Sony Ericsson XPERIA Play Review

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Ever since the XPERIA Play emerged, the device gained immediate fame in the smartphone and gaming communities alike. Combining the versatility of an Android with the gaming capabilities of a PlayStation has produced one of the most, if not the most, anticipated smartphones being released in 2011. With all the hype surrounding the XPERIA Play, some may wonder is the buzz truly merited? Read on for our full review of the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Play, the first PlayStation Certified smartphone!

BOX CONTENTS



Here is the unboxing of the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Play. The device being reviewed in this video is the European unlocked version (R800i) which includes a European wall charger, a microUSB charging sync/cable, an 8GB microSD card, and a Sony Ericsson branded stereo headset.

HARDWARE



The XPERIA Play feels sturdy in hand but the materials used to manufacture the device are comprised almost entirely out of plastic. The weight and dimensions of the XPERIA Play are 175g (6.2oz) and 62 x 119 x 16mm (2.4 x 4.7 x 0.6in).



Like other Gingerbread-powered Androids recently offered, the XPERIA Play gets its computing power from a single core 1GHz Snapdragon MSM8255 second generation processor along with 1GB of ROM (400MB accessible) and 512MB of RAM. The device also comes with an 8GB microSD card which is expandable up to 32GB.



The screen is a four-inch (101.6mm) FWVGA (854×480) resolution LCD which is underneath a plastic multi-touch capacitive digitizer. It’s very possible that the US version will have a glass screen when it hits Verizon. The device radios consist of quad-band GSM in addition to dual-band UMTS 900/2100, Wi-Fi b/g/n, aGPS, and Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR. The sensors included are a proximity sensor, digital compass, light sensor, and accelerometer.



The ports include a microUSB and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the side. For imaging, the rear camera, which has an LED flash, takes still photos up to five megapixels and can record video at 720p HD. The front-facing camera is capable of capturing video and photos at VGA (640×480) resolution. Bringing all this hardware to life is the capacious 1500mAh lithium polymer battery.



The game controls of the XPERIA Play are similar to a PlayStation Portable device with the exception of the dual touchpads. For those that do not know the PSP devices use a single analog joystick on the left side to cause various movements or actions during gameplay. The spring-assisted slide out gaming control consists of 13 non-backlit buttons. Button presses or selections are precise and do not hinder gameplay with much lag or unregistered presses.

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SOFTWARE



The XPERIA Play is running one of the latest versions of Android Gingerbread (2.3.2) joined with the Sony Ericsson user interface that includes the social networking Timescape app. Pinching the home screen converts the view of all five panels of the user interface into a single panel overview.

Being the first PlayStation-certified handset, XPERIA Play launches with full version games synonymous with the PlayStation brand. The titles pre-installed on this handset are Bruce Lee, Crash Bandicoot, FIFA 10, Star Battalion, and The Sims 3. At this time there are not many games available, but the number of games will certainly increase when the XPERIA Play and PlayStation Suite goes live to the public. It would be fantastic if future releases of games coincide with the releases that come out on the PSP. Carrying, charging, download, or playing on just one device would make any gamer‘s life easier, and having just one device also capable of accessing the entire PSP library would cause any portable gamer to be one happy camper.

Game play is similar to playing a PlayStation 1 or PlayStation 2. The graphics are adequate yet not as visually intense as they would be playing a PlayStation 3. Movement, actions, and camera pans are smoother to transition in comparison to a PSP device. Using the touchpads requires somewhat of a learning curve over the traditional analog joysticks found on all PlayStation branded controls. While Sony Ericsson was probably attempting innovation by adding the touchpads, some gamers may find them difficult to use and not as precise as the analog joysticks so many are familiar with.

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Some titles included that set the XPERIA Play apart from other Android handsets are:

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Get Games – Similar to the Android Market, this app grants access to download games made especially for the XPERIA Play. Games are being added every day; for instance, yesterday there were four and today there are twelve available.

