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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    Smartphones these days pull down data at lightning-fast speeds thanks to 4G LTE connections, and modern data-hungry apps are all too ready to use as much of that bandwidth as they can get their greedy hands on. We've come a long way from sluggish 2G connections, or even the days when 3G was the norm, but just because we're regularly pulling down data at megabit speeds doesn't mean it's time to give up on progress now. Carriers are already looking to next-gen 5G networks as they get ready to bring wireless data to a growing base of smartphone users, and last year we heard Verizon talk about ...

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    Changes are afoot for how iPhone users will listen to music, and between rumors that the iPhone 7 will ditch the usual analog headphone jack in favor of its Lightning port, or that Apple could introduce wireless “AirPods,” it's really been looking like a big shift is right around the corner. Now a new analyst note attempts to get to the bottom of some of the tech that Apple's likely to use on upcoming earbuds, and while we're likely to see that move to Lightning happen with the iPhone 7, some of the more impressive changes could still be one more generation off. The analysis looks to ...

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    Fingerprint security can be one of the best ways to keep your smartphone safe, as it both relies on something that's unique to you, the phone's owner, and when it works well, its operation can be nearly seamless. But key to its security is making sure that it only recognizes your fingerprints as authorized – if another user could easily add their own, that protection goes right out the window. That's why we're paying attention to a new video that highlights a security breakdown in the LG V10's fingerprint scanner, one that has the potential to bypass a key authorization step in how the ...

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    We've been looking forward to Xiaomi's Mi 5 since … well, it feels like the better part of forever, but in reality it's been since last spring. The months since have brought us no shortage of rumors, renders, and whispers about possible launch plans, and now it's finally looking like things are nearly ready to happen. A teaser from a couple weeks back clued us in to MWC launch plans, and we even got a glimpse at the phone's retail packaging. As we get ready to meet the hardware up close and personal in Barcelona, Xiaomi's continuing its effort to build up the Mi 5's buzz, and earlier ...

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    With the original HTC One (M7), the manufacturer introduced us to the “UltraPixel,” some branding it came up with for a camera sensor that traded high megapixel count for physically larger individual pixels, capturing more light and designed to produce higher quality images. Now with the new One M10 just around the corner, we've heard reports of UltraPixel making its return to the phone's main camera, though now in the form of a much higher-res 12MP sensor. Can we still expect the same big pixels as before, just with a lot more of them? Or is the UltraPixel branding more fluid, and HTC ...

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    Back in December, Samsung gave fans of the Gear S2 Classic smartwatch (the design with that lovely knurled bezel ring) something to look forward to in the new year as it announced that the wearable was about to pick up two new color options: platinum and rose gold. At CES in early January we got a chance to check out the new hardware, bringing you a hands-on look at the new models. A few weeks later, we even saw retailers getting ready to sell these puppies – but still with no firm word on when they might actually become available, outside a general one-to-two-month window. Well, it ...

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    From licking a frozen pole to sticking a fork in an outlet, there are countless bad ideas people can tell you that you absolutely, 100% should not try – and someone's going to try them anyway. In the smartphone world, that extends to things like putting your Galaxy Note 5's S Pen in backwards – at least on the original hardware. Today we've got another of these warnings to share with you, as we learn about an iOS bug that makes it way too easy to seriously disable your iPhone. Users report that disabling automatic timekeeping and manually setting your phone's date to January 1, 1970 ...

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    Google's been making a big investment in virtual reality lately, and with all the reports we've heard of new VR hires, it hasn't been hard to imagine that this interest might extend beyond the sort of relatively simple Cardboard viewer we have now. But just how far could Google be planning to go? A recent report suggested news could be coming at this year's I/O, including a next-gen Cardboard-like headset that pairs with existing smartphones. Now a new rumor suggests that not only is this advanced Cardboard successor in the works, but that Google's also working on a fully stand-alone VR ...

