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.

January 28, 2014 | 07:47 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Jan. 28 2014, I have a Samsung Galaxy Centura S738C and there is only ONE camera and it is on the back of the phone. So no front camera like some other smartphones to do skyping or such. The camera does dtakes good pictues.

December 22, 2013 | 02:11 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I had to install a network signal booster...but after that if u have a prob. I just run yhe booster..wofks great.

December 22, 2013 | 10:12 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

how do I using music from my computer to use on my phone to listen to while I'm jogging.

January 28, 2014 | 08:09 PM - Posted by Gerri (not verified)

Jan. 28 2014, I have a Samsung Galaxy Centura S738C. I downloaded my music from my labtop with my connections(the charger) that came with the Centura as it performs two jobs: charging and used as a portable device when connected to the phone and the labtop/computer.

All the music can be copied and pasted into the phone which is found under computer. Just hit start button and go to computer and see your device. OR right click the music file if you are sending all the music to your phone and choose send to option and put it in your device which should be listed. Hope this helps.

The tutorial on tracfone does speak about the music but so far I have not been able to get the fading out music I downloaded to play except a couple of them. I believe it has something to do with the format and I must find a solution somewhere that explains how to get the rest of my music to play as if I was a child!!

Also, when I downloaded: It put my music under the yellow headphones.

December 22, 2013 | 10:54 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I've download songs from my computer to my phone but it will not play all of them its says song not able to play something to that affect is there any way to play them. help!!!

January 28, 2014 | 08:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Jan. 28 2014, I have a Samsung Galaxy Centura S738C. I stumbled upon this site to while researching(googling) why SOME of my music albums I downloaded will not play on my Centura, so if you get the answer please post it here because I am having the same issue.

Funny thing is it will play the DVD I made and a couple of other songs and I think it may have something to do with the format. So, if I find the answer, I too will post it.

April 22, 2014 | 09:20 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Android phones don't play wma's. If you're trying to put those on your phone, you have to convert them to mp3's. I did this via VLC media player that I downloaded on my pc and converted wma's to mp3's and then they show up on the phone after putting them on the phone via windows media player.

December 24, 2013 | 04:59 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

How do you bypass screen lock code by using emergency call button on the. Galaxy centura

December 24, 2013 | 08:07 PM - Posted by Rick (not verified)

I have had this phone now for about 3 wks and Cant figure out how to donload video. It will only let me stream, kinda sucks because video stops and starts alll the time. Anyone know how to make it download instead of just stream?

December 24, 2013 | 10:45 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

how do you delate text messages. and also how do you locate miss calls.

January 28, 2014 | 07:56 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Jan. 28 2014, I have a Samsung Galaxy Centura S738C.

There is a tutorial at Tracfone for this phone and I suppose Straight Talk has one too. Just go into your account and go to the tutorial by finding your phone and clicking on it.

1. As far as deleting text messages: on the main screen just tap the messaging icon, then press and hold the text you want to delete and a trash can comes up at the bottom and just tap the trash can and it deletes it. It seems to only let you delete one text at a time as far as I have learned so far.

2. As far as the miss calls; on your main screen, tap the phone icon at the bottom left side; then a screen comes up that has your calls on it and you can see who called. The tutorial is real good at explaining and walking you through all of these features as it looks exactly like our Centura phone and has all the answers to most of the questions we have on our learning curve journey.

Hope this helps!

December 26, 2013 | 11:18 AM - Posted by Yvonne C. Hyde (not verified)

Hi Tim, I hope you have a better experience with this phone than I did. It has been less than a year and Straight Talk is replacing it for the second time. They will not allow me to upgrade to a better phone, will only replace for the same phone. Grrr... BTW, love Straight Talk as a cell service, have used it for a couple of years now. It's just this phone that is the problem.

December 26, 2013 | 03:41 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I got the samsung galaxy centura for christmas and i cannot figure out howto get the notifications and text ringtone off during a call can anybody help me out

December 29, 2013 | 08:15 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

How do I forward a text/photo message with my galaxy centura phone?

December 30, 2013 | 12:29 AM - Posted by Joy (not verified)

I got this Centura as a gift. Went out and bought a 16g sd card so I would have enough external memory to save my internal. I think my first mistake was letting someone else set up my phone. Long story short my phone will only recognize my contacts to import/export. NOTHING ELSE! I've called straight talk & that was a joke. I've unmounted & remounted the card & formatted it. I've even went as far as rebooting my phone. I just want to save my internal memory PLZ HELP. Thank u for your time.

December 31, 2013 | 12:52 PM - Posted by Charles (not verified)

I accidentally set my phone so the call ends when I press the power button and I cant figure out how to re-set it to not do that and. When I talk on the phone, it all goes to black, even if I am on the speaker phone and nothing is able to be accessed, I cant press the power button to re-activate the screen or it will end the call. How can I keep the screen active throughout the phone call? I am missing something somewhere, thank you.

