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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    We first learned of Samsung's Exynos 5433 SoC last summer, the 64-bit octa-core processor that would end up powering the Galaxy Note 4. Why that originally looked like it might land under the umbrella of the Exysno 5 lineup, last fall Samsung formally designated it as the first Exynos 7 chip. While a very capable chip in its own right, Samsung's already looking to give the Exysos 7 Octa a little boost, and today announced that it's beginning mass fabrication under a new 14nm process. The existing Exynos 7 Octa in the Note 4 is a 20nm chip, just like the Exynos 5 Octa you'll find in the ...

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    Android 5.0 Lollipop updates first started showing up for LG G3 handsets in the US just about one week ago, as AT&T got the ball rolling for its subscribers. Who would be next? While we hadn't heard anything official from the other big carriers, a leak out of Sprint a few days prior had managed to offer a tentative date: February 16. That document was clear that this wasn't set in stone, and Sprint might end up rescheduling things, but it at least gave us a starting point. With February 16 now upon us, it's clear that Sprint didn't have to change its plans after all, and Lollipop for ...

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    Last week we heard that Samsung may be readying a 2015 follow-up to last year's OLED-screened tablets, the Galaxy Tab S family. Model numbers hinted that we'd again be seeing two sizes for the Tab S, and again in both WiFi and cellular configurations, but we didn't pick up much in the way of details. Now some of the first specifics are finally starting to come to light, as rumors discuss the possibility of some super-thin hardware. Supposedly, the new Galaxy Tab S2 models would measure even thinner than the current-gen iPad Air. For context, Apple's tablet is 6.1mm thick, and both ...

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    ASUS launched the ZenWatch back at IFA 2014, its stylish Android Wear-powered foray into the smartwatch market. In the time since, we've heard the company divulge a little about what's next for it when it comes to wearables, and just a few weeks back a company executive talked about “simplifying” such a product so that it could run for a week on a charge – something that to our ears sounded like plans to ditch Android Wear. Now ASUS CEO Jerry Shen is shedding some additional light on the matter, clarifying that his company's future wearables will include both Android Wear models and ...

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    We're probably just under two weeks away from HTC launching its next Android flagship at MWC 2015. This is the phone we've been talking about as HTC's codename Hima, but chances are you associate it with a more familiar-sounding name, the One M9. But just how will the handset ultimately arrive? Remember, last year it was a bit of a surprise to see HTC stick with “M8” for the phone's public launch (considering the first One had been keeping its own M7 designation largely internal); now that there's clear precedent, will this one just be the One M9? That's looking increasingly likely, as ...

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    OK, so we're just weeks away from HTC's presumptive launch of the One M9, meaning that the One M8 is about to step down from its top spot in HTC's lineup: that's fine. But even with the One M8 soon finding itself relegated to past-flagship status, that doesn't mean it's any less of a solid smartphone. If you've been thinking about picking one up, HTC has a weekend sale underway now, offering $150 off the One M8, as well as some nice deals on accessories. That discount brings the One M8 down to just about $500, free-and-clear. You can even pick up the developer edition for that same reduced ...

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    If you've spent any time at all playing games on your smartphone, you might have a love-hate relationship with in-app purchases. On one hand, they make plenty of titles available for free that might otherwise be paid downloads, exposing us to lots of new apps. But then again, feeling like you're being constantly nickel-and-dimed as you try to make progress through an app can be an endless source of frustration, driving some gamers to avoid titles based around in-app purchases altogether. Now Apple's even going so far as to highlight games with the selling point that you won't be bothered ...

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    For a while we didn't even know if it would happen: would the beloved Xposed Framework make its way to Android 5.0 Lollipop? Lollipop changed so much about how Android worked that it wasn't clear if continuing Xposed would even be possible. But then earlier this week, a glimmer of hope: developer rovo89 dropped a teaser image, reporting that things were coming along nicely, and that we could expect a release soon. Well, in smartphones “soon” can mean anything from later today to six months from now, so while we were happy to see assurances that a release was coming, we weren't exactly ...

