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Palm Centro Review

SPECIAL OFFER: For a limited time get 10% Off your purchase of any accessories (see my Editor’s Choice recommendations at the bottom of this post) in our Centro Store.  Just enter coupon code CENTRO10 during Checkout.

I kindly received my Centro review unit from Palm yesterday and after playing with it for a full day (as well as looking for a whole new bunch of Centro accessories) I can now confirm that my very positive original impressions when seeing the device for the first time at Digital Life in NYC have not changed – on the contrary I’m loving my Palm Centro more by the minute.

Palm Centro Review

On the hardware front here are a few points that I’m particularly delighted with:

  • Colour: I’ve been wanting a Black Treo for some time and now I finally have one (Palm call it “Onyx Black” and there’s also the “Ruby Red”).
  • Form Factor: this smartphone is very compact, solidly built and shaped just right (rounded back and edges) to fit comfortably in your hand or pocket.
  • Weight: at only 4.2 oz (119 grams) with its battery the Centro is extremely light (up to 1/3 lighter than previous Treo smartphones).  It shaves a full 2.2 oz (62 grams) from the Treo 700p and 1.4 oz (40 grams) from the Treo 680 and you’ll notice the difference this makes the moment you hold one (image below and see also Palm Centro & Treo Comparison Chart).

Palm Centro Size Comparison

  • Full QWERTY Keyboard: some people can argue this point all they want but the fact is that I still consider that there is no substitute for a full usable keyboard on a smartphone.  Yes, the Centro’s keyboard (below) is incredibly small but what is even more incredible is how well it works – it’s not quite as fast or comfortable as my Treo 680 but it comes very close (it’s also a hell of a lot faster than the virtual keyboard on the iPhone).

Palm Centro Keyboard Palm Centro Keyboard

  • Touchscreen: again, the touchscreen is smaller in size but luckily Palm kept a high resolution 320x320 display.  I didn’t have any problems at all viewing all sorts of information on this screen but admittedly the smaller size does make it just a bit harder to reach some buttons or menus with your fingers using the touchscreen.
  • Memory Expansion: although I’ll be missing the 8GB SD cards currently on my Treo 680 the present maximum of 4GB on a microSD card for the Centro should nonetheless prove plenty for most Centronauts.
  • New 5Way and Flat Hard Buttons: these new larger flat/flush buttons make the Centro a more elegant (reducing the relative clutter of so many keys) and slimmer looking device.
  • Back Speaker: until you hear it it’s hard to describe just how LOUD the new back speaker is – making it perfect for an impromtu music session, for your morning alarm clock and naturally more importantly to ensure that you actually hear your phone ringing when someone calls or texts you (comparatively I’ve been missing about 50% of calls on my test iPhone because both the speaker and the included ringtones are designed for people with bionic ears and not the average user).
  • Camera/Video: I haven’t yet been able to make some proper comparisons but based on first impressions both the images and video that the Centro takes appear to be much improved over earlier models.

One of the few downsides on the Palm Centro is a relatively low battery life with a Talk Time of 3.5 hours but as with the Treo 680 previoiusly I found that an extra spare battery as well as maintaining regular charging cycles (overnight in a cradle for example) significantly reduce the limitations.  Additionally, it’s also clear that as before we should expect to see an extended battery introduced within the next few months.

Palm Centro Review Back & Side

On the software front I have found an equal number of features to like:

  • PalmOS: it may be old/ageing but the fact is that the PalmOS is not only perfectly usable but it also still does things much better than competiting operating systems on a great many fronts such as the Onscreen speakerphone and mute buttons, “Ignore with text” function, Google Maps integration, Messaging, Calendar, Contacts and Tasks among others.  The additional benefit for existing Treonauts is that like me they’ll be able to simply plug their Centro to their PC and synchronize it using their current HotSync ID to have a fully customized new smartphone in minutes.  There are also a few additional minor modifications within the OS and I’m trying to get a full list of these from Palm.
  • Pocket Tunes Deluxe: with a value of $39.99 the full version of this top MP3 player is conveniently included in your Centro purchase ready to provide you with hours of fun with music on the go (something that I use almost daily).
  • IM: bundled for the first time, the new IM application provides support for AIM, MSN and/or Yahoo! to instant message your buddy list while on the go – it works great and even lets you know of incoming message via an alert when you are out.
  • Sprint TV & On Demand: part of the exclusive Sprint content and services found on the Centro (also includes Sprint Mobile eMail).  Most of the programming is free (On Demand alone used to cost up to $10 per month) and includes things such as streaming news, video, music, radio as well as news, sports, weather, 411 and TV Guide.
  • Google Maps: the latest version of Google Maps is also now pre-installed in ROM and provides a superbly useful solution and now also includes Contacts integration so that you can quicly view directions to a contact’s address.
  • Nuance Voice Control: this voice recognition service works surprisingly well and the only downside is a relatively long delay as it’s an application that runs wirelessly via a server instead of being an on-board application.
  • Third-Party Software: with hundreds if not thousands of fantastic third-party software designed for the PalmOS, you can customize and further enhance the functionality of your Centro to your hearts desire (see my Top 100 Treo Software).

