Hardware & Design
The version we are reviewing here is the Verizon one and Sony Ericsson is known for solid hardware and the Xperia Play keeps that tradition alive. The 4 inch display with preinstall screen guard is crisp and great to view. Games and video have correct and vivid colors. The physical menu buttons is not common on android phones but fit well on here and don’t feel cheap or flimsy. It’s a thicker phone but has light weight to it while not feeling cheap. The big feature of this phone is the slide out PlayStation certified controller. It’s a full controller with touch sensitive analog sticks. The controller feels great in the hand and I didn’t get hand cramps while playing games. The buttons have a nice click to them and don’t feel too small.
The Xperia Play comes with a 5 megapixel rear facing camera and a front facing VGA camera. The phone doesn’t record HD video which is disappointing considering that this is more in the high-end range of phones. The still images are pretty good and Sony Ericsson is known for putting solid cameras in their phones.
Inside there is a 1.0 Ghz single core processor with an Adreno 205 GPU, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, pre-installed 8 GB SD card and 3G data speeds. Strange choice not to have 4G LTE on this out of the gate especially with online gaming and game downloads that you may want to do on the road. The design reminds me of a PSP Go but a lot more comfortable to hold and the hardware specs while a bit behind with todays dual core smartphones is good.
Software & Usability
The phone is running a stock version of Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Performance is smooth with no lag when swiping between desktops or loading apps. There is very little customizations made by Son with just a few widgets they have included and when you slide the keyboard up you will get the Xperia Play game menu. They have included 6 games to start: Asphalt 6: Adrenaline, Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior, The Sims 3, Star Battalion, Madden NFL 11 and Crash Bandicoot. The games do need a download before they are playable and all preloaded and new games are Wi-Fi download only. There is no PSN support for this device which just plain makes no sense. You have a PlayStation phone but no connection to PSN in any way. It’s a huge loss of opportunity there. Games looks good and closet o PS One games. Some games do look better than others but the all about the same range.
While the games come in good there isn’t any custom music or video player. Since this is stock android you are left to grab this on your own. Now for some this is great you get a clean phone and can customize it fully to your liking. However there are others that just simply want these features easy and accessible and don’t want to go through that whole process.
Battery life is typical android with needed to charge after a full day of usage. For gaming on simpler games will give you longer playtime than game with more advanced graphics. A mix between the two can give you about 3-4 hours of gameplay but either way you will need to charge the phone daily and be close to the charger if you are a heavy user.
The idea of the Xperia Play is capture some of the mobile gaming market that has become big thanks to smartphones like the iPhone which the Xperia Play is competing against. Now the device does do what it says in bringing you a full feature gaming experience which is better than your going to get on any mobile phone today but its missing out on some of the other things such as music and video. Since its stock on the Verizon version your left to grab those apps that will be the solutions for those yourself. I know the AT&T version will have Timescape UI and for some Android purist they won’t like this but It should fair better against the iPhone including its music and video player from Sony’s Timescape UI to make it easier for those who are not the most tech savvy.