Apple iPhone 11 Cracked Back Glass - Consumer Alert!


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I want to issue a strong warning to those of you who are considering buying the new iPhone 11, and also anyone who owns the previous iPhone 8, and iPhone X series smartphones.

These models are extremely fragile, and there is one simple break that could set you back as much as $550 if you are so unfortunate to drop your phone… and it’s the back glass.

The newer iPhones all have glass back covers. Apple switched to this design for the aesthetic beauty of the phone, and also to allow wireless charging. But that comes with an extremely high cost: durability.

The new generation iPhones are more fragile than they have ever been. So take note of the following iPhone models which have the glass back plate:

  • iPhone 8, 8 Plus

  • iPhone X, XR, XS, and XS Mas

  • iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max

You simply cannot own these phones and avoid the risk of cracking the back glass plate, especially if it is not placed in a shockproof Otterbox-style case. And even if you DO have your phone in a shockproof case, you can still crack the back glass if you drop the phone, or compress it in the right way. That means sitting down with your phone in your back pocket, or stuffing it in a heavy book bag or purse.

The reason why everyone needs to heed this warning is due to the fact that replacing the back glass is a nightmare of a repair, and it is super-expensive if you don’t have AppleCare. Replacing the back glass on the newer iPhones listed above can range anywhere from $250 to $600. With AppleCare coverage, the cost is $99 to $129. But you will be required to travel to an authorized Apple Store, or ship your phone off for the repair and go without for upwards of two weeks.

Why does replacing the back glass cost so much, you ask? It’s due to the design. The back glass is seated inside of the frame, which is welded together AND glued. Taking the phone apart to insert a new glass is labor intensive, if not impossible. Most 3rd-party repair shops will purchase an entirely new frame and back glass combo, and the entire contents of the phone have to be disassembled, removed, and replaced in the new frame.

The cheapest way to perform this repair is to use a non-functional donor phone that has a good frame and back glass. But the cost will still be upwards of $250 for this repair. There just isn’t a great supply of non-functional iPhones in the used market, so this generally isn’t an option.

The iPhone 11 series is out, and believe it or not, I’m getting reports of shattered back glass covers already. There’s nothing worse than “breaking” (pun intended) the news to someone who just bought a new iPhone that the repair will cost them $600 and require sending the phone off for the repair. So the best thing that I can do is warn everyone BEFOREHAND.

If you’re buying a new iPhone 11 Pro Max you better treat it like a big Ostrich egg, because that’s about how fragile it is. How convenient would it be to pack a $1,200 Ostrich egg around in your purse, pants pocket, or book bag? Not very. That might sound a bit over the top, but you better treat your new iPhone in the same manner if you don’t plan on wrapping it in a big fat case, or if you go without AppleCare.

If you decide on taking your chances, don’t count on Apple having any sympathy for you if you break your phone before you have a chance to get it jammed full of pictures of your dogs, your kids, and your social media pics. They aren’t going to listen. The only thing they are focused on is convincing you that you “need” to ditch your previous perfectly functioning iPhone for that new glass rectangle which will crack to pieces when you drop it from waist-level to a hard surface.

For half the population out there who love their Apple iPhones and can’t live without the latest and greatest, just remember that Apple will not show you any love in return if you don’t hand over another hundred and fifty bucks (which pads their already-ridiculous profits) for AppleCare BEFORE you drop that beautiful glass sandwich.

Don’t fall victim to this potential catastrophe. Have a contingency plan, and save yourself from the heartbreak if you can’t stop yourself from blowing a thousand bucks on your new rectangular glass fruit box.

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru

Low-Cost Refurbished Apple iPhone Deals For the Holiday Season

The List of Affordable Unlocked GSM Apple iPhones Via Amazon

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If you don’t want to drop $600 to $1000 or more on a new iPhone this holiday season but you are also too cautious to test the used phone market, there’s an option via Amazon. You can get every single model of the iPhone refurbished from Apple on the website, and I’ve done all the hunting work for you.

I used to broker previously-owned iPhones myself through my shop Gadget Gurus, but I got away from dealing used equipment due to the problems that would pop up down the road. I started advising people to only buy new iPhones that come with a warranty, because it was just too risky buying used, even if they were rebuilt by myself.

Now we don’t have to worry about that, because I’ve sourced out several Apple-official refurbished iPhones from Amazon that come with a warranty. I’ll be sharing them with you over the next few weeks, starting with the lowest priced models that still run fine on the current version of iOS.

To kick it off, here are several that I found on the site that are all GSM-unlocked iPhones that can be used on any GSM carrier. If you don’t know what that means, call your service carrier before you buy. But that includes AT&T, T-Moble, and the non-contract GSM providers like Cricket Wireless.

“Unlocked” means you can activate it on the network of your choice. A locked phone will only work with one carrier. Since the phone will be paid for in full without a payment plan, you’re free to run it on any of the available GSM networks.

Here’s the list of the GSM iPhones I found tonight that are priced in the range of $128.99 to $254.99. The models go from the iPhone 5 through the iPhone 6s in various colors. Click the links and you’ll exit my blog and be taken straight to Amazon where you can purchase the phones.

Post a comment below if you have questions, and stay tuned for the next level of phones that I pluck out on Amazon that I believe are good deals for you! Clicking on the links provided will help support the CZ blog site and the Gadget Gurus business, so thank you in advance!

Here’s the phones. The prices are current as of 12-18-2018:

iPhone 5 GSM Unlocked 16Gb White $128.99

iPhone 5 GSM Unlocked 16Gb White $128.99

iPhone 6 GSM Unlocked 16Gb Space Gray $189.99

iPhone 6 GSM Unlocked 16Gb Space Gray $189.99

iPhone 6 GSM Unlocked 64Gb Space Gray $194.25

iPhone 6 GSM Unlocked 64Gb Space Gray $194.25

iPhone SE GSM Unlocked 16Gb Rose Gold $169.98

iPhone SE GSM Unlocked 16Gb Rose Gold $169.98

iPhone 6S GSM Unlocked 16Gb Rose Gold $224.99

iPhone 6S GSM Unlocked 16Gb Rose Gold $224.99

iPhone 6S GSM Unlocked 64Gb Rose Gold $249.00

iPhone 6S GSM Unlocked 64Gb Rose Gold $249.00

iPhone 6S GSM Unlocked 64Gb Rose Gold $254.97

iPhone 6S GSM Unlocked 64Gb Rose Gold $254.97

iPhone 6S GSM Unlocked 64Gb Space Gray $254.97

iPhone 6S GSM Unlocked 64Gb Space Gray $254.97

See you next time,

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru

iPhone 7 Plus/8 Plus Earpiece Glitch After Screen Repair - Solved!

Earpiece Not Working After Screen Replacement On iPhone 7/8 Plus Plagues Many

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If you’ve cracked your iPhone 7 Plus or 8 Plus and had the LCD assembly replaced, there’s a fairly good chance you’ve run into this annoying glitch due to a design flaw in these two iPhone models.

After removing the flex assembly from the original broken screen and transferring it over to the new LCD assembly, many repair techs have reported stories of the earpiece speaker failing to work. I have run into this myself on at least 1/4th of all the iPhone 7 Plus and 8 Plus repairs that I have done.

Apparently, the flex cable is super sensitive and cannot be bent in the slightest manner without causing the earpiece to stop working. But some say that it occurs when you don’t replace the small black piece of insulating tape that sits behind the proximity sensor. Others claim that it’s due to the earpiece itself. But I have found that these two theories aren’t exactly right.

When you pluck out the flex assembly to move it to the new frame, you have to be super careful not to damage the cable. But even when exercising extreme caution and applying low heat to soften the adhesive, you can still end up with a dead earpiece once you are done.

The flex assembly has the earpiece conductor leads, and also contains the noise canceling microphone, proximity sensor, and the front facing camera. But what is odd is that only the earpiece assembly seems to sustain damage when it is moved.

Whatever the case, this boils down to a design flaw. After dealing with this common issue ever since the release of the iPhone 7 Plus, I have not been able to nail down a definitive answer on what is causing the problem. But I have figured out a fail-proof workaround.

When you have a 7 Plus or 8 Plus screen repaired, it is best to get a high quality replacement LCD assembly that comes with a new proximity sensor flex cable pre-installed. These cost a little bit more than the plain replacement screens, but having the new earpiece speaker and flex assembly installed from the manufacturer completely eliminates the chances of running into this issue.

It’s best to let the manufacturer test the screen and proximity flex assembly to insure all of the components are working, rather than taking the chance on moving that super-fragile cable and ending in complete frustration when your customer can’t use their phone without their ear buds. There is nothing worse.

I’m going to keep looking into this issue, and hope to pinpoint the actual reason this problem occurs. Until I figure this out, my recommendation on iPhone 7 Plus and 8 Plus screen replacements is to go with the pre-installed flex assembly & new earpiece. It’s definitely worth the peace of mind!

If you’ve got some advice or an opinion of why this glitch is happening, I’d be super grateful if you’d share it in the comments section. As always, thanks for checking out the story, and for supporting the blog!

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru

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Prop Bills, Facebook Marketplace, and Stupid Criminals: A Warning to All


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I own the Gadget Gurus repair shop. I'm a well-known tech blogger. I'm an Apple device expert. I do keynotes on the topics of technology and social media. I warn people about the perils of buying used iPhones. So I'm the last person in the community that should have fallen for the latest scam...

Movie prop currency.

It was actually a combination of phony stage prop $100 bills, the Facebook Marketplace, and one seriously stupid criminal that did it. Let me tell you my story, and then I'll issue my word of warning and closing advice.

I fix phones for people. Sometimes, my customers bring me broken phones that they no longer need, and I fix them at my cost. I sell them on their behalf, so they don't have to go through the trouble of selling the phone, and I take my repair fees out of the proceeds and give them the difference. Sometimes things can go wrong, and this past Saturday things went seriously wrong.

I had an iPhone 6S rose gold edition phone that I fixed and was trying to sell for a friend for $310. I posted the phone on Facebook Marketplace, which is free to list. I thought it was relatively safe. Nothing could go wrong here, because it's a fairly public place where people must use their true identities.

Two months had passed, and none of the 15 people who had expressed serious interest had ever come to close the deal. Then I got a message at 11:30pm on Saturday night from a would-be buyer who claimed to be from Columbia (30 miles up the road) but happened to be in Jefferson City that night.

