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!

Contact Stephen Schenck

  • by |

    Most smartphone flagships follow a pretty predictable pattern with their pricing over time. First the phone debuts with a relatively high price tag, as the manufacturer attempts to establish just how much their desirable new hardware is worth. Maybe carriers will knock a little off that figure (depending on how alluring the handset is, and correspondingly capable of getting them new subscribers), but the high launch price will likely stick around for a few months, before real, lasting discounts start arriving. And over the course of the next year, the price drops further still, in an ...

    Share
  • by |

    Every time a new major Android release rolls around, we find ourselves facing two questions: what dessert name will Google go with, and what version number will the build emerge as? For the desserts, at least we have the predictability of Google's alphabetic progression to rely on: we may not know if we're getting Android Nougat or Android Nutella, but we're sure getting an Android N of some kind. Version numbers, though, are a bit trickier, and while Lollipop and Marshmallow both arrived as whole-number updates (5.0 and 6.0, respectively), Jelly Bean and KitKat (to say nothing of earlier ...

    Share
  • by |

    One of the best things about personal computers has been the degree to which users can enhance hardware capabilities by way of expansion boards. Back in the day, that meant arduous installation and configuration of separate boards for video output, sound, networking, game controllers – pretty much anything worth using required its own board. But then motherboards started picking up more and more features themselves, and the push towards portability above all else has seen expansion options shrink from full-sized PC boards, to compact cards for laptops, to the vanishing of expansion ...

    Share
  • by |

    With this morning's launch of the HTC 10, we saw the culmination of weeks of rumors and leaks. And while that brought us one heck of a nice flagship smartphone, it also may have left you feeling just a bit underwhelmed, if only because the phone we got was very much the phone we were expecting; is there no room in the smartphone market for surprises anymore? As we learned about an HTC 10 that looked like a rehash of the past few weeks of leaks, we were starting to fear just that, when we remembered at least one big unanswered question hanging over this launch: what was that mysterious HTC ...

    Share
  • by |

    Every year, smartphone fans look forward to the spring season of new Android devices, with models landing from some of their favorite big-name manufacturers: Samsung, HTC, LG. Samsung led the pack with its Galaxy S7, and found LG making an early appearance alongside it with its own G5. That's left HTC, and for weeks now we've been watching the rumors really heat up about its plans for its own 2016 flagship. A bumper crop of leaks this time around have managed to leave us with some pretty high expectations for HTC's handset, from some new branding, to some boastful features, to a ...

    Share
  • by |

    Google's already brought powerful voice control to Android, letting users interact with apps and system settings with just a few spoken commands. And while that may work really well when you want Google to set a timer, or help your draft a text message, voice control runs out of steam when you bring in random apps for which voice support was never designed. At least, that used to be the case, but now Google's inviting users to test out its new Voice Access system that brings voice control to all corners of Android. Voice Access lets users who can't normally interact with a touch screen to ...

    Share
  • by |

    The LG G5 is supposed to be a modular smartphone thanks to the availability snap-on accessories that replace the phone's bottom edge and add some extra functionality. LG introduced this ability with a pair of modules: the LG CAM Plus and the LG Hi-Fi Plus. Now that the G5 is here, new owners are understandably curious to try out some of these add-ons for themselves, and if they go online they'll find plenty of opportunity to order the CAM Plus. But start looking for the LG Hi-Fi Plus, and you're likely to come away confused, as LG appears to be placing the accessory on ice in many corners ...

    Share
  • by |

    Will the LG G5 stand alone? The new Android flagship may finally be here for shoppers to take home, and while it's certainly got plenty of friends in terms of first-party accessories, will the G5 form the basis for a new family of family of phones, like we see Samsung's Galaxy S7 joined by its edge model, and maybe even a new Active variant? We've recently been considering whether LG might be trying something like that this time around, after seeing the company trademark the name “G5 SE.” Today we check out some new evidence that both attempts to confirm that an LG G5 SE is very much ...

