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

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



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

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

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


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

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


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


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.


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

Apple Gets Samsunged By Timex - Introducing Ironman One!


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

The Facebook Poke - What Exactly Does It "Mean" To You?


Over the past year, I've noticed something very interesting surrounding the Facebook Poke - either people understand it fully, or it makes absolutely no sense and causes complete consfusion and is surrounded in mystery.

Last week, I made a post on my Facebook timeline. It said, "The are two types of people in this world: those that understand the concept of the Facebook Poke, and those that do not." This sparked quite an interesting discussion about the phenomenon known as "poking".

The discussion was so wild, it prompted me to write this post to try to give insight to the people that just don't get the whole "poking" thing. I live in a house divided. Of the Facebookers in my family, two completely "get it", and two can't make any sense out of it. So I will try to give some insight on what I believe poking is all about.

In my Facebook world, I have an inner circle of friends and family who are big believers of the Poke. It is very meaningful to us, and the use of poking is just simply understood automatically. While I've brought several people into my Secret Order of the Poke, there are several others who don't understand it at all.

Some of my new "Pokees", upon receiving their first poke on my behalf, have contacted me immeidately to ask, "why did you do that, and what exactly does that mean?" I get a good laugh out of that reaction.

I find great difficulty at times trying to explain to them why they've been poked, and some don't seem to be able to catch on and understand. But those that do become avid Pokers. But what exactly does it mean?

To members of my inner poke circle, a Poke is a means of staying in touch in a busy world without the need to write emails, instant messages, or making phone calls. Sure, we still keep in touch from time-to-time, but the Poke is a fabulous way to keep people close and let them know that you are alive and well.

To the avid pokers, a Poke is a simple way to say hi. It's an exciting thing to run through your poke list and dole out a fresh round of reaching out to touch your friends. For example, every few days I come to expect a poke from cousin Ritchie, daughter Erika, high school friend Dawn, college buddy Sean, church buddy David, coworker Tandi, and several others.

I even love to get a poke from my lovely wife Schasta, even though she protests all the while. When my daughter and I poke her, the response is usually "WHY DO YOU KEEP POKING ME! STOP!!!", to which my daughter hilariouisly replies, "then quit poking me back!". We just laugh and keep it up.

But my son Scott, like some others, refuses to poke back. His response is usually something along the lines of "that doesn't make any logical sense! I'm not poking anyone!"

Several others get really uneasy when they receive a poke, because it doesn't come with an explanation. Some even get freaked out by the action, and take it in a completely weird way.

The Facebook post brought up some interesting questions. Family friend Sister Kim asked if poking people of the same sex was an acceptable practice, because she had heard that a friend took offense to it. Others even wondered if there was some sort of sexual connotation to the poke.

While poking can be something as simple as a "hello", there's nothing to say that some users don't pop out a poke to express a romantic interest in the pokee. It can spark feelings of creepiness or unease.

In the past, I have had the experience of single guys poking some of my female friends who they are not connected with on Facebook. This is clearly a violatoin of Poke ethics. When this happens, I normally get a message from my female friend asking "who is this weirdo friend of yours poking me, and did you tell him to do that?"

I considered writing a post on my Facebook wall stating a rule that there will be no bird-dogging of my female friends by single men without my expressed written permission, or a $100 fine would be levied against any violators. But I chose to just let it go.

But with all of the good and the bad, the Poke can be a wonderful thing if used properly. In fact, I continue to grow my Inner Poke Circle as time marches on. It is something that my poke family has grown to love.

At the same time, I respect those that have no use for the Poke, don't get the Poke, or are simply befuzzled by what it means. I just stay in touch with those friends the old fashioned way.

What does the Facebook Poke mean to you? Are you an avid Poker, or is it something that you could care less for? Join the Poke discussion and tell me about your poke experience!

Carlton Flowers
Premier Poke Pontiff


JD Power Confirms Why I'm Happy With My Wireless Provider


Well it looks like I'm not the only one who thinks that AT&T service is the best. I've been a customer on-and-off for the past 25 years or so, through all of the mergers and breakups. And I've been a recent customer since 2007. And I've been completely satisfied ever since.

