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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    Google may head up a major smartphone platform, develop self-driving cars, and even have a fleet internet-connected high-altitude balloons, but at its core this is still a company that sells ads. Whether those are on its search engine, or popping-up while we watch YouTube, ads are the company's bread and butter. Today we learn of the next logical step Google's taking with its ad presence, as it announces the forthcoming arrival of promoted apps within the Play Store itself. You'll already see ads for relevant apps when running searches through Google's website, so it's no big leap to see ...

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    While Samsung and HTC wait for Sunday to showcase their next new mobile hardware, LG is having none of this “waiting” business. We've already seen the company introduce the Watch Urbane Android Wear smartwatch, as well as a new lineup of mid-range phones. As it turns out, LG wasn't done with its wearable news just yet, and today follows all those pre-MWC launches with yet another one, unveiling the Watch Urbane LTE. As that name should immediately clue you in, we're looking at a smartwatch with its own cellular connectivity, no longer dependent on a tethered smartphone for mobile data. ...

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    Yesterday brought us the best images we've seen to date of Samsung's Galaxy S6, as a number of pics captured the design of the upcoming flagship. But this coming Sunday in Barcelona we're expecting Samsung to unveil not one, but two GS6 models, pairing the flat-screened handset depicted yesterday with a curved-screen Edge model. We've already had a few hints at how this phone might differ from the Note Edge, and beyond having a curve that extends onto two sides, teasers had suggested that the extent of the curve could be much less pronounced than on last year's model. That's all looking ...

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    Do you BYOD? And no, we don't mean buying an unsubsidized phone from a third-party retailer and separately activating it on a carrier – we're talking about using your own phone for work, rather than carrying an employer-issued device. Companies have been warming to the practice in recent years as manufacturers bake-in support for new enterprise management and security tools, making it more and more likely that you may find yourself in this BYOD boat. Last year at Google I/O we learned of new work-friendly tools that Google was preparing for Lollipop, and today the full extent of that ...

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    We've been talking a lot lately about Google's interests in mobile payments, from rumors of an unusual Bluetooth-based system, to the boost Wallet is getting thanks to that new Softcard deal, to word of a general focus at I/O this year on Google Wallet. But more than just making an effort to get additional Android users shopping with Wallet, today we hear rumors of a plan to build payment support into new apps, with word of a new Android Pay API that could debut at I/O. Android Pay would offer developers an easy framework for both supporting in-app transactions, as well as delivering ...

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    With last year's launch of the iPad Air 2, Apple made a significant step forward with its mobile device hardware, introducing the first model with a solid 2GB of RAM. But while Apple's tablet family was now able to enjoy the comparative luxury of such a deep memory pool, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus found themselves stuck with a single gigabyte. Sure, Apple's mobile OS manages to do a lot with so little memory, and it would be unfair to directly compare iOS phones to Android models which have already pushed upwards to 4GB, but at some point an iPhone RAM increase is going to start feeling ...

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    Over the past several weeks, there's been no shortage of renders attempting to reveal Samsung's Galaxy S6, from designs put together by case-makers, to works from independent artists. But what we haven't seen a lot of are actual photographs of flesh-and-blood (or metal-and-glass) hardware. Sure, there's been the odd component shot, but we've been hurting for anything approaching a believable pic of the actual GS6. As we start counting the time until Samsung's launch even in terms of hours, some new images have surfaced that sure appear to reveal Galaxy S6 hardware. From the markings on ...

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    Earlier this week we got word of a big step forward for Google Wallet, as Google inked a deal with previous mobile payment competitor Softcard that would see Google Wallet land pre-installed on phones from major US carriers. That sounded great for Google, but what about Softcard users? Well, those on Android clearly had the option to switch over to Google Wallet, but that's only part of the Softcard, as the company also provided mobile payment solutions for Windows Phone. And while users abroad have other options for NFC payments on the platform, Softcard had been the only one available in ...