    Share
  • by |

    It's been one week now since Jeff Bezos let us know that there was a new Kindle in our future. After hearing his confirmation that a new e-reader was on the way, we started running across rumors about just what sort of changes we might get from this Kindle: rumors discussed a new, thinner build, as well as some possible accessories – like a battery-extending case. Amazon's sure to announce the new model any day now, but it looks like the cat might be out of the bag a little ahead of schedule, as a early publication appears to reveal the company's plans for the new Kindle Oasis. Somebody ...

    Share
  • by |

    This September, it will have been two years since Apple first announced the Apple Watch. And in the mobile-tech world, that's more cause for a retirement party than a birthday party. The smartwatch's age has been helping to fuel rumors of second-gen hardware, and while the idea that Apple's cooking up a new wearable is an easy enough sell, sources have been butting head over the details: what changes will Apple make for its second-gen model, and when could we hope to see the new smartwatch launch? Just last week we looked at a report pointing to a substantially thinner Apple Watch making ...

    Share
  • by |

    Multi-window on Android is no longer a feature reserved for custom UIs, with limited app compatibility: with the release of Android N, even in this early preview state, multi-window for the masses is making its impact felt. But while Android is finally getting the split-screen mode we've longed for, what about a more PC-like free-floating-window layout? That's a much trickier question, and while the framework's there, the implementation is clearly still a work in progress. But Android N isn't the only floating-window game in town, and even before its preview release landed, we got our ...

    Share
  • by |

    App discovery can make or break a platform, whether mobile or desktop, and the best operating system in the world won't do your users much good if they find themselves struggling to get the software they want. While part of that issue is simply making the right apps available in the first place, how these apps are presented to users can be just as critical: are apps being displayed in an attractive manner, encouraging users to give them a shot, and are the right tools available to convert casual app-browsing into actual downloads? Microsoft's reportedly considering some tweaks to the ...

    Share
  • by |

    The conflicts that exist between tech companies and government forces over encryption and access to user data aren't going away anytime soon, and even as we sort through the aftermath of the FBI and DOJ's run-in with Apple over the San Bernardino iPhone, more and more news of similar showdowns in courtrooms across the nation are coming to light. Today we're learning of another recent case that may have not grabbed the same national attention as the San Bernardino one, but represents another occasion when Apple was ordered to extract user data from an iPhone, an another occasion on which ...

    Share
  • by |

    Huawei's Honor 5X emerged a few months back as a serious contender in the low-cost, solid-performance mid-range market. Sure, it wouldn't set any benchmark records, but the combination of an attractive price, really high-quality-feeling build, and some very capable battery life added up to a package that – for shoppers placing a real premium not just on price, but on value – was hard to resist. All this was true when the Honor 5X was selling for $200, but for a few more hours today you've got the chance to score the phone for might-as-well-be-free, as Huawei sells a limited number of ...

    Share
  • by |

    With the HTC 10 so close we can nearly taste it (note: don't actually taste your smartphones, people), HTC's been dialing its promotional efforts up to 11, and this week alone we've had no shortage of official teasers to keep us busy. And while we absolutely love seeing all this stuff from HTC itself, it also has us feeling a little nostalgic for a time just a few weeks in our past, when HTC 10 rumors were dominated by unofficial leaks. Well, just because we've got a new HTC-produced video today is no reason to turn our backs on leaks, and this afternoon our attention's been drawn to one ...

    Share
  • by |

    How do you judge the success of a social network? The size of its user base? Sure. The amount of time users spend engaged with the service? Absolutely. But there's another figure that helps drive that user engagement, and it's an area where Facebook is reportedly seeing problems, with reports surfacing earlier this week that user-posted personal updates are on the decline. While reversing that trend threatens to be a complicated issue, Facebook may already be onto one way it can hope to get users posting more again, as the company tries out new ways to make it easier than ever to post. ...

    Share
  • by |

    It's the week leading up to HTC's launch event for the HTC 10 Android flagship, and the company's promo department has been working overtime. Monday started us off with a new teaser video about the phone's BoomSound audio, and Wednesday brought us another clip, this time highlighting the HTC 10's camera performance. It sure felt like we had a pattern going here, and Friday would bring us yet another HTC 10 vid. Sure enough, HTC has just come through with its latest, now drawing out attention to the outstanding battery life the HTC 10 promises to offer. HTC's sticking with the ...