On August 1st, J.D. Power released a study stating that customers ranked AT&T as #1 in customer service. That covers retail sales stores, online services, and online call centers. The results of the study were based on 18,000 participants.

Of all the communications giants, I have had the absolute best service from AT&T. Considering their size, they don't really have to make the effort to treat their customers like human beings. But they do. I have yet to have one negative experience in six years, since switching my cellular service provider.

I was used to horrendously horrible service calls, mixed up billing, and wasting numerous hours to get things straight when something went wrong. My worst experience was spending 6 months to correct a faulty bill that had over $1,300 in incorrect charges.

Each time I would make a call, I would get referred to a manager. Somehow, the records of previous conversations would "disappear", and I would have to spend 30 minutes (or more) re-explaining the situation, and showing proof on my wireless bills. I was even met with irate customer service representatives at times. It was a nightmare.

Another large internet supplier that I have dealt with over the years gave me a similar frustrating experience, but in a different way. There was a major communication problem between the provider and the contracted field techs that carried out the service calls.

On numerous occasions, service techs would arrive at my house and wonder why I was being information that was contrary to what they were told. And service calls would take as long as 3 weeks to be taken care of after the point of the initial call for help.

Not the case with AT&T. At any time that I have had challenges, I have been greeted with the best customer service possible. And the reps not only take great notes that are posted to my account to help the next rep understand the issue at hand, but they even follow up a couple of days later to make sure the issue was resolved to my complete satisfaction.

Keep up the good work AT&T, and I'll be glad to spend my hard-earned money on you for years to come.

Carlton Flowers
Satisfied AT&T Customer :-)


More Details On Nokia Lumia 1020 Mega Camera Smartphone


New details on the Nokia Lumia 1020 are coming out, and it looks like there's more to this smartphone than the itty bitty 41Mp camera. It goes without saying that the Lumia 1020 smokes everything on the Android market with that monstrosity of a camera, though.

There are some fancy things that this camera is capable of. For the "regular person" who doesn't engage in all that high-flying tech talk, they might think that a 41Mp camera would eat up all the memory on the device. But that's not exactly the case.

The way this thing works is simple. It basically takes a 5Mp picture with 7 pixels crammed into each regular pixel, thus making it into a full-res image. They call it "oversampling", and that just means the camera jams a pile of additional pixels into each normal pixel. The reult? You end up with high res pictures that don't take up a whopping chunk of your smartphone's memory.

But it doesn't stop there. They've raised the bar in video recording too. Here's what they did...

The Nokia geniuses had somewhat of a major breakthrough with the smartphone's camera lens, giving it the best image stabilization of any phone device on the planet. They included a gyroscope inside the lens, and it floats around on ball bearings. That's pretty incredible. What that means is that you are getting real physical image stabilization.

Regular cameras zoom in to the picture and lop off the four edges, moving around the video window to produce a "fake" image stabilization effect. Not the Lumia 1020. Its lens is actually inside the device moving around, counteracting all of your nervous twitches and shaking hand movements. That's pretty doggone neat.

You end up getting a smartphone with a lens that is capable of performing at the level of quality you get with a consumer grade digital camera. That vaults the Lumia 1020 far and beyond anything you'll get with competing smartphones like the HTC One or the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Nokia and Windows Phone 8 are smacking down the leaders with this incredible device, and it could quite possibly put them into the big leagues with sales. I've already said time and time again that Windows Phone 8 has the capability of taking a big fat chunk out of the market because of its ease of use and fresh, different approach.

Now they are raising the bar on the hardware. These guys are serious, and I'm giving Microsoft and Nokia props for staying in the game with the Lumia 1020. There's nothing like fresh competition to make all of the other manufactures keep innovating. And AT&T will really stand to gain being the first network provider to supply this device.

Stay tuned for more updates! I'll be keeping a close watch for more details.

Carlton Flowers
Smartphone Finatic



AT&T Hatching Big Announcement On July 16th, 2013


As you can see from the teaser graphic, AT&T has a secret to reveal to us all on July 16th, 2013. They are telling us to "prepare for what's next in wireless". Sounds like it is possibly signifant, if you ask me.