He claimed he needed to buy a phone for his "girl", and he was in a rush. I told him I was getting  ready for bed, and to contact me on Sunday. Then he offered me $400 for the phone.

I jokingly responded, "oh sure, that make sense... you're going to pay me more than what I'm asking?!"

I asked him why on Earth would he offer more than the asking price, and he claimed it was due to the urgency of his need, and he wanted to motivate me to meet him despite the lateness of the hour.

I told him that I would not accept more than the offer price, and his response didn't make any sense. He said "if you're in Jeff City I'm only giving you $310". That was the second clue to me that this was a potential scammer. He wasn't making logical sense.

I checked his profile, and it didn't look good. He appeared to be a young man in his twenties, and was not shy about posting pictures depicting alcohol consumption and smoking of various vegetation products. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is not the type of person who you would want to transact business with.

But I had three things working against me: First, it was late at night and I was tired. Second, I really wanted to get rid of the phone and make the money for my friend. Third, this young man and I had a mutual friend who attends my local church, so I figured I could trust the situation a bit more.

That was the kiss of death.

Against my better judgment, I left out to go to the shop and meet the young man to sell him the phone. My plan was to meet him in a public place and only accept cash, of course. After changing the location where we were supposed to meet twice, we finally decided on the Break Time gas station on Stadium Drive.

The young man messaged me three times while I was on my way, asking how long I was going to be. That was another indication that something was wrong. I arrived at Break Time, and there were no cars in the parking lot... yet another indication that this was a scam.

I messaged him again asking where he was, and he said he was in a white truck across the street at the Stadium 66 gas station. I crossed the street, and the "white truck" turned out to be a white Mercedez Benz SUV. That was another red flag. He saw me park, and waived out the window for me to approach.

I walked over to the car, and there were 2 young men inside, with the buyer in the passenger seat. He let the window down, and I started asking him questions. I asked where he was from, and how he knew our mutual friend on Facebook. He didn't understand what I was asking at first, because he was in a dazed stupor (it may have been the result of oxidizing the vegetative product and inhaling the combustion components).

After an initial "huhhh?" and a silent pause, the lights came on and he and smiled, telling me that he had met the mutual friend at a party (yet another bad indication). He was very polite and respectful, however, which was also part of what clouded my thinking.

After explaining the specifics of the iPhone I was selling, in order to make sure he was absolutely clear on what he was buying, he asked me to "hold on one minute" and rolled up the tinted window. It was still open 2" from the top, enough for me to get on my toes to look and see what he was hiding.

In his lap was a stack of $100 bills. He was counting out three of them, and then let the window back down after putting up the stack of money. I looked very closely at the money, and immediately noticed the bright colors and the security strip found on the new $100 bills. It looked legit. I had no doubt about the authenticity of the cash.

He handed me the bills at the same time that I gave him the phone. The bills had a few folds, and I could feel that in my hands. But as soon as I turned to take one step back to my car, I noticed that the bills were way too slick feeling on my finger tips. I looked back and the SUV  was pulling out of the lot.

I knew I had been scammed. Beating myself up in my mind, I got back in the car and fumbled for my phone so I could shine a light on the bills to see what the heck they were. They looked fake.

I took them back into the gas station to have the clerk verify my major error, and she did. She used the marker on the bills, and they all failed. But that's not the worst part...

She brought my attention to the front face of the bill, where it stated "For Motion Picture Use Only" where it normally has "Federal Reserve Note". It also said "This Note Is Not Legal Tender".

If I didn't feel stupid already, this rubbed salt into the wound. I'd been had. Tricked. Bamboozled. Ripped off.

I immediately wrote the young man back on Facebook messenger. I said, "bring that phone back NOW". I warned him that I would go straight to the police if he didn't, but got no answer. Then I informed him that the entire deal was made in bright light and would be on the gas station security camera system. Still no answer.

I got to the Jefferson City Police station to report the scam, and someone had reported a similar occurrence just 20 minutes before I got there. Then two young ladies entered the lobby holding the same fake movie prop $100 bills that I had in my hands.

The perpetrator was apparently on a shopping spree that night, buying iPhones from unsuspecting people via Facebook Marketplace and paying for them with fake bills. I'm not certain, but he may have scammed as many as 5 people that night.

What confounded me was his level of stupidity. He used his true identity to set up the deals on Facebook, with his profile picture on full display. Plus he chose to meet in well-lit gas station lots where security cameras record 24 hours per day. Add to that the use of the fake currency, the "movie prop" $100 bills, and you've added counterfeit charges to possible stolen property charges.

I have never been scammed like this in my entire life. But the look of these bills was so authentic, it caused me to drop my guard long enough for the criminals to get away.

Numerous eBay listings for movie-prop cash

Numerous eBay listings for movie-prop cash

Be warned, the use of movie prop $100 bills are popping up across the country. Since movies and television shows are going high definition these days, the prop makers have started making high quality full-color paper money to look authentic on camera. They look better than any fake money of the past, and sadly, you can buy them on eBay legally.

Combining Facebook Marketplace, the best-looking fake money ever printed, and idiot criminals significantly raises the possibility of the average swap-shopper being exposed to this threat. The reports are running high.

My advice to you? Be super careful buying and selling on Facebook Marketplace and the FB swap shops. Anything can go wrong. Choose safe locations, meet during the day, take a friend with you, and take the safety advice of your local law enforcement agencies.

I beat myself up pretty bad for allowing myself to be fooled in this situation, but everything happens for a reason. If it happened to me, it can happen to anyone. And the positive is, I get to share this story with everyone and it might save you some grief as a result.

My story ended well. The idiot criminal is in the custody of law enforcement, and I'll be getting my friend's phone back soon. But be careful everyone, because you don't want to take chances like this. Trust your instincts, err to the side of caution, and you can't go wrong!

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru

Smartphone Water Damage! What to Do When Your Phone Takes a Dive


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Summer time is that fun time of year that we get the most occurrences of water damaged phones. It’s hot outside and people are often swimming, boating, playing in the fire hydrants and sprinklers to escape the heat.

Since we are so attached to our beloved smartphones and can't be without them for even a few minutes, we sometimes lose all sense of mind and go head first into the cooling water, forgetting that our phones are tucked away in a pocket or in the clutch of our hands.

Swimming holes can spell disaster for technology. But as summer comes to a close, there are still plenty of other ways that smartphones can meet their demise in a watery grave. One of the most common is actually the toilet bowl. As a matter of fact, I just got a toilet-damaged phone in the shop last week.

Whatever the case, it’s critical to know what to do when your smartphone takes a dive in the swimming pool, the beach, or a hopefully-fresh toilet. 9 times out of 10, just from lack of being taught, people do the wrong things and end up roasting their phone when it could have been saved.

That being said, here’s what you need to know if you EVER have the misfortune of taking your smartphone for a refreshing swim!

1) Do NOT check to see if your phone still works by activating the screen. If you do, you might short out the backlight or fry the logic board. After a phone gets wet, the last thing you want to do is put a surge of electricity through it. If the screen is asleep and you press your home button or power button waking it up, just to check to see if it still works, you could cause the battery to dump ALL of its remaining electricity into the phone.

2) If the phone was already off, do NOT try to reboot it. It might turn back on, but that could be the last time it DOES turn back on after you short out the logic board.

3) Do not set it out in the sunlight to dry. The sun will bake the LCD assembly and ruin it.

4) If you happened to have put your phone in a bowl of rice for a few hours, or even days, don’t test it and turn it on until you take it to a repair shop. No matter how long you leave it in rice, it’s not going to suck up all of the moisture trapped inside of the phone.

Those are the don’ts. Read those 4 points again to make sure it soaks in (no pun intended.) Now let’s move on to what you should do after your phone has gone skinny dipping!

Once you retrieve the phone from the water, dry it off as quickly as possible and wrap it in a towel or absorbent cloth. And again, DO NOT TURN IT ON. Remember, if you turn the phone on, all of the electricity left in the battery might discharge all at once and burn up your phone. It will sound like French fries dropping down in hot grease. You might even smell smoke. This isn’t the barbecue you want at your family outing. Leave the barbecuing to the grill.

Next, get your phone inside if you can and put it in a bag of rice. Believe it or not, I’ve heard reports of people putting their phones in COOKED RICE. Yes, that has actually happened. Please don’t put your phone in cooked rice, and don’t pour gravy over it. And don't butter the rice. Dry, UNCOOKED rice is what you want. The rice will absorb some of the moisture, drawing it away from the inside of the phone and get the drying process started at least. A Ziploc bag is best.

Once you get the phone in the rice, contact me (or your local smartphone repair shop) ASAP. An extra word of advice, don’t try to dry out your phone with a hair dryer or heat gun. You could end up doing more damage to the phone. Just get it in the hands of an expert who knows what they’re doing, someone who knows the proper amount of heat that can safely be applied.

When I get a phone that is water damaged, the first thing I do is open up the phone to check for water. If there is water, I blot out as much as possible, and then I dry the logic board and components with a professional heat gun. I know the limits of heat a phone can receive before it can be damaged.

Next I remove the battery, and check the connectors for moisture. I can usually tell if a battery has been ruined just by sight. Once I determine the condition of the battery, I check for the most minimal clues that the logic board still works. Then I let the phone continue to dry overnight.

Get great deals on official refurbished iphones on amazon!

Get great deals on official refurbished iphones on amazon!

Sometimes the LCD assembly will be fried, which means it needs to be replaced. The backlight of the LCD assembly can get zapped and black out the screen. You can tell if the phone’s logic board is still okay by the LED charging light. The battery is then checked with an amp/voltage meter to see if it is still functional.

If the phone does not boot, my last choice is to disassemble it completely to give the logic board a solvent bath which forces out any remaining water. At that point I can try again to see if it will boot up. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it does not. But it is the last option for recovery.

It’s hard to say what percentage of phones can survive water damage. I’ve had a phone dropped in salt water that was entirely rusted on the insides that I was able to recover, and I have had phones that showed very little traces of water that ended up not surviving. It’s very unpredictable.

But the best method of dealing with water damage is to prevent it from happening in the first place. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Now let’s move on to my best advice to keep yourself out of harm’s way when it comes to your precious smartphone.

