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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    Earlier this week we spent some time talking about how smartphone manufacturers sometimes change a phone's hardware post-launch. Maybe a source of components runs out and the company has to switch suppliers; maybe a design flaw gets corrected. But for whatever reason they happen, such changes are a fact of life. Now it looks like Samsung is the latest company to rake one of its phones back to the drawing board, as it becomes apparent that the company has (ever so slightly) tweaked the design of the Galaxy S6 Edge. We already know that Samsung is experimenting with its branding on the GS6, ...

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    Rumors about a Sony smartphone codenamed Lavender date back several weeks at this point, with a number of specs leaking early last month. Those inlcuded components like a 1080p display and MediaTek SoC, making this sound like a solidly capable handset, though one that may fall more into the mid-range of the spectrum. Now the source behind that last leak is back with a photo, detailing a handset with some remarkably thin side bezels. While not yet decked-out with Sony branding, that's supposedly our guy Lavender up top, with a look that might be more at home from one of those Chinese OEMs ...

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    Back at the start of last week, news broke that a new edition of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge was on its way. A report out of South Korea brought word that at least one of those custom Avengers-themed phone designs we saw dreamed-up a while back was actually going to happen, and Samsung was making a red-colored Iron Man handset. We're still wondering if the phone we get will look as good as that fan render, and while Samsung has yet to show off the phone itself, today we get the next best thing, as the company teases the box art for this special edition. Posted by the official Samsung ...

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    ASUS launched the first ZenWatch back at IFA last year, and ever since 2015 got rolling, the company's been talking about its plans for a follow-up. We heard that we could expect the smartwatch to arrive sometime in Q3, and that it should offer greatly improved battery life. Responding to rumors of possible delays, CEO Jerry Shen has now not only confirmed that the Q3 release timeframe is still on track, but that the company intends to introduce the ZenWatch 2 at Computex in early June. We also get an update on the battery situation, and while the dream of running a whole week on a single ...

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    After months of uncertainty, it finally looks like the Galaxy S6 Active is very much happening. This week has already brought us a number of leaks, including press renders of the phone and an in-the-wild shot, and coupled with the discovery of FCC paperwork, evidence in support of the model's existence has been hard to ignore. But so far we've lacked any sort of official confirmation from Samsung. While there's still been no formal announcement, we may be one step closer to launch, as the phone's name appears on Samsung's own servers. In a page describing the Samsung Plus loyalty program, ...

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    With as much of our digital lives conducted from mobile devices as they are, it's been refreshing to see the emphasis that the companies connecting us with online resources have been placing on content that's as useful as it can be for such mobile consumption. Google started marking mobile-optimized search results last year, and back in April we learned that the company would begin prioritizing such listings in searches originating on phones and tablets. Now Microsoft is jumping on board that same bandwagon, and talks today about its own efforts to do something very similar. Like Google, ...

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    Last spring, Android Wear got started with the announcements of the LG G Watch and the Motorola Moto 360, but it wouldn’t be until a few months later when the first hardware actually arrived. And while the Moto 360 would remain in the shadows until even later in the year, the G Watch found itself joined by another model as they marked the platform's commercial debut: the Samsung Gear Live. In the months that followed, LG released additional Android Wear models, but the Gear Live remained Samsung's sole Android Wear experiment. Now that experiment may be drawing to a close, as the Gear ...

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    A couple days back, word landed that Microsoft was nearly ready to release the next Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones, with Gabriel Aul tweeting that preparations were in the works to have the release ready to go sometime this week. And while he couldn't commit to that happening for sure, leaving the door open for a delay if any last-minute issues popped up, it looks like things went about as smoothly as could be hoped, and today Microsoft makes Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 10080 available for smartphone testers. Maybe the biggest deal here is new hardware support, and with this ...

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    Apple first announced HomeKit at WWDC 2014 when drawing the curtain back on iOS 8. HomeKit would allow iOS software to talk with home automation products, and with features like voice control through Siri, it all sounded very promising – except we've still yet to see it arrive. While Apple never publicly offered a specific date for when that might happen, some of its HomeKit hardware partners had been talking about their HomeKit-compatible products launching in May or June. Now a new rumor suggests that Apple is pushing back its timetable, and instead we're looking at a late summer ...