Palm Centro Camera Palm Centro Body Detail

Palm Centro Lanyard Slot Palm Centro Mute Slider

Overall the Palm Centro will prove to be a terrific smartphone for existing Treonauts wishing to greatly reduce the size and weight of the device that they carry in their pockets every day without having to make any significant compromises.  Newly minted Centronauts for their part will find a device not much larger than their current standard 12–key phone – one that now offers them all the amazing benefits of owning a Treo smartphone.

Editor’s Choice Centro Accessories

Centro StylusSeidio 2in1 Pen Centro Stylus
If you’ve ever been anywhere struggling to find a pen at hand to write something down you’ll quickly understand just how useful this dual pen/stylus for your Centro really is.

Centro Screen ProtectorSPE Centro Screen Protector
You could risk scratching your screen accidentally or simply choose these great screen protectors for your Centro instead.

Cellet Centro CradleCellet Cradle Dock
This is the slimmest and most elegant Docking + Battery Charging cradle available for your Centro and my own top choice.

Palm Air CasePalm Air Case
My favourite and Editor’s Choice Centro case provides a slim but very robust all-round protection against scratches and drops for your smartphone.  (See my review)

Centro Screen ProtectorCentro Screen Protectors
The simplest way to ensure scratch protection for your delicate Centro touchscreen these screen protectors are the #1 bestselling accessory.

SPE Retractable S&C CableSPE Retractable S&C Cable
Probably the single best value accessory and one of the most essential items in my kit – this is one product you should never be without.  (See my review)

Palm Centro BatteryAnother great offer for Centronauts is the price drop of a spare original 1150mAh Palm Centro Battery which is now available for only $29.95 – saving you $20 (40%) off Palm’s MSRP.

This 1150mAh spare Centro battery from Palm (see my review) will provide you with an additional 3.5 hours of talk time or 240 hours of standby time – perfect for that extra juice you’ll need while on the go.

Both the AT&T Centro and Sprint Centro are now available for FREE with a 2 year contract or for $99 directly from either AT&T or Sprint.  For additional information and full specifications please see these previous posts:

Treonauts & Centronauts are always amazing…

Posted by Andrew on October 11, 2007 at 07:18 PM

Palm Centro

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» 7 Takes On Palm Centro from Gizmodo
Released just yesterday, the Palm Centro has our eyes for a few reasons. First, their Treo smartphones have some of the highest ratings in smartphone history on review sites like CNET. So when Palm essentially shrinks their famous Treo and... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 15, 2007 11:35:50 AM

» Palm Centro - Best of Both Worlds from Office Mobility Blog
Affordable way to manage your social life and work life. It’s been well documented that Palm’s marketshare has been declining over the past few years as RIM/BlackBerry and Windows Mobile have taken a more dominant chunk of the US smartphone... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 5, 2008 4:12:00 PM


by centrogeek | Oct 15, 2007 6:30:29 PM

I just upgraded from the Treo 700p. Seems the Centro's camera is not as high quality. Everything on screen suffers from lag as the camera is moved around. Too bad...otherwise, I'd consider every other aspect an upgrade.

by Sam -- New Centro | Oct 16, 2007 10:37:40 AM

Just upgraded yesterday to the Centro...replacing my 2 year old Treo 650. Without installing any of the new HOTSYNC software from the BOX, I used my existing HOTSYNC and seemlessly installed all of my software/contacts/settings right into the Centro. (Within 5 minutes I had a fully configured brand new phone--exactly how I had my old one configured. Even my Snapper POP3 email software with all my accounts plugged right in.)

Immediate impressions: (1) I am now recieving a stronger signal from Sprint. I have a basement office that has a weak signal...and usually results in fade out and dropped calls. The Centro connects to Sprint much better! (2) Blue Tooth is much improved--compared to the 650. I have a Jabra BT 5020 and the BT connection is immediate and relatively noise free. (3) Watching TV is a blast!!! The new Spring Power Vision Internet is much faster than what I got on the 650. I spent the night surfing TV shows and watching music videos. I even did a side by side comparison of FOX News. It is basically LIVE on the Centro--with only a 2 minute internet delay.

