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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    Last month, Google surprised Android devs everywhere with an early treat, releasing its initial Android N preview months in advance of this year's Google I/O. While far from a finished package, the Android N release was already capable of showing off some of its biggest features, including the long-awaited Android split-screen multitasking mode. Another noteworthy change concerned how Google would update its developer preview, allowing interested users to register for the Android Beta Program and get Android N developer preview updates delivered OTA to their compatible Nexus hardware. Now ...

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    Two months back, iOS users were talking about a silly bug that was causing some big problems for users foolish enough to test it on their own hardware: by manually dialing back the iOS system date to 1970, users could effectively brick their devices. It was annoying, sure, but at least it wouldn't happen by accident; it took a concerted effort to intentionally get the date that far back. And when Apple ultimately delivered a fix in the form of a new iOS release, that was the end of that, right? Well, not quite, and security researchers are now revealing how the 1970 glitch could have been ...

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    With yesterday's launch of the HTC 10, smartphone shoppers have a new flagship option to consider, joining the growing ranks of this season's heavyweights. And while these phones represent some attractive options, not everyone's got the resources to pay hundreds upon hundreds of dollars for the latest top-of-the-line handset. Luckily, there's no shortage of more affordable options to consider, and today we hear about the latest models descending upon Sprint's MVNO family, as Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA pick up a trio of Android handsets. First up, we've got the Samsung Galaxy J7. ...

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    USB type-C may be the wave of the future, bringing its advanced connectivity to the latest generation of smartphone flagships, but its rise to prominence has been plagued by some bad PR, especially as poorly-made cables and adapters infiltrated the market and found themselves blamed for damaging some expensive hardware. Retailers and concerned consumers had taken it upon themselves to identify and stop sales of non-standard USB type-C accessories, but would that be enough to win back the trust of shoppers? The USB 3.0 Promoter Group isn't taking any chances, and today announces a new ...

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    Amazon's made no secret of the fact that a new Kindle was on the way, teasing the news early last week. It wasn't long before rumors of battery-boosting accessories gave way to a full-blown leak, and an accidental early publication appeared to confirm the company's plans for the incredibly thin Kindle Oasis. Today, all those teases, rumors, and leaks reach their boiling point, as Amazon goes official with its latest e-ink tablet, the new Kindle Oasis. Not that we had any reason to doubt it, but that early publication really hit the nail right on the head, and the Kindle Oasis we see launch ...

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    No one likes getting left behind the the tide of progress, but that's exactly what happened for a large number of Windows Phone users last month as Microsoft finally released its Windows 10 Mobile updates for existing smartphones. Despite the large number of models supported over the course of the prior year through the company's Insider testing program, the public W10M update only delivered updates for a fraction of those handsets – and Microsoft would soon confirm that there was no second wave of updates coming to bring Windows 10 Mobile to additional handsets. What are you supposed to ...

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    Big changes are coming to the way we listen to music on our smartphones, and the analog headphones we've been using for years are feeling the pressure from new, digital alternatives. Most of the conversation we're hearing these days is centered around Apple and rumors that it will ditch the analog headphone jack in favor of a Lightning-only solution for the iPhone 7, but headphone-makers have also been turning their attention to other platforms as well, especially as the versatile, convenient USB type-C connector comes to more and more handsets. Today we're learning about one of the newest ...

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    No one likes have to remember a ton of logins and passwords, but the need to authenticate ourselves is a necessary evil in order to distinguish ourselves from the billions of other users connecting to the same apps and services we are. But could there be a better, or at least an easier alternative to having users remember all those account details? Facebook thinks so, and it's turning two-factor authentication on its head for its new Account Kit login system. With standard two-factor authentication, you may log into an online service with your username and password, before being prompted ...

