked out leading up to Apple's eventual launch. We might not be so lucky ...

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