Android Comes to TracFone!

by pbushx2 on

Wow. Just, WOW!

Just when I thought I was ready to move on past TracFone because I was growing bored with their phone selection and dwindling number of promo codes, they have shocked me with the announcement that they will now carry Android phones. One phone – the Samsung Galaxy Centura – is already available (more on that farther down in this post), and three more phones appear to be on the horizon.

Centura from HSN – Note the purple case is optional!

[Update: the Centura is now available from TracFone directly. However, I also strongly recommend the LG Optimus Dynamic II over the Centura, or if you are interested, you might also consider a used iPhone on TracFone’s Bring Your Own Phone program.]

The most shocking thing about it is that you can use this phone with the same type of airtime cards you’ve always used with TracFone. In other words, they will NOT be charging a steep minimum monthly payment as do Net10 and Straight Talk. Use minutes, text, and data as you need them, and the unused balance will roll over as long as you keep your service active. This is precisely what loyal TracFone users have been waiting for.

One thing that is still unclear is how, exactly, an airtime card will be applied to these new phones, and how airtime balances will be tracked. For starters, it seems clear that there will be three “buckets” of airtime on the Android phones – one for minutes, one for texts, and one for data. The biggest question in my mind is how a normal airtime card will be divided up among these buckets.

Most of the information that I have found seems to indicate that Android phones will grant a special “triple-triple” privilege. Under this possible scenario, for example, a 60-minute card would be tripled into 180. But 180 of what? Everything that I’ve seen seems to be saying that it will be 180 minutes. AND 180 texts. AND 180 mb of data.

Again, this is a POSSIBLE outcome, but I have not seen it tested yet. On one hand, it seems a little too good to be true when you compare the value of the triple-triple minutes vs. regular triple-minute phones. But time will tell.

This does have some drawbacks, of course. First, the “bucket” system could be a negative for people whose usage is skewed heavily toward one of the three buckets.

For example, say you add a 200-minute card, which delivers 600 units to each bucket. If you talk very little, but send 10 texts and receive 10 texts every day, your “texting” bucket would be used up in a month (20 used a day, multiplied by 30 days = 600 texts). You would therefore need to add an airtime card. Put more simply, this could be more complicated to manage than the old phones.

Next, the phones are quite low-end, and there is not currently a way that users can bring a non-TracFone device to the service. The phones available from TracFone might be sluggish when running some more advanced apps.

Of the four phones listed on TracFone’s website, three are listed with single-core, 800 MHz processors and 512 MB of RAM. For comparison, the current top-of-the-line Samsung device, the Galaxy S4, runs on a quad-core, 1.9 Ghz processor with 2 GB of RAM. So the early TracFone Android models will be able to do a lot less than the high-end phones. Still, you’ll be able to do a lot more with them than even the very best feature phone previously offered by TracFone.

Only one of these Android devices is currently available for purchases, and only from limited sellers. The Samsung Galaxy Centura first appeared for sale via the Home Shopping Network and HSN.com on September 20th.

The Centura is currently listed at $149.95 in a bundle that includes

  • a 200-minute airtime card (which will triple to 600 in each bucket),

  • a $25 Google Play Store gift card (use this to purchase apps, music, movies and books),

  • a car charger and

  • a protective case.

Click here to check out this deal from HSN (and you can try coupon code 135235, which might get you a discount if you are a first-time buyer from HSN).

A few days later it showed up on eBay from the well-known seller ShopCellDeals. There, it is currently available for $119.99, but this price is for the phone alone, with none of the extras available from the HSN deal. To check out the details of the eBay deal, click here.

I personally have ordered a Centura for myself, and will be posting a review on it as soon as I can.

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Jarvis September 27, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Very interesting that you have some of the same reservations I had when I first saw this. I’m interested in seeing how this goes.