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    For as much as we love smartphone accessories, buying them can sometimes be an anxiety-filled experience; will this third-party case really deliver the quality I'm looking for? While it often means paying a little more, that kind of uncertainty can often be side-stepped by sticking with official OEM accessories – or at least, that's what we'd like to believe. In reality, even these straight-from-the-manufacturer accessories can sometimes let us down, and a number of new Galaxy S6 and GS6 Edge owners have been sounding the warning call about the potential for screen damage with official ...

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    After being tapped by Google to build Nexus tablets two years in a row, it sure looked like ASUS might be ready to parlay that exposure into some bigger business for its own tablet family. Instead, while we've seen the company release some interesting smartphones and accessories, its post-Nexus tablet offerings have been a little unremarkable. Is there still time to turn things around? We may be finding out soon, as it looks like ASUS is just about ready to introduce a few tablets under the new ZenPad banner. Right now, evidence points to the presence of at least two ZenPad sizes, a ...

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    Rumors about HTC's next Butterfly-series smartphone have been bouncing around since well before the One M9 itself launched, painting the picture of an extremely high-end device. With specs like a Snapdragon 810 SoC and a 5.2-inch quad HD display, it sounded like the phone would pick some of the best components from both the One M9 and the subsequently launched One M9 Plus. Reports suggested that HTC could be planning to go official with the new Butterfly sometime this month, and today the company does just that, announcing the new J Butterfly for Japan. Just as the rumors suggested, that ...

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    Is HTC committed to the tablet market or not? After a couple forgettable early efforts, last year the company returned strong as the manufacturer behind Google's Nexus 9. That's fueled no shortage of rumors that we'd be seeing some new tablets released under the OEM's own branding, but so far none have managed to materialize. Most recently, that's included a supposed model T1H for the Chinese market, sounding very much like an SoC-swapped Nexus 9, but confirmation has remained out of reach. Now rumors address another possible HTC tablet, hinting a lower-end device that could launch in the ...

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    It hasn't even been a month yet since Huawei launched the P8 (along with the P8max and maybe, not really the P8 Lite), its latest Android flagship. But life moves fast in the smartphone world, and the manufacturer already has its eyes firmly on what's next. We could be learning precisely what that is in just three more weeks, as the company sends out invites to a June 2 event. As you can see below, Huawei invites us to see what the company's unlocking next, with promises of showing off “what's new” and offering some insight into the company's further intentions for the US market. ...

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    The last 24 hours have been busy ones for the Samsung Galaxy S6 Active. While rumored for months, new evidence has started turning up in droves, all getting started with the release of some apparent photos of the handset in the flesh. It was long after that when FCC paperwork for the phone was seemingly uncovered, further making its release seem like an inevitability. Now we get maybe our best look at the phone yet, upon the leak of a couple new renders, complete with the phone's iconic camouflage paint job. As you may have heard us discussing on this week's Pocketnow Weekly podcast, ...

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    With the arrival of the Apple Watch and its integration with Apple's Health app, the intersection between wearables and fitness is once again back in the public eye. And while for the moment it's Apple that's capitalizing most on this publicity, other players in the smartwatch game aren't about to let this opportunity pass them by. Last fall, Google formally got the ball rolling on Google Fit, its own health and fitness hub with tight ties to wearables, and today Google shares word of some new features its own tool is receiving. Apps like Google Fit are all about data, and beyond ...

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    It's been just about a year now since LG announced a new wave of tablets, introducing three new members of the G Pad family. With 7.0, 8.0, and 10.1-inch options, LG was covering its bases, but in the time since their release, we've failed to see the slates attract any significant following. Can LG hope to capture the public's attention any better with some fresh blood? We may finding out soon, as a new G Pad tablet gets leaked for Verizon. Noted leaked @evleaks just can't stand to stay retired, and this week he dropped a few mentions of the LG G Pad X 8.3. First he got this ball rolling ...