Things to do to prevent water damage:

  • Leave your phone inside before you go out to the swimming pool or the creek. Keeping your phone as far away as possible is best. Remember that water splashing out of the pool onto your phone can cause just as much damage as a phone that has been fully submerged. It doesn't take much!

  • Give your smartphone a break and be one with nature. Enjoy the outdoors undisturbed and uninterrupted from the distractions of your phone, and it will be safely waiting for you when you return.

  • Use a LifeProof case if you can’t be away from your phone while swimming. Even though they aren’t very good at preventing breakage from dropping, it will give you a better chance of survival in water if it is accidentally submerged. But remember, no case can provide 100% protection against water damage even if they are made for that purpose.

  • Last but not least, if you don’t have insurance on your phone, get supplemental insurance coverage NOW. You don’t have an option of owning a smartphone in 2017 without insurance, because these new devices are just too expensive and they are very intricate and susceptible to damage.

  • Double last but not least, backup your phone to the cloud RIGHT NOW. You don’t know how sad it makes me to tell a person who hasn’t ever backed up their phone that their precious pictures and videos are lost forever. Back up your phone on a regular basis. Better yet, set your phone to do automatic backups.

I hope you never have to deal with with a smartphone water disaster. But if you do, please remember my tips, and share with everyone you know. You might save a friend from suffering significant smartphone misery!

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru


2016 Smartphone Consumer Warning! Read BEFORE You Buy Your Next Phone


If you want the best advice on smartphones, talk to someone who fixes them. And this gadget-fixer has some pretty urgent advice for you today.

In all of my seven years of repairing smartphones and other devices, I can’t think of a time where I had a bigger warning than I do now, and that is…

Do NOT buy a new smartphone without full insurance coverage.

Up until recently, I had been a strong advocate against purchasing extended warranties for electronics. That has changed. Back in the days of old, the outright cost of a smartphone was around $250 to $400. Insurance plans weren’t really necessary, because most of the phones were fairly durable. Plus the cost of replacement was about as much as the insurance.

Fast-forward to today...

In 2016, we have smartphones that are more powerful than consumer-grade laptops, and they are three times as expensive. Brand new smartphones from the major manufacturers today cost anywhere from $650 to $1000, and they are as fragile as they’ve ever been. So when you stuff that new iPhone 7 in your back pocket, it's like jamming an $850 laptop in your jeans.

Another problem, people often don’t realize what the true cost of these devices are. That's because the retail price is subsidized by the five major cellular service carriers. Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and US Cellular build in the cost of the smartphone you are getting for “free” by making you commit to using their service for a period of 24 months.

Assuming you fully realize the expense of your new smartphone, let's think about this scenario...

If you walk out the door of your smartphone retailer without insurance and you fall on your face, breaking your phone on the hard, cold concrete, you’d better be ready to be phone-less for a couple of years. Or you'll come to grips with the fact that you’re going to have to shell out several hundred dollars to have it fixed.

Believe me, it happens all the time. And let me tell you a little bit more about the repair side.

When a new smartphone is released to the market, the replacement for a cracked LCD screen assembly is extremely high. And it takes several months for the price to drop. Replacement screens can start out in the $250 to $350 range, and then you can add anywhere from $60 to $100 labor for installing it to your phone.

The Gorilla Glass screen technology is getting better all the time, and the 5th generation being used on most smartphones today is quite durable. But they are still breakable. No phone is indestructible, no matter what the commercials say. And there are dozens of ways you can damage a phone, not just from dropping them.

Now let's talk about brands and models, and what I've noticed...

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge phone is the most fragile, and currently the most expensive to repair of all models other than the iPhone 7 (At the time of this blog post, the suppliers have not listed the availability of iPhone 7 replacement screens). All of the curved-edge phones are fragile, and the replacement screens are equally expensive, including the Galaxy Note 7, the Galaxy S6 Edge, and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus phones. If you buy any of these and break it, and have no insurance, you're gonna be heart-broken.

Next on the most-expensive-to-repair list would be the Galaxy S7, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Active, and iPhone 6S Plus smartphones. All of these devices have replacement LCD screens that are in the $150 range, then you can add labor.

The iPhone 6S currently has a replacement screen cost of around $100, plus labor. Older iPhones are much less expensive to repair, and some of the Samsungs still have replacement screens that are expensive and hanging on to higher prices.

The LG smartphones are repairable, and the screen replacement prices are between $50 and $100. But they often malfunction after replacing the screens. The HTC, Motorola, Huawei, Blackberry, Nokia, and other smartphones are not worth even attempting a repair. This is due to the way they are constructed, which can make it next-to-impossible for them to be taken apart and re-assembled.

Some brands are not worth the cost of a paperweight if they are broken, like the ZTE smartphone, and the non-contract entry level Samsung bare-bones smartphone. They are either impossible to fix, or cost more to fix than what they were purchased for in the first place.

My repeated advice to you? Do NOT buy a new smartphone and walk out the door without full insurance coverage. Furthermore, you should also be purchasing a tempered glass screen protector plus a full 3-piece case like an Otterbox (or better yet, a Gadget Gurus “Guardian Gear” case) for maximum protection.

If you are getting a new smartphone and you can’t afford to buy it straight out at the full retail price, but you’re getting it on installments over a 2-year period, you better be buying insurance. And when you do, be clear on what your deductible will be, and make sure you can afford it. Expect to shell out $200 for a claim.

If you can’t afford a $200 deductible or the cost of full replacement, I advise against buying the latest-greatest iPhone or Samsung smartphone. Get something you can afford, something that won’t break the bank after you break the screen. Most people don’t need more than a $99 basic smartphone that you can throw in the trash and replace if you break it.

It breaks my heart when people come to me with a broken smartphone that is only a month old, and I have to break the news to them that it will cost hundreds of dollars to fix. When you can’t afford the repair, it means continuing monthly payments with an unusable phone. The only alternative is buying an older phone to use with your service contract.\

Take heed, and spread the word. Save yourself or someone you know from serious heartache. Or a flat wallet.

Carlton Flowers
Gadget Guru, King of Smartphones

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Recall - Breaking It Down


If you are a Samsung fan, you've probably heard about the Galaxy Note 7 recall by now, especially if you were one of the first in line to get it, and you own one. I've had lots of questions about this issue, so we're going to spend a little time and break this down.

So why did Samsung recall all of the Note 7 smartphones? This was due to a problem with the battery cells failing on 35 phones (as of today's date) which caused them to catch fire, and also explode. Of the million or so phones that are out there, this is an extremely small number. But if you're one in a million that has a phone blow up in your face, I don't think you'd appreciate being told that it’s only a low percentage that fail.

The problem happens due to bad battery cells that overhead when the lithium layers inside the battery are compromised, and short circuit. This is something that has been more of a common problem with iPhones since the iPhone 5, but I suppose Samsung wanted to join the bad battery party and share in the attention.

The reason we are seeing so many battery problems as of late is because the design engineers are making thinner phones, thus needing thinner batteries, but with more power than their predecessors. When you smush the battery layers to minimum thickness, and add more power, you have more of a chance for failure to occur. There’s no way around it.

All of these batteries come from China, from some of the same suppliers, and from the same manufacturing processes. And it’s going to take a long time to get all of these phones replaced. You can’t simply pop out the battery and replace it like you could with the older Samsung phones (from Galaxy S4 and earlier). The back battery plate is glued on, and you have to remove a few things to free up the battery that is directly wired into the logic board.

You’ve got a couple of options here in the US for having your phone replaced. First, you can turn in your Note 7 and wait for the replacement. You’ll probably need a backup phone while you wait. Or, you can trade your Note 7 in for an S7 Edge, or regular Galaxy S7 and be refunded the difference in price (I think it’s around $100).

You can call Samsung at 1-800-SAMSUNG to get your exchange kicked off. For all your trouble, they are offering $25 phone bill credit to most major suppliers, so make sure you ask about that. You can either send in your phone directly to Samsung, or work with the retailer where you bought the smartphone originally.

Is it worth all this trouble to own the Galaxy Note 7? I say absolutely YES. I own the Galaxy Note 5, and I can’t live without the S Pen stylus. If you’re a big fan of the S Pen and all of the advanced features that come with it, it’s worth replacing and sticking with the Note 7. It will be the most advanced smartphone on the market, even after the iPhone 7 has been released (this is the first time Samsung has outdone Apple to the point where their subsequent next-model release doesn’t match the current Samsung model’s specifications).

If you’re sick and tired of all these battery problems with your new Samsungs and fancy iPhones, you need to write the designers and tell them to go back to the days of fat candy bar phones and stop trying to win the wafer-thin smartphone war. Until then, get used to problems like this. It won’t be the last.

Carlton Flowers
Gadget Guru Supreme

Buyers Beware! Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Warning


Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Warning

If you want the best advice on which new smartphone to buy, ask someone who deals with broken devices... and broken hearts.

Here lately, I've had to be the bearer of bad news to a lot of Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge owners who've come to me with a sad face and a cracked smartphone screen. Fixing these things is not fun, and it's super expensive. Telling my customers how much it will cost to replace their shattered curved edge screen is enough to make them cry.

But why am I seeing so many Galaxy S6 and S7 Edge smartphones coming through the doors for repairs, you ask? It's the design of the phone. The problem is, there's no way to protect the curved edges on one of these handsets. You can't get a case that will keep it from shattering when it falls face-down.

The replacement LCD (that's the "tv screen" thingy) and glass digitizer assembly for any of the curved Galaxy Edge line of phones is very costly. The S7, at the time I'm writing this, will set you back $270. And that's just for the part. Labor is another $60 to $80 to extract off the broken screen and install the new one.

The curved edge screen is a great novelty, but it's not a good choice for people who are clumsy or hard on smartphones. It's one of the easiest phones to break on the market. Period. And as I mentioned before, you can't get compete protection from a shock-proof case, thanks to those curved edges.

Besides being super careful, you can get a tempered glass screen protector with curved edges that will give added protection to the phone. But I haven't heard much as far as how effective they are when absorbing an impact from a drop.

My best advice to you is that you think twice before buying this phone, if you are super active and will be handing the phone a lot while you're on-the-go. If you do decide that you just MUST have that cool curved edge on your smartphone, GET IT INSURED.

The total cost including parts and labor for fixing a Galaxy S6 or S7 Edge can cost in the $260 to $340 range. The deductible on most insurance plans on smartphones is $200 or less. Therefore, it is absolutely worth taking out additional insurance on these fancy devices.