Overall, I am please with the upgrade! The device is much smaller, I migrated my previous settings and software seemlessly, I recieve a stronger Sprint signal and my Blue Tooth works better.

No complaints here.

by Sam -- New Centro | Oct 16, 2007 10:41:46 AM

One more thing...

SanDisk just came out with a 6gb mini-SD card:


I am ordering this today.

by Sam -- New Centro | Oct 16, 2007 10:51:56 AM

That's a 6gb "micro-SD" card.

SanDisk 6GB micro SD High Capacity Memory Card, micro SDHC Card with SD Card Adapter
SanDisk is proud to announce our newest format and capacity to the SD card family: microSD High Capacity (microSDHC) 6GB flash card. Included as bonus is our new MicroMate™ SD/SDHC compatible, high-speed USB 2.0 Reader! This will help and ensure your transition from the microSD format to the microSDHC format ¡V for our cards and for compatible host devices. Also comes with a full size SD adapter to fit into devices with an SD slot.

by 4ster | Oct 16, 2007 3:29:33 PM

Can anyone venture a guess as to whether or not TeleNav will work on the Centro?

by Best Of Both Worlds | Oct 16, 2007 3:39:17 PM

I have a Treo 700wx and I love it, and wouldn't trade it...But recently for my birthday, my husband brought me a iPhone...which I also have a high regard for. It does many things that a Treo doesn't do, but except for the lack of GPS I let the iPhone complement the Treo, as I use both! Let's say that I love them both.

by RA | Oct 16, 2007 10:36:24 PM

Does anyone think we will see the centro show up in canada? This is the phone I would really like to get. I currently carry a flip phone and a palm TX. It works ok I guess, but I have been considering a treo of some sort. The centro looks a little bit more my type though.

by tbutlertx | Oct 17, 2007 9:50:41 AM

Hey Andrew,

The manuals that come with the Centro indicate a screen protector is not necessary, as it comes with a "permanent" screen protector installed. But if the "permanent" screen protecter gets scratched, isn't that the same thing as your screen getting scratched??? Is it replaceable? Do you know anything about this?

by v | Oct 19, 2007 9:22:11 AM

Is there any plan to make a GSM version for Europe ?

by Bree | Oct 19, 2007 9:53:27 AM

I LOVE my new Centro. Much better functionality of OS features than the 755p and I love the size and color. its a sexy treo! wish it had google talk though!

by ABCDARIO | Oct 21, 2007 5:48:07 PM

Hello everybody, i m going to take the step from Symbian to Palm OS, i just want to know if the Treo 680 can store cards bigger than 2 GB.

I m not that good for portable storage cards, and want to make sure my Treo680 will support bigger cards, the Palm page says only 2 GB

by LuvPalm | Oct 22, 2007 1:09:48 AM

To MikeTeeVee:
The volume/speakerphone is not loud enough in a noisy moving car. I tried it the whole weekend, and can barely hear the other party unless the window is up and no radio is on.

It's loud enough in a quiet indoor space.

The other draw back is the short battery life. The actual usage is less than 3.5hr talktime and 300 hour standby.

Otherwise, it's a good phone.

by carlos | Oct 24, 2007 1:51:29 AM

hey i just ordered this phone. i am psyched. but now that i got a CLOSE look, i dont know about the color. its like black with glitter. lol how gay. i might need a cover for it. i didnt even bother looking at it before purchase, if its anything like my treo 700p i will love it

by jean | Oct 24, 2007 1:27:11 PM

?Black with glitter is gay?
Sounds fine to me.
The world needs more glitter; flat pastel colors are soooo passe.

by JChavez | Oct 27, 2007 1:55:40 PM

Palm Centro Lacks Vital Safety Feature - Voice Activated Dialing.

I was terribly disapointed to learn that my new Centro "Smart Phone" device does not come with "onboard" Voice Activated Dialing like my old Sayno phone with Sprint. It very difficult to dial a phone number when driving (not to mention dangerous) due to screen and key size. Though Sprint offers an alternative paid monthly solution called Nuance Voice Control. This is probably an oversight by Palm, and have no doubt they will eventually include this vital safety feature for free in their next software updat before a tragedy occurs.

by pcmedics911 | Oct 28, 2007 1:41:10 AM

I tested both the 755P and the Centro.

Heres my verdict and you can take it to the bank :)

The 755P Build Quailty outweighs the Centro by a long shot. The Centro is quite plastic while the 755P has the rubber type texture.

The Centro is small on both the screen and the keyboard. Pro or con? When your your typing emails or Text msgs...the smaller the keys the hard to type.

