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

MY URGENT ADVICE FOR SMARTPHONE BUYERS IN 2016

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

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE GALAXY NOTE 7 RECALL

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

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE BUYING THE GALAXY S7 EDGE

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

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

LG V10 KEEPS UP A GOOD TRADITION AND TAKES IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL

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



iPhone 5 Bulging Battery - A Real Safety Hazard To Watch

WHAT A BAD BATTERY CAN DO TO YOUR BELOVED IPHONE

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

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

THE HIDDEN REASON YOUR SMARTPHONE EXPERIENCES RAPID DRAIN

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

WHAT ALL IPHONE 6 PLUS OWNERS URGENTLY NEED TO KNOW

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

AT&T CUSTOMER SERVICE GETS THE REAL REVIEW FROM THE ZONE

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

 

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

BOLD PREDICTIONS FIZZLE AS 2015 COMES TO FRUITION

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

iPhone 6 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - This Will Shut You Up

HIDEOUSLY OBVIOUS REASONS I CHOOSE THE GALAXY NOTE 4 OVER IPHONE 6 PLUS

iPhone 6 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The iPhone 6 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 are out on the streets. The talking Apple heads claim that the iPhone 6 Plus is the hands-down winner over the new edition of the Note series.

Even tech blog sites are giving the checkered flag to Apple over Samsung in this race to have the most phabou phablet. It doesn't stack up per the tech specs, but Apple clearly has the most votes of confidence.

Everyone has an opinion about device brands and it is mostly due to preference. But I'm having a hard time trying to follow the "logic" of the loyal Fruit Cult following. I don't think they care what the specs are at all, it's just a foregone conclusion that the Apple device will magically be "better" by default.

In fact, I'd like to know exactly what kind of hallucinogenic drugs these people are doing to think the specs give Apple the win, because it would seemingly take some pretty strong stuff to overlook this helpful little handful of hardware facts...

  • The CPU - the Note 4 uses an Octa core processor while the iPhone 6 Plus sports dual core
  • 1.9GHz cpu processing speed on the Note 4 compared to 1.4GHz on the iPhone 6 Plus
  • Screen resolution of 2560 x 1440 on the Note 4 versus 1920 x 1080 on the 6 Plus
  • Super sharp screen on the Note 4 packs 515 pixels/sq.in but iPhone 6 Plus is only 400pix/sq.in.
  • 16Mp camera on the Note 4 as opposed to 8Mp on the 6 Plus
  • Front-facing camera on the Note 4 has twice the resolution than it's Fruity Phablet counterpart
  • Real multitasking on the Galaxy Note 4, nothing of the sort on the iPhone 6 Plus
  • A whopping 3 gigabytes of RAM packed into the Note 4 while the 6 Plus gets a paltry 1Gb
  • 3,220 mAh of battery power on the Galaxy Note 4 edging out the 2,915 mAh on the 6 Plus
  • Killer download speed of 42.2Mbps on the Galaxy Note 4 while iPhone 6 Plus drags along at 7.2Mbps
  • The super solid build of the metal-band-clad Note 4 as opposed to the lighter, cheaper, more slippery feel of the iPhone 6 Plus

My conclusion? The amount of hallucinogenic drugs or head-meds needed to "make" the iPhone 6 Plus a better device choice than that of a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 would therefore be significant. But right when you think logic and hardware specs rules the day, I will say this...

I like the look and feel of the iPhone 6 Plus better than the Galaxy Note 4, and would have chosen it over the Android product if Apple included a pen digitizer on their device. Plus the lacking hardware specs don't appear to give it any less of a speedy user experience.

So there you have it.  Shocked that Mr. Android Boy would say such things? Well you shouldn't be. The point is, none of the specs listed for or against a device amount to a hill of beans. It's all about user preference and the user experience.

For me, the lack of a pen digitizer on Apple mobile devices is a deal-breaker. The Galaxy Note 4 is close enough as a great device that I will stick with it just to have my digitizer pen. I can live with the design changes that I don't like as much, as long as I have the digitizer.

Ironically, the one thing Apple Fruit Cult members boasted about most was that their devices were solid and heavy, while Samsung's devices felt cheap, light and "plasticky" (which I prefer). The chickens have come home to roost.

