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.

Gaming

Take-Two Interactive takes down another ‘GTA Online’ modder, seeks $150K

Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games have filed a lawsuit against the GTA Online modder behind the software named Elusive. The publisher is continuing its crackdown against GTA Online mods.
Home Theater

Step aside set-top boxes, the best streaming sticks are tiny and just as powerful

Which streaming stick reigns supreme? We pit the Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra against the Roku Premiere, Roku Streaming Stick+, and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K to help you decide which one will be the best fit in your living room.
Mobile

Android 9.0 updates to stretch into 2019 -- will your phone get a slice of Pie?

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
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.
Gaming

Looking for a controller to play 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate'? Try one of these

The Switch is the most versatile console around, and that means you might need a controller that's different from the norm. In fact, even the standard controller is a best weird. Here's our favorite Switch controllers.
Gaming

‘Fortnite’ streamer reportedly arrested after abusing wife while on Twitch

An Australian Fortnite streamer who goes by the name MrDeathMoth abused his pregnant wife while he was live on Twitch. An anonymous cybersecurity expert took matters into his own hands, resulting in the arrest of the streamer.
Deals

Miss Black Friday but still need an Xbox? Walmart has you covered

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have both come and gone, but you can still save some cash on a new Xbox One bundle at Walmart. Both the Xbox One S and the Xbox One X are on sale now.
Gaming

Relive Nintendo’s handheld golden age with the 25 best Game Boy Advance games

The Game Boy Advance was the swan song of the Game Boy era. It also happened to have a boatload of amazing games. We decided to countdown our 25 favorite GBA games. Check it out and let us know your favorites in the comments below!
Gaming

The most common Nintendo 3DS problems, and how to fix them

The Nintendo 3DS has seen its fair share of issues since it launched in 2011, including poor battery life and fragile Circle Pads. Here are some of the most common, as well as the steps you can take to solve them.
Gaming

The Epic Games store is already luring indie studios away from Steam

The Epic Games Store is less than a week old, but it's already making waves among indie studios. Multiple studios have announced that their games will be timed exclusives on the Epic Games Store, with one studio forgoing Steam completely.
Gaming

Bundle up for the huge ‘Monster Hunter: World’ expansion coming in 2019

Monster Hunter: World is getting a major expansion in fall 2019 called Iceborne. The expansion will be similar in scope as the Ultimate versions of previous Monster Hunter games, featuring new quests, monsters, weapons, and armor.
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 browse profiles, trophies, and other content directly on your mobile device.
Deals

Play ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ the best way with a Switch GameCube controller

If you're a longtime Super Smash Bros. player, then you know there's only one true way to play. Alongside the recent launch of the new 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,' Nintendo has brought back the iconic GameCube controller.
Gaming

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.