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Gene Nash September 27, 2013 at 7:51 pm

I bought the Samsung Galaxy Centura from HSN last week. It hasn’t shown up yet, but according to HSN’s TV pitch…

>> Everything that I’ve seen seems to be saying that it will be
>> 180 minutes. AND 180 texts. AND 180 mb of data.

…IS how they do it.

I’m anxious to see how well it works. it may not be top of the line, but it is more powerful than the HTC I’ve been using as a mini-tablet the past couple of years, and TracFone to boot! No more carrying two phones! ;)

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pbushx2 September 27, 2013 at 7:57 pm

That’s what I’m thinking too Gene! I have carried multiple devices for several years now. I’m hoping this will get me back to just one. Mine arrived a few hours ago, and I’ll have it up and running this weekend – and take pictures and notes along the way. Please do let us know how it goes for you, as well.

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Biff September 27, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Ordered from HSN on 9/23 and received yesterday. I paid $129.99 for deal of the day. Still working on getting used to it. Been using Tracfone since 1996. Last one was an LG600 so I have ALOT to learn. Camera and camcorder work great. Sound quality appears good both from my end as well as friends I’ve spoken to. One thing I definitely do not like is that the phone has no place to check your minutes or due date; you have to go to Tracfone online to verify same. The only way you can tell it’s a Tracfone is from the triple circle “fingerprint” in their logo at the top of the phone face. When you buy a regular airtime card you get triple “minutes” on all – meaning a 30 min card will give you 90 mins talk, 90 texts and 90 MB of data. You can purchase “data only” cards online too. Manual shows basics but not much more. Can’t wait for your review so I can learn more.

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Sue May 2, 2014 at 6:46 am

I just bought the Samsung Tracfone @Target at half price. I had no idea you couldn’t get the minutes, text, data information on the phone. Thanks for the info that I can get it on the Tracfone website. I feel pretty clueless about using it, especially the internet part. As usual instructions are only very basic. I still haven’t been able to send emails and don’t know why.

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chris September 28, 2013 at 8:57 am

I just bought the deal on HSN (129.95) It came yesterday. I am basically interested in just the phone because I have an iPod touch that I use for the other features the Samsung has. (currently using the LG505C)

I only turned on the wifi to see how the phone operates. Tried the GPS and that seems good. FB okay but not as good as my iPod touch. (but it’s there if you want it) Seems everything on this phone is connected to Google to operate. the keys on the qwerty board seem to small so I have to keep reentering letters/numbers. Probably a stylus pen would be a good option for faster input. Screen swipes easily. This phone is triple minutes and will get 600 talk,600 text and 600 data minutes. If you use wifi I’m guessing you do not use up minutes. 60 min card will give triple min (180) and minutes, text and data carry over. You tube pretty good on the phone also. jury still out if this will be a keeper for me.

You said there are other androids. where do I find this info on tracfone. They haven’t talked about this phone on FB or that there are androids for Tracfone yet.

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Kevin September 28, 2013 at 9:00 am

What are the other three Android phones that will be available? I need an AT&T SIM. Verizon sucks in my area.

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pbushx2 October 1, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Hi Kevin
All three other scheduled releases from TracFone will be Verizon. Whether there is an AT&T smart phone from Trac remains to be seen. I suspect it will create additional issues for TracFone since they will have to either:
a) ensure that the SIM card that ships with any potential GSM smart phone is locked to TracFone, or
b) accept the fact that as soon as they release a GSM smart phone, people will purchase that phone and immediately pop the SIM into a different unlocked GSM phone. (This is what I would love to do – iPhone 4s on the triple-triple plan would be my sweet spot right now)

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Robert Lacroix September 28, 2013 at 11:13 am

Please let me know when and how Tracfone will have this phone available. It seems that it’s only on Straight Talk now.

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pbushx2 October 1, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Robert – this phone is available in a TracFone version, but not currently on TracFone’s website. The only two places I’ve seen it for sale are what I stated in the blog post above – eBay and HSN.com. I suspect it will be on TracFone’s site for direct sale by the middle of October, if it follows the pattern of other phones that debuted on HSN such as the LG 800g in Spring 2011.

