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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    With April 10 just a couple days away, when Apple Watch pre-orders will open as the smartwatch comes to Apple retail stores for demos, this is undeniably Apple's week when it comes to wearables. And while there may be no changing that fact, just because Apple has the spotlight is no reason for the other players to give up altogether, and Google is sure doing its darnedest to remind us that Android Wear is still a viable option – especially if you're not willing to jump platform lines just for the sake of a wearable. To that end, it's promoting some of Android Wear's customization ...

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    As Samsung's Galaxy S6 makes it into the hands of more and more new owners, we're starting to pick up on reports of more and more issues with the phone's hardware. For a really high-profile flagship model, that kind of scrutiny's expected, and complaints have run the gamut from the easily dismissed (like that failed attempt at another “bendgate” scandal), to those worth a closer look (like the scratched-screen Edge reports we're still waiting for Samsung to comment on). Today we have a new source of concern to share with you, and while this one doesn't sound like a huge problem, it ...

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    Long before the arrival of Samsung's Galaxy E series of phones, long before before the Galaxy A models launched, Samsung had its Galaxy J. Introduced all the way back at the tail end of 2013, we've since seen the original Galaxy J joined by the Galaxy J1. To hear the latest rumors, that's far from the end of the story, and we could have another couple Galaxy J phones coming down the pipeline soon, with the arrival of the Galaxy J5 and Galaxy J7. Those are names we've seen before, with Samsung filing trademarks for both a few months back. While that also included a trademark for the Galaxy ...

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    Who needs big launch events for new phones, weeks of teases, and desperate attempts to drum-up interest? Not Huawei, that's who. For while some manufacturers make a big production out of a new smartphone's arrival, Huawei has just quietly let a new mid-ranger loose on Amazon, as if it's the most casual thing in the world. The phone in question is listed at the Huawei Expo, but all of the artistic resources accompanying the page describe it as the Huawei SnapTo, which is more likely the intended commercial name. The SnapTo features a five-inch 720p display, a Snapdragon 400 SoC, 1GB of RAM, ...

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    For the past few months now we've been awaiting word of a new Samsung smartwatch, and to hear the rumors, this one could mark the manufacturer's first attempt to craft such a wearable with a Moto-360-style circular display. The watch codenamed Orbis was once rumored to launch at MWC, but subsequent reports suggested it could still be half a year out. While there are still many questions about its launch to be addressed, today we check out a trove of new details about what to expect from Orbis, including a possible launch name and some specifics about the smartwatch's connectivity. Taking a ...

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    Is the Galaxy S6 the smartphone you thought it would be? The one you were really hoping for? Samsung made a few big departures from previous entries in the series, and despite how well-received many of them have been, there's a fair chance that Samsung dropped one of your favorite features. Luckily, there may be hope yet, as we caught word about a month ago that the Galaxy S6 could see the arrival of a close cousin in the form of the Galaxy S6 Active. Not only would that spell the return of the phone's waterproofing, but rumors have gone so far as to suggest that the Active version of the ...

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    Tomorrow is April 8, which means we're just about to see HTC's latest smartphone go official. The weeks following the launch of the One M9 have already brought us the One M8s and One E9+, but there's one more new model just over the horizon, the One M9+. The quad HD handset has seen no shortage of leaks, and already this month we've had a few opportunities to check out seemingly official promotional material. While tomorrow's event will finally pull the curtain all the way back on this Android, we've got one last set of leaks to take a look at today, with the arrival of a couple new ...

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    What's a Windows Phone user who wants some high-end hardware to do? Last year brought few handsets powered by top-shelf silicon, and while that meant the arrival of attractive phones like the HTC One M8 for Windows and the Lumia 930, those didn't really add up to offering a ton of options. If you wanted a more phablet-sized device, the selection's been even slimmer, and for a long time now our go-to choice for a powerful Windows phablet has been the Lumia 1520. After a long life on store shelves, it's finally time for even this model to say its goodbyes, as AT&T and Microsoft cease ...

