Is this Sony’s rumored PlayStation smartphone?

Speculation was rampant earlier this week after Engadget posted a series of photos purporting to show the long-rumored PlayStation phone. It wasn’t long before skeptics began questioning the veracity of the photos. Then a Sony employee reportedly called the photos fakes. It all began to seem like a not-so-elaborate hoax involving doctored photos of a PSP made to look like the Sony smartphone that never was.

Engadget, for its part, adamantly stood by the photos and Sony soon amended its original statement of flat out denial to something closer to “no comment.” Adding to the case for giving the photos a second look, CNN has published excerpts from a conversation with a Sony executive who who seems to acknowledge the need for a device with a cellular connection for company’s future relevance in the mobile gaming market.

Well, if the photos turn out to be genuine and do indeed show what may be a prototype of a forthcoming PlayStation phone, what can we expect? For one, judging from photos, it’s clear that the phone is a gaming device first and foremost – no slide out QWERTY keyboard here, but instead there’s a multi-touch pad and four trigger buttons in the classic PlayStation style.  It’s reported that the PlayStation phone will be running Google’s Android 3.0 operating system as has been previously suspected. The phone will also reportedly offer 512 MB of RAM, 1GB of ROM and a 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8655 Snapdragon chip.

While doubts of the very existence of the phone still linger, what remains more uncertain is the PlayStation phone’s ability to win over gamers who might be unsatisfied with current options in the increasingly crowded smartphone market. Apple, for example,  has already proven its iPhone to be more than capable of serving as both a mobile gaming device as well as a fully functional smartphone. For a game-centric phone to thrive, it’s likely to need to reach an audience willing to sacrifice some smartphone capabilities for gaming power.

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