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Robert Lacroix September 28, 2013 at 11:31 am

Sorry, I mean’t to say Net 10 availability for the Samsung Galaxy Centura phone.

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Chris September 30, 2013 at 11:12 am

My main priority is phone and volume. If these aren’t up to my expectations the rst doesn’t count. Vilume on this phone is full capacity…can’t hear call. I am used to Contacts….I enter the name and phone #’s….not the phone. It dies not allow me to do so but has pulled everything from my email account. This I do not like Since this is my first smart phone maybe someone can tell me if they all opperate this way. My thoughts right now are to send this back.

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pbushx2 October 1, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Hi Chris
I haven’t used the phone call aspect of it much yet – I just got it activated today and it’s not assigned my primary cell # yet. Are you having trouble hearing the volume in-call, or is it the ringer that isn’t loud enough?

As far as contacts – it automatically pulls in your contacts from GMail – something that I also dislike very much. This is the case with all Android phones, however. To change it, you can go into the contacts setting menu.

From the home screen, tap the “people” icon. Then tap the “menu” key near the bottom left, and then “contacts to display.” When you play around with the settings in this menu, you can reduce the number of contacts that are displayed.

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Don DeJarnette September 30, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Pat,

The other three phones, per Tracfone, are as follows:

LG Optima Dynamic – LG38C – Gingerbread
Huawei Glory – H868C – 4.0
ZTE Valet – ZTE Z665C – 4.1

All four phones are Verizon.
Will work with Value Plan.

Thanks,
Don

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pbushx2 October 1, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Thanks Don, this should answer some of the previous questions too.

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John October 1, 2013 at 3:39 pm

To Chris
Learning Android can be frustrating but keep trying different things before you return it. It is a different beast than the Windows you may be used to. Android seems to try to do everything for me which is usually not what I want.

About your email:
I consider Android to be a data gathering system for Google. That is why they give it out for free. Free of monetary costs that is.

I consider my Android phone to be the least secure of all my devices. I do not use the E-mail app and instead use the browser to check my GoDaddy Email accounts.

I do not let it access my main WIFI network but instead it uses the isolated guest WIFI feature of my wireless router.

While Android phones and the apps are quite amazing, many of the free apps are gathering “aggregate data” from you. Many people are fine with this but I do a lot of proprietary design work and need to be aware of what my intellectual property is exposed to. Think of HIPAA compliance for medical record privacy. Nobody may really care about your records and so you may be anonymous but anonymity is not privacy. HIPAA standards guarantee privacy.

I stay out of the Google universe and use apps from the Amazon store. It may be good to get a cheap Android tablet to have fun playing with Apps and then keep your serious stuff on your smart phone but not you data in need of security.

I will be getting this phone because after the honeymoon with my Straight Talk Samsung Proclaim, I use it very little and the TracFone plan makes much more sense to me.

I am waiting on the UBUNTU smart phones because they have a whole different philosophy about privacy and user ownership of ones data. I hope America Movil rapidly adopts the Ubuntu phone when it comes out.

Thanks PBush for posting this.

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John October 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm

I just purchased this from the provided E-bay link.

It seems like this offer is off HSN but it is now listed on the Tracfone web site. The Ebay link is the best deal so far at $104 with included 3 day priority mail shipping.

I looked over the plans with Triple minutes and this is a great deal for the occasional cell phone user. I also like that I can purchase data cards that are not not time limited for when I am traveling. Too bad the agreement does not allow tethering, they could sell more airtime.

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pbushx2 October 4, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Hi John
Glad to hear you found something that will work for you. Weren’t you recently considering moving away from TracFone altogether?

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John October 5, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Hi P Bush
You must be thinking a different John. Though I do want to get away from Android but the Ubuntu and Firefox phones are not ready for prime time. Plus they are GSM phones and that is a deal breaker in the poor coverage area where I live. America Movil has quite a global outlook on things and the growth areas of the third world are expected to be a better fit for Open Source phones. I am hopeful.