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    It's been three weeks now since the first Android 5.1.1 release went public, we've seen the software come to devices like the Nexus 9, Nexus 7, and even Nexus 10. And while Google's tablets have been quick to take to this new build, the same hasn't been true for the company's smartphones, lingering back behind the curve. That may finally be about to change, as Sprint gives users the heads-up that the Nexus 5's Android 5.1.1 update is incoming. Sprint's delivered first warning of on-their-way Nexus series Android updates before, so the odds are in favor of the carrier being on to something ...

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    For all the things modern smartphones do very, very well, there's one issue (OK, way more than one) they struggle with to this day: input. Touchscreens remain an inelegant wall standing between us and the capabilities of mobile hardware, and while they're eminently accessible, they lack the sort of precision and feedback that old hats like myself -more at home with a keyboard and mouse than a glossy expanse of glass- crave. Efforts like the active stylus in devices like Samsung's Galaxy Note series are well appreciated, and go a long way towards overcoming the accuracy limitations of ...

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    Translation apps help open up the world around us, breaking down barriers of communication and making talking with someone on the other side of the world as easy as chatting with our next door neighbor. We've seen software that automates the translation process for entered text, captured images, and even audio snippets, and last year Skype tried taking things to the next level with real-time voice translation. While that started out as a signup-only preview, the service is now ready to start being used by the public at large, and today the Skype Translator preview becomes available to ...

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    Google released Android 5.1.1 for the Nexus 9 last Thursday. So if you've been eager to try out the latest Android build on your tablet, a screen like the one above can be extremely frustrating: you know that update is out there, but your Nexus 9 just hasn't seen it arrive yet. What's an Android fan to do? Well, Google's already made available a 5.1.1 factory image for the Nexus 9 (download link below), which you're free to flash at your convenience, but if you haven't unlocked your tablet's bootloader, you're looking forward to a data wipe in the process. Of course, there's a better way ...

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    So far this week, we've had a couple great opportunities to check out one of Samsung's upcoming tablets, the Galaxy Tab S2. This model will mark Samsung's embrace of the 4:3 aspect ratio far more common on the iOS side of the fence, but recently making inroads with Android, as well. Instead of taking a look at another render, today we turn our attention to some specs, upon the discover of User Agent Profile files for not just the Tab S2, but also a couple Samsung handsets, the Galaxy J5 and Galaxy J7. With the Tab S2, there's not much new, and this mainly serves as confirmation. UAProfs ...

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    Verizon remains the biggest player in the US wireless market, but just because it finds itself in the top spot doesn't mean that the firm is content to sit back and coast by on its previous success. Far from it, in fact, and today we learn of a big move the company behind carrier is undertaking in order to bolster its position in mobile, announcing plans to buy AOL in a deal worth $4.4 billion. AOL? Worth that kind of money in this day and age? You'd be surprised, and beyond its still-profitable dial-up business, the company's advertising and media holdings make it very attractive to the ...

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    Last year Motorola took the Moto X back to the drawing room for its second-gen model, coming up with a new Moto X that surpassed the original in many ways. In some areas, though, we found ourselves wishing that Motorola pushed itself even further, and that couldn't be more true for the phone's camera. Sure, we got that nifty ring-style flash and a resolution bump, but the image quality we craved just wasn't there. Last week we checked out some rumors for a possible third-gen Moto X, one that looked like it might push camera resolution even higher, up to 16MP. Would this new camera finally ...

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    Where do you turn if you want a mid-sized Android tablet? It used to be that the Nexus 7 was a solid recommendation, but with Google failing to deliver a new edition of the tablet last year, all it's got these days is the Nexus 9. That leaves the door open for other companies to vie for your tablet dollars, and today we learn about a new entry from Huawei, the eight-inch MediaPad M2. You might remember the MediaPad M1 from when we went hands-on with the tablet at MWC last year, but with specs like a 1280 x 800 resolution, it wasn't much to write home about. For the new M2, Huawei gives the ...

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