Just Delivered: Samsung Galaxy Centura Android Smartphone (SCH-S738C)

Subject: Mobile | July 5, 2013 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: smartphone, sch-s738c, Samsung, just delivered, galaxy centura, android 4.0.4

Just Delivered is a new section of PC Perspective where we share some of the goodies that pass through our labs that may or may not see a review, but are pretty cool none the less.

Find the Galaxy Centura on Amazon!

I recently decided to move away from AT&T and try out a Straight Talk plan on the recommendation of friends. Moving to Straight Talk also meant getting a new phone though, because when I went to Straight Talk last month AT&T compatible SIM cards were still not available.

Long story short, I ended up getting the Samsung Galaxy Centura smart phone and Straight Talk's $45/month no-contract offering, which is around half of what I was paying AT&T! The phone itself cost $100.

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The Samsung Galaxy Centura is smartphone that operates on Verizon's network and runs Android 4.0.4. Not the latest and greatest Android, but Samsung has not "blessed" the phone with its TouchWiz UI and a nice step up from the Samsung Infuse 4G's Android 2.3 OS that Samsung never bothered updating further (heh).

The Samsung Galaxy Centura is model number SCH-S738C (GP). It measures 4.44" (H) x 2.4" (W) x 0.45" (D) and weighs 4.4 ounces. The front of the phone features a 3.5" 262K TFT touchscreen with a resolution of 320 x 480. A small speaker grill and Tracfone logo sit at the top, while a Samsung logo and three capacitive buttons sit below the screen. The buttons are menu, home, and back. The front of the phone is black and surrounded by a glossy blue bezel that also matches the battery door.

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The back of the phone has another Samsung logo, a speaker grill, and a 3MP camera capable of shooting 3MP stills and 640 x 480 video. The back of the phone comes off and doubles as the battery door. Samsung has put several clips along the edges to hold it in place, and may actually be a bit too secure as it can be hard to get the door off.

A standard 3.5mm headphone jack is located at the top of the phone, a power button is located on teh right side, and two volume buttons are located on the left edge. The bottom edge includes a micro-USB connector.

Internally, the Galaxy Centura features a Qualcomm MSM7625A SoC with a single core Snapdragon S1 processor (45nm, Cortex-A5) clocked at 800 Mhz, an Adreno 200 GPU, and a CDMA cellular radio. Additionally, the SoC is paired with 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage (expandable by a microSD card under the battery door), and a decent 3.7V, 5.55 Wh, 1500 mAh battery. Other internal hardware includes an accelerometer, GPS, Bluetooth radio, and Wi-Fi radio. I am not as familiar with CDMA as GSM, but the Centura operates on Verizon's equivalent to AT&T's 3G network for data and vocie (though not at the same time). It is currently connected to Verizon's EVDO Rev. A:8 network. As far as network data speed, the fastest results I have been able to get, as measured by speedtest.net, are 1,276 kbps down and 487 kbps up.

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While it had no problems running Android games at decent frame rates, 3DMark mobile pushed it to its limits. It scored 536 in the Ice Storm benchmark and 281 in the Ice Storm Extreme benchmark, for example. Unfortunately, this 3DMark app was not available when I had the Infuse 4G so I am not able to offer up comparison results.

Now that the specifications and pricing is out of the way, I can talk a bit about first impressions. I have been using the smartphone for a couple of weeks now, and it is a fairly solid device, especially considering the price of the hardware (and the monthly plan is cheap too). It is noticeably slower at some tasks than my old Samsung Infuse, but that is to be expected with slower-clocked hardware. With that said, performance was actually much better than I expected it to be. The phone is able to run apps and games without issue, though when multi-tasking the game frame-rate starts to dip. Switching between applications (especially with a game running) is not as snappy as with my Infuse, but not terribly slow either. I'm not sure if it's the newer version of Android or not, but the software side of things seems to work well on this hardware.

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The physical smartphone is plastic, but it feels well built. Admittedly, I have dropped my new phone quite a few more times than I would have liked (heh), but it has held up really well. It has not yet gone plastic to concrete yet though. Dropping it on tile and carpet has not caused any issues, however. When holding the phone and using the touchscreen, there is no creaking of the battery door and it seems to stand up to pressure without problems. With that said, I do have one complaint about the physical hardware, and that is that when holding the phone in the landscape position, the end of the back cover next to the speaker grill gives too much and makes a creaking noise when pressed in (say, when playing a racing game). That is the only area that exhibits that issue, however. It is likely due to the fact that Samsung carved out a bit internally for the microSD card and speaker underneath the back cover on the phone itself whereas the rest of the phone's back cover fits snugly to the back of the phone.

Overall, I'm happy with the phone, it gets excellent signal where I live now and is a good Android (albeit 4.0.4) experience for only $100 for the hardware. If you are off contract right now and thinking about switching to one of the many MVNOs (and live in an area with good Verizon coverage), I'd recommend trying out the Samsung Galaxy Centura from what I've experienced thus far. It is not the latest or fastest hardware by far, but it has great price/performance.

July 5, 2013 | 08:39 AM - Posted by Tri Wahyudianto (not verified)

Hi Tim, if you doesn't satisfy with just android 4.0.4, i suggest u upgrade it using custom ROM to android 4.2.2. trust me it really worth it your time.

July 5, 2013 | 08:45 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

That's a good thought, I may give flashing a custom ROM a try at some point :).

