A Review of the Samsung Galaxy Centura for TracFone

by pbushx2 on October 10, 2013

[Note: after debuting on HSN.com and then showing up on eBay, the Samsung Galaxy Centura is now available from TracFone.com directly. Click here to check it out].

I have had my TracFone Galaxy Centura for almost two weeks now. I started toying around with it right away, but didn’t activate it until about three days later. I’m now on day 8 of using it nearly exclusively, dumping my previous devices into a drawer to get the full experience. So far, I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised.

Samsung Galaxy Centura Review

TracFone’s Samsung Galaxy Centura

Before I get too far into this review, though, I should point out that I am evaluating this as a $99 phone, with a monthly cost potentially as low as $7. I don’t have the same expectations for a Centura on TracFone as I would have for an iPhone 5s or Samsung Galaxy S4 on a Verizon contract.

In my opinion a good way to estimate the cost of a phone is the total payments over two years. I’ve seen this done different ways, and of course we have to recognize that contract plans offer a lot more data than what you might use on TracFone. Regardless, the minimum 2-year cost I’ve seen for owning an iPhone 5s on Verizon’s network is $2100.

Compare that to a TracFone Centura, adding a $20 airtime card every 90 days, and the total including the initial phone purchase would be approximately $275 depending on your local sales tax. Even if you went with 450 minutes (which would triple to 1350 minutes, 1350 texts, and 1350 mb of data) every 90 days, the total would be about $750 – a far cry from the iPhone price. (Click here for more details on TracFone pricing.)

Of course there are ways to tweak the numbers on either side, but my point here is that no matter how you might do the math, this Centura with TracFone service will save you significant money against a top-of-the-line smart phone on a contract. So that is how I chose to evaluate this device – as a bargain option for people who are likely to use TracFone anyway, not as a replacement for a high-end phone.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I am happily surprised with this device. I previously carried a TracFone feature phone, for voice and text calls, and an iPod touch, for the apps and audio content. I used my iPod for a lot of organizational stuff – email, calendar, reminders, alarms, notes, and minimal web browsing. It also was my source for time wasters like Facebook, casual games, and YouTube. Further, I listen to podcasts, audiobooks, and/or music on a regular basis. But I’m close to home most of the time, so I can usually use all those features over WiFi.

When I heard about TracFone offering Android phones, I was hopeful, but not necessarily optimistic, that one of those Android TracFones might replace both devices I previously carried. (Truth be told, the headphone jack on my iPod recently quit working, so I started using a hand-me-down Android device for audio content, bringing my total daily device count up to three.) So far, I have to say that the Centura is doing the job admirably.

Right out of the box, the Centura looks better than I thought it would. The design style is clearly (to me, anyway) similar to Samsung’s flagship Galaxy devices such as the S3 and S4. In my opinion, it doesn’t look cheap, though it is quite light weight.

Some people might think it feels cheap due to the plastic construction. But to me, it feels well-balanced and sturdy. The battery cover clicks snugly and securely into place, which for me is a big part of what makes it feel cohesive and secure as opposed to flimsy. And having broken a few ipods in the past, I’ve grown to favor more plastic construction over metal and glass, as the plastic absorbs impacts better.

I am also a fan of the size of the Centura. It is very nearly the same dimensions as an iPhone 3gs, or just slightly thicker than an iPhone 4 or 4s. The Centura, like the iPhone 4s and earlier iPhones and iPod touches, has a 3.5-inch screen. The trend over the last several years has been toward increasingly larger screens, and if that is your preference you will be disappointed with this model. But for me, it is perfect. I strongly prefer to be able to operate my phone with one hand. Once you get over the 3.5- or 4.0-inch screen size, depending on the size of your hand, it becomes difficult to reach the upper corners of a screen with your thumb.

Next, of course, is the important question of how well it runs apps. Because I have my Google account configured to automatically download previously used apps to a new Android phone when I add it to my account, I had around 70 apps downloaded right away. I have since added 10 more, bringing my total up to 80.

