It’s not out to replace your handheld consoles.
Starting it up I was greeted with the familiar Gingerbread interface on the 4” (854×480) screen. I noticed immediately how fast the Xperia Play was compared to my Nexus One. Everything on the phone felt snappy, from the menu navigation to switching Home screens to just about any general task. The 5MP camera on the back seemed on par with other modern smartphones as well, but it was nothing to write home about.
I’m not going to go into too much detail about Gingerbread and Sony’s own TimeScape UI since all of this was covered in-depth in our Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc review last month. Pretty much the same features, and UI gestures and controls apply to the Xperia Play as the Arc. What I do want to discuss now is the whole reason why you’re paying an extra AED 600 to 1000 on an Android Gingerbread smartphone.
If you like playing games on your smartphones and want to take it to the next level of interaction, and by that I mean taking modern touch-based controls back to the good old days of button-mashing, then the Xperia Play is the smartphone for you.
The Xperia Play is the first Sony device that has received the PlayStation certification, denoted by a small logo that contains the famous four PlayStation face buttons (, , and ). Once the controller pad is slid out, the Xperia Play looks identical to the infamous PSP Go handheld console. Now keep in mind that the Xperia Play is a PlayStation Certified phone, not a PlayStation phone. As such, it’s unreasonable to expect PSP games on the Xperia Play not matter how much we all wish it were true.
However, that doesn’t make the Xperia Play any less of a gaming centric smartphone. Android based games obviously run flawlessly on the Xperia Play, but a lot of them work perfectly fine on the D-pad, unless those games are coded just for touchscreens. So Tetris, for instance, didn’t work with the D-pad since it can be controlled only via the touchscreen.