Whatever this "next-in-wireless" thing may be, the company has guarded the secret quite well. Company employees don't even know what it is. And I've scoured the net for hints, and have come up with nothing.

Some people think it will be an announcement that has to do with package deals or wireless plans. I don't. Family plans and package deals don't really sound like things that can be "the next thing in wireless" to me. I think it will be something entirely different.

I also don't think it will have to do with any singular device. One smartphone or tablet can't possibly represent the "what's next in wireless" phrase. It's got to be more sweeping than that.

Maybe it's an announcement that has to do with the unveiling of a new hardware infrastructure that will surpass the LTE 4G network and run at fiber optic speeds, thus solving the bandwidth crunch crisis. Okay that's probably a stupid guess, but I'm allowed to dream.

Reeling it back in to reality, I think it might have something to do with enhancing the network. That could be accomplished by some "value-added" type of thing. Say, for instance, a brand-new streaming music radio service... or some super smart way to do video calling.

Maybe they will announce their plans to add teleportation to the 4G LTE network service areas. If you've got a fast enough connection, you'll be able to teleport to work and ditch that pesky commuter train or carpool.

The only other somewhat realistic idea could be something to do with hardware upgrades. Maybe they will roll out a new way to keep people's hands on the most current devices, without being required to wait for 24 months. I'd pay extra just do do that.

The one thing I can say with 100% assuredness is that they will announce something on Tuesday of next week... and I'll be sitting with my ear on the radio, impatiently waiting to see what it is!

Do you have a prediction of what the announcement will or will not entail? Share it in the Disqus comments section below!

Carlton Flowers
Announcement Watchman

Shocking Trend For Texting While Driving - Were You Aware Of This?


A recent survey from AT&T exposes a shocking new trend. Texting-while-driving among adult commuters has now surprassed the teenage class.

This is something I would never have predicted to happen, but it makes perfectly good sense when you think about the circumstances that motivate the behavior.

Before we talk about the reasons why I believe this trend exists in the first place, let's look at some of the facts that AT&T uncovered in their research:

  • Nearly half of commuters (49%) admitted to texting while driving, a higher rate than reported by teens (43%)
  • They are doing so more than they used to. Six in 10 commuters said they never texted while driving three years ago.
  • Texting while driving despite knowing the risks. 98% said sending a text or email while driving isn’t safe.
  • For many, it has become a habit. More than 40% of those who admitted to texting while driving called it a habit.

The reasoning smacks right in the face of logic. We as adults know better, but our actions are exactly opposite of our common sense. Is there a reason for this trend? Can we get to the root of the issue? And if so, what is the key to reversing this dangerous behavio?

First and foremost, we've all got to start with an admission of guilt. I for one am guilty of texting while driving, and I'm personally working on putting it to a stop altogether. I have backslidden several times, and have become frustrated and disappointed with myself after experiencing near-miss accidents here and therel.

I used to justify the action by thining it was okay for experienced drivers, because the law in Missouri says it is illegal for "novice drivers" (under the age fo 21) to text and drive. It's too bad the law doesn't cover the dense-headed adults like me, so my behavior continued and caused me to have a few potential mishaps.

After chastizing myself with a "what is wrong with you, stupid??? Why do you keep taking chances like this?", I would swear off texting and driving only to start up the behavior again, causing me instances of running over a rumble strip or brushing up against a curb.

The reason that I have not been able to make a once-and-for-all behavioral change is because I have not uncovered the root of the problem. Once I address the root of the problem, a permanent behavioral change can take place.

I firmly believe that I have identified root of the problem why so many commuters admit to texting-while-driving: we are far too busy, stressed out, behind on our schedules, and trying to do two things at once to catch up.

This is what motivates us to fill in the dead time while commuting by answering emails, sending text messages, and trying to "catch up" on these minor things before we arrive at our destination to deal with the stress of work.

The behavioral change that need to take place to prevent a possible fatal or injury accident from fooling with our smartphones is to look at the commuting time as a time to relax, decompress, and take relief from the stress of the day. Too many of us consider commuting as valuable captive time to "catch up" on things since we have no other distractions. But that can change.

