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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    While smartphone makers from Apple, to Motorola, to Samsung (and more) have all expanded into the world of smartwatches, other manufacturers are taking a more tempered approach, testing the waters with devices that are closer in construction and feature set to fitness trackers to full-on smartwatches: firms like HTC and Motorola fall into that camp. Last fall the latter brought us the Microsoft Band, a cross-platform wearable with a focus on exercise and health. Recently, we've been hearing that Microsoft could be in the midst of developing that model's follow-up, and today we get ...

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    For the past couple weeks now, we've been anticipating Apple finally doing something fresh with its stagnant iPod family, and word was that we'd be seeing the introduction of some new devices this week. Well, yesterday's rumored launch may not have happened, but it turns out it was only a matter of time before these new iPods were ready to land, and today Apple reveals its latest iPod touch. The new iPod touch is a big step forward in therms of processing power from the previous version, ditching the old A5 SoC for a modern 64-bit A8 chip. It upgrades the old 5MP camera to a new 8MP ...

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    Advertising industry heavyweight that it is, it's no surprise to see the extent to which Google's been focusing lately on efforts to monetize mobile experiences – after all, if a smartphone user who's running Android is good, one who's also viewing ads, searching for products, and making phone-based purchases is even better. That's bringing us things like the new Android Pay right over the horizon, but today Google's talking about something a little different, as it announces Purchases on Google, a system that will bring buy-buttons to promoted search results. Google already inserts ads ...

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    For several months back there around the early part of the year, rumors had been landing pretty regularly about a round-screened Samsung smartwatch, codenamed Orbis and tipped to possibly launch as the Gear A. And while we've yet to see the wearable go official, or even get a look at the actual hardware, Samsung's as good as confirmed the project, releasing an SDK for round-screened watches that identifies this circular form factor as the company's choice for “the next Gear.” Now as we wait for an official announcement, a new leak attempts to give us a better idea of what to expect ...

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    For the middle of summer, a time when we're used to seeing a lull in the smartphone market as manufacturers gear up for their big fall launches, this week sure is proving to be full of some interesting launch events. Yesterday brought us not just the Samsung Galaxy A8, but also ZTE's affordable Axon flagship. Today we're back to looking at the mid-range market as we check out a trio of new Desire models from HTC, with the company announcing the Desire 520, Desire 526, and Desire 626. Let's start with the smallest of the bunch, the Desire 520. With a 4.5-inch FWVGA screen, this ...

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    From what we already knew leading up to today's launch event, the Axon phone was sure promising to be an intriguing piece of hardware, but we didn't have the full picture on just what to expect from this new ZTE US flagship until a few hours ago. What we learned proved to only have the handset become that much more appealing, matching some top-tier specs with a price that any smartphone fan can appreciate. But the Axon is more than just a quad HD screen, Snapdragon 810 SoC, and the sort of 4GB RAM capacity that practically demands, “throw ALL your apps at me.” ZTE has also given the ...

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    ZTE's brand new Axon phone isn't just the company's first flagship smartphone designed with the US market in mind: it's also a nice piece of hardware in its own right, one made all the more attractive by its relatively affordable $450 off-contract price tag. While a number of the phone's technical details were released in advance of today's launch event - components like the dual-rear-camera design that allows the Axon to quickly focus and shoot 4K video at 30fps - the complete picture is only now being revealed. With a fast Snapdragon 810 SoC, tons of RAM, and a big high-res screen, ...

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    Three weeks back, we first heard of the mysterious Axon, a high-end-sounding smartphone with 4GB of RAM and some interesting hardware, like its dual rear cameras. And while that would be noteworthy enough on its own, there was also the big secret concerning who was making Axon; while the official info didn't clearly identify the phone's manufacturer (and seemed to go to some effort to hide its role), a fair amount of evidence pointed to ZTE's involvement. This afternoon the secret's out, as ZTE finally steps out of the shadows and takes credit for the Axon handset. The Axon offers users a ...