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    Samsung is super-excited about wireless charging at the moment. While it's offered wireless charging accessories for its handsets going back years by now, you'd be forgiven for considering these efforts to be afterthoughts: with the need to purchase and install optional charging backs, the company's solutions didn't feel much better than hacky third-party solutions. But the tide may be turning for the Galaxy S6, and beyond theories that the phone could feature integrated wireless charging right out of the box, we've seen Samsung very publicly drawing attention to wireless charging tech in ...

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    We knew Motorola had some pre-MWC news for us today, and while we didn't have any direct clues about what it might be, our best guess was that it might announce a new Moto E. After all, leaks of the second-generation handset had been piling up over the last few weeks, and it felt like it was just a matter of time before Motorola would be ready to make the affordable smartphone official. Today it does just that, announcing a new LTE-equipped Moto E. Compared to the first-gen mode, there are several big changes here. The phone's screen grows to 4.5 inches, while keeping its quarter HD ...

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    Last week we saw the emergence of a troubling report, one claiming that the GCHQ and NSA compromised the security of SIM-card-maker Gemalto, accessing encryption keys that would in theory allow the spy agencies to passively monitor cellular communications as they moved from our phones to cellular towers. It was quite the alarming claim, but one that was difficult to immediately quantify in terms of its impact on end users: just what could such a hack conceivably mean for the security of your data? Today Gemalto has released a follow-up statement looking into the scope of the attack on its ...

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    The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge aren't the only upcoming Samsung models we've been tracking, and beyond smartphones entirely we've been hearing about plans for a couple new tablets. After introducing the OLED-screened Galaxy Tab S last year, rumors have suggested Samsung could be cooking-up some new models, and we've both seen mention of a few specific model numbers, as well as claims that the tablets could be fantastically thin. One big question we've had concerns the shape of the Galaxy Tab S2, amidst suggestions that Samsung could be jumping on the 4:3 bandwagon like the Nexus 9 or ...

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    When BlackBerry first introduced the Classic two months ago, we knew that the smartphone would be finding a home in the US on AT&T. Shortly thereafter, we saw Verizon getting ready to welcome the handset to its own network, as well. US Mobile may have gotten a head start on both of them with its early January start to sales, but AT&T finally began selling the BlackBerry Classic for itself earlier this week (along with the Passport). That leaves Verizon; when could its users hope to get their hands on the Classic? Today the network makes its plans official, with BlackBerry Classic ...

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    The latest rumors have suggested that Sony will come to MWC 2015 without a new smartphone flagship: the best guess we currently have at an Xperia Z4 launch puts the date out closer to May. But Sony's clearly coming to MWC and will have something to show off, so what will it be, then? Beyond that Xperia E4g that just went official, it now appears that Sony could be ready to introduce a new high-end tablet, as the company seems to have accidentally confirmed the Xperia Z4 Tablet. The Xperia Tablet Z2 debuted at MWC last year, and we saw it followed up seven months later at IFA with the ...

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    For fans of HTC's smartphones, or even just those who appreciate some good pre-release info in general, today's proven to be an absolute treasure trove of insight into this still-unannounced handset. From still shots to video leaks, we're checking out the phone's hardware and software in ways usually reserved for launch day itself. This momentum isn't ready to break just yet, and now we turn our attention to the One M9's SoC, which Qualcomm sure seems to be teasing will be its Snapdragon 810. As you can see in the stills from Qualcomm's Vine teaser above (and in the video embedded below), ...

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    We just shared with you a couple new HTC One M9 renders, appearing to confirm that the design that's more One M8 than Nexus 9 may be the look that wins out. These arrived courtesy of leaker upleaks, and we're glad we got them when we did because his Twitter account has seemingly vanished in the past couple hours. He hasn't gone dark everywhere, though, and over on YouTube he just managed to share some of the best One M9 leaks we've seen to date, with a series of three very official-looking videos that further detail HTC's upcoming flagship. Once again, that M8-inspired design returns. The ...