Instead of looking at commuting time as "catch up" time for communicating, we need to implement new activities to pass the time while we are stuck in the car. It doesn't even matter how long or short of a commute you have. I only commute for 15 minutes one way each day, and I still use it as a "catch up" time to fool with my phone.

Here are a few ideas that you can use to change the bad habit of being on your smartphone while driving in the car, once and for all. Do this for two weeks straight, and a new habit will be formed. This will lesson the chance for backsliding. Fill that time with something definite, and it will stick. Here are the ideas for spending that "dead tim" in your car:

  • Use commuting time to decompress, de-stress, and relax by listening to soft music, meditiation tracks, a sermon, or self-help CD. View it as your daily scheduled therapeutic session.
  • Turn commuting time into your personal learning time. Get a book-on-CD series and learn about a topic that is important to you, or learn a new language. View your car time as your personal classroom time. Turn off your phone just as you would in a normal classroom.
  • Listen to National Public Radio each and every morning. Get caught up on events around the world, and enjoy all of the interesting cultural stories. Instead of turning on the news at home, save your commute for listening to the news.
  • Turn off EVERYTHING, radio included, and have a 15-minute "time of peace" each day so you can reflect on what you want to accomplish for the day. Use it as a time to clear your mind of clutter and worries, and just enjoy the peace and quiet. You will look forward to this time every day if you try it out.

The bottom line is, you have to create a new habit. Do something for two weeks straight, and you will have a much better chance of eliminating your need to text and drive. Instead of making a pledge to change your behavior every time you scare yourself into a bowel movement, try creating a new habit that has meaning.

Are you truly serious about making a new habit? Do you really want to avoid a potentially hazardous situation from happening when you backslide? Then put the icing on the cake by joining me in making one more change during your two-week habit forming time:


I am going to comit to doing this for a two week period. It's what I need to make sure that my change of habit is permanent. For all of you who know you need to make a change, I challenge you to join me in putting your smartphone junk in your trunk for two weeks in order to insure that your new habit is set in stone.

Place a comment in the Disqus comments section with your personal attestation that you will preserve and protect your two-week habit-forming initiation by putting your phone in the trunk during your commute. Let's see how many people will join.

Spread the word and save a life! Send this article to friends and family that you care about, and ask them to join in.

Big thanks to AT&T St. Louis Senior Public Relations Manager Katie Nagus for bringing this to my attention and encouraging me to spread the word!

Carlton Flowers
Technology-In-Trunk Advocate

For more information and to take the pledge for no texting-while-driving, head on over to the AT&T "It Can Wait" page by clicking the link or the picture below!








"MOP" Up Your Work Life! My Favorite Free Online Productivity Sites


Trying to clear up the clutter of your life and become more efficient in your daily tasks? You can "MOP" up your daily routine with some of these valuable resources... all online, all free!

Taken from my presentation to the Missouri State Capital chapter of the Society of Government Meeting Professionals, this is a collection of my most used online resources to make my work life run more efficiently. And hey, this might be a super silly/corny acronym, but I came up with this on the spur of the moment and it made me chuckle. So it stuck!

Download the PDF by clicking on the link below or the picture, or right click and "save as" to a location on your hard drive. Then get to mopping.

Do you have a favorite website that you use often? We would love to hear about it! Share it in the Disqus comments section below!

Carlton Flowers
Exhalted WebGeek Pontiff

"Maximum Online Productivity" PDF download

Samsung Galaxy S IV Vs HTC One - Close Call!


Today we're going to take a look at the top two Android smartphones on the market. The Samsung Galaxy S IV and the HTC One. This is a close call, but I have a clear recommendation!

Many people have asked my opinion on which one of these smartphones to pick up in May of 2013. You can't go wrong with either one of these super handsets, but I'll point out a few differences and tell you why my choice edges out its chief competitor.


