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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    Meizu introduced its M1 Note late last year, offering a competitive set of hardware specs like a 5.5-inch 1080p display, 13MP/5MP camera setup, 3140mAh battery, and dual-SIM support. But what really make the M1 Note stand out was its price tag, as Meizu announced plans to sell the phone for the equivalent of just about $160 – a great price for a little budget phone, let alone one equipped like this. Unfortunately, it was hard to get too excited about the phablet initially due to expectations that we might not see it made available outside China. This week brings us good news, as Meizu ...

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    Last fall, Google released a surprising new app with the debut of Messenger for Android. At least, it was a very unexpected app to deliver given the effort Google had already taken to revamp how we access text messages on Android and the integration of such functionality into Hangouts. But for whatever reason, Google saw fit to deliver a new SMS- and MMS-only solution. Today we see a new version of Messenger arrive, complete with some new capabilities. We all know that what separates MMS from SMS is its ability to support audio, video, and still images. That latter mode gets expanded ...

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    Google loves bringing new video types to YouTube. Problem is – for a lot of us, anyway – is that they can be a real pain to view. Like YouTube supporting 4K-resolution video is a great way to prepare for the rising availability of 4K-class displays, but for the moment not a lot of us can view it in its native res. And while you can always cross your eyes and get YouTube's 3D video working in a pinch, the number of us with dedicated hardware designed for consuming such content is still pretty low. Today Google is bringing a new class of video to YouTube, and in what's a lovely change of ...

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    Samsung's been showing off curved displays at trade shows for years. The Galaxy Round launched seventeen months ago. The Galaxy Note Edge followed last summer. And now we have the Galaxy S6 Edge. With all this experience under its belt, you might think Samsung and its manufacturing partners had this whole curved-screen thing pretty well figured out by now. However, a new report highlights possible problems, and claims that issues in fabricating the curved glass that protects the GS6 Edge's display is causing Samsung to seek out new suppliers. Reportedly, yield for these curved glass panels ...

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    Do you trust the internet connections providing data to your smartphone? Is your carrier sharing info with the feds? Is that public WiFi AP harvesting your account data? Is your employer watching what sites you visit when on the company network? By far, the best thing you can do to keep all this information private is to tunnel your data to a trusted remote machine: to use a VPN. Then no matter how data gets to and from your phone, it's all nice and encrypted as it flies through the air, safe from prying eyes. Right now, if you want to take advantage of such a VPN on Android you've got to ...

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    The various voice assistants being offered by the major smartphone platforms aren't just incredibly impressive pieces of tech that also happen to be enormously useful for busy users; they're also great ways for the companies behind these services to draw attention to their respective platforms. After all, if you want to talk to Siri, that means buying an iOS device, just as interacting with Cortana means choosing to go with Windows Phone. But that needn't be a hard-and-fast rule, and at least for Cortana, we've been talking about plans for cross-platform access since last year. Now a new ...

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    What the almighty heck are we looking at here? One of our favorite ways information on an unreleased phone can surface is when the company behind it accidentaly posts something online before it should have. Remember last fall when Apple outed the iPad mini 3 and iPad Air 2 before it announced them? Or just a few weeks back when Sony shared a pic of the Xperia Z4 Tablet in advance of the MWC launch? Well, now we've got another one from Sony to check out, only this time what we're seeing is very, very odd, and it's not obvious if this is even a Sony product in the first place. The image ...

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    Samsung and Marvel are pretty close these days. Back at CES Samsung showed off some very futuristic handset and wearable designs it cooked up for use in the upcoming new Avengers film, and right around the same time we saw Samsung debut its Penvatar software for Note devices, featuring a bunch of little Avengers-themed icons. But could the biggest Samsung/Marvel collaboration still be in the works? We're wondering that today as we check out some very attractive speculative renders of Avengers-themed Galaxy S6 Edge phones. Now keep in mind: none of these are official pics. The designer ...

