Sony Xperia Play Review/OverView

We got the Sony Xperia Play earlier this week and haven’t been able to put it down, with the six included games and the hardware keyboard, it’s a tough device to stop playing with. The Play is the first Playstation certified smartphone and does a great job of presenting itself in that way. Here’s a quick glimpse at some of the features of the Sony smartphone and DroidNerd’s opinion on the device overall:

The Hardware:

(You can see 11 of the Gaming Hardware buttons here, D-pad, Triangle, Square, Circle, X, Start, Select, and alternate menu button.)

There’s nothing but good to say about the hardware included in the Xperia Play. The phone includes 12 Hardware keys that are made strictly for gaming as well as 7 that are just for the Android OS; the 4 keys for Android are the back, Home, Menu, and search (in that order) and they are not touch sensitive, which means they might wear over time, but you can wake the phone without having to press the power button all the time.

The Power button on the device includes a built in LED that shows if the device is charging, and if it is the current charging level, or when you’re receiving a phone call. The camera included in the phone isn’t bad at all but I can’t help but feel that it could be a little better. The rear camera on the device is 5MP and records at 720p, which was the standard last year when the Samsung Captivate was released. The front facing camera is made for video chatting, of course, but unfortunately the native Google Talk application does not support it as of yet, which means you have to rely on third party applications in order to get the most out of your device for now.

(The PLAY scores 1377 in this test, topping the charts)

As far as the 1Ghz Processor and Adreno 205 GPU included in the device, they offer an incredible amount of speed and optimization for the Gingerbread as well as the gaming experience that is included stock with the device (we’ll go a little more into detail on the gaming later). Normal navigation throughout the operating system was noticed to be silky smooth and have no lag whatsoever which really surprised us coming from only having that 1Ghz processor and the 512mb of RAM. We ran a test on Quadrant (we know it’s not completely accurate, but it’s a little something to go by) and it scored a 1367 on its first try, and 1377 on the second which is pretty high on the scoreboard for the specifications of the device.

(You can see the two speaker slots on the bottom of the slide)

The Xperia comes included with the stock music application for Android and boasts some pretty powerful speakers to back it up. The speakers are located on the bottom of the slide which makes them perform best when gaming or holding the phone by the gamepad due to the way the hands grip around the slide. The screen is a nice size and is great for watching videos when combined with the clarity and volume of the speakers. It natively does not support a large amount of video formats, but is easily remedied by downloading one of the many video players on the Android Market. The photo and video viewer included with the PLAY is the same as the Galaxy S series which is a nice touch because it brings some visual appeal while you’re browsing your photos instead of just a flat wall. Here are some included pictures taken by the play to show off the 5MP camera included:

Considering this is main reason to buy this phone, is it worth it? The controls that are included with the Xperia PLAY are similar to that of the PSP but instead includes two virtual thumbsticks to create a more console-like experience. The phone has 6 games that come with it which are made for use with the gamepad: Asphalt 6, Bruce Lee, Crash Bandicoot, Madden NFL 11, Star Battalion (my personal favorite), and The Sims 3. The games offer a very similar experience to playing on a PSP, which is expected, and is great because of it. There are also 20+ games that are available for purchase over the Verizon store, and more are being added.

The virtual sticks take a little getting used to and require a little bit of pressure in order to get the full functionality from it. Of the games included, there are not any first person shooters so I did not get to test out the right thumbstick in a traditional gaming environment. Although the software that comes with the phone can use the thumbstick or the d-pad in control schemes, and in Star Battalion (and possibly the others) when you slide the gamepad up, the controls instantly become accelerometer controlled.

(As soon as you close the slide, the Accelerometer kicks in)

All of the games that we tested ran completely flawless and didn’t have any kind of lag at all, although when turning off the screen often you had to wait a little load time for the game to resume (same as when you are multitasking) but really not all too long. All-in-all the PLAY is holding up to its gaming name and I’m excited to see some more console quality games come out for it (like N.O.V.A or Modern Combat) as well as some more recreational games like Minecraft taking advantage of the hardware.

The overall experience of the phone was a great and we really had no complaints. We do wish that the phone had a little higher megapixel camera, Perhaps 8MP, and that it included a larger internal memory. It comes stock with 400MB internal, and a 8Gb SD card from Verizon which gives a good amount of space for applications and games, but leaves more to be desired when it comes to media. The phone also was a little big (roughly 4.7×2.5x.5) and quite heavy (just over 6 ounces) for a cell phone, but it is well worth the added bulk to have the hardware controls included.

The phone is available through Verizon with a two year contract for only $199.99, and must include a data package with the purchase or upgrade of your plan.