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.

September 16, 2013 | 11:45 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Does your phone get the ibotta app? Did you figure it out? If so, please let me know how. I am so frustrated about this myself.

July 20, 2013 | 02:42 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

does it have a memo pad

July 25, 2013 | 10:00 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I don't believe so, but you can download an app. I used Color
Note. You can get post-it style notes (either checklists or text.)

July 24, 2013 | 11:43 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Anyone else lose service randomly and it won't recover without turning it off and back on? It seems to happen most when texting and I lose texts.

August 20, 2013 | 02:23 AM - Posted by Steve (not verified)

Had that happen one time. It was while texting too. I got this phone in may.

December 7, 2013 | 07:37 PM - Posted by anonymous (not verified)

On my last smart phone i had a task manager where i could go and close open windows and also delete ram...does this phone do that also. Help please

December 7, 2013 | 07:37 PM - Posted by anonymous (not verified)

On my last smart phone i had a task manager where i could go and close open windows and also delete ram...does this phone do that also. Help please

December 7, 2013 | 07:39 PM - Posted by anonymous (not verified)

Can you help me find task manager on this phone

July 24, 2013 | 10:53 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I made a video and then some pictures afterwards. In order to get back to that video for viewing,I must go through every picture first. Is there a quicker way?

July 27, 2013 | 05:48 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

You could move the video(s) to a different album or use a media player like VLC to play videos instead of the gallery app. There does not seem to be a 'sort by type' option in Gallery, unfortunately.

July 25, 2013 | 12:18 PM - Posted by Judy (not verified)

down loaded ringtones, but cannot seem to be able to use them on the galaxy centura, any help?

August 1, 2013 | 06:57 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

download the ZEDGE app. lots of ringtones

August 13, 2013 | 12:39 AM - Posted by Lastblast (not verified)

I found that you need to convert the MP3 files into .OGG files in order for it to recognize them and use them for ring tones.. Not too hard once you figure out how to do it, just another feature that should have been on this phone like everyone else's but doesn't seem to exist.

Guess what I am saying is my wife's phone has no issues using MPG type files as ring tones, but I have to connect to a computer, dig into the file system on the phone, convert my MP3 files into .ogg files and insert them into the ringtone section on the phone...
I really am hating this phone more and more.....

September 3, 2013 | 12:56 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

how did you do it can you explain. i have tried and didnt get anywhere.

September 24, 2013 | 08:05 AM - Posted by eddie (not verified)

no you dont have to convert files. copy the file to the ringtones folder using xplore, or whatever file manager you use.

July 26, 2013 | 01:10 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Why does my samsung s738c show a yellow triangle, as if it is the wrong batter when I try to charge it? I have the correct battery. I even ordered a new one to be sure. Won't charge.


July 27, 2013 | 05:50 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

Hmm have you tried a different charger? Since you've tried a second battery, it suggests that it might be a hardware issue with the phone itself. Hopefully it is still under warranty.

July 26, 2013 | 04:50 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Do you know if this Galaxy phone can be hooked up to the Bluetooth in a new Prius????

July 27, 2013 | 05:50 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

The phone does have a Bluetooth radio, so it should be possible.

October 26, 2013 | 04:59 PM - Posted by Lynne (not verified)

Yes, I have it paired with my new Elantra

December 5, 2013 | 11:12 AM - Posted by Bill (not verified)

Yes, you can hook up to your Prius Bluetooth with no problem.

December 5, 2013 | 11:14 AM - Posted by Bill (not verified)

Yes, it works fine with a Prius Bluetooth.

July 29, 2013 | 10:17 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

So if I wanted to upgrade the Samsung Galaxy Centura to a later version of Android where do I locate the upgrade and how do you install? Please provide a link. Thanks

July 31, 2013 | 05:04 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

i have this phone, not even a month and im having probs with it erasing my contacts, anyone else have this prob? i put the names in and a day or so later they r gone... i put an sd card in it too

July 31, 2013 | 05:05 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

i cant sync my phone to my ford truck, it has bluetooth so im confussed?

August 1, 2013 | 09:06 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

please give us the answer about upgrading the Android version on the Centura. I will use this info to decide whether or not to buy this phone.

August 3, 2013 | 01:40 PM - Posted by Lastblast (not verified)

I purchased this phone 2 months ago and have been pretty frustrated with it. I realize you get what you pay for but some of the issues I have had compared to my wifes Huawei Ascend Plus drive us both crazy.
First off, why didn't they install a file manager.
2nd, google seems to have made it to were you cannot shut off their apps. I was trying to figure out why my phones battery was going dead in 3 hours on standby mode and tried to shut apps off and found out you cannot do any thing with stuff that has to do with google.

I am still having issues with the battery draining down on stand by but it seems to be specific to where I am at the time. even though it shows full bars on 3g the phone will lose 25 percent of its battery just in standby mode unused.

All in all I really hate this phone, but I love straight talk... that is unless you have to call their support center, good luck with that one..

August 6, 2013 | 08:36 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

Yeah, I was a bit perplexed as well when trying to get at files, not sure why Samsung did not include one. I have been using an app from the Play Store called "File Manager" by Rhythm Software for the few times I need one and it works well.

Hmm as far as battery, one thing you might check is what apps you allow to use background data services. I usually keep my screen brightness around the halfway mark with Wi-Fi on but BT and GPS disabled and see pretty good battery life.

Hope it helps.

August 6, 2013 | 11:00 PM - Posted by lastblast (not verified)

Hmm, well, I have no idea what was causing the drain, I had already did what you suggested and was trying to figure out how to shut off all the Google apps that were running. I then ended up shutting off the sound to the phone and the next thing you know I got battery life again. But then I had no alert if I got a text or phone call. And then all of a sudden a day later after running the phone on quite mode I decided to test it again and turn the sound back on. Now all of a sudden everything is ok.
It’s the most quirky piece of crap I have ever dealt with. They make everything so difficult to work around, and what baffles me it’s the same Android operating system as my wife’s Huawei Ascend Plus but yet lacks all the things that makes hers so easy to use. This phone has come close to going out a window on multiple occasions.
Like I said, Same Android OS yet a totally different phone, doesn’t make sense… Shame on you Samsung because I bought you because of your Name, otherwise I would have bought the Huawei Ascend Plus.
I had mentioned something about Samsung not even including a file manager on their review site and they refused to publish my review…
I had a old Nokia E71 that was smarter than this so called Smart phone.
For $100 I guess I got what I paid for, btw, I have been with Straigh talk for almost 3 years, love them but not their cust support center.

August 3, 2013 | 07:28 PM - Posted by Wendy (not verified)

I hate my Samsung galaxy centura, the time resets itself ay least 3 times a day, it does not have EST in the menu, I cant use my personalized ringtones I have downloaded, they are there but cant be used. and I cannot find Contact list or phone log.

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