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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    When's the last time a new mobile gadget had you really excited? Were you awed by the sheer size of the iPad Pro? Rendered speechless by the 4K screen on the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium? Whatever that piece of hardware was, though, there's a good chance we're talking about a 2015 model. After all, so far this year we've yet to see much in the way of high-profile launches, and while CES brought us lots of cool stuff to check out, some of the season's biggest devices have been holding back for MWC. With the expo getting ready to let loose upon Barcelona in just a few more weeks, we're taking a ...

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    The smartphone industry's next big time to shine may be Mobile World Congress in just another month, but for fans of Apple hardware, the date to look forward to is a couple weeks further out still: since early December, we've been hearing about Apple's plans to introduce its latest mobile gear at an event sometime in March. We still don't have a precise date, but the latest rumors have zeroed-in on a timeframe right in the middle of the month, possibly the week of March 14. But assuming this event does happen, what could we hope to see on the agenda? By the sound of the latest rumors: ...

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    Smartphones aren't just getting better at taking pictures, causing users to drift away from point-and-shoots and rely on their phones to help capture important memories; phone hardware is also getting a lot smarter about processing what it sees, and with the first commercial Project Tango handset just a few more months away, we're about to turn a new page in the story of phones learning to see and interpret the world around them. Today we're hearing about one of the ways the phones of tomorrow will be able to use their cameras to gather data about their environments as Google partners up ...

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    How much feedback is enough, and does too much risk being counter-productive? It's a question countless companies have faced, and we're sure Facebook is just one of the most recent as it prepares to launch Reactions to a wide audience: will all those new responses empower users to better express how they feel about posts, or will too many possible responses make it that much more difficult to get an at-a-glance reaction to how users in general feel about a post? Sometimes less really can be more, and that may be what Google's considering as it rolls out one of its latest changes to the ...

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    Facebook's on the cusp of a big transition, one that will give its users new ways to interact with shared content, expressing their feelings about what they're reading with a greatly expanded emotional vocabulary. Yup: we're talking about “likes.” The idea of Facebook expanding beyond simple “like” feedback is one that's been kicking around for the better part of ever, but without a clear vision of just how that might happen; maybe a “dislike” button is the most obvious option, but that just seems destined to invite a flood of negativity – this is the internet we're talking ...

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    There's a big temptation in mobile tech for manufacturers to be among the first to identify the next hot technology and give it to their users before the competition's got time to catch up. Recently we've seen features like fingerprint scanners placed front and center, a great example of tech that's been around for a while, but has only recently matured to the point where it works as well as it needs to – and shoppers are asking for it. Phones that employ multiple camera sensors have similarly been around for a while, but often to little fanfare (who went shopping for the One M8 ...

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    If you've been keeping an ear to the LG G5 rumors stemming back the past several weeks, it's easy to come away with the impression that the phone we're about to see launch is one that may be the G5 in name only, taking some big steps away from the sort of hardware we became familiar with in phones like the G3 and G4. Big changes may include abandoning the classic rear volume controls, to say nothing of the unusual slide-out battery design that's been teased. One of the more unusual rumors to emerge suggested that LG could give the phone a multi-purpose expansion port, dubbed the Magic ...

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    Apple's latest financial figures are in, and to the surprise of no one, the company's once again bringing in a boatload of money. And while no one's been expecting Apple to suddenly stop being profitable, over the last few months we've heard all sorts of warnings that the party may be cooling off a bit for unchecked growth, and Apple could soon be looking at a situation where some of its key sales started approaching previously invisible ceilings. Based on the data Apple's making available, that appears to very much be the case, and growth in multiple sectors has slowed down, if not ...

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    Have you come around to the Google Inbox way of managing email? While the flagship Gmail brand is still the feather in Google's cap, Inbox has emerged as an alternative, and dare we say smarter way to cut through the chaff and really get to important data living in your email. In recent updates we've seen Google continue to improve Inbox with features like convenient composition widgets and a semi-automated Smart Reply mode, and now Google's sharing word of some more, aimed at making the app's search features as useful as possible. When you run an Inbox search that's clearly trying to pull ...

