Sony Ericsson is presenting its long-awaited “PlayStation Phone”, called XPERIA Play, at the the Mobile World Congress. Almost a full decade after the launch of Nokia N-Gage, this is the first real cell phone and mobile gaming console hybrid, and it did not take long for this device to become a big hit of this year’s tradeshow in Barcelona.
I arranged with Sony Ericsson representatives to try out the XPERIA Play, and saw straight away that this will become one of the most coveted gadgets when it comes to the younger consumers, as well as the older ones who are fond of electronic games.
BUILD & DESIGN
A 4-inch screen with a 480 x 854 pixel resolution provides real gaming pleasure, even better than Sony’s PSP — visually and acoustically. Due to the LED-backlight screen, the imaging is exceptionally contrasted and the colors seem highly convincing.
Behind this screen is a sliding panel with the set of control buttons that are beloved of PlayStation gamers everywhere. The phone seems solid and compact, as is the slide mechanism.
I tried out a few and loved Asphalt, a classic car racing game. Excellent sound, even in the big crowd present at the Barcelona show, that provides for a brilliant gaming experience. The controls could be a bit more precise though, especially the trackpads that are located between the classic PSP keys. Sony Ericsson representatives claim that slight lagging of control reactions is a result of the unfinished phone software being used, and convinced me that this would not be a problem in the future.
Even though XPERIA Play is a smartphone by nature, with Google Android OS 2.3, it is entirely suited for gaming, both software- and hardware-wise.
As soon as the device unfolds, the “XPERIA Play launcher” is initiated, which can swiftly access games or start the download of new games from the PlayStation Store.
Games intended for this device will be available soon, of course, and purchases can be made via the Android Market. This is a logical and fast process, which is even fun, given that it provides insight into all available games.
When the phone appears on the market, over 50 games will be available, including some classics from the PlayStation One — these titles have been adjusted for a bigger screen resolution.
Available games will include FIFA, Guitar Hero, Battlefield, Galaxy on Fire 2, Assassin’s Creed, and other titles made exclusively for this phone, like Dungeon Defender: Wave Two.
The XPERIA Play provides multi-player support, but game manufacturers will be able to choose whether they will allow users to play against other smartphone owners or against all game owners, irrelevant of their platform. FIFA, for instance, supports the multi-player option only for this phone.
Qualcomm’s 1 GHz Scorpion processor with the Adreno 205 GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) chipset is excellent when it comes to very fast and graphically demanding games.
When it is not used for gaming, it provides a rich user interface for Android OS 2.3 and familiar Sony Ericsson expansions of the standard Google user interface: TimeScape and MediaScape.
Stay tuned for a full review when this gaming-oriented smartphone is available.