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 best parts of owning a smartwatch is being able to really make the wearable your own. While a regular watch may not offer much in the way of customizability besides picking out a new band, smartwatches open new doors for expression, not the least of which being your choice of watchface. Hundreds of such options are available for Android Wear devices, and beyond Google occasionally taking the time to highlight some of its favorites, we've also shared some of our own top picks with you. This week, Google's back with some more selections, showcasing seventeen stand-out watchfaces. ...

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    Sony's got an interesting relationship with Android updates. On one hand, it sometimes feels like the company's out there on the bleeding edge of progress, like how last fall it was already teasing Android Lollipop running on its phones just days after public availability began. But then we look at its actual distribution of Lollipop updates and see long waits, not to mention plenty of confusion over just which models would (and more importantly, wouldn't) be getting them. Today, at least, we're back over in the “early innovator” camp, as Sony begins giving devs the tools they need to ...

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    Sure, you may consider yourself a big Android user: you've got an Android smartphone, probably a tablet, and maybe even an Android Wear smartwatch. And that's all well and good for mobile tech, but what about at home? Sure, the low cost of entry has made Chromecast pretty affordable to pick up, but in some ways that's just a half measure – what about Android TV? If your media center isn't quite as Android-ified as it could be, now's looking like a pretty good time to make up for it, as Amazon slashes its asking price for the Nexus Player. We saw Google's set-top box debut last fall, ...

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    Last Friday, Microsoft spelled out much of what's about to happen next for testers participating in the Windows 10 Insider Preview. That includes the update path to the final, commercial-ready build once it's time for the OS to go public on July 29. And while we thought the company provided some clear answers to questions the tester community had asked time and time again, as the new week begins things are looking much less certain, and Microsoft could be reversing course on one key point. If you've got a legit copy of Windows 7 or 8.1, you can upgrade for free to Windows 10 – that no ...

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    Right now, the bulk of the world's smartphone users are on Android – somewhere floating up around 80 percent. And while new users are picking up their first smartphones every day, if you're the company behind a competing mobile platform, any growth plan is going to have to include some strategy for convincing at least some of those Android users to jump ship. Unsurprisingly, we've seen plenty of evidence of companies working to do just that, most recently with Apple's upcoming Move to iOS tool. Microsoft's had it's own migration app for some time now, and the company recently released a ...

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    Amazon's Fire OS Android fork may not be the biggest player in the mobile platform game, constrained to the company's own limited lineup of Fire hardware, but for users who value its UI and deep connections to the Amazon ecosystem, it can be a good fit. While it's commendable that Amazon is doing so much to make its devices unique, going out on its own like this has meant that Fire OS trails behind the main Android release when it comes to updates – we just shared with you how the Fire Phone only graduated to a KitKat-based Fire OS build last month. But “late” doesn't mean ...

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    We're a little over a month out from July 29, the day that marks the formal commercial arrival of Windows 10 for PCs. If you've already been participating in the Insider Preview program and running early builds, that may not sound like such a big deal, but there are some important changes you should be aware about as Microsoft makes the transition from testing to full-on availability. Today the company shares some of what to expect as we get in for the home stretch. Before the final build gets here, we've got a few more weeks of previews left, and Microsoft's making a little adjustment to ...

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    It's hard to celebrate a smartphone's birthday. Sure, there's a good chance it makes it though a full year of use, and maybe even two, but what then? The allure of shiny new hardware, combined with evaporating software update support for older handsets, can make for a powerful reason to put that old phone down and pick up something new. That makes talking about a phone's five-year birthday, let alone its ten-year birthday, a bit crazy. Maybe we'll still remember the day the first iPhone came out when 2017 rolls around, but that's the exception that proves the rule. So we're just a little ...