    Share
  • by |

    Apple's recent hardware event may have brought us a new iPhone, and a new tablet, but it came up a little bit lacking for wearable fans: we got new Apple Watch bands, sure, and a new low price for the entry-level model, but isn't it about time to see the launch of a second-gen Apple Watch? After all, it's been a year and a half since Apple first announced the smartwatch, and nearly a year since retain availability commenced – in the mobile market, that's an eternity. But so far while we've heard a few rumors of possible changes due for a next-gen Apple Watch, we've lacked a lot of ...

    Share
  • by |

    What's next from BlackBerry hardware? Last year saw the company jump platforms with the release of the Android-running Priv, leaving us to wonder if this was just a blip on the radar, or the future of the company's handset lineup. Then at CES, BlackBerry CEO John Chen confirmed plans for at least one more new Android model sometime later this year, as well as the possibility we'd even get two such phones. This week he offers some additional information on that front, indicating that both models are still very much on track, while sharing some new details about what we can expect from them. ...

    Share
  • by |

    HTC's launch of the HTC 10 next week isn't just about getting to meet the company's latest piece of flagship smartphone hardware: it's also when we expect to be introduced to the company's latest iteration of its Sense UI. Sense 8 will define the look of the HTC 10's user experience, and rumors suggest the manufacturer will also be announcing its presence on some just-launched Desire models. While we may only have a few days to go before we see HTC unveil Sense 8 in all its glory, we've never been too keen on waiting any longer than we have to, and today we get an early look at the new ...

    Share
  • by |

    For all the struggles Microsoft's own mobile platforms have gone through, and the difficulty the company's faced in acquiring a greater share of the smartphone market, Microsoft's kept a pretty good attitude when it comes to app development. Rather than focus its energies on Windows 10 Mobile exclusives in an effort to draw users to its side, the company's instead quite willing to code apps for its competition, and we find Android and iOS alike practically inundated with Microsoft apps. Today we've got news of a couple developments from that scene, as Microsoft brings its Hub Keyboard to ...

    Share
  • by |

    Front-facing cameras have long been the afterthought of smartphone imaging; sure, we definitely want to have them, but if it comes to making a choice about where the best features end up on our phones, we're likely to choose the main rear camera. Still, slowly but surely progress has come to the humble front-facer, and over the years we've seen resolutions grow, wide-angle lens options arrive, and even LED flashes show up on a few models. Next week HTC intends to launch it next flagship, and now a rumor suggests that the HTC 10 could arrive with a front-facing camera to be contended with, ...

    Share
  • by |

    June 2014 brought us that year's Apple WWDC gathering, introducing the world to iOS 8. Apple's significant update to its mobile platform might have grabbed headlines with all the new features it was delivering, but we also got news of plenty of changes behind the scenes, like the new Metal graphics system for driving next-gen games. Those included the debut of Swift, Apple's new programming language designed to complement Objective-C while addressing some of its shortcomings. In the time since, we've seen Swift support really take off with devs, and now it's reportedly caught Google's eye, ...

    Share
  • by |

    With most smartphone manufacturers, we're content to get quarterly updates on their financial performance, letting us gauge how well recent launches have been received. Then again, most smartphone companies are doing pretty well for themselves. When you're HTC, on the other hand, a manufacturer who's been struggling to simply turn a profit, we're a bit more concerned – and that means we're paying close attention to even the company's monthly financial reports. What that situation had been looking solid as of late last year, recent months have seen things take a change for the worse. With ...

    Share
  • by |

    The past few weeks have brought us a fair amount of news about upcoming Meizu handsets, and in addition to the roadmap that appeared to give us a preview of the company's phone plans through the rest of the year, we've had the opportunity to check out a few models in greater detail. Those include the m3 note, which made its official debut yesterday, as well a pair of Pro 6 models: a full-sized Pro 6 and a a Pro 6 mini. While neither handset has yet to join the m3 note with its own formal launch, we have gotten official confirmation of the Pro 6, as Meizu execs shared early imagery of the ...

    Share
Mobile Version