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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    The Snapdragon 810 powers some of the highest-end phones on the market right now. And while it's the silicon behind devices like the HTC One M9, Qualcomm finds its SoC behind fewer top-tier devices than it might have just one year ago. Samsung, for instance, side-stepped Qualcomm altogether with the Exynos chips in the Galaxy S6, and the new LG G4 goes with the slightly (and we mean ever-so slightly) lower-end 808. Choices like those have helped fuel rumors of problems with the 810, and specifically claims of overheating. While in the months since that kind of talk ran rampant we've come ...

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    So far today, the newly revealed Google I/O 2015 schedule has offered us several tantalizing previews of what to expect from the upcoming dev conference, including a possible new ATAP wearable and maybe even the big Android M announcement. As attendees and enthusiasts pore further through the session listings, we're learning about a few other noteworthy features and services that will be on the menu, including some new hands-free and proximity-based abilities. One session promises to introduce devs to Voice Access, which will grant users the ability to enjoy “access to their Android ...

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    Last summer at the Google I/O developer conference, Google turned the spotlight on its latest major Android revision. And while it would still be several months before the Android Lollipop name was official, the company gave us an early preview of what to expect as it formally announced Android L and started making available some Nexus factory images for testing. This year's Google I/O will be here in just a few weeks, and as we mentioned a littler earlier today, Google just made the full schedule available. In doing so, it may have just let the cat out of the bag about its plans to reveal ...

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    We're just about three weeks away from the start of this year's Google I/O conference, and today Google finally went public with the full event schedule. While there's going to be a lot of exciting stuff to see, and news to be announced, one entry on the calendar that's catching some early attention is a Google ATAP (the Advanced Technology and Projects group) session on Friday, May 29. Among talk of Project Ara and 3D films, Google mentions that it also plans to show off some mysterious new wearables. The session description promises “wearables that we hope will blow your socks off,” ...

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    If you accidentally drop your One M9 and its screen shatters, HTC's got your back: shortly after the One M9's launch earlier this year, HTC announced its “Uh Oh” coverage for the flagship smartphone, offering a free screen replacement for one year following purchase. For butter-fingered smartphone owners, that sounds like a very attractive offer, and one that goes pretty far towards providing some piece of mind. But is all this talk of replacement screens distracting us from an important issue concerning the choice of glass HTC uses when building the One M9? A new rumor suggests that ...

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    Two weeks back Google launched Project Fi, its MVNO offering that delivers cellular service with the help of Sprint and T-Mobile's networks. With flexible pricing and the promise to make it easier than ever for people to keep in touch with you as you move across devices, it all sounded pretty compelling, and users were quick to register their interest. Today Google's responding to some of those registrations by sending out the first wave of Project Fi invites, and as users go about signing up for the service, we're learning a little bit more about how it all works – and specifically, ...

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    Is Sony trying to build up a reputation for low-key smartphone launches? A couple weeks back the manufacturer dropped the Xperia Z4 on us from seemingly out of nowhere – sure, we were expecting it to debut at some point in the near future, but the announcement itself arrived with little warning – and now it's time for another surprise launch, as Sony goes public with the selfie-taking Xperia C4. With a couple C4 leaks finding their way to us last month, this was certainly a model we had on our radar, but that doesn't make today's out-of-the-blue launch announcement any less surprising. ...

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    You ever have a friend tell you about a great deal they found online, but when you go to check the listing for yourself, you see a different price? Retailers have been experimenting with dynamic pricing for years, where instead of offering the same products at the same prices for everyone, they'll vary things based on your location, purchase history, or other metrics – even your choice of OS or browser. We're not talking different prices for shoppers in different countries, either – someone just down the road from you could see a different Amazon price for a Blu-ray disc than you do. ...

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    Motorola's got a mixed track record as of late with Android updates. Some of the time we see them released at near record speed, while other updates languish for months on end. For those of you who have been anxiously looking forward to Motorola getting the ball rolling on updates for your phone, we may have some good news this evening, as the manufacturer has been spotted posting release notes for updates for quite a few of its models. Newly-published release notes are available for the Android 5.1 update for the Moto E 2015, Moto X 2014 (with both AT&T and T-Mobile -presumably the ...

