Samsung Galaxy Centura Review – Updated

by pbushx2 on

I’ve now had the TracFone Samsung Galaxy Centura for two full months, and have used it as my primary phone for most of that time. In my initial review, I was cautiously optimistic that this device would be a winner. After plenty of time working with it, I have mixed results.

First, I LOVE the pricing structure offered by TracFone. I started with a 200-minute card ($40 retail). This card also includes 90 days of service. And because of the “triple-triple” feature of TracFone’s smart phone program, the 200 stated on the card first tripled to 600, then tripled again into 600 units in each “bucket” of talk minutes, text messages, and MB of data. This has worked out perfectly for me. 60 days into my 90-day card, I still have almost exactly one-third of my data remaining. That puts my average cost per month at right around $14 – something I definitely can live with.

Click here to visit TracFone’s store and check out your options.

TracFone Samsung Galaxy Centura user review TracFone Samsung Galaxy Centura Features

Next, I do enjoy the flexibility of Android devices. While I have played with them before, I’ve never really used one as my primary device for such a long period of time. I really like the ability to customize different settings such as the lock screen, home screen shortcuts, keyboard layout, and widgets. Task automation is another cool feature that I’m learning about in the Android OS.

Unfortunately, that brings me to the negative aspect of the Centura. It’s simply not powerful enough to do all these tweaks and customizations. The more I learned about Android, the more I wanted to tailor it to my needs. And the more I tailored, the slower my phone got. If I wasn’t so eager to get the first Android from TracFone, I would have been much wiser to wait and see what else TracFone came up with, hopefully something more powerful.

Far and away, the biggest culprit in slowing down my phone was adding a custom lock screen/launcher app, which allowed me one-touch access to my most used apps, directly from the lock screen. Another tweak that seemed to bog me down was a custom keyboard app, which frequently lagged during text entry. Reverting to the default settings for these two options resulted in much snappier performance, but then again my phone isn’t quite the way I want it any more either.

With that said, I have no doubt that I am asking more of this device than 90% of TracFone users out there would do. I guess I might be what some people call a “power user,” and the Centura is an entry-level device. I routinely use over two dozen apps every day, and with all the customization I mentioned above taking up system resources, it couldn’t keep up.

[EDIT 3/6/2014 – I strongly prefer the Dynamic II over the Centura. These two devices have the same suggested retail price as of today, so I see very few reasons to go with the Centura. Click here to read more about why I prefer the Dynamic II.]

If you are thinking about purchasing this device, and you plan to use it mainly for talking and texting, you’ll be fine with it. If you currently have a non-smartphone, and would like the option of email, web surfing, music or podcasts, maybe some Facebook and occasionally some other apps – I think you’ll love it. But if you are considering making the leap from an advanced smart phone on one of the big networks, be careful – you might end up disappointed with this one.

Similarly, if you are considering this as a first-time smart phone for someone on your Christmas shopping list, I’d say go for it. I think they will be happy with how much more they can do on a smart phone as opposed to their old QWERTY or flip-phone.

If you aren’t in a rush, though, you should also be aware of another development in the TracFone world. Shortly before Thanksgiving, TracFone announced the addition of a “bring your own phone” (BYOP) option. This allows users to purchase a used or otherwise out-of-contract Verizon-compatible phone elsewhere (with several important limitations), and then activate with TracFone’s service. The pricing of the service is the same as for the Centura and other smartphones you’d get directly from TracFone. This is intriguing, but so far I haven’t heard enough success stories to recommend the option. If you can hold off and let the dust settle, and the BYOP is a success, you’ll be better off spending $100-$150 on a used Android device instead of buying this phone directly from TracFone.

Finally, here are a few key criticisms I have for the Centura:

1. For some reason, it is impossible to transfer apps to the SD card. On most, if not all, previous Android devices I’ve used, it is possible to move at least some of the apps from internal storage to an SD card. This allows users to add apps in excess of the internal storage. Unfortunately, and for reasons I’m not experienced enough to understand, that is not possible on this device.

2. One seriously frustrating glitch, that is clearly an error on the part of Samsung, is in the clock. For unknown reasons, and at seemingly unpredictable times, the phone’s internal clock defaults to Greenwich Mean Time. This affects many aspects of the phone’s operation, including alarm and calendar apps. On one occasion, this glitch occurred overnight, resulting in my alarm not waking me at the appropriate time. There are some work-arounds, such as switching into and back out of airplane mode, or making a call. However, as in the case of my overnight glitch, you might not always realize the problem before it’s negatively affected your life.

