Back in June, Google revealed Cardboard: an open-source attempt at mobile virtual reality. Heck, even the "hardware" is open source --here are instructions to make your own, right now!

But the concept is more than a low-tech solution to mobile VR. It's emblematic of Google's approach to virtual reality: use the phone that's already in your pocket. Samsung's taking the same approach later this year with Gear VR, only it's also partnering with Oculus VR on the software side.

This stands in stark contrast to the PC-dependent, ultra-high-res experience Oculus VR and Facebook are aiming to achieve. The Oculus Rift headset both literally and figuratively kickstarted the re-birth of virtual reality in modern technology. It remains the peak of technological achievement in virtual reality. And now, the medium is splintering into two distinct futures: one of entertainment, the other of immersion.

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The intrepid disassemblers over at iFixit have torn Amazon's Fire phone asunder in order to determine how repairable it is, but what did they find? At first blush, things seemed promising, with standard Torx screws holding the chassis together, but after that things started to get sticky. The battery, for instance, is attached with an adhesive tab, but the five front-facing cameras are all held in place with liberal dollops of glue. So much so, in fact, that do-it-yourself repairs are nearly impossible unless you're patient enough to melt each component out of its adhesive prison. Getting spare parts isn't ideal either, since the components share so many resources that you can't just replace one piece -- you've got to buy the lot. That's why the phone scored a measly 3 out of 10 for repairability, which is yet another reason not to buy one.

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Amazon Fire phone review: a unique device, but you're better off waiting for the sequel

After producing a long line of e-book readers and tablets (not to mention a set-top box), Amazon has its sights set on the smartphone market. But finding success here won't be easy, even for an established tech giant like Amazon. With the Fire phone, the online retailer is coming in as an unproven underdog, hoping to bring iPhone and Android users into its fold. CEO Jeff Bezos says the only way to do that is to differentiate; to wow potential buyers with new features they didn't even realize they needed. These unique offerings include 3D head-tracking, product scanning and fast help from customer service agents.

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Moto X digital tattoo unlock

Hate unlocking your Android smartphone so much that even Face Unlock or Skip feels like too much of a hassle? Motorola just came to your rescue. The company has partnered with VivaLnk to launch the previously teased Digital Tattoo, an NFC-based skin tag that unlocks your phone (currently limited to the Moto X) with a quick tap. The tattoo can stay on your body for up to five days, and it should survive abuses like showers and sweat-laden runs. It's a clever approach that might be appealing if you're fed up with PIN codes and patterns, although the back-of-a-napkin math suggests that you're paying a lot just to save a couple of seconds when checking your email. VivaLnk is asking $10 for packs of 10 tattoos, or enough to last 50 days -- you'll have to spend $80 to get through a whole year. It could be useful for those busy days when you're constantly waking up your handset, but you might be better off rolling that money into a Moto 360 or your next big phone upgrade.

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Having sold 26.11 million phones in the first half of this year, the beast from the East that is Xiaomi is back again with a new flagship Android phone: the Mi 4. For the first time ever, the company is adding a touch of metal -- the common SAE 304 stainless steel, to be exact -- to the phone's frame, which is sandwiched between a flat 5-inch 1080p screen and a swappable, slightly curved plastic back cover. The internal specs are as you'd expect: 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 SoC, 3GB of RAM, 16GB/64GB of internal storage, 13MP f/1.8 main camera, 8MP selfie camera, LTE radio (at last), 802.11ac WiFi plus a 3,080mAh battery. As a bonus, you also get an infrared transmitter to play with the TV (which Xiaomi also sells). As usual, the Mi 4 will be very affordable: Just CN¥1,999 or about $320 for the 16GB version, and CN¥2,499 or about $400 for the 64GB version (both off-contract, of course).

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Twitch 3 for Android

If you regularly catch up on eSports or "let's play" sessions while on the move, today's your lucky day. Twitch has revamped its Android app with a fresh interface that lets you get to the biggest game streams as quickly as possible, with impossible-to-miss links to the hottest titles. It's also much better suited to tablets, and you can now check out both user profiles and offline channels; that's handy if you missed a big event or want to follow someone with similar tastes. It's much easier to sift through search results, too. The remake isn't well-timed -- it's arriving right as Valve's The International tournament is winding to a close -- but it's still a big deal if you like to spectate games as often as you play them.

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ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C

When it comes to ASUS, buying a full-size Android tablet has usually meant venturing past the $300 mark; even the Transformer Book T100 set you back $349 when it first came out, and that was considered a steal. That's no longer a problem in 2014. ASUS' new Transformer Pad TF103C costs $299 with the company's signature keyboard dock included, or as much as some smaller mid-range slates. While that's potentially a hefty bargain, it begs a few questions: Just what are you giving up to get that price? And is it worth the trade-off when you could likely snag a smaller, but more powerful tablet for less? As I've learned, you're making quite a few sacrifices in the name of a better deal. This is still quality hardware, but you have to know what you're in for.