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    Back at the Mobile World Congress we checked out a lot of new mobile products. Beyond the headline-grabbing Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, and HTC One M9, we also saw a ton of stuff from other companies, including a bunch of accessories. One Sony product that caught our eye was an unusual little Bluetooth speaker, a very Nexus-Q-looking black orb that entertained us with its pop-up “earstalks,” color-changing accents, and wheels that let it dance around your desk. Still, it wasn't quite ready for commercial release at the time, and we'd have to wait in order to see all its features in action. ...

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    Motorola sure seems like it gets into these occasional moods where it just can't stop putting things on sale. It may be hesitant to permanently discount the prices of its phones and wearables, but it gets into these spells where it's a one-day sale here, a week of discounts there, and it's anyone's guess which devices happen to be on sale at the moment. Well, we're already in the middle of its Moto 360 Mother's Day promotion, and now Motorola's tacking-on a limted-time Moto X offer, giving you the chance to score the Android for as much as $225 off regular prices. Normally, a no-contract ...

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    Yesterday delivered some exciting news for both comic books fans and Galaxy S6 enthusiasts, as Samsung seemed to confirm plans to release a special edition Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge in an exclusive red Iron Man design. The idea of creating custom-colored Galaxy S6 handsets as a tie-in with Marvel's The Avengers was one we heard suggested before, and now we're forced to be patient as we wait to see if the Iron Man GS6 we get is indeed as snazzy looking as the fan mock-ups published earlier this year suggested it might be. But that Iron Man mock-up didn't arrive alone, and we also got to ...

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    Going back months now, we've been hearing about a possible LG return to the Windows Phone camp, with evidence pointing to just such a new model for Verizon. Last month a possible render turned up, along with what looked like a codename: Lancet. But for all the signs we saw that this phone was in development, we still didn't have much to go on, including a firm grasp on specs. Today that all changes, upon the leak of a substantial trove of LG documents detailing the Lancet for Verzion. The LG Lancet should have a 4.5-inch FWVGA display, Snapdragon 410 SoC, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB storage (with ...

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    Want to get your hands on the just-launched LG G4? You're not alone, but just like so many other smartphone fans in the US, you're probably going to be waiting until June before you have a chance to pick the new flagship up from your carrier of choice. But as it happens, that's far from your only option for snagging a G4, and we've already told you about some carrier giveaways that promised to connect a lucky few with early G4 handsets. Now you've got another opportunity to get a G4 before anyone else, as LG itself announces the start of pre-registration for its inaugural US consumer trial ...

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    For as important as it is that a flagship smartphone is able to impress out of the box, that's just part of the phone's software story, and in the months that follow any major release, we look forward to seeing the little tweaks a manufacturer delivers via software updates. Maybe those mean fixing some annoying launch-day issues, or activating features that just weren't quite ready to go in time for retail sales. Lately we've been seeing a few phones pick up some new camera tricks from such updates, and the next on that list might just be the Galaxy S6, as we hear a little about what may ...

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    Right now, Tizen doesn't seem like a very big part of Samsung's mobile offerings – but that could be well on its way to changing. Tizen continues to make inroads on Samsung's wearable lineup, but its role in smartphones themselves has been a little lackluster. Initial Samsung Z plans fell apart, and so far we've only seen one Tizen phone: last year's Z1. But now there's promise of new Tizen hardware, with two such models rumored to be in development, including a Z2. Today we may get our first look at just that handset, with the release of a few pics. We sure seem to be looking at a Tizen ...

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    As Sony gets ready to bring Android Lollipop to the original Xperia Z, we've got updates for classic phones on our mind. As smartphones age, there's less and less chance of them continuing to receive official updates, and once a couple years pass, ongoing updates seem to be the exception rather than the rule. For owners of the Samsung Galaxy Note II, there's been hope that Lollipop could still arrive, and late last year we saw one of Samsung's regional offices mention the possibility. But in the months that have followed, evidence of work towards such a release has been hard to come by. ...

