Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Review
In a world where gaming demands serious equipment the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play has some tough competition to beat from dedicated game consoles such as the Nintendo 3DS and rival smartphones including the iPhone which has long provided a fast, sleek gaming experience and Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Arc which is capable of running 3D games.
The Xperia Play is a chunky device measuring 62 x 119 x 16mm and its heavy too at 175g.The stand out feature of the Xperia Play is the pull out games controller. Its design layout is familiar with direction buttons on the left, the familiar circle, square, triangle and cross buttons you would find on a PlayStation on the right, and in the centre two thumb buttons. The start and menu key are also present on the game pad and on the back of the handset you will find two shoulder buttons.
Other design elements of the Xperia Play include the micro-USB port and 3.5mm headphone jack which are positioned along the left hand side of the phone. The power button is situated on the top edge of the handset and like that of Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Arc is tiny, recessed and fiddly. The right side of the Xperia Play houses the volume rocker switch and shoulder buttons. The microSD card slot and SIM card holder are accessed by removing a back panel, but can be reached without needing to remove the battery.
The 4 inch display has a resolution of 480 x 854 and images are clear and sharp. The colours are not as bright and vibrant as the Xperia Arc so viewing in bright light is more problematic, but when indoors the Xperia Play’s screen is more than adequate.
The Xperia Play is powered by a 1GHz Snapdragon processing chip with a dedicated GPU and 512 RAM. Whilst the CPU may not be as powerful as some high-end smartphones it delivers a smooth performance and no lag was obvious when playing games.
The Xperia Play runs Android’s 2.3 Gingerbread operating system with a very light skin from Sony Ericsson giving a fluid user experience. There is the standard web browser and messaging tools along with Wi-Fi, 3G and Bluetooth connectivity.
To play games on the Xperia Play simply slide out the game pad. When the slider is pulled out it automatically launches the Xperia Play app. This is divided into Xperia Play Games, giving access to all pre-loaded games and More Games, which lists additional games you can purchase. Buying games is a messy business as there is no one dedicated Games store. Depending on the game you choose you could be directed to the Android Market, PayPal or the PlayStation Pocket app. If that wasn’t confusing enough once you have loaded your games they are stored in different places requiring you to search through different menus to revisit them. Given that the Xperia Play’s main screen does not switch to landscape mode when the game pad is out this is no easy task.
The physical controls themselves are comfortable to use making for a good gaming experience but unfortunately when choosing your games you cannot search for those specifically designed for the Xperia Play’s physical controller rather than touchscreen controls.
When you need to take a call on your Xperia Play more cracks appear. Some games titles can handle mutli- tasking and save your game but some will discontinue play altogether.
The Xperia Play has a 5megapixel rear-mounted camera with flash which produces good quality pictures. There is a host of camera features and functions to play with including different scene modes, white balance settings, colour effects as well as autofocus, macro and infinity mode. However the camera does lack a zoom and tap to focus feature. Video can be recorded at a maximum 800 x 480. A video light is useful for low-light conditions and the usual range of scene modes is available but again the zoom feature is missing.
The 1500mAh battery of the Xperia Play does a decent job. With intense gaming over a prolonged period and some general use the Xperia Play retained power almost all day. With more moderate game time the battery duration is extended but in general you should expect to recharge every evening.
Xperia Play Price
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is available SIM free from £185 or pay from £20 monthly on a 24 month contract.
Don’t discard that dedicated games console just yet. The gaming capabilities of the Xperia Play are inconsistent and blighted by software shortcomings. Similarly if it’s a smartphone you’re after there are much sleeker lighter models on the market who do the job just as well.