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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    It was just a little earlier this afternoon when we were thinking about the state of Android Lollipop releases, and how the availability of Android 5.1 was pushing OEMs like Motorola to reconsider their release plans for earlier Lollipop updates in favor of those using Google's latest version. And while Motorola looks committed to Android 5.1, we may already be on the cusp of the next Android update, as early evidence arrives for a forthcoming Android 5.1.1 release. The 5.1.1 mention shows up in the Android SDK manager, so while we haven't seen any direct evidence of 5.1.1-running phones ...

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    As the months roll by, and winter gives way to spring, more and more Android devices are being updated to Android Lollipop. Of course, by this point Lollipop itself has matured quite a bit, and from its early 5.0 days we've seen 5.0.1, 5.0.2, and now 5.1. Depending on just how far along a manufacturer is with its update development process when one of those new releases arrives, it may stick with its course and release a technically no-longer-quite-current update, or scramble to keep up with the latest build. Today we get a little news about Motorola's own decisions along that line, as it ...

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    One of the most high-profile changes arriving in Widows 10 is Microsoft's move to a new primary browser, with Spartan rising to fill Internet Explorer's shoes. We've heard a lot about what Spartan will do, and earlier this week its first public PC release landed, but so far we haven't seen it be made available for the Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones. Spartan's mobile debut should be coming soon, as a newly leaked video attempts to reveal an upcoming Windows 10 for phones build, Spartan and all. Like that new video showing Windows 10 on the Xiaomi Mi4, the Chinese narration here ...

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    The pending retail debut of the Apple Watch is just weeks away, meaning that very soon a lot of us will have our first experience with Force Touch, Apple's input system that allows the wearable to register not just the position of your finger on its screen, but also how hard you're pressing. Understandably, Force Touch has been getting a lot of attention, and rumors have already suggested that Apple could be planning to bring the same technology to the next iPhone. Now a new report attempts to add support to this theory, and gets specific about just what it could cost Apple to implement an ...

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    Taking home a new phone for the first time can be a fantastic feeling. You have the anticipation of unboxing, the moment of that first power-on, and that satisfying “zip” of pulling off the screen protector. And while the phone will almost certainly one day pick up some dings and scuffs, for those first few moments, it really does seem percent. Or at least, it's supposed to. That's why some of the first shoppers to get their hands on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge are so upset, reporting that their new smartphones are arriving with screens covered in tiny scratches. The nature of these ...

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    HTC's One M9 has just gone up for sale, giving Android fans their first opportunity to get their hands on this brand-new flagship. But for as attractive as high-end phones like the One M9 are, their sticker prices can turn away buyers looking for a solid smartphone experience without blowing all their disposable income. HTC's aware of this, and still wants to make new One-series hardware available to even those of us who don't want to sink a ton of cash on a new phone. To that end, today the company's announcing the affordable One M8s for smartphone shoppers in Europe. You can think of the ...

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    A couple weeks back, we got some incredibly unexpected news from an unlikely pair of companies, as Microsoft and Xiaomi shared word that they'd be making available a version of the Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones that would operate on the otherwise-Android-based (well, MIUI) Xiaomi Mi4. Now we finally have the chance to check this out in action, with the publication of a hands-on video showing Windows in action on the Mi4. Granted, the language barrier here keeps us from appreciating some of the subtleties of this experience, but this kind of cross-platform action is still ...

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    Yesterday Microsoft introduced the latest tablet to join its Surface family, and one that finally puts aside the crippled Windows RT operating system for good: the Surface 3. Sales of the new Surface aren't set to start for a little over another month, but we heard that you'd be able to check the tablet out far in advance of that May 5 date, with select Microsoft retail stores getting demo units for display as of today. And while you can stop by and take a quick look at the Surface 3 on a whim, we're now learning that, much like the Apple Watch, if you want to get the complete hands-on ...

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    April is upon us, and that means we're just weeks away from the first Apple Watch sales. Apple brings its first smartwatch to its retail stores on April 10, where you'll have the opportunity to go hands-on and check out the wearable for yourself. Then a little later this month, on April 24, full sales of the Apple Watch get underway. When that happens, just how many smartwatches can Apple hope to move? Surveys have already suggested strong consumer interest, but who's buying an Apple Watch right out of the gate? A new analyst report suggests that sales will start at quite the brisk pace, ...

