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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    It's rare that a smartphone is so defined by an accessory, especially a third-party one, but when we saw Microsoft showing off the new Lumia 950 and 950 XL at those phones' launch event alongside their custom leather Mozo covers, we knew we were looking at something special. Indeed, while you'll find plenty of criticism about the design Microsoft went with for its Windows 10 Mobile flagship models, it's almost like those objections vanish when we wrap one of those phones in Mozo's smart-looking leather shell. Now the case maker's planning to give 950/XL users even more options for sprucing ...

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    After an iPhone 6s that did little to convince us we needed to upgrade from the 6, it's nearly time for Apple's hardware cycle to bring us a slightly more inspired iPhone, a model that breaks from tradition enough to really get us excited about some new functionality. But with rumors of features like dual cameras (and even then only on certain models) and a disappearing headphone jack, will the iPhone 7 we've been hearing about really do enough to justify its full-number step forward in the iPhone family line? Some days it feels like we're coming across just as many rumors talking not ...

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    The FBI would have loved to get Apple's help in breaking into the iPhone 5c from its San Bernardino terrorism investigation, but Apple wasn't playing ball. And before the courts could sort out just how much assistance the government could legally demand from the iPhone maker, the FBI backed out of the proceedings, claiming that it had managed to get into the smartphone without Apple at all. The agency's been keeping tight-lipped about exactly who helped it access the phone in question, but today we're learning a little more about just how this all happened, as FBI Director James Comey ...

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    Curious how your favorite mobile companies have been doing? You're in luck, as the biggest of the big are lining up to share their latest financial figures. Today we've got new reports incoming from a couple of these giants, and right now we're taking a look at Microsoft's. The company's unsurprisingly making good money (though it's seen better quarters), and on the hardware side we're seeing the continuation of some familiar trends. Quarterly revenue hit $20.5 billion, with net income of $3.8 billion. While those figures are slightly down from last year ($21.7B and $5.0B, respectively), ...

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    The past few weeks have been thick with rumors of new Motorola hardware, as leaks appeared to reveal a pair of handsets: the device we're hearing called the Moto G4 Plus, with a beneath-the-screen fingerprint scanner, and a similar model that forgoes the fingerprint scanner, believed to launch as simply the Moto G4. The design we've seen hasn't been everyone's favorite, but regardless of what you may think of the look of these phones, we're still very curious to get the official scoop on them – and that's going to mean looking forward to a formal launch announcement. As luck would have ...

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    Today's Acer hardware event continues, and in addition to checking out that Android-powered Liquid Zest Plus with its big 5,000mAh battery, we're also hearing a lot about new Windows 10 devices. In addition to some hot desktops and conventional laptops, we're also seeing one new model that seeks to give the Surface Pro family a run for its money, as Acer introduces the Switch Alpha 12 convertible tablet. The Switch Alpha 12 features a (you guessed it) 12-inch 2160 x 1440 display, Skylake Core i-series processors, 4GB of RAM, and storage options topping out at 128GB. With both traditional ...

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    Smartphone manufacturers walk a delicate tightrope when choosing how to power their phones: go with too small a battery, and users will be frustrated when their phone craps-out midway thtough the day; go too large, and you risk alienating users seeking a slimmer, sleeker handset. That said, there are always going to be groups of shoppers who are willing to compromise and actually prefer one of those extremes, and today we learn of one new smartphone that wears its giant-sized battery like a badge of honor, the just-launched Acer Liquid Zest Plus. The 5.5-inch Liquid Zest Plus comes through ...

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    It's been just over a week now since Amazon introduced the latest member of the Kindle family, launching the very thin (if somewhat oddly shaped) Kindle Oasis e-reader. For users who love the look of e-ink screens when settling in for a little light reading, the new model certainly delivered, but what about a more full-featured tablet – say, a new Fire model? Last week we also heard a rumor about a possible Fire HD 8 refresh, but the Kindle Oasis ended up launching alone, no new Fire model at its side. Well, it's not quote what we were expecting, and it's taken a little longer to get ...