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    Android 5.1, just formally released by Google this past Monday, brings with it some pretty exciting changes, as we just discussed when looking at the substantial performance benefits imparted to Google's flagship Nexus smartphone, the Nexus 6. “Well that's nice,” you respond, “for those users who actually have Android 5.1 on their phones. I haven't seen it yet? What the heck am I supposed to do, just keep waiting?” Well, yeah, you could just be patient until your phone or tablet pops up its update notification warning, but for the more proactive Nexus users out there, you'll find a ...

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    This past Monday, Apple brought us iOS 8.2, all ready to start getting our phones prepared for the arrival of the Apple Watch. And while that was great to see arrive, we've been even more excited to see that's next for iOS updates, after hearing that Apple could be about to open iOS beta testing to the smartphone-using public. Supposedly, we'd see this program go into effect with a forthcoming iOS 8.3 release in March, and today that's just what we get, as signups begin for the iOS 8.3 public beta. Apple used to have a signup page for its OS X public betas, but today we see it drop the old ...

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    Google started off the week with its release of Android 5.1. While the latest version of Android tweaked a lot of little things that bugged us about earlier Lollipop builds, introducing new features and changing the way others worked. But more than all that, what owners of certain devices have been noticing is a big boost in performance. Nexus 6 users have been reporting that their phones feel a lot more speedy after upgrading to 5.1, and now we have a better sense as to what's going on, as Google changes the way the phone's multi-core SoC works. The Nexus 6 runs a quad-core Snapdragon ...

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    Earlier this week we checked out an early render purporting to be the LG G4, revealing a pretty significant change for the phone's styling, picking up the curved-screen look of the G Flex line. If this plays out, that could mark a pretty major step forward for LG; while manufacturers like Samsung have flirted with making curved screens parts of their flagship lineups, they continue to exist as alternate models – we have both the Galaxy S6 proper and the S6 Edge. Were LG to really pursue this look for the G4, we could end up without a traditional flat-screened G4 at all. But is that what ...

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    There's a new connector on the block, and his name is USB Type C. Apple's hooking its new MacBook up with a Type-C port, and Google just announced the refreshed Chromebook Pixel with a Type-C connector of its own. There's a good reason manufacturers are showing so much love for this little guy, as besides carrying high-speed data and enough juice to charge a device, it's also super easy to work with thanks to its reversible orientation – just like Apple's proprietary Lightning connector. Well, all this USB Type-C action is well and good for laptops, but why do they get to have all the ...

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    Right now, if you're talking about LG and plans for an upcoming flagship, chances are you're thinking about the G4; now that Samsung and HTC have made their own early 2015 heavyweights official, it's nearly time for LG to follow suit. And while the G4's been on the receiving end of the bulk of our LG coverage, last week we started hearing whispers about another flagship-level model, one that might outshine even the G4 itself. At least, that's what a LG exec was saying, but just how might this phone materialize? While we don't have any new official details, rumors are now suggesting that ...

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    Just about one month back, Microsoft released its initial Windows 10 Technical Preview for smartphones. Interested users (so long as their phones were on the short list of approved hardware) could download and install the preview for an early look at the changes Microsoft is bringing to its mobile platform with the release of its next major update. In the weeks since we've learned a little more about what to expect from future preview release, including the note that we could hope to see Microsoft deliver such builds with roughly monthly frequency. That next preview isn't public quite yet, ...

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    Late last spring, months after HTC had launched the One M8, we saw the arrival of a close cousin, the plastic-bodied, Duo-Camera-less One E8. While it packed much of the same guts as its flagship relative, the changes HTC made allowed the company to sell the E8 for a couple hundred dollars less than the M8. Now that the One M9 is here, will we see a corresponding One E9 edition? That's looking confirmed, as an “HTC E9pw” shows up on China's version of the FCC. The weird thing is that this year the E9 looks to be less a plastic M9 than a new phone in and of itself. Rumors had already ...