The Centura ordered off Ebay arrived in this Saturdays afternoon mail. Three day shiping to the middle of nowhere, YAY! I did not transfer my number yet but logged onto my guest WIFI and hooked up to a YouTube playlist. Runs great with no lag. Android 4 must be very clean to run so well on an underpowered device. It appears to be an equal, if not better phone than my Straight Talk Samsung Proclaim.

Cell tower reception appears identical to the Proclaim as indicated by the number of bars in marginal areas.

The Centura also has a screen to log your data usage. I found this in settings where I turn Data on and off. Not as simple as turning it off in Android 2.3. I am sure there is an app or something I can get to simplify turning off data.

The box shows how this can cost you as little as $8 a month by buying a yearly air time card. This will work for me, especially for the miniscule amount of time I use the phone.

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John October 5, 2013 at 5:23 pm

You need a PayPal donation button. This is probably the 3rd phone I purchased because of your blogs but probably not directly linked.

Thanks

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pbushx2 October 10, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Hi John – thanks for the suggestion. I will look into that.

Also thanks for sharing your experience on the Centura. I am similarly happy with what I am getting for the money on this phone, so far at least.

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Chris October 6, 2013 at 1:53 pm

I used the wifi on my phone when I got it and allowed itt o access my wifi at home to try. I had not activated the phone yet and hit the call button and it started to ring and I got a voice message saying I need a credit card to make a call. My volume was at the max and I could barely hear the speaker unless I hit the speakerphone. Using that information I figured it would be the same way acitivated so I returned it. That was my main reason for purchase ..Calls. (I use my ipod for petty much all that is on the phone minus calling)

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Chris October 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm

forgot to say I hit the call button my accident and hadn’t expected it to respond since phone was not yet activted.

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pbushx2 October 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Hi Chris –
I’m not sure about what happened with yours. Just now I made a test call from the Centura to one of my other phones that was in “airplane” mode. With the call volume at the max, the chime I heard when I got the “caller unavailable” message was extremely loud – actually startled me a little and I reflexively took the phone away from my ear. The subsequent spoken message was sufficiently audible to me as well.

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Mia October 6, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Did anyone know if the used talk minutes, texts, and data minutes are carried over to next month for Tracfone Samsung Centura?

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Mia October 6, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Sorry….folks. I meant to type “unused” not “used”.

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pbushx2 October 10, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Hi Mia,
Yes, all unused minutes, data, texts carry over as long as you keep your phone active. It’s just like a regular tracfone, except the three types of units are broken up into the “buckets.”

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Susan October 10, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Are you sure the minutes are broken up into buckets? I called Tracfone, and the rep said that if you buy a 400 minute card, you get 1200 minutes overall to use as you wish. You can use all 1200 minutes in phone calls and nothing in data if you want. Is she wrong? I see that someone said that a 400 minute card will get you 1200 min EACH in all 3 categories…. which is more than triple minutes, it’s x9 minutes.

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pbushx2 October 11, 2013 at 9:48 am

Hi Susan,
Yes I am sure that it is triple-tripled, so in your scenario you described, it would indeed result in 1200 minute, 1200 texts, and 1200 mb of data. This is now more plainly stated on TracFone’s phone listing page (click here to see).

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CrunchyCookie October 26, 2013 at 1:44 am

Hmm, where did TracFone announce 4 new phones? As of a month after this blogpost, they’re still only showing the Samsung Galaxy Centura and ZTE Valet on their site.

So far Best Buy’s gotten the Valet, Wal-Mart the Galaxy, and Radio Shack both. Strangely Target has neither, yet they seem to have claimed first dibs on the 3rd and 4th phones, the Huawei 868 and LG 38. These are probably a renaming (or misspelling) of the Huawei Glory and LG L38 Optimus Dynamic, and both are hand-me-downs from Net 10 & Straight Talk.