July 19, 2013 | 10:15 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

i need up with my phone can yo help me pls

September 16, 2013 | 11:05 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I downloaded my personal email account onto my computer. I decided I don't want it on my phone. How do I remove it from my phone?

December 1, 2013 | 01:03 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

You can just remove the email account from the app to delete what is on your phone and stop it from syncing.

August 21, 2014 | 08:36 AM - Posted by Helen (not verified)

How do I send and receive a text? I have a TracFone, does a text cost more in minutes than a phone call?

August 6, 2013 | 04:31 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Read ur comments at pcper.com. I am curious about flashing custom roms. this my first smartphone. Had it for three weeks. Thx

August 6, 2013 | 08:30 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

Well, I have not yet flashed anything custom onto it so i can't speak to that experience yet :). 

January 9, 2014 | 05:30 AM - Posted by Toby Nixon (not verified)

I upgraded my last phone. It was highly successful. I will let you know. In the meantime, can you explain why not 4.1 in the first place?

August 25, 2013 | 08:22 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Any idea how to use voice search? Ive had this phone almost two months and this morning a voice search tool popped out of no where and as weirdly as it showed up it disappeared...

October 26, 2013 | 04:35 PM - Posted by Lynne (not verified)

Tap on message icon (for texting)then tap as if to send a text to a contact. A keyboard comes up and immediately to the right of the 123Sym key is a microphone symbol. If that symbol looks like a little gear, press and hold that gear symbol and it should pop up the microphone choice. Tap that to change it to microphone. But first of all, before all of this,on the lower left bring up system settings and go to Language and Input.Click a checkmark into Google voice typing. That turns on the feature and allows you to voice type on Google, emails, and any search bar on your phone by just touching the Microphone symbol and talking into the phone.

October 18, 2013 | 03:48 PM - Posted by Jeff M (not verified)

I am going to buy the samsung sentura and U spoke of up grading. How do I do that?
Jeff M

September 29, 2013 | 05:34 PM - Posted by Ron (not verified)

So you can upgrade to a higher vs. of Android? How do you do that? I am getting my phone from Tracfone on Tuesday.
Thanks, Ron

November 11, 2013 | 07:39 AM - Posted by jeremy (not verified)

was wondering if u could give any advice on ur custom rom.rooted the phone just fine.tried area 51but nothing seems to stick.any advice or tips would be awesome.

February 23, 2014 | 11:22 AM - Posted by scottt (not verified)

How do I upgrade to the 4.2 u talkd bout

May 19, 2014 | 11:44 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

How do you turn on the group chat?

July 5, 2013 | 12:52 PM - Posted by Bill (not verified)

A great little review of something most reviewers skip right over in favor of the "cool" stuff. I'll also backup what Tri mentioned and say that you should look into custom roms of the Android 4.2.2 variety. Jelly Bean is noticeably snappier than ICS.

That being said, I'm kind of surprised at how low the specs are on that phone, even taking into consideration it's low price. My old Samsung Vibrant that was introduced 3 years ago had better specs. I now know why it brought so much money used!

I think for $200 more the Nexus 4 makes a very compelling argument for spending the additional money. However, if you're on a budget or just don't really care about having the the extra speed, or more importantly if you aren't one of those people that play every game on your phone, this little Galaxy Centura is a great option to have.

July 6, 2013 | 02:18 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

how does it do screenshots i did it once but can not remember how

July 6, 2013 | 03:37 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

Umm, I'm not sure what the key combo is, I usually use an app that has a timer and such and sits in the notification area.

July 13, 2013 | 09:35 AM - Posted by Cal (not verified)

Use the down volume/power button combination

July 27, 2013 | 05:45 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

Ah, thanks for the tip!

May 19, 2014 | 12:17 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

My phone was scree shooting just fine but now it wont work at all, im stumped and cant figure this out! It updates regularly and just did yesterday. I tried turning it off and on but still nothing.

June 13, 2014 | 09:59 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

screen capture : powerbutton + down volume....(same time)

June 28, 2014 | 03:20 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Press the power button and the volume down at the same time until you hear the click/snap

June 28, 2014 | 03:20 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Press the power button and the volume down at the same time until you hear the click/snap

July 8, 2013 | 12:00 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

Hi everyone, just a quick update to note that refilling the plan by adding a new service card proved to be easier than expected. I called the number on the service plan card, entered the PIN on the keypad and that's all it took. No phone tree hell, in other words :).

I have not yet tried these features, but it is possible to add the cards online, purchase in bulk and save a couple of bucks, or add extra cards to a reserve.

July 11, 2013 | 12:24 AM - Posted by TomDent (not verified)

To do the online refill features, you have to make an account on mystraighttalk.com (which of course is free and really simple). I usually have my laptop with me most of the time and spend a lot of time on it, so it's easy just to go online, log in, and add air time (either by typing in the pin number off a purchased card or using a credit card on the site). I also use the reserve feature often and it's really come in handy since I started using Straight Talk a few years back. I recommend to anyone that is trying Straight Talk for the first time (or current customers who haven't done it yet) to go ahead and make an account online. It can make things more convenient at times.

October 26, 2013 | 04:38 PM - Posted by Lynne (not verified)

I made it even easier by setting up a charge monthly to my credit card. They charge your card once a month and it's hassle free. Love not having to worry about it. And I love this phone

August 1, 2013 | 11:21 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have had Straight Talk for 3 years with no complaints. Adding minutes on line is a piece of cake!

November 17, 2013 | 02:29 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yes bulk is possible they have 3 month 6 month and 1 year cards and still at the same price as it would cost for them each month!

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