LiveWare manager – Just plug in a headset or micro USB cable and specify which app should be launched. This app creates a shortcut task so as soon as a port is connected the desired app with automatically start.

Media server – This DLNA app makes it easy to sync with a computer over a Wi-Fi connection. Set the parameters and begin sharing media and files over a network connection without the need for wires. The XPERIA Play is even capable of connecting to a PlayStation 3.

OfficeSuite – This lite version allows office documents to be viewed on the XPERIA Play. The full version makes it possible to edit and create new documents.

PlayNow – Download movies, music, or other content to be played directly on the XPERIA Play.

PlayStation pocket – View recently played and added games with this app. There is a widget available that makes selecting a game quick and easy.

Postcard – This app allows geotagged photos to be sent to practically anyone.

Sync – Backup personal data to the Sony Ericsson server for future retrieval.

Timescape – This social media app displays friend’s status updates in an elegant manner. Update status, send direct messages, and view photos others have uploaded.

TrackID – Record music from a TV or any external speak and get the artist and track information within seconds.

XPERIA Play – The software that makes it possible to play full version PlayStation games directly on the device. Download new titles and search through existing games.

CAMERA

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The XPERIA Play can take still photos with the rear camera up to five megapixels and record video at 720p HD. For the front camera the device is able to capture VGA resolution still and video. The qualities of the photos are good with the rear camera, while the front facing camera is pixelated and distorted. The device does have a single LED flash but the images are still too dark or washed out. Macro and infinity photos come out nice in well-lit scenes.

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PERFORMANCE

The XPERIA Play is a fast Android smartphone. In terms of processor speed, it’s quick to load files, media, and games. After multiple tests the average score for the Quadrant Standard benchmark was 1635, with a high of 1695 and a low of 1584. Multitasking was handled with ease on the device, and even Flash video played a bit more smoothly than found on other Android phones.

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CALL QUALITY/NETWORK SPEED

On AT&T the call quality was crisp and clear, and no dropped calls were experienced. The speakerphone is phenomenal both while driving down an interstate and just sitting at a desk. The XPERIA Play probably has the best true stereo speakers of any mobile device to date. The dual noise cancelling microphones were able to pick up speech while at the same time eliminate background noise. To test the XPERIA Play’s network speed would be unfair because this European unlocked version is not capable of utilizing US 3G bands.

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BATTERY LIFE

The battery life of the XPERIA Play is far better than other Androids running Gingerbread. After a full charge the device provided enough juice to keep it running for 24 hours with moderate use. Sony Ericsson states that the XPERIA Play should deliver 8.5 hours of talk time and 5.5 hours of gameplay. The battery is a 1500mAh lithium polymer.

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PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY

Launch is scheduled for March 28th in Europe and possibly early May in the US. Verizon will be the first provider in the US to carry the XPERIA Play.

PROS

+ Excellent Battery Life

+ Allows you to play real PlayStation games

+ Stereo speakers are loud

+ Big, bright screen

+ Stable Software

CONS

– Front facing camera quality is poor

– Screen is plastic

– Doesn’t have bands for US 3G

– Large and heavy

– Game selection is limited at this time

CONCLUSION

The Sony Ericsson XPERIA Play is a great all-around device for any hardcore gamer and smartphone enthusiast. The slide out game control is a nifty innovation that makes gameplay far superior to devices using only the touchscreen. Some have speculated that the XPERIA Play is a transitional device between the PSP and the NGP. We predict that the XPERIA Play’s success will likely be determined by the availability of cutting edge games.

When the PlayStation Suite is officially debuted there will unquestionably be more gaming smartphones from Sony Ericsson in the near future. So is the XPERIA Play the right phone for you? If you are a serious gamer that doesn’t mind low-quality exteriors than this is the device for you. If you are a more cautious consumer, than we suggest holding off until more game titles are released and Sony Ericsson uses higher-quality materials. Nevertheless, the XPERIA Play and PlayStation Suite look very promising.

We rate the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Play 4/5.

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About The Author
Daniel Webster