Carlton Flowers
Gadget Guru

Apple-Samsung Smartphone Slugfest Phablet Style

SAMSUNG GETS SNIPPY WITH NOTE 4 VIDEO DISS

Okay people I'm back. I've been out-of-pocket lately, on blogging vacation. But with the recent developments on the tech forefront, I think this is a good time to chime back in.

Transient

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch has passed, and phones will start shipping within the next few weeks to anxious customers. While the iPhone 6 Plus breaks "new ground", Samsung has taken the opportunity to make a snarky video about Apple's sudden change in design.

It is truly ironic to see what has transpired, truthfully. Looking back over the last handful of years, we have seen Apple make multiple accusations against Samsung for stealing their designs. At that same time, the Apple execs swore that a smartphone bigger than 3.5" was entirely stupid, and it was something you would never ever see their beloved company produce.

Fast forward to the highly anticipated iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, with their massive 4.7" and 5.5" diagonal displays, and it makes me sit rubbing my head wondering what just happened. Apparently, I'm not the only one who wonders what happened in Cuppertino. Maybe they all inhaled, or drank their own Kool-Aid.

How in the world could the same company who accused Samsung of blatant copyright infringement turn an about-face and produce a phone which is in the form of the Galaxy Note without a stylus? Especially after swearing off phablets and larger-screened smartphones?

Samsung released a very sarcastic video that sums it all up. But what I am left wondering is whether or not Samsung will quickly blow the whistle and sue the pants off of their hypocritical chief competitor much in the same way that was done to them.

Only time will tell.

As far as I'm concerned, I'll stick with my Apple iPad Retina Mini for all my iOS needs, but I'll take a pass on the iPhone 6 Plus and stick with the Galaxy Note line and move from the 3 to the 4 when it is released.

I'll let the hypocrites OOPS I mean Apple Enthusiasts have their feeding frenzy with the stylus-less iPhone 6 Plus that they swore off before Apple lost its mind and followed the leader on phablet phorm phactors.

Carlton Flowers
THE GADGET GURU

Apple Gets Samsunged By Timex - Introducing Ironman One!

TIMEX SHOCKS ALL, INTRODUCES INDEPENDENT SMARTWATCH

Sorry Apple, but Timex just beat you to the punch. While we've all been patiently waiting for the Apple Geniuses to release a smart watch that will one-up Samsung, Timex kicks the door in and beats them all. I for one never saw this coming.

The Timex Ironman One will be the first smartwatch that will work independently of a smartphone. Why it took this long for someone to come up with a stand-alone smartwatch that isn't just a bluetooth extension of a smartphone is beyond me. But it is really refreshing to see the age old watchmaker make mince meat of the big players.

The Ironman One GPS smartwatch will run on the AT&T network, independent of a smartphone. Finally, someone has gotten this right. And I think it will take quite a bit to catch up to Timex now that they have entered the market for smartwatches.

Looking at the Ironman One's features, this is a serious device. Here's what the company reports that it will feature:

  • Stand-alone wireless connectivity without a phone
  • Email-based messaging capabilities
  • Tracking capabilities that communicate the user’s location to friends and family anytime, anywhere
  • Custom-built “Find Me Mode” safety solution, which allows users to send an alert with
  • exact location in case of an emergency
  • Ability to track speed, distance and pace in real-time and instantaneously share
  • performance metrics through your favorite social media and online fitness platforms
  • Water resistance up to 50 meters, an essential feature for water exposure, training in the rain or swimming
  • Built-in MP3 component with 4 GB of memory to play music via a Bluetooth headset
  • Always-on, sunlight-readable, high-resolution touch display

This is the real deal, folks. If I'm going to drop the bucks on a smartwatch or a GPS unit for running, this is exactly what I would be looking for. I see no reason to have to drag around my smartphone while running when there is a device like this out on the market.

I'm not sure of pricing yet, but I would assume it would be in the range of some of the current Garmin GPS watches that are on the market now. But one thing is for sure, Timex has the reputation and experience to make this work, and to put the marketing behind it with the help of AT&T.

Samsung has enjoyed all of the spotlight while Apple farts around (as they usually do) waiting to enter this market. But both Samsung and Apple will hurt if this takes off. I'll be looking for an opportunity to test this device in the future and give a full report!

