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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    Third-party accessory makers don't always have it too easy. When there's a big high-profile smartphone getting ready to launch, they all want to have products ready to go as soon as it hits stores, but the manufacturers behind these handsets can be quite secretive about their designs. As a result, companies like those who make cases sometimes find themselves going behind the phone manufacturer to try and get some early insight into upcoming products – just look at last year and all the months of iPhone 6 cases we checked out leading up to Apple's eventual launch. We might not be so lucky ...

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    Are you doing all you can to make sure that your data's secure? From verifying your contact info to setting up two-factor authentication, there are probably lots of things you could be taking advantage of in order to limit your vulnerability, but all the security features in the world won't do you much good if you're not taking advantage of them. Google doesn't want to see you losing your data any more than you do, so it's dangling a bit of a carrot in an effort to encourage you to think about you account's security, offering a boost to your Google Drive allocation as an incentive. By ...

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    As we were rounding-out January, LG dropped a little teaser for G3 owners in the US: Android Lollipop would be coming soon. By that point, we had already seen distribution of the G3's Android 5.0 update pass across Europe, so we were understandably eager to learn the details for its spread over on this continent. But all LG had to say was “soon.” In the weeks since there's been no further official confirmation of when to expect any OTA action – the most interesting development was a Sprint leak that talked about its own G3 update starting on February 16, though even that document ...

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    With CES about a month in our past, and MWC right around the corner in our future, this is a prime time of year to introduce a new smartphone to a huge audience. At least, if you were already thinking about releasing a model around now, we could easily see the appeal of holding it for one of those shows. As a result, this space between the expos doesn't see a ton of independent launch action – but that doesn't mean  it doesn't happen. Sony's got the exception that proves the rule, and following yesterday's leak of some new Xperia E4 renders, it's now time for the Android smartphone to ...

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    Motorola was unsurprisingly quick to jump on the Android 5.0 Lollipop bandwagon last fall, and just days after posting its initial Lollipop update tracker, updates were ready for the 2014 Moto G and 2014 Moto X Pure Edition. But despite that early start, Motorola update releases have hit a few snags, and last month we saw the company take to social media to address those delays, blaming particularly buggy Android 5.0 code from Google. As we still wait for many of these updates to land, Motorola has another reason for what's taking so long, placing blame on its own custom chipset. When ...

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    Late last month we the clearest sign yet of an upcoming new Motorola smartphone, as renders leaked that appeared to show an unknown mid-range device. The assumption at the time was that we were looking at a new Moto E, following the launch of the initial model last May. Still, there was no conclusive evidence linking those pics to the Moto E, nor had we any specific reason to expect that a launch would be imminent. Well, just a couple short weeks later we've hit the jackpot, and while Motorola is still keeping quiet about the smartphone, Best Buy has prematurely posted a product page for ...

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    Did someone at Qualcomm break a mirror? Accidentally splash a vengeful fortune-teller with their car and are now suffering the fallout of a hex? Because despite finding its chips in some of the hottest mobile devices around, the company seems to be having some very public bad luck as of late. Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 SoC is still mired in bad PR over reports of overheating (despite recent efforts to convince us the whole issue is overblown), and today we learn of a massive fine China just handed to the company over allegations of antitrust violations. More than just paying for chips ...

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    Just like it's been in years past, MWC 2015 is going to be a big deal, with lots of extremely high-profile hardware making its public debut. At least, while that may be the case for manufacturers like Samsung and HTC, we've had to dial-back our expectations for others; just look at Microsoft's new MWC invite that just went out, which doesn't do much to have us expecting any major launches. In the same vein, we've been hearing that Sony's MWC presence might be another low-key offering, without any new flagship Xperia Z4 in tow. Now some new rumors about the company's MWC plans are adding ...

