The PlayStation Phone is probably one of the worst-kept secrets in the mobile industry — there were whispers and talks everywhere, and blogs even managed to get hands-on with prototypes. Those days are now over, and PlayStation Phone — better known as the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY – is now here.
Although it’s not immediately noticeable, the Xperia PLAY is quite different from your standard Android device. On the front, Sony has packed a spacious 4-inch display, featuring a 480 x 854 resolution, along with a front-facing camera, an earpiece, and four hardware buttons — Back, Home, Menu, Search. While it’s nice to have physical hardware buttons, they’re definitely on the small side, and they don’t provide great tactile feedback.
On the left side, there is a microUSB port for charging and sync, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack. On the opposite side, you’ll find the left and right shoulder buttons (for gaming), and the volume rocker in between. And on the top, there’s a power button that has a LED notification light built-in to it — which looks amazing.
And sliding the phone open reveals the gaming pad. If you have used a PS3 controllers, you’ll immediately recognize the PlayStation buttons. You’ve got a hardware d-pad on the left, four action buttons on the right, and a pair of optical trackpads in the middle. There’s also another menu button, along with select and start buttons. The gaming pad is quite amazing. It’s solid, the buttons feel fantastic, and the trackpads work great.
The hardware on the Xperia PLAY is pretty fantastic. We love the display, and the gaming pad is excellent. We wish that Sony would use more materials other than glass and plastic though. [weird ending?]
The Xperia PLAY runs a stock version of Gingerbread, more specifically, Android 2.3.2. We love Google’s stock UI, and Sony Ericsson made the right choice by not adding a custom skin. However, we wish that Sony/Verizon would roll out an update with 2.3.4, which includes Google Talk Video Chat. Besides the Xperia PLAY app and a few Verizon specific apps, it’s stock Gingerbread.
If you’re reading this review, you’re probably looking to game on your phone. The Xperia PLAY is powered by a 1GHz CPU, and graphics are handled by the Adreno 205 graphics processor. After quite a bit of gaming, we’re happy to report that the graphics on the Xperia PLAY are fantastic. As we stated in the hardware section of this review, we’re pretty big fans of the gamepad. It didn’t feel cramped, and we didn’t run into any issues using the gamepad.
On the software side, the Xperia PLAY comes pre-loaded with a couple of games that are Xperia PLAY-ready: Asphalt 6, Bruce Lee, Crash Bandicoot, Madden NFL ‘11, Star Battalion, and The Sims 3. Using the Xperia PLAY app, you can also access the PlayStation Store, and purchase more games, like Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus HD, and N.O.V.A. 2 HD.
The Xperia PLAY is equipped with a 1500mAh battery. Battery life on the Xperia PLAY is fantastic. We were able to chug through an entire day with heavy usage (web browsing, tweeting, playing music, watching videos, gaming) with juice left at the end of the day.
The Xperia PLAY is certainly a unique device. It’s definitely not for everyone though. If you’re into gaming, and you’re looking for a portable gaming solution without having to carry another device, the Xperia PLAY is definitely the way to go. If you’re just looking to get a great Android device on Verizon, we’d also take a look at the HTC Thunderbolt or the Samsung DROID Charge in addition to the Xperia PLAY.