Until then, Apple has my sympathy.

Carlton Flowers
The Gadget Guru

Top 5 Ways You Can FUBAR Your Smartphone & How To Avoid It

MOST COMMON WAYS SMARTPHONES GET FOULED UP BEYOND ALL RECOGNITION

Smartphones help to make us smart, when they are taken care of. But people are stupid, and can tend to be careless. When you combine mindless busy people with expensive smartphones, you get some pretty common mishaps that spell disaster for your sanity and your bank accounts.

In order to help you avoid disaster and the devistation that comes along with iFUBAR'ing your iPhone (or other Android device), let's look at the top five mishaps and hope you will keep these in the back of your mind before you do something stupid.

Just so you know, I have done three of these. So I am your primary example of smartphone user stupidity! That being said, let's look at the Top 5, each with my tips on how you can avoid each type of FUBAR stupidity.

1) Toilet Baptism - Did you know that 30% of smartphones end up in the toilet? I was surprised to learn this truth. Water damage can spell the end of your smartphone, especially if you try to turn it on and check it after giving it a swim.  

How to avoid: go back to reading magazines and books during bathroom time. For goodness' sake... you probably need a 10-minute break from that ratchet little device anyway.

2) Death By Buttocks - I did this one myself, just 4 months ago. You're busy doing something, but you want your phone close. So you shove it in your back pocket. Forgetting it is there, you sit down on something. For me, it was an old car seat cushion on the floor. I was working on a car. Even with the padding, my butt cheeks applied enough pressure to ever so slightly flex the LCD and destroy it. The glass didn't even break, but no more display.

How to avoid: get a fanny pack, no more back pocket stashing. Remember that you won't remember stashing it back there in the first place.

3) The "Tuck-And-Forget" - I cannot tell you how many times I have done this, and I never learn. With this destruction method, it involves getting in your car. Your phone is in your hand, and you figure you'll just tuck the phone in between your legs whle you drive, so you don't drop it in under the seats or step on it. As soon as you tuck it under your legs, you forget it's there. When you get out of the car, the phone shoots out like a torpedo and skips across the parking lot.

How to avoid: Mount a smartphone holster on your dashboard.

4) The Finger Fumble - This is the most basic and common way to FUBAR your smartphone. You think you have your device securely in your hands, and for no apparent reason, your fingers fumble the phone and it takes a nice long trip down to the ground. What makes this worse is the "catch-the-phone-with-your-foot" save method, which only makes it worse. Each and every time I have tried this save, I end up drop kicking the phone and sending it another 10' through the air, only to suffer an even harder fall.

How to avoid: get a big fat solid case. You will never solve the finger fumble, it will happen. You can only minimalize the damage it causes!

5) The "Set-It-And-Forget-It" - We've all done this at some time or another. It usually ends in a most tragic way. It starts with you loading something into your car. Your smartphone is in your hand, so the closest place you can put it is on top of your car (or on the trunk deck). By the time you load your stuff, you've forgotten where the phone is. You peel out, the phone slides off the car, and falls perfectly underneath your tire to die a quick death of mega crunching. Seems like a stunt crew would have trouble reproducing this sequence of events, but it works like a charm when it's your expensive smartphone.

How to avoid: put a sticker on your car that says "Do NOT place expensive objects on this slick, shiny surface, you putz!"

None of us want our smartphones fouled up beyond all recognition. So recognize these tips, and save yourself from frustration and the depletion of your bank account! Do you have any FUBAR stories you'd like to share with others? Chime in the comments section and tell us all! You might save us all!

Carlton Flowers
Chief FUBAR Prevention Expert

Top 5 Reasons To Consider The New Samsung Galaxy S5

SAMSUNG GALAXY S5 AVAILABLE FOR PRE ORDER ON 3/21/2014

Okay folks, Samsung has announced opening day for pre orders on the AT&T version of the Galaxy S5 smartphone! Let's take a look at the top 5 reasons that you should consider grabbing an S5 hot off the presses and be the first to get your hands on one when they ship.