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    When we're talking about improvements with smartphone imaging tech, we usually think about picture quality: low-light performance, stabilization, and all that good stuff. And while better camera tech gives us access to higher and higher quality pics, some of the most interesting developments are happening over on the software side of things, as algorithms get better at processing the content of these photos, learning to recognize their subjects and make smart decisions about how to categorize and sort our pics. That extends from automatic photo tagging to some more impressive feats, like ...

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    With their launches just over a week away, the LG G5 and Samsung Galaxy S7 have really started coming into focus lately, as leaks and rumors continue to condense into what's becoming a more and more reliable-looking picture of the flagship hardware. And while we have shades of that with the One M10 (aka Perfume), there's more than a bit of extra uncertainty over in HTC's camp. Rumors continue to cast doubt on how the phone will be branded, and we're facing the possibility that it could be months and months before shoppers have the chance to lay hands on the hardware. As we continue to look ...

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    We're about to find ourselves positively inundated by announcements of new mobile hardware with MWC looming ever so close, but some companies just can't wait until the big expo to share their latest news, and are already getting a head start with early launches. We just told you about one of Qualcomm's newest SoCs, as the company announced its first such component made specifically for wearable hardware: the Snapdragon Wear 2100. But that's just one piece of today's Qualcomm news, and the company's also got a trio of more traditional SoCs that it's also launching: the Snapdragon 425, ...

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    Love it or hate it, it's hard to deny that the NuAns Neo with its two-tone, multi-color (to say nothing of multi-material) back panel is one of the most eye-catching Windows 10 Mobile smartphones we've seen to date – and arguably ever will. When we first learned about the phone last month, the hardware sounded pretty solid (if less than cutting-edge), and while it might have been a little chunky-looking, this seemed like the smartphone for spotlight-seekers to get. The only problem was, this puppy was slated for a Japanese release, and the radio support didn't exactly make it conducive ...

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    There are plenty of reasons you might want to be critical of Sony's smartphone game, from the slow-to-evolve design language of its handsets, to a hard-to-predict launch schedule, to a failure to make its phones widely available in some popular markets. But the one thing it's hard to complain about is the degree to which Sony goes out of its way to connect users with in-development software, giving them early access to new Android builds before they're ready for mass distribution. We've seen that with the company's Concept for Android program, and that spirit continues with the new Xperia ...

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    Whether we're interacting with a new social network, organizing a get-together, or just sending out some old-fashioned emails, there are a lot of good reasons for an app to tap into our ever-growing list of personal contacts. Between info we gather ourselves, and stuff that can be pulled from online sources, our phones have access to a lot of data about our friends, relatives, and co-workers. On Android so far, giving apps access to all this stuff has been a bit of a hodgepodge of API calls, a consequence of the growing body of information that apps can draw from. Going forward, Google's ...

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    Part of using Gmail means being cool with the fact that Google and its algorithms are constantly scanning your mail (in a hopefully not-at-all-creepy kind of way), using that data to tailor ads for you, as well as advanced features like automatically recognizing messages about upcoming events and adding them to your calendar. Today we learn about some new synergy for Google's Android apps as it taps into that Gmail data in order to provide you with extra-relevant app recommendations. Google's latest Play Store update adds a new setting that allows the app to gather data from Gmail ...

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    Alcatel OneTouch came to CES ready to show off some new hardware, introducing us to devices like the Windows 10 Mobile edition of the Fierce XL, which just landed at T-Mobile today. But for all the cool stuff we saw then, we've had an inkling that the main attraction was holding back for MWC. And indeed, in the weeks since CES we've caught wind of some leaks and rumors that have pointed to a seriously heavy crew of AOT MWC hardware, headed up by the new Idol 4 phones. Today we pick up some extra insight into what's on the way as a leaked product roadmap sheds some light on the company's ...

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    Apple's getting into the home stretch of development for iOS 9.3, and a couple days back we saw the company release its latest beta build for the developer community. That's well and good for them, but what about the rest of us? Well, a final 9.3 release is probably still a few weeks away, but with the arrival of iOS 9 last year, Apple created a public beta program for its users to take advantage of. Today, users enrolled in the program finally get their own shot at iOS 9.3 beta 3, as Apple expands availability to the publc. Just like we told you earlier this week, one of the major changes ...