3a. This one is probably more than most people will expect from their phone, but I really like being able to use a play-pause answer button on my headphones when listening to music or other audio content. For about five years now, I have used iPhone headphones with a build-in microphone and playback controls. I love to use that same style of headphones with all my phones. Some work perfectly with the headset controls, and others not at all. Less common, however, are handsets like this, where the play/pause button works sometimes but not always. Since this feature is unreliable, it’s just one more way that the Centura reminds me that it’s not all I wish it was.

3b. The Centura was not able to utilize the microphone of any wired headset I tried. I have 4 different brands of headsets, and none worked for voice calls.

4. Audio quality is terrible on any of my wired headsets. There is a persistent static buzz in underneath any audio that comes through the audio jack. Switching to bluetooth helped quite a bit, but the quality there was still lacking compared to other devices, especially Apple’s i-devices.

Bottom Line: A year of owning this device, including the initial purchase price, is going to cost me right around $300. If I wanted an iPhone or high-end Android device like the Galaxy S4 or HTC One on a contract carrier, especially Verizon, I would end up paying many multiples of that. For the price I’m paying, I feel like I am getting great value for my money. I’ll keep watching for the next great thing to take it’s place, but until that comes along at a similar price I’ll be content with my Centura on TracFone. Click here to get yours.

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

JD December 5, 2013 at 11:49 pm

You left off one key feature, the phone part. These things are phones, I use the phone part most often so I always want to know how they do as a phone. How is the sound quality? Dropped calls? Battery life?
Next, how is the processor? This is an older version of Android I’ve discovered and I’d like to know how fast the processor feels to you, does it seem slow? How easy was it to get your phonebook transfered over to this phone? Did you have to retype everything or will it ‘beam’ over?

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pbushx2 December 5, 2013 at 11:57 pm

Honestly I haven’t used the “phone” part much. It is ok, but not excellent. I have not had any dropped calls. One downside is that the roaming with TracFone smart phones on Verizon is NOT as good as the roaming on verizon-based CDMA feature phones. In one area in particular, I know I have very strong coverage with and old LG 501c, but can’t do anything with my Centura.

Battery life is fine, it gets me through a day, which is as much as one can hope for with smart phones these days.

I feel like the processor is just half a beat slower than what I would call fast, but it’s adequate. I have not used the ZTE valet, but that does have a 1.0 ghz processor vs. the 800 mhz in the Centura.

Transferring the phonebook was easy over bluetooth. You can also accomplish it through Google/gmail contacts, if you prefer to work that way.

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Geo December 6, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I have one that I used a few times-I don’t like it-if someone wants to buy it for $90, email me at gheim11@gmail.com-free ship-fast!

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Adam Shaffer December 6, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Not being able to move apps to your SD card isn’t a problem with the phone itself, that feature was taken out of Android when the Ice Cream Sandwich operating system came out; I can’t even do it on my Samsung Galaxy siii.

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pbushx2 December 10, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Hey Adam, thanks for the info. Guess that shows the type of phones I’m used to using!

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Marge December 6, 2013 at 6:14 pm

I have had this phone from the minute your email arrived telling us it was available. I downloaded some apps that I use and have seen only slightly slower response (but no games). I did have the issue with the clock a couple of times, also. But the biggest issue I have is the phone freezes with no warning. I can be changing pages on a news website or opening the calendar, and I can’t do anything more. The phone is completely stopped in time. It has come out of it a few times after waiting a while, and I can go on. But often I’m in the middle of doing something and don’t want to wait. The only way to get going again is to do a reset with the power button. Of course, that takes time, too. I keep wi-fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and data off all the time except when I want to use them. The battery lasts several days to a week that way since I don’t use the phone much. I read a review on Amazon of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, 7” tablet that complains of the same thing about moving apps to the SD card—you can’t—and the reviewer suggest that other devices do the same thing with SD cards and Android. (I have the original Samsung Galaxy Tab and I can move apps to the SD card, so I continue to use it even though it’s not even close to the Jelly Bean operating system.) That being said, I still like the phone. I like not having to take a phone and iPod to have the rest of my life with me (calendar, contacts, wi-fi, email, etc.). So until something better comes along, for the price, it’s great, and there is not much choice that even comes close. But it’s not perfect. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can get better phones in the near future.

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pbushx2 December 10, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Hi Marge,
That’s strange, I have not had any locking up, well, maybe one time in 2.5 months of heavy use. That one time I feel like there was a reason I could pinpoint, too – I think it was one app that is particularly glitchy on all devices I’ve used.

