“I have to say that my first impressions are extremely positive and that, from a design point of view, the Centro is a classy little smartphone that outshines most of its rivals.”
Those are my words from January 2009. The Centro was released on October 14, 2007. The first iPhone was released on June 29, 2007. What the hell was I thinking when I wrote the words above?
I know what I was thinking. I was thinking that this was how phones were back then and even though it wasn’t the best Palm had produced, it was competitive. Simon mentioned on LIM that he had a Centro that he was disposing of and so I took the opportunity to pay a nominal amount to relive the old days. To be fair, he didn’t want anything for it, but I wanted to step back and this was the perfect way to do it.
How quickly we forget.
The Centro is quite frankly awful in every way as I look at it now. To think that the original iPhone was released before this phone doesn’t quite fit into the way things should work and reminds me that the iPhone was truly a leap forward. To be fair to the Centro, when I look at a couple of the old Windows Mobile devices I have hanging around the story is the same. In five years we have jumped forward so far and those of us who continually look back and bemoan the loss of Palm OS and some of the older phones are wearing rose tinted spectacles of the highest prescription.
Anyway, that was my first impressions after 10 minutes, but I decided to keep going and to set up the phone to see what it could still do. The first problem I encountered was setting up a data connection- after 10 minutes I had ‘manually’ input all of the settings and I was ready to go. Of course the first place to start is the BBC and so I entered the address- the result was a mess of overly large text and images in the wrong place. The web has moved on.
I tried to download some apps, but also struggled and got to the point where frustration took over. Tiny onscreen buttons to tap with a flimsy stylus, fiddly hardware keyboard and a screen so lacking in anything apart from the ability to offer basic text presentation that I soon gave up and place it in my box of stuff that no longer justifies regular use.
I am not criticising the Centro for what it is, but I can’t believe that this kind of smartphone experience was acceptable. Time moves on and so do expectations and time has jumped dramatically in the past half a decade when it comes to mobile experience. The One X, Galaxy SIII and other devices are a million years away from the Centro experience of 2007 and also every other smartphone we used at the time. We called them smart! How ridiculous that seems in comparison to what we have now, but let’s just be happy that the mobile world has changed so much and that we can enjoy the web, PIM, media and everything else in true quality. Before we just got by, now we get everything we want.