If you own one of these phones and you don't have it in a case with a tempered glass screen protector, and you don't have insurance, I suggest you get the case immediately, and don't leave your house with the phone until you've called your carrier to add device insurance.

Trust me, accidents can and will happen. It only takes a fraction of a second. And I don't want to see you sad, dejected, and broken-hearted when you bring your beloved Galaxy Edge to me for a facelift.

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru


CenturyLink Stinks - Why They Don't Care, And Why They'll Never Change


Is CenturyLink an incurably evil corporation? Has CenturyLink reached a point where their success allows them to dismiss good customer service? Can CenturyLink "afford" to put corporate profits ahead of treating customers with respect and showing that they truly care? Sadly, yes.

CenturyLink as a company is off the edge of human, and is beyond fixing. Their internal communication is so flawed and customer service is so bad, that it probably costs the company millions of dollars each year. But they're making so much money, nobody seems to care. And apparently, nobody has the power or ability to affect change internally. While there are some truly sincere people who work for this corporation, the company itself has become an evil uncontrollable entity.

In 2009, I had to switch to CenturyLink internet service due to Mediacom (yet another sad story of a company) not offering coverage in that particular area. I had ordered the 5Mbps internet package, but was only able to attain 0.5Mbps during the 2 years I paid for the service.

When I moved, I decided to stick with the company with hopes that they would be able to provide better service due to the area my new house was located. The service techs who came to do the install were great. Always super friendly, and very honest.

But unfortunately, we weren't able to get the advertised speed of 5Mbps. The best we got was around 0.75Mbps to 1.5Mbps on a good day. I had 3 service techs that visited over the year, all finding problems in the network and connections, but none able to solve the problem of the slow speed. All were very professional, and sincerely apologetic for what was going on.

At the end of the 1st frustrating year, I was talked into ordering the 10Mbps by someone internally at CenturyLink. They explained that I needed more "room" between the top of the rated speed and what I was getting. So in order to get 5Mbps download speeds, I needed to order the 10Mbps package.

As much as this didn't make sense, and as unfair and stupid that this was, I fell for it. I ordered the 10Mbps service and got a new modem. But the speed didn't improve at all. I had several more visits from service technicians, all of which told me that I had fed one bad story from the company, and that it wasn't my fault. They all confirmed that there was just some unknown issue in the network preventing the service from working properly to give the rated download speed that I was paying for.

In my complete frustration, I decided to put up with Mediacom at the end of the second year, and I dumped CenturyLink. I asked them to make a deal with me, since I owed a balance $360 when I canceled. I told them to pro-rate my balanced based on the fact that I received about 10% of what they falsely advertised that I would get with the internet package, as confirmed by several of their own service techs. They refused.

I made the switch to Mediacom and and we never did make a settlement. 5 or 6 years passed by, and I let the account make its rounds in collections. I gave up all hope of CenturyLink doing the right thing.

Fast forward to Fall of 2015, and the story gets interesting...

Someone from CenturyLink came pounding on my door one weekend, disturbing my valuable leisure time, to sell me on a "new deal". I told the salesman that I had no interest in anything CenturyLink had to offer, thanks to their terrible unreliable service. But then he said the magic words: Fiber-Optic is here!

I decided to let him talk, since he had some rather significant news. The fiber optic service was now in my neighborhood, and the connection was right there on the utility pole outside my front door. He said I could get CenturyLink 1 Gigabit internet service plus Prism TV for about $50 less per month than what I was paying Mediacom.

He spent an hour talking me into giving it a try, and since I would be saving money, I figured I'd let him have my business. I figured CenturyLink owed me a good deal anyway, after what had happened years ago.

We set up the appointment and away he went. 2 weeks later, the day before I was supposed to have my service set up, I got a phone call from a rather apologetic CenturyLink sales rep telling me that they unfortunately could not go through with the install because they found that I had an unpaid $360 bill.

This was the first hint to me that CenturyLink has absolutely ZERO internal communications. Why in the world would someone in sales send out an agent to waste an hour of my time, only to be told "we can't sell you our service because you owe a bill"?

This is generally how the big telecoms work. The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing, and thanks to decentralized sales and service, nobody has a clue what is going on.

I thought I would give them the benefit of the doubt that they might have enough common sense that it would be beneficial to work out a deal. Since I was potentially signing up for a 5-year contract for their service, I figured they would settle the balance and move on, and take my money.

Not the case.

After talking to a representative for over 30 minutes, the answer was "no". But the reason was that she could not find the department that had the authority to work a deal. She agreed that it was unfair that I paid for a service which never delivered what was promised to me for more than 2 years. She also agreed that the company would stand to benefit from my huge monthly payments for the next 5 years if they settled my balance. But she didn't know how to get it done.

That's when things got ridiculous.

After talking for a half an hour, she said that I would have to speak to billing because only they had the authority to settle the debt. I wasted another 30 minutes on hold waiting for a billing representative. After repeating the entire story, I was told that the billing department didn't have the authority to make that decision. They would have to send me to customer retention.

Transferred yet again, I waited in the queue for a customer retention representative, only to be told that they didn't have the authority to make that decision, and I'd have to be sent to customer service. Realizing this was the same place that I started, I told them I wanted to speak with a manager.

Finally, I was given to a manger, and was able to tell my entire story. I spent yet another 30 to 45 minutes on the phone, and the manager completely understood where I was coming from, and promised to get to the bottom of it and find a solution and compromise.

Talking on the phone to nearly 5pm, the manager had to call it a day, and promised to phone me back the next morning at 8:30am sharp after she had gotten everything sorted out, with the proper approvals, so I could settle my balance or have it waived, and sign up for my new service.

She never called back.

I tried to get back to a manager two more times, and to no avail. But I was ready to step out of the customer service Twilight Zone at CenturyLink. The company that charged me thousands of dollars for a service that never worked as promised, even verified by their own technicians, was refusing to accept my future service over a $360 unresolved bill.

Here we have a company that is so big, internally disconnected, and so uncaring about the humans they serve, they would rather pass on roughly $10,000 of profit over five years because they are unwilling to resolve a previous $360 balance. And not a singe person in the company will take ultimate responsibility to see it resolved.

There are some really sincere people who work at CenturyLink, but as a company, they have no soul. The company has grown beyond their ability to control its profit-grubbing nature. It makes me feel bad for the good people who at least try. But it is a work in futility.

In conclusion, I'll just say this... CenturyLink, you stink. Period.

I'm sad that I allowed you to waste so much of my time and emotional energy. I'm throwing in the towel, giving up the fight to give you my money. I'm accepting the fact that you're just a soul-less corporation that doesn't have the capability of caring for the people who make your profits possible. But at least there are some decent humans there who tried.

Here's to Google Fiber coming to my town soon. We can only hope for the best.

Carlton Flowers
CenturyStink Victim

The LG V10 - How Does It Stack Up Against The Juggernauts?


For the past two weeks, I've been able to spend some quality time with the LG V10 smartphone via the AT&T 4G LTE network. I'm pretty impressed with this handset, and have a lot to report about it, and also how it stacks up against the big boys of Apple, Samsung & HTC.

First of all, this is definitely an improvement in the line of LG smartphones with close resemblance to the LG G2, G3, and G4 renditions. I think LG has done a fine job in keeping a general theme for look and feel of their flagship smartphone. But they took the V10 to the next level by powering up the G4 in a few key areas.

The LG V10 is built on a Qualcomm Sapdragon 808 1.82GHz CPU with an Adreno 418 GPU, plus a whopping 4Gb of RAM. What this means is you have the ability to run applications with speed, load superb video content, and multitask several apps without a problem. It's going to get the work done for you efficiently, and allow you to run the most cutting-edge apps Android has to offer. So that is definitely a big upgrade.

Another key upgrade from the G4 smartphone is the addition of the thumbprint scanner which is located on the power button of the LG V10. This keeps pace with current Samsung and Apple smartphones, and it gets a passing grade on functionality. Most of the tech blog sites are reporting an 80% success rate of the fingerprint scanner, and I'd say that's equal to or better than what we already see on the market. This keeps the V10 on the forefront of smartphone security.

Battery power gets a passing score, and might even be considered better than the competition with a 3000mAh removable battery. Samsung, Apple, and HTC have all gone the way of integrated batteries that take a technician to remove. If by chance you are unlucky enough to get a bad battery, you can easily replace it on the V10. But having a spare and the ability to swap out batteries is a huge plus in my book.

Internal storage has been bumped up, and I would even give the LG V10 an edge over the Samsung and Apple equivalents in this category because the basic storage amount is 64Gb. But you also have the ability to pop in an SD card for as much as 2 Terabytes of extra storage. Apple and Samsung chose to eliminate SD card storage, because it doesn't run as fast as internal memory. They didn't want people think their flagship smartphones were slow, on account of the SD memory. But LG has decided to allow the consumer to make that decision. That's a big win in my opinion.

Let's talk about cameras. The LG V10 has a 16mp camera with f/1.8 aperture, image stabilization, and a laser-guided auto focus feature. With the low F-Stop number of this camera, you can get some pretty amazing effects like "shallow depth of field", similar to what you could do with a professional DSLR camera. This is the same camera on the LG G4, but it's so good, it doesn't need much improvement at this point to still stand out in the field as superior.

On the flip side of the LG V10 you'll find the dual front facing 5mp cameras. One has 80 degrees, one wide angle at 120 degrees. This allows you to get 2 different choices of wide angle selfie shooting, and can also give you some options on 3D shooting. They take fantastic selfies, I might add!

Video recording on the V10 is monstrous. You get 4k 1080p video recording with slow motion capability, plus a bonus of "Cinematic mode" that slows the frame rate down to 24fps. There's a "Steady mode" for video stabilization, and it works better than Apple's advanced lens on the iPhone 6 Plus. You'll get tons of special effects, and one that I really like is "Snap Mode" where you tap to record 3-second video segments that get automatically stitched together into a 60-second video. Way too much fun if you're into video creation!

The form factor of the phone is passable, as long as you like the "phablet" size. It's as ergonomic as possible, with the super-grippy rubbery back plate. The sides are shiny metal which help to give it more of a premium feel than plastic alone, but it is a bit slick compared to the tacky feel of the back plate. The headphone jack is located in the bottom of the phone, which follows the new design standard set by Apple. I do like that. But what makes the phone unique, as usual, are the placement of the power button and volume rocker on the back of the phone.

