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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    Lenovo's announced a ton of hardware today at IFA in Berlin, and we've been doing our best to bring you hands-on looks at as many of these new models as we can. But there's one we haven't touched on quite yet that's definitely worthy of some attention, as Lenovo launches the Vibe S1 with dual front-facing cameras. Yup: two cameras up front. We had a feeling this was coming after seeing an official photo of the phone turn up at a Chinese regulatory agency, and today's news confirms it. The Vibe S1's front cameras act a lot like the Duo Camera arrangement on HTC models, with one high-res 8MP ...

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    Last year, Google launched its Nexus 6 smartphone in mid-October; the year before, the Nexus 5 debuted on Halloween. But it sure sounds like Google is planning something a little different for this year's launch, and beyond introducing a pair of Nexus smartphones, we've also heard that the announcement of the phones themselves could come a bit ahead of schedule. At least, a rumor landing last week suggested that the LG's new Nexus phone could go up for sale as soon as September 29. Today we're hearing that same date again – and this time, explicitly about both LG and Huawei Nexus phones ...

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    Motorola's new Moto 360 is official, and with multiple size options, as well as men's and women's designs, the smartwatch offers a lot more variety than last year's model. But coming into this launch we were expecting at least one more option from Motorola, and while not all the details are available just yet, the company has gone ahead with drawing the curtain back on the rugged-looking Moto 360 Sport. In addition to the features users can expect from the standard new Moto 360, the 360 Sport makes a few key changes. One is the addition of a GPS receiver, allowing users to track runs or ...

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    We've been following so many leaks and rumors about Motorola's plans for its second-gen Moto 360 smartwatch that it's been easy to start accepting all of them on face value ... including one from just the other day that pointed to a possible September 8 launch. As it turns out, we won't have to wait nearly so long, and this afternoon, as part of a string of new Lenovo announcements, Motorola has formally announced the new Moto 360. It was pretty clear coming into this that we were looking at a nice variety of new hardware options, first as leaks pointed to a pair of large and small size ...

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    LG's pre-IFA announcements weren't all smartwatches and accessories: we managed to see the debut of some beefier hardware, too, like the new 10.1-inch tablet we got last week. The G Pad II 10.1 isn't trying to go for any records with a crazy high-res screen or impossibly thin construction, and instead makes some more conservative upgrades to its tablet predecessor. We went hands-on with the tablet at IFA this week to see just what LG managed to cook up here. The 10.1-inch screen offers a respectable 1920 x 1200 resolution, bucking the trend towards 4:3 aspect displays and sticking with a ...

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    Last week LG got a head start on its IFA announcements, and while it wasn't ready to share anything as existing as details about new phones, it did have one very unusual accessory ready to break cover: the Rolly Keyboard. Unlike a lot of portable Bluetooth keyboards, Rolly doesn't fold up in any traditional sense, instead "rolling" up along its long axis to form a compact, square-cross-section cylinder. That makes for an interesting design, sure, but does a unique look translate into a satisfying keyboard experience? LG said big things about tactile feedback and key travel when announcing ...

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    To hear the latest rumors, we could be just a few weeks away from the debut of a brand-new LG smartwatch, but right now we're at IFA in Berlin, and that means getting the chance to check out LG's latest model, the just-announced Watch Urbane Luxe. While inside you won't find much different from last year's G Watch R, the Watch Urbane Luxe is all about making its exterior as premium-looking and pleasing on the eyes as possible. That means covering the smartwatch in 23K gold, a move LG says allows its wearable to be more durable than a pure 24K gold watch could hope to be. Sure, at $1200 the ...

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    The Sony Xperia Z5 may be the company's latest headliner, and the Xperia Z5 Premium may push new limits with its 4K display, but for fans of smartphones that buck the trend of "all flagships must be phablets," maybe the most exciting device that's been on our radar is the Xperia Z5 Compact. Today at IFA in Berlin, Sony drew back the curtain on its latest Z-series Compact model, sharing a phone with only a 4.6-inch 720p display, yet powered by a flagship-level Snapdragon 810 SoC. That's the same SoC as the Z5 and Z5 Premium, and while the Z5 Compact doesn't score the same 3GB of RAM, is ...

