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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    Peer up close at the glass surrounding your smartphone's display and you'll notice a few extra components tucked in up there: those include your front-facing camera, maybe a front-facing flash if you're lucky, and also a couple nondescript little dark circles. Plenty of us don't give those a second thought, but those circles make up the proximity sensor on our phones, letting the handset detect when we're holding it to our face, making a call (and preventing our cheeks from doing all sorts of touch-screen mischief in the process). While the prox sensor plays a useful role, phone makers are ...

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    By now, the controversy surrounding T-Mobile's Binge On platform is out there, and if you're a subscriber, you're either aware of what it's doing and have taken steps to ensure your continued access to high-quality streaming video, have enthusiastically welcomed the bandwidth savings at the expense of a little quality, or have concluded that you don't really care about things one way or another. T-Mobile, for its part, is committed to sticking with the system, and today announces support for a handful of new video providers, while tweaking the way users can toggle Binge On off or on at ...

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    Mobile payment systems like Apple Pay can be great when you're traveling light, wanting to keep your pockets card-free while still being able to make purchases. And while there are a growing number of places that let you make mobile payments with such systems, what do you do when there's no NFC support available – or worse, when a business is cash-only? Some evolving bank partnerships may hold the solution, as Apple reportedly works with Bank Of America and Wells Fargo to bring Apple Pay support to their ATMs. Wells Fargo has already been working to bring Android Pay support to its ATMs, ...

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    There's a new era upon Microsoft: Windows 10 is here, the company's phone strategy is shifting, and all this spells significant changes to how the company makes its money. Now it's time for Microsoft to reveal its latest quarterly financial performance, and while it can point to a lot of successes – growing revenue in cloud services, Office products, and servers – there's a bit of an across-the-board slump, with especially pronounced hits in phone revenue. All told, Microsoft's looking at a quarter where it brought in some $23.8 billion in revenue, leading to a net income of just about ...

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    With the rise of both Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, it feels like if you fancy yourself a serious smartphone manufacturer these days, you're expected to offer users a bespoke mobile payment system. Last fall we heard that LG could be the next company to introduce something along those lines, with word that the so-called G Pay could be nearly ready to debut. But unlike Apple's pure-NFC system or Samsung's that uses NFC in concert with magstripe emulation (while keeping all the hardware on your phone), this LG system might just require the use of its own physical payment card. But how exactly ...

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    Earlier this month, in the middle of CES, panic swept over long-time Motorola phone fans: was Lenovo killing off the Motorola brand as we knew it? Calmer minds quickly prevailed, and the shape of story subtly shifted: sure, we wouldn't be seeing “Motorola” splashed prominently across future handsets, but we hadn't been for some time anyway, and the retention of the “Moto” brand, even if in the form of “Moto by Lenovo” would help upcoming models keep some connection to the past. Still, there's an understandable undercurrent of anxiety to all this, and a lot of users might sleep ...

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    HTC fans have given the company time after time to deliver a One-series flagship that can live up to expectations. That's brought us some stunningly beautiful handsets, and ones that did more than a few things right, but none have been enough to really turn the manufacturer's business around, always leaving us wanting just a little more. Will the phone codenamed Perfume, the one a lot of us are expecting to see launch as the One M10, be able to correct past mistakes and give HTC the hero phone it deserves? The latest hardware report sure has things sounding hopeful, as it suggests HTC is ...

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    If there's one word that's thrown around a bit too liberally in the mobile tech field, it's “smart.” Sure, plenty of devices offer great connectivity options, run all manner of software, and are capable of some pretty impressive feats, but does that imbue them with some kind of indescribable quality of intelligence? We're probably just as guilty of overusing “smart” as anyone else, but today we find ourselves looking at one feature sporting that “smart” label that might just make good on its boast, as the Smart Connector in the Apple iPad Pro is spotted delivering firmware ...