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    Since even before the LG G5 launched, we've been tracking evidence pointing to the existence of some closely related handsets. Back in early February, benchmark evidence revealed a model LG-H840 that some members of the press were calling a “G5 Lite,” still packing a quad HD screen but seeing its SoC downgraded to a Snapdragon 652 chip. When the G5 finally launched, it looked like we had our explanation for this model's role, revealed as a more affordable non-VR-supporting G5 for markets like Latin America. More recently, though, we've been hearing about the LG G5 SE, and yesterday saw ...

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    Most smartphone flagships follow a pretty predictable pattern with their pricing over time. First the phone debuts with a relatively high price tag, as the manufacturer attempts to establish just how much their desirable new hardware is worth. Maybe carriers will knock a little off that figure (depending on how alluring the handset is, and correspondingly capable of getting them new subscribers), but the high launch price will likely stick around for a few months, before real, lasting discounts start arriving. And over the course of the next year, the price drops further still, in an ...

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    Every time a new major Android release rolls around, we find ourselves facing two questions: what dessert name will Google go with, and what version number will the build emerge as? For the desserts, at least we have the predictability of Google's alphabetic progression to rely on: we may not know if we're getting Android Nougat or Android Nutella, but we're sure getting an Android N of some kind. Version numbers, though, are a bit trickier, and while Lollipop and Marshmallow both arrived as whole-number updates (5.0 and 6.0, respectively), Jelly Bean and KitKat (to say nothing of earlier ...

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    One of the best things about personal computers has been the degree to which users can enhance hardware capabilities by way of expansion boards. Back in the day, that meant arduous installation and configuration of separate boards for video output, sound, networking, game controllers – pretty much anything worth using required its own board. But then motherboards started picking up more and more features themselves, and the push towards portability above all else has seen expansion options shrink from full-sized PC boards, to compact cards for laptops, to the vanishing of expansion ...

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    With this morning's launch of the HTC 10, we saw the culmination of weeks of rumors and leaks. And while that brought us one heck of a nice flagship smartphone, it also may have left you feeling just a bit underwhelmed, if only because the phone we got was very much the phone we were expecting; is there no room in the smartphone market for surprises anymore? As we learned about an HTC 10 that looked like a rehash of the past few weeks of leaks, we were starting to fear just that, when we remembered at least one big unanswered question hanging over this launch: what was that mysterious HTC ...

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    Every year, smartphone fans look forward to the spring season of new Android devices, with models landing from some of their favorite big-name manufacturers: Samsung, HTC, LG. Samsung led the pack with its Galaxy S7, and found LG making an early appearance alongside it with its own G5. That's left HTC, and for weeks now we've been watching the rumors really heat up about its plans for its own 2016 flagship. A bumper crop of leaks this time around have managed to leave us with some pretty high expectations for HTC's handset, from some new branding, to some boastful features, to a ...

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    Google's already brought powerful voice control to Android, letting users interact with apps and system settings with just a few spoken commands. And while that may work really well when you want Google to set a timer, or help your draft a text message, voice control runs out of steam when you bring in random apps for which voice support was never designed. At least, that used to be the case, but now Google's inviting users to test out its new Voice Access system that brings voice control to all corners of Android. Voice Access lets users who can't normally interact with a touch screen to ...

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    The LG G5 is supposed to be a modular smartphone thanks to the availability snap-on accessories that replace the phone's bottom edge and add some extra functionality. LG introduced this ability with a pair of modules: the LG CAM Plus and the LG Hi-Fi Plus. Now that the G5 is here, new owners are understandably curious to try out some of these add-ons for themselves, and if they go online they'll find plenty of opportunity to order the CAM Plus. But start looking for the LG Hi-Fi Plus, and you're likely to come away confused, as LG appears to be placing the accessory on ice in many corners ...

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    Will the LG G5 stand alone? The new Android flagship may finally be here for shoppers to take home, and while it's certainly got plenty of friends in terms of first-party accessories, will the G5 form the basis for a new family of family of phones, like we see Samsung's Galaxy S7 joined by its edge model, and maybe even a new Active variant? We've recently been considering whether LG might be trying something like that this time around, after seeing the company trademark the name “G5 SE.” Today we check out some new evidence that both attempts to confirm that an LG G5 SE is very much ...