Both are really good phones, cuts above the rest no doubt. In the end, went back to the 755P since Palm has clearly stated they are targeted the first / new smartphones with the Centro. its apparent but its a great phone...so close the the 755P in everey way except build quiality.

by Angelica | Oct 29, 2007 1:27:06 AM

Palm Centro is a good phone, and the sound quality is solid. Came across something interesting on Palm Centro at

by bobr | Oct 30, 2007 8:36:00 AM

My 700p is a workhorse - Listening to my harry potter CDs via mp3 on ptunes, listening it my audible account audio books from Audible, watching golf how-to dvds and movies on TCPMP, reading ebooks with ereader, finding my way with Google maps, watching the golf channel on my slingbox, getting the latest weather with xweather, researching terms on the internet during a technical meeting, viewing Microcsoft project, Excel, Word, PDFs etc for business, IMing with customers and family when I can't talk, auto backups and seemless recovery with NVBackup .... I could go on and on but it is truly the swiss pocket knife multitool of the 21st century. I will be very slow to upgrade because it does everything that I can conceive of and it is fast enough for tv streaming in real time - about a 20 to 30 second lag when compared to my tv set. Oh yes, I occasionally talk on it too -

by Bjørn Radtke | Nov 6, 2007 1:33:53 PM

On the 750 can I watch videos from a website...needs to be at least 300K? and have Windows Player w/SP2

by Patrick | Nov 8, 2007 4:25:33 PM

A quick question: does the Centro work with a standard stero headset/microphone plug that you would use on any other cell phone? (2.5 mm or whatever the right size) The reason I ask is because I plugged in the stereo headphones from my old phone (Samsung A-940) and only got sound out of the one speaker (the primary one) Do you have to buy a special headphone set?

by FreckledAsian | Nov 19, 2007 12:36:38 PM

So...has anybody else had trouble with the Centro slowing down or freezing? I have had this phone for a couple weeks now (i guess ever since it came out) and it is slow to change screens, will freeze up without a reason and, although I don't consider my fingers to be "chubby" persay, I can't seem to go one text message without jumbling up words.

1) does anybody know how to make my phone a bit faster with applications?

2) do you honestly think that I should trade in my phone to get a better one? I love this phone for the cute factor but it's starting to make me angry with the slowness.

Many people don't seem to like Palm as a company but I really don't know any better. Please enlighten me. Thanks!

by Bernd Friedmann | Nov 30, 2007 4:43:17 PM

OK, after just readin all of this, I had to go to a store and look at this phone. I am pretty big and after playing with it for 1 minute I could already tell it would annoy me from the first moment I would buy it.
First of all, the keyboard is stupidly small and cramped together. Keep pressing two or three buttons instead of one. Ending up with more correcting then typing - super annoying!
The second thing that really bugged me, is the one silver button in front that allows you to select applications. The ring around it makes it really hard to even select it at all and then it is so super sensitive it keeps selecting what you really don't want.
The third thing is the same old and slow palm software. Sluggish and still the old style. Boring and annoying.
If you guys here ever try one of the new blackberries, you will not even look at this pathetic try from Palm again.



by Hank | Dec 8, 2007 10:16:28 PM

You can get a combination headset / stereo headset for $10 at Sprint. I went everywhere looking for one, Best Buy, Radio Shack, etc, thinking that sprint would be a lot more expensive, but then found theirs was the best price. The have a higher quality one, but it was out of stock. Haven't had great feed back on using it as a headset, but the stereo phones are more than adequate.

Overall, I like the phone. But I've owned a palm for years. It will be nice to have one device instead of two, just need the telenav to come out with a compatible device.

by Eric | Dec 19, 2007 2:10:29 AM

I just upgraded from the Treo 700p. Seems the Centro's camera is not as high quality. Everything on screen suffers from lag as the camera is moved around. Too bad...otherwise, I'd consider every other aspect an upgrade"

Dude what are you talking about? That’s not an upgrade. The 700p is the same as the 755p but its missing the antenna & can’t handle a 16GB SD card. The Centro in comparison has a shorter battery life & smaller screen size thus making it even harder to surf the web than all Treos.

When it comes down to it the best Treo of all times is the 700p

700p key features

Decent Camera
Support for 16GB SD cards
Longest available battery life
320x320 screen

by Jan | Mar 11, 2008 5:54:13 PM

I just purchased a Centro - it is a great palm/phone! I wonder if anyone uses a lanyard to hold the Centro.

Due to my hand becoming numb I would like to be able to have it on a lanyard around my neck. Thanks what ever suggestions anyone might have to offer.

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