1) Standard Price Point - The Galaxy S5 will be available for the standard contract price of $199. Sure, the price will drop over time, but why wait and end up with a smartphone that is going to become obsolete? If you want the cutting edge, get on the edge now. It's not worth waiting several months just to save fifty bucks, more or less. This phone is packed with blazing fast hardware, and tons of new gadgety features.

2) Fingerprint Sensor - Like Apple's iPhone 5S, the Galaxy S5 will come standard with a fingerprint scanner for unlocking the phone. The scanner is built underneath the actual display, so it doesn't take up any space and make the unusable portion of the phone any bigger. I would find high use of the sensor, because unlock patterns are a pain in the rear. I normally turn off the security for this reason, and that's a dangerous thing to do with a smartphone. They've really stepped up the ease of total security with this feature. Well worth the effort!

3) 16 Megapixel Camera - The new camera on this phone breaks records again. Sure, there are other models with ridiculous cameras like the 41Mp lens on the Nokia Lumia. But this is the best possible camera you can have on a smartphone without adding ridiculous bulk. Plus the new features that are packed into camera functionality are seriously enticing. They knocked it out the park with this camera, again.

4) Super Fast Processing Power - The Galaxy S5 will set you on the cutting edge of speed with its 2.5GHz quad core processor. For the non-techies, this just means that you will be able to open applications with blazing speed, and multitask apps without dragging down the phone. Everything speeds up when you have a powerful processor like this. Add in 2Gb of RAM, and you won't be sitting and waiting much at all to perform any function on this smartphone.

5) Awesome Display - They've upped the quality of the display yet again with a 5.1" full HD Super AMOLED screen that has 1080 by 1920 resolution and 432ppi pixel density. That means brilliant colors, deep black color, amazing contrast, and viewing that can give you enjoyment like watching an LED TV. Samsung has always brought their "A Game" with the display. This one continues to impress like all previous models. Why settle for less?

Sure, there's plenty more that I could drone on about. But this is enough to kick you off the fence if you are trying to make a buying decision. Chances are, you won't be disappointed with this device if having the best is what you want. All gadget nerds (like me) should be solidly satisfied with what it has to offer.

This is no mediocre incremental upgrade from the Galaxy S4. It will run faster, download data quicker, and tease your eyes with its brilliant display, all while giving you plenty of added features and options to give you the best smartphone experience possible. So there you have it!

Carlton Flowers
Galaxy Watchman

 

New Galaxy S5 - Top 5 Reason Samsung Engineers Are STUPID

WHY SAMSUNG ENGINEERS GET THE "STUPID SIGN" ON GALAXY S5 FEATURES

Time for another Top 5! This time, we will give you the top five indisputable reasons why Samsung enginerds have about as much common sense as a tree stump when it comes to the latest and greatest flagship smartphone coming from the far East, the Galaxy S5:

1) No Text Reflow - Want to be able to zoom in to see text with ease, but without panning side-to-side? You're not gonna be able to do that with the Galaxy S5 stock browser.

2) Must Use After-Market Browsers To Read - Tired of panning on smartphones when the text is not reformatted to fit the screen? You can download an after-market browser. But that means you don't get to use all the new gadgety cool tricks and features that the stock browser provides like tilt scrolling, eye scrolling, and touchless gestures. Pure stroke of stupid if you ask me.

3) The Text Reflow Is M.I.A. - How do you like pounding your head on the table after trying to read tons of text on your smartphone? You better get a helmet and get used to it if you buy a Galaxy S5 this spring.

4) Lack of Text Reflow - How bright are the Samsung enginerds to throw in everything but the kitchen sink into the stock browser... EXCEPT TEXT REFLOW? Ya got me, partner. If they could only dumb them down to include the most obvious advantageous function of the browser, that would be nice. But I guess they aren't HTC engineers.

5) Text Reflow No-Show - We complained when the Galaxy S2 didn't have it. We passed rumors about it coming with the stock S3 browser before it came out, and were sorely disappointed. Then we groaned and pounded our heads when it was left out AGAIN on the fabulous Galaxy S4. So if you're holding your breath waiting for it to be included on the Galaxy S5, plan on turning blue.

So there you have it folks! If this doesn't prove that the Samsung enginerds are stupid, I don't know what does. I guess you can tell that this text reflow thing really chaps my buns. Hopefully that has been made obvious here.