Everything seems to be running fine so far, with the slight exception of when I played around with a “live wallpaper.” For those of you that don’t know, this is kind of a gimicky option in Android that allows users to make their background image move. When I tried it out, it decreased my battery life and slowed the performance of the phone. Other than that one afternoon, I have not had problems.

Apps usually load quite quickly, and swiping side-to-side between home screens or through my pages of apps works smoothly. I’m sure that a Samsung Galaxy S4 or new iPhone makes these transitions faster than the Centura, but for my $100 TracFone, I’m very happy with its speed. I should also add that I’ve had better results with the speed of the OS when I shut the phone down completely every night. Similar to old Windows PC’s, this phone seems to run better when you give it a fresh restart regularly.

TracFone Centura Package Contents

Of course, things happen to operating systems over the course of time, especially as new apps are added and when the phone is used extensively. So only time can really tell how it will perform on a regular basis. But so far, I see absolutely no reason not to recommend this device to someone looking for their first smart phone.

One thing that I definitely need to point out is the operating system here – this phone runs Android 4.0, also known as the “Ice Cream Sandwich” or ICS version of Android. As I understand it, Ice Cream Sandwich is the lowest you’d want to go in terms of buying a new phone now. ICS has since been superseded by Android 4.1, nicknamed “Jelly Bean,” and 4.2 “Kit Kat” is just around the corner. Explaining the differences among these Android versions is subject matter enough to fill an entire website on its own. For my money, though, Ice Cream Sandwich is good enough and will be acceptable for at least a year or 18 months to come, and probably as much as two years or more.

I’ve got a lot more to report on my experiences with this phone, but I’ll publish that in a future article (or two) on this blog. For now, I think that if you are anxious to get this phone and are looking for an objective opinion, my suggestion is to go for it. You can click here to get to TracFone’s website and place your order.

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

yarmonds May 28, 2014 at 4:49 pm

i have this fone for two days and nothing but problems…..voice dialing or voice to text does not work…..I’m giving it a full two weeks to work out the bugs…Oh yeah no help from the Tracfone tech support i had to drive to radio shack for help……and they just gave up….so good luck with this one boys and girls….


pbushx2 May 29, 2014 at 1:53 pm

What kinds of problems are you experiencing with the voice services?

Also, the TracFone forum on HowardForums.com is a great place to ask technical questions:



fifi143 June 2, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Am very new at android use. Have a Samsung Galaxy Centura tracfone and am still learning about it. Question: what is data usage and how should I be managing it? I am getting a “data usage warning” and don’t know how to fix this problem. If I understood what was causing it, I might understand how to fix it. Can anybody give me an tuturial about data management, please? Thanks.


pbushx2 June 5, 2014 at 10:00 am

Your phone has a built-in mechanism for warning you if are using a lot of mobile data. You can adjust the settings of this notification to suit your needs.

If you open up the system settings menu, you will see the third option in that menu is “data usage.” Tap on that, and you will see an on/off slider for “mobile data.” make sure that is set to “on.” Lower down you will see a graph of your data usage over time. There is a horizontal orange line with a “handle” on the right side. You can use that handle to drag the line up or down the graph. You can also drag the white vertical lines to set the measurements to cover a specific time period.


Orionsangel June 6, 2014 at 8:37 pm

I’ve had the Samsung Centura for a week now. Overall it’s not bad, but there are moments of frustration. The phone can be pretty slow freezes when it’s trying to do too many task.


Tieare Hunter July 25, 2014 at 9:57 pm

ok so i recently got the samsung galaxy centura for my birthday and i loved it but the next day after my birthday i put my earphones in and the music came out of the speakers instead of the headphones so i told my sister and she returned it and got another one just like it. I thought it was just that phone but on this new one the same thing keeps happening .and just to make sure its not my earphones i used my friends and the same thing happened i don’t know what it is but if anyone can help please tell me how you fixed it!!!!


pbushx2 July 26, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Hi Tiare,
I only owned one Centura, but I never had that problem at all and I listened extensively to music, audio books, and podcasts. I would estimate I used at least a half dozen different audio apps on a regular basis and never had a similar problem. This may sound incredibly simplistic, but are you sure you are pushing the plug all the way into the audio jack?


