Playstation phone, an experiment gone right

This is the “Playstation phone” that so many have waited so long for. A Sony Ericsson representative recently described it as “the worst kept secret” and it just may be. Pictures, video and specifications have been floating around the Internet for many months and now it’s finally here.

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Published: Sat 23 Apr 2011, 11:16 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 7:03 PM

Think about the Play as a genetic experiment gone right [sic], where the crazy scientist has taken one of Sony Ericsson’s latest Android smartphones and combined it with a Sony PSP. It must have taken quite some engineering and design talent and the results are remarkable.

In terms of the phone, it runs Android 2.3 with a 1GHz processor and 512MB RAM. The 4-inch display harbours 854 x 480 pixels. On the back there’s a 5-megapixel camera, partnered with a low-resolution camera on the front for video calls. As a phone the Play is not remarkable in any other respect than that it’s also a mobile gaming console. In short, you don’t buy this device because it’s such an amazing phone, but I think you had figured that out already.

It’s the gaming part you’re really interested in of course and that comes into play, pun intended, when you slide the display out of the way and the physical controls are revealed. There’s a directional pad and Playstation pad (triangle, x, circle and square) for your thumbs with two circular touchpads in between, and two shoulder buttons for your index fingers. If you’ve ever played Playstation or PSP it’s all too familiar for you. Games will have to be especially written for the Play though, so don’t expect that many to start with. Six games come on the phone and Sony Ericsson says there are 60 games available at launch. Of course, free games from Android Market will also work, like on any Android phone, but don’t expect them to support the Play’s controls. I also downloaded several games that crashed when I tried the Play.

The Play-specific games I tried presented detailed and smooth graphic and responsive controls. For example, Fifa11, the football game, turned out to be quite enjoyable, especially when playing against others over Wi-Fi. Although I didn’t quite sit as long as five hours playing games, that’s how long Sony Ericsson rates the battery life of the Play. Of course, if you also use the Play heavily as a smartphone connected to the Internet, assume that will also eat in to the battery life.

At Dh2,999 the Play is certainly not cheap, but if it’s the ultimate gaming experience in a small package you’re after and you happen to look for an Android smartphone as well, Sony Ericsson now has the product that is just right for you. Now if only Sony Ericsson can spur on game development, the Play will be the best thing in mobile gaming. There’s no getting around the fact that Apple’s iPhone still offers a lot more games and for the occasional, casual game that may be a better choice. If you’re more serious about your mobile gaming and you like to play games that the Play supports, then your choice is made.


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