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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    There's a new iOS beta out for devs this afternoon, only this time around the interesting stuff doesn't really involve new features for the iPhone or iPad, but for Apple's burgeoning wearable platform, the Apple Watch. With the release of the WatchKit framework today, Apple is giving devs the tools they need to start crafting the software that users will first interact with when the smartwatch goes up for sale early next year. And in doing so, Apple's offered the rest of us a little insight into the types of app experiences we can expect. Well, at least some of this falls into “app” ...

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    Late last month we saw Microsoft get into the fitness tracker game with the launch of the Microsoft Band, a cross-platform wearable with GPS, messaging support, and even a UV sensor. While the company was quick to put its Band up for sale, initial stocks were low, making it tricky to get your hands on one (at least we managed to, bringing you our review in the process). But now the Microsoft Band is seeing its stocks replenished, as Microsoft begins to make more available in its online store in just a couple minutes. Starting this afternoon at 1pm Eastern (which is right about now if ...

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    Two weeks back HTC got its Hot Deals started with one hell of a sale, making the brand-new Nexus 9 available for half price. A week later we saw the company follow that up with an offer that would knock $350 - this time more than half price - off the no-contract HTC One M8. Now Tuesday has once again rolled around and we're ready to learn about the company's newest offer. This week you have your pick of products, with HTC knocking fifty percent off your choice of phone accessory. Now, what counts as an "accessory?" Will the RE camera make the cut (not likely)? The sale goes live in just a ...

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    How does a smartphone manufacturer strike the right balance between giving shoppers the options they're looking for and not flooding the market with device after similar device? Deliver too few and you risk missing out on the hardware sweet spots that draw the most sales, while too many and it's hard to make any one model stand out. In the past we've criticized OEMs for falling too far on both sides of the fence, and now it looks like at least one of them is interested in changing its tune a little, as Samsung announces plans to seriously pare down its 2015 phone offerings. As you might ...

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    Nokia had been teasing some sort launch for today, but when it revealed the N1 Android tablet just a little earlier this morning, the news was still a bit of a surprise. After all, Nokia's whole X-series Android experiment looked like it was over, but while Android smartphones may be one thing, Android tablets are clearly another. With a 4:3 display in a 2048 x 1536 resolution and a 64-bit SoC, the Nokia N1 is bound to draw comparisons to tablets like the Apple iPad Air 2/mini 3 and the Nexus 9, but what's the full picture here? Just what kind of hardware makes up this unexpected Nokia ...

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    Last week we took a peek at some of the software Google was working on for Android Wear, checking out a leak that detailed the changes to come. While sharing that with you, we mentioned how the software also required a similarly not-yet-released version of the core Google Play services, version 6.5. Well, today Google's ready to start making the latter available, detailing some of the important API changes on its Android Developers blog. So, what's new? The new Google Fit gets a few tweaks, with this new version of Play services giving apps more fine-grained control over how they define ...

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    Last spring saw Huawei introduce the world to its Ascend P7 (above), a five-inch 1080p Android with quad-core KIRIN 910T SoC and a 13MP Sony camera. It was already an attractive enough smartphone, but then Huawei went and upped the ante a few months later, announcing a special edition P7 that swapped its Gorilla Glass 3 front panel for one made of scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and replaced its rear glass with a ceramic backplate. Now rumors are looking to the company's follow-up, and from what we're hearing about the Ascend P8, it sounds like premium materials are once again going to ...

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    It's not yet Wednesday, the day of the week we've learned to be on the lookout for Google to deliver its latest assortment of software updates for its app library, but today the company's getting an early start to its latest round, announcing a new release of Keep that gives the note-taking app a key feature that promises to really enhance the program's usefulness, letting users collaboratively work with shared notes. In the past it was pretty straightforward to create a task list and use Keep to stay on top of your progress towards completion, checking off items as you went. That's fine ...

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    HTC's One M8 for Windows may be a few months old by now, but it's experiencing a burst of popularity lately thanks to its greatly expanded availability, with the smartphone coming to both AT&T and T-Mobile. If you've still been on the fence about picking one up, HTC's got a new offer to help sweeten the deal a little, hooking new shoppers up with a free Dot View case to complement their smartphone. Here's the skinny: buy a One M8 for Windows between the first of November and the end of January to qualify for your free Dot View case in Xbox green. Then hit up the online registration ...

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    Do you Uber? For a growing number of smartphone users, convenient transportation's just a couple taps away, with services like Uber ready to hook them up with local drivers. And while taking advantage of such services may prove to be a lot easier than owning a car of your own, you give up a fair degree of freedom in the process: how many of us treat our cars as our personal listening booths, surrounded by speakers and ready to rock out to our favorite tunes? Now a new partnership between Uber and Spotify seeks to bring some of that experience to for-hire rides, giving users the ability to ...

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    Last week we saw Sony get a (very) early start to the early 2015 trade show season, which will bring us CES, MWC, and a whole boatload of new devices. Sony announced its schedule for its CES press conference, and while it isn't yet sharing any tantalizing details about what it will be bringing to show off, rumors have been quick to suggest that an Xperia Z4 could be in the cards: after all, we got the Xperia Z2 last winter (though that one was at MWC, not CES). With a possible launch under two months away, leaks are already starting to reveal details about this rumored hardware, and today ...

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    Depending on whom you ask, the degree of control Apple exerts over its app selection is either a blessing or a curse. Apple's policies help keep its iOS App Store one of the high points of smartphone software in general, full of plenty of really polished titles. But there's a dark side to Apple's oversight, and devs don't find themselves free to to release any type of program they choose: things like tethering apps and emulators have long been in Apple's crosshairs. With Android, on the other hand, Google's been far more lenient with the software it lets devs distribute through the Play ...

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    If it weren't for that big Nexus logo down the back, would you be able to recognize a Nexus phone these days? While the Nexus 6 may be an impressive piece of hardware, it's strayed quite a bit from the example set by the Nexus 5 and Nexus 4 before it. That means things like higher pricing across the board, whether off-contract or subsidized, and if the Lollipop rollout we've been seeing get underway is any indication, we may no longer be able to count on Nexus phones being first in line for Android updates in the future, too. But at least you can count on Nexus phones being clean and ...

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    Android Lollipop update momentum has hit a (temporary) lull. After those heady early hours of distribution for Nexus devices (to say nothing of efforts by Motorola or LG), the feverish pace at which update news arrived has slowed to a trickle; while last night brought us hope that the Nexus 4's update would be arriving at any moment, as of now it's still yet to surface. But even as we wait for that release to drop, we're already looking forward to who's getting Lollipop next, and new confirmation has just arrived that some Google Play edition models should see their own Android 5.0 updates ...

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    Back in early January, we asked if 2014 would finally be the year when upstart mobile platforms spread their wings and soared, becoming legitimate competition for the big boys. While varying degrees of progress has been made on platforms like Ubuntu and Firefox OS, we've yet to see a real breakout star. Back in late 2013, Jolla found itself among those names with its Sailfish OS, but so far this year's been a relatively quiet one for the company: we got some of those Other Half backplates for its phone, and saw the Jolla launcher come to Android, but that's been about it. However, big news ...

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