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    After months and months of discounts, with Amazon trying to move any remaining stock of its failed Fire Phone experiment, last year we finally saw the handset run out of steam: the company's inventory looked depleted, and the saga of the Fire Phone appeared to be over. No doubt a costly mistake for Amazon to learn, we wondered if the close of the Fire Phone's story meant the end of the company's smartphone ambitions, and if we'd see its future mobile interests constrained to tablets. But now a new report suggests that Amazon's not done with phones quite yet, and claims the company is ...

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    What do we know about LG's MWC plans? The company's got its press event scheduled for February 21, we've heard it confirm plans to announce a “major smartphone” at the show, and comments from company execs have reportedly identified this handset as a flagship-level device. Considering our expectations for seeing the flagship G5 launch either this winter or in early spring, it was easy to read all that as supporting the idea of an MWC G5 launch. Is that what we're actually going to get, though? One of LG's international branches is trying to keep us guessing on Twitter, as it sows the ...

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    CES 2016 may not have brought us a ton of all-new phones, but we sure got to see new spins on some recent models, and that included the golden special edition Nexus 6P graduating to wide availability. The handsome-looking handset emerged as a show favorite, and shoppers have been free to pick one up for themselves both through the Google Store and with retail partner Best Buy. Even though the gold Nexus 6P is still the new hottness, it's already attracting efforts to make it just a bit more commercially appealing in the form of some solid discounts, bringing the price down fifty dollars. ...

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    Any time we run into some unwanted behavior from our phones, we hold out hope that a simple software patch might be able to set things right. Sure, that patch might take a while to get here, and other issues could still remain, but the prospect of an OEM so easily being able to reach out and fix a bug for a large number of users in one fell swoop is a pretty appealing one. LG G4 owners might have been hoping for a similar solution for widespread reports of the phone spontaneously resetting and entering an endless bootloop cycle, but we've got some bad news: LG has confirmed that the root ...

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    When you're creating the latest entry in a long, prestigious line of smartphones, it's easy to feel trapped by consumer expectations; with shoppers returning year in and year out, it's likely they've got a powerful sense of what they'd like this latest model to be, and the desire to not let them down can ultimately be a bit crippling. Perhaps that's why Samsung decided to do things so differently with last year's Galaxy S6, dropping features like waterproofing, a removable battery, and microSD expansion – and freeing itself from some limitations in the process. Say what you will about ...

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    Two weeks back, Apple gave developers their first look at the upcoming 9.3 release of iOS, and maybe most notable among the new features it delivered was a mode for adjusting screen color temperature in the hopes of offering more comfortable late-night usage: Night Shift. Apple's been continuing to refine things behind the scenes since that early release, and today we see the company see its second iOS 9.3 beta to devs, further refining the Night Shift experience while making a few other tweaks around the operating system. With iOS 9.3 beta 2, users will notice a new Night Shift interface ...

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    Can you remember an LG G-series phone that didn't use the company's iconic rear-volume-button design? We have it on the G4, we had it with the G3, and we even had it with the G2, all the way back in 2013; really, if you want a G-series flagship with traditional side-edge volume buttons, you have to look back to the old Optimus G, before we had this new naming scheme at all. But now for the upcoming G5, it looks like LG is breaking from habit and going back to the old way of doing things – despite some early signs suggesting that the G5's rear-button scheme would continue with the ...

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    Last year came and went without bringing us a new standard-sized iPad option. Sure we got the new iPad Pro, as well as a refreshed iPad mini 4, but nothing new in the 9.7-inch space. But while the presumed iPad Air 3's remained elusive, we have managed to hear a little about what we might expect from the tablet when it finally does launch, including maybe a big resolution bump, or a ton of extra RAM – even if we don't get 3D Touch. With multiple sources pointing to an H1 2016 launch, this new iPad Air could be right around the corner – so when are we going to get some more definitive ...