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    Want to get a couple people arguing about mobile device interface design? Raise the topic of windowed apps. To some, windowing represents an inevitable step forward for maturing mobile platforms, embracing the aesthetic of the desktop and empowering users to reach new heights of productivity. Others will view it as a move backwards, one away from a clean one-handed UX and relying too strongly on misguided nostalgia. While we've seen individual efforts from certain OEMs in delivering a modern multi-window UI on their phones, Android's lacked a central framework for such software operation ...

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    When it comes to smartwatch news, this should be Apple's week. The company just took the lid of its hugely anticipated release plan for the Apple Watch, which customers will be able to start going hands-on with in just another month. And certainly, we've run our fair share of Apple Watch headlines over the course of the past day. But for all that action over on Apple's side of the fence, other wearables haven't been sitting idly by, and we've been talking a fair amount about other devices, ranging from that odd Runcible dealy to rumors of a pretty substantial Android Wear update. Now we're ...

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    Delivering a smartwatch with its own internet connectivity is, to put it mildly, tricky. Besides worrying about excess battery consumption, you've got to convince users to sign up for one more line of cellular service – and if they're already dropping several hundred dollars on an accessory, an ongoing fee just to get it online could stand to be a tough sell. Bluetooth tethering to our phones may be the best compromise we have right now, but Android Wear models may be about to do one better, as we get word that the next major Android Wear system software release could enable dormant WiFi ...

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    Sometimes it feels like getting technical details about Apple hardware can be like pulling teeth. Sure, the company can talk about until the cows come home about how it's the user experience that matters, and not the underlying tech, but would it kill you to admit how much RAM is in your phones? Now the Apple Watch is the new hottness and – unsurprisingly – we've got plenty of questions about how it ticks. Today some new information surfaces, attempting to clue us in to the storage situation on Apple's wearable. Go to Apple's site and it will tell you all about the Apple Watch's heart ...

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    Over the past few months, we've had plenty of opportunities to talk about LG's plans for its upcoming G4 flagship, fielding rumors about hardware specs and design decisions alike. Word is that the G4 is supposed to represent a “radical” departure from the family's past, but just what might it do differently? We've heard talk of premium metal materials and a new rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, but there's been little in the way of real visual evidence. Today we what might just get an early peek at LG's work, upon the publication of new render. And... it's curved. While the source ...

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    In just over six weeks, the Apple Watch will be here. And before we even get that far, prospective shoppers will have the chance to check out Apple's wearable in the company's retail stores. Yesterday's press event brought much-needed details concerning the smartwatch's release, maybe most importantly the full breakdown on pricing. So now that you know what to expect from the Apple Watch's retail debut, we've got just one question for you: are you getting one? You've already heard from some of us, how even big Apple fans just couldn't get on board with what the company brought out to show ...

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    Our first real sign of Android 5.1 appeared just over a month ago, as the release apparently started showing up on new Android One handsets being sold in India. But when we would see distribution really go wide? And when would Nexus handsets start getting their updates – you know, the ones we expect these new Android builds to debut on in the first place? Well, a tweet from HTC a few weeks back hinted that Google might be preparing its release for sometime in March, and today Google makes that official, announcing Android 5.1. What's new in Android 5.1? Google's only mentioned a few ...

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    Apple's event today, which brought us both a new MacBook and release information for the Apple Watch, may be the bookend that marks the conclusion of our heady week of MWC action, but just because we're settling back to post-expo life doesn't mean we're quite done sharing everything from the conference with you. Over the weekend we published a few more videos of things we got to take a look at in Barcelona, and now we'd like to draw your attention to a couple of those, starting with the Runcible smart... thingy. At least, the Runcible isn't a smartphone nor a wearable, but its own breed of ...

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    In case you missed it as part of Apple's big Apple Watch release news, there's a new version of iOS landing today, ready to get your iPhone ready to start playing nicely with the company's first smartwatch - and in plenty of time for the wearable's April 24 start to sales. As the company's event concludes, iOS 8.2 is already on its way out to Apple users everywhere. Obviously, there's Apple Watch support in place with this release. To interact with an Apple Watch once they come out next month, you'll need a handset running iOS 8.2 and with hardware at least as recent as the iPhone 5. A big ...

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