January 28, 2014 | 08:14 PM - Posted by Gerri (not verified)

Jan. 28 2014, I have a Samsung Galaxy Centura S738C.
Try going into settings; then choose display; then tap SLEEP, then choose a longer time limit like 30 minutes or less. Hope that helps!

December 31, 2013 | 04:17 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I downloaded a lot of music and I cant seem to find it on my phone.... nothing is in the "download" file... HELP

January 1, 2014 | 11:51 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I am new to the smart phone market and would like to know how do you bring up the keyboard when adding a bluetooth device to it? My vehicle has bluetooth and gives me a pin to key in but I do not know how to punch it it--Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

January 28, 2014 | 08:29 PM - Posted by Gerri (not verified)

Jan. 28 2014, I have a Samsung Galaxy Centura S738C.
Check out the Tracfone tutorial for the Centura. It may help you with that issue. Go to tracfone.com and pull up your Centura phone and under it you will see a tutorial.

On the Tracfone.com site; at the very top, the second tier of the top choices choose:
1. Highlight Support
2. Scroll down to "Learn about your phone" and it brings up a picture list of phones
3. Choose your phone from the list of phones by clicking on it
4. Your interactive tutorial will come up
Then you can click on what you need help with and it takes you through the steps.

OR, if you already have a tracfone account, sign in and just click on the tutorial under your phone(if you have registered your phone to your account.)
Hope this helps!

January 2, 2014 | 08:12 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I just bought this phone. It replaces the recent purchase of the ZTE, a phone that could barely connect to Wifi that is 15 feet away. Yuck!

I am a long time Tracfone user and have a lot of banked time with them, so I wanted to stay with TF. For TF use, I had a flip-phone. I also had / have an LG P506 that I carried with me for Wifi.

The old LG P506 that was rooted with a custom ROM (equal to Jellybean). I really liked the LG and if it wasn't a GSM I would be using it with the TF CDMA connection.

The ZTE had a flash with the camera, Samsung has no flash, LG had no flash.

The ZTE and LG allowed you to save apps to the SD card. So far the Samsung doesn't allow it.

You CAN NOT uninstall some Google apps, example - Google Play Books and Chrome. You can only uninstall updates but the apps will allways show up in the Apps. Errrr!!!!!!

So far the Samsung Wifi seems to be as strong as the LG Wifi receiver. I'll test it today at some wifi hot spots. After leaving a coffee shop, the LG could hold the Wifi far, far into the parking lot.

The quality of the Samsung feels a lot better than the ZTE but not quite as good as the LG.

The Samsung GUI is a lot faster than the ZTE and seems faster than the LG (I think).

Not sure why but the Samsung screen collects smudges much more than the LG. Perhaps it is the material used for the screens.

It really ticks me off that I can't move apps to the SD card and Google doesn't allow me to remove some apps...... so I will be rooting this phone; I will be looking for a custom ROM; I will try to take control of the phone that I purchased with my dollars.

January 2, 2014 | 08:47 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

To those that are having the known issue for the time changing, I think I have a fix. At least so far so good, mine has been holding.

Go into settings>date&time
Un-tick the automatic date & time
Un-tick the automatic time zone

choose the Select Time Zone
Set the time zone that matches your area of the world

January 23, 2014 | 12:18 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Hasn't this been tried? Did't work on this SGC. Stil have that problem after up grade.

January 2, 2014 | 02:21 PM - Posted by Dawn (not verified)

I have the Samsung Model SCH-S738C. When in the texting mode; sometimes I can download a text message and most times I can not, even with 3g. do you have any suggestions?

January 28, 2014 | 08:35 PM - Posted by Gerri (not verified)

Jan. 28 2014, I have a Samsung Galaxy Centura S738C. I was told by my plan provider to turn off wi-fi and just use my data plan and so far my Centura works so much better. Try that. You can still text and get texts and go on the internet... Hope it helps.

January 6, 2014 | 05:38 PM - Posted by Janet (not verified)

I purchased a Samsung Galaxy Centura last Fall to use with my Tracphone. I bought it mainly to run a Square type credit card reader. The reader works briefly and then not at all. The Square people do not know, the Tracphone folks are clueless any ideas? I like the phone but need to iron out this problem.

January 7, 2014 | 01:10 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have had this phone for several months now and only within the past few weeks have the problems gotten quite so bad. The web browser is constantly freezing or crashing, sometimes I can't unlock it because it won't even register as powered on, even if its charging, and often times the phone itself just freeze up. Can anyone tell me what is going on?

January 28, 2014 | 08:39 PM - Posted by Gerri (not verified)

Jan. 28 2014, I have a Samsung Galaxy Centura S738C. Are you using Wi-fi?

I was told by my plan provider to turn off wi-fi and just use my data plan and so far my Centura works so much better. Try that. You can still text and get texts and go on the internet...
Hope it helps.

January 7, 2014 | 11:48 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I had my ringtones from my old phone saved on my SD card from my old phone. I have installed them on to this new phone, and cannot figure out how to set them as my ringtone. I don't even see the option for that. Can you please HELP?

January 8, 2014 | 11:17 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

how do you use GPS to navigate

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