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    Facebook's got a new app out this week. Called Moments, the software for both iOS and Android streamlines how you share pictures with friends. It does this by going through an album of images, employing facial recognition technology to identify your friends, and suggesting you share your shots with the subjects pictured in them. It's pretty straightforward, and right now the app's available to users in the US, with plans for international expansion to follow. But it turns out that won't include availability in Europe, as Facebook cites issues with privacy concerns. Regulators have informed ...

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    Interested in trying out the Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview? While it may still be a little rough around the edges for use as a daily driver (though that's a matter of preference), there's no harm in spending a few days poking around to see what's new in the latest build, and that's just what plenty of Windows Phone users have been up to. Head on over to Microsoft’s device compatibility page for the preview, and you'll see dozens and dozens of handsets supported – by and large, all of them Lumias. For now, there's just one exception: last year's HTC One M8 for Windows, which ...

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    Apple's iPad mini has been nothing if not a trooper. The tablet launched nearly three years ago, and despite the arrival of not one, but two follow-up models, Apple had continued to make the original mini available to shoppers – that would be like if the iPhone 5 were still part of Apple's lineup. At some point, however, we need to do out with the old to make room for the new, and today we see the first step towards pruning down the company's tablet family, as Apple puts an end to sales of new iPad mini tablets. Beyond disappearing from Apple's website, the first-gen mini is reportedly ...

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    For a couple weeks now we've been checking out rumors about a new Samsung flagship-level handset, one that would look a hell of a lot like the Galaxy S6 Edge but arrive with a slightly larger screen – supposedly one up around 5.5 inches. We've heard it called the Galaxy S6 Plus, then the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus. There's even been a hardware leak, but aside from UI window dressing, it didn't appear to reveal much of interest. Then again, why would it – without a sense of scale, this new phone should appear pretty much like the Galaxy S6 Edge itself. Today we've got a new leak to check out ...

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    We're four months removed now from a landmark FCC decision, where the agency moved to enact strong rules protecting the quality of data services, all in the name of net neutrality. Last Friday, those rules took hold, and ISPs and carriers are already responding. Sprint, for one, is taking no chances with what sort of “network management” practices it might be able to get away with while still complying with the rules, and this week revealed that it's putting a stop to its data throttling practices. Sprint's notable among US carriers in that it still actively advertises unlimited data ...

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    Does having a watch on your wrist feel a little … weird? Many of us smartphone users found ourselves abandoning watches years ago, since we were already carrying around these fancy gadgets that did a hell of a lot more than just tell the time. But now there's this new era of wearables upon us, and especially as popular devices like the Apple Watch debut, plenty of users who might have dropped their daily-wear watch habits are finding themselves returning to the world of wrist-borne accessories. But if you just can't get back on board with the idea of watches, there may be hope for you ...

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    Wireless smartphone charging has sure taken its sweet time entering the mainstream, lacking a lot of support from both manufacturers and carriers, but little by little, it's been getting there. This year has easily been one of the most high profile for the technology, with support for the feature not just baked in to flagship devices like the Galaxy S6, but also receiving a lot more support on the charger side, like with what IKEA's doing with embedded chargers in furniture. But even with these advancements, confusion still remains, and that's no more true than with the new Samsung Galaxy ...

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    BlackBerry may be planning to introduce a new smartphone that skips BB10 entirely and runs Android, instead: so say rumors that emerged about a week ago. Since then, we've been trying to get a better sense for just what form this device might take – assuming that the reports have a glimmer of truth in them. That's led to a lot of talk about hardware, including the theories that this Android-based BlackBerry could be the slider the company showed off at MWC (one subsequently rumored to have some seriously high-end hardware), or maybe something developed with the help of Samsung. There's ...

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    Remember a couple months back when word arrived out of China that Nokia was gearing-up to get back into the smartphone game in 2016? It not only sounded quite promising, but also like the logical outcome once enough time had passed since the Microsoft deal and Nokia was contractually free to enter the market again. But just days later, Nokia fired back with a formal statement denying the report, stating that it “has no plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets.” But wouldn't you know it – almost immediately after that statement was issued, the company was back on social media ...

