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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    Everything we've been seeing lately about LG's upcoming G5 has been telling us to expect a radical new look for the phone's back, dropping the now-standard rear volume controls in favor of a single power button/fingerprint scanner, and going with a side-by-side dual-camera arrangement, with the lenses flanking the phone's flash and laser-assist auto-focus. And while this layout has become a key part of the G5's story, so far we haven't been super-clear on the specifics. At least, every time it seems like we get a chance to peek at the phone's rear, either in schematics, renders, of even ...

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    Apple's in the business of buying old iPhones. Maybe the company doesn't quite position it like that, but if your iPhone isn't ancient (iPhone 4 or newer), Apple will offer you a little cash when trading in your old model for the purchase of a new one – from as little as $100 in the case of the iPhone 4, to as much as $350 for a iPhone 6 Plus (and that's not even touching on the new lease program). But while Apple's happy to take a used-but-in-good-condition iPhone off your hands, the situation quickly starts going south when you're talking about a damaged phone. Now a new rumor claims ...

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    When are finally going to get the chance to see the debut of the next – and by plenty of accounts, maybe even the last – Lumia smartphone? The Lumia 650's been on our radar for months, and since right around the start of the new year we've really been looking into just when this puppy might be fixing to launch. Rumors first suggested a very-early February low-key announcement, before backing off and claiming that the Lumia 650 was facing some short delays. Well, that rumored February 1 launch clearly didn't happen, so what about this new, delayed date? While earlier reports didn't name ...

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    How long have we been waiting for Android Wear watches to start sounding off? Models like last year's Huawei Watch were clearly packing integrated speakers, and it looked like it was just a matter of time before we'd see the software fall into place that would finally take advantage of them. But despite some indications that such updates were on the way, official speaker support has so far been elusive. Well, today's the day we've been looking forward to, as Google announces new hands-free features for Android Wear, including speaker support. Right now, the only two Android Wear models ...

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    It's easy enough to build an extremely affordable smartphone, but the trick isn't simply undercutting everyone else on price; it's keeping prices low while still delivering hardware that's worth buying, with attractive specs and a compelling design. Huawei may have hit that nail right on the head with its Honor sub-brand's new 5X, which just the other day went up for sale in the States at an incredibly attractive $200 price point. With a Snapdragon 615 under the hood, 13MP camera, and a 5.5-inch 1080p screen, that sure looked like it added up to one heck of a bargain. Now it's time for ...

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    A few years back, it seemed like being ahead of the curve with mobile gadgets meant carrying as many as your pockets would allow: you had your phone, maybe a tablet, and packed your bag with a laptop, camera, and no shortage of accessories. And while we still love being packed to the brim and ready for whatever the day throws at us, there's a new focus on simplifying our mobile lives, and moving to devices that do double (if not more) duty. Microsoft's stirred up such interest with Continuum on Windows 10 Mobile, and Canonical's been pushing a similar agenda with Ubuntu on mobile devices, ...

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    With under three weeks to go until MWC 2016 kicks off, interest in the show is heating up fast, especially as companies like LG confirm plans to launch long-rumored flagship phones. Beyond LG, we're also extremely interested in what Samsung's got coming our way at its Unpacked event, and even if Samsung's not yet ready to go the LG route and outright tell us what's on the menu (*cough* GS7 *cough*) there have been more than enough rumors to hold us over. One of those rumors concerned a possible accessory for the Galaxy S7 (and its presumed Gear VR), a dual-lens spherical camera Capablanca ...

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    MWC is just weeks away, and it seems like every day we're talking about another smartphone we're hoping to see launch at the expo. Yesterday we checked out some unannounced hardware from Alcatel OneTouch, as the company accidentally posted some early info about both the Idol 4 and Idol 4S, ahead of an expected MWC launch. It turns out that was just the opening act, and today we're turning our attention to a new leak that attempts to reveal even more AOT hardware due for an MWC debut, with the revelation of the Pop 4, Pop 4S, and Pop 4 Plus. The Pop 4 (bottom) looks like the lowest end of ...