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    It's the number-one rule of making promises: if you're going to make them, be damn well sure you can follow through on them. OnePlus has been learning this the hard way, after announcing in mid-March a schedule by which the two big updates due for the OnePlus One would be arriving. The first release of OxygenOS was supposed to land last week, and the Lollipop-based CyanogenMod 12S was to arrive earlier this week. We already saw OnePlus apologize for missing that OxygenOS date, and now the other shoe drops, as CM12S also fails to meet its release deadline. OnePlus blames certification ...

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    Have you ever traded-in a smartphone for cash or credit when picking up a new model? Plenty of users don't see a need for hanging on to their old phones when upgrading to a more recent model, and trade-in programs can be a convenient way to soften the blow of that new hardware purchase. When dealing with carriers or big retailers, we sort of accept that we might not be getting as much for our old phones as if we privately sold them, but the ease of transaction can often make up for any small price disparity. At least, that's the way it's supposed to work. But now Apple users in China are ...

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    Lest you start getting the impression that we'll be covering nothing but April Fools' stories all day: that's not the plan. We shared a few with you yesterday, and there may still be one or two really clever ones we just feel compelled to bring to your attention, but by and large we'll be bringing you actual smartphone, tablet, and wearable news. Right now, though, we're lucky enough to have a bit of a two-fer, as Motorola announces not only a very fake new product, but also a quite real sale on its Moto X. First up: the prank. Motorola loves building custom hardware for its users, ...

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    Today of all days, it can prove frustratingly difficult to get your news; no sooner do you see that “Half-Life 3 finally coming out” headline than you realize it's an April Fools' Day prank. Some of those goof are obvious, while others prove just believable enough to hook you for a few brief moment before doubt gets the better of you. While we're sure we'll be fooled by a few today, we've got one story to share with you that almost sounds like a fake one on first glance, but sure appears to be true. Samsung's in the process of welcoming the Galaxy S6 to markets around the world, with ...

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    The LG G4 is nearly ready to go official – or at least that's certainly how the situation seems, with the manufacturer distributing invitations to a launch event next month. And while we eagerly look forward to seeing what LG's prepared, it also means that the flagship G3 is about to find itself moved to the back burner. In order to move a few more G3 handsets while it can, LG is stepping up one of the phone's latest promotions, bringing the free VR viewer offer we learned about earlier this year to the US. Buy a new G3 at participating US retailers and LG will hook you up with a Google ...

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    Sony smartphone rumors as of late have circled around the Xperia Z4, but past that flagship, we haven't spent a lot of time talking about what's next for the company's handset lineup. That's understandable given the way Sony has been been drifting away from a big emphasis on smartphones in general, but work still manages to continue on plans for a number of future models. While we don't have a ton of details just yet, a new report about Sony's manufacturing partners attempts to give us a general picture of what we might expect from some of those upcoming phones. To hear these supply chain ...

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    There are plenty of way to add some new functionality to your HDMI-equipped TV set, and dongles like Chromecast or Amazon's Fire TV Stick have made bringing streaming media to your living room a breeze. But sometimes you crave a little more power than access to Netflix and YouTube, and for that you can turn to some beefier dongles that give your TV the power of something closer to a full-fledged PC. Today Google shares news of just such an upcoming product, along with a few new Chromebooks. The Chromebit is set to formally launch this summer, manufactured by frequent Google collaborator ...

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    If that Samsung Galaxy Blade Edge business or the Pac-Man option for Google Maps hasn't clued you in just yet: we've already embarked on the prank-filled journey into April Fool's Day. Those two might have gone live a little early, but now this next one is actually right on schedule, at least considering where it comes from. Over in Japan, it's already the early hours of the morning of April 1, so Google Japan is wasting no time in sharing its own AFD entry, wrapping a cuddly plush body around the ever-so-useful voice-driven search tools of Google Now: Google Panda. Google's not just doing ...

