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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    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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    Overnight we shared with you some of the latest news on Android updates for Nexus series devices, with a bunch of Android 5.1.1 factory images landing for Nexus tablets. That's well and good for the affected models, but some Nexus tablets have been getting a lot more Android update attention than others. While devices like the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 are seeing all this 5.1-attention, the Nexus 9 has been stuck on Android 5.0.1 – and it's the only such currently supported model to be so far behind, with even the Nexus 4 having a 5.1 build. That may finally be ready to change, as Google's ...

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    The Apple Watch has landed with a bang, and it's easy to see just how fervent early order intensity was; nearly as soon as we witnessed pre-orders open last month, ship times were already slipping further and further back. Apple's done an admirable job at chipping away at those shipping delays, but it ever see that kind of demand return? A new report suggests the initial wave of Apple Watch enthusiasm has passed, and consumer interest could be slowing down. Some industry analysts are already dialing back their projections for Apple Watch sales, to the tune of 10 million over the course of ...

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    Windows 10 will leave its preview status and make its formal arrival for the desktop sometime this summer – but whether that means July or September is anyone's guess. And at some point after that, Windows 10 for phones will make its commercial debut, but the ETA there is even less certain. But when that time finally rolls around, we'll get to check out the debut of some of the first hardware designed for Windows 10 from the ground up – and for a smartphone platform that's sorely been missing new flagship-caliber devices, those new phones can't get here soon enough. This afternoon we ...

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    You can't talk about the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge without turning your attention to its over-the-edge curved screen; hell, that's the very thing that makes it the Edge in the first place, and not the regular old Galaxy S6. Samsung's already committing new resources to the production of this oh-so-important component, and today it pulls back the curtain a bit on just how it goes about making not just these displays, but also the rest of the phone's body, with the publication of a new GS6 Edge promo video. OK, so we're not getting a guided factory tour or anything nearly so in-depth. But we do ...

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    Microsoft’s Surface tablets are attractive for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being the compatibility they offer with traditional PC software. But when we're talking about programs that maybe weren't developed with touch input in mind, how to control them on a tablet becomes a very important consideration. To solve that puzzle, Microsoft has blessed some of its Surface models with support for a high-precision stylus. Earlier this year we heard a rumor claiming that Microsoft was interested in buying the company that provided it with this stylus tech, and this week we get ...

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    Is “you're wearing it wrong” the new “you're holding it wrong?” Some new owners of the Apple Watch might find themselves wondering as much, as they struggle to get the smartwatch's optical heart rate monitor to function in certain cases. Following the wearable's commercial arrival, some users with tattoos covering their wrists reported that the Apple Watch struggled to get an accurate read through all that ink. Was this the way the smartwatch was supposed to work? Is there anything to be done about it? Now, Apple's finally acknowledging the matter, though without offering much in ...

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    Whether you're thinking about new Lumia flagships or just Windows 10 itself, it's easy to find reasons to be excited about upcoming Microsoft products. But there's one that's captured the minds of the tech community maybe more than any other in recent memory, the incredibly futuristic, all-sorts-of-ambitious HoloLens. The more we learn about the hardware that goes into this headset, and the more we hear about what it promises to allow us to do, the easier it is to become enraptured with its possibilities. But there's still a lot we don't know about HoloLens, including what could prove to ...

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    Smartwatches can pack a ridiculous amount of tech into tiny spaces, and this is very much true for one of the latest wearables to hit the scene, the Apple Watch. We've already shared with you a teardown that documented the smartwatch's construction, from the Force Touch screen to the troubled Taptic Engine. But that stopped short when it came to one all-important component: the S1 “integrated computer” that powers the wearable. Now we've got a chance to peek under the hood there, too, as a decapsulation attack reveals the silicon hiding within. Unlike the system-on-a-chip that you'll ...

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    Nobody's going to accuse Motorola of not loving mom: last year Motorola sure threw plenty of sales, but it didn't forget to include Mother's Day on that list, and this time last year we saw the company discounting the original Moto X. Well, May is nearly upon us again, and with Mother's Day just another week or so out, it's time for another sale event. This year the big focus is on wearables, with Motorola knocking $70 off the price of the Moto 360. It's not the lowest price the smartwatch has ever hit, but it's in the same very affordable ballpark. Motorola's also got a bundle deal for ...

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    We're coming up on four months now since ASUS first announced its ZenFone 2 back at CES in January, a phone (or should we say, family of phones, since the ZenFone 2 varies quite a bit in its configuration options) that's managed to stay in the headlines not just because of its very affordable price point, but because of just how well equipped it can be for such a budget-priced handset: you still won't see big-name Android flagships packing a solid 4GB of RAM, yet ASUS has managed to outfit the ZenFone 2 with just that kind of memory to spare. Now the manufacturer is getting ready to let ...

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    On its surface, Twitter seems like such a simple service: post short messages, and read those from users you follow. But once you start following account after account, each one retweeting a seemingly endless stream of content, it can quickly become a bit much to handle. Rather than driving you mad trying to keep up with everything, or hitting you with a bad case of FOMO over what you're not reading, Twitter has come up with a new tool to bring you content you might not want to miss, with the introduction of Highlights. Highlights delivers a twice-a-day summary of content Twitter's ...

