• Sony Ericsson is finally bringing the PlayStation brand to mobile, although the Xperia PLAY isn’t quite a PSP-with-phone. But it will still change the way you play games.

    How long has everyone been asking when Sony Ericsson would produce a PlayStation phone? We know it was around the time the company started to use the Walkman and Cyber-shot brands.

    So, after about five or six years waiting, we’ve got our PlayStation phone. Well, sort of. In reality, this isn’t a new Sony PSP combined with a phone. Sony is still going ahead with its second PSP, called the ‘NGP’ (Next Generation Portable), which will run games that won’t work on this.

    The NGP is a console with 3G, primarily for data, while the PLAY is the smartphone that can also play games. It’s really nothing more than an ordinary Android smartphone, with a slide-out gamepad in the place of a QWERTY keyboard.

    When you think about how simple it was to do, it’s makes you wonder why nobody thought of it earlier.

    The PLAY is thicker as a result, but it sits nicely in the hand and remains very lightweight. That’s even with a 1,500mAh battery to ensure you can play games and still make calls.

    It has a great specification, with a fast (single-core) processor, running at 1GHz, and all the other essentials like GPS, Wi-Fi, 5-megapixel camera with flash, a display that can display 854×480 pixels at 60 frames per second, plus expandable memory and Adobe Flash. All of this and Android 2.3.2, the newest version of the operating system.

    Even casual gamers could feel comfortable buying this as a normal phone first and foremost.

    Ultimately it will be the game developers that will make-or-break the success of the PLAY, yet most of the games are also available to other Android users. Even Gameloft, which will release BackStab as a Xperia PLAY exclusive, is only doing so for one month before it can be released for all.

    The fact is, most games will work on handsets without a gamepad, even if the controls are considerably more complicated or uncomfortable.

    The PLAY has an obvious advantage over everything else available today with the digital buttons, two analogue pads and two shoulder keys, but what is stopping a rival manufacturer just developing  a gamepad of its own?

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