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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    One of the many changes Samsung made for this year's Galaxy Note phablet concerns the handset's S Pen stylus, and for the Galaxy Note 5 Samsung came up with a design that allows the S Pen to be stowed away flush inside the phone, retrieved by means of a spring-loaded mechanism. The Note 5's already selling like hotcakes, but as more and more users get their hands on the smartphone, a few a running into a bit of a sticky situation with the redesigned S Pen, getting the stylus stuck in its holder – upside down. While it seems obvious that the S Pen isn't intended to be shoved into the Note ...

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    After months and months of remaining low key, Google ATAP's Project Ara modular smartphone effort popped back on our radar a little earlier this month, as we got word that plans for the initial public trial in Puerto Rico weren't going to happen as planned. While that was bad news, the team behind Ara quickly gave us new cause to be hopeful, talking about some interesting hardware changes it would make going forward, as well as announcing its intention to finally get those trials started next year (and maybe even in the continental US, to boot). We'll likely be getting a lot more Ara news ...

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    One of the most visible ways we see mobile electronics mature over time is how relative screen sizes grow, and non-screen components shrink, until these gadgets are utterly dominated by their displays; just compare an old phone like the Nokia 3310, all keyboard and speaker (with just a tiny screen), to a modern handset like the LG G4, with a screen that nearly fills the phone's face. We're already seeing signs of the same evolution happening with smartwatches, as early models like the original, chunky Pebble give way to screen-dominated models like Samsung's Gear S2. But some manufacturers ...

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    This year's IFA trade show is so close we can nearly taste it. Well, maybe that's just all the German food we'll be eating, but we're itching at the chance to descend upon Berlin and start bringing you all the big announcements from this year's show. Back at the start of the month, Sony sent out invites for its IFA press event, scheduled to fall on September 2. Ever since, we've been wondering about just which devices we could hope to see the company launch, and while we've certainly got a few strong contenders, nothing's official just yet. Sony's keeping us guessing up until the end, and ...

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    A few hours back, we told you about some of the latest rumors surrounding HTC's smartphone plans, as talk of the HTC A9, the model codenamed Aero, arrived to get specific about the hardware's specs. Those included details about things like HTC's choice to go with a MediaTek SoC, but left plenty of other questions unanswered, including what HTC was thinking of doing in terms of the phone's cameras. As we wait for new spec leaks to land, we get a chance to look at how at least one of those cameras may arrive, upon the publication of an image purporting to be the HTC A9 as seen from the rear. ...

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    Just over a month ago, Android users got their first shot at trying out Microsoft's response to the Google Nows and Siris of the world, as Microsoft got invite-only testing underway on Cortana for Android – well, that was the plan, at least, but a leaked APK quickly gave a whole lot of additional Android users a chance to interact with Cortana for themselves. While it was great for Microsoft to start going cross-platform with Cortana like that, we still needed to see Cortana for Android availability greatly expand, and the iOS port was nowhere to be found. We're still waiting for ...

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    From the way Motorola introduced its latest Moto X-series hardware a few weeks back, it was easy to get the impression that when it comes to the US, the story isn't quite over. After all, the rest of the world is getting two new Moto X models, so why are shoppers in the States stuck with just the Pure Edition (Moto X Style)? One compelling theory suggests that the US will see the arrival of the Moto X Play after all, but in a slightly different form, taking the role of a carrier exclusive. Over the weekend, we talked about how the Moto X Play might end up landing on Verizon as the Droid ...

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    Yesterday we heard about Samsung's plans for a pretty good-sized tablet, with rumors mentioning work on a 12-inch Windows 10 model. That's well and good, but there are big tablets, and then there are big tablets, and a littler earlier this month we checked out some evidence that's firmly in the latter camp, as an import database appeared to reveal a big 18.4- inch model under testing. Besides the screen size and some pricing info, we didn't have much to look at back then, but now a new source attempts to flesh out the picture a little, sharing a few specifics about the tablet's hardware ...