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    Going back over a year now, we've been hearing about Google's plans for an interesting new service that would allow smartphones to communicate with other devices in their vicinity. Dubbed Nearby, the system would rely on multiple channels that ranged beyond standard things like Bluetooth to include techniques like using your phone's microphone to receive data sent with sound waves. And while some of that tech later emerged in other Google products, and we caught some fresh rumors just the other month, Nearby as a whole had still yet to make its formal debut. Now it's finally time for ...

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    The floodgates have been opening on new Motorola hardware lately, with rumors and leaks detailing not just a next-gen Moto X and Moto G, but maybe also some fresh Droid models for Verizon. Yesterday we had the chance to check out a photo of the back panel of what was supposedly one of those Droids, revealing a design that largely mirrored earlier Moto G leaks, while being just different enough to suggest we really were looking at some new hardware. Today that same source does us one better, offering a new pic that compares not two, not three, but four of these soon-to-launch Motorola ...

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    The Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ may be the hot upcoming Samsung smartphones grabbing all the headlines this morning, as multiple rumors converge on an August 12 launch date, but they're hardly the only hardware the manufacturer's been cooking up. Going back to April we've been following rumors of an exciting new member of Samsung's Galaxy A family, the Galaxy A8. Right from the beginning those rumors were laser-focused on the idea of a solidly equipped upper-mid-ranger with a stunningly thin build, measuring a mere 5.9mm thick. In recent weeks it's looked like we were closing in on a ...

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    The idea that Samsung could break from routine this year and introduce its new Galaxy Note 5 a few weeks in advance of the IFA expo in Berlin is one that's been bouncing around for a while now. We just checked in with one of the latest rumors to broach the topic overnight, one that finally offered some hard details. But were we getting any close to the truth, or just looking at the latest in a string of theories? We may be on to something this time, as another source comes forward to corroborate some of those launch details, while offering new ones of its own. That earlier report mentioned ...

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    The public release of Windows 10 is nearly here, and Microsoft is busy getting all its plans ready for the big July 29 release. If you're a member of the company's Insider program, though, you've had early access to the operating system, helping Microsoft test things out along the way. As it prepares for the final build, today the company is announcing a temporary halt to system updates, before a stress-test of its distribution channels. What does that mean? Sometime within the next day the recent builds 10162 and 10166 will stop showing up in Windows Update for Insider testers, leaving ...

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    All the high-tech sensors packed into our smartphone hardware allow these devices to do some remarkable things, and in recent years we've seen a real focus on using them to deliver health-related data. The accelerometer in your phone used to be primarily for orientation-sensing or gaming, but recently there's been a push towards taking advantage of it as a built-in pedometer, counting your steps and helping you work towards fitness goals. Samsung's one company that's also been adding extra fitness-focused sensors to its handsets, like the presence of heart rate monitors on recent models. ...

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    At Google I/O in late May, Google announced its next-gen mobile payment service, Android Pay. And while Android Pay sounded a hell of a lot like Google Wallet in terms of its functionality, it wasn't long after the initial Android Pay announcement that Google was insisting that Pay wasn't arriving to outright replace Wallet, and that the Wallet app would live on – and even get spruced up with plans for a big overhaul for the software. As we wait to see how that will all play out, though, it's becoming clear that Google intends to put Wallet on the back burner, as the company updates the ...

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    Motorola's cooking up some new smartphones, and over the past several weeks, we've had the opportunity to check out some early glimpses of a few, thanks to a spate of leaks. One design feature that's been back multiple times has been this new vertical bar in the middle of the phone's back, housing the camera lens, flash, and trademark dimple. At first we saw this look attributed to the next Moto X, while subsequent leaks made it out to be the new Moto G. Today we're checking out a new spin on this design as a fresh leak offers a slight modification of that same layout. Compared to previous ...

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    Back in March, HTC announced the One M9. But the company's latest flagship didn't launch all by its lonesome, and we also saw the debut of the exciting HTC Vive VR headset. You'd be forgiven for thinking that those were the only two products HTC brought out onto the stage at MWC, but then you'd be forgetting the third, the company's first wearable: the HTC Grip fitness tracker. At the time, HTC said that sales of the Grip would begin sometime in the spring … and as we're clearly well into summer by now, that just hasn't happened. So, what gives? Is the Grip dead? Delayed? We don't have ...