The screen is enormous, with a 5.7" diagonal for the IPS LCD display that boasts Quad HD resolution, which amounts to a whopping 515 ppi pixel density. When you add the shortcut buttons bonus area on the top right of the screen, it's basically a 6" diagonal phone display. That is enormous, but the functionality of that extra notification screen is pretty awesome and useful. You get icons of recently used applications that you can launch, and it also serves as a notification bar. This feature is unique to the LG V10.

Flipping between applications using the top shortcut bar makes this phone easier to use for multitasking than any other phone I have owned. I also like the "Uninstall" and "Remove" boxes that appear when you long-press an icon. It's very straight-forward and clear. The shortcut bar Add to that the "double-tap-to-wake-up" screen feature and you've got a phone that you can jump-start quickly and easily.

One more thing regarding the display, the Swype keyboard is super smooth and slick on this smartphone making it very easy to compose messages. You can't quite operate the entire phone one-handed because of its size, and you certainly can't reach the shortcut bar one-handed, but it does seem to be accurate on producing the words you are attempting to enter.

My overall recommendation? I give it a green light, if you like the style of LG smartphones. For overall quality and feel, it is on the level of Samsung, Apple, and HTC. It's lighter than most, which for some means less "quality", but for others it means the phone won't break into a gazillion pieces every time you drop it to the ground. That's a definite advantage.

I don't see any major potential issues with this handset other than the size, but all of the manufacturers have gone to the phablet form factor. But for a phone, the calling experience was definitely good, with great sound quality over the AT&T network.

If you have a hankerin' for LG, you can't go wrong here. Head to your AT&T store and pick one of these up, and you probably won't regret it. Shout-out to AT&T St. Louis for test phone, I had a blast with it!

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru

Clock-Bomb Boy - Inventor, or Instigator? Why I'm Not Fooled, And What Most People Missed Entirely


David Hannum, in criticism of famous showman P.T. Barnum, once said "there's a sucker born every minute". If you're not familiar with that phrase, here's what it means: there are gobs of gullible people out there in the world, and we can expect that there always will be until the end of time. I think this phrase has major relevance to the continuing clock bomb drama.

Yeah, I know it's old news, but I can't stop myself from bringing up the infamous "clock bomb" boy after reading the latest news, and especially after reading a related story about another young "inventor" (I'll tell you more about him in a bit) from Africa. Oh, and you'll have to stay with me through this lengthy rant because I have a rather bold prediction for you at the end of the blog post, IF you make it that far!

But first, I'll rant.

I find it amazing that people fall for just about anything that the media throws in our faces that have dubious political motives. At best, this whole debacle about Ahmed Mohamed who "invented" a clock, brought it to school, was horribly racially profiled and mistreated, makes for a slightly odd story that induces a little head-scratching. But at worst case, I think we've been bamboozled by a family with a hidden political agenda.

ahmed muhammed's "clock invention"

ahmed muhammed's "clock invention"

I was going to keep my mouth shut about this for fear of being accused as a heartless, racially insensitive person. But then I got to thinking... I am a gadget expert, and I've got a slight amount of knowledge on electronics and inventions, more than the average Joe.

Okay, scratch that. I know more about gadgets and electronics than the majority of people reading this. I'm an expert. Yeah, I said it, and it's true. I have respect, knowledge, and credibility from industry to back that up. I even own an electronics repair business. So basically, I'm not some poor schlub who is just popping off a bunch of nonsense.

Let me get back on-topic. After looking at the so-called "homemade clock invention" and thoroughly researching this whole thing, I have come to my own expert conclusion that this is not an "invention" whatsoever. Furthermore, it doesn't even come close to anything resembling an electronic clock kit made for educational purposes.

Take a look at a picture to the right if you want to see what "making" an electronic clock would actually look like if you were an honest person.

What this kid threw together is a disassembled consumer-grade jumbo clock put in a case. He gave it a sort of theatrical effect, with all the wires sprawling about, making it look like you really made something complex.

Electronic clock kit for hobbyists

Electronic clock kit for hobbyists

Trust me, I know a swindle when I see one. When I was in the 4th grade, I took apart a radio and a microphone, threw it in a box, taped it up & reorganized it all, and tricked half of my classmates into thinking I had "invented" a working CB radio.

I could drone on for pages about why this mess of a thing that looks like an IED bomb is a complete and utter fake, but let's move on. What made me suspicious from day one was the fact that it seemed like it was a political stunt thrown together to make a point, which was orchestrated by his father. The more I dug in and researched this, the more the entire story stank to the high heavens.

While I was still scratching my head early on, suspicious about the validity of this entire ordeal, Mark Zuckerberg, Hillary Clinton, and President Barack Obama had already jumped on the bandwagon in defending Ahmed and accusing the school of racial profiling. Sadly, the school system and the police did not handle the incident properly, and that only fueled the false accusations of profiling. Combine that with high-profile opportunists jumping to conclusions, and you have a recipe for a big mess.

I guess nobody found it necessary to talk about the fact that this kid's father is/was behind a Facebook page that believes the 9/11 tragedy was a US-sponsored hoax to justify launching a war against Islam around the world. Nor did they think it was necessary to properly vet this "home-made clock invention" before hyping this kid's scientific and engineering capabilities that attracted the attention of the likes of MIT, the founder of Facebook, and the leader of the free world.

They blindly believed he was just an innocent "inventor" who was victimized by injustice, but I smelled a rat. One look at his father's background should have been enough to tell anyone that this boy was more than likely a pawn of his father, who appears to be an instigator looking for political gain. You can research that on your own, I'm not here to prove that one way or another.

But enough of that.

Before you completely discount everything I've said, I'll go so far as to give the Ahmed supporters the benefit of the doubt and call this miracle invention a valid "show-and-tell" science experiment gone wrong. That being said, let's expose the ridiculousness of this by putting this into proper perspective. Let's shine a light on another young 13-year-old minority from Sierra Leone, and then we'll draw some comparisons.

Meet Kelvin Doe, a real-life inventor who made something that actually helps the people in his community in a major way. This kid created batteries and generators that were made from household items and things he recovered from trash bins. His community suffers from numerous lengthy power outages, and his inventions provide portable light and electricity from a small generator that powers a radio broadcaster. He attracted the attention of MIT just like Ahmed, and was invited to visit the US and participate in the "Visiting Practitioner's Program" as a result.

When you sit these 2 young boys side-by-side and take a good hard look, it makes this entire drama even more ridiculous. Seems to me that intelligent people in this country no longer know what an "inventor" even is. I say the young and brilliant Kelvin Doe is the real inventor. That's where we should be putting our attention, and offering encouragement for a future engineer and leader.

All the while, here we sit raising a ruckus over this clock-bomb boy who made a useless "invention" that has absolutely no known benefit to mankind. Last time I checked, we have already discovered clocks here in America. You can get 'em at the dollar store. Even if you did want to "make" a clock, the kits you can pick up in a local Radio Shack clearly show you what it really looks like when you put one together from scratch.

Let me bring this home before you get bored. The worst part of this situation is the negative "boy-crying-wolf" blow-back that will likely result for minorities in this country. This whole mess will cause people to turn a deaf ear on REAL circumstances of racial profiling when they DO legitimately happen. I'm telling you this from experience.

Many people close to me know that I have over 20 years of being a strong proponent of diversity in the workplace. I've been invited to speak at conferences and events, and I have provided numerous training sessions as a paid consultant. So don't take this next short story the wrong way...

I asked a couple of very close friends of mine who I work with about this story. Both of them were born and raised in Arab countries, are practicing Muslims, and have families. I wanted to know what they thought about the clock bomb drama. My question to them was, "would you send your kid to school with something like this for a science project"?

Their answer: "No"

I asked why, and both of my dear friends told me the same thing: common sense dictates that an Arab student can't go to school with something that resembles a bomb, because they will be immediately racially profiled and cause a panic. Both said they wouldn't jeopardize their kids' safety by letting them do something this stupid.

While everyone sits around continuing to debate whether or not this kid and his family are victims racial profiling of Arabs, we've all taken a vacation from common sense. Thanks to political correctness, we have decided to avoid the hideously obvious - this crap he threw together wasn't an invention worthy of even a D grade.

Sadly, we live in a world of racial biases and profiling. The shocking fact is, we ALL harbor racial biases, whether we are Black, White, Brown, or Yellow. It's a human condition rooted in survival and protection mechanisms. It's scientific.

As Mr. Obama would say, "let's be clear". Manipulating people's primal fear triggers for gain is playing with fire, and it's wrong. It's not the way to make a point, and it won't force the world into changing its wrongful ways of thinking.

My soapbox is done. If you've made it this far, you will now be rewarded with my bold prediction!

Ahmed's trip to the White House on October 19th will be canceled before it happens. President Barack Obama won't suffer the embarrassment over it. Watch for developments after new information starts to unfold about Ahmed's family and their true intentions. Could I be wrong? We'll see.

Carlton Flowers
"Instigator of Good Discussions"

iPhone 5 Bulging Battery - A Real Safety Hazard To Watch


December 13, 2018 Update

Due to the popularity of this post and the continued relevance of the issue, I’m going to be providing ongoing updates to the bulging battery issue.

This is the 2nd most popular article I have ever written, and it continues to draw a significant amount of traffic to my blog on a daily basis. The reason is, bulging iPhone batteries is still a safety issue.

The iPhone 5 saw a significant jump in bulging battery failure, and the reason was due to the increase in size and the flattening out of the phone’s design. It is also due to the increase in the size and power of the lithium battery that powered the newer model.

But due to smartphones being developed with more powerful processors, higher resolution power-sucking LCD displays, bigger size, and even flatter form factors, battery failures have continued to be an issue to the current date. It is still as important as ever to watch the signs of battery failure to avoid permanent damage to your iPhone.

All iPhone models from the 6S to the current X series are still susceptible to battery failure, and require replacement in as little as a year depending on how the phone is used and properly cared for. That is why I suggest that you pay close attention to the following signs that will let you know it is time to see a qualified iPhone repair shop like my own in order to have the battery replaced.

The following will cover all of the critical signs that you need to look out for in order to prevent irreversible damage to your phone, and even injury from an exploding or combusting battery.