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    At this point, it's become so easy to take a bunch of things for granted when it comes to the new iPhone. There's little doubt that we're about to see Apple introduce at least two new models, an iPhone 6S and an iPhone 6S Plus, with a rather conservative set of upgrades. That could mean a new SoC, the arrival of a Force Touch display, and maybe even some extra RAM, but a pair of phones that still largely resemble their predecessors. We've also come to accept many of the rumors surrounding Apple's launch plans, and even if the September 9 date we've heard is less than 100% guaranteed, few ...

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    For a growing number of users, tablets have evolved past their early roles as “big smartphones” or media-consumption devices, to threaten to replace traditional laptops, offering the kind of specs, software features, and app compatibility that were once only within reach of mainstream computers. That trend's only promising to continue as we look forward to some big, powerful hardware from major players: Apple may finally be nearly ready to give us the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and Microsoft's old Surface Pro 3 could be just about to welcome its successor. There might be another ...

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    From the sound of things, Apple's been developing a next-gen version of its Apple TV set-top box – one that, based on the age of the company's currently available option, is very much overdue. And though we've heard earlier claims talking about the unit's launch, this time the stars may have finally aligned, and there's a good chance Apple could introduce the accessory at next month's anticipated iPhone (and maybe even iPad) launch event. Some new statistics suggest that such an introduction can't come soon enough, with Apple's stake of the streaming-media box market in the US showing ...

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    These days, Huawei's probably in the news the most for a phone that won't even be sold with the company’s name featured prominently: Google's new Nexus phablet. But while that rumored device may be the most attention-grabbing, there's plenty of other Huawei hardware we've been tracking, devices like the Mate 7S and maybe even Mate 8. Before any of that gets here, we've been looking forward to the announcement of the Honor 7i. Just as scheduled, the smartphone went official earlier today, and did so with one very unusual camera design. Phone makers have long struggled with the seeming ...

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    Sony's got an IFA event coming up in less than two weeks, and if we're to believe the rumors, the company could be planning to move forward with its Xperia Z flagship line, introducing the Z5 family just months after launching the Z4. Leaks have suggested some interesting hardware changes for Z5 models, like ditching the prominent round power button in favor of a longer, flatter button that integrates a fingerprint scanner. That may be just what we're looking at today, as a leaked image attempts to show off the Xperia Z5 Compact. We've seen shots like this leak in advance of Sony press ...

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    The modular Project Ara effort intends to do smartphones a whole lot differently than anyone else out there, allowing users to configure bespoke hardware constructed from the individual components of their choice: from camera, to battery, to even the phone's display, users would enjoy an unprecedented level of selection in giving a handset the features they wanted. All these individual Ara components were to be held in place via an interesting magnet-based system, holding them firmly secure. But would that really be enough to stand up to the bumps and shakes of real-world usage? Yesterday ...

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    The past couple weeks have proven to be surprisingly busy ones for wearable tech, and that's especially true over in the Android Wear camp. The biggest news there may be about the growing body of evidence surrounding Motorola's plans for a new Moto 360, but we've also heard about new hardware from other manufacturers, including the first Android Wear model from Fossil, and a possible high-res option from LG. While we're still waiting for all those devices to land, Google's already looking to distribute its next system-level update for Android Wear, today announcing a new release that ...

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    Sony launched its original SmartBand fitness tracker all the way back at CES 2014, though it wouldn't be until June of that year when we saw the company bring sales of the wearable to the US. In the mobile electronics world, a span of one year feels like a lifetime, so Sony's been seriously overdue for some kind of follow-up if it hoped to keep the SmartBand fresh. Today that's just what we see the company do, as it announces the new SmartBand 2 with heart rate monitor. We first saw this guy pop up a little earlier this summer, with the publication of its companion app, but it's taken ...

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    Samsung's made some controversial decisions with its new Galaxy Note 5 phablet, and fans of previous incarnations from the Note line have found themselves coming to terms with some occasionally unwelcome changes for this year's model. Among those are the device's shrinking battery, and in a world where it seems like we can never get enough battery capacity to keep us satisfied, Samsung went and downsized the Note 5's battery compared to the Note 4's. At least, the Galaxy Note 5 we just saw Samsung announce only has a 3000mAh battery, but now a new rumor says that an even better-equipped ...