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    Yesterday, OnePlus got the ball rolling on official details about the forthcoming OnePlus 2 as it disclosed its choice of the Snapdragon 810 as the SoC that will power the handset. That announcement has served to act as the catalyst to get lots of people talking about the phone, speculating about performance and pricing. OnePlus hasn't been blind to all this, and today it issues a formal “chill out” message, telling its fans to stop listening to all the rumors – and offering a little insight into OnePlus 2 pricing in the process. OnePlus talks about component costs, and how the ...

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    Motorola's Moto G has always been a very affordable handset. Its specs and configuration options fall short of big brother Moto X, but dollar-for-dollar it may be an even better value, especially if you're not sweating the loss of luxuries like LTE speed. When the 2014 edition premiered last September, its $180 price tag really helped the phone to stand out: it was better-equipped than other extreme-budget smartphones, while still coming in respectably short of the $200 mark. In the months since, we've seen a few sales that have let shoppers snatch the Moto G up for even better prices, and ...

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    One of the better parts of the TouchWiz UI on Samsung phones is the easy access users are offered to system settings – and specifically, the powerfully customizable quick settings panel up in the phone's notification shade. Giving users one-touch access to plenty of phone features, quick settings can also be re-ordered and optimized for the set of options you use most. At least, that's the way it's supposed to work, but recently Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge users have been running into some problems, with many of those quick settings options up and disappearing. The good news is that ...

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    Windows Phone fans are used to dealing with a limited selection of smartphone options from carriers, and that's been just as true for Verizon as any. Shopping for such models in its stores, you'd find yourself presented with some very slim pickings: there's the One M8, a high-end (if not aging) model, and the new LG Lancet, a lower-end FWVGA phone. What about something that splits the difference? Ever since last summer, we've been following reports that the Lumia 735 could make its way to Verizon, and after a number of false starts, those rumors picked up in earnest again last month. ...

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    The Motorola Moto 360 may be getting a little long in the tooth by this point, but some recent price cuts have served to help keep the Android Wear smartwatch on our short list of wearables worth wearing. The biggest problem, at least lately, has been software availability: while the new Android 5.1.1 Android Wear release had already started arriving for some of its competition, it was a no-show for the Moto 360. Back at the start of the month, Motorola confirmed the delay, blaming it on unsatisfactory performance and assuring users that it was working with Google to get things up to ...

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    In just a couple more weeks, Q3 2015 will be upon us, and as we've noted before, that's going to mean a period full of some of the highest-profile smartphone launches all year. One of the many handsets we're expecting to see debut is the follow-up to last year's OnePlus One, and though the manufacturer has long confirmed that a OnePlus 2 is in the works, so far it hasn't shared many details about the phone. Today that all starts changing, as the manufacturer shares one of the most important components that will go into making up the OnePlus 2: a Snapdragon 810 SoC. The decision to go with ...

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    Yesterday we learned about a potentially nasty situation brewing with the software on many Samsung Androids, as a vulnerability discovered in the SwiftKey-designed keyboard such phones shipped with could present an attacker with the opportunity to sneak some malicious code onto the handsets. And despite the security researchers having notified Samsung late last year, it wasn't clear just which, if any phones had been patched to address the issue. We asked Samsung just what was going on in its efforts to patch the hole, and today the company's issued a statement explaining what it's up to. ...

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    BlackBerry rumors have been heating up over the course of the past week, all circling around an idea that's either outright crazy or just crazy enough to be true: that BlackBerry could produce an Android-running smartphone. After first hearing about this notion of the company dropping its own BB10 OS for a forthcoming model, the story evolved with the new angle that this device could be a joint BlackBerry/Samsung collaboration. Today we check out some new developments from a pair of sources, both as we hear about some possible specs for this hardware, as well as get to see an image that ...

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