Few things in life are more satisfying than taking out pent-up aggression on a poor, helpless phone, and the Kyocera Brigadier gave me that opportunity this week. Armed with a 4.5-inch Sapphire Shield screen, the rugged Verizon-exclusive device claims to be scratchproof and drop-proof because the material is harder than glass. Since an increasing number of manufacturers (including Apple and Huawei) are reportedly planning on using sapphire on future products, I wanted to torture-test the Brigadier with a lot of sharp and abrasive objects to see if it really holds up to its claims.

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Xiaomi may be the darling of tech publications when they look to the Chinese smartphone market, but let's not forget that Meizu is the real pioneer of community-centric phone brands. As such, Meizu is sparing no effort to one-up its arch rival with its latest flagship phone, the MX4, as announced in Beijing earlier today. Thanks to the MediaTek MT6595 SoC, we're looking at an octa-core (four 2.2GHz A17 and four 1.7GHz A7) device that can connect to both FDD-LTE and TD-LTE networks right out of the box, thus beating the Xiaomi Mi 4 whose LTE variants aren't due until end of this year. More importantly, the MX4 manages to undercut the 3G-only Mi 4 by about $16 to $33 off-contract, depending on the storage capacity.

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It's the first week of September, which means we're getting ready to attend the annual IFA trade show in Berlin. IFA is a difficult show to describe: While it's becoming a huge launchpad for smartphones, tablets and smartwatches, it's also traditionally been a place for companies to exhibit their latest fridges, microwaves and vacuum cleaners (most of them equipped with smart capabilities, at least). Whether you're into the latest tech or just looking for a new blender, there's plenty to see here -- though you'll forgive us if we glaze over news about upcoming sewing machines, instead focusing on Galaxy Notes, Xperia tablets, Android Wear watches and other consumer electronics. We'll be liveblogging announcements from Samsung and Sony, so stay tuned for those; and keep this page bookmarked to see everything we announce from the show.

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Reddit's Ask Me Anything (AMA) interviews with celebrities run the gamut from stellar to ugly, but they're usually entertaining -- and there's now a dedicated app. That means you won't have to wade through the site's copious content to find interviews with the likes of Aaron Paul (above) or Bill Gates. You can choose hot, recent or all-time popular AMAs, then see a description of the interviewee. From there, you can narrow it down to just questions that were answered, or see every question posed. Reddit told Variety that it's trying to be more proactive in marketing features like AMA, rather than solely relying its (formidable) organic growth. For instance, the AMA's recent explosion in popularity was due in large part to an impromptu session by President Obama. The AMA app is now available for iOS and should be hitting Android next week.

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LG G Watch R

One of the biggest gripes of smartwatch ownership is the (usual) dependency on your smartphone; do you really want to carry two devices when you're going out for a run? If you're an Android Wear fan, you won't have to in the near future. Google tells CNET that "several" updates are coming to its wearable platform before the end of the year, some of which will let you cut the figurative cord. Bluetooth headset support will let you put some music on the watch to listen at any time. GPS support will let you map your run while leaving your phone at home, although you'll logically need a watch with position tracking built-in -- in other words, don't expect it to show up on your early G Watch or Gear Live.

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GERMAN-ELECTRONICS-ENTERTAINMENT-LIFESTYLE-IT-FAIR-IFA

IFA is one of the largest consumer electronics trade shows in the world, and it's also one of the most unique. The annual show, held this week in Berlin, has a knack for announcing new washing machines, sewing machines and kitchen appliances alongside the latest smartphones, smartwatches and tablets. Here at Engadget, we're primarily focused on the latter (though who doesn't love a free fruit smoothie sample from time to time?), and there's a lot to cover. Let's head straight into what new gadgets and devices we can expect to see announced at this week's event.

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To say that Sony's Xperia devices have become a bit... "samey" would be an understatement. If the picture above is anything to go by, don't expect that trend to change any time soon. The snaps (more at the source) show what is claimed to be the Xperia Z3 Compact. It's worth noting that would mean the Z2 Compact got skipped altogether here in the west (we loved the Z1 Compact though, so all forgiven). Other than the fact it's nigh on the same design, all the photos tell us is that there are some new mint and... orangey-pinky-red color schemes coming. Ausdroid (who sourced the pics) claims it was also tipped that the Z3 Compact will have a 4.6-inch screen, 2.5GHz (Snapdragon 801) processor and that now Xperia-standard 20.7-megapixel camera. So, what's more appealing? A gentle bump in spec, or the snazzy new hues? We'll find out for sure once we get hands on at IFA this week.

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LG's not the only electronics maker hoping a scattering of Swarovski will add... something to its products. Not far behind, Samsung now has the Gear S Strap, an accessory ready to pair to its just-announced (and again, just after LG) wearable. If you're a fan of Swarovski, you'll be glad to hear it uses the company's newest Crystal Fine Mesh which, according to Samsung, is apparently already being sprinkled upon "top brands in the fashion industry." And if you're not a fan, well, you're probably not remotely interested or even reading this. It'll be available in Samsung's flagship stores next month.