Have you tried TracFone’s tech support on this one? It sounds like maybe you have a defective unit. Or is there one app in particular that you can trace it to?

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Marge February 9, 2014 at 12:20 am

Well, I guess my phone was defective. Today it froze so completely I couldn’t get past the Tracfone logo on boot up to any other screen. I rebooted repeatedly, took out the battery and replaced it, and finally called Tracfone. After an hour on the phone while they gave me things to try, they said they’d send me a new phone. I hope this one lasts longer than 4 months. I do like having a smartphone with Tracfone, but they don’t seem to have all the bugs worked out. I never had any problems with previous phones, including the LG 840G, which worked great as a phone. Thanks for all the tips and info, and best wishes.

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pbushx2 February 11, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Hopefully your new phone treats you much better!

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Marge March 8, 2014 at 10:00 pm

I got my replacement phone in about 11 days (had to ship the old one back in a mailer Tracfone sent before they shipped a new one), and it seems to be better than the first one. The camera is definitely better. I still have occasional issues with freezing, but I’ve disabled several apps that come with the phone. That seems to help. I also still have issues with time going to GMT randomly, but that seems to be an issue for almost everyone with this phone if you read comments on line. It’s apparently a design flaw that Samsung isn’t interested in fixing. I would love to go with the LG Dynamic II, but I’ll hang on to this one until I have serious trouble again. I’m trying the suggestion to correct the time issue that showed up in comments under your comparison with the LG but about the Centura. The comment noted disabling the Google Play Services and clearing clock cache corrected the problem. (Google Play store still works by the way.) I actually disabled the clock as well (and still have a clock on the phone). I’ll see how long this helps. If the phone worked like it’s supposed it would be great, but I can live with this for a while longer.

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nicholas grachanin December 6, 2013 at 6:16 pm

I switched to Republic Wireless and just got the new Moto X for $25.00 per month plus I have cell service at my home now since it routes calls through WiFi when out of range of cell towers without ANY of the problems you mentioned in your review.

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pbushx2 December 10, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Hi Nick,
I’ve heard great things about the Moto X. In fact, I am seriously considering the Moto G – a slightly less powerful sibling of the Moto X – for $180 off contract to be used with TRacFone service.
I’m not familiar with Republic Wireless, but I guess I’ll need to learn more. Is the WiFi calling pretty seamless? I.e. if you start a call on WiFi then leave your house, does the call drop? Also, what is your bottom line monthly cost, including the phone?

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Peggy December 6, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Great review for my purposes. It covered the questions I had. I’m comfortable for now just waiting, until the higher end Android phones are compatible with Tracfone.. I’m not a high minutes user but do like the conveniences of the apps on Android phones.. Thank you for the information.

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pbushx2 December 10, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Hi Peggy,
I mentioned this already in a reply to Nicholas, but you might also want to keep an eye on the Moto G. I think it will be compatible with TracFone, and due out early in 2014. I hope to do a post about it yet this month if I can get a little more background info.

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pat December 7, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Could someone explain to me how to remove the 2GB SD card ?
I’d like to replace it with a 32GB.

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pbushx2 December 10, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Hi Pat,
To switch the SD card, remove the battery cover – there’s a little slot near the top and you can use your fingernail or small flat screwdriver to pop it off. Then, with the screen facing away from you, look on the lower left edge. You’ll see the SD card there. Push it in maybe 1/8 or 1/4 inch (again, a fingernail or screwdriver works well), then release it and it will pop out. Slide the new card in until it locks in place, and you’re in business.

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lori December 15, 2013 at 5:36 am

How do I activate this phone. Tracfone tells me to hit the menu button and prepaid menu. Not there….how do I enter in the activation codes

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pbushx2 December 17, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Once it is active in their system, I believe you need to dial *22890 and follow any voice prompts from there.

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JohnAtThe Falls January 22, 2014 at 5:48 pm

The GMT problem is a disgrace to Samsung and Tracfone. Being retired military I can live with using GMT but it screws up a weather App which is the primary reason I have a smart phone.

The price is right but am keeping my eyes open for a phone that works properly.

Having loaded only the 5 Apps that I only ever use, the phone performs fine and I think the camera is incredibly good.

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pbushx2 January 23, 2014 at 2:53 pm

I agree, John. I like hearing from you because I think that you have a critical eye and unbiased, practical approach – much like I aim to do! One work-around to solve the GMT problem that I may have mentioned elsewhere is to put the phone briefly into airplane mode (hold down the power button a second, then tap “airplane mode” when it comes up. Wait a few seconds for the airplane icon to come up in the status bar, then repeat the process to bring it out of airplane mode. When the phone reestablishes the cellular connection, it will automatically reset the clock.