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    We don't ask a lot from the power adapters that feed out favorite mobile devices: they should be compact, easy to store, offer ample cable length, and if they can do all that without electrocuting us or bursting into flames, so much the better. Unfortunately, those latter concerns seem to have become a bit of big ask for a distressingly growing number of firms, like we saw last week when Microsoft found itself issuing a recall for faulty power adapters shipped with a number of Surface Pro models. Now it's Apple's turn to face the music as the company shares word of its own recall, ...

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    The claws are out. Both Samsung and LG have major new smartphones just over the horizon, and you'd better believe that once the Galaxy S7 and the G5 are official, we're about to see some serious PR muscle deployed in the hopes of drumming up public interest in those new flagships. But for LG, at least, the company's not content to wait around for that new hardware to land before going on the offensive, and its social media team appears that it can't help itself but to throw some shade at Samsung as the latter tries to play up its quick-charging tech. All Samsung wanted to do was to remind ...

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    When's the last time a new mobile gadget had you really excited? Were you awed by the sheer size of the iPad Pro? Rendered speechless by the 4K screen on the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium? Whatever that piece of hardware was, though, there's a good chance we're talking about a 2015 model. After all, so far this year we've yet to see much in the way of high-profile launches, and while CES brought us lots of cool stuff to check out, some of the season's biggest devices have been holding back for MWC. With the expo getting ready to let loose upon Barcelona in just a few more weeks, we're taking a ...

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    The smartphone industry's next big time to shine may be Mobile World Congress in just another month, but for fans of Apple hardware, the date to look forward to is a couple weeks further out still: since early December, we've been hearing about Apple's plans to introduce its latest mobile gear at an event sometime in March. We still don't have a precise date, but the latest rumors have zeroed-in on a timeframe right in the middle of the month, possibly the week of March 14. But assuming this event does happen, what could we hope to see on the agenda? By the sound of the latest rumors: ...

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    Smartphones aren't just getting better at taking pictures, causing users to drift away from point-and-shoots and rely on their phones to help capture important memories; phone hardware is also getting a lot smarter about processing what it sees, and with the first commercial Project Tango handset just a few more months away, we're about to turn a new page in the story of phones learning to see and interpret the world around them. Today we're hearing about one of the ways the phones of tomorrow will be able to use their cameras to gather data about their environments as Google partners up ...

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    How much feedback is enough, and does too much risk being counter-productive? It's a question countless companies have faced, and we're sure Facebook is just one of the most recent as it prepares to launch Reactions to a wide audience: will all those new responses empower users to better express how they feel about posts, or will too many possible responses make it that much more difficult to get an at-a-glance reaction to how users in general feel about a post? Sometimes less really can be more, and that may be what Google's considering as it rolls out one of its latest changes to the ...

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    Facebook's on the cusp of a big transition, one that will give its users new ways to interact with shared content, expressing their feelings about what they're reading with a greatly expanded emotional vocabulary. Yup: we're talking about “likes.” The idea of Facebook expanding beyond simple “like” feedback is one that's been kicking around for the better part of ever, but without a clear vision of just how that might happen; maybe a “dislike” button is the most obvious option, but that just seems destined to invite a flood of negativity – this is the internet we're talking ...

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    There's a big temptation in mobile tech for manufacturers to be among the first to identify the next hot technology and give it to their users before the competition's got time to catch up. Recently we've seen features like fingerprint scanners placed front and center, a great example of tech that's been around for a while, but has only recently matured to the point where it works as well as it needs to – and shoppers are asking for it. Phones that employ multiple camera sensors have similarly been around for a while, but often to little fanfare (who went shopping for the One M8 ...

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    If you've been keeping an ear to the LG G5 rumors stemming back the past several weeks, it's easy to come away with the impression that the phone we're about to see launch is one that may be the G5 in name only, taking some big steps away from the sort of hardware we became familiar with in phones like the G3 and G4. Big changes may include abandoning the classic rear volume controls, to say nothing of the unusual slide-out battery design that's been teased. One of the more unusual rumors to emerge suggested that LG could give the phone a multi-purpose expansion port, dubbed the Magic ...