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    It's just about that time of year again, when otherwise quite respectable companies try and pull one over on us with news of all sorts of fake products and services. April Fools' Day may not technically fall until tomorrow, but we're already starting to see some of the first of its pranks arrive, and Samsung's getting us going with its announcement of the Galaxy Blade Edge smartknife. It slices, it dices, it makes thousands of... apps? Capitalizing on the Edge brand it introduced for its wrap-around displays, Samsung's dreamed up a cleaver married to a smartphone screen, packed into a ...

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    It's Xiaomi's birthday, marking five years since the company got into the mobile electronics game. Over those few short years, Xiaomi has quickly risen to the front of the pack, and now finds itself one of the largest players in the field. To celebrate its success, the company is introducing a very affordable new smartphone, the sub-$100 Redmi 2A. Understandably, we're looking at some dialed-back hardware to come in under that price point, but it doesn't sound too bad at all: the Redmi 2A gets a 4.7-inch 720p display, runs a 1.5GHz quad-core Leadcore SoC, and has 1GB of RAM. There's an 8MP ...

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    Microsoft just dropped a bit of a surprise, announcing the new Surface 3 tablet a few weeks in advance of our late-April expectations. The first full-Windows Surface that hasn't been a member of the family's Pro line, the Surface 3 attempts to offer a slightly more compact alternative to the Pro 3, while not skimping a heck of a lot on features. Starting at just about $500, it's also a lot more affordable than the $800 Pro 3, but just what do you get for that money? Let's take a look at the Surface 3's hardware: Microsoft Surface 3 specs [table] Component,Description Screen size,10.8 ...

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    It wasn't even one week ago when we heard that Microsoft could have a new Surface tablet just around the corner, one that would be a follow-up to the Windows-RT-running Surface 2 while moving to a full version of Windows, just like on the Surface Pro 3. Rumor was that this new Surface might launch at Build in late April, if not slightly before, but we had no idea just how soon this new tablet would really be making its debut, as this morning Microsoft introduces the Surface 3. The 10.8-inch tablet has a 3:2 1920 x 1280 display, measures 8.7mm thick, and weighs just 1.37 lbs, making it the ...

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    Google Drive isn't the company's only service getting a tweak today, as it picks up new photo-archiving duties. Google's also sharing word of a pretty significant update for Gmail for Android, gaining some new features that could help out a lot if you use Gmail to juggle multiple email accounts. The big one here is the unified inbox, letting you see all your new emails in one place. Even if that includes both Gmail accounts as well as third-party traditional IMAP/POP accounts, you'll be able to see all those messages at once. This blending of accounts continues with Gmail's support for ...

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    Of the many stories to emerge from Microsoft January Windows 10 event, one of the most interesting was hearing about how Internet Explorer was being put out to pasture, and Microsoft would be embracing a new web browser for Windows 10, with the introduction of Project Spartan. From desktop to phone, the browser promised to supercharge productivity, bringing the power of Cortana, collaborative markup tools, and a brand new rendering engine to our web experience. After learning plenty about it, it's finally time to try it out for ourselves, as Microsoft makes its first Project Spartan ...

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    Feeling a little envious of smartphones with 3GB of RAM? Plenty of recent flagships have already made the step forward to offering such memory capacity, models like the Galaxy S6. But even with 3GB becoming more and more common, you can still pick up a phone that puts you further ahead of the curve, with the arrival of the first 4GB models. ASUS stands out not just for being one of the first manufacturers to deliver Android handsets with such an excess of memory, but also because of just how affordably it's doing so. After hearing about a launch in Taiwan earlier this month, we're now ...

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    Motorola rounded-out last week with a tease of what was to come: red leather. The company tweeted that it had “a little something in the works,” but left us to guess just what that would be: a new Moto X material option? Maybe a new band for the Moto 360? Either seemed like a valid possibility, but we didn't have anything more to go on at the time. We were all ready to find ourselves waiting for another week or two before Motorola revealed whatever it had in store, but it turns out we only had a couple days to go, and today Motorola welcomes red leather to its Moto Maker options for ...

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