Sign #1 - Your Phone Often Overheats

If you notice that your phone warms rapidly when you are running applications that draw a lot of power, it is definitely possible that you are dealing with a damaged battery. The battery is comprised of several super-thin layers of lithium and insulators, and when you drop or bend your phone, the integrity of the layers can be compromised.

When the layers are damaged, the battery will will short out, causing electricity to find a quicker pathway through the battery. You’ll experience a faster-than-normal battery drain, and this is what causes the buildup of heat. Use your judgment and take note of the temperature of your phone compared to when you first started using it, and this will give you a clear clue to possible damage developing inside of the battery.

Sign #2 - Your Battery Power Drops In Chunks

Watch closely for how smoothly your power drops from your battery indicator on the screen. It should drop evenly, and only one percentage at a time. If you power your phone on and it is showing 100%, and within minutes it drops to 80% or less, or if it moves evenly down to 50% and then drops straight down to 20%, for example, this is an indication of a short.

Significant jumps point to the fact that your battery is draining improperly. When your iPhone drops in entire chunks at a time, that means you have damage to the lithium layers within the battery. The problem will only get worse, and it will eventually start showing the physical evidence explained in Sign #2. Get your battery replaced before this happens!

Sign #3 - Your Battery Is Bulging

After the lithium layers have been compromised and left unattended over a period of time, it will start to bulge out. This is a dangerous situation that requires immediate attention. Your clue that you have a bulging battery will be discoloration in the center section of the screen, and you will possibly even see the screen bulging out on the sides of the phone.

In my experience of doing repairs, I have seen screens similar to what is pictured above where there is a visible gap between the LCD assembly and the sides of the frame. This means you only have a short amount of time before the battery explodes inside the phone, or catches on fire.

I have seen iPhone logic boards burned out, which spells disaster for your smartphone. There is no fix once you have damaged the logic board, so it is imperative that you have the battery replaced when you see the physical results of the bulging damaged battery.

When pulling a bulging battery from an iPhone for replacement, I have had the experience of seeing the battery actually smoke, and burst into flame when it is bent while extracting it from the frame. It’s not a fun situation, and I have suffered burned fingers as a result. Take my word for it, you don’t want to wait that long before addressing the problem.


As iPhone models continue to evolve, they will require more power, hence bigger batteries. And while everyone wants bigger screens and flatter phones, the problem will only persist. Keep your eyes on your phone, because it is truly a sad experience to see an iPhone owner lose all of their data when a phone sets on fire because the repair was put off to the last possible minute.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of your precious pictures that you have saved over the years. So my advice to iPhone users is to ALWAYS back up your data to the cloud, and pay close attention to the health of your phone. It is also important to realize that dropping or bending your phone will accelerate the the shortening of your battery’s life, so take extreme care with how you handle your phone.

Thanks for checking out this post, and I’m super grateful for all of my loyal blog followers. Please take a minute to check out my cool offers to help support the cost of continuing the helpful updates, and post your comments below if you have an interesting experience to share about your phone’s battery!

The original post from 2015 follows after the affiliate product link below. Thanks again for reading!


Okay folks, pay attention closely if you own an iPhone 5, 5C, or 5S. The life of your phone could depend on it.

Tonight, I had the pleasure of fixing a gentleman's iPhone 5 that had a situation where the screen was popping up. Plus, when pressing your finger on the front glass, you could see discoloration on the LCD in a vertical area.

At first, I thought he just had a defective screen assembly where the glass separates from the plastic and metal brackets. But the owner also told me that he had a bad battery, and believed it was bulging and forcing the display out from the metal phone frame.

I asked him if the battery was doing strange things, like discharging rapidly, or charging erratically. He said no, the charge was doing fine, but it was only the problem of battery bulge. I wouldn't have believed it until I saw it.

Just as you seen the in picture, his phone was coming apart on the top end of the screen, which made it extremely difficult for me to remove the LCD assembly from the metal frame. It took quite a while for me to carefully pry up the screen without permanently damaging the LCD.

I told him that it was a 50/50 shot at getting this screen removed and having it go back in without any problems, but we decided to trudge forward. After much to do, I successfully got the screen removed from the frame.

Lo and behold, the battery inside the phone was bulging, just as he described. What causes this to happen is that the layers of lithium inside the battery that are separated by a thin film find a way to short circuit, thus making the battery bulge.

The battery bulging will force the screen assembly out of the frame, and could end up in permanent damage to the LCD. But worse than that, the battery can bulge to the point that it eventually explodes, or in rare cases, catches on fire.

I learned a good lesson on just how dangerous dealing with lithium ion iPhone batteries can be a couple of years ago when I hastily removed an iPhone 4S battery from a frame. Using a metal spudger, I forced the battery out quickly, causing it to bend. That bending caused the thin layers of insulation between the lithium layers to break down, short-circuiting the battery.

I grabbed the battery with my fingers to pry it out after bending it with the spudger, and noticed an acutely painful sensation in my finger. After I snatched my hand away from the battery, a small orange ember appeared, and then a flame shot out from the battery.

Keeping my burned finger in a bowl of ice half the night to cool the barbecue sensation taught me a fine lesson about respecting lithium batteries, and how dangerous they can be. That's why I knew to be super careful when I removed the screen from this iPhone 5 only to discover a bulged battery that needed to come out.

The Apple Corporation did a massive recall on the iPhone 5 for defective batteries. But they left half the defective phones out in the wild, denying a great percentage of people a repair covered under warranty. So they are still out there.

If you notice your screen popping up, know that this is a potentially serious issue that you should have checked out immediately. And don't try to remedy it yourself unless you are willing to potentially tear up your phone, burn your fingers, have your battery explode.

My advice? Leave it up to the experts, and get it fixed as soon as you notice the symptoms!

Carlton Flowers
Gadget Guru Safety Advisor

Is Stopping "Illegal Immigration" Immoral, And Is Standing Up For It Illogical?


I don't honestly understand what is it that people have against an immigration policy similar to what presidential candidate Donald Trump is proposing. And while people are fussing and fighting about this, there's a big fat elephant sitting in the middle of the room.

We'll get to that elephant in a bit. But for now, let's talk about whether or not stopping illegal immigration is an immoral act, or if standing up for its allowance is llogical.

It seems that many believe "shutting down the borders" to prevent illegal immigration is immoral. And I've noticed that people seem to equate illegal immigration with coming into the country by legal means. Doesn't make any sense to me.

We do care about these downtrodden people who are looking for opportunity, and we want to help them only through legal means. This is hardly immoral. I for one am not a proponent for closing the doors completely and halting all immigration. But the pro illegal immigration mob sure does want to lump people like me in with those who are strict isolationists.

As far as I can tell, people like Donald Trump are pro-immigration, but they also want it to happen through legal means. They want people to have the freedom to enter the country to chase opportunity, but they prefer that immigrants register properly and become a part of the system.

I have noticed a double standard, however. People from certain countries seem to have a lot more trouble coming into this country, even by legal means. Unless they have an endless supply of money for legal assistance, they can't get in.

For example, I have a friend who married a woman from an Eastern Block country, and even through marriage they were not able to obtain a Visa. She was deported, and they spent piles of money on attorneys fighting for her case to allow her back into the country.

But where are all of the anti-Trumpers in cases like this? Why are they fighting so hard against the halting of illegal immigration when the people who are trying desperately to come here by legal means are having so much difficulty?

Seems to me they should put their energy here instead of wasting it on raising a ruckus against Trump and his immigration policy ideas.

Some say that standing against illegal immigration is immoral or somehow racially biased. But here's the big fat elephant standing in the middle of the room that nobody seems to notice:

These people are supporting breaking and circumventing the law rather than abiding by the rules and going about things legally.

If you really were 'for' the people who come here illegally, you would fight to educate and assist them in becoming legitimate residents instead of sneaking in unaccounted for. You would fight to have them do their fair share and pay in to the system that supports people in need.

I am against allowing illegal immigration, for obvious reasons. Every citizen in this country should be, if they are honest law abiding people who want order and fairness.

To me, fighting those who hold this stance against stopping illegal immigration is like fighting for people's right to shoot, rob, steal, shoplift, and avoid paying taxes. If you live in this country and benefit from law and order, it seems a little backwards that you would abandon that stance when it comes to immigration. That is completely illogical.

I have several good friends from south of the border who live here, work here, and are raising their families. They are some of the hardest workers on the planet, and are experts in their field of trade.

All of them are here legally, and they abide by the rules of law to keep their status legitimate. I think it is a slap in their face and an insult for us to say that we should support those who want to cut corners and come here without going through the proper channels, as they did.

Once you cut through the smoke and mirrors of politics, you clearly see that taking up a cause for an illegal activity just makes no sense at all. But this is the day and age we live in.

Carlton Flowers
Political Pot Stirrer

The Confederate Flag Debate - A Balanced View


The tragic shooting of 9 Blacks at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston South Carolina has brought a century-and-a-half debate over the Confederate battle flag to an ugly head. Lines have been drawn in the sand, and there doesn't seem to be much agreement amongst the opposing sides of the issue.

I have long kept silent about this divisive topic, and honestly have not had a dog in this fight. Recent events have forced me to take a long look at this, and I have come to a conclusion on where I stand. But before I express my opinion, I will say that I have sincere hopes of bringing understanding to both camps, rather than to simply throw more gasoline on the fire. That is my goal.

The core of the conflict lies in the fact that the two camps have strongly divergent views on what the Confederate flag, or "Dixie" flag, actually stands for. Surprisingly, this divergence doesn't run purely along political or racial lines, but some generalizations can be made about those for and against the Confederate flag.

Some see the flag as a symbol of Southern culture and pride, of state's rights, and a remembrance of ancestors who sacrificed their lives as soldiers in the Civil War defending their way of life in the south. They view the flag in a completely positive light, as something that invokes warm childhood memories of being raised in Dixie land. It's wholesome Southern family heritage. It's "buckwheat cakes and injun batter", as the traditional song celebrates, to "live and die in Dixie".

To others, the the Confederate flag paints a completely different picture. It is one of racial strife, division, and generations of pain and suffering. It invokes memories of the institution of slavery, and memories of the "Rebels" who defended the Jim Crow laws that remained in force through 1965 in the South. What comes to mind is the connection to White Supremacy, the Ku Klux Klan, hate groups, intimidation, and the days of institutionalized racial oppression backed up by state laws.