Sheree July 27, 2014 at 6:28 pm

I have the Tracfone Samsung Centura. All of a sudden it is constantly sayingtat google has stopped working.I have gone though every app trying to ind out why and I can not find anything.It is not a thing that happens every so often, it does it all the time .Any thoughts on this?


pbushx2 July 27, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Are you sure that it just says “Google?” Not “Google services” or something else? Since Android is developed by Google, the operating system relies on a lot of Google services. So that could be what you are experiencing. If it’s not causing a problem with the performance of your phone, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. You might also try restarting your phone occasionally, maybe once a day.


229tman September 5, 2014 at 5:28 pm

How do I access where I see my minutes and stuff like that


pbushx2 September 5, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Unlike simpler TracFone handsets, this feature is not build into the phone, but it’s easy to check your balance using a web browser. You can use any browser, either on the phone itself or from a computer or other device.

Simply open the browser of your choice, then enter the following URL:


Then replace the 3333333333 with your ten-digit phone number, and hit enter (or whatever the equivalent is in your browser). You will see your balances on the browser, and also get a text message delivered to your phone showing your current balance.

Then you can bookmark that link and whenever you load the bookmark in the future, you will get an update on your balances (talk, text, and data).


J@D3N September 14, 2014 at 6:08 pm

I have had my centura for a year now ant its pretty cool… i run it off of WiFi… but i have one problem… i have Skype and every time i use it my phone freezes and shuts its self off… i have deleted all my other apps and have only 500 MB out of the original 2.2 GB used and it still has this problem… is anyone else experiencing this?… if so whats the problem?


Budster September 18, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Any probs with the time losing 6 hours occasionally?


pbushx2 September 18, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Yes, that is a known issue with that phone. Unfortunately, last time I checked, there is not a known solution other than rooting the phone, but I have not tried that move yet.


Stephanie October 13, 2014 at 11:44 pm

So my moms samsung galaxy centuras keyboard moved some of the letters around. She lives in a different time zone then me so I can’t play with it to see what is going on. Is this a common problem and do you know how to fix it?


pbushx2 October 14, 2014 at 10:05 am

I have not heard of this problem before. What exactly do you mean by “moving some letters around?” Are you talking about on the keyboard? Perhaps she accidentally activated a different keyboard, such as one meant for a different language? If so, there is probably a setting somewhere to select which keyboard to use. I would try to have her explore that possibility.


wendy November 2, 2014 at 11:21 am

I too have had this phone for two days and will probably be returning it after my phone call with tracfone concludes. I have used 64mb data, on my samsung galaxy tab 3 I use about 20 mb in a month yet i’ve used up 64 or the original 360 purchased. I have checked the weather once each of the two days, I looked at facebook, didn’t post, merely looked once. I’ve made one phone call yet this has cost me 65mb of data. According to a site I found 30mb a day should get m e:
20 social media posts with photo IVE MADE NONE
50 web pages loads I GUESS the WEATHER WOULD BE 2 PAGE LOADS
15 minutes of music streaming HOW DO YOU DO THAT I HAVENT
So this thing is sucking down my data, I’ve been on the phone, first on hold for about a half hour, then with an idiot that keeps telling me how much I’ve used and how m uch remains which is perfectly clear to me as it was the reason for the phone call, and now we appear to be playing a waiting game as to who will give up waiting for the supv to come to the phone, me or her. So since they won’t help me figure out how to reduce GOOGLE SEVICES from sucking up my data the phone will probably be returned and I will go back to life without a cell phone and leave this aggravation behind of go spend that money elsewhere.


pbushx2 November 2, 2014 at 10:46 pm

Hi Wendy, you might want check out first make sure your phone is properly set up to connect to your home Wifi. If it’s not connecting properly, that would mean that your phone is pulling data over 3G even when you are at home. Other than that, my next suggestion is to give it a few more days and see if your data decreases over time. Typically phones have a lot more to update when they are activated for the first time, hence they pull more data when they are new.
Another tip – if you go to your phone’s settings menu, then select “mobile data,” you can see which apps are using your data. Then when you tap on each app, you can check a box to restrict mobile data.
Also, you can turn your mobile data off when you don’t need it. Somewhere in the app store you can find widget that installs on your home screen and turns the 3G data on/off with a single tap. It really saved me a lot of data when I was using the Centura. There is a good one called “Data Enabler Widget,” but you can also search for 3g toggle or 3g widget.
Hope these help!


