Sony Ericsson XPERIA Play, the PlayStation Phone, is here to change the way you play games on your phone. Before the launch, it was rumoured for almost an year that Sony is working on a PlayStation-branded phone and it could be the next version of PSP, but oh well, we now have a new PSP 2 (NGP) and the Xperia Play as well.
Xperia Play is not PSP, but infact, a little more than that. It’s more of a portable gaming console with mobile capabilities. It can play PlayStation One games at the moment, and soon all the PSP games will be available as well on the Xperia Play.
Let’s begin with the review now and see how this phone performs in other features as well, apart from gaming.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Review
Sony Ericsson announced the Xperia Play earlier this year in February, at the Mobile World Congress 2011. Xperia Arc (full review) and Xperia Neo were also announced along with the Xperia Play. Sony Ericsson is known for delivering the latest Android software updates very late as compared to HTC, Samsung, Motorola etc. I hope they don’t do the smae with the latest Xperia devices i.e. Sony Ericsson Xperia Play.
The technical specifications of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play are as follows:
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play: Specifications
- Display: 4.0-inch LED-backlit LCD display (480 x 854 pixels)
- Processor/GPU: 1GHz Scorpion processor, Adreno 205 GPU, Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon
- Camera: 5 megapixels camera with autofocus, autofocus, LED flash, secondary camera for video calls
- Video: Video recording with flash at WVGA resolution.
- Memory: 512MB RAM, 400MB internal memory, 16GB microSD card included, microSD slot upto 32GB
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 2.1, WiFi, microUSB, DLNA
- Other: Flash Player 10.2 support, A-GPS, 3.5 mm jack, accelerometer, Document Viewer, Facebook/Twitter integration, TrackID music recognization
- Battery: 1500 mAh Li-Ion
- OS: Android 2.3 with Sony Ercisson XPERIA UI.
And now, let’s continue with the rest of the review in detail.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play vs Xperia Arc vs Nexus S – Tweets
I regularly tweeted my views about the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Play, while comparing it with other devices like the Sony Ercisson XPERIA Arc and the Google Nexus S.
I’ll quickly run down with the tweets which have my views, observations and differences among all these devices – differences that I have actually come across in my time using it. I posted most of these on my Twitter account, so I’ll just quote my tweets here:
“Nice experience so far with the #XperiaPlay”
“PlayStation controls on the #XperiaPlay works with most of the games.”
“Most of the games are ‘optimized’ for #XperiaPlay in the XPERIA Store.”
“Sony Ericsson #XperiaPlay is bulky, but pretty fast on the software side. Feels a tad bit faster than the XPERIA Arc.”
“Camera on the #XperiaPlay sucks! =\ No Exmor lens or modified Camera app. It’s stock!”
“#XperiaPlay build quality is not good either. All plastic. Samsung does plastic way better than Sony Ericsson.”
“Crazy thought, but I’m thinking of installing Launcher Pro on the #XperiaPlay. SE’s launcher is NOT that good.”
“For some reason, I wasn’t able to install #XperiaPlay PC software at home desktop.”
“#XperiaArc is almost half the size of #XperiaPlay :P Compared it quickly this morning.”
“Damn! After fudging around since yesterday, I can finally take screenshots on the #XperiaPlay and #XperiaArc. Bleh!”
“Compared #XperiaArc with #XperiaPlay. It’s half its thickness =P”
“#XperiaArc is so much faster, lighter and sexier than the #XperiaPlay. Play is all bulky and fat =\”
“After using #XperiaPlay and #XperiaArc today, I can conclude my rants with that Sony Ericsson has done some major work after the #XperiaX10”
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play: Design
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is fat, a bit heavy and bulgy to hold. It features the smae signature Xperia body with curved buttons at the bottom – but this device has an exception. It has has the sliding PlayStation controls, that is what makes this device thick in size.
This phone is only 16mm thick, that is way more than the XPERIA Arc (8.7mm) because of the sliding PlayStation controls. It weighs 175g.
Xperia Play is flat from the front, but all curvy at the bottom. On the front sideof the phone, you can see sensors at the top, along with the Sony Ericsson logo, the speaker and a secondary camera for video calls. You can make free video calls over WiFi using Fring or Tango, or you will soon be able to make free video and voice calls from Google Talk with the latest Google Talk update in Android 2.3.4 software update, only available for the Nexus S at the moment.
On the bottom front, three are four keys: Back, Home, Menu, Search.
Back side of the phone has a noise-cancelling second mic, 5 megapixels camera and an LED flash. It also has the XPERIA branding and the Sony Ericsson logo.
On the left side of the phone, you can find the 3.5mm audio jack and the microUSB port. Right side of the phone has the two R and L keys on the sides from the PlayStation controls and between them are the volume controls.
Top of the Xperia Play has the power button and a tiny LED light for battery notifications. The LED is situated on the power button. Mic is at the bottom of the phone.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play: Display
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play comes with a 4.0-inch LED-backlit LCD display, which to me, seems the same as the LCD on the Xperia X10. It was not much of a stand-out, and we still think this phone could have had the BRAVIA mobile engine, like in the Xperia Arc.
Display screen performance in direct sunlight was pretty bad as compared to the Mobile BRAVIA display technology in Xperia Arc and the Super AMOLED display on the Nexus S or Galaxy S (full review).
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play: Performance
Under the hood, the PlayStation Phone is powered with a 1GHz Snapdragon CPU which helps it to run PlayStation One games, with the help of the Adreno 205 GPU found in the phone hardware as well. We honestly believe this was one device that should have been powered with the new dual-core processor and GPU so that it could have run the new PSP games as well – and may be, PS2 games also.
