February 14, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
It’s not often that I admit to being wrong. Not because I’m stubborn, but because I’m always right (just kidding). But I must reverse course and say that the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is not the clunky heap of junk that I expected it to be. The early leaks of the phone revealed an ugly device that I didn’t see the point of buying, but after playing with Xperia Play today, I really think SE might be on to something with the first PlayStation certified phone.
The Xperia Play feels lighter than images would have you believe, and the physical controls respond very well. I was previously concerned that the controls would be tough to manage, but the direction pad feels better for thumbs than on-screen gaming or other keyboards masking as gaming controls. Anyone who has spent a marathon session of Gun Bros or something that requires quick movement will grow to appreciate not having to rely on the on-screen control pad. I struggled to gain firm control of the analog pad when playing Gameloft’s Real Football, so it may not be good to use depending on the game. However, people who develop coordination in that tight space will be happy.
Another possible disappointment is that Xperia doesn’t match the specs coming from competitors (read full specs list). While I’ve give it credit for a solid GPU and processor combo, people craving dual-core beasts and amazing cameras may opt for one of the many other phones on display at MWC. Where the Play has a chance to grab attention is among hardcore mobile gamers. The Xperia Play offers PS1 games without needing to deal with the emulator, will have a curated showcase of the top 3D games, and supports a unique form factor no one has yet matched.
It’s too early to say that this is the best Android gaming phone, and we may not get to that point. However, it looks to be the most unique. Here’s a quick hands-on demo.