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    Three weeks: we've got just three weeks to go until one of the biggest times of the year for smartphone, tablet, and wearable news, with Mobile World Congress 2015 set to get started in Barcelona during the early days of March. That's already meant companies like Samsung, HTC, Huawei, and more teasing their MWC events, sending out early invites to the press. The latest company to get us psyched-up for its MWC showcase is Microsoft, as its own invites start hitting inboxes. Unlike the many manufacturers holding their press events on March 1 (MWC-proper doesn't start until March 2), ...

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    Last week we found ourselves talking about a big upcoming release for Apple's mobile devices, as rumors looked into the company's plans for distributing iOS 8.2. And while we're still anticipating a release sometime in March, getting Apple devices ready to work with the company's soon-to-hit-retail smartwatch, today we're looking a little further out towards subsequent software releases, as Apple begins seeding the first iOS 8.3 beta to its developer community. So what's new in 8.3? Well, so far devs have spotted things like a new scrollable layout for selecting emoji to be inserted in ...

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    2015 promises to be an exciting year for tech fans eager to see if virtual reality really has a shot at finally becoming something that's impressive, practical, and affordable all at once. Last year gave us hardware like Samsung's Gear VR, and we're already looking forward to a follow-up (or at least some sort of adapter) for the the Galaxy S6. And while Microsoft may be shooting for the moon with HoloLens, LG's approaching VR from a far more accessible angle, announcing today the VR for G3 viewer and plans to give it away for free. VR for G3 is no Gear VR nor HoloLens, but a tweaked ...

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    The Xperia Z4 is easily the upcoming Sony smartphone we're most eagerly anticipating at the moment, but it may not arrive alone. Last year at IFA 2014, Sony launched a number of devices alongside the Xperia Z3, including the Xperia E3 low-to-mid-range model. By the time December rolled around, we found ourselves checking out the first rumors of a follow-up E4, one that would make a few solid improvements on the E3 while still remaining quite affordable. We saw a couple leaked photos back then, but now we get what may be an even better look at the hardware as some new renders turn up. Truth ...

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    Overnight, we shared with you some of the latest news about the improving state of OnePlus One availability, with an upcoming window where shoppers in India would be able to purchase the Android smartphone without needing an invite – the ordering system that has long plagued the One's release. As it turns out, that's just the tip of the iceberg, and we're looking forward to an ongoing opportunity for users the world around to get a no-invite-needed OnePlus One. Here's how this is going to work: starting tomorrow, and happening again every Tuesday from here on out, OnePlus will sell the ...

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    In another year from now, we'll be talking about all the new smartphones shipping with Windows 10 already on them, but for the moment our more pressing concern is what the Windows 10 upgrade situation will look like on currently-released WP8.1 hardware. Last week word came in that the Windows Insider preview release would indeed run on lower-end 512MB RAM hardware, and this week Joe Belfiore is talking a little more both about that preview release, as well as the issue of Windows 10 on 512MB RAM phones. First up, we hear a comment on these 512MB RAM phones that mirrors some of what company ...

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    With the introduction of Android Lollipop, Google brought its platform a feature called Smart Lock, its own spin on Motorola's Trusted Devices. Smart Lock lets you control when your phone forces you to manually unlock: you can use something like the presence of a paired Bluetooth device or an NFC tag that lets the phone know it's in a trusted environment where no PIN is necessary. Other options for Smart Lock currently include a location-based system where you define safe zones for your phone, and even a face-based mode that attempts to recognize you via your phone's front-facing camera. ...

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    Last month, we heard the return of an old tune: word was, someone was interested in buying BlackBerry. Such rumors were commonplace in years past, as BlackBerry struggled to find the direction that would keep the company moving forward in a smartphone climate heavy with change. But with the arrival of new leadership and the launch of new hardware like the Passport and Classic, memories of acquisition rumors started fading into the distance. Now all of a sudden there was this new report that Samsung was looking at snatching-up Blackberry. Both companies were quick to deny the claims, and ...

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    Back in the early days of October 2013, HTC laid out its then-most-recent quarterly figures, confirming the worst: the company was losing money, and a lot of it. Instead of the tens of millions of dollars it was making just a couple quarters prior, the company was in the whole for a hundred million. In the time since, we've seen big efforts made to put HTC back on the right track, and it's moved on from putting a stop to those losses, to actually turning some decent profits again. Today the manufacturer releases its Q4 2014 numbers, and while it's not earning money hand-over-fist, it's ...