I've stuck by Samsung thus far, and it is by far the best smartphone on the market... in my opinion. But if someone releases a device that can out perform and function as well as the Galaxy S5 when I'm due for an upgrade, it's bye bye Samsung for me.

Carlton Flowers
Text Reflow Activist

 

My Top 5 Reasons I Won't Get A New iPhone

TOP 5 - WHY I WON'T BE BUYING A NEW IPHONE ANYTIME SOON

Here's the first of a series of "Top 5" lists! Today's top 5? Why you won't see me in line anytime soon buying an iPhone 5, 5S, 5C, 6, M, Mega, Mini, or anything else they come out with. Here we go!

1) It's Too Small - my eyes are too old. I can't read text on the screen. That just sucks. Make it bigger Apple, and maybe I'll think about it. Sadly, even the rumored iPhone 6 is said to only have a 4.7" diagonal display. That's so 2010.

2) No Text Reflow - Apple joins the idiots at Samsung on this one. Panning side-to-side to read sentences after zooming in on text is just plain stupid. Unless I fall and hit my head, and become stupid, I'm not signing up for this kind of reading abuse.

3) They Break - All you people who think iPhones are like "jeweler's quality", you can keep them. Drop it from 2' and it's toast. I feel sorry for all the people with a brand new iPhone 5S that they dropped the first month and destroyed the phone. I'd rather buy a rubber ball to bounce on the concrete versus a $750 glass and metal computer.

4) They Malfunction - iPhones do stupid things for no reason. I'm sitting here right now with a friend's iPhone 5S that vibrates, and makes annoying sounds. But the screen won't come on. Not even with a hard reset. It's a known issue. But like always, Apple won't admit this for at least 12 more months and after 1,507,327 more complaints.

5) Apple Thinks We Are Stupid - I don't want my smartphone force-fed into my mouth on a baby spoon like Gerber products. I want to be treated like I am halfway intelligent by my smartphone manufacturer. The arrogance at Apple is and has always been something that I completely don't care for.

That said, I must go to work. I'm reading some tech blog posts on my brand-new Apple iPad Mini with Retina display. And before you call me an anti-Apple troll, I never said I didn't like the iPad!

Carlton Flowers
Top 5 Techno Babbler

 

Is The LG G Flex Curvalicious Display The Wave Of The Future?

REVIEW: LG'S G FLEX SMARPTPHONE BREAKS THE MOLD WITH CONCAVE DISPLAY

I spent a fantastic 2 weeks with the LG G Flex smartphone, and it wasn't the device's technical specifications that had me sad about sending it back to AT&T. It was the display.

In the age of gigantic oversized monstrosities that we call "phablets", not a single manufacturer has come up with something this different. At first, I thought it was a gimmick. But after using it during my test period, it's anything but a gimmick.

The concave display on the LG G Flex smartphone isn't nearly as exaggerated as I thought it would be. We're only talking a depth of about a couple of millimeters in the center of the display at its full depth. But the difference it makes when compared to a flat smartphone is very noticeable.

For people like me who do a ton of reading on their smartphone, the concave display offers a major advantage: it's easier on the eyes. Why? I think this is due to the fact that the radius of your eyesight does not change length from reading the top to the bottom of the screen.

That might sound hokey to you. But is it? The new 4K televisions coming from LG and Samsung have a horizontally curved display to provide a more "immersive" effect, like the big screens at the best movie theaters. I noticed the same effect with the LG G Flex.

This smartphone sports a whopping 6" (diagonally measured) display. With a screen that size, maybe the slight concave design does actually offer something of a different experience to your eyes. And with my 40-something aging eyeballs, I could swear that it added to my ease of reading.

The LG G Flex display doesn't break any records with screen resolution. It's only a meager 720x1280 with 245 ppi. That might sound like techno gibberish to you, but of all the smartphones on the market, this is just average in resolution. But it doesn't need to be any higher than this.

Most of the smartphones on the market that boast better screen resolution don't really make that big of a difference to the average user anyway. But with bright, vivid colors and the huge size coupled with the slight concave design, it brings a brilliance that gives you the experience of watching a big flat screen television.