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    It's been one week now since Jeff Bezos let us know that there was a new Kindle in our future. After hearing his confirmation that a new e-reader was on the way, we started running across rumors about just what sort of changes we might get from this Kindle: rumors discussed a new, thinner build, as well as some possible accessories – like a battery-extending case. Amazon's sure to announce the new model any day now, but it looks like the cat might be out of the bag a little ahead of schedule, as a early publication appears to reveal the company's plans for the new Kindle Oasis. Somebody ...

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    This September, it will have been two years since Apple first announced the Apple Watch. And in the mobile-tech world, that's more cause for a retirement party than a birthday party. The smartwatch's age has been helping to fuel rumors of second-gen hardware, and while the idea that Apple's cooking up a new wearable is an easy enough sell, sources have been butting head over the details: what changes will Apple make for its second-gen model, and when could we hope to see the new smartwatch launch? Just last week we looked at a report pointing to a substantially thinner Apple Watch making ...

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    Multi-window on Android is no longer a feature reserved for custom UIs, with limited app compatibility: with the release of Android N, even in this early preview state, multi-window for the masses is making its impact felt. But while Android is finally getting the split-screen mode we've longed for, what about a more PC-like free-floating-window layout? That's a much trickier question, and while the framework's there, the implementation is clearly still a work in progress. But Android N isn't the only floating-window game in town, and even before its preview release landed, we got our ...

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    App discovery can make or break a platform, whether mobile or desktop, and the best operating system in the world won't do your users much good if they find themselves struggling to get the software they want. While part of that issue is simply making the right apps available in the first place, how these apps are presented to users can be just as critical: are apps being displayed in an attractive manner, encouraging users to give them a shot, and are the right tools available to convert casual app-browsing into actual downloads? Microsoft's reportedly considering some tweaks to the ...

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    The conflicts that exist between tech companies and government forces over encryption and access to user data aren't going away anytime soon, and even as we sort through the aftermath of the FBI and DOJ's run-in with Apple over the San Bernardino iPhone, more and more news of similar showdowns in courtrooms across the nation are coming to light. Today we're learning of another recent case that may have not grabbed the same national attention as the San Bernardino one, but represents another occasion when Apple was ordered to extract user data from an iPhone, an another occasion on which ...

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    Huawei's Honor 5X emerged a few months back as a serious contender in the low-cost, solid-performance mid-range market. Sure, it wouldn't set any benchmark records, but the combination of an attractive price, really high-quality-feeling build, and some very capable battery life added up to a package that – for shoppers placing a real premium not just on price, but on value – was hard to resist. All this was true when the Honor 5X was selling for $200, but for a few more hours today you've got the chance to score the phone for might-as-well-be-free, as Huawei sells a limited number of ...

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    With the HTC 10 so close we can nearly taste it (note: don't actually taste your smartphones, people), HTC's been dialing its promotional efforts up to 11, and this week alone we've had no shortage of official teasers to keep us busy. And while we absolutely love seeing all this stuff from HTC itself, it also has us feeling a little nostalgic for a time just a few weeks in our past, when HTC 10 rumors were dominated by unofficial leaks. Well, just because we've got a new HTC-produced video today is no reason to turn our backs on leaks, and this afternoon our attention's been drawn to one ...

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    How do you judge the success of a social network? The size of its user base? Sure. The amount of time users spend engaged with the service? Absolutely. But there's another figure that helps drive that user engagement, and it's an area where Facebook is reportedly seeing problems, with reports surfacing earlier this week that user-posted personal updates are on the decline. While reversing that trend threatens to be a complicated issue, Facebook may already be onto one way it can hope to get users posting more again, as the company tries out new ways to make it easier than ever to post. ...

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