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    In two weeks (and a couple days) we'll find ourselves in beautiful Barcelona, Spain ready to dive headfirst into Mobile World Congress 2015. That's going to mean event after event, and announcement after announcement, but even with all the myriad products fighting for out attention, there are a few we're anticipating that are just too big to be lost in the sea of competitors, with the Galaxy S6 arguably at the top of that list. With its Unpacked event creeping up over the horizon, Samsung's already getting started with its promotional push for this new hardware, taking to social media to ...

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    Last summer at Google I/O 2014, Google delivered a product that aimed to be the antithesis to expensive head-mounted virtual reality systems like the Oculus Rift or the then-upcoming Samsung Gear VR: Google Cardboard. You might have been forgiven for thinking the built-from-actual-cardboard accessory was a joke, but Google was really proving something important here, that simple VR viewers could deliver a solid 3D experience without costing an arm and a leg. In the months since we've seen plenty of manufacturers adopt those Google Cardboard plans to create their own affordable kits and ...

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    It used to be that if you wanted a bright, saturated, high-contrast OLED display on your Samsung mobile device, that meant going with one of its smartphones; for years we've associated such panels with flagship models like the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series. Despite a singular OLED-based tablet years ago, Samsung's tablet lineup had become firmly associated with LCD panels. But still, occasionally we'd catch wind of rumors that Samsung was working on a new OLED tablet project, and last year all that talk finally came to fruition in the form of the Galaxy Tab S. We got both 8.4-inch and ...

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    We first heard about Motorola's Valentine's Day promotion late last month, which offered the opportunity for shoppers to save up to $140 on the company's products. While that was nice of Motorola to offer, it was a very limited-time deal, and you had to register a week ago Monday to take advantage of it. Failing that, there was also a $100-off offer, which you were to have until Valentine's Day itself to use. With February 14 fast approaching, Motorola is giving shoppers a little more leeway, stretching this sale's end date through next Tuesday. From now through February 17, if you spend ...

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    There's a lot to like about the Surface Pro 3, making it little surprise that Microsoft's been selling a boatload of the tablets. Beyond the full-blown Windows experience that the tablet offers, making it a prime tool for mobile productivity, one of the Pro 3's real stand-out features is the Surface Pen, a precision pressure-sensitive active stylus tracked by the tablet's digitizer panel. If you were already a fan of what the Surface Pen delivered, there's good reason for you to be excited about future Surface tablets, as Microsoft is reported to be in discussions to purchase the firm ...

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    Despite the push we feel to keep more and more of our content in the cloud, phone storage has still been pushing its way up over the past year, and while we may not be fully past the days when manufacturers feel justified giving a flagship model a paltry 16GB of flash, the arrival of new larger-capacity options like the 128GB you can find on current-gen iPhones is more than welcome. With our phones now able to store more content locally, developers are being given clearance to better take advantage of all that space, and today we learn of Apple doubling its app limit for iOS software. It ...

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    Xiaomi has found itself become one of the biggest names in the smartphone game, though to many users in the West it's still a mystery. Considering how you won't see any Xiaomi phones at your local Best Buy or Verizon store, that's hardly surprising. So when we heard earlier this month that Xiaomi was planning a US press event, our interest was piqued: was the company actually considering bringing its phones to the States. Alas, that hope was quickly shut down, as a representative clarified that Xiaomi wasn't about to announce its forthcoming entry into the US smartphone market. Today, ...

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    Do you care if your smartphone OS is open source? There are untold millions upon millions of users out there who couldn't care less, only interested in the end functionality their phones offer. But then there's also this contingent that's very interested in keeping things nice and open, users who naturally flock to platforms like Android, and even more specifically, to independent custom ROM projects. This affinity is one of the reasons it was so great to see manufacturers like OnePlus publicly embrace open-source software from Cyanogen Inc. (above) – well, up until their falling-out, at ...

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    It seems like the last few days have seen Samsung Galaxy S6 rumors taking a turn for the hardware side of things, revisiting the idea of the Galaxy S Edge, giving us hints about the phone's camera, or talking about what to expect from accessories. But it wasn't long ago when our GS6 focus was pointed at the phone's software, amid reports that Samsung was in the process of seriously slimming-down TouchWiz to deliver core functionality, while moving a lot of what had been perceived as bloat to optional add-on apps. Today we hear from a new source about what Samsung's up to, adding some ...