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    There's a fair chance that you may be starting to get sick hearing about VR-this and VR-that all the time, but you've just got to open your mind a little. After all, while it was easy to talk big about VR in years past, in 2016 we're finally seeing things go commercial in a really big way, connecting the dots between stuff like basic Google Cardboard viewers and the really immersive 3D worlds that once only seemed possible in sci-fi fantasies. As such, it's only logical that Google appears to be paying more and more attention to the burgeoning market, as we saw earlier this month when we ...

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    Over the past several weeks and months, we've heard no shortage about what to expect from Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S7: how many different models to look forward to, what sizes we're likely to get – all that jazz. And while we've seen plenty of schematics, and even some case pics, we've been coming up short in the leak department when it comes to the good stuff: imagery of actual phone hardware. Apparently all of our patience is finally starting to pay off, and today we get to check out what might just be the first real pic we've seen of the Galaxy S7 in the flesh. Admittedly, there's ...

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    It finally feels like the home stretch is nearly upon us, and all the rumors we've been hearing about Apple's interest in releasing a new iPhone that looks back to the smaller sizes of older handsets may finally be coming to fruition. Lately, they've settled in on the name iPhone 5se, while describing hardware that might look like the iPhone 5, while performing like the iPhone 6, getting that model's A8/M8 chip pair. But while that older silicon could be sufficient for some users, apparently Apple's not so sure it wants to bank on a new phone with yesterday's chips, and now a new iPhone ...

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    It's been just over a month now since we first saw OnePlus begin making available OxygenOS 2.2.0, initially releasing the system software as an update for the OnePlus 2. There the release delivered the company's latest bugfixes and tweaks, expanding access to removable USB storage, and correcting some issues with dual-SIM settings. It was all well and good, but what about the OnePlus 2's little brother, the super-affordable OnePlus X? It's taken some time to prepare 2.2.0 for the five-incher, and we're only just now about to see it head out, as OnePlus lets us know that the incremental ...

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    A couple weeks back we got what sounded like good – if not just a few months later than we'd like – news: Sony was just about to bring some of its latest flagship hardware to the US as it prepared to start sales of the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Compact. Better late than never, though, right? Well, if these were the same Z5 and Z5 Compact as we'd seen elsewhere, perhaps we could learn to be happy that we were getting them at all, but it wasn't long before a new wrinkle developed in this tale, as we got word that Sony had altered the construction of its phones and removed one of their most ...

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    Everybody likes to look good, but getting a nice haircut isn't always as straightforward as we'd like it to be. First you have to find a barber who knows his stuff, then allocate enough time in your schedule to deal with the inevitable wait once you show up. Startup MyBarber believes there's a better way to do things, and it's currently in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign to help make that dream a reality. MyBarber may fancy itself the “Uber for haircuts,” but it's a bit more than that. For one, this isn't entirely mobile; while there is a plan to offer an on-demand “BarberX” ...

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    Man, when it rains, it pours, and already today we've been talking about delay after delay in the smartphone world. It looks like we've got at least one more for you before the day's out, and this time we're swinging back around to a company already wrapped up in some of that earlier delay talk, as we get an update on Microsoft's planned distribution of Windows 10 Mobile updates for Windows Phone handsets – and why that won't be proceeding as scheduled. As you'll recall, it was only last week when we were hearing from multiple carriers that the Windows 10 Mobile updates were essentially ...

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    It used to be that iPhone naming was so simple: once we got past that whole G/GS business, we had number, number+s, number, number+s. Easy, right? And sure, that iPhone 5c oddball ended up breaking the pattern a little, but it was the exception that proved the rule. But now with this new four-inch iPhone that everyone's expecting … all bets are off. Dubbing it the iPhone 6c seemed like a safe enough bet, but over the months we've been inundated by rumors of names like the iPhone 7c, or iPhone 5e, and the closer we get to when we're hoping to see Apple actually launch the handset, the ...

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