On a side note, it seems like this is an app opportunity – create a very simple app that turns the airplane mode on, then off again to reset the clock. This could be done on demand (as the user decides to), or on a schedule.

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Zan January 22, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Excellent! I have a Blackberry Curve, a couple iPhones and two android phones and I got the Samsung Galaxy Centura primarily to use via wifi. I am disappointed with Tracfone because I wanted to transfer 6888 minutes from my LG600G to the Centura, but only 2000 made it. I mostly only use this phone over wifi and use the Pinger Ex app to make free text and phone calls.

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neil January 23, 2014 at 8:24 am

Samsung Galaxy Centura …This is my first “smart” phone and I love it. Is there a setting so when I take a picture it goes to the SD card instead of the internal memory?

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pbushx2 January 23, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Hi Neil, open the camera app and tap on the little icon to the left near the bottom that looks kind of like a basket weave. Then tap on the three vertical dots that appear in that same location, which will bring up the “camera settings” menu. Near the bottom of that menu is a line for “storage.” If it says “phone,” click on the little arrow that points to the left and that will change it to MMC, which is your memory card. (I assume MMC stands for multi-media card).

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Phil Harter October 4, 2014 at 11:21 am

Many thanks for this tip!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Jade Bennett January 29, 2014 at 11:59 pm

I have been using the Samsung Galaxy Centura for about a week and it keeps notifying me to restart and update.I’m very cautious about doig this because I have the app Mr. Number where all my blocked texts are stored.I don’t want to restart and update if it will just erase my blocked text log. Any idea what the restart and pdate will do? And is anyone else having problems with the phones key pad? The cursor for mine keeps jumping all over the place scrambling my sentences together.

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pbushx2 January 30, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Hi Jade,
I am 99% sure that it would not erase any app data when you install this update. If you are still uncertain you could ask this question on howardforums – howardforums.com/forumdisplay.php/330-Tracfone-Net10

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Willie McKemie February 5, 2014 at 6:20 pm

I’ve had the TracFone Centura for a couple of months and been satisfied with it. And then it quit working as a phone. No sound either going out or coming in. It apparently negotiates both incoming and outgoing calls, but no sound. Suggestions? Help? I sent a message to TracFone a few days ago but got no response.

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pbushx2 February 6, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Hi Willie, this seems like it should definitely be covered by warranty. Did you purchase it from TracFone.com?

I’d suggest using either the 800 number, or the Facebook fan page “support” tab to send your question. I’ve always gotten fast responses from the Facebook page.

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karen morrison February 28, 2014 at 11:55 pm

I purchased the Samsung centura last week and I hate it.This is the first time I have ever had a straight talk phone and I don’t think I will ever purchase another one.This phone freezes constantly I cant handle that this is my main phone and I am home alone several nites due to husband working.I wanted to purchase the I phone 5c this phone is way to high I am on disability I used to do foster care but had to give it up due to health.But I need a phone I can use when my month is up I guess I will have to buy another from a another carrier.Thanks have a blessed day.

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pbushx2 March 3, 2014 at 11:36 pm

Hi Karen
Have you requested a replacement from Straight Talk? It could be that the phone is defective. Or, even if you don’t want the centura, you might be able to sell a new, unopened Centura on eBay and use that toward your next phone.

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Doreen March 21, 2014 at 11:10 pm

I use the Samsung Galaxy Centura with Tracfone. The phone tells me I have used 100 percent of my space. I have an SD card installed and when I check the setting for mounting, I do have an option to unmount the card. What do I do to get more space? What is the point of having an SD card if nothing is being saved on it? Can I save my photos to the SD card? Please help and include clear instructions. I feel like I waste hours and hours on the internet looking for answers to these questions. TY.

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pbushx2 April 1, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Hi Doreen,
Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. Have you found an answer to this?

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magicmanmb March 30, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Any suggestions on how to get myCentura to detect my bluetooth headset? Net10 had no choice locally the other services
Kept dropping calls had this 2 months. All other phones evencomputer detect it. But not this phone net 10customer service
less than helpful I speak some of the dialect as there CS resorted to using it.

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pbushx2 April 1, 2014 at 3:19 pm

That’s strange, I have not had any trouble pairing bluetooth devices with the Centura. Are you sure BT is turned on, on both the phone and the headset? And that both are “visible” and searching for new devices?

