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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    We're just over a week away from January 21, the date Microsoft has set for its next big Windows 10 event. While the next edition of the company's operating system family was announced back near the start of fall, Microsoft's been taking its time in sharing all the details, and we've patiently awaited the day when it would turn its spotlight on the intersection between Windows 10 and mobile devices: it looks like January 21 will be that day. In preparation for the event, Microsoft has a new Phone Insider app out, one that's expected to give many users their first taste of Windows 10 on ...

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    Of all the manufacturers who might give us the first commercial Android smartphone with 4GB of RAM, who did you think it might be? LG has a history of being a spec leader. Or maybe Sony? Heck, why not Samsung? But of all the names you might have offered, did you ever think ASUS would be among them? Nevertheless, ASUS came to CES ready to impress, and in addition to its optical-zooming ZenFone Zoom, the company introduced the ZenFone 2 with its (up to) 4GB of memory. We went hands-on with the phone before packing up and saying goodbye to CES for another year. With prices starting at just ...

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    CES 2015 is now but a memory, and while there was lots of great hardware to see, there were few really show-stopper devices. That may be due to how many manufacturers are waiting until MWC (or their own private events closer to spring) to introduce new flagships, but at least one player came to MWC with some top-shelf smartphone hardware: LG and its G Flex 2. The first G Flex was a surprise favorite, so we were very anxious to see what LG could come up with for its sequel – and sure enough, the company seems to have delivered on expectations. Now it's just a matter of the phone hitting ...

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    For PC users, this week marks an important date, as Microsoft's mainstream support for Windows 7 ends. Even with no new features being delivered, security updates for the platform will continue for the next five years – not too shabby, especially for a platform that's already as old as it is. Can smartphone users expect the same kind of support for their mobile operating systems? Not with Google, apparently, as security researchers clash with the company behind Android over willingness to address security holes in widespread, but aging software. The issue at hand is the old Android ...

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    It was one month ago today when Apple released its latest iOS 8-series update, delivering 8.1.2 to waiting users. With little but minor bugfixes on its changelog, it wasn't much to talk about. Still fixes are fixes, and anything Apple can do to help further smooth-out its mobile OS is welcome in our book. Now the next iOS update looks to be nearly here, as rumors (along with a smattering of evidence) suggest Apple's preparing to release it next week. At first we just heard a general rumor about an iOS update coming out sometime next week, without any details about the version number, nor ...

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    With as many products that show up at trade events like CES, it's inevitable that some will resemble others to an extent. Of course, there are devices that have a thing or two in common, and then there are those that veer much closer to outright copycat territory, a situation we looked at earlier today after Oppo started speaking out about the Polaroid Selfie phone and its unmistakably N1-clone of a design. We find ourselves back in look-alike territory this evening as we hear about the Remix “ultra-tablet” from Jide Technology, an Android tablet that might look more at home in ...

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    If the only interaction you've had with a stylus on a smartphone is through a generic capacitive wand, you don't know what you're missing when it comes to a device with dedicated stylus digitizer hardware. That's the type of setup Samsung uses in its Galaxy Note series, allowing these phablets and tablets to track their S Pen styluses with incredible precision, support button input on the pens themselves, and recognize varying levels of pressure. In recent models, Note devices have been able to detect input when you're not even directly touching the screen, allowing the software to perform ...

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    Round up ten of the biggest smartwatch enthusiasts you can find, and while they may agree about the importance of aesthetics, a UI crafted with that tiny screen in mind, and convenient charging options, there's one issue that's still pretty contentious: cellular connectivity. For some, a smartwatch is always an accessory, and loses much of its appeal when you remove the full-sized phone from the equation. Others will fret over power concerns and cellular service agreements. Still, there are those who have learned to embrace the extra flexibility such connectivity offers – the kind we've ...

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    It was all the way back in September when we first heard about the Panasonic Lumix CM1, days when the launches of IFA were still fresh on our minds. Months later, we're knee-deep in CES, but the CM1 is along for the ride with us, popping back up on the expo floor in Las Vegas. We went hands-on with the hardware this time, hoping to find out a little more about its impressive-looking imaging capabilities. Is the Lumix CM1 a camera or a smartphone? Panasonic may call it a camera, but with a Snapdragon 801, 4.7-inch 1080p display, 2GB RAM, and 16GB storage (with microSD expansion), the specs ...

