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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    We know, we know: embracing displays with resolutions that push into the 2K-space has already been a tough job for smartphone users, with fears that such screens will devour battery life (unfounded or not) or concerns that such super-high resolutions aren't much use on physically very small displays tending to dominate the conversation. On something like a tablet, 2K can be an easier sell, but when we head down in the five-inch range? That's tough to convince people it's worth it, with 1080p already offering near-invisible pixels. But Sharp isn't hearing any of this, and regardless of ...

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    Late last month, Oppo announced its latest pair of smartphones, the N3 and the R5. The N3 had been getting the lion's share of our attention leading up to the event, what with its motorized, rotating camera, but the R5 managed to land with at least one notable attribute of its own, a thinner-than-we'd-ever-seen body measuring just 4.85mm thick. Sadly for Oppo, this is an industry that moves quickly, and now we're already checking out a phone that threatens to come in under even the R5's super-thin construction, as Vivo shares some teaser pics of its upcoming X5 Max. Those are a couple of ...

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    This past summer we saw ZTE introduce its Nubia Z7 line of Android smartphones, consisting of the titular Z7, the Z7 Max, and Z7 mini (can we stop this all-mini-phone-branding-is-lower-case rule already, OEMs?). All three had some pretty decent hardware, especially the Z7 with its quad HD screen, 3GB of RAM, and Snapdragon 801. That was only four months ago, but we're already looking to what's next from the manufacturer, as a leak outs a handset purported to be an upcoming Nubia Z9. With that red circle home button, this is pretty clearly a ZTE phone, but the placement of the various ...

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    Android 5.0 Lollipop is bringing a lot of important changes to smartphones and tablets, but this year has seen wearables also emerge as an important part of the Android ecosystem. What does the new software hold for Google's smartwatch lineup? Yesterday we got a preview of some Material Design changes coming to the Android Wear app for phones, and today this early look continues, with a leak continuing to reveal new features, including some on the watch side of things. Some of those changes to the Android Wear software on smartwatches appear to include the arrival of new accessibility ...

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    Yesterday we caught wind of a long overdue fix arriving for some frustrating behavior of Apple's iMessage service, where the phone numbers of people who had previously used iMessage got “trapped” in the system, preventing other iMessage users from sending text messages to these ex-users' phones. Apple's solution was to launch an online iMessage deregistration tool, where you could once and for all tell Apple to stop associating your phone number with a now-dormant iMessage account. And while that's going to help out a lot going forward, it doesn't do much to resolve the months and ...

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    HTC Zoe, Gallery, Lock Screen – and just last week, Weather; for months now HTC has slowly been making much of the software you'll find on the company's own Sense-running Androids available in the Google Play Store. Sometimes, like in the case of Zoe, that means making the apps available to users of non-HTC phones. Other times, the apps remain HTC exclusives but bringing them to the Play Store lets HTC deliver updates in a much more timely fashion than it would be able to, should they be tied to larger system updates. Today we see the latest HTC app hit Google Play, as the company ...

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    Stop us if you've heard this one before: a smartphone manufacturer comes out with a new metal-rimmed handset, only for users to quickly start complaining about poor signal strength and dropped calls. Samsung's new Galaxy A-series was already sure drawing a few iPhone comparisons, and now it looks like the family may have found an antennagate of its own, as tests show lower-than-expected reception quality on both the Galaxy A3 and A5. At least, compared to a Galaxy S5 without the A3 or A5's metal band wrapping its way around the phone, these A-series phones seem to pull a ...

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    For a brief moment there, it looked like Samsung was really going forward with Tizen smartphones that would try to compete with Android handsets at or close to the flagship level. At least, the Samsung Z we saw announced back in June had some pretty capable hardware under its belt, but it wasn't long before the phone's release plans found themselves derailed, and the Z faded into the annals of vaporware. But there could still be hope for Tizen phones yet, and we started hearing chatter that Samsung could embrace the platform for lower-end models. Today we get to check out the hardware for ...

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    Last week HTC introduced us to its new Hot Deal promotion, choosing one product a week to sell at a deeply discounted rate: it got things started by selling the only-just-launched Nexus 9 at half price. But last week's offer was far from perfect, and plenty of shoppers who wanted to take advantage of the deal found themselves struggling with HTC's online order system, only for the limited stock of discounted Nexus 9s to sell out. The company promised it would do things better this week, and we're already noticing some changes as it announces its latest deal, knocking $350 off the price of ...

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    Google's not quite the only name in town when it comes to Nexus phone sales, and that's never been more true than it is with the Nexus 6, finding broad carrier support. The big US networks are all gearing up to start selling the Nexus 6 themselves, as as they do so, final pricing details are starting to become available. But as AT&T shares its own Nexus 6 pricing this morning, we're left asking ourselves, “why is this phone so expensive?” AT&T intends to sell the Nexus 6 for $250 on a two-year contract. Outright, the phone will run you $683. Every once in a while we'll see a ...

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    Last week found us taking a look at some early rumors about Galaxy S6 hardware, with claims that the so-called Project Zero would pick up a high-res quad HD display, run an Exynos 7420, and offer a beefy 128GB storage option. But what if the GS6 isn't just a GS5 with higher-end specs, but a phone that attempts to do things a little differently? Maybe like with that kind of wrap-around display Samsung introduced this year on the Galaxy Note Edge? That's the theory being expounded by at least one analyst, suggesting that Samsung could up its curved-screen game with the Galaxy S6, giving it a ...

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    Tomorrow is November 11, which means that the Microsoft launch announcement we saw teased late last week is just about to happen. The company's excited about showing off Microsoft-Lumia-branded handsets, dropping Nokia once and for all, but just what can we expect to see launch? One likely prospect is the Lumia 535, understood to be a mid-range device. As we wait to get confirmation of Microsoft's launch news, some newly detailed Lumia 535 specs have leaked, attempting to clue us in on what we've got to look forward to. Let's start with the screen, a healthy enough five-inch size, but with ...

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    Just over a month ago we saw Google deliver one of the more eagerly awaited improvements to the service, doing a massive overhaul to how Voice handled MMS and brought such picture-messaging support to the vast majority of carriers in the US and Canada. Any way you looked at it, it was good news, but even this big step didn't bring us all the way to where some users might hope we'd be, with a few notable carrier holdouts and a link-based MMS workaround that was a little less than ideal. Today, Google helps wrap up those loose ends, announcing further MMS progress. Last time we mentioned ...

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    Sony surprised us all at IFA 2014 this year when it announced its SmartWatch 3. Well, we had heard that the product was gearing up to make its debut, sure enough, but rumors suggested that Sony would pull a Samsung with the SW3 and that its smartwatch would continue to run a proprietary platform, rather than the cross-device Android Wear. That ultimately turned out not to be the case, with the SW3 confirmed as a full-on Wear product. Since then we haven't had much cause to talk about the SmartWatch 3, which has quietly gone up for sale at Verizon in the interim. But now Sony's wearable has ...

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    Last month, OnePlus took its first stab at no-invite-required pre-orders for its One smartphone, giving shoppers a few hours in which they could get on the list to receive one of these still a bit hard-to-get handsets. Shortly thereafter, the company shared its plans for the next round of pre-orders, scheduled to commence one week from today, on November 17. As OnePlus gets its ducks in a row for this new pre-order opportunity, it's taking a moment to clarify some details. The big question we've been wondering about is how long this new round of pre-orders might be open. Remember, the ...

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