First, let's look at the processor. The Samsung takes a slight edge in this category with a faster core speed for the quad core processor. The average user won't notice much of a difference, so this isn't a deciding factor. If speed is critical, Samsung takes the checkered flag. For CPU speeds, they are as follows:

  • Galaxy S IV CPU - 1.9GHz quad core
  • HTC One - 1.7GHz  quad core


Next, let's take a look at the displays. The Galaxy S IV has a slightly larger display than the HTC One, but they are both very vivid and boast brilliant color reproduction. As the current trend with Android smartphones, bigger is better, and both are excellent choices for watching multimedia content. Here are the specs on each display:

  • Galaxy S IV - 5" 1920 x 1080 HD display
  • HTC One - 4.7" 1920 x 1080 HD display


The cameras on both of these units are outstanding. One has a much higher megapixel camera, but don't let that fool you. The HTC One may only have 1/4th of the megapixel rating as the Galaxy S IV, but it takes pictures that are just as vivid and brilliant. I have heard reports that the Galaxy S IV camera is incredibly fast, however. I'm not sure what the thinking behind such a small rear camera on the HTC One, but I don't think it will dissapoint. The only advantage here is that the Galaxy S IV can capture images with both cameras at the same time for an interesting effect. Both have great front-facing cameras. The specs are as follows:

  • Galaxy S IV - 13Mp rear camera, 2.0Mp front facing camera
  • HTC One - 4Mp rear camera, 2.1Mp front facing camera


The Galaxy S IV is a smaller, thinner, lighter handset than the HTC One. But some people prefer the heavier, more solid build of the HTC One. Others prefer the lighter composite plastic build of the Galaxy S IV. For clumsy people like me, I would rather drop a Galaxy S IV. I don't think the HTC One will survive a similar drop to a hard surface, but it is still built in a way that it won't be nearly as fragile as an iPhone. Here are the specs on size & weight:

  • Galaxy S IV - 8mm thick, 130 grams
  • HTC One - 9mm thick, 143 grams


This is a category where the Galaxy S IV is the clear winner. This aspect alone gives me reason to pick the Samsung product. The batteries on both are very capable, but the Galaxy S IV packs a bit more juice. But the deal breaker for me is that the HTC One does not have a removable battery. I love the option of having the capability of popping in a spare battery with the Galaxy S IV. Here's the battery comparison:

  • Galaxy S IV - 2,600 mA·h, removable
  • HTC One - 2,300 mA·h, non-removable


Both of these incredible smartphones come with 32Gb of internal memory plus 2Gb of RAM. Both units are built to run on the 4G LTE networks of all major carriers that have coverage. Android Jellybean operating system is the standard for both, and each comes with its own version of a UI overlay. As of recent, HTC has added similar features that allow eye scrolling and smart pause for watchin videos. So there's no clear winner with any of these general categories.

One comment I have heard from Leo Laporte was that the HTC One has a slightly less durable front glass. He reported that he scratched the display while testing the HTC One, and really wasn't being haphazard with handling the unit. A screen protector could help to avoid this, but if you are one who doesn't like to mask your screen, this could be an issue.

What it boils down to is personal preference. If you are the type of person who conserves the juice in your phone, you'll do fine either way. For heavy users as myself, the lack of a removable battery will be a significant issue.

I prefer the lighter, thinner design of the Samsung Galaxy S IV because I am accident prone. Others might like the stronger, "heavier" build that gives the impression of better quality. But the heavier they come, the harder they fall. Add to that the issue with the battery removal, and I give the slight edge to the Samsung Galaxy S IV.

But again, you can't go wrong with either of these smartphones. The HTC One is still a beautiful, well-built phone with several superior capabilities than most other Android phones. So I give them both a green light. You'll just see me packing a Galaxy S IV with two spare batteries if you catch me out on the streets.

What is your opinion of these smartphones? If you are due for an upgrade, or if you've just bought one of the two of these smartphones, I'd love to hear why you chose one over the other. Share your thoughts in the Disqus comments section!

Carlton Flowers
Gadget Lover Supreme


Hit the link above to check out the Samsung Galaxy S IV and the HTC One on all major carriers in the Amazon Wireless Store! You'll get the best pricing on both of these units with a new 2-year contract with super fast shipping