As far as the flexibility of the display, it doesn't mean that it is indestructible. If you drop the LG G Flex from a height of about 4', you will crack the display. Watching a drop test video did expose the fact that it is not made of an unbreakable material. But the flexibility does have its advantages.

I destroyed the display of my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone 3 months ago. I had the phone in my back pocket, forgot it was there, and I sat on it. While I did not crack the display, my big butt managed to flex the LCD panel, and it was toast. You cannot so much as slightly flex the LCD panels on any smartphone without chancing completely destroying them. They just can't handle that.

But the LG G Flex does have the capability of bending without breaking. When you place the G Flex on a table face down, you can depress the center of the phone until it is flat on the surface and it will not damage the LCD. That means it will probably survive a chance sitting without spelling its demise. Because of that, I think this smartphone is more durable than anything on the market even though it is crackable.

I think we will see more concave design devices enter into the market in the coming months. With the wave of TVs arriving, and the LG G Flex, other manufacturers are sure to follow. Add to that the fact that Samsung has a completely flexible display in development, and I am sure we will see other non-flat designs coming our way.

Have you given the LG G Flex a test drive? Let me know what you think. I'm curious to know if other users find the display design to be easier on the eyes compared to the standard flat display.

I'll close this update by saying the LG G Flex gets a solid "two thumbs up" from the gadget king (that's me). This is a device I would love to add to my cadre of electronics! Big thanks to AT&T St. Louis for the test device!

Carlton Flowers
Smartphone Flexer

LG G Flex Smartphone via AT&T

The Future Of Big Smartphones - Will The Trend Reverse?

IN TEN YEARS, WILL MICRO-SIZED SMARTPHONES BE THE "NEW" TREND?

I've always hated iPhones because of their tiny microscopic little screens. That's why I switched to Android. Every day we see a new jumbo-sized smartphone hit the market. Up until now, this made me happy. But now I can hardly hold one in my hand.

I can't even decide what I want... a huge display for my horrible vision, or something I can actually use with my little hands. But this has me thinking about the normal reversal of trends, just like fashion.

Nowadays, we see people sporting the horrendous fashion trends of the 80's. It's just awful. What's the next bad trend to come back? Could it be micro-sized smartphones, leaving the big honking 6" monsters in the technology graveyard?

Think back to the 80's... remember when it was cool to walk around showing off your brand-new calculator watch? How stupid was it to actually sit in class doing math problems poking on tiny pin-head-sized buttons on your calculator watch? This was stupidity in action.

As time went on, you weren't cooll enough unless you had the next tiny thing. 30 years later, and you're not cool unless you're walking around with a phone the size of an iPad.

As stupid as society seems to be, in repeating really bad fads, do you think the microscopic devices will make a comeback? Or will we continue to life-size all the gadgets that we can't seem to live without?

Just a thought...

Carlton Flowers
Technology Rambler

 

iPhone 4 Sound Issue - Ringtones Works, Text Tone Doesn't Work

RINGTONES WORK, TEXT TONES DON'T WORK ON IPHONE 4 - HERE'S WHY

You own an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S and your ringtones function properly, but your text tones are silent. Plus you notice that your volume buttons don't work, and the sound icon that pops up does not show the volume level changing when depressing the buttons.

You might also notice that videos and music have no sound, along with the text tones. A hard reset does nothing, neither does a full reset. The only way you have sound, otherwise, is by using your headphones. It's a maddening experience.

I discovered this problem when refurbishing broken iPhone 4 devices, on both Verizon and AT&T models. I took to the forums, and found numerous posts about the problem, and solutions that don't work. But then I discovered the source of the problem.

The reason the iPhone 4 devices malfunction in this way is due to a dirty dock connector. Several users reported that if you carefully clean the dock connector with a needle and pick out all of the dirt and lint, you can renew the sound. Apparently some of the leads on the dock connector will prevent the sound from functioning properly when gummed up.

But this doesn't always work. Others reported that cleaning the dock connector with a flat sharp device and a cleaning cloth dampened with alcohol will yield better results. I tried this, and it worked... for ten minutes. I repeated this three times, and it only ended up functioning properly for minutes each time. The last time that I cleaned the leads on the connector, I wasn't able to get the sound working right again.

