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Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Review - -
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play
Reviewed by
James Wright
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Review The Sony Ericsson may not be the newest kid on the block but when it comes to gaming, it proves that old school is far superior than all this touch nonsense.

Design 9.0
Usability 9.0
Features 9.0
Value 9.0
Distributor: Sony Ericsson
Review Date:
Nov 2011
James Wright


Sony Ericsson Xperia Play

Although this phone has been out for a few months now, Impulse Gamer was given the opportunity to test out this beast which has been dubbed as the PlayStation Phone. At its core, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is a fully functional touch screen mobile phone using the Android operating system but with one huge difference.

This smart device can turn into a fully functional gaming device thanks to its slide out gaming pad. That's right, simply by sliding the screen up, a gaming pad becomes available which allows you to play games how they are meant to be played. None of this touch screen nonsense! The phone also uses 2.3.2 of the Android operating system that is known as Gingerbread which has Google integrated flawlessly into the phone.


General 2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 900 / 2100
  HSDPA 850 / 1900 / 2100 / 800
Announced 2011, February
Status Available. Released 2011, March
Size Dimensions 119 x 62 x 16 mm
Weight 175 g
Display Type LED-backlit LCD, capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 480 x 854 pixels, 4.0 inches (~245 ppi pixel density)
  - Touch sensitive gaming controls
- PSP like gaming buttons
- Accelerometer sensor for UI auto-rotate
- Proximity sensor for auto turn-off
- Multi-touch input method
- Timescape UI
Sound Alert types Vibration, MP3 ringtones
Loudspeaker Yes, with stereo speakers
3.5mm jack Yes
Memory Phonebook Practically unlimited entries and fields, Photocall
Call records Practically unlimited
Internal 400 MB, 512 MB RAM
Card slot microSD, up to 32GB, 8GB included
Data GPRS Yes
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot
Bluetooth Yes, v2.1 with A2DP
Infrared port No
USB Yes, microUSB v2.0
Camera Primary 5 MP, 2592х1944 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
Features Geo-tagging, image stabilization
Video Yes, 720p
Secondary Yes
Features OS Android OS, v2.3.4 (Gingerbread), planned upgrade to v4.0
CPU 1GHz Scorpion processor, Adreno 205 GPU, Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon
Messaging SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email, IM
Browser WAP 2.0/xHTML, HTML
Radio No
Games Yes + downloadable, motion & gesture gaming
Colors Black, White, Stealth Blue (for Play 4G), Orange
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support
Java Yes, via Java MIDP emulator
  - Dedicated game store
- SNS integration
- Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
- Digital compass
- MP4/H.263/H.264/WMV player
- MP3/eAAC+/WMA/WAV player
- Google Search, Maps, Gmail,
YouTube, Calendar, Google Talk
- Track ID
- Organizer
- Document viewer/editor
- Flash Lite support
- Voice memo/dial/commands
- Predictive text input
Battery   Standard battery, Li-Ion 1500 mAh
Stand-by Up to 425 h (2G) / Up to 413 h (3G)
Talk time Up to 8 h 25 min (2G) / Up to 6 h 25 min (3G)
Music play Up to 31 h

Design wise, the Xperia Play is a rather snazzy looking device that looks like a standard touch screen mobile phone with a shiny jet black exterior. At the bottom of the phone on the front, there is a button to go back, a home button, a settings button and a search button. On the top of the phone, there is a power-button and on the side of the phone, there are two shoulder buttons for gaming (L and R) plus a volume button. On the reverse side, there is an input for headphones and a USB port. It's a rather well designed phone, especially its slide out gaming pad.

Everyone at Impulse Gamer loved the sliding mechanism of the Xperia Play that felt quite sturdy when released.  The only downside to the design of the Xperia Play is the back of the phone itself which feels a little cheap and flexible that is not as solid as the front or the sliding game controls. It should also be noted that on the back of the phone, there is a 5 megapixel camera with flash that also supports 720p videos, geo tagging and image stabilisation. The screen size boasts a resolution of 854 x 480 which makes for using the phone apps or gaming a visual treat for the user. One drawback to the phone was the loading time which is a little slow to turn on. However once loaded, browsing or playing games zoomed on the Xperia.

The operating system on the Xperia Play allows you to perform a variety of features from surfing the net, sending SMS, listening to music, accessing Facebook and everything that you want a phone to perform and more. The touch screen of the Xperia Play is quite sensitive and easy to use and all the apps are well placed. If you have used a touch screen phone before, you should have no problems in mastering the Xerpia Play and if you haven't, you'll also have no problems.

However, the Xperia Play is a gaming device and opposed to using the touch screen on a Samsung or Apple phone, the slide out gaming controls definitely makes gaming a much more thoroughly enjoyable experience. Imagine a PlayStation Portable merged with a Sony Ericsson phone and the Xperia Play is the child of this union, however the device is considerably lighter.

Although the iPhone is a great smart device, when you do use the touch screen to control games, you start to lose real estate (e.g. visible screen). This is not the case on the Xperia Play as you have full real estate for the 4" screen. Best of all, the phone comes preloaded with a number of games that include FIFA 10, The Sims 3, Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior, Crash Bandicoot, Asphalt 6: Adrenaline, Tetris and Star Battalion. Needless to say, we tested all these games out on the Xperia Play and they were all a treat to play, especially with FIFA, thanks to the gaming pad. Once again, this is how gaming should be played.

For gaming controls, there is a D-Pad (up, down, left and right), two touch pads and the classic PlayStation buttons that include triangle, square, circle and X. There is even a select and start button plus two shoulder buttons on the top (left and right). The only downside to the phone in relation to gaming are the two shoulder buttons which seem a little out of place or cramped. Some games even use the gyroscope of the phone so you can tilt the device to turn.

Check out the following link to see what is compatible with the Xperia Play - Apart from Android games, the Xperia Play also boasts an app called the PlayStation Pocket which basically allows you to play PSOne classics with the innovative control system of this smart phone. It should be noted that not all Android games are compatible with the phones controls, however an app called Xperia Play will assist in this matter.

For hardware specifications, the Xperia Play boasts 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon central processor with an Andreno 205 GPU. One word... gaming. The Xperia Play has been designed for gaming and add in 512MB of RAM and it should have no problem in running the latest Android games. 
Sound quality is exceptional on the Xperia Play thanks to the two stereo speakers included in the build-design which produced exceptionally clear audio. Whether we were watching a movie, listening to music or playing a game, the sound quality is easily one of the best available on the market. You can even add a MicroSD card into the unit.

The battery of the Xperia is a 1500mAh cell which should be adequate for most users but remember, the more games you play, the faster it will zap the battery. In relation to gaming, we used the Xperia Play for around 6 hours before it needed to be charged. Talk-time is around 8 hours and music listening is about 31 hours. All in all, the battery for what it does is quite impressive.

Final Thoughts?

The Sony Ericsson may not be the newest kid on the block but when it comes to gaming, it proves that old school is far superior than all this touch nonsense. Thankfully with over 100+ games that now support the innovative control system of the Xperia Play, this phone isn't going anywhere as opposed to the failed N-Gage platform.

Mobile phones have just gotten better!

Review unit courtesy of Gameloft!


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