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    Sony smartphones may not dominate the market, and sometimes it's difficult to say just how enthusiastic the manufacturer is about selling them in the first place, but for users interested in getting access to cutting-edge software, Sony's emerged as a surprisingly forward-thinking OEM. For the past few years, the company's not been shy about making available early builds of new Android releases for a select group of handsets, and last summer we even saw that early access extend to the still-in-development Android M preview. This year Google surprised us all by releasing its Android N ...

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    Last fall, Google revealed its grand scheme for getting the content we want to consumer on our phones to those handsets as quick as humanly possible, announcing Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP represents a streamlined take on content distribution, reducing layout overhead in order to make accessing mobile web traffic as speedy as pulling up locally stored media. Back in February, Google took steps to further get the word out about AMP by highlighting pages featuring the tech in mobile search results, and now we're leaning about a logical next step in its love affair with all things AMP, as ...

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    Have you ever had to take advantage of a smartphone warranty? Nobody wants to believe that one day their beloved handset could just up and suddenly stop working, but sometimes even the best-made phones suffer from unexpected faults. When that happens, we turn to the safety net of manufacturer warranties to make sure that we can get up and running with fully functional hardware as soon as possible. Unfortunately, last week we started hearing some concerning reports from Motorola users who found themselves dealing with unacceptable wait times while trying to get Motorola to fulfill its ...

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    How much of what makes a great smartphone camera great is in the image sensor itself, and how much in the interface? We've seen plenty of improvements on the software side of things over the years, but maybe some of the most interesting interface advancements have come in the form of extra hardware, making photo-taking with a smartphone feel a lot closer to how we'd interact with a dedicated camera. That's included camera grips like the one for the old Lumia 1020, or LG's new CAM Plus for the G5. Now we're checking out a crowdfundung effort looking to bring a similar product to the iPhone ...

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    So far, April's been a month that for Motorola has been punctuated both by leaks of new hardware, and the arrival of deals for some of the company's existing offerings. And while we look forward to learning a lot more about this next generation of Moto handsets, picking up new designs with prominent fingerprint scanners (or without), today the latest development finds itself in that “deals” category, as Motorola reveals a temporary price break for the Moto X Pure Edition. For the next couple weeks, through May 2, shoppers visiting Motorola's site have the option to take home the Moto X ...

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    It's only been about a week now since HTC introduced its latest Android flagship to eager fans, following weeks of actively teasing the HTC 10 on social media channels. With a camera that doesn't feel like a compromise, a look that's at once familiar while also differentiating itself from past One models, and battery life that should deliver where it counts, the phone had a lot of good things going for it – which we were quick to note in our full review. Now as users wait for their chance to take the HTC 10 home for themselves, HTC's back with its first promotional video following last ...

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    If you think that keeping up with all the latest smartphone software is practically a full-time job – well, you're not wrong, but it's got nothing on the sort of effort tit takes to actually be developing all this code. Despite the massive scale of that effort, companies like Apple not only manage to keep at it week-in and week-out, but find time in that busy development schedule to release beta builds for us to test. Today Apple's latest batch of platform updates are incoming, as the company releases iOS 9.3.2 beta 2, watchOS 2.2.1 beta 2, tvOS 9.2.1 beta 2, and OS X 10.11.5 beta 2. As ...

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    It's not like podcast fans on Android haven't had plenty of options for finding and listening to the programming of their choice, but earlier this week Google stepped up to really help streamline things, fulfilling last year's promise of bringing full podcast support to Google Play Music. As both podcast fans and producers, we were seriously happy to see this move finally happen, but it turns out that Play Music integration was only one component to Google's new love affair with all things podcast. Today the company shares another way it's making it easier for listeners to connect with the ...

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    Windows Phone managed to find some of its biggest success not with high-end feature-packed flagships, but by bringing shoppers some of the best values around on really low-priced hardware, pairing affordable handsets with a platform that wouldn't over-burden them with steep system requirements. Now that Windows 10 Mobile is here, will this this trend continue? Certain carriers would sure like to see that happen, and today Cricket Wireless is doing its part to help, stepping up to offer a pre-paid Windows 10 option in the form of the Microsoft Lumia 650. We saw the Lumia 650 launch back in ...