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On a mild fall day last October, I attended a free Shakira concert in New York City, along with thousands of screaming fans and T-Mobile customers. The occasion? T-Mobile's Un-carrier 3.0 event, where CEO John Legere announced a shockingly generous benefit for Simple Choice customers. Anyone on a $50-and-up monthly plan would have access to unlimited data and texting in more than 120 countries around the world. As a frequent traveler, I was ecstatic -- I spend hundreds of dollars on local SIM cards or roaming products every year -- but as with anything that sounds too good to be true, there was a catch here.

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Huawei Ascend P7 review: the best mid-range phone you've never heard of

What is a flagship? For some companies, it's about cramming as many features into a device as physics allows. For Huawei, it means something else entirely: Though it creates smartphones for the power-hungry crowd, its most eye-catching devices typically favor mass appeal over brawn. Exhibit A: the Ascend P7, a smartphone that emphasizes design and user-friendliness over a blowsy spec sheet. When we reviewed its predecessor, the P6, last year, we found a gorgeous phone that struggled due to an underpowered engine and lack of LTE. The company promises it's learned from its mistakes, though. So is the P7 the mid-range smartphone you'll actually be proud to show off?

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Ingress on an iPhone

Google's Niantic Labs grew the potential audience for Ingress in a big way late last year, when it put out the finished Android version of its augmented reality game. Today, the studio is taking the next (if fairly obvious) step toward grabbing more players: it's releasing the long-promised iOS edition. Both iPad and iPhone owners can now capture territory ("portals" in Ingress-speak) and build up their virtual skills by visiting real locations. The experience will be very familiar if you've played before; missions give you an incentive to keep coming back, while faction chats let you coordinate turf battles and meet fellow players. There aren't any major tweaks or upgrades that we've seen. The game ultimately remains an excuse to explore new places, but that's not a bad thing if you're tired of visiting the same old haunts -- hit the App Store if you're willing to give it a spin.

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Sapphire is the birthstone of September, the traditional gift on your 45th wedding anniversary and a material associated with both luxury and ruggedness. It can be found in opulent products like jewelry, camera lenses and fancy watches. Given that, it's also one of the toughest materials in the world, which makes it ideal for military-grade items like aviation displays and even missiles. So when rumors emerged that a sapphire display may be featured on the next iPhone, a chorus of excitement followed. However, many phone manufacturers don't share the same sense of optimism that Apple might hold toward this different kind of next-gen display.

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Spotify on the desktop

Canada is used to being jilted by online media providers that avoid the country like the plague, but that era may be nearing an end -- just weeks after Google Play Music got the all clear, Spotify has confirmed that it's coming to the True North Strong and Free. While the internet music service isn't officially ready yet, it's taking sign-ups for pre-launch invitations; the company tells iMore that it's gradually expanding access over the "coming months" to make sure that it doesn't choke on the inevitable flood of new users. That will undoubtedly feel like an eternity if you want to join non-Canuck friends who've been listening for years. However, you don't have to sit idle while you're waiting to stream some Arcade Fire or Metric. Spotify has already posted both its Android and iOS apps, and they should start working as soon as you have an account -- grab 'em early if you want to be ready.

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Windows Phone 8.1 users have been rather strapped when it comes to video editing apps straight from HQ, but now Microsoft is looking to lend a hand. With Video Tuner, Redmond serves up a new app that wrangles smartphone clips with the ability to apply filters, add music (non-DRM protected MP3s, natch) and apply a range of corrective adjustments -- including speed tweaks. As you might expect, once the finished product is ready, footage can be broadcast directly to various social channels, with the exception of Vine. The software can save videos in the proper format for Twitter's video stream, but there's no direct sharing at this time. Video Tuner supports MP4 files and allows editing of video captured from the same device on which it is installed. You'll need a Lumia handset running Windows Phone 8.1 to nab up the new offering, but it's already available free of charge from Microsoft's app repository for those who qualify.

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Selfies are so popular that not only is the President getting in on the action, but ABC's even named its newest TV show after the trend. Not to be outdone, Sony is debuting the Xperia C3, a mid-range smartphone whose most notable feature is the 5-megapixel wide-angle lens and LED flash for self portraits. Beyond the snapper itself, the company is also boasting about the software enhancements like retouching, auto-scene modes and quick sharing to ensure your Instagram friends will be, you know, totes jel. There's a 5.5-inch 720p IPS display up, shielding a 1.2GHz Qualcomm processor, 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, with support for 64GB microSD cards and a 2,500mAh battery. Other features include dual SIM-card slots, NFC, Blueototh 4.0 and Android 4.4.2. The handset will begin its world tour in China from August, presumably meandering over to Western shores shortly after.

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Apple's New 3GS iPhone Goes On Sales At Stores

In the spirit of Indie Game: The Movie, comes App: The Human Story -- a documentary that looks at the people behind the digital goods we consume. The film chronicles the rise of developers following the iPhone's release back in 2007 and runs all the way through Apple's World Wide Developer Conference from this year. Who's on camera? Tumblr founder and Instapaper creator Marco Arment and Macworld editorial director Jason Snell to name a few. The filmmakers know that the list skews Cupertino-heavy at the moment and have told TechCrunch that their wish is to get Google's senior VP of Android and Chrome apps Sundar Pichai, and Android's user-experience chief Matias Duarte in the film as well. The team is hitting Kickstarter to help finance the rest of production costs, and for a cool $50, you can get an unedited version of any one interview if you're so inclined.

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