Design:

From the minute you pick the Centro up its obvious that the device is totally different than the Treo. While it retains the candy bar form factor found in most smartphones, it is smaller in all dimensions and feels near perfect in your hand. The Centro strikes a near perfect balance between thinness and narrowness; it’s narrow enough to be grasped comfortably and thick enough so that the device doesn’t feel fragile and get lost in your hand.

Model Dimension (Inches) Dimension (mm) Weight (oz) Weight (Gramms)
Palm Centro 4.20" x 2.10" x 0.70" 107 x 53.5 x 18.5 4.20 119
Palm Treo 755p 4.40" x 2.30" x 0.80" 113 x 59 x 21 5.6 160
Motorola Q9m 4.60" x 2.60" x 0.50" 118 x 67 x 11.9 4.80 135
Blackberry Pearl 4.20" x 2.0" x 0.60" 107 x 50 x 14.5 3.20 90

The casing is two tone, both black and red mica versions will be available, with silver accents. The plastic casing is slippery, and while we would have preferred the soft-touch paint found on the 755p the construction is still good. Palm definitely skimped on materials to bring the Centro to market with such a low price-point, but they did so in a way that the device does not feel cheap.




The touchscreen display is 320x320 supports up to 65k colors, and is easy to read in all lighting conditions. Underneath the user will find a silver strip, flanked by the send and end buttons. In the center is the 5 way directional pad. To the right of the d-pad is the home and messaging buttons, to the left sits the phone and calendar keys. Buttons are easy to press and give good feedback.



At the bottom of the phone is a full QWERTY keyboard, with ALT, Shift, Backspace, Enter, 0 and context menu hard keys. When pictures first surfaced of the Centro the diminutive size of the keyboard was the most talked about feature, and there is no doubt that it’s tiny. However, the keys are constructed of a rubber-like material that makes them just grippy enough that size is not an issue. We had no learning curve using this keyboard, and within minutes of picking it up were already typing faster than we do on larger keypads. The keys are placed far enough apart, and there is auto-correction software onboard which generally fixes the occasional mis-type. We actually find ourselves preferring this keyboard to larger keypads found on models like the Q and even the Treos. We gave it to some people with larger fingers and they had no problem using it either.



The left side of the phone houses the volume rocker at the top, with a programmable side key just below. On the right is the Infrared port and a pretty much hidden MicroSD slot. It ships with a sticker alerting the user of its presence, but once removed the slot is integrated almost seamlessly into the silver trim that rings the sides of the phone. The slot is pretty hard to open, and users without fingernails will find themselves removing the battery door to access the MicroSD card. That battery door monopolizes the back of the phone, but at the top the user will find the speaker and 1.3 megapixel camera. The stylus tucked away at the top left, and on the right is a rubber plug that hides an external antenna port. Along the top of the phone is a sliding switch that quickly puts the phone into vibrate, and the bottom is the standard Palm charging/data port.

Overall we have found the design of the Centro to be excellent. It is as close to perfect as we have encountered for a full featured smartphone, and it’s hard to describe just how great this device feels to use. The Centro is a major upgrade from the already good 750/755p design. It is also good to see Palm put some forward thinking into the design of their devices.


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