It's a shock that these two viewpoints could even be describing the same subject, the Confederate flag. And it doesn't appear that those who are on the extreme end of either side of the fence will ever be able to come to the middle ground to see this issue from each other's viewpoint.

To those that hold fast to the Confederate flag, they feel that their allegiance makes a statement for standing up against a federal government gone out of control, steamrolling over the intent of the Constitution in protecting state's rights. They feel a sense of unfair treatment and betrayal among those who would rather define and assign negative attributes to the flag because of its use by hate groups, rather than to honor their right to define it as wholesome and harmless.

But here's where it "all goes south" for the Confederate historians who cannot seem to defend their wholesome family-friendly constitutional-based definition of what the Rebel flag stands for...

The staunch support of the flag has deep emotional roots. That emotion is passionate, and it manifested in the actions of many supporters of the anti-authority "Rebel" mindset after the Civil War. Although the current widely-used Rebel flag was only one of many battle flags used by several regimens of the Confederate army, the Dixie battle flag was the only one widely used that survived until today.

Sadly, one of the most recognizable groups in history that used the symbolic Rebel flag were the ghosts of the fallen soldiers of the Confederate army, the Ku Klux Klan. It was so widely used by the Klan while terrorizing freed Blacks in the South that it's very sight would invoke instant and immediate fear. It often flew during cross burnings, lynchings, gang rapes, and burning of homes.

Literally hundreds of radical White supremacist hate groups overwhelmingly gravitated towards the use of the flag because of its popularity. It continued on through the time of the Civil Rights movement, where we saw it used as the primary symbol for the State's Rights Democratic Party ("Dixiecrats") led by Strom Thurmond as they battled the Democratic party in opposing the Civil Rights platform. In demonstration after demonstration, we sat and watched as myriads of Dixie flags waved in the hands of those who passionately fought against desegregation and equal rights for all human beings.

But as grotesque and hideous as this part of our history may be, those who support the Confederate flag feel that their symbol has been hijacked by the insidious people who don't share their core values. They see it as a "redefining" of what their flag stood for, much in the same way that the well-meaning LGBT community has adopted the use of the rainbow to symbolize their community and culture. They strongly believe that similar symbols mean different things to different groups of people.

In order to help those that are riled up about the "real" meaning of the Rebel flag, let me inject my own personal experience. It might surprise you.

Part of me sees the Rebel flag in the light of "The Dukes of Hazzard". It's the General Lee, a symbol of the South, something that connects me to my roots deep down in Mississippi and Louisiana. Growing up, what kid didn't have a toy General Lee stock car? I know I did. To this day, I want to restore an old Charger and create my very own "General" and show it off to the world.

My Civil War enthusiast side allows me to be able to sit down and debate State's Rights and the Constitution with fellow historians who display the Dixie flag in their homes, on their trucks, and on their clothing. I'm drawn to Civil War reenactments, museums, and historic sites that display both Old Glory and the Rebel flag and it doesn't invoke any negative feelings.

But another part of me remembers those who don't share those historic views...

Growing up in a rural environment during the 70's and 80's, I experienced things that you would think only could have occurred in Selma Alabama during the 60's. I've been spit on, harassed, roughed up, had rocks hurled at me, called every racial epithet in the dictionary, and even endured hearing the phrase "go back to Africa with your people" more than I could count or remember.

A common thread among the people who felt it necessary to hurl these insults and dole out this treatment while I grew up? The Rebel flag. It was thrown in my face with the intent of intimidating me and striking fear in my heart. This was so common that my siblings and I knew that we had better have our guard up when we found ourselves in the midst of pickup trucks & drunken imbeciles donning rebel flags and cowboy hats.

This is why I can see both sides of the story, and why I will admit that the Dixie flag does mean strikingly different things to different people. But I do have a firm stance on what I believe to be the most fair compromise that we can all live by...

Regarding South Carolina and other states that prominently display the Rebel flag, I believe the opponents have a valid case in arguing against flying it on the state capitol property. While I don't believe the flag should be banned by any means, it shouldn't stand in the way of the US flag ever.

The Dixie flag flying on state capitol buildings is still a symbol of the rebellion. 150 years have passed, and we need to realize that the Confederacy lost the war. Whether it be the Stars & Bars or the Rebel flag, the South lost the right to fly the flag over a government institution.

Be that as it may, I believe the overreaction among retailers in pulling all merchandise bearing the Confederate flag is silly. Everyone is overreacting. And it's funny how they didn't think about this until now. All of the sudden, they want to "protect" all of their dear customers from the possibility of being offended. It's very hypocritical.

Sadly, this chain reaction could open up the doors for any and every group to protest the symbols of anything they find offensive. It's a slippery slope, and the precedence now set could turn against people's freedom to express their unique identity in a country that is a major melting pot. It could be open season on all cultural symbols in the near future.

The answer to the Confederate flag conundrum isn't clear. But there is one clear thing we all need to do: start respecting each others right to have differing opinions, and end the fighting. Here's my advice to both camps, and it is my sincere hope that it brings us all back together:

Confederates - While you might have the most sincere intentions in mind, realize that a percentage of people will always have an immediate unconscious negative reaction to the Rebel flag, thanks to the very vocal hate groups who made it so popular. We may never successfully talk people into mentally separating the Rebel flag from the Ku Klux Klan after they have paraded it around for 150 years, and still continue to use it today. You can stand up for your values, but keep reaching out in kindness to those who misunderstand why you hold the Rebel flag so dearly to your heart.

Yankees - Avoid broadly stereotyping everyone you see with a Rebel flag. Realize that it is possible that some people hold no racial malice in their hearts. Admit the possibility that some really do see the flag as a symbol of state's rights, southern culture, and their family upbringing. Yes, we recognize the fact that the Ku Klux Klan is still pushing the Rebel flag in our faces while they spew their racial hatred in the media... but let's take a deep breath and evaluate each situation before we pass immediate judgement on those we see sporting the Rebel flag, and give them a chance before we write them off as card-carrying pro-slavery Klan advocates.

All - Settle down, stop fighting, quit with the bickering, and realize that there are far more important things we need to be expending our emotional energy on. While we are senselessly fighting over a historic battle flag, there are people in the world getting their heads sawed off in the name of religion. Those are REAL problems. Keep it in perspective.

In the immortal words of Rodney King, "why can't we... why can't we all just get along?"

Carlton Flowers
Rodney King Flag Advocate


As time goes on, it seems that cellular service is getting worse and worse. Is this just a passing phase, or are we in the midst of a cellular service choke down?

Three years ago, the tech blog prognosticators predicted a major bottleneck in cellular service due to increasing demand.  The increase was said to be fueled by the big shift towards mobile internet use, thanks to faster 4G LTE speeds being served up by the big telecoms.

I'll be the first to admit that I didn't believe it. The reason? Because we had the same failed predictions regarding internet service back in the days of linear dialup modems.

Once dialup modems "topped out" at 56kbps of data transfer speed, the doom and gloom said that they would no possible way to jam data through the telephone network any faster. 

Then came broadband.

Someone figured out a way to cram a lot for data through the same old network by using a different frequency which was above the audio range of human ears. This made it possible talk on the phone and surf the Internet at high speed at the same time!

Nobody ever thought such a thing would be possible, but that was just the beginning. coaxial table and fiber optic table later took it to the extreme.

That being said, I'll show you how that relates to the current topic. 

We are on the front end of the same type of mess, but with the cellular network. Now that the majority of people are using their smartphones to access the Internet rather than laptops or desktop computers, there has never been more demand put on the cellular network than the present time. 

While the log jam was predicted years app, I was of the belief that it would never come to a critical head before done new fancy technological breakthrough solved the problem.

I was partially right. 

After the 3G high speed cellular network was built about 4 years ago,   the "HSPA+ enhanced" days service brought us speeds upwards of 10Mbps on our smartphones. But over the next year, that dropped down to about 1.5Mbps.

The reason? Too many people flooded the network with their smartphones sitting the net like never before, and the system couldn't handle it.

It's the same effect you get when you're at a concert or large gathering, and you notice that your cellular service drops off to zero and doesn't return to normal until the crowd disperses.

Well folks, right now we are hitting rock concert levels in the current 4G LTE network. What started off as an unmitigated data speedway where we had blazing downloads as fast as 50Mbps has now turned into a log jam of snail data traffic that you're lucky to get 1Mbps out of on a good day.

On the one hand, I'll say that I believe the prognosticators on what they said about the "dead end" of the cellular network. But I don't believe this will be the dead end overall.

We're smack dab in the middle of a paradigm shift. More and more people are ditching desktops for smartphones each and every day, and we've already hit critical mass.

But one thing I have learned from history when it comes to the advancement technology is that the very minute the "experts"   say that we have reached the limit, we are blindsided by a new quantum leap inducing breakthrough that catapults us into the future.

My prediction for our current saturated overused overwhelmed cellular network? The problem will fuel technological advancement, and we are more than likely on the brink of our next quantum leap in data transfer. And when it happens, it well be bigger, faster, and more amazing than anything we can even imagine.

Carlton Flowers

Gadget Oracle





Rapid Smartphone Battery Drain - A Source You Probably Didn't Consider


Have you ever sat and watched your smartphone drain rapidly before your eyes, even while plugged into a charger? There is a hidden but common reason many people are experiencing this frustrating situation.

While sitting at work, I have noticed on several occasions that my smartphone will start draining the juice faster than a soft orange in a Jack LaLane juicing machine. It's the most frustrating and mind-boggling thing that I've experienced with my Galaxy Note 3, and up until now, I had no idea what was really happening.

I assumed that I either had a serious malfunction with my smartphone, or an AC charger adapter that had shot craps. I couldn't imagine how or why my smartphone could take a complete nosedive right before my eyes while it was plugged up and should be charging.

The only solution to this problem was turning off the phone, and leaving it on the charger for an hour or two in order to slowly reverse the process and start recovering the charge. And this seemed to happen when I needed to use my smartphone the most.

While talking to a friend and complaining about this mysterious rapid battery drain, my good friend and fellow gadget enthusiast Tim Largent clued me in to what the source of this unknown drain actually was. He hit the nail on the head, and I sat in amazement, wondering why I never knew this little known fact.

Where I work, there seems to be a serious problem with reception in the last few months on my network. I normally have a strong signal, and receive a full 4 bars or more of 4G LTE service. But not lately...

