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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    A little over a week ago, Microsoft got the ball rolling for Windows Phone 8.1 updates, as confirmation arrived that Nokia Lumia models would soon be getting WP8.1 alongside the phones' Cyan software updates. Of course, carriers being what they are, even that news didn't mean that users everywhere would be receiving 8.1 immediately. Those Windows Phone users in the States who check Nokia's update page are currently presented with notices that updates are still under testing across multiple carriers, with no ETA given; just when might we expect them to arrive? At lease some might turn up ...

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    For a moment in time, it seemed like such a sure thing: following the first two generations of full-sized Surface tablets, this past spring it finally looked like Microsoft was going to introduce a more compact Surface Mini. In the days leading up to the company's May event, the Mini was the clear favorite for the new hardware likely to be featured, but at the last minute focus shifted to what we ultimately saw announced, the Surface Pro 3. In the weeks that followed we've been picking up bits and pieces of the Mini's story, like the multiple mentions of the device in the Pro 3's manual, ...

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    Wearables, man. It used to be that if you wanted to be at the forefront of technology, having a smartphone in your pocket was all you needed. But now with smartwatches and the likes of Google Glass being picked up by new users every day, living on the bleeding edge means strapping a bunch of that gear right on to your body. Some of these futurists are taking things one step further, and today Motorola shares one of the ways users are doing just that, introducing a “tattoo” that lets Moto X owners unlock their phones. Well, the VivaLnk Digital Tattoo may describe itself as such, but ...

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    The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as the saying goes, and every so often we see a manufacturer come out with a phone that commits wholeheartedly to some noble idea, only to see everything come apart in the execution. LG's G3 is the first phone many smartphone fans will ever get to see with a high-res quad HD display, so it only stands to reason that LG will be doing its darnedest to make that screen look as impressive as possible. But now a growing number of complaints is piling up from new G3 owners frustrated about one way LG seems to be pursuing that goal, as it implements ...

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    Who's your virtual assistant of choice? Are you a die-hard Siri user, running the app since even before Apple bought it up? Or have you been won over by Google Now and its tight integration with your phone's launcher? Maybe you're a new Cortana fan, eager to spend more time seeing what Microsoft can bring to this race. That last one's still a little too new to be included in this study, but a recent analyst report took a look at the performance of Google Now and Siri, evaluating a number of factors, and while both exhibit improvements, Google Now looks like it's just barely starting to ...

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    It almost seems like par for the course by this point: you're a major smartphone OEM, you release your latest flagship handset, and then a couple months later you follow that up with a tweaked edition boasting some slightly better hardware (and available only in a very limited market). Samsung did that with its LTE-A Galaxy S5, just as it had with the GS4 before it, and we'd been tracking rumors of LG working on a similar upgrade for its G3. A little earlier this month we spotted what looked like official confirmation of just such a G3 on an LG site, and today the hardware finally sees a ...

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    Chinese OEM Xiaomi has been catching out attention lately with some decent hardware, like the Tegra K1-powered Mi Pad or the very affordable Redmi 1S we just took a look at. Now it's back with both a high-end smartphone and super-cheap wearable, as the company introduces the Mi 4 and Mi Band. The Mi 4 sports a five-inch 1080p display, runs a 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801, and has a solid 3GB of RAM. The phone packs a 13MP main camera, very high res 8MP front-facer, and offers either 16GB or 64GB of internal storage. And to power that hardware, Xiaomi gives the phone a phablet-sized 3,080mAh ...

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    Earlier this month, details started coming together in a hurry about NVIDIA's plans for its latest Android hardware, and we rounded last week out with a detailed leak seeming to reveal all about the company's new Shield Tablet. The hardware specs and product shots making up that find were accompanied by rumors of a July 22 launch date, and just as promised, NVIDIA has gone ahead and formally unveiled its new gaming lineup. The Shield Tablet is the star of the show, with an eight-inch 1080p display and Tegra K1 SoC. It will work with NVIDIA's GameStream PC-streaming tech, as well as third ...

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    A couple weeks back, we saw OnePlus tease something new for its One smartphone. The company told us to “knock on wood” for a July 22 announcement, and unless we were seriously misinterpreting the signs, that sure looked like the company following-up on earlier plans to deliver a variety of alternate One backplates, including a bamboo option. With the day now upon us, OnePlus has gone ahead and confirmed our expectations, revealing the OnePlus One bamboo StyleSwap cover. While it's great to see the cover confirmed like this, four months following the initial StyleSwap announcement, its ...

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    Last week saw the US make some big progress towards giving smartphone owners back the ability to unlock their handsets as they please. And while we very much look forward to the day when that right will once again be insured, right now many carriers already do a decent job at unlocking phones when asked. Sure, they often impose a variety of conditions that need to be fulfilled before they'll grant those requests, but if your phone is eligible, unlocking can be as close as a phone call away. By the looks of things, though, T-Mobile is interested in streamlining that process even further, ...

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    Two years ago, Apple did the nearly unthinkable, and made a big change to the iPhone's design. After years and years of releasing handsets with 3.5-inch displays, the iPhone 5 ushered-in the era of the four-inch screen. Last year Apple returned with more of the same, but if we're to believe the abundance of rumors, this year's going to mark the next major shift. Instead of another four-incher, sources would have us believe that Apple is making the push up to 4.7 inches for the iPhone 6, and we could even see that one joined by a still-larger 5.5-inch phablet. As we continue to bring you ...

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    Congratulations Tyler Martin (no, not Taylor, so lose the nepotistic conspiracy theories), you're our lucky winner! Check you email for your notification, and we'll get you that code straight away. Everyone else, swing back around on Monday for details of our next contest; no more invite codes this time around. ___ Whoa, déjà vu! Didn't you guys already... you had a OnePlus One before... I entered this last week, right? No, your wits haven't left you: as we continue Pocketnow's summer of smartphone giveaways, we're following-up last week's OnePlus One invite giveaway with another ...

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    It's been over two months since we saw HTC introduce its One mini 2, and it wasn't long after the handset went official that rumors started putting two and two together and worked out that the HTC One Remix that had been teased for Verizon was likely to be a carrier-renamed version of the One mini 2. But even with that mystery solved, when might the Remix actually arrive, ready for sale? A couple weeks back we saw Verizon appear to be warming up for the handset's release, as a promo video went live a little ahead of schedule, and now we get word that the wait may nearly be over, with a new ...

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    Smartphone carriers are in this business to make money, and when we're talking maximizing profits, there are two obvious ways to boost income: charging more, or offering less. For some carriers, that “offering less” angle has taken the form of doing away with old unlimited data plans, and favoring tiered offerings, instead; both AT&T and Verizon axed their old unlimited data plans years ago. Now a new survey attempts to show just what kinds of plans current subscribers have with the major US carriers, and it looks like there's a surprising number of users still clinging to those ...

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    Is obsessing over smartphone thinness a race to the bottom where no one ends up winning? It's difficult to even discuss super-thin phones without inviting a chorus of groans, complaining about manufacturers who sacrifice performance, durability, and all too often a decently sized battery, all in the name of being the thinnest handset around. And while you won't find us particularly cheering-on their development, we're still interested in seeing the results of these limits being pushed. For about the past year now, the thinnest smartphones around have been living in the five-millimeter ...

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