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    For a company that made its name with software, it sure feels like all of a sudden there's a lot of Microsoft hardware we're looking forward to. Maybe at the top of that list are some new Lumia models, flagship-caliber devices that have been long overdue for the company's lineup. But beyond that we've been anticipating new tablet options, as well as a second-gen wearable. So when's all this gear going to land? While earlier rumors suggested that the new Lumias, at least, could debut sometime next month, a new source suggests that Microsoft's instead planning a big event that will introduce ...

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    Rather than leaving us guessing right up until the last minute, earlier this week we saw Google take the mystery out of its Android M name, confirming the release as Android 6.0 Marshmallow. At the same time, it made with the release of a new SDK, as well as the third (and final) preview ROMs for Nexus-series hardware. Of course, sometimes even “final” releases end up needing a tweak or two, and now Google's got some updated factory images for the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player. While the software that Google made available back on Monday took the form of build MPA44G, the ...

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    Even though there was reason to think something might be awry when it came to Samsung's plans to sell the Galaxy Note 5 in markets around the world, it was still a bit shocking when the phone actually launched and we heard Samsung confirm that it had no immediate plans to sell the phablet to European smartphone users. While it remains to be seen if Samsung will eventually get around to bringing the Note 5 to the continent, other smartphone manufacturers are seizing upon the opportunity to spin this ill-received decision for their own PR benefit, as we see LG doing today. A regional LG ...

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    Ever since evolving from a grass-roots unofficial Android ROM to a legitimate company, making big deals with smartphone manufacturers, we've seen Cyanogen hook up with a number of different phone-makers. From Oppo, we've seen it work with OnePlus, and more recently companies like Yu. This week we get word of one more, as startup ZUK announces its own partnership with Cyanogen. ZUK may be a new name in the smartphone world, but it's got familiar faces behind it, with Lenovo backing the effort. Last week the company revealed its inaugural Z1 handset with a Snapdragon 801 and other mid-range ...

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    Last week we got a long overdue update on Google ATAP's progress with Project Ara, first learning about changes to the planned commercial pilot program. This week new details started arriving, like how we'd be waiting until at least next year to see that program get underway, and how Ara was considering new test markets across the US. We started to get a better picture for what was happening, but still didn't know much about the “why” of it; what had caused Google's plans to change to the extent that they have? Yesterday the group behind the effort mentioned some module regrouping ...

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    One of the biggest trade shows of the year for smartphones, tablets, wearables, and more is sneaking up on us fast, with IFA 2015 a mere two weeks away. We're looking forward to bringing you all the great new products the manufacturers involved have to announce, with the help of the Pocketnow crew we're sending to Berlin to cover the event. As we start planning whose hardware we want to check out first, ASUS has just dropped a teaser for its own event, alluding to all variety of product types. From phones, to PCs, to smartwatches, we see a lot of gadgets featured here, though we find ...

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    Fossil's been making wearables since, well, since before we really had smartphones. We've been following the company's work with such devices going back well over a decade at this point, and even with the mobile landscape having changed as much as it has, Fossil's still at it. At this year's Intel Developer Forum, Fossil has taken the opportunity to introduce a range of new wearable devices, including a basic phone-connected watch, a connected bracelet, and a full-blown Android Wear smartwatch. Much like the upcoming Tag Heuer smartwatch, this Fossil model features Intel silicon, though ...

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    For one reason or another, plenty of smartphone manufacturers have saw fit to place two camera modules on the rear of their smartphones. Some want to capture 3D imagery, while others want to combine the outputs from both sensors to produce a higher-res image than could be produced by a single camera alone. Others still use a second sensor to gather depth information. But for all those developments, we haven't seen similar dual-camera layouts come to the front-facers on smartphones. At least, not yet, but some new rumors suggest that could be about to change, thanks to Lenovo and its Vibe ...

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