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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    We're just about one month away from the next Project Ara dev conference, where Google is sure to have plenty to announce about its work towards the first commercially focused, highly modular smartphone hardware platform. We got a little taste earlier this month as imagery of the next-gen Ara prototype board was published, and this week Google's got some more Ara details to share, as it reveals what sort of processor options are in the works for Ara. You might remember old talk about Toshiba chips for Ara, but that's not the phone's main SoC: instead, Toshiba has crafted the silicon making ...

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    The Galaxy S6 doesn't have much competition when it comes to being the Samsung Android we're most looking forward to launching, but it's far from alone on the list of Samsung smartphones we're expecting to see announced in the months to come. The manufacturer still needs to go official with the Galaxy A7 (following the debut of the A3 and A5 earlier this year), and we've also seen signs of some E-series phones. Now there's what could be the start of another letter-based smartphone family, as we hear about Samsung's plans for a Galaxy J1 (no, not the old Galaxy J). Whereas those E models ...

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    We were only just starting to see Android 5.0.1 hit the last stragglers of the Nexus family: this past Monday, the Nexus 5 finally saw its OTA incoming. And with that, all the Nexus phones that would be getting the update had access to it, following earlier availability for many Nexus tablets. But the weeks that follow the release of a major Android update like Lollipop are ones that are inevitability chaotic, full of devs scrambling to correct little issues that made it through the cracks or deliver features that weren't quite fully-baked at launch time – this is what leads to things ...

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    We got this week started by sharing some unfortunate news about the Lumia 535, one of Microsoft's latest affordable Windows Phone models. Multiple reports had been turning up from users frustrated with the smartphone's touchscreen sensitivity, but there was hope: one of Microsoft's international arms reached out to a 535 owner on social media and mentioned that the company was developing an update aimed at correcting this glitch. That sounded great to us, but just when could we expect this fix to materialize? More good news: not much longer, with Microsoft reportedly working to get this ...

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    Sony has its CES press event coming up just two weeks from Monday. Will it really be ready to announce its next-gen Xperia Z smartphone? What about those rumors of a new, extra-large tablet? We're still looking to put together the complete picture of what to expect from Sony, and now the manufacturer is helping to stoke our speculative fires a little, releasing a teaser video that's backed to the prim with suggestive imagery. If smartphone ads were chocolates, and you could eat too many and give yourself a sugar-fueled fever-dream, this is what you might find. We've got close-ups of very ...

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    Given the evidence that's arrived to date, it's hardly controversial to suggest that Samsung's working a Galaxy S6, though so far we haven't managed to get a look at any actual hardware. One week back, a purported prototype photo was quickly identified as a fake, and while plenty of rumors have made bold claims about curved-screen designs, there just hasn't been any photographic proof to support these allegations. Well, today we've got something to actually look at – whether it's part of the Galaxy S6 or not is another question, but these pics are supposed to depict the metal frame that ...

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    Yesterday had us thinking about Galaxy S6 design, following the arrival of a rumor claiming that Samsung would really embrace the sort of curved-screen layout the Note Edge introduced while taking things even further, featuring such a curve on not one side of the screen, but two. It's an idea we'd heard before, though what realistic chance there is of the GS6 getting such a bold look, we still can't say with much confidence. Even with that bit up in the air, new evidence arrives today of the Galaxy S6's existence, with some Indian import logs appearing to reveal Samsung's work on the ...

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    CES 2015 is just a couple weeks away, and one of the many phones we're hoping to see at the expo is Sony's next flagship Android, the Xperia Z4. Leaks and rumors have touched upon what we might expect for the past month or so now, but now a big one may have just emerged from the recent Sony Pictures Entertainment hack, outing the Z4 thanks to its tie-in with the upcoming James Bond film, Spectre. Just as the last Bond film, Skyfall, had an Xperia promo connection, a leak from SPE CEO Michael Lynton's email talks about Spectre also featuring a smartphone tie-in, identified by name as “the ...

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    Last week, HTC got started with making available the Nexus 9 Magic Cover, the foldable, magnetic, cover/stand for the company's first tablet in a long while. That was cool, but we only saw one color option at first. Then this week got started off with a big push forward for the accessory, as Google began sales on the Play Store, and with all four color options instead of just the one. That was great, but even then we found ourselves interested in finally completing this story: tucked away down in the specifications of that Play Store listing was the note that in addition to those four ...

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    Yesterday we saw Microsoft prepping for wider distribution of the Lumia Denim firmware update for Lumia smartphones, following word of limited availability in select markets. It was progress, sure, but we craved more information: just when could the rest of us hope to see Denim arrive. Today Microsoft speaks up and shares an update about Denim's progress, but at the same time removes its fine-grained update status pages. The new statement gives us another overview of the Denim features to expect, but we know enough about those already – what about that ETA? You've got a little bit of ...

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    A little earlier today we took a look at where smartphones have been able to take fingerprint-based authentication so far, wondering about what future the tech might have. Has the novelty worn off? Will the security it offers substantially improve? It looks like Apple's been asking itself some similar questions, and today we see the publication of a patent application that may hint at what's next for Touch ID. The gist of the patent is an unlock system that combines fingerprint scanning with the sort of pattern or combination-based lock screens already used on many phones that lack ...

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    So far, the rumors and leaks surrounding Samsung's plans for the presumptive Galaxy S6 have largely fallen into two camps: those that are looking at specs and the detail behind the hardware components Samsung might choose, and those that are more focused on the handset's overall design. That latter group has itself seen division over a few key issues, with a lot of talk being made about the degree to which the GS6 would or wouldn't feature an curving over-the-side screen as introduced by the Galaxy Note Edge. Would the GS6 itself have a curved screen? Would there be a regular flat GS6 and ...

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    Do you have Android 5.0 (or 5.0.1) Lollipop yet? Odds are, you don't, as even with manufacturers cooking up updates as quickly as they can, the vast majority of Android devices out there will be waiting weeks, if not months, before Lollipop even becomes close to a possibility. But as most of you wait patiently for Lollipop at all, Google's already hard at work on what's next, and today some new rumors arrive that suggest a big Lollipop refresh is coming early next year, and give us a few clues at what to expect. First up: that ETA. According to a pair of sources, Google's working on ...

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    There's probably never going to be a hard-line answer to the question “how big is too big to be a smartphone?” Manufacturers will continue to push limits, and as long as these phablets that encroach into tablet-sized spaces continue to attract shoppers, new devices will keep on arriving. The latest to catch our eye is the Studio 7.0 from BLU, a lower-end phablet that tries to get some attention due to its large size and budget price. How low end? Well, even at seven inches, that display is only 1024 x 600 – an odd resolution to be sure, especially at a size where 720p feels like the ...

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    This year Google introduced Android One as its new project to make available affordable, high-quality smartphones with strong software support. Sales in India got underway back in September, followed by a rollout to other Asian nations. There were already a number of different manufacturers releasing Android One hardware, including Karbonn. Now, with 2015 nearly upon us, Karbonn says that it's already looking forward to what's next, sharing its intention to follow that first model up with a new Android One handset in the first quarter of the new year. What can we expect from this new ...

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