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    Kodak wasn't the only brand more typically associated with photography that's been showing off smartphones at CES this year, and Polaroid had a few handsets of its own up for display. While it did launch some new connected cameras and tablets, we didn't hear a formal announcement for any of the straight-up phones. In spite of that, the hardware still managed to catch a few eyes, especially due to how closely one of these models, the Polaroid Selfie, happened to resemble an iconic handset from another manufacturer. That attention may be more than Polaroid bargained for, as questions are now ...

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    Last night we shared with you a teaser from Xiaomi, hinting at the upcoming launch of a very thin smartphone in one week. We looked at some theories for what the hardware might consist of, as well as some evidence that seemed to support the idea of an exceedingly thin design, but didn't have a ton to go on. This morning the picture seems to be getting quite a bit more clear, as new leaks arrive concerning the Xiaomi Mi5, now believed to be the very thin phone in question. The Xiaomi Mi5 (or possibly Mi4s – the branding isn't yet clear) should measure just 5.1mm thick, right down there ...

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    We're more than a week into 2015 by now, and little by little we're getting used to this new year – remembering to stop writing 2014 when filling out the date, and whatnot. The passage of time now brings us closer to highly anticipated smartphone launches, with new entries from Samsung, HTC, and more teasing us in the months to come. But while we get better and better phones as time goes on, the future's not without its downsides, and progress can also mean higher prices – not just because tech keeps getting better, but because inflation, taxes, and currency fluctuation have a nasty ...

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    Don't think that just because the Consumer Electronics Show is winding down that we're suddenly going to be without new phones to talk about. Even short of MWC in a couple months, other new hardware is on our radar, and one of the next to arrive could be a new model from Xiaomi. And by the looks of things, the manufacturer may be trying to raise the stakes when it comes to producing stunningly thin handsets. First up, we've got this teaser from Xiaomi, revealing plans to introduce a new phone on January 15. You can see from the imagery how the finger placement suggests a very slim ...

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    At a big show like CES, it's easy for a new mobile device to get lost in the crowd. That's why we find ourselves drawn to hardware like the new LG G Flex 2, not just because it looks like a very solid handset in and of itself, but because it manages to stand out from everyone else; anyone can make a “safe” phone, but it's the ones that challenge expectations that often capture our attention. This is one of the reasons we've had our eye on the YotaPhone 2, which made a reappearance at this year's expo as it begins its retail push. That's going to involve sales in a lot of markets, but ...

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    For all the formal announcements of new products we've seen at CES 2015, some of the most exciting developments have come from model that aren't quite ready to step full-on into the spotlight yet. A couple days back, we learned of just such a stealth arrival, with a previously-unknown round-screened LG smartwatch spotted at an Audi presentation. Shortly thereafter, a report surfaced that claimed LG was working on a whole lineup of webOS-based smartwatches, adding fuel to the speculation that the model seen at CES wasn't running Android Wear after all. Now the whole picture is finally ...

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    CES 2015 is technically still in progress, but with no more big launches due, plenty of eyes are already turning to MWC in early March. A whole mess of new hardware is expected for the Barcelona expo, and in particular we've been talking about smartwatches a little. LG's tipped to be bringing a new circular model to introduce – the company's second, following the G Watch R – and now we're hearing about another player who could be planning to launch a round wearable of its own, as Samsung's tipped to be working on its first smartwatch with a circular display. The key components to this ...

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    Over the past few days, we've talked about lots of new mobile hardware that premiered at CES 2015, from flagship smartphones to interesting little accessories. That spread's included more than a few models from Alcatel Onetouch, such as the Pixi 3, a hardware platform that will be available configured in your choice of three different mobile operating systems, as well as a very affordable circular-screened smartwatch (above). But we'd forgive you for thinking “Alcatel Onetouch? Where the heck do I find one of those?” Well, depending on your carrier, you may already have a few options ...