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    Is there no holiday that's not a good opportunity to sell some smartphones? Arbor Day coming up? How about some half-priced wearables? Cinco de Mayo right around the corner? Let's offer some free USB power packs with new phone purchases! So while you may not think of Valentine's Day as a particularly phone-related celebration, hardware manufacturers are doing their darnedest to cash in on the inevitable swell of gift-giving all the same, and OnePlus is trying its hand and that by offering some free-case deals. Whether you're in the market for a OnePlus 2 or a OnePlus X (both finally ...

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    From the moment LG sent out its invitations to its Mobile World Congress press event, we found ourselves wondering if the G5 might show up. It couldn't launch that early, right? But it wasn't long at all before we had to start seriously reconsidering what the manufacturer might be up to as the company confirmed plans to show off a “flagship-level” phone. LG stopped short of outright saying “we're going to launch the G5,” but based on the info we had access to, that outcome started sounding like a pretty reasonable conclusion. Well, we've still got over two weeks to go until LG's ...

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    It's easy to find yourself overwhelmed by ads on your smartphone, whether in apps or just on the mobile web. So it's little surprise that when a company announces a new way to give users control over just how they're exposed to those ads, we're quick to take advantage of it. That's just what happened a few days back as Samsung opened up its Android browser's API to work with ad-blocking software, and devs were in a rush to deliver solutions ready to start nipping all those ads in the bud. Unfortunately for fans of this development, Google's wasted no time in shutting the operation down, ...

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    Google Cardboard has opened the door on virtual reality for millions of smartphone users, but based on the recent hirings and shifting of resources Google's been up to, it's becoming clear that Cardboard's only the start, and Google's got some much larger VR ambitions; where will they take us? While Google hasn't made any public proclamations of its future VR plans, evidence from at least one employee suggests we might be looking at some kind of crossover with Project Tango, marrying Cardboard's 3D display with Tango's reality-scanning hardware. Googler Isaac Taylor recently posted on ...

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    Android offers users no shortage of ways to consume podcasts, with plenty of apps ready to connect listeners with their favorite content. But for as many options as were out there, the platform's been missing an official central repository for podcast distribution. Last fall we saw Google begin to address this oversight, announcing plans to finally bring podcasts to Google Play Music. The company announced a few early partners and started accepting sign-ups from interested producers (ourselves included), but wasn't ready to offer a start date for the service going live – only saying that ...

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    With Fitbit's launch of its new Alta band, we've got wearables on the mind, but today it's not just new models that are catching our attention. We're also checking out the arrival of a new update for one of last year's models, as Microsoft delivers some new features for its own wearables, updating its Microsoft Health companion app and helping the Band 2 stretch its battery life to new lengths. While some of us will use a fitness tracker to just generally keep on top of our physical activity, there's no shame in admitting that many of us are interested in losing weight. To that end, ...

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    Is there still room for a dedicated fitness tracker in your life? Between widening adoption of full-fledged smartwatches, and all the sensor data our phones are capable of gathering themselves, you might think that traditional activity trackers were at risk of becoming a hard sell, but for a lot of users, their compact sizes, laser-focused feature set, and affordable price tags have continued to make them an attractive proposition. Today Fitbit announces its latest effort, the petite Alta band. Alta tracks steps, computes calories burned, and gathers sleep data. It's water resistant, ...

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    The rise of affordable VR hardware has created a growing need for VR content, and not content to be left behind as new challengers arrive to offer it to us, YouTube's been stepping up to help lead the way. Already, that's meant supporting both flat panoramas and, more recently, fully 3D 360-degree video. Now we're getting ready for the next chapter in that story, as we receive word that YouTube's about to step up its VR-video support with live streaming 360-degree content. Reportedly, YouTube's been meeting with companies behind various 360-degree cameras in the interest of making sure ...

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    It seems so easy: when a smartphone manufacturer wants to keep an upcoming device secret, it shouldn't publish any information about the phone. Well, that may be good advice in theory, but in practice it's clear that even some of the biggest companies around have trouble following that rule, as we saw earlier today with Samsung and the Galaxy S7 edge. Now it's Alcatel OneTouch that's experiencing a little unannounced-device-slip-up of its own, as the company appears to inadvertently push live a couple product pages detailing the upcoming Idol 4 and Idol 4S. Both pages have since been taken ...