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    Sony is neck deep in Lollipop updates right now, and when it's not seeding the latest Android builds for its flagship Xperia Z-series models, it's making a few available for lesser-ranked Xperia handsets. But really, it's the Z devices that are the stars of Sony's Lollipop show, and it's been working its way back through the family's history as it brings Lollipop to more and more phones and tablets. The first-gen Xperia Z is a solid two years old at this point, but it's still got Lollipop on the menu, and the only question has been when Sony would release the update. Now it looks like that ...

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    We rounded-out last week by hearing some rumors about upcoming Microsoft Lumia hardware, describing a pair of seriously high-end-sounding Lumia handsets, outfitted with quad HD displays, 3GB of RAM, and all the latest silicon. These two phones, codenamed Cityman and Talkman, sounded pretty incredible, but was there even a remote shot that these guys were real, and we'd actually see them launch this fall? Well, we're still a ways off from formal confirmation, but a new source is now speaking up about these rumors, confirming some details and adding a new twist to what we've heard. The Verge ...

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    Samsung's got a marketing deal with Marvel – that much has been clear – but just how far are the companies planning to take their arrangement? A couple months back we were talking about the idea of some custom-colored Galaxy S6 handsets to correspond with the new Avengers film, and checked out one designer's awesome mock-ups of what such handsets might look like. While that might have seemed like some wishful thinking, it now appears that at least one of these phones will be happening, as Samsung marketing exec Lee Young-hee shares plans for red Iron Man versions of the Galaxy S6 and ...

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    Last week we found ourselves looking at a story about Sony's business selling smartphone camera modules to the manufacturers of other handsets – and specifically, the degree to which Sony was making money from sales of the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6. We touched on the subject again during the Pocketnow Weekly podcast, noting how Sony's emerged among other camera makers as the one you call out by name when you've got the company's cameras in your phone – beyond Apple and Sony, plenty of OEMs brag about their Sony cameras. But now a new report suggests that this success isn't coming without ...

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    The official North American commercial launch of the ASUS ZenFone 2 may not fall until May 18, but that hasn't stopped plenty of retailers from taking an early crack at the smartphone; hell, it's been on Amazon through various merchants since March. And while that official launch event is likely to mean a great deal for the phone's availability, there's at least one pre-event sale that may be worth paying attention to, as we get word of a pretty solid-looking one-day ZenFone 2 offer. AliExpress retailer Eternal Team has revealed plans to sell the 4GB RAM, 64GB flash ZenFone 2 (remember, ...

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    Last we checked out all the news to emerge out of Microsoft's Build conference, and one of the more exciting announcements was what cross-platform support for means for app availability on Windows 10. The company highlighted several ways developers could bring existing software from other platforms over to Windows 10, including those originally designed for Android and iOS. It all sounded very promising, and while it still does, in the days since we've learned about some critical limitations that are going to be worth keeping in mind. Take support for Android apps, for instance: while ...

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    So far this year, Samsung hasn't had much in the way of exciting new tablets. Sure, there have been devices like the Galaxy Tab 3 V or the Galaxy Tab A, but none of them with really killer hardware; if anything, the only notable move has been the way Samsung switched to a 4:3 aspect screen for the Tab A. But while the low-res Tab A may have failed to wow, we've also been hearing about another possible 4:3 aspect device that promises to be a whole lot more attractive: a follow-up to last year's OLED-screened Galaxy Tab S (above). Rumors have suggested the Tab S2 models could get some killer ...

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    The Galaxy S6 (along with the GS6 Edge) has a neat trick: beyond being able to complete mobile payments using NFC, as you would with something like Google Pay, the phone's hardware also has the ability to emulate a swiped magnetic card, allowing it to fund transactions even where POS systems lack specific NFC hardware. It sounds pretty promising, but there's one big hitch: you can't use it just yet. Back when the phone launched, we heard that the Samsung Pay service that's tied to this ability would go live later this year. As we wait for Samsung to flip the switch, the company's offering ...

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