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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    Back in late August, we caught wind of a new chapter in Nokia's evolution of HERE Maps, as the company announced plans for an Android release through a special partnership with Samsung. Sure enough, just a few weeks later we saw the software go live for Samsung handsets. That was well and good if you were a Samsung user, but what about the rest of us? Today Nokia pushes HERE Maps forward upon a wider audience than ever before, making the app available for Android phones everywhere. HERE Maps should work with any Android running Jelly Bean or better, though phones with at least a full gig ...

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    Mention “hot new tablet” to a mobile device enthusiast this week, and they're likely to assume you're talking about the Nexus 9 or one of Apple's latest iPad models. But those are far from the only tablet to recently catch our eye, and today marks an important step froward towards retail availability of one of the most notable tablets from last month's IFA launches, as Sony kicks-off pre-orders for its Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact in the US. We were hoping we might get some kind of news regarding US sales of the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact at the New York event Sony hosted earlier this month, ...

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    Windows Phone is in smack dab the middle of some major re-branding. We started talking about such rumors in earnest back in early September, but the evidence predates even that: Microsoft would pick up the Lumia name directly, dropping the “Nokia” bit in the process, and Windows Phone would shorten to simply “Windows,” emphasizing the connectedness of Microsoft's ecosystem across form factors. We may not have gotten any big formal announcement for the latter, but Microsoft essentially confirmed the news with its announcement of Windows 10. The effort to phase out Nokia has been ...

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    Back near the start of the month we were talking about Apple's plans for Beats Music, following its acquisition of Beats earlier this year. To hear the rumors, Apple was interested in making the streaming music service a whole lot more affordable, slashing the existing $10 a month subscription rate. Just how low did it intend on going? At the time, we didn't know. But now a new report is out detailing just how cheap things could get, claiming that Apple is shooting for a five dollar price point. Unfortunately, this info doesn't come from a first-hand source, but based on what's been passed ...

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    Smartphone shoppers have a ton of options when looking for a new phone, but for all the various manufacturers and mobile platforms out there, today's handsets have a bad habit of falling into the pattern of repeating the same old layout. Sure, some OEMs try and mix things up by moving things around, putting buttons on a phone's rear panel or tweaking existing designs, but it's the rare smartphone that really looks like it's doing something markedly different from its peers. Enter: LG and its AKA, a phone with a pair of eyes that change shape based on what you're doing with the handset. ...

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    One of the cooler (not to mention most useful) features Motorola brought to the Moto X was the phone's Active Display mode, showing you important notifications without having to first wake the phone. Since then we've seen the feature expand to other Motorola models, and with last week's launch of the Nexus 6, it sure looked like a similar mode was coming along for the ride. At least, the official Nexus 6 specs mention different standby times for whether or not “Ambient Display” is engaged. Now, thanks to a leaked ROM, we're beginning to get the details on how all this works. The ...

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    Two hot technologies find themselves at a crossroads at the moment, as the latest wave of interest in virtual reality hardware crosses paths with the ongoing evolution of smartphones. Efforts like Google Cardboard and Samsung's Gear VR may have gotten this ball rolling, and we're already seeing other manufacturers eager to jump on board, as well. Now we get word of what looks like it may be the next company to join them, as Oppo teases what sure seems to be a VR headset of its own. The company shared the above image on social media late last week, and it pretty clearly depicts an ...

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    It's been a couple months since we had cause to talk about Samsung's Galaxy Mega 2. A number of leaks helped reveal the phone to us over the summer, but the buzz around the phablet was quickly drowned out by Samsung's launch of the Galaxy Note 4. Nevertheless, the Galaxy Mega 2 has since gone official, and now it's nearly time for the Android to make its presence felt in the States, as AT&T shares plans for the start of Mega 2 sales later this week. This Friday, October 24, AT&T will have the Galaxy Mega 2 available for purchase both in stores and online. The phone will run ...

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    Big changes are coming for how smartphone shoppers purchase the OnePlus One, and last month we sat down to look at how this new no-invite required system is going to work. Invite codes will still be valid for those who have them and want to jump to the head of the line, but everyone else will be able to place pre-orders and then wait for OnePlus to produce their handsets. At the time, we knew that this pre-order system was set to get underway sometime late this month, but lacked specifics. With the clock running down on October, those details have finally arrived, with pre-orders opening ...

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    Last week marked in change in the the pre-launch story for Verizon's next Droid model, the Motorola Droid Turbo: following weeks of leaks and rumors, developments which brought us both a number of images of the upcoming smartphone, as well as an entire user guide, things were finally starting to get official, with Verizon sending out invitations for a launch event later this month. As we look forward to that October 28 announcement, some additional leaks have arrived to help tide us over, offering a new look at this handset in multiple colors. These leaks are some more from the ...

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    One of the biggest problems facing the apps situation for many of the big mobile platforms isn't necessarily a lack of selection, but the tricky business of finding the right app at the time you need it. Unless you know specifically what you're looking for, or an app is featured in one of the various app store “best of” lists, it can be tricky to discover a single title buried in a sea of hundreds of thousands of similar apps. Luckily, Google's got a new tool for the Play Store allowing you to search its whole library of titles while also restricting your query to the best of the best. ...

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    The times, they are a-changin'. Following this week's launch of the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, Google's Play Store is beginning to reflect the company's shifting focus to sales of these new devices. Listings have arrived for the Nexus 6, Nexus 9 (for which pre-orders are now open), and the new Nexus Player (even if that's outside our mobile-focused wheelhouse). But their presence hasn't come without cost, as we see Google appear to kill-off sales of the Nexus 10 and 2013 Nexus 7. Under the Play Store's phones and tablets listing, you'll now find the Nexus 5 (but for how much longer?), the Nexus ...

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    Earlier today we looked at a leak discussing Google's plans for Android Lollipop distribution, which mentioned that system images for the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 were due out by the end of the week. We wondered briefly if that might mean a stealth Saturday release, but just hours later Google made the files available. Well, we didn't get formal Android 5.0 factory images for these models, at least, but instead an updated version of the existing dev preview – still a worthwhile download, all the same. And while that new dev preview includes a whole lot of interesting changes (which we're sure ...

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    It's been a busy week of high-profile device launches form a couple of the companies behind the biggest platforms in mobile, with both Apple and Google showing off their latest hardware. Besides getting to know these new models themselves, we were also informed about how initial sales for the lot of them would begin. We may still be a couple weeks away from the start of Nexus 6 pre-orders, but the rest of this crew is already lining up to take your money, as pre-orders get underway for the Nexus 9, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3. Google's set to open Nexus 9 Play Store pre-orders at some ...

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    Earlier this week, we got news from Google about its plans for the public release of Android 5.0 Lollipop: while the new Nexus devices would (obviously) ship with Lollipop, updates for existing models were announced as arriving sometime in the weeks to come. Well, what does that mean? Will Nexus 5 owners be waiting until Thanksgiving before they have a chance (beyond the dev preview, at least) to bring Lollipop to their phones? Today we start to get a better sense of just who's getting what when, as a leak attempts to reveal Google's distribution strategy. The first release should be in ...

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