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    Picking up the HTC One M9, we had such high hopes for the phone's camera. HTC has really been trying to find a way to shine with its smartphone imaging, and while some of those efforts have come up short of our expectations, we couldn't fault the company for trying. So when the One M9 rolled in with its 20MP sensor, our optimism ran high. As we put the phone through its paces during our review period, it soon became clear that this wasn't quite the camera we'd been hoping for. The nice thing about smartphones, though, is that software plays such a large role in how things operate that even ...

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    What's standing between LG and finding even greater success in the smartphone market? It's not like the company doesn't produce some solid models, so why isn't its share of things up on the level of players like Samsung? There's no one simple answer, but promotion undoubtedly plays a major role there; sometimes it seems that there's no limit to what Samsung will spend to advertise a smartphone. With the G4 now available, is LG ready to step up its promo game and get the phone out where potential shoppers will be exposed to it? As we look forward to seeing how initial sales perform, the ...

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    Sony is a brand recognizable the world around, and a company that makes some pretty attractive smartphones, but it sure seems to have the darnedest time making money selling them. In recent financial reports, Sony's blamed some of its losses on insufficient smartphone sales. This week the company's latest numbers are out, and the future for its phone business isn't looking a heck of a lot brighter. The good news, if you can see it as such, is that Sony's mobile device shipments have plateaued, not showing much growth or loss over the course of a year. And despite shipments staying put, ...

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    We've already hit most of the big news to come out of the Build 2015 keynote address earlier today – at least, the stuff that wasn't completely dev-focused and of limited interest to end-users like us. But as we rushed to bring you news of the now-Edge browser and the latest HoloLens demo, there's one we had to put a pin in – not because it's some minor gimmick or anything so easily dismissible, but because we wanted to come back around and give it the attention it deserves: Microsoft Continuum for phones. Continuum itself isn't that novel of an idea: it attempts to bridge the gap ...

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    Maybe the most interesting mobile hardware to be announced so far this year came from Microsoft back in January, as the company unveiled Windows Holographic and its HoloLens headset. Going far beyond phone-based HMDs like the Gear VR, HoloLens is an all-in-one computer that allows users to interact with virtual “holograms” in a real-world environment. We only got a brief look at HoloLens at the time, but today it's back at Build 2015. Microsoft highlighted how HoloLens users will be able to interact with regular Windows 10 apps, the same as they'd find on their PCs or phones. Apps can ...

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    Windows users have been looking forward to Microsoft's Project Spartan for months, the company's break away from Internet Explorer as it prepares a new browser experience that will be integral to Windows 10. Previews landed last month for the PC, and earlier this month for phones. But for all Microsoft's told us about Spartan, we've known that at least one thing was destined to change prior to the software's final release: its name. At Build 2015 today, Microsoft just introduced us to Spartan as it will arrive in its final form, picking up the name Microsoft Edge. Besides simply announcing ...

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    Earlier this week, a rumor broke that Microsoft had a big announcement coming for Build 2015, one that threatened to shake up the app landscape on Microsoft's platform. Supposedly Android compatibility was in the works, opening up Windows devices to a huge new selection of software. Today as Microsoft details the many ways devs can bring their apps to the Windows Store under Windows 10, the company has not only confirmed something that's very much along those lines, but that extends to iOS, too. Microsoft highlights four main ways devs can bring existing apps to Windows 10. They can ...

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    If you spend a lot of time working with Microsoft's suite of Office apps, you're likely familiar with the company's support for Office add-ins, plugins that allow developers to brings news tools and features to standard Office programs. These can be anything from document management systems, to collections of shortcuts, to industry-specific projects that make it easier to work with advanced notation. At its Build conference today, Microsoft is showcasing some expanded add-in support coming with Office 2016, including the ability for add-ins to exist across platforms. Considering how Office ...

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    The Galaxy Note is Samsung's flagship platform for trying out new things, and if the rumors are to be believed, this year's Galaxy Note 5 could sure be a trailblazer in its own right, bringing an insanely high-res ultra HD 3840 x 2160 display to the phablet. But beyond that idea, we haven't heard a ton about the hardware – maybe an Edge model could return, but it sounds like that new SoC might not be ready in time. We've still got months and months to learn more about Samsung's plans, and today we lay a little ground work, hearing about some model numbers and a code name for not just the ...

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    Every year we start things off with a couple months of expo season, with winter bringing us both CES and later MWC. But by the time spring rolls around, we're ready to move on from those big trade shows to platform-focused events. Google I/O and Apple's WWDC are still weeks away, but this week Microsoft gets things started with Build 2015. With lots of events and presentations to check out, there's plenty to keep attendees busy, but it's today's first keynote that's likely to bring us any big news Microsoft has brewing. We'll be delivering coverage of any important announcements later ...

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    If you're anything like us, you juggle a lot of mobile devices – probably quite a few more than your average user. And while walking around armed to the teeth with the latest mobile hardware can be a lot of fun, not everything behaves quite so nicely when you're pushing the boundaries of typical use cases. That's been an issue with smartwatches, especially if you own more than one model. Thankfully, it's also something that's been on Google's radar to address, and today we learn about the new Google Play Services 7.3, delivering among other improvements support for multiple Android Wear ...

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    You've seen what the just-launched LG G4 looks like when compared to last year's G3, but what about a modern flagship? After all, when shoppers head out to stores later this spring, they won't be weight the G4 against the phone it's replacing in LG's lineup, but against other flagships from different Android manufacturers. And top at many of smartphone shoppers' lists is going to be Samsung with its Galaxy S6. At LG's launch event for the G4, we brought along just such a GS6 to give you a quick look at just how these two top-shelf smartphones compare. Both companies made some start choices ...

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