The only true solution to solving this problem is to replace the dock connector entirely. It is said that this is an "easy fix" that can be done in 15 minutes, but that is the farthest thing from the truth if you are not an experienced iPhone repair technician. I woulnd't recommend that anyone disassemble an iPhone unless they had prior experience.

What really caught my eye was how Apple handled this situation when it first started to pop up. As usual, it is met with denial, or trivialized by the company. But when pressed, Apple would end up completely replacing the devices rather than to acknowledge the fact that it is a common issue.

I've noticed that this is the normal way Apple handles common issues, which was the case with iPhone 4 power buttons sticking and failing to work. When a friend first brought an iPhone 4 to me with this issue, we were able to press Apple to replace the device even though it was out of warranty. I had this happen in 3 more instances.

If you have an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S and you're experiencing this sound dropping issue, your first course of action should be to ask to have the device replaced if you purchased it within the last 2 years.I must add that I have read several instances of this issue occuring with the iPhone 5 also.

My advice to you: the only solution that will not leave you pulling your hair out or throwing your phone across the room is to have the dock connector replaced.

I hope this post aleviates the frustration to anyone that has come across this issue, and best of luck having your dock connector replaced.

Carlton Flowers
iPhone Whistle Blower

 

Business Owners - New Shocking Trends That Will Make Or Break You 2014

URGENT FACTS YOU CAN'T SLEEP ON IF YOU PLAN TO SURVIVE & THRIVE IN 2014

If you are a business owner or an organization that caters to commerce via the web, take note. These are the alarming trends that you must be aware of if you plan on staying competitive in the future. This information could change your marketing strategy for the new year.

Do you own an ugly website that is not optimized for use with mobile devices? Now is the time to start thinking about these trends which speak for themselves. If you fail to pay attention now, you will risk losing your position in the market. Use these facts wisely, and then act on it accordingly.

If you are a retail store owner, a proprietor of a service based company, or you are responsible for your company's marketing efforts, stop what you are doing and take the time to read each and every oneof these facts. This is critical information you must know in this day and age if you desire to stay competitive.

Now then... let's take a look at what's going on in the world of your consumers, the people that you serve each and every day that make your business profitable and sustainable. Here are the shocking facts!

56% of adults are using smartphones at the close of 2013. That's more than half of your customer base. If you're not serving up your company's presence in an easily viewable way on a smartphone or mobile device, they will bounce (leave) immediately after discovering your site.

75% of Americans take their smartpones with them to the bathroom. While sitting on the can, you can potentially have the undivided attention of your target market! But can your website hold their attention while they are held captive?

27% of companies worldwide planned on implementing location-based marketing in 2013. That means optimizing your website to gain placement in local searching. Is your site optimized for placement in your local market? This is a critical area you must master to remain competitive in your town's market area.

Retailer apps with "store mode" gather 5X more more engagement than regular sites. This means you need a mobile web app that is optimized for veiwing on a smartphone across all platforms. Is your boring traditional website going to cut the mustard when your competitors have mobile apps developed to display their wares to your customers? You must compete in this category.

Mobile devices out-populated the entire human population by the end of 2013. That means your customers own multiple smartphones and tablets that they use for browsing and shopping purposes. Have you tapped into this alarming trend?

46% of "showroom shoppers" still made their purchases in-store in 2013. What does that tell you about the remaining balance? I'm sure you canfigure that out.

Price comparisons weremade on a daily basis by your customers in 2013 by use of smartphones and tablets. Consumers don't need to pick up a newspaper or hit the stores by foot to find the deals they are looking for. You must know your competition, and be able to stand out on the web or you will lose out.

Consumers spent 6X more time browsing retailer web apps in 2013 than what they did in 2012. If you're not set up with a mobile-friendly site, you will have a high "bounce rate" (customers immediately leaving your site after arriving) for your online audience.

25% of marketing executives see mobile devices as the most disruptive force in their industry as of 2013. If the big shots are preparing for this trend, what should small businesses do? Take note immediately before ending up on the losin end of the marketing war.

65% of US shoppers do their research on a smartphone, tablet, or PC before they make a purchasing decision. So you've got a great website... you've won half the battle. But what about the mobile device market? Are you prepared?