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    The day you've been waiting for has arrived: the Windows 10 preview release for existing Lumia smartphones is here. We've known to expect it for sometime in February, but after last week's rumored start to the preview failed to happen, we were left without a great sense of an ETA. All we needed was a little patience, because today Microsoft finally flips the switch, inviting curious Windows Phone users to get an early taste of Windows 10 on their phones. To get the preview on your phone you'll need to register for the Windows Insider program, though that's free and easy (hit up the first ...

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    Right now, when someone mentions an unannounced HTC smartphone, our thoughts immediately turn to the One M9. And while that may be the highest-profile of the company's upcoming handsets, it hardly exists in a vacuum. Besides the One M9 itself, we've heard about a possible One M9 Plus, as well new Desire models like the one codenamed A55. It's phones like that last one we're thinking about today as we check out a render of a previously unknown HTC smartphone. Shared by upleaks on Twitter, he admits that even he doesn't know quite what we're looking at here. Is this a blue-bodied phone, or ...

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    Samsung's got its next Unpacked event scheduled for March 1, and unless we've been hugely misreading the situation, that's the day we're going to see the manufacturer formally announce the Galaxy S6. OK, easy enough to believe, but what then? While it will be fantastic to see the GS6 go official, what most of you are actually interested in is getting your hands on the phone; when can we hope to see sales begin? Like the phone itself, this is something that won't be confirmed for a another few weeks, but today we get what looks like a solid guess at a couple windows for the start of GS6 ...

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    February 12 is upon us – the date we've been told to expect news about OnePlus's efforts to give its users a new software option beyond CyanogenMod, the new OxygenOS. We've already gotten some early looks at a possible OxygenOS candidate, but with so little formally known about this project, we've been eagerly anticipating today's update. Would we get word of a release timetable? As it turns out, OnePlus has something a little different in mind, and is taking today to introduce us to the OxygenOS team. If you're already a big custom ROM guy you're going to see some familiar names here, ...

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    Earlier today we showed you some very attractive-looking renders of HTC's presumed One M9, put together based on the images of hardware and existing renders that had already leaked. It still wasn't anything official, but it sure looked good. Previously, we had the chance to look at something similar done for the Samsung Galaxy S6, with fan renders taking a stab at building a 3D model based on what we had heard and seen to date. Since then, though, some new schematics have leaked, and now we've got some fresh renders to gawk over, constructed from that new info. We've still got that same ...

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    Has Google hit an impasse with Wallet? Apple may have gotten smartphone users talking again about NFC-based payments last year with the launch of Apple Pay on the new iPhones, but Google's failed to do much in recent memory to draw new customers to Wallet. Could user confusion over the tap-and-pay mechanic of it, including uncertainty about both phone and retail POS compatibility, be limiting adoption? Google may have its suspicions about just that, as we get word that it's been investigating a new payment method that works very differently from the Wallet we're used to. Google's ...

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    In the early days of March, our attention is going to be hugely focused on MWC in Barcelona. Companies the world around will be descending upon Spain to share all their latest products and services, and we're sure to see the launch of some very high-profile flagship devices. But not everyone is headed to MWC to talk about their latest stuff, and today we see NVIDIA start distributing invites for a March 3 event of its own, set to take place in San Francisco. All NVIDIA's saying at the moment is that this announcement will be all about gaming, and that the company plans to share some news ...

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    When you think of a smartwatch, which device springs to mind? A Pebble? Maybe an Android Wear model? Or what about the upcoming Apple Watch? While we regularly check out industry reports looking at which smartphone manufacturers are controlling the lion's share of the market, we haven't been so privileged as to get the same sort of data about smartwatches, leaving us a bit in the dark as to just who's succeeding and who's not. Today we get a rare glimmer of insight, with a new analyst report looking at sales through the end of 2014. Analysts at Canalys estimate about 4.6 million smart ...

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