When the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play entered the market, it was the most discussed handset among hardcore gamers and mobile enthusiasts. Xperia Play is a combination of an Android 2.4 Gingerbread based Xperia phone and Sony’s handheld gaming device ‘PlayStation’.
In order to make good use of its PlayStation certification, the Play features a slide-out gaming pad with controls that attempts at replicating PlayStation controller, including two touch-sensitive pads in place of the usual analog sticks.
Look and feel
The first thing you notice when you pick up the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is its huge size (119mm x 62mm x 16mm). From gamming perspective Play fit comfortably in the hand, but for communication purpose, I felt like it was bigger than it had to be for the task.
The front of the Play sports a 4 inch touch screen (that supports a resolution of 854 x 480 pixels) above four physical keys for the standard Android functions of back, home, menu, and search. The screen itself is decent but it could have been made a bit more responsive to touch as well, as sometimes a user has to do multiple presses or swipes before the screen would register the input. Also, display works just fine when users are playing indoors. But, the screen does not give the desired gaming experience in bright sunlight.
The plastic used to build the outside of the device could have been better. Once you go inside the device, apart from the trademark PlayStation game controller, rest of the device is more like other Android phones.
Sony Ericsson has added a custom PlayStation Pocket widget that leads to your PlayStation games and lets you surf more games. Loading times for the games aboard the Play was quite decent, but hardcore gamers might find it too slow. As far as the gaming pad goes, certain functions worked well, while others could have been better.
The four-way directional pad and the square, triangle, circle, and X buttons worked nicely and were responsive during game play. The touchpads that are designed to replicate the analog sticks were a bit sluggish. I found it hard to use them in games and found them to do not 100 per cent accurate.
The shoulder keys (the L and R trigger keys) are placed on the top side of the phone, when held horizontally. They are big and are perfectly positioned under the forefingers. Overall, they are very comfortable to use and were responsive too during gaming. The actual slider mechanism of the gamepad feels solid and sturdy, and should withstand a good amount of use and pressure.
The first game we tried to play on this was Crash Bandicoot. It makes use of all of the hardware controls and is a good way to experience gaming on the Xperia Play.
Users would be very glad to discover that the SIM card and MicroSD cards can be accessed with no need to remove the battery at all. Not many phones make it that convenient.
The device has been created for entertainment and it reflects in the product. Take the speakers for example, which are way better than other phones. The RAM available for games is 400 MB out of total 512 MB, which is okay but isn’t sufficient for the hard core gamers who are always hankering for more.
It has 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon chip that gives more power to the users compared to Motorola Atrix and LG Optimus 2X that have use dual core systems on a chip.
This phone comes with two cameras, the primary camera is of 5 megapixel resolution with flash and the secondary camera is front facing with VGA resolution. Video calling on 3G is possible on Sony Ericsson Xperia Play. The camera supports various features such as Geo Tagging and Auto Focus and also comes with image stabiliser.
On the still imaging front, the camera performed well compared to video recording. Options on Sony Ericsson’s custom software are a little limited but you can adjust exposure, white balance, and focusing mode, which should still be sufficient for most users.
Especially commendable among those controls is the Macro mode on the Play, which allowed us to get really good close up and portrait shots of the subject.
On the downside, the Play’s camera struggles to focus in low light and it lacks a dedicated physical shutter button. Sony Ericsson could have used the right shoulder key to double up as one.
The 1500mAh battery is rated by the manufacturer at 6.25 hours talk time in 3G mode, which can be extended to more than eight hours if you turn off the 3G radio.
Our experience with Battery life was good. When we used the Play for just calling purpose we got an 8 hour battery life. And when we used it for continues gaming with sound, we got a decent battery backup or around 2 hours.
Connectivity options in Play are Bluetooth, WiFi, 3G, micro USB, GPRS, DLNA and EDGE. But, the phone lacks an HDMI port to connect the gaming-oriented handset to a big screen HDTV, considering DLNA has still not gained popularity.
The Xperia Play is a good buy if you are looking for a phone which can double up as a gaming device. It is a smartphone worth having.
Play is not just another smartphone; it is in a league of its own and in a gaming ecosystem, it’s pretty unchallenged by other handset players.
The only thing the gamers should watch out for is when Sony will come out with exclusive games for the Xperia Play smartphone.