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    Apple's latest financial figures are in, and to the surprise of no one, the company's once again bringing in a boatload of money. And while no one's been expecting Apple to suddenly stop being profitable, over the last few months we've heard all sorts of warnings that the party may be cooling off a bit for unchecked growth, and Apple could soon be looking at a situation where some of its key sales started approaching previously invisible ceilings. Based on the data Apple's making available, that appears to very much be the case, and growth in multiple sectors has slowed down, if not ...

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    Have you come around to the Google Inbox way of managing email? While the flagship Gmail brand is still the feather in Google's cap, Inbox has emerged as an alternative, and dare we say smarter way to cut through the chaff and really get to important data living in your email. In recent updates we've seen Google continue to improve Inbox with features like convenient composition widgets and a semi-automated Smart Reply mode, and now Google's sharing word of some more, aimed at making the app's search features as useful as possible. When you run an Inbox search that's clearly trying to pull ...

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    After months and months of discounts, with Amazon trying to move any remaining stock of its failed Fire Phone experiment, last year we finally saw the handset run out of steam: the company's inventory looked depleted, and the saga of the Fire Phone appeared to be over. No doubt a costly mistake for Amazon to learn, we wondered if the close of the Fire Phone's story meant the end of the company's smartphone ambitions, and if we'd see its future mobile interests constrained to tablets. But now a new report suggests that Amazon's not done with phones quite yet, and claims the company is ...

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    What do we know about LG's MWC plans? The company's got its press event scheduled for February 21, we've heard it confirm plans to announce a “major smartphone” at the show, and comments from company execs have reportedly identified this handset as a flagship-level device. Considering our expectations for seeing the flagship G5 launch either this winter or in early spring, it was easy to read all that as supporting the idea of an MWC G5 launch. Is that what we're actually going to get, though? One of LG's international branches is trying to keep us guessing on Twitter, as it sows the ...

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    CES 2016 may not have brought us a ton of all-new phones, but we sure got to see new spins on some recent models, and that included the golden special edition Nexus 6P graduating to wide availability. The handsome-looking handset emerged as a show favorite, and shoppers have been free to pick one up for themselves both through the Google Store and with retail partner Best Buy. Even though the gold Nexus 6P is still the new hottness, it's already attracting efforts to make it just a bit more commercially appealing in the form of some solid discounts, bringing the price down fifty dollars. ...

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    Any time we run into some unwanted behavior from our phones, we hold out hope that a simple software patch might be able to set things right. Sure, that patch might take a while to get here, and other issues could still remain, but the prospect of an OEM so easily being able to reach out and fix a bug for a large number of users in one fell swoop is a pretty appealing one. LG G4 owners might have been hoping for a similar solution for widespread reports of the phone spontaneously resetting and entering an endless bootloop cycle, but we've got some bad news: LG has confirmed that the root ...

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    When you're creating the latest entry in a long, prestigious line of smartphones, it's easy to feel trapped by consumer expectations; with shoppers returning year in and year out, it's likely they've got a powerful sense of what they'd like this latest model to be, and the desire to not let them down can ultimately be a bit crippling. Perhaps that's why Samsung decided to do things so differently with last year's Galaxy S6, dropping features like waterproofing, a removable battery, and microSD expansion – and freeing itself from some limitations in the process. Say what you will about ...

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    Two weeks back, Apple gave developers their first look at the upcoming 9.3 release of iOS, and maybe most notable among the new features it delivered was a mode for adjusting screen color temperature in the hopes of offering more comfortable late-night usage: Night Shift. Apple's been continuing to refine things behind the scenes since that early release, and today we see the company see its second iOS 9.3 beta to devs, further refining the Night Shift experience while making a few other tweaks around the operating system. With iOS 9.3 beta 2, users will notice a new Night Shift interface ...

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