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    Adobe Flash helped make the internet what it is today, bringing us streaming video, interactive games, and –yes- some very annoying ads. But the internet's been doing a lot of growing up lately, and between steep processing and memory requirements, to say nothing of security vulnerability after security vulnerability, the sun's been setting on Flash. As everyone looks to HTML5 and other more mature technologies for their Flash replacements, Google's doing its part to help move things along, and this week announced plans to stop accepting advertisements built on Flash. As one of the ...

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    With MWC just over a week away, and new flagship models perched up on the horizon, carriers are about to start seeing a lot of new faces joining their smartphone lineups. But even before all those new players arrive, we're seeing some fresh handsets joining the ranks at carriers like T-Mobile, which earlier today we learned is picking up the Alcatel OneTouch Fierce XL running Windows 10 Mobile. That's not the only affordable new phone landing in the company's stores, as word arrives that it's being joined by the similarly budget-priced LG K7, as well as a new wireless hotspot offering from ...

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    What draws you to one social network over another? They've all got their particular hooks, but sometimes it's less what one offers, and more what it doesn't. For Twitter, that's meant a focus on simplicity: you follow users, and you see their tweets – and when you follow multiple users, everyone's tweets get sorted chronologically, with no Facebook-style editorializing getting in the way of which messages you see, and which you don't. So when rumors started circulating earlier this month that Twitter was about to introduce an algorithm-driven sorting method of its own, users ...

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    Samsung's next Unpacked event is scheduled for February 21 in Barcelona, the day before this year's Mobile World Congress formally gets started. And while Samsung hasn't quite out and admitted it just yet, you don't have to be a modern-day Nostradamus to have a pretty good idea that we're likely to see the tech giant introduce this year's smartphone flagship, the Galaxy S7. Over the past few weeks and months we've been hitting the Galaxy S7 rumor beat with gusto, covering all angles of reports claiming to offer a little early insight into just what to expect from this year's offerings: how ...

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    Windows 10 as a platform is one that, if nothing, else, is chock full of potential. Whether it just gets by or manages to thrive is going to depend a lot on how able manufacturers and devs are to tap in to a lot of that promise, from universal apps that effortlessly transition between device types, to tools that streamline ports from competing platforms. Things may have hit a snag when it comes to Android apps, but Microsoft's been making some visible progress with its Windows Bridge for iOS. Talk is cheap, though; just how easy is it really for a dev to adapt an existing iOS app for ...

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    We just started off the month looking forward to news of the first Windows 10 Mobile smartphone from VAIO, the once Sony-helmed brand generally known for sleek, fashionable, premium hardware. And while we didn't let our expectations run away with us, the handset we ultimately saw launch was pretty respectable. It got a smart-looking metal build, some solid (if less than boundary-pushing) silicon within, and with support for Continuum, it looked ready to tackle the enterprise market. Maybe the only obvious downside was the questionable “Phone Biz” name. Well, that and the issue of ...

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    Installing a screen protector is an important part of the new-phone setup process for a lot of smartphone users, helping to keep that just-out-of-the-box pristine look for as long as possible. And while manufacturers have come a long way in installation guidelines, helping us get new screen protectors in place with a minimum of fuss, it can still be an anxiety-inducing operation, especially for first-time users: the last thing we want is to put it on crooked, or worse yet, end up with an air bubble under the surface. So when word arrived last week that Apple was beginning a program that ...

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    Of the three big Android early-year flagships we've been looking forward to, the LG G5, the Samsung Galaxy S7, and the HTC One M10, HTC's entry has easily felt like the most mysterious of the group. From the name, to the design, to the hardware within, big questions have been hanging over this handset since day one, and every time it feels like we're just starting to get some answers – like we did when an image of actual hardware landed last week and appeared to confirm quite a few outstanding rumors – some new rumor lands that has us questioning earlier assumptions. That's just what's ...

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