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AT&T Palm Centro Review

The new AT&T Palm Centro released yesterday offers an ideal solution for people looking for an affordable (only $99 with contract), user-friendly, powerful and extremely versatile smartphone – one that offers a full QWERTY keyboard and high resolution touchscreen which has proven ideal for text messaging, IM, corporate and personal email.

AT&T Centro In My Hand

Although it holds relatively less appeal for existing Treonauts because it is in essence a mini Treo and provides little additional upgrade benefits, the fact is nonetheless that the Centro has proven to be an extremely successful platform for Palm.  Although the company has not yet released any unit sales figures, many sources point to the Centro being the “bestselling phone at Sprint retail stores” – a clear indication that Palm has done something right and is regaining traction (at least at the entry level end of the market).

AT&T Centro Keyboard

As Phil McClendon, Palm's product line manager for consumer smartphones points out: ”The people that will be interested in Centro are new to the smartphone market [migrating from a traditional mobile phone] and tend to be fairly price-sensitive.  That is one reason why Centro is a fraction of the cost of the iPhone [and why it has proven so popular].”

Centro, Treo Size Comparison

My own rationale for upgrading from my existing Treo 680 (or other PalmOS model) to a Centro is fairly straightforward: I am extremely attracted by the much more compact and lighter form factor of the Centro combined with a fully functional (albeit smaller) keyboard while having the benefit of retaining ALL of the other features that continue to make a PalmOS device so appealing to me.

White AT&T Centro Open Back

Aside from the great form factor and impressive small keyboard, among others I continue to like the following Centro hardware features:

  • Touchscreen: although the touchscreen is smaller in size Palm has 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 and 16GB SDHC cards currently on my Treo 680 the present maximum of 8GB on a microSDHC 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.

One of the few downsides on the Palm Centro is a relatively low battery life with a Talk Time of 3.5 hours.  Naturally, an extra battery combined with a cradle significantly reduce the limitations.  Additionally, we still expect to see an extended battery introduced within the next few months.

AT&T Centro Side

On the software front the Palm Centro also continues to deliver impressive ease-of-use and one of the most extensive application offerings with solutions for your communication, entertainment, information and productivity needs.  These are now further enhanced on the AT&T version with Push To Talk, Xpress Mail, IM, Pocket Tunes Deluxe and MusicID – I will naturally review all of these in a separate post. 

Overall there is no doubt that if you’ve never previously owned a smartphone you’ll quickly start to wonder how you managed to do without one for so long and praise the day that you finally got your hands on a Centro.

For more information please also read my original Sprint Palm Centro review as well as our top Centro accessories review and Top 100 Centro software list.

Centronauts always have something to rave about

Posted by Andrew on February 20, 2008 at 05:44 PM

Palm Centro

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by james | Feb 26, 2009 11:43:45 PM

I am on my second one since sept 08, not impressed

by mary | Mar 18, 2009 8:04:44 PM

I just got rid of my palm centro and am soooo happy! I had it stuck in the hot sync 3 times, each time AT&T gave me a new centro. I knew and they knew it was going to break again each time. The 4th phone, my sound stopped working. I can't wait to send it back. I will never buy anything other than blackberry or iphone again.

by J | Apr 24, 2009 4:24:47 PM

same issue. hotsync issue...they said it was water damage (okay..?). Got a replacement phone...started doing the same thing. I am going back to regular cell phones. Paid too much for this nonsense.

by JLF | Apr 30, 2009 5:47:00 PM

Just called AT&T today to replace my Centro - which I loved until I started having the HotSync issue. I had this with my Treo 680 too right before it died and I opted for the Centro... There is an issue and this should be addressed. I have had the Centro less than a year, since 7/08. They are sending a new one, but I am anticipating the same issue. Does anyone know if we can do a trade in on the new one they send? I am not sure I want to keep a Centro, but I don't want to be out any more mula for a new phone!

by Maya Tang | Jun 21, 2009 1:49:05 AM

Is it possible to have 3 way conversations on the Palm Centro?

by Donnay | Nov 3, 2009 5:23:07 PM

OhMy Goodness I Got A Palm Centro A Year Ago Now My Phone Can't Turn On unless I Leave The Battery Out All Day. Even After I Leave It Out I Can't Stay On For Long. It Says It Is Charging And The Charger Is Not Even Plug Into It.

by steph | Jan 24, 2010 5:52:10 PM

I have had my palm centro since August of last year, and I loved it. But now NONE of the buttons work...only the touchscreen. Which means that I can't do anything now. I'm practically in tears because of it. I hate this phone and am hoping to get a new one as soon as possible.

by Danielle | Feb 3, 2010 3:11:14 AM

This phone is AWFUL!! I thought I would love it but it has turned out to be a giant, head-ache inducing, piece of s**t. My contract is FINALLY up this month. After having the centro for 2 years tomorrow will be the FOURTH time I have had to replace it. This time though, I will be getting something else.

The reason I can't stand this phone is that, about every 6 months, it just start trying to HotSync with my desk top. I have never hotsynced any of my phones, I have no idea why it does this and there is no way to stop it once it tries. If I take out the battery and reinsert, it just goes right back to hotsyncing.

Im sticking with a real phone brand from now on. Also the keys are too small, but eventually you kind of get used to it.

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