Kris December 10, 2014 at 4:23 pm

I have this phone thru Tracfone and am having an issue with group messages. I get some of the responses but most, I get a notification but the message is just blank. Any fixes for this issue?


pbushx2 December 11, 2014 at 3:54 pm

I think it sounds like an issue related to the way iPhone sends group messages. Do you know whether the senders of the problem messages are iPhone users?

This is a problem with all android devices, not just the centura. I don’t know of any fix, but it might be worth a google search (something like “can’t receive iPhone group message on Android”).


Colossia February 13, 2015 at 7:38 pm

This is my first smartphone. And ive have this for about a year now.so many problems.way does it alot freeze when i go to apps? Why when i skype i get a black screen? And most importantly the charger jack isn’t working well anymore……I’m upgrading to the ite majesty and i hope it is better than this one


Michael July 1, 2015 at 8:46 am

I purchased this phone new with TracFone service for $19.95. The clock (time) has a profound bug which is well documented with TracFone. It does have GPS which works.
The phone is generally underpowered but at $19.95 it is only modestly overpriced.


Meghan Wilder October 14, 2015 at 7:18 pm

i’ve had my phone for a year now and it keeps going into a time zone that i am not living in. when it is 6:00pm where i am my phone says that it is 12:oopm or sometimes 4:00am. I just recently had an issue with my cellphone haning up on people when im in the middle of a conversation, and hearing people on the side of the phone what should I do.


pbushx2 October 20, 2015 at 9:51 am

Hi Meghan,
This time discrepancy is a known (and extremely aggravating) bug within the Centura’s firmware. There is no fix as far as I know. Without physically handling the phone, I don’t think I can give a great answer on the issue of hangups/microphone issues. But I think now would be a great time for an upgrade, especially if you need airtime anyway. There are several newer models that will make you forget all about that Centura. Check out my recent review of the Stardust for one example. It’s got a similar interface to the Centura, so you will be able to get up to speed very quickly on it, and it outperforms the Centura in every way imaginable.


gene November 6, 2015 at 7:59 pm

Pbush…I am looking at this phone to purchase for my esposa.It comes with 1200 minutes and,I assume 365 days. My question is:
Wife is currently using a ddumbfone. She has 15xx minutes and roughly 3 months left. The centura does not have to be activated until Jan31,2016. She will ,no doubt,have many minutes left at that point. I want to wait until that date to make a move. If I transfer from dumbphone to centura,activating the phone in the process, can I then add the 1200 minutes and 1 year card? Does that erase the remaining minutes that were transferred from the dumbfone? Thanx for any help or suggestions you can give me


pbushx2 November 17, 2015 at 4:02 pm

Hey Gene,
Sorry this is so late. I would advice you to stay away from the Centura at all costs. There are so many other deals available now, at a very similar price, with better phones. Maybe something like the LG Ultimate 2, Samsung Stardust, or a Moto E. If you check HSN or eBay, you should be able to find a bundle deal.

But to answer your other question, yes, I your plan will work. First transfer the number and airtime from the old phone to the new, then apply the new card.


m. moore February 6, 2016 at 7:44 am

Is there a special Tracfone airtime card to buy for this android phone? Or just any tracfone airtime card?


pbushx2 February 7, 2016 at 6:07 pm

The answer is “yes” to both questions. You can use regular old TF airtime cards. The value of those cards is “triple-tripled,” so for example a 60 minute card would give you 180 each of voice minutes, text messages, and MB of data.
You can also buy some special “smartphone-only” cards in varying denominations, which I discussed here: http://www.prepaidphoneguy.com/phones-on-clearance-plus-new-tracfone-airtime-deals/


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