Android Phones

Verizon Xperia Play to ditch Sony Ericsson launcher in favor of stock Android

March 22, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka

Sony Mobile, Verizon

xperia-play

Verizon Wireless hosted an informal event last night in which it showed off the Xperia Play. While I was unable to get anyone to give me a solid date regarding when the Xperia Play would be released (estimates say Q2 2011), I did hear something rather surprising: the Verizon Xperia Play may run stock Android.

Several demo units of the Xperia Play were on-hand at the event, none of which were running the custom Android UI that Sony Ericsson put on the Xperia Arc and other phones that debuted at Mobile World Congress. Even the Xperia Play had the custom UI when I recorded my hands-on video at MWC. No biggie. A product can be shown at a trade show looking different than how a company plans to release it, right?

What caught my attention is that a Sony Ericsson rep on hand specifically said – on multiple occasions – that the CDMA version of the Xperia Play will indeed launch with a stock Android Gingerbread experience. I relayed that message in a tweet last night and expected to update later with a correction, but others heard similar stories.

It’s very possible that the reps may have misspoken because they confessed that they just received the devices prior to arriving in Orlando for the CTIA trade show. But none of the promotional materials on hand made any mention of Sony Ericsson’s Timescape features. The gaming was also smoother than I remember from MWC, which I attribute to possibly being because of not only optimized performance but also the presence of stock Android.

I look forward on getting some clarity from Verizon later, so consider this a “rumor” of sorts for now. But if the Xperia Play launches with stock Android, I think that could make the device more appealing to gamers and possibly accelerate the device’s firmware update process.

UPDATE

Before leaving CTIA, I managed to double-check with two different Sony Ericsson reps and both said the same thing: the CDMA version of the Xperia Play for Verizon will run stock Android 2.3.