54% of consumers would prefer using touchscreen devices right in your store to assist their shopping experience. Is your store equipped with tablet stations to assist them? The trend in small business is to equip retail areas with tablets that have custom catalogs via a proprietary web app, and more are popping up as we speak.

48% of consumers use (or would like to use) their smartphones while shopping in your store. Do you have a poster or sign displaying your webapp to greet customers when they arrive at your location? Those that do keep the attention of thier customers long after they have left the premises. This can prove to be quite profitable.

Nearly 50% of shoppers feel that they are more informed than your store sales associates. You can work with this trend by providing customers a way to allow them to continue learning about your products and services (i.e. a web app), or stay in the dark and let your sales staff argue with them to prove who knows the facts better.

80% of smartphone owners want more smartphone optimized product information while they are shopping in your store. In 2014, you had better serve them with most slick, user-friendly web app possible. This will alleviate the demand on your sales staff to assist your customers.

Within 5 years, half of all smartphone shoppers will be using mobile wallet apps to provide payment for your goods and services. Is this in your future business plan?

Time spent using mobile apps is now challenging television. Your customers are now spending 127 minutes per day on mobilel apps compared to 168 minutes watching television. Are you tapping into this trend by providing the best mobile experience for your business?

24% of consumers used a mobile device to browse Black Friday deals over Thanksgiving in 2012, up from 14.3% in 2011. The numbers are not in for 2013, but it will be highly likely that the percentage has taken another hike.

4 out of 5 consumers have used a smartphone to shop as of 2012. The number is on a steep incline, and this has become the norm. This year, you probably will struggle to find a person who has not used their smartphone to shop at least once.

57% of consumers surveyed said they would not recommend a business with a poorly designed website that is not optimized for mobile viewing and shopping to their friends.

53% of consumers say they have stopped an in-store purchase because they found a better deal online using their smarphone. The only way to combat this behavior is to provide the best mobile optimized website for your customers use.

44% of smartphone owners look for coupon opportunities on their mobile devices to take advantage of special deals and pricing in your store. 17% of consumers have already used mobile coupons at least once as of 2012.

These are enough facts to shock you into the reality of the 2014 consumer mindset, and should more than convince you of how imperative it is to make mobile marketing a focus of your advertising and sales efforts. If you remain unconvinced, which is nearly impossible if you are serious about serving the needs of your customers, stay tuned for part two. I'll have another slew of facts to open your eyes.

Considering all of this information, you might be overwhelmed. But you don't have to solve all of your high tech marketing marketing challenges all at once. Here are a few easy steps you can consider taking to get you on the road to conquering mobile marketing in 2014 and prosper your business.

1. Evaluate Your Website - Pick up your smartphone and pull up your company's website, and take a look at what your smartphone weilding customers are seeing. If the formatting is horrible and it doesn't present well, have an expert evaluate what can be done to have it optimized for mobile viewing. This is your lowest-cost action item on your high tech to-do list.

2. Identify Areas Of Improvement - Even if you have a mobile website, what easy improvements can be made for your customer's experience that won't break the bank?

3. Ask Your Customers What THEY Want - Find out what things your customers would like to have on your mobile website that would streamline their shopping and purchasing experience. Post a sign in your store, hand out a survey to buyers, or post a message on your website asking for ideas. Your customers might have ideas which could have a great impact in increasing your sales.

4. Get A Local Expert - find a local web developer that is experienced in creation of mobile web apps that can work with you in person and coach you to the next level. Beware of online services that claim to provide cheap instant solutions. You might waste your hard-earned money, because many online "consultants" are only out to get your money with no personal interaction or coaching.

Last but certainly not least, if you are located in the Central Missouri area, let me give a shameless plug for Web App Concepts, a locally-owned team of web app developers that can provide you with a complete web app solution for your business at a rate the heavy duty consultants cannot compete with... all while providing a superior prodcut to boot!

Get in touch with me via email at "carlton.flowers@gmail.com" for a free recommendation and evaluation of your current mobile marketing needs.

Carlton Flowers
Partner, Web App Concepts LLC

p.s. Ask about our high-profile web app recently developed for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce "GovWatch" program! See it here ---> http://www.mogovdirect.net/desktop/index.php