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    The Sony Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Compact were long rumored to make an appearance at IFA 2015, but last week a new wrinkle turned up in that rumor: in addition to those two, we heard we might also get an Xperia Z5 Premium, a phone that would push boundaries with the first 4K-class screen on a smartphone. Was talk of such ridiculously high display resolution utter madness? Madness or not, it's very much happening, and today at IFA Sony has formally announced the Xperia Z5 Premium with a 4K UHD display. The Z5 Premium's screen is a 5.5-inch panel with a resolution of 3840 x 2160, giving the ...

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    A growing body of evidence sure seemed to suggest that Sony was about to launch its latest Xperia Z-series smartphones, and just months following the release of the Xperia Z4, we found ourselves already looking at plenty of leaks identified as the Xperia Z5, Z5 Compact, and maybe even some other family members. Would Sony really be ready to introduce these handsets so soon, or were we just getting a taste of what was coming further down the road? At its IFA event today, Sony has put that mystery to rest, announcing its latest Android smartphones, including the flagship Xperia Z5. So much ...

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    Huawei didn't come to IFA this year just to get sales rolling on the Huawei Watch – even though we are grateful to finally get the details on that, considering we've been waiting since winter for sales to start. Beyond wearables, Huawei also has a new premium smartphone to introduce, and today announces the Mate S, armed with a bevy of attractive features, including one that's bound to have Apple sitting at attention: not only does the Mate S get a pressure-sensitive touch interface, but Huawei's even calling it Force Touch. Force Touch on the Mate S will allow users to hard-press to ...

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    Last week we were all ready to welcome the Huawei Watch to the world of retail availability, as Amazon appeared to open pre-orders for the smartwatch we've been waiting for since MWC. And while everything looked fine at first, it wasn't long before Amazon's listing was pulled and Huawei issued a statement about “incorrect information” getting out. OK, but what was wrong with Amazon's info, what might have been right, and when would Huawei set us straight. Well, today at IFA Huawei found time to formally announce the start of Huawei Watch pre-orders, setting us straight about all those ...

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    Coming up to IFA this year we heard that smartwatches were going to be huge, and from the launches we've already seen, that very much appears to be the case. Beyond those that have already gone official, we've got models like the new Moto 360 to look forward to in the very near future (even if that means missing IFA proper). LG already brought us the blinged-out LG Watch Urbane Luxe earlier this week, but we hear that its new-smartwatch ambitions may not be over just yet, as a new report tackles the hardware we might hope to expect from yet another LG smartwatch, one set to launch as soon ...

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    What the heck does Microsoft intend to call its next Lumia smartphones? We've been looking forward to a couple new flagship models for … well, entirely too long now, and now it appears that the phones codenamed Cityman and Talkman are finally nearly ready to arrive. And while there doesn't seem to be much doubt that we're about to see this pair launch, the situation's been far less clear concerning just how the two are likely to be named. While Microsoft still hasn't made anything official, one high-profile source is now committing to the idea that the manufacturer intends to release ...

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    The launch of the new Moto 360 appears to be just within reach, but from the myriad ways the smartwatch has managed to already leak, revealing not only two watch sizes but also a ruggedized 360 Sport option, in some ways it may as well have already gone official. From what we've already seen, the new Moto 360 doesn't appear to be a huge departure from last year's design, and a lot of the wearable's iconic styling makes a return. That means not only another circular display (this is a smartwatch called the “360,” after all), but also the same bottom-clipped “flat tire” look that so ...

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    What is going on with Samsung's Tizen plans? At least, while Tizen seems to pretty clearly have a future with the company's wearables, popping up most recently on the new Gear S2 and Gear S2 classic, progress has been much slower when it comes to Tizen and smartphones. While we ultimately got the Z1 early this year, we haven't heard much about plans for a follow-up; there were rumors of work on a Z2 dating back to the spring, with word that the phone might launch during the second half of the year, but it's been months since we've heard anything. As we wait to see what's happening there, ...