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It's been some time since we heard from the Open webOS project, but work is still ongoing. The port has changed names in the last year to go by LuneOS, and the first release under the new name is now available. This particular version is called "Affogato," and while it supports the HP TouchPad, Nexus 4, Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 (2012 with WiFi), the team says that going forward it's focusing just on the Nexus 4 and TouchPad. Owners of other devices don't have to give up their card-flicking dreams though, as it hopes others will step up to work on ports for other hardware (the OnePlus One above is just showing a screenshot as an example). If you're expecting the features of Android or iOS it's still a long way from that, but the team promises a focus on the community and monthly updates. If you're willing to give it a shot, install instructions are here.

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Apple is such an opaque company that even app developers can be left, out in the cold, wondering why their app was rejected from the app store. Thankfully, the company does have some sympathy for those dejected coders, which is why it's published a list (in full, after the break) of the most common reasons their digital magnum opus failed to pass muster. Thankfully, the biggest reason is simply administrative: if devs fail to provide enough information or a valid demonstration account, then their work will be ignored out of hand. There's no surprises further down the list, either, with most apps getting dumped for buggy code, misleading content or because its name doesn't align with its intended purpose. The only reason that may annoy some is that Apple will turn down an app that doesn't meet its high standards for user interface design -- so you'd better hope that your avant-garde menu items don't alienate Cupertino's QA mavens.

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Not everyone is interested in paying for premium handsets, and Google knows that in many parts of the world, shelling out five or six hundred dollars for a One, G3 or Galaxy S5 simply isn't an option. The Android One initiative is how Google plans to bring a better experience to folks buying budget phones by providing OEMs with hardware designs -- and it looks like the program's first fruits will be revealed on September 15th in India. Save the date invites went out today promising only an "exciting new announcement" and more details to come. So, no confirmation of Android One hardware, but given that the initial partners in the program announced at Google I/O are Indian smartphone manufacturers Karbonn and Spice, we fully expect to see some new Googley phones in two weeks. We've reached out to Google for more info, so stay tuned.

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Dixons Carphone Logo

Dixons Carphone is only (officially) a month old, but it's already dealt a huge blow to one of its rivals. In its battle to provide UK consumers with the best value smartphone deals, the newly-formed company today announced that it's signed an "enhanced" sales agreement with Vodafone, sticking another nail in the coffin of rival high street retailer Phones4u in the process. You see, while Carphone Warehouse customers will soon enjoy a greater choice of contracts and pay-as-you-go SIMs, Vodafone has also chosen not to renew its network agreement with Phones4u, which expires in February. The carrier follows O2 and Three in moving away from the retailer, meaning it'll soon offer just EE and Virgin Mobile deals in-store and online. It could get even worse if EE decides to go it alone, but it hasn't yet confirmed that it will, ensuring Phones4u has at least one big name network on its books while it attempts to grow its own.

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American Express cards

Those longstanding rumors of Apple building a mobile payment service may be coming true sooner than you think. Recode's sources claim that the folks in Cupertino have struck a deal with American Express to work on an iPhone payment system, hot on the heels of The Information's report of a similar agreement with Visa. Details of the system aren't clear beyond a tie-in with the next iPhone (and likely your iTunes account), but Apple is supposedly ready to spill the beans at its September 9th event -- if the leak is accurate, you're going to get the full story pretty quickly.

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This teeny-tiny device called Openmix might be the solution you need for those times when you're raring to be the DJ of the party, but another aspiring disc jockey just won't back down (ugh!). It lets you mix tunes from several devices at once (whether it's an iPhone, an Android phone or tablet, a random media player or a laptop) and blast them out loud in real time by connecting speakers through one of its ports. Its tiny size has probably cued you in on its simplicity -- it can only really fade tracks for seamless transition. But, you can connect it to a device loaded with a third-party DJ app to add extra sound effects, if you're seriously into it. Since Openmix is a Kickstarter project, there's a chance you'll never actually see one. If you want take a chance, though, you'll have to pledge at least $29 to get a unit if it does come out in January 2015.

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There are times when I just want to lie in bed and surf random YouTube channels on my phone or tablet, but it's impossible to hold the device above my head for a prolonged period (we've all been there, right?).

Luckily, I stumbled upon this neat kit in Shenzhen one day: a swing-arm tablet holder by some random brand called Usiabu, and it only cost me CN¥80 or $13, as it was from a wholesale dealer (retail price is around $25 in Hong Kong, and Amazon's start from around $30). As you can tell from the price, this product doesn't involve any groundbreaking technology: you've probably already come across desk lamps that use this type of spring-loaded mechanism.

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