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    Will the HTC One M9 look like a spruced-up version of last year's One M8, or will it go with a bold new design that dumps those big speaker grilles? Early leaks seemed to suggest the former, but then late last month we started hearing this theory about a very Nexus-9-like M9, followed shortly thereafter by some attractive renders. In the weeks since we've really wanted to believe that this latter look might be what HTC ultimately goes with, but the last few days have seen expectations running all over the place, as new renders from retail sources offered fresh evidence for that M8-ish ...

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    By most accounts, Samsung is preparing to unveil two new flagship smartphones at its Unpacked event this coming Sunday: the Galaxy S6, as well as a curved-screen variant in the vein of the Galaxy Note Edge (above). While that much has been suggested by rumor time and time again, the specifics have been a little murky, an in particular regarding how this version with the over-the-edge display might arrive. At first we were calling it the Galaxy S6 Edge, but then about a month ago evidence surfaced suggesting it might mirror the numberless naming of the Note Edge and launch simply as the ...

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    As we approach Samsung's MWC Unpacked event, where it will officially welcome the Galaxy S6 to its smartphone lineup, our questions about the handset are beginning to turn more to the practical. For instance, we may get our first formal look at the phone on Sunday, but when will you have the chance to go to a store and pick one up for yourself? We've already checked out one theory for when Samsung may be planning to get sales underway in the US, having blocked certain retail staff from taking time off during the week of March 22, and today we turn our focus on international retail plans, ...

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    Pebble's been counting down to its big news since last week, and rumors were quick to suggest that this countdown would give way to the announcement of a new color-screened model. Yesterday we checked out a render that seemed to reveal just such a smartwatch, but is this what we'd actually get? Zero-hour is upon us, and it looks like the rumors were right on the money, as Pebble unveils its first wearable with a color display, the Pebble Time. Just as we heard suggested late last week, the Pebble Time uses a low-power color e-ink display instead of the sort of LCD or OLED panel we usually ...

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    Motorola's got some sort of news coming for us on Wednesday: that much we know following the distribution of teasers last week promising an “exciting announcement.” We've considered a few theories for what that announcement might be, including word of some new accessories, but on the smartphone front there's really only been one contender: a new Moto E with LTE connectivity. That phone's already been leaked, as well as showed up early in a retailer listing, and now we get to check it out one more time, as a new leak reveals the handsets as it may come to Verizon. Unsurprisingly, the ...

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    Right now in OnePlus One circles, there are two big questions on everyone's mind: when's OxygenOS getting here, and when can we expect the release of CyanogenMod 12S with all its Lollipop goodness? We've been checking out progress towards both, but when revealing the OxygenOS team the other week, OnePlus didn't have a lot to say about just when any of this might arrive, instead deferring towards promises that (at least in the case of Oxygen OS) it intended to release a fully-stable build which would “take some time” to get right. Now OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei is shedding a bit of ...

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    We rounded-out last week hearing about an upcoming new YouTube app, one that would custom-tailor the experienced for some of the youngest video-watchers among us. This YouTube Kids app would give parents a safe place to expose children to the service's video content, while also giving them strong controls over just what (and how much of it) kids could access. Today Google makes the app official, and while it's largely what we were expecting, we also learn about a few additional details, including broader availability. While that report from last week believed that YouTube Kids would debut ...

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    Apple's latest system software has hit developer hands today, with iOS 8.3 beta 2 on its way out now. For the moment, this is still dev-only; the rumors of public participation in iOS betas will still have to wait, and to be fair we heard those wouldn't be coming until next month, anyway. As those with access to the beta start updating their devices and taking a look at what's new, a big push forward towards adding some much-needed diversity in modern messaging is being noticed, as Apple expands its emoji support to add a veritable rainbow of new skin tones. From white to black and ...

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    Microsoft introduced its Band wearable this past fall, a cross-platform fitness tracker that packed features like GPS reception and a UV sensor which helped elevate it above the pack of lesser-equipped activity tracking competitors. And while it was capable of doing quite a bit out of the box, the great thing about smart wearables is how they continue to evolve with the arrival of new software. This week, Microsoft's bringing just such an update to the Microsoft Band, introducing new biking functionality, a web-based dashboard, better service integration, and opening an SDK for third ...

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