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    Going back a few days now, we've been looking at growing evidence that Verizon is about to join all the other major carriers in the US and start sales of the Nexus 6. We knew this would be coming eventually, but with so much time having passed since the phone first launch, it's understandable that we'd been growing a little anxious. But now not only does Verizon have a signup page for info on the Nexus 6's pending arrival, but some renders showing the Verizon-branded edition of the smartphone have leaked. This was all great to see, but it didn't offer any specific insight into a release ...

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    Between apps, movies, TV, music, and books, all the money we spend on digital content can quickly add up. Sure, there's plenty of free stuff out there, but for the best selection, you're going to have to shell out some cash from time to time. If you're one of the many people who have picked up a Chromecast to make it easy to stream media to your HDTV, Google's got a new little treat to help hook you up with some of its premium Play Store content, and you're just a couple clicks away from redeeming it. Chromecast users are now being presented with an offer for a free six-dollar Play Store ...

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    The path to a Ubuntu smartphone has been a long one, beset by many disappointments along the way. The scope of the project feels a bit less grand than it once did, dropping elements like Ubuntu for Android. And efforts by Canonical to deliver its own Ubuntu-running phone fell apart after its crowdfunding effort failed to secure the necessary support. But despite all that, Ubuntu on phones is still happening, and last year we heard about one of the first models that would arrive for the platform, with Meizu sharing word of Ubuntu plans for early this year. We're still waiting on that ...

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    We started yesterday off with an exciting development for Microsoft's next-gen smartphone platform: no, not the public start of the Windows 10 preview, but maybe the next best thing – some leaked screenshots of the release in action. We got to see the new Action Center, system settings interface, and even that post-update Super Bowl quote we heard about earlier this week. This morning we find ourselves with a new round to check out, as further Windows 10 phone preview screenshots surface. What have we got here? The pics appear to reveal an audio recording app, and keyboard software shows ...

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    Last year was a big one for Samsung and tablets, and while it may not have delivered any models that really carried the clout of its smartphone offerings, it sure had a good number of them. So far this year, things have been quiet on the tablet front; will Samsung unleash a similar torrent upon us? We've already checked out evidence pointing to quite a few in-development models, later identified as a possible new Galaxy Tab 8.0 and 10.1, and new Galaxy Note 8.0 and 10.1. Tonight we're wondering if that's only scratching the surface, as we learn of a development that could point to a much ...

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    You know the joke about how you know someone's a vegan: they're going to tell you? When it comes to smartphones, Verizon's the same way, because before big red lets a phone into its stores, it's going to do all it can to make sure anyone standing within a twenty meter radius can tell that the handset is a Verizon phone. Sure, a few models manage to escape the carrier's logo-stamping department, but then others end up with a Verizon-branded home button. For months now we've been looking forward to the Motorola Nexus being formally welcomed by Verizon, and earlier this week it finally ...

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    Microsoft's public preview of Windows 10 for smartphones is ready to get started soon. Rumors that it might launch earlier this week have clearly not panned out, though we heard as much already, anyway. But soon the preview will be here, make no mistake; will your phone be able to run it, though? Late last month we talked about an update to the now-Windows Insider app that mentioned minimum system requirements, making it sound like certain current Windows Phone models might not be able to run the preview. In the comments, many of you jumped on the theory that handsets with just 512MB of ...

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    Have you ever unlocked a smartphone so that you could drop in a new SIM and take it to another carrier? Maybe some else has a better deal, or you're traveling internationally and want to make sure you're taking advantage of the cheapest local rates. Whatever your reason, removing a phone's carrier lock is something that plenty of smartphone users find themselves interested in. And while you might have a general idea of under what circumstances your carrier will unlock your phone for you, do you know what to expect if you went with a different network? What about if you wanted to unlock a ...

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