What Tim explained to me is the fact that smartphones will constantly cycle in search mode when they cannot connect with a strong signal from a tower. If you are in a dead spot or area with a weak signal, your smartphone will search for a better signal until it finds one.

With the network problem we are having in our area, many others have experienced this rapid battery drain, and this is exactly the source of the problem. While the smartphone is searching for that stronger signal, it demands a huge amount of power resources.

This is why my phone would drain faster than it would charge, while plugged into a charger, until the phone would go completely dead. But it wasn't happening every day, only on days where there seemed to be a big problem with the carrier network.

If you are in a known area that has a weak or intermittent signal, leaving your phone powered on to fervently search for a better signal will drain your battery dead so fast that you can watch the power meter decrease right before your eyes.

The only way to avoid this is to turn the phone off, or turn off your smartphone's radio by putting it into Airplane mode when you know you are in a problem location. There is no other solution, other than calling your carrier to inform them of a possible technical problem with your service.

So before you take a hammer to your phone or chunk the charger out the window or into the nearest trash receptacle, keep this in mind. It's probably not your smartphone OR your charger. It could be an issue that is out of your hands.

Be informed, my fellow smartphone addicts!

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru

A Warning to Naked iPhone 6 Plus Owners


So you bought that amazing Apple iPhone 6 Plus, and you just love the beauty of the form factor, and how gorgeous it looks without a case? Good luck. Enjoy your happiness while it lasts. Because when you break that lovely new Apple device, you're gonna be depressed.

Since its release, I have had to experience the extreme displeasure of telling people who bring broken iPhone 6 Plus smartphones to my shop exactly how much financial damage they are in for. I sincerely hate to them coming, and I don't enjoy being the bearer of horrible news.

Right now, breaking your iPhone 6 will set you back about $100 for a new LCD/digitizer assembly, and $60 labor for the installation (if you come to my shop, Gadget Gurus). But if you own the Godzilla-sized iPhone 6 Plus and jack up your screen, you are going to have to dig really deep in your pocket to come up with $350 for the LCD/digitizer assembly, plus the $60 labor.

People taking a chance on using their iPhone 6 Plus in the nude are playing financial Russian roulette. My advice to anyone who owns one of these devices is to leave it in the box until you have a shock-proof case (like an Otterbox or equal) and a tempered glass hard screen protector ready to install on it.

What most people don't understand is that they are packing a powerful $1,000 laptop computer in their pocket with no keyboard and a super expensive touch screen. If you purchased a laptop for that price, you certainly wouldn't be carrying it around using it while walking, running, or sitting on the toilet (yes, I said that).

But in this day and age of rapid technological change, people have been slowly boiled like the frog in the pot. They aware the change that has taken place. These super expensive new smartphones are very small and sleek, but they have evolved so quickly, people don't realize today how intricate and expensive they are.

If you're gonna drop the bucks (or the long-term contract) for that fancy decipherin' machine, get it double-protected. Put the shock-proof 2-piece case on it, and get the tempered glass protection. It's worth every penny.

That doesn't mean you'll be 100% safe from every drop. I have people bringing me shattered iPhones in Otterboxes quite often. If you drop it just right, you can still jack up the screen or LCD. But you WILL at least increase your chances of saving your phone after a drop if you have it double-protected.

You do have one other option if you break your iPhone 6 Plus. You can send it in to Apple, or take it to an Apple store IF you have one in your city, and they will replace the LCD/digitizer for $129. That's an incredible deal, but there's no guarantee that you'll get it, or how long they will offer that price.

I believe Apple is subsidizing the true cost of the LCD replacement, at least until the wholesale prices come down on the after-market parts. If they didn't do this, there would be a lot of disgruntled iPhone 6 Plus owners out there. Apple corporation doesn't like letting things like this get out of control, so this is probably a preemptive move.

In due time, the price for the after-market LCD/digitizer assemblies will come down. But for now, don't take any chances on using your iPhone 6 Plus in the nude!

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru


The Truth About Customer Service With AT&T - Unbiased Testimony


I've heard a ton of opinions about AT&T Wireless coverage, the devices, and their customer service. There are as many opinions out there as there are people. I am often asked what I think of the various carriers, because of my Gadget Gurus business and my superior geek status.

Well I've been a customer since 2006, so I believe I have put in the time to be able to give you the straight no-fluff evaluation. But we will focus this post to one facet of business: customer service

As you can see in the picture, I am proud to officially announce to my esteemed audience that AT&T has received the first ever "Carlton Award - Customer Service Champion" designation from The Carlton Zone! I'll explain why...

The first reason emanates from the the excellent level of customer service on the toll free phone line. I have yet to have one bad experience with customer service agents at the AT&T call centers. I have found them to be courteous, happy to speak with me, and very accommodating when dealing with my situations of need. I can't tell you how many other service companies have dropped the ball in this area. But this is an area that AT&T as excelled in. It must be a company philosophy.

A second reason results from where AT&T excels on a more personal level. Evidence can be found in the experiences I have had at the local corporate store in Jefferson City, Missouri. A small percentage of people say that they don't like the service at the local store. I'm not sure I understand what it is that they are looking for that would spark such a reaction, because I have clearly had only the best experiences when visiting the for any reason.

Our local store stays very busy on a constant basis, and the staff are often swamped with customers. But the way that they handle the load is worthy praise. When I walk in the door, I am greeted with a smile, and an agent immediately logs me into the queue. I am told how long I can expect to wait to see an agent, and then I'm turned loose to "play" with all the devices on display.

The staff has always been pleasant, very helpful, and willing to go the extra mile to see to it that my needs are met. But it's not just about business. After each experience at the corporate store, I feel that I have gained a friend (or two) after my visit.

These are the main two fronts that any carrier will gain or lose ground in customer service, and AT&T has nailed it on both fronts for me. And for those who don't agree with me, let's just say that there are a few other slightly credible sources who would agree... like the J.D. Power 2015 Wireless Customer Care Study. Go ahead, click the link and read it for yourself.

Oh and hey, sorry about "Bogart-ing" your logo, J.D. Power. It was just a perfect fit for The Carlton Award - Customer Service Champion designation to AT&T. By all means, if you want to copy some of my amazing graphics from the blog site, please borrow one for payback. I'll understand!

Carlton Flowers
THE Gadget Guru


Blogging From Mobile Devices - Key To Staying Current?

I am writing this blog post from an iPad 2, one of several mobile devices that I own. I'm always in search of new ways to publish content to my blog. Why? 

Because l am so busy.

As the owner of five businesses and a full time engineering job, I don't always have access to my main computer work station or my laptop. So I've been hunting for quick and easy ways to blog on the go as inspiration hits me.

I've tried uploading content from my smartphone, but it just isn't practical. It's too much of a pain typing, and getting the format right. But the iPad could be the answer to my problem! 

I'm not using an external keyboard, just typing on the screen which seems to be easier. If this works out, I might settle in with the iPad as my primary mobile device for blogging. 

The advantages to mobile blogging Make it worth the effort. 

First off, you have the ability to get that cutting edge blog post written at the moment of inspiration. If you're like me, you'll end up with a five mile long list of blog topics to write in the future if you don't knock them out immediately. 

Secondly, you are able to keep your site full of content and attracting traffic. Every post doesn't have to be richly laden with graphics and video. Sometimes it's just the written content that provides information or a solution to what people are searching for. 

Lastly, it keeps you in the flow of writing, and thus keeps you from going through bouts of writers block. Once you get into the habit of writing every day, you lessen your chances of getting stuck.

Do you blog from a mobile platform, or do you prefer to stick to writing from your laptop or desktop computer? Share your thoughts and let me know! 

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru

Microsoft & Nokia Reach Market Dominance In 2015... Or Not


A few years ago, I was on the bandwagon of belief when all of the tech pundits made bold predictions that Nokia & Microsoft would reach total market dominance over Android & Apple by the year 2015. What happened?

We all bought the story because of the reasoning, that Nokia once dominated the world of feature phones, and that Microsoft dominated the world of operating systems. Windows Mobile plus Nokia hardware was supposed to equal unparalleled success in the smartphone market.

But what happened?

All of the cards foretold of fortunes to be made by these two tech juggernauts, and the planets were supposedly lined up to create the stage for the impending takeover of the smartphone world. But now that we have reached 2015, where is Microsoft and Nokia in the grand scheme of things?

Apple continues to dominate with the new iPhone 6 and 6+, with the new iOS 8 platform. And Samsung continues to squash the Android market with its flagship Galaxy products, powered by Android KitKat. But our "match made in heaven" comprised of Microsoft and Nokia seems to be lagging far behind, as they always have.

I thought Microsoft and Nokia had a great start with the Lumia 920 smartphone, and all of the later versions of their device. The operating system was supposed to be super easy to use, and a much better match for those of us using Windows based PCs. I thought I would be a prime target for converting to Windows on my smartphone, since I use a PC and a laptop every day.

But it never happened. I've tested and tried the Nokia devices using the Windows Phone platform. While I did find it easy to use, I worried about not having the ability to find all of my most favorite apps under their system. When I switched from Apple to Android in 2012, I was able to download about 80% of my most used apps on the Android platform.

I'm hard-pressed to believe that Windows will capture the attention of developers around the world and motivate them to bring all of my favorite apps to the Windows Phone market. It hasn't happened yet, and I don't have much confidence believing it will in the near future.

While the Windows-based Nokia devices are super slick and durable, I have found them to be a total pain-in-the-derrier when it comes to servicing and repairing the hardware. As the owner of a smartphone repair shop, I have learned to send Nokia smartphone owners to my competitors down the street. Cracked screen? Busted LCD panel? Take it somewhere else, because it's not worth the headache.

That might be part of the reason why Nokia failed to dominate the market as predicted. It might just be that Microsoft and Nokia never became "cool". Whether their devices and operating system functionality is great, or a pile of crap, nothing matters until their products become a "thing".

The smartphone market is like the fashion industry. Until Microsoft and Nokia become "cool" in the minds of consumers, they will never hit critical mass and dominate the market. I would love to see a competitor break into the Apple/Android monopoly, but I don't believe we will witness such an even for a few years if anything.

In the meantime, It's Samsung & Android for me on the smartphone front, Apple's iPad for my tablet, and my Windows-based custom PC for my desktop.

What do you think the reasons are behind the failure of Microsoft and Nokia to fulfill the predictions of the past? I'd sure like to hear your opinion!

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru