Palm Centro Dominates the Desired Features Scale

Dec 17, 2008 (Updated Dec 18, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Compact size, ease of use, variety of compatible applications, call and speaker quality, design

Cons:Shifty battery door, average battery life, cramped keyboard

The Bottom Line: This is a powerful, yet unintimidating phone.  Even if you don't need all the power, you will find uses for it.

I realize there are many reviews on the Palm Centro, so I’m going to try to get into some real specifics; the end result should be that if you read this review and combine it with nad_master’s review here, just about every question you might have about the Centro will be answered.

The Palm Centro Smartphone brings with it the tried and true Palm OS, known for its stability and ease of use.  After the craze started to settle over the initial release of the iPhone, people started to realize that the touch screen was nice to have, but should be optional.  In other words, phones like the iPhone are designed, in general, to demand that you touch the screen.  The Centro, and others like it, simply give you that option (although in some cases you do have to touch something with the stylus, which is included, or your finger or fingernail or anything else small).  For most daily applications, your navigation buttons and app buttons will do.

If you are thinking about coming over to a Centro from a standard flip or candy-bar style cell phone, you are making a major change.  The power of this phone is staggering when you add up not only the built-in features and applications but all of the freeware and shareware that you can download for it.  I sometimes forget, literally, that the thing makes calls, too.  I currently have over 100 applications loaded on my Centro!  That’s more than I’ve put on my PC.  Most of them I’m just testing out, but the point is that you can have that much loaded, and more.  This phone will take the place of your PDA, notepads, voice recorders, audio and video players, calculators and just about anything else you’re currently using to compute or keep records, from shopping lists (with details right down to the store and aisle the items are located on) to phases of the moon—you can do it all with this phone.  Its power is multiplied, of course, if you have an unlimited data plan.

For scheduling and people’s information, if you have Palm Desktop installed, the meat of which is the calendar and your contacts, you can keep your Centro “synced,” to your desktop/laptop.  That means if you’re browsing the web and find a number or email you want to put into the phone, you can just do it on the computer—it will automatically update the phone during your next sync operation (which can be done several ways, but the easiest by far is just pressing the single button on the USB cable that connects the phone to your computer).  If you happen to be out at a store and meet and old friend, and your punch her info into your contacts, it will also load into your computer contacts list during your next sync.  This keeps all appointments and contacts current if you remember to run your sync regularly (I’d suggest getting into the habit of running it once per day, perhaps before bed or before work).

I’m going to also touch on a few issues that are centered around some questions raised in nad_master’s review, to give you some more depth and more options on how to deal with them.  To keep those relatively organized, I will number those issues that are specific responses to issues his review touched on.

1.  The price (with Sprint) currently ranges from free to $99 if you are either signing up for a two-year contract or extending your contract for two-years (providing that you’ve already been with Sprint long enough to earn the credit).

2.  VersaMail cannot get your Yahoo! Mail unless you are subscribed to Yahoo’s Mail Plus package (which allows for “pop,” access).

3.  Although the Centro does have GPS capabilities, and uses GPS for 911 location services, there are currently no applications that will allow you to use your Centro as a GPS device.  Rumors are floating that Palm may release a “firmware update,” that “unlocks,” this feature for the Centro, but I wouldn't hold my breath.  External hardware and software is required to use your Centro as a GPS unit.

4.  On the Centro, the Micro SD card routinely becomes “unmounted,” and you can’t access the card.  Before you take it out and put it back in 100 times, try installing something like SafeGuard for Palm OS, which keeps the card mounted continuously.  I believe the current limit for card capacity is 4GB.

5.  Opera mini can work on the Centro, but you have to install Java virtual machine first, and since Palm nor Sun no longer have it available, you’ll have to install it from a third party site like or

6.  I do have big hands, and the Centro does allow for me to type fairly comfortably, but in the two months I’ve owned it, I haven’t been able to match the speed that I was able to type on a regular phone using T9.  I regularly hit the wrong key and have to backspace to correct it.  Again, it’s tolerable all things considered.

7.  Although there is no reset button, there are applications that you can download to reset the phone for you, so that you don’t have to remove the back cover and take the battery out.

Overall, for the price and the power, you can’t compare anything to the Centro; it’s in a class of its own.  I would definitely recommend it to anybody.

After you get your Centro there are some websites you’ll want to peruse, bookmark, and probably frequent, such as:

I’ll try to update that list occasionally (if I remember) as new websites emerge and become useful.  Thanks for reading.

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