Sony Ericsson Xperia Play review

£430
Price when reviewed

As a phone, the Play has less to distinguish it, offering a very similar experience to the new Xperia Arc. Sony Ericsson’s modified take on Android 2.3 (aka Gingerbread) comes preinstalled, complete with the rather pointless TimeScape social networking feeds app. The 854 x 480 touchscreen is responsive, and everything feels snappy throughout, thanks to the same 1GHz Scorpion processor and Adreno 205 GPU as found in HTC’s Incredible S.

That impression of responsiveness was confirmed in our smartphone benchmarks: the Play loaded the BBC homepage in seven seconds, completed the SunSpider JavaScript in a reasonable 5.5 seconds, and scored 1,344 points in the Android-only Quadrant benchmark. Those scores are all up with the current pack, though they may start to look slow when the coming wave of dual-core smartphones breaks in the coming weeks.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play

The Play did well in our battery run-down test too, the 1,500mAh battery showing 60% remaining after 24hrs of average use. Gaming will drop that significantly faster, but Sony promises five and a half hours of continuous play.

We found the phone’s 5-megapixel front and rear cameras produced detailed and even photographs, with pretty accurate colours on the whole, though video only records at a disappointing 800 x 480. There’s a bundled 8GB microSD card too.

The Xperia Play does have some design weaknesses. The handset is thicker than a normal phone (thanks to the game controls), and it’s heavier too at 175g. Though the screen is sharp, it’s very dim: even at maximum brightness it looks limp next to the vibrancy of an iPhone 4, which is frustrating in brightly lit environments. The volume rocker works the wrong way round when you’re holding the phone in game mode, and the shoulder buttons feel floaty, hindering your ability to time clicks accurately.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play

Sony’s software isn’t perfect either: the disconnect between the PlayStation Pocket and Xperia Play apps is confusing, and the respective libraries and storefronts they throw you into are frustratingly inconsistent.

Whether the overall package is a good deal or not depends on what you’re looking for. As a phone, the Xperia Play is a bulky and generally unremarkable Android handset. But if you’re primarily interested in handheld gaming, the flexibility and enjoyment to be had from the Play’s gaming abilities give it a quite unique appeal.

Details

Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £30.00
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider Vodafone

Battery Life

Talk time, quoted 8hrs
Standby, quoted 18 days

Physical

Dimensions 62 x 16 x 119mm (WDH)
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard On-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 512MB
ROM size 400MB
Camera megapixel rating 5.0mp
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 4.0in
Resolution 480 x 854
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Android

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