written by: Robert Faustus•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 5/23/2011
The PSP Phone, otherwise known as one of the worst kept secrets in the smartphone world, was finally officially announced at the 2011 Mobile World Congress. Dubbed the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, this mouthful of a smartphone looks to take gaming to a whole new level on handsets.
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The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is possibly among the worst kept secrets of the smartphone world. Rumors of a PlayStation and smartphone crossover have been around since late 2009, dubbed the PlayStation Phone. Now, two years later, at the 2011 Mobile World Congress, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play was revealed to the public. Combining the PlayStation Portable with Android OS, Sony Ericsson has created quite an eye opening smartphone.
Smartphones are an ever evolving branch of technology, and lately, they've been evolving at quite an alarming pace. The LG Optimus 3D decided to take a different approach with smartphone technology, using 3D on their display. The Motorola Atrix 4G gave itself the ability to connect to laptop docks and media center docks to enhance its abilities even further. The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play takes gaming to a whole new level on a smartphone.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Specifications:
Dimensions: 4.69 x 2.44 x 0.63 inches (119 x 62 x 16 mm)
Weight: 6.17 oz (175 g)
Display: 4.0 inch LCD capacitive touchscreen display, 480 x 854 pixels
Memory: 400 MB + 32 GB MicroSD
OS: Android OS 2.3
Processor: 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon
Camera: 5 Megapixel camera and 1 front facing VGA camera
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play has a very familiar candy bar design with a 4 inch LCD display dominating the front. Below the display are four silver buttons for back, home, menu and search, and they really help differentiate the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play from other Android powered handsets. To the right are shoulder buttons for use in PlayStation Portable mode and a volume rocker fits in between the two. On the left resides a 3.5 mm headphone jack and microUSB port. Rounding out the back is a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash and there's actually another camera that's front facing used for video chatting.
The interesting part comes when you slide the display over. The spring loaded sliding mechanism pushes out to reveal a PlayStation controller. The feeling of the spring loaded sliding mechanism is like that found on the Samsung Epic 4G. You have a directional pad and the familiar four PlayStation buttons on the right. In between are analog touchpads as well, adding to the experience. The Sony Ericsson Xpera Play instantly turns into a gaming machine with the controller out and it's definitely a new take on the slide out mechanism. No more using third party overlays such as the Game Gripper to try to change a keyboard into a gaming pad.
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Hardware and Software
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play comes with a 1 GHz processor, which isn't exactly the most powerful, but it does its job well. Games run smoothly on the Xperia Play and when playing games using the controller, it actually felt like a portable gaming system rather than a smartphone. Beyond the gaming system, the Xperia Play comes preloaded with Android 2.3. This is refreshing to hear considering quite a few upcoming smartphones such as the HTC Thunderbolt are being released with Android 2.2. Whether or not it is in line to be updated to the next version of Android has not been announced.
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The user interface on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is the familiar Android interface with just minor changes made by Sony Ericsson to enhance the user experience. Like all other Android handsets, the Xperia Play is based on user touch, therefore extremely intuitive. The touchscreen interface is easy for people of all ages to learn, use and master. The demographic for the Xperia Play, the younger audience, will easily be able to pick up and use the smartphone. It really is no different from say, a Samsung Captivate or a Motorola Droid.
The user interface on the controller is absolutely fantastic. For users of PlayStation gaming systems, the directional pad and familiar four buttons on the right are a welcome addition for gaming. The anolog touchpads are also a nice little addition, though the directional pad and buttons feel more comfortable.
Overall the user interface and overall user experience on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is a breath of fresh air for gaming smartphones. Many gaming companies have found smartphones to be their biggest threat and the Xperia Play has merged Sony's concerns with a viable competitive market.
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The main feature of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is, of course, the fact that it has a dedicated controller that slides out. When other smartphones such as the Atrix 4G expanded their abilities, so too, did the Xperia Play. The dedicated slide out controller gives the Xperia Play an edge over its competitors when it comes to gaming abilities. In addition, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play will also have exclusive abilities to have PlayStation titles downloadable from the market, once again, giving it the edge over its competitors.
The other feature is the 5 megapixel camera with LED flash on the back of the Xperia Play. The 5 megapixel camera seems to be the standard with smartphones nowadays, with 8 megapixel cameras slowly creeping onto the scene. It's not the best available but it's sufficient for a smartphone. The front facing VGA camera is an interesting addition and most likely points to the Xperia Play being 4G compatible, which is exciting.
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The Final Verdict
Overall the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play ranks in as a 'Good' smartphone. It's definitely pushing the boundaries between portable gaming devices and smartphones and really working towards a new market. There are some slight concerns, however, on this Xperia Play. The market for the Xperia Play will most likely be the younger audience, those who enjoy playing portable gaming systems, but at the same time, it is a smartphone, meaning it comes with quite a hefty price tag. Not just the smartphone itself, but the continual monthly charges, and with the costs of data rising, you have to wonder who the Xperia Play is truly marketed towards.
Another concern is around battery life. Being a heavily gaming focused smartphone, you have to wonder how long the battery will hold up. Many gaming systems perform one function, that of being a gaming system, and come with extra batteries, while the Xperia Play will function as a smartphone first, gaming platform second. On the Samsung Continuum, two hours or so of calling easily eats up batteries, and couple that with gaming in between, and you have to worry about how much life a Sony Ericsson Xperia Play will have in a day.