Sony Ericsson Xperia Play First Look

The Play is a combination of products that come together surprisingly well for a first generation.
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Sony Ericsson Xperia Play
3 stars out of 5

PRICE $Varies dependent on plan

The Play is a combination of products that come together surprisingly well for a first generation. Using the Android operating system, the touchscreen Xperia Play slides apart to reveal a number of keys beneath its first screen. This makes it bulky, thicker and heavier than the iPhone 4 or Motorola Defy, so it doesn’t fit nicely in your back pocket or hand when talking on the phone. It also feels a little more "plasticy" because of its build quality. We can’t say whether this makes it more susceptible to breakage, but moving parts do tend to break more often than non-moving parts. On the upside, it’s an attractive device for gaming - it fits your hands nicely in landscape when playing games.

Xperia PlayThose familiar with the Sony Playstation Portable or Sony Playstation will recognise the classic keys when opened, and the left and right shoulder buttons to the right of the screen when holding it in portrait mode. Supplied with an 8GB micro-SD card, it can be upgraded to 32GB. Gamers will have no difficulty filling this space. When it is released, the phone will have 50 games available, and potentially more to come, though that will depend on the uptake of this and other devices with a similar setup.

The touchscreen is responsive and it has a good 5.1MP rear camera. Switching between camera and video is seamless and all options are accessible. The forward facing camera is low definition, but easily accessed. Our review copy runs on the latest Android operating system but doesn’t have Swype pre-installed for texting, which was disappointing. This can be installed later on. Portrait mode is difficult for texting unless you have tiny hands and no nails, but the large screen makes for large, easily accessed keys in landscape. The space bar is a little narrow and because the full stop button is a little too close to it for those with large hands; it takes getting used to. In the meantime, We are still looking forward to an advanced smartphone that has no black bars around the edge of the screen, and more phone colours than black and white.

Snapping the cover off the rear to remove the battery is a little disconcerting to begin with. It feels as if it’s breaking, but you get used to it. This is also how you access the micro-SD card and SIM. Browsing speeds are good and viewing flash is simple. It comes with a good number of pre-installed applications and claims up to 8 hours of talk time, a little more than others we’ve seen.

CHOICE verdict

Sony Ericsson plans for release in May/June 2011 through Telstra, Optus and Vodaphone. Although this phone has a large clear screen and is generally easy to use, it is not for everyone, with its bulky lines and unwieldy handling as a phone. For those used to the interface of the Playstation gaming devices however, this is a promising phone with some good features for a first iteration. We look forward to the second, improved device.

See all our reviews of mobile phones.



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