Hands on with Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Play

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play

If a top-of-the-line smartphone were chocolate and the PSP Go were peanut butter, the two would go together to create the delicious Xperia Play, which we managed to have a little hands-on time with at GDC.

For those who haven’t heard about Sony Ericsson’s newest wunderkind phone — or those who missed the insanely expensive Super Bowl commercial that officially debuted the phone to the world — the Xperia Play is essentially the fist smartphone made for gamers.

Combining an Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system with a design made to simulate a Sony gaming device, the Xperia Play packs a 1GHz Scorpion ARMv7 processor, a 4-inch touchscreen, and a slide-out controller that goes where a slide-out QWERTY keyboard is usually found. The controller is modeled on the familiar PlayStation design, with four buttons, a D-Pad, two shoulder buttons, and it introduces two circular pads that simulate analog thumb sticks.

The Xperia Play is a lightweight phone that contains a necessary thickness due to the slide-out controller, but it is actually less cumbersome than you may expect. The phone weighs just 175 grams, (or just over 6 ounces), and measures 119mm x 62mm x 16mm. The phone itself is what you would expect from a top notch smartphone, and it will offer all the amenities that Google’s newest OS offers. Android 2.3 feels fast and responsive, and the multitasking helps the multiple programs function well, something that will be put to the test when users are playing games and phone calls, e-mails, voice mails and text messages break through. But the real question that most people who are eyeing this phone want to know is how does it work as a gaming system? Well, it has potential.

A phone as a console

In theory, the Xperia Play is the ideal device to let gamers get the most of their smartphones. In practice…well, in practice it is the ideal device to let gamers get the most of their smartphones. Or at least it could be if the software can match the potential of the hardware.

The trick will be in how the games can use the device to its fullest. Right now, there are only a handful of games on the system designed for the Xperia Play, which limits the amount of potential the Xperia Play may reach — although with no official launch date in sight, the titles released with the Xperia Play may be everything we could hope for. At GDC, Sony Ericsson also announced that among several new partnerships. Havok Software, the company that has loaned its development tools out to help create games such as Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, StarCraft II and Elder scrolls: Oblivion, will release a set of development tools for Android, with the Xperia Play specifically in mind. Once those titles begin to flow in, the Xperia Play might earn the respect of gamers.

The controller is an interesting design that will appeal to gamers, but will also take them time to get used to. Using the pads in place of analog sticks feels counterintuitive at first, and contradicts years of familiarity that gamers have with the raised thumb sticks. Odds are that most will reach for the D-pad first, but once they give the thumb pads a try, the phone may win them over.

Although the controller will take some getting used to, the potential is there for the Xperia Play to become the gamers’ choice for smartphones. Sony Ericsson hasn’t given an official release date other than Spring of this year, but we will have a full review in the coming months.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Gaming

How do the revised Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles stack up?

Microsoft's new Xbox One S and Sony's PlayStation 4 "Slim" have bucked the generational gaming console trend. But which of these stopgap systems is worth spending your paycheck on?
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Mobile

The Moto G4 Plus is finally getting the update to Android Oreo

We've reached out to every major Android hardware manufacturer and asked them when they will update their devices to the latest version of Google's mobile operating system, Android 8.0 Oreo.
Gaming

Thrive in the nuclear apocalypse with our Metro Exodus survival guide

Metro Exodus is a difficult shooter, especially if you're new to the series' blend of stealth, action, and scavenging. Here is what you need to know to survive the nuclear apocalypse.
Gaming

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in Destiny 2: Forsaken

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Gaming

Here's our Champion's guide to picking the best character in Apex Legends

Apex Legends' use of heroes with different abilities helps separate it from other battle royale games. To help you choose your legend, we've put together a legend guide detailing their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
Gaming

Transport your Nintendo Switch in style with these nifty cases

The Nintendo Switch, which boasts both wired and handheld modes, needs a good case to ensure it doesn't get beat up while you're on the go. We scoured through dozens of Switch cases to bring you the best ones.
Gaming

These are the best weapons for taking down mutants and bandits in Metro Exodus

Metro Exodus is a very difficult game, and choosing the right weapons is key for surviving the post-apocalyptic Russia that 4A Games has created. These are the best weapons in Metro Exodus.
Gaming

Exotic Masterwork Weapons are in Destiny 2. Here's how to upgrade

Destiny 2's new Masterwork gear offers a number of special bonuses. Here is what you need to know about it, including how to find the gear in the game and even create it yourself.
Gaming

How to keep a PS4 in your pocket with the PlayStation Mobile app

Sony built the PlayStation 4 with smartphone and mobile integration in mind. Take a look at our guide for connecting your smartphone or tablet to a PS4, so you can get the most out of the system while on the go.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Gaming

You're not a true fan without these Nintendo Switch exclusives

Who doesn't love a good Nintendo game? If you're looking for great first-party titles for your Nintendo Switch, take a look at our list of the very best exclusives available right now.