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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    It's that time of year again: bargain-hunters bundle up for a long night out in the cold, armed with a vacuum flask full of coffee and a checklist of the stores they'll be hitting. Retail employees let out a resigned sigh as they prepare to begin a single shift that starts somewhere around Wednesday afternoon and lasts through Saturday morning. And if you're anything like us, you're staying warm at home, probably watching way too much Netflix, and hoping to snag a few good deals online. That's right – it's Black Friday time. What used to be a single day of retail hedonism has mutated ...

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    Apps, music, movies, emails, documents, chat history, text messages: if you're an Android user who's deeply wrapped up in Google's ecosystem, you've got a hell of a lot of stuff being protected by your Google login credentials. The company offers plenty of ways to help keep your account secure, from things like two-factor authentication to helping you detect suspicious activity. Today we see those activity alerts take on an easy-to-access new form, with the debut of the new online Google Devices and Activity dashboard. Much like you've seen on Google Play, where the service keeps track of ...

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    The OnePlus One: a compelling phone, with attractive hardware, at a hard-to-beat price. Sounds good, right? For many, the biggest problem has been getting your hands on the device, with sales first invite-only, to be later supplanted by a limited pre-order system. Wouldn't it be nice if OnePlus could simply make the phone available at a major retailer? Maybe someone like Amazon? As it turns out, that's just about to happen, thought it's news that's peppered with so many qualifying asterisks that it falls quite a bit short of being the answer we hoped for. For starters, we're talking only ...

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    Canonical has not had the easiest time breaking into the smartphone market, maybe most publicly failing as it attempted to crowdfund the Ubuntu Edge handset. But even with the dreams of Canonical's own Ubuntu phone on ice, we had hope that other manufacturers might arrive to bring the platform to market, and earlier this year heard about plans to do just that with the help of OEMs like Meizu. Thing is, we haven't seen much motion on that since, leaving us wondering if this was really going to happen at all. Well, the earlier stated goal of releasing such hardware this year may be bust, but ...

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    In an effort to help their models stand out from the crowd, smartphone manufacturers have been turning to some interesting camera designs. Sometimes that brings us phones like the PureView Lumia 1020 with a big ol' rear sensor, while other times we end up with something like the HTC Desire Eye and its dual high-res front and rear cameras. One old idea from the days of flip phones has even started making a comeback, with Oppo turning to rotating cameras for the N1 and new N3, where the same physical camera pulls double duty as it snaps both front and rear pics itself. Today we're looking at ...

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    Motorola loves giving its smartphone users a bevy of customizable looks for their phones, whether we're talking about the Moto X and its fantastic array of colors and materials to choose from, or the numerous alternate rear shells available for the Moto G. But not every Motorola handset is nearly so lucky, and one of our favorite recent devices, the Droid Turbo, comes up seriously short with the aesthetic variety it offers shoppers. We're still nowhere near the number of options you'll find with other Moto models, but this week the Droid Turbo picks up a new color variant, coming to Best ...

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    T-Mobile may be the cool kid on the block, not messing with the Motorola Nexus 6 it sells in its stores, but not every carrier is committed to being so hands-off. As we looked at last week, the AT&T version of the phone has a few carrier-specific anomalies rendering it distinct from the unbranded model, but they're overly onerous. If you can't live with even those, enthusiasts have already worked out how to restore the AT&T Nexus 6 to a near-clean slate, as well as overcome the mandatory encryption (for the Nexus 6 on all carriers) we understand could be slowing down disk ...

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    “Deals. Want my deals. It's almost Thanksgiving. Where are the deals?” OK, OK, we hear you, and we've been busy compiling a list of the hottest Black Friday offers around. Look for our full feature to arrive tomorrow evening, and while those deals will persist through the end of the week (those that have gotten a head start, at least – as seems to be the standard practice this year), we just had to bring you news of one today, one that isn't lasting that long. Just like HTC pulled last week with its half-off accessories deal last Tuesday, Motorola's got a similar offer of its own, ...

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    A couple weeks back, the Android 5.0 Lollipop update explosion began, with both OEMs and Google beginning to make the new software for their own phones (or for their Nexus models) available. Motorola even beat Google with confirmation of updates for the new Moto G and Moto X, but not without a major limitation: that 2014 Moto X Lollipop update was only for the unlocked Pure Edition, meaning that if you picked the phone up through a carrier you were out of luck. Well, “temporarily inconvenienced” might be more like it, but now even that “temporary” bit flies out the window, with ...

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    Well this was inevitable: owners of smartwatches are eager to configure their wearables to reflect the latest styles, and watchface galleries have been quick to spring up and offer users a broad selection of options. But where do all these designs come from? Plenty are full-on originals, but you won't have to look hard to find faces mimicking designs from TV, movies, and video games, as well as those copying the style of popular “dumb” watches. And while Rare might be cool with people rocking a Goldeneye 007 watch layout, luxury brands like Omega aren't being so accommodating, and have ...

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    It's rarely good news when we start a story out with the caveat “you won't be buying this hardware,” but every once in a while some very much not-consumer-focused gear becomes available that's just so mouth-watering, we can't help ourselves but to share it with you. Back in April we took a look at Qualcomm's tablet development platform to highlight its then-new Snapdragon 805. Now it's time for the next generation of that hardware to emerge, as both a smartphone and tablet dev model packing Snapdragon 810 chips emerge. Let's start with the phone, which at 6.2 inches is indisputably in ...

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    Last week, we got what was one of our first insights into Sony's possible plans for the Xperia Z4, with the leaks of a few images purporting to reveal the phone's front panel. It looked close enough to the size of the Z3's that we weren't expecting the Z4 to make any radical departures size-wise, but that's about as much detail as the leak managed to provide. With rumors that the Z4 could launch as soon as Sony's press event at CES in January, will much more detailed leaks be soon to arrive? Well, it doesn't quite have the evidentiary spark of those hardware pics, but a new set of rumors ...

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    OnePlus brought us its One smartphone earlier this year, and the incredibly affordable, yet still quite powerful hardware has managed to win itself a good number of fans – at least so many that the manufacturer continues to struggle to keep up with demand (though the situation's definitely getting better). But for a couple months now, our thoughts have been drifting away from the OnePlus One and towards the idea of its sequel – OnePlus learning from its first effort and hopefully delivering an even more impressive follow-up. So far that's included ideas like a possibly smaller size ...

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    Earlier this week we saw platform upstart Jolla find itself back in the news, about a year after we first had the opportunity to go hands-on with the company's Sailfish OS-running smartphone. Jolla decided to turn to crowdfunding to support the production of its new tablet, and the response it's seen in just these few brief days has been phenomenal – as we mentioned earlier today on the Pocketnow Weekly, the effort has already passed the million-dollar mark. Capitalizing on all the publicity and support it's getting in light of this tablet news, Jolla has elected to direct some of that ...

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    If you're interested in music on your phone, there are tons of free options out there, all ready to stream high-quality tracks from popular artists, in exchange for you listening to the occasional ad. But start talking about video, and the situation changes: sure, we have the YouTubes out there, with their own free, ad-supported content, but the really good stuff is walled-off behind pay services like Netflix, HBO Go, and Amazon Prime. The latter made some big inroads on mobile earlier this year as we saw its streaming video come to Amazon's Android app, but it was still a subscription ...

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