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    With the launch of the LG G Flex 2 at CES 2015, and sales starting in South Korea later this month, the era of the Snapdragon 810 SoC is finally upon us. Sure, the chip debuted all the way back in April of last year, but it's taken this long to get the component into commercial smartphones. Why the wait? One rumor that was circulating about this time last month suggested that quite a few hardware problems were impacting the 810's arrival, with issues like overheating and RAM controller faults threatening to delay widespread availability. While Qualcomm was quick to insist that its plans ...

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    CES 2015 is already starting to wind down, and though we've been able to check out a nice assortment of new products, there hasn't been much to share from the world of Windows Phone. Sure, we got those platform-agnostic Alcatel Onetouch Pixi 3 models, but nothing really high-end; anything like new Lumias will have to wait. Almost as if in a conciliatory gesture, Microsoft has decided to give us something to tide us over until its next major launch, and today announced plans to release new gold-hued special editions of the Lumia 830 and Lumia 930. Both the 830 and 930 will be coming out in ...

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    It used to be that you immediately knew what to expect from an iPhone's display: a 3.5-inch panel in a 3:2 aspect ratio. Sure, there were some minor tweaks here and there, and a well-deserved resolution bump with the iPhone 4, but it wasn't until the arrival of the iPhone 5 that things really started changing. First we saw the move to a new aspect ratio and larger 4-inch size, and just a couple years later we have probably what are probably the biggest departures for iPhone screens to date, the largest and highest-resolution-yet panels on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. In light of all this ...

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    Every year, it seems like we say, “OK, our smartphones are thin enough. Let's give this race to the bottom a rest and focus on something else.” And every year, manufacturers still manage to release some super-thin models that, despite our protestations, end up leaving us wowed at these feats of engineering. Now the latest push is towards hardware that skirts the 5mm-boundary, and at CES 2015 we got to check out one of these devices in the flesh, the 5.1mm-thick BLU Vivo Air. The Vivo Air may not directly compete against quad HD, 4GB RAM monsters, but there's still a lot of hardware ...

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    Sony's CES 2015 event came and went without the reveal of a new Xperia smartphone – though if we're to believe the rumors, some lucky execs got to check out the Xperia Z4 behind closed doors. The rest of us will jut have to wait to get our first official taste of Sony's next flagship, though with MWC over the horizon, that could be a matter of just a few more weeks. And while we're eagerly expecting this phone's launch, the jury's been out when it comes to a lot of the details. At least, we've heard a few rumors, some going back months by now, but have yet to see much in the way of ...

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    “My god, it's full of gigabytes!” This past year, we've seen smartphones reach for higher and higher storage capacities. We're not talking just the open door that is microSD expansion, either, but the launch of phones that skip 16GB options altogether, as well as even higher capacities coming to models like the 128GB iPhone 6. But at CES 2015 in Las Vegas, Saygus has managed to put nearly everyone else to shame, announcing the V2 (that's V-squared), its Android handset with the potential for a massive 320GB of storage. We went hands-on with the Saygus V2 to check out this beast of a ...

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    Smartphone camera performance has made huge leaps and bounds since its early days, and much more than simply taking higher-resolution pics than in years past, today's phones deliver images with more accurate colors, lower noise, and support for fancy focus tricks. While the lion's share of those improvements are due to better hardware in our phones themselves, other benefits have come from external accessories: everything from pop-on lens extensions to full-on external cameras. This year at CES we saw Lenovo introduce something a bit different from what many manufacturers are doing, ...

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    We first met the YotaPhone 2 the better part of a year ago: the one-of-a-kind smartphone that paired a traditional screen with a low-power persistent e-ink display first popped up on our radar all the way back at MWC 2014, and we took that opportunity to go hands-on with the model. In the months since, Yota Devices has been preparing for the handset's retail launch, with nations around the globe set to see the handset land sometime this month. At CES this year, we ran back into the YotaPhone 2, and decided to give this guy another look. Even with hardware that's from 2014, the YotaPhone 2 ...

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