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    HTC has come a long way since the company saw its finances dip into unprofitable territory, and while it may be on far stronger financial footing than it was just a couple short years ago, we continue to find ourselves putting its earnings performance under the magnifying glass. After all, while it may have pulled itself back from the brink, it also hasn't seen any big win propelling it into new levels of profitability – so we come back quarter after quarter, looking to see if numbers are up, down, or just maintaining the status quo. Last time we checked in, HTC was expecting Q1 2015 ...

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    LG's next flagship smartphone will launch in just three weeks. The first save-the-date notice the company distributed was a little coy about naming the device it concerned, avoiding "G4" directly and instead making some general references to G-series devices. But then in that new teaser video we shared with you overnight, the manufacturer put aside any trappings of mystery and got nice and clear, publicly stating its intent to reveal the LG G4 on April 28. Now it's time for LG's formal event invitation to arrive, and it may just offer us our best look at the G4 yet. Following that ...

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    Of all the companies making mobile devices, whose customers are the most loyal? Microsoft may not sell a boatload of phones compared to other players, but are Lumia converts fiercely loyal? Do Apple fans return for iPhone after iPhone? This evening we find ourselves taking a look at some survey data that attempts to identify the electronics manufacturers with the most loyal fans, and those with the highest customer service rankings. And depending on your expectations going in, there might be some data here that could be quite surprising. For starters, how about Samsung leading in terms of ...

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    Being a Sony Xperia fan in the United States is not easy. Few carriers can be found throwing any support behind Sony's phones, and with a smartphone culture that's as carrier-centric as the nation's is, absence of such interest can easily prove to be a death knell for a new Xperia model. But last year with the release of the Sony Xperia Z3, there was a glimmer of hope, as T-Mobile welcomed the flagship to its stable. Just a few short months later, that's drawing to a close, as T-Mobile pulls the Z3 from its listings. With T-Mobile Z3 sales starting back at the tail end of October, that ...

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    Pre-orders for the Apple Watch are closing in fast, with Apple ready to get them started this coming Friday, right at the stroke of midnight. And while swarms of shoppers are expected to descend on the offer the first chance they get, there's little denying that Apple's first wearable is an expensive one, with even the lowest-priced options selling for considerably more than the bulk of their wearable competition. As we steel ourselves to shell out $350, $400, $600, or more on the Apple Watch, we get word of an Apple discount that's coming to make the wearable a hell of a lot more ...

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    It may have taken Microsoft a couple decades to realize it, or at least find a successful way to market it, but if you want to make big money in the software and services game these days, you don't sell people things: you get them to subscribe to things. For while that copy of Office or that hot new squad-based PC shooter game may be very attractive one-off purchases, it's the Office 365 subscription and the Xbox Live account that keep the money coming in day after day, year after year. As a result, we find ourselves presented with more subscription offers than ever before, and while $10 a ...

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    Sony smartphone news has already been passing over our desk with some greater-than-average frequency today, as a pair of separate leaks attempted to help show off the upcoming Xperia Z4 flagship. But such high-end hardware hasn't made up the entirety of the Sony devices we've been checking out in recent days, and late last month we got to look at a handset codenamed Cosmos, sporting a very prominent front-facing camera. In the days since, the name Xperia C4 has emerged as a possible formal designation for this handset, and now a new render attempts to give us a cleaner look at its ...

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    ZTE started off the year by introducing its Blade S6 at CES in January. A little over a month later, the five-inch Blade S6 was joined by the slightly larger 5.5-inch Blade S6 Plus. In the past, we've seen ZTE bring some of its brand new phones directly to consumers, putting just-launched unlocked hardware up for sale through its eBay stores. That's exactly what it intends to do this time around, too, and has started a worldwide sales initiative to get the phablet out there. The Blade S6 Plus, to refresh your memory, is a Snapdragon 615-powered, 720p 5.5-incher with a 3000mAh battery and ...