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magicmanmb April 4, 2014 at 11:57 pm

Yes checked w/3 other phones (non-android) they see the ear piece & also the android was able to transfer pics & files over BT. Even
printed out a PDF brochure from it. Called both net 10 & Samsung customer service. The only thing they suggested was try & find a wired headset plug into the ear jack & see if it worked. Doing that would be a real pain since I’m carrying a walkie-talkie w/wired mic + a ton of equipment & a kevlar vest. (LE & security have to use personal phone dept. & company won’t provide).

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pbushx2 April 8, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Sorry Magic Man, I’m not sure what to tell you on this. As I stated before, I have not had any issues pairing bluetooth devices with my Centura. Have you asked anyone on Howardforums about this?

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magicmanmb April 14, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Finally got it to pair. I had to put the original
SD 2gb card back in. There appears to be a code on the factory cardaccording to net 10′s tech supervisor. Put it in my computer & mirrored it to larger card. Now works properly. Go figure. They told me If I had bought an unlocked phone would have been an easy shot.
My wife switched to a blackberry from a flip phone(clearanced $5.99)
has zero problems.

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magicmanmb April 14, 2014 at 7:10 pm

BTW check your local Dollar Generals the 1s in my area just dropped this model by $35.00.

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pbushx2 April 17, 2014 at 11:08 am

Thanks for coming back to share the info about pairing, and the dollar general tip. What is the DG price after the discount?

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magicmanmb May 4, 2014 at 3:23 pm

$64.99 or less @ some. Big Lots has done this # a few alsi

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debbie June 16, 2014 at 1:30 am

I just got the Centura Tracfone with Straight Talk 6 weeks ago. I despise this phone! It is constantly freezing up on me and it drives me nuts! I have a Galaxy 3 that I LOVE! Straight Talk told me I can get an activation kit for about $15 and use my Galaxy. Has anyone done this? I certainly hope it works!

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pbushx2 June 17, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Yes, if you are coming from a Galaxy S3, the centura is most certainly a big step backward. You should not have trouble activating your S3 on Straight Talk as long as it is a ATT phone. I don’t think the other carriers will work, but I could be wrong specifically about Verizon.

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Indy August 30, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Thanks for the great review on the Centura. The problem I am having is that I paired it with my Le Pan Mini tablet by bluetooth. Codes were right and I accepted them so technically they should have been paired. When I go to send a pic from the Le Pan tablet to the Centura it says it is sending but then it says it wasn’t sent. I tried this by ES Explorer app also and that is where it says it can’t find the Centura. I am not sure if it is a Le Pan problem or a Samsung problem. I can send pics by Bluetooth to the Le Pan from the Centura. Anyone have any problems with “receiving ” pics by bluetooth to their Centura. I don’t have another device to try to see which one is really the problem.

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pbushx2 September 1, 2014 at 10:25 pm

I don’t remember how this worked with my Centura, which I am no longer using. But it seems I was able to do it. Can anyone else comment on this?

Just a thought – have you tried doing this file transfer while the centura is paired with a different device – perhaps a friends phone? What about when you send a picture in the other direction (i.e. from the Centura to the Le Pan)? Answering these questions might help you narrow down the root of the problem.

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tweety1958 September 22, 2014 at 8:14 am

I have had straight talk service for 6 months. I bought a used Samsung galaxy s off craigslist that was used at Verizon. It is cdma and does not have Sim card. The service works fine. The byop program is a good idea for people who want better phones than what is offered directly through straight talk.

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Maureen October 9, 2014 at 8:09 pm

I have the Samsung Centura. Having problems when friends text me multi-media pics. They never open. Just says “Can’t download right now. Try again later” Or sometimes it will start downloading and then just never complete. The one I have waiting now is only 30KB. People have texted me from iphones and other Samsungs. Nothing will download. Any help is appreciated.

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Maureen October 9, 2014 at 9:38 pm

NEVERMIND – GOT IT. NEED 3G ON

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Kaytie t October 21, 2014 at 8:25 am

I HATE THIS PHONE. I’ve had it almost a yer and I’ve slowly gained more and more problems. recently it started closing all my apps and won’t send and texts. My Nokia flip phone worked better then this.

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Dianne S November 24, 2014 at 11:14 am

I have had this phone for 6 months now and cannot get it to play music. Downloaded the music to the phone, player says it is there, but everytime you try to play something it says music playback error, cannot play this track. Any idea how to fix it?

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pbushx2 November 24, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Which app are you using for playback? Have you tried using a different app?

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