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    Last week Microsoft made headlines as it announced some big mobile-related losses and major staff cuts, leaving Lumia fans more than a bit concerned. And even though the company asserted that it would remain in the phone business, we were hungry for details and found Microsoft offering little in the way of sustenance. Later we picked up some relief in the form of a report that claimed Microsoft would be sticking with its smartphone business for at least the next two years to come. This week we've got some more in the way of good news, as Microsoft officially confirms plans for new ...

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    The color-screened Pebble Time has been shipping out to its crowdfunding backers for several weeks now, and we've even seen general pre-orders open to the public at large. And while that edition of the smartwatch may be here, we're still waiting for its metallic cousin, the Pebble Time Steel. When Pebble announced the smartwatch back in the early days of March, it promised shipments would start going out sometime in July. With the month nearly half over, today Pebble's following things up with some new info about how and when Pebble Time Steel will finally become available. The good news ...

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    The presence of high-res quad HD displays on mobile devices is already controversial, to say nothing of the 4K-class screens we know are on their way from companies like Sharp. We could keep questioning the need for such screens (and the possible negative impact on battery life) all day, but like it or not, they're here, and only likely to become more prevalent as time goes on. As such, it shouldn't be too surprising to learn that the companies behind these panels aren't content to stop there, and now we're already hearing about an effort to drive pixel densities dramatically higher, as a ...

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    Samsung has historically used its Galaxy Note phablet to experiment with new technology; besides the S Pen stylus itself, the tech that helped spawn this device series in the first place, we've seen the manufacturer use past Note models to introduce upgrades that would only later spread to other Samsung handsets, like it did when bringing 3GB of RAM to the Galaxy Note 3. Now we're just a few short weeks away from the expected debut of the Galaxy Note 5, anxiously awaiting what further advancements may be in store for us. Today a new report attempts to confirm that it's time to bump up the ...

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    The launch of the Galaxy Note 5 at IFA this September doesn't look like it's quite going to be business as usual. How could it be, with what Samsung's doing to shake-up its flagship product lines with the arrival of new curved-screen Edge options? Unlike last year's duo of the Note 5 and Note Edge, rumors suggest Samsung's up to something a little different this time around, and we could see the Note 5 land alongside a stylus-less (but still very much phablet-sized) Galaxy S6 Edge Plus. Today the latest sources weigh-in with some hardware details for the pair. Supposedly, both the Note 5 ...

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    One year ago, Amazon's first foray into the smartphone business was so full of promise. The Fire Phone had yet to debut, and we were curious to see if the retailer could find the same success with phones as it had with tablets. But as we had the opportunity to start interacting with the phone, putting it through its paces, it quickly became clear that the Fire Phone was an interesting concept, but maybe not one that made sense for a lot of users. We took particular issue with the handset's steep price, and so we've been particularly keyed-in to Fire Phone deals ever since. First the phone ...

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    Three weeks back, Verizon helped introduce Sony's latest Android, the Xperia Z4v. And while most of the world is looking to the Xperia Z4 or Z3+ while shopping for their next Sony phone, Verizon's option is a handset unto itself, launching with a high-res quad HD display. But while we knew the smartphone was due to land sometime this summer, we were at a loss for any specifics, especially concerning release dates and pricing. Well, the pricing issue remains to be addressed, but today we get some resolution on the other front, as Sony confirms an August 13 release date. While this info ...

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    The rise of video games as streaming performances has positively exploded in recent years, with the publication of gaming vids on services like YouTube and Twitch reaching new heights of popularity – success that led Amazon to announce plans to purchase Twitch for nearly a billion dollars last year. And while much of that content is focused on PC and console gaming, mobile gaming is just as popular in its own right, and now Sony is offering owners of its Xperia devices the chance to easily stream some gaming video from their own hardware, releasing a new live screen streaming app. ...

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