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    It's been a little over a month now since Google's Sundar Pichai confirmed rumors that the company is getting into the cellular service game, starting business as an MVNO and selling access to mobile networks. And while Pichai's comments helped crystallize that this is a project that's very much happening, the details have continued to remain a mystery. It may still be some time before we have the compete picture of just what Google intends to offer, to whom, and for how much, but this week a new report attempts to shine some light on one aspect of those plans, claiming that Google's ...

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    For a smartphone that doesn't have a release event on the calendar, one where even our best guesses about release plans span the course of months, Sony's Xperia Z4 sure has been leaking like a phone that's just itching to go official any day now. We've seen hardware components, checked out benchmark reports, and now the latest leaks have been delivering pictures of functional, very polished-looking handsets. Earlier today we brought you some up-close shots of the phone in operation, and now we follow those up with new pics that really help show off the Z4 from various angles. It's that ...

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    LG's not one of those smartphone manufacturers that likes to keep its fans in the dark. It routinely announces new phones in advance of major trade shows, and even when it's dealing with flagship launches, like the one for the upcoming G4, it can barely contain itself from releasing all the handset's details weeks in advance. We just saw the company unveil a new quad HD display panel that just might find itself making up the G4's screen, and now we're turning our attention to software, as LG releases a teaser video for its LG UX 4.0 skin, the interface that we sure expect to premiere with ...

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    Google Wallet may still struggle for widespread acceptance; it got off to a bumpy start with limited support from manufacturers and carriers, and it's never had quit the same kind of PR support that Apple Pay benefits from. And despite how it still hasn't risen to broad prominence, it continues to be a very useful tool for Android users who take the time to learn when and how to use it. For those of us who regularly take advantage of its mobile payment capabilities, the app's transaction history mode becomes a convenient way to check back in on when we spent what, where. Or at least, it ...

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    Fancy yourself the compulsive online shopper? Amazon Prime has made it even easier for millions of us to fulfill our retail urges from the comfort of our computer screens, all with the temptation of free two-day shipping. And while that may have been the initial big draw of Prime, the service has matured since its launch to offer features like access to the Kindle Lending Library and Amazon Instant Video. But while competing streaming video providers like Netflix have been quick to embrace mobile devices, Amazon Prime's Instant Video has been a little more lackadaisical. Android support ...

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    In just one more week, the Apple Watch hits retail. It won't be available for outright sale straight away, but on April 10 the smartwatch comes to Apple's stores, where you'll be able to interact with the wearable yourself for the very first time. You'll have to wait until April 24 to take an Apple Watch home with you, but pre-orders will start on April 10, giving you a two-week head start on securing your own. And considering how desirable surveys have suggested consumers find the smartwatch, and just how high initial sales could be, it might be a very smart idea to make sure you stake ...

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    Just under a month ago, Apple came through with some of the most anticipated details regarding the debut of its Apple Watch lineup, finally clarifying pricing. When sales begin a little later this month, you'll be able to pick up an Apple Watch starting at $350 for the aluminum Sport model, $550 for the regular steel Watch, and a what-are-you-guys-smoking $10,000 starting price for the premium Watch Edition. But as regular Apple shoppers know, we sometimes find ourselves buying more than just new hardware, and occasionally opt for the peace of mind imparted by some extra AppleCare ...

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    Remember back twenty years ago, when Apple's position in the computer market had languished, and the battle on everyone's mind seemed to be Microsoft versus Linux? It felt like David versus Goliath, but this wasn't just about a struggle for power. There was another battle taking place under the surface, one that promised to have broader implications: private code versus open source. In the years since, Microsoft's attitude towards open source software has softened a little, but Windows has remained a locked-down platform, offered to users only as pre-compiled executables. Now with the ...

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    Sony will release its Xperia Z4 someday, but when? Were Sony to follow last year's pattern, the Z4 would have been official by now, launched at CES or MWC. But instead: silence. We've heard a couple theories about when the Z4 might actually launch, ranging from just around the corner in May, to holding off until early fall. And while we'd like to believe the new flagship would get here sooner rather than later, news of a big new Sony advertising push for the last year's Z3 has us reevaluating things. Sony's new advertising campaign is focused on the Z3 and Z3 Compact, extending from TV, to ...

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