Overall speed is good. Considering the amount of modifications Sony Ericsson has done to Android, this phone does not feel slow at all. You will notice a very slight lag when you pinch-to-zoom on the homescreen and all the widgets show up on your screen. But that is nothing big to actually worry about. That is usually because of some left out optimization in the OS, which I’m sure Sony Ericsson will iron out in the further releases.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play: Gaming
Gaming on the Xperia Play was fun – a new experience to try out on a phone after using handheld gaming consoles like the PSP, PSP Go etc. Sony Ericsson Xperia Play features a PSP Go-like sliding gaming controls board which has PlayStation keys, touchpad for analog controls etc. And also has the R and L buttons at the right side of the phone.
The screen automatically opens up the XPERIA Play app when you open the slider and the screen rotates to horizontal view.
I spend most of my time playing games on the Xperia Play. The phone comes preloaded with the PlayStation One game, Crash Bandicoot. Other games are available and can be downloaded from the PlayStation Store app on the phone. It also comes preloaded with Bruce Lee, FIFA 10, Star Battalion HD and The Sims 3 – from the Android Market.
There are too Sony Ericsson gaming apps on the phone as well. XPERIA Play and PlayStation Pocket apps. Xperria Play app features Android games from the Android market. It shows you a list of all the “XPERIA Play optimized” games and a list of more optimized games you can download on your Xperia Play.
Games that have been optimized for the Xperia Play are not of good graphics quality. When someone mentions that it has been specially optimized for the XPERIA Play, it mostly mens the graphics have been lowered so the game could run without any lag on the Xperia Play.
HD games like the Star Battalion worked really well on the Xperia Play, but normal games like FIFA 10, Ashphalt 6, NFS Shift have not been that good when it comes to graphics.
Gaming controls are pretty comfortable on the device though. It was almost the same experience as playing on a PSP Go. Playing with the touchpad was a bit difficult, but that I believe you can get used to it with time.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play: Camera/Video
Camera quality is just okay. It’s not very good, or not very bad. Sony Ericsson Xperia Play as the stock camera app of Android, without any modifications made to it. Sony Ericsson has the same modified Android UI on its Xperia Arc and Xperia Play, but they didn’t include the modifications in the camera app for some reason.
Xperia Play has a 5 megapixels camera at the back with an LED flash, and has a secondary camera at the front which can be used for making video calls to friends/family. Now that Google Talk officially supports video/voice chat, front camera even makes more sense, although the Android 2.3.4 has not yet been released for the Xperia Play.
You can still use apps like Tango, Qik or Fring to make video calls over WiFi using the secondary front camera.
Photo quality is fine. I didn’t find much difference between the photo quality of the Xperia Play and Nexus S. Photos are taken at 2592 ? 1944 pixels (maximum). You can see a few sample shots I took with the Xperia Play below. Click on the image for the full-resolution photo.
And one photo, taken in the Macro mode.
This phone can also record video with flash, but not in HD.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play: Body/Build Quality
Sony Ericsson has again used a plastic body on the Xperia Play. This phone is bulgy, thick and a bit heavy for normal use. Here is what I tweeted after using the phone for the first 5 min.
“#XperiaPlay build quality is not good either. All plastic. Samsung does plastic way better than Sony Ericsson.”
Xperia Play features a sliding controls board where it has PlayStation like buttons and touchpad gaming controls as well. This phone has a 4.0-inch display screen with the usual menu buttons at the bottom.
Xperia Arc is half the size of Xperia Play in thickness. I will soon be doing a comparison post between the Xperia Play and Xperia Arc. You can read about Xperia Arc vs Xperia X10 here.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play: Connectivity
Xperia Play offers several connectivity options such as Bluetooth 2.1, WiFi, and microUSB support. Unfortunately, the Xperia Play doesn’t have a HDMI out for you to enjoy games on the big screen on TV. But an addition of that could have been really useful in this phone.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play: Battery
This phone is powered with a 1500 mAh battery that provides talktime of 8 hours and 25 minutes on 2G and 6 hours and 25 minutes on 3G. Standby time is of 425 hours on 2G and 413 hours on 3G.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play: Benchmarks
Here are some benchmark results between the Xperia Play, Xperia Arc and the Google Nexus S.
Xperia Play and Nexus S.
Due to some software issues in the Xperia Arc, we were not able to take screenshots of the phone.
Xperia Play and Xperia Arc.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play: Software
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is powered by the Android 2.3.2, GIngerbread, and as usual Sony Ericsson has modified almost all the areas of Android UI. The custom skin over Android 2.3.2 brings a number of social features and new apps like the Timescape, Mediascape etc.
Timescape brings Twitter and Facebook updates fro myour friends in one single stream. You can also have a Timescape homescreen widget to flick through the tiles to check all the latest updates from friends on Twitter and Facebook. Additional extensions, like for LinkedIn, Foursquare can also be downloaded from the Android Market.
A number of custom Sony Ericsson widgets have also been added, like the a PlayStation game carousel, data traffic monitor, separate power control buttons, media controls etc. The custom skin can suffer a slight lag sometimes, but that is no big deal as the overall performance is really fast!
Camera, News & Weather and Gallery apps are untouched on the Xperia Play. Android Market has a separate column for Sony Ericsson recommended apps.
Media player is really good and can play a number of audio and video formats. Watch a vide otour of the entire Sony Ercisson’s custom Android 2.3.2 on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play:
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Sony Ericsson Xperia Play: Gallery
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play: Screenshots
For more reviews and comparison, hands-on photos/videos of Sony Ericsson XPERIA series, see links below:
- Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc Preview
- Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc Review
- Sony Ericsson: XPERIA Arc vs XPERIA X10
- Sony Ericsson XPERIA Play Preview
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