Basics of the LG: $80, Android Gingerbread, 3G, 800 MHz processor, 3.2″ screen, 3.2 MP camera
Reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/L38G-LG-Optimus-Dynamic-Straight/product-reviews/B00AYR77PA/ref=cm_cr_pr_top_helpful?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=byRankDescending
http://reviews.walmart.com/1336/22217225/straight-talk-l38g-lg-optimus-dynamic-reviews/reviews.htm?sort=helpfulness
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Net10-LG-L38C-Optimus-Dynamic-Prepaid-Smartphone/23573703

Huawei: $100, Android Ice Cream Sandwich, 3G, 1 GHz processor, 3.5″ screen, 3.2 MP camera
Reviews:
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Net10-Huawei-H868C-Glory-Prepaid-Smartphone/23573705#Product+Reviews

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pbushx2 October 28, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Hi again Crunchy,
I guess they didn’t necessarily “announce” the phones, but they phones are showing up in certain areas of their site – just not “for sale” at the moment.

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Mongo46538 January 16, 2014 at 10:48 am

Recently purchased a Huawei H868C .. Reasonably satisfied.
The phone text data triple triple seems to be just that.

Downside so far:
Amazon Instant Video-Google TV for Amazon prime customers will not work on this device.
So if your going to buy into the Tracfone Smartphone program and you want to Stream video via Amazon Prime you might want to check with tech support and see if one of the other offerings will allow the function of this app.

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pbushx2 January 16, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Thanks for sharing that – I was not aware.

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Mycron January 16, 2014 at 1:33 pm

The downside of the new android tracfones is if you primarily use your cell phone for texting because they use 1 full minute for each text, while the non-android phones only use 1/3rd of a minute for each text.
So, with a 30 minute card, you will receive triple minutes, but that means you will receive 120 minutes of calls, 120 texts, and 120 mg of data on an android phone. While on a regular cell phone, if you use all 120 minutes for texting, that same 30 minute card will give you 360 text messages.

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pbushx2 January 16, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Very good point. For people that text a lot, it might not be the best option. One other thing to think about though, is alternative messaging apps such as facebook messenger. Then you could message people and not have the hit against your text bucket.

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kelleyil March 3, 2014 at 3:09 pm

I have run into the problem of using all text, and having a lot of voice and data left. The 1st time if happened, I just refilled, thinking because I had an unusual circumstance, with people texting a lot of pics, that was using it up fast. Not so. I still used up all text, and have over 1000 voice and 1500 data minutes left. Just got off phone with Tracphone, they said there’s no way to roll any of these minutes over to the text, nor is there a way to purchase text only minutes. You can, however, purchase data or voice only minutes.

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pbushx2 March 3, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Have you considered using an app like facebook messenger, whatsapp, or line? None of those is a perfect solution, obviously, but perhaps you could use one or more of them to shift your messaging away from SMS and into apps, which would draw from your data bucket instead of your text bucket.

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honestmary June 12, 2014 at 11:50 am

Please i want to know if i can insert a simcard in a Huawei 868c phone.

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pbushx2 June 12, 2014 at 1:24 pm

I’m not sure I understand your question. Is this a phone that you purchased in Tracfone packaging? TracFone offers this device already, and all you should need to do is activate it. It uses CDMA, and does not require a sim card.

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Sugar sugar August 4, 2014 at 1:59 pm

I have the tracfone centura and the apps keep running even if I do not use my phone and the battery goes dead very quickly. It gets really warm quickly. I have asked for help but can’t seem to get any. I think I may have deleted some things and can not get them back. Thanks for your help.

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pbushx2 August 5, 2014 at 4:55 pm

I would suggest searching the app store for a “task killer.” There are apps designed to prevent other apps from running in the background.

As far as what you might have deleted, how you get it back depends greatly on what was actually deleted.

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