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    While some manufacturers are content to target shoppers with just a handful of device options, Alcatel's a company that likes to play the field, and it's never been shy about introducing lots of new hardware, with widely varying device sizes. Back at CES earlier this year the manufacturer did just that with its POP lineup, delivering not just new phones, but also the quite thin POP 10 tablet. Now it's up to more of the same as it expands the POP family even further, announcing the new POP 7 LTE Lollipop tablet. If you're looking for lightning-charged specs and top-of-the-line components, ...

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    There are a lot of good reasons to enable GPS reception on your smartphone – and just as many why you might want to leave it turned off. Sure, navigation becomes a little trickier when your phone doesn't know exactly where it is, but keeping GPS enabled consumes precious battery capacity, and the more paranoid of you out there just might not love the idea of your phone acting as a tracking device to begin with (cell tower and WiFi-based location estimates notwithstanding). But for whatever reason you might choose to keep GPS turned off, some apps just refuse to play nicely without it. ...

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    Apple's official expansion into the Chinese market has practically been a license to print money for the company, as the nation's smartphone users take to the iPhone in droves. And while access to those shoppers has proved quite lucrative for Apple, it's not unreasonable to wonder what sort of compromises Apple may have found itself forced to make to get that access. After all, the Chinese government loves leveraging technology to achieve its goals of censorship and social regulation; has Apple compromised on its principles in order to play ball? Today before Congress, Apple testified in ...

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    Every smartphone user has his or her own preferences about how a nice phone should look and feel. Maybe you dig really rugged designs that don't need a case to withstand a lot of abuse; maybe you love the sleek looks and smooth texture of a metal handset. What about glass phones? Sure, we need glass up front for the touchscreen, but around back, the use of glass on phones has been a point of controversy. Some users love the slick, hard feel, while others worry about such materials being damage-prone, or so slippy that the phone will slide off all but the flattest surfaces. We're not about ...

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    With last year's Xperia Z5 Premium, Sony pushed smartphone display limits by bringing the first-ever 4K panel to a phone. It was one hell of a bold move, but maybe one that was a bit ahead of its time – and certainly, we haven't seen 4K return to any of this year's Sony models. But while the world may not be quite ready for such face-melting resolutions on pocket-sized smartphones, that's not to say that Sony's done with bleeding-edge display tech for its mobile lineup just yet, and a new rumor claims that the manufacturer's got something pretty special in mind for an upcoming Xperia X ...

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    With summer within sight, we're already anxiously awaiting the next wave of new smartphones, and dollars to donuts that means some new models from Motorola. This month already we've had the chance to check out a number of leaks of possible development units, showing off hardware changes like a front-mounted fingerprint scanner. Today we take things in a slightly different direction, as a new leak offers us a look at what sure appears to be another variant of one of these upcoming Motorola phones, but one that's not picking up a fingerprint scanner. This was initially a video leak, but the ...

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    What's it take to get you shopping for a new smartphone? If you break or lose your existing one, sure: it's time to get a new phone. But what about if your old phone is still perfectly functional? It may have a few scuffs and scrapes, and software updates may not be guaranteed for much longer, but when do you decide to take that step and go out and get a new phone? Time was that users were on service contracts that dictated update schedules, and we'd regularly find ourselves approved for new phones. But the smartphone-buying landscape has shifted greatly in recent years, and subsidized ...

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    Ever worry that you're getting a little too up close and personal with your smartphone or tablet? Dense, high-resolution screens may look incredible even when we're holding them just inches from our face, but is that kind of interaction detrimental to our eyes? A healthy adult probably won't do any permanent harm by parking their face right in front of a tablet, but what about the developing eyes of a child? Samsung's on the lookout to make sure that kids can enjoy smart devices without inadvertently doing any damage to their eyes, with the help of its Samsung Safety Screen app. Samsung ...

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