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    Change is in the air over at Mountain View, and the past few weeks have already brought some serious shifts to the way Google does business, primarily with the announcement of new parent company Alphabet. And while Google will live on under Alphabet, it's not doing so without making some changes of its own, and today we learn about one very public (if ultimately of little consequence) change that's happening, as Google reveals the latest redesign of its logo. While the Google logo has gone through a handful of iterations over the years (to say nothing of the hundreds of temporary ...

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    This year for flagships like the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 5, Samsung broke from tradition. It had long been that the company would use its own Exynos chips for some regional variants of these handsets, while relying on Qualcomm and its Snapdragon chips for the rest. Instead, 2015 has seen Samsung double-down on the Exynos, releasing no Snapdragon-powered version of these phones. We've already heard rumors claiming that Samsung could reverse course for its next iteration, though, and return to Qualcomm to use the company's Snapdragon 820 in the Galaxy S7. We saw some evidence for that idea ...

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    HTC may not be among the companies announcing a big new flagship at IFA this week, but that doesn't mean that we're not expecting some fresh hardware from the company soon. Most recently we've been talking about this handset that may emerge as HTC's fall flagship, the phone identified just the other day as the One A9. While some rumors suggested that we could still be a month or so away from HTC going official with the phone, a new teaser has us wondering if the manufacturer's plans are much more accelerated, as a message distributed over Chinese social media advises users of a September 6 ...

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    All signs point to the debut of a new Apple TV in our soon-to-be-immediate future, with the latest rumors suggesting that this new souped-up version with Siri integration, app support, and a new remote interface is just about to join its predecessor in Apple's stores. Both boxes should ultimately support Apple's long-rumored streaming video service, once that finally gets off the ground. When that service does, what sort of content can we look forward to? Besides the variety of third-party content users can likely look forward to, a new report suggests that Apple will produce original ...

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    Has it really been five months already since Microsoft introduced the Surface 3, its latest Surface tablet and the first non-Pro model to run a full version of Windows? After initial sales of the WiFi version of the tablet began back in May, carriers got sales started of the 4G-connected version this summer. But for all those options shoppers had access to, one was still missing: the unlocked, carrier-free edition of the LTE Surface 3. Last month Microsoft reported that the unlocked Surface 3 LTE would go up for sale in the US in late August – and that clearly hasn't happened. Today the ...

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    For the past few weeks now, Samsung's been crystal-clear: the Gear S2 smartwatch is coming, and it's coming to IFA. As we gear up for our trek to Berlin, where we fully intend to check out this wearable for ourselves, it seems that Samsung couldn't even bring itself to wait for the start of the expo itself, and today the manufacturer officially announces both the Gear S2 and the rumored Gear S2 classic. Having already seen the Gear S2 confirmed by Samsung, let's focus on what new information we're picking up today, starting with that rotating-bezel control. While initially believed to be a ...

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    Samsung's found such success combining the idea of a larger-screened smartphones and a packed-in stylus, that it's little surprise the manufacturer's peers have been eager to get some of that action for themselves. That's led to plenty of Note-ish devices, like the one LG introduced a few months back, the G4 Stylus/G Stylo (above - with the name varying dependent on region). But before we saw the G4 Stylus emerge, we wondered if LG might be planning an even more direct Galaxy Note imitator, having heard about efforts to trademark the name G4 Note in LG's native South Korea. Today we're ...

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    Google sure looks like it might break from tradition this year and deliver a pair of Nexus phones, and rumors have pretty soundly settled on LG and Huawei as the companies likely to bring us these devices. We've already heard quite a bit about both phones, with multiple leaks getting into details like hardware specs. One of the bigger questions we've had concerns just how premium Google wants these phones to be, and they might be top-tier across the board, or make a few sacrifices to keep prices down (and maybe performance in check). Last week we checked out one theory about LG's ...

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    Is Motorola's smartphone lineup getting a little busy? Instead of one Moto X this year we got two, in the form of both the Moto X Play and Moto X Style. And to hear the latest news, Motorola phones should be about to get even more numerous still, as Lenovo hands the keys to its smartphone business over to its recently acquired subsidiary. Today we wonder if we might already be starting to see the effects of that shift, as a leak attempts to reveal the Motorola Bounce. With a 5.43-inch quad HD display, Snapdragon 810 SoC, 3GB of RAM, and options for either 32GB or 64GB storage, the Bounce ...

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