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    Wearables need to put up with a ton of abuse, and manufacturers go to some lengths to ensure that their products are ready to withstand the rigors of everyday use. For Apple, that meant giving its Apple Watch a tough scratch-resistant screen, either in the form of “Ion-X” glass on its more affordable Sport model, or a synthetic sapphire crystal on more premium editions. Even with that protection, though, accidents will happen – so whose fault is the damage, then? One Apple Watch owner in Wales didn't think that he should be liable for a crack that developed on the screen of his Apple ...

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    Start collecting a stable of “smart” gadgets in your life, and you might quickly find yourself sliding down a slippery slope, unable to look at anything you interact with on a daily basis without that thought popping into your head: “wouldn't it be neat if this could run [platform of choice]?” For those of us blessed by inspiration and armed with a little DIY know-how, it doesn't take long for thoughts like that to start manifesting themselves in the form of projects, and one Google engineer's been getting a lot of attention recently for the very impressive-looking hardware he ...

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    That Samsung's about to launch the Galaxy S7 is a bit of an open secret, if by “secret” we mean “something that's painfully obvious to anyone paying attention to the smartphone market.” There's been no shortage of leaks detailing what to expect from the upcoming flagship, with the most recent arrivals giving us a look what's changing (or not) for the phone's design with the publication of some possible renders. And for as likely as it's looking that Samsung's gearing up to announce the phone at an MWC 2016 Unpacked event, so far the handset remains unofficial and unconfirmed. Or at ...

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    For a lot of users, USB type-C represents uncharted waters, so it's been great to see Google's Benson Leung wading out into them on our behalf, testing all the type-C cables he can lay his hands on, and sounding the warning when manufacturers are caught selling cables that don't quite hit the right specifications. Leung already got OnePlus to admit that its cables weren't up to muster and offered shoppers refunds, but now the work Leung does has hit a little snag, as a bad cable has utterly destroyed his testing rig, leaving him unable to evaluate new cables for the time being. Leung ...

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    Going back to last summer, we've been approaching the Turing Phone with a healthy degree of skepticism. Right from the get-go, the handset was promising an awful lot, from “uncrackable” security to some very high-end hardware materials. If it actually came to pass, the phone might be pretty impressive, but would it ever ship? Well, our fears appeared to be allayed when we finally saw the manufacturer announce a specific ship date – but one that never came to pass. Instead, Turing Robotic Industries pushed that mid-December date to a “before the end of Q1 2016” ETA. Now we're ...

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    No matter which of the major smartphone platforms you call your favorite, you've got plenty of reasons to be excited these next few months. Android users are looking forward to some major flagship launches, and MWC will bring more than enough new hardware to usher them into spring. Windows aficionados have the looming arrival of Windows 10 Mobile updates for existing hardware to cheer about. And in the Apple camp, we've been hearing a lot about a rumored March event that could bring us not just the four-inch iPhone 5se, but also new Apple Watch hardware (even if it's just bands) and maybe ...

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    New renders of Samsung's flagship Galaxy S7 have been incoming from multiple sources, and finally this week we're seeing imagery that attempts to reveal the phone's back panel. While the general layout doesn't appears that different from the Galaxy S6, we've been hugely curious about the phone's rear in order to verify one of the rumors we've long heard about this handset: that Samsung was finally doing something about the GS6's quite pronounced camera bump. Would the camera on the GS7 really sit flush with the phone's body? The first back render didn't do much to answer that question, and ...

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    Microsoft would really, really, really like you using Windows 10, and it's not afraid of maybe overstepping itself a little in the process. Last year, we first saw Windows 10 emerge as an upgrade option for existing Windows users. And indeed, in addition to downloading an ISO and starting fresh with the new OS, Microsoft began making Windows 10 available as an update to existing installations through its Windows Update service. So far, though, Windows 10 has been classified as an “optional update," prompting users to manually select to move forward in order to begin the download and ...

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