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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    A tide may be turning in Android waters, as heavy manufacturer skinning gives way to demand for cleaner, pure Google offerings. While in the past that meant going with a Nexus device, last year brought us the Google Play edition of handsets, not to mention near-stock efforts from companies like Motorola. And now with Android One on the horizon, this trend is set to continue. Today we learn about another OEM that's looking to get in on some of this action in its own way, as ZTE reveals plans to feature the Google Now launcher on its phones. The Google Now launcher debuted with the Nexus 5 ...

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    Samsung's latest tablets are out now, marrying high-res quad HD displays with the bold colors and deep blacks afforded by the use of OLED panels: the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and 10.5. And though these tablets may be currently available for purchase, they could use a little push to help get sales going; the delayed availability of the LTE models, and corresponding lack of carrier promotion, certainly can't be helping. So Samsung is turning to other companies to help bring the Tab S into the spotlight, and today announced an unorthodox promo campaign, using the Galaxy Tab S to introduce the next ...

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    Samsung and Google have a complicated relationship that's seemed more than a little strained over the past year or so. Back in January things really came to a head, as Samsung debuted the Magazine UX for its latest tablets. Google was concerned with the extent to which Samsung seemed to be reinventing Android, pushing its own look and own services to the forefront, at the expense of Google's efforts. But the companies quickly came to an understanding, and the signing of a long-term licensing agreement appeared to indicate that peace had been brokered. But would that last? A new report ...

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    It feels like complaints about in-app purchases have been rolling in ever since the feature arrived, as users found themselves (or family members with access to their devices) inadvertently racking up excessive bills. And over the years, we've seen the companies behind these app stores implement additional restrictions, protections, and notifications to try and mitigate user concerns. Still, regulatory agencies have been quite critical of what they see as inadequate steps to address the problem, and continue to go after app stores that they feel aren't doing their best to rein in unwanted ...

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    The companies behind smartphones aren't always on the best terms with devs. Sure, they want to see new apps come out that help really show off their hardware and software, but some can also be a little resistant to devs interested in more elaborate hacks, like the kind we see from the custom ROM community. That's why it's reassuring when OEMs make a point to publicly support developer efforts, and that's what we're seeing from Oppo tonight, as the company announces its involvement as an Elite Sponsor for this year's XDA:DevCon gathering. Oppo joins manufacturers like Sony and OnePlus in ...

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    A month and a half ago, Samsung announced its first commercial Tizen smartphone, the Samsung Z. The hardware seemed pretty capable, with a 4.8-inch 720p display and even the heart rate monitor from the Galaxy S5, but it didn't take long before we started developing some concerns about the phone's arrival, especially as Samsung withdrew the phone's announcement from a planned event at a Russian Tizen dev conference, citing a need to beef-up its app portfolio. The manufacturer said the phone would be appearing “later,” and we were still in the promised Q3 availability window, but after ...

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    What new Android hardware will NVIDIA deliver this year? So far we've been talking about two devices this summer, a new Shield handheld console – basically an Android phone (sans cellular radio) with integrated gaming controller – as well as a Shield tablet. As time goes on, though, a lack of new Shield 2 evidence has us wondering if that FCC listing from last month really was just a wireless controller (rather than a full-fledged gaming system), and if the Shield tablet alone might be the direction the company's taking for its 2014 hardware. Today we get our first look at how the ...

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    What company springs to mind when we're talking about smartphones with extremely scratch resistant sapphire crystal displays? Apple, with its big investment in sapphire and the multitude of rumors pointing to such a screen coming to its next-gen iPhones? Or maybe even last year's failed effort from Ubuntu, and its plans to deliver the sapphire-screened Edge? We've got one more name you should add to that list, as Kyocera drops a teaser for what sure sounds like a sapphire-screened phone of its own. We've already covered ruggedized Androids from Kyocera in the past, so it's not the biggest ...

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    Pocketnow's summer of giveaways continues this week with our latest contest, awarding the winner an invite code to be used for purchasing a 64GB OnePlus One smartphone. We got this one rolling all the way back on Monday, and with entries closing tonight at the stroke of midnight (Eastern), we thought we'd give you one last reminder to get your name in the running. Visit the contest entry page for full details on rules and what you'll need to do to enter. Basically, just follow us on Twitter, leave a comment in our OnePlus One review telling us why you're interested in the phone, and ...

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    Cellular networks the world over are constantly improving, delivering higher speeds and better coverage, but for all the strides they're making, it's still all too easy to find yourself in an area with no coverage. Maybe you're out hiking off the beaten path, or boating around offshore; once you're out of range of the nearest cellular tower, your smartphone suddenly becomes a lot less useful. Or maybe the tower is just operating at capacity, or suffering other technical issues. A new accessory called GoTenna intends to help do something about all that, allowing users a backup communication ...

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    Over the past few months, we've slowly been putting together the picture of what to expect from the Samsung Galaxy Note 4's hardware. Will it feature a quad HD display? Will it have some sort of wrap-around screen? One detail that arrived about a month back was that the phablet might include a UV light sensor on its face, but the rumor wasn't accompanied by any insight into just how that sensor might be used. Now a new leak helps spell out just what Samsung's up to, describing a warning system to protect users against skin damage. Reportedly, the Samsung S Health app will use that UV ...

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    Heat is a fact of life with many mobile devices: when we crank up the brightness on our screens full-blast, or run software that pushes all a processor's cores into overdrive, we expect a handset to heat up in the process. Running warm may be one thing, but it's easy to take things too far, and on the upper end of the spectrum we're looking at glitchy operation, spontaneous power-downs, or even outright damage to hardware. New reports suggest that the recently launched Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 may be suffering from some serious overheating issues, going so far as to warp the tablet's ...

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    Last week Satya Nadella addressed Microsoft's employees, talking about his vision for where the company's focus needs to lie going forward. This week, that push for change starts hitting closer to home for many, as Microsoft announces layoffs affecting some 18,000 workers. Stephen Elop addresses that difficult decision in a message distributed to the Microsoft Devices Group this morning, but more than just talking about the effect on staff, he also discusses shifting priorities for the business. That won't be without its casualties either, and the first one on the chopping block looks to ...

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    We've already seen a positive flurry of LG G3 S/Beat/Mini news today, and the momentum is not about to slow down now. Following that G3 S user manual and new G3 Beat pics, we've got some fresh G3 S finds that really seem to help flesh-out the phone's picture, as a Russian retailer posts not just some very legit-looking G3 S press renders, but also details the phone's specs. The five-inch 720p display looks confirmed, as does a quad-core 1.2GHz SoC. Not all specs align with what we've heard about the G3 Beat, however, and this listing says the G3 S will arrive with just 1GB of RAM instead ...

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    Rumors about Sony's follow-up to the Xperia Z2 sure are moving along swiftly, and in just a few weeks we've gone from early talk about possible model numbers to images of actual hardware. Just how could soon could this presumptive Xperia Z3 be ready for release? One carrier leak suggested the possibility of a launch before the end of September, and today we check out some new evidence pointing to the phone arriving sooner rather than later, as the FCC publishes some Sony certification docs. The paperwork in question references Sony model PM-0800 as well as PM-0801, otherwise known as D6603 ...

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