The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play (also known as the “PlayStation Phone”) is, in my opinion, an excellent phone. I was a little anxious about being selected to review it before it was sent to us because I had been hearing some negative feedback about it. The main thing that I was most concerned with was the fact that there are those that claim to have trouble with one of the key things that distinguish the device: the touchpad analog controls. If those weren’t in good working order, what good was it being able to play PlayStation games on your phone? When I finally got to test it, however, I was pleasantly surprised and brilliantly thrilled to have very little to complain about in my review.
First, addressing the aesthetics of the phone- I’ll put it out there: this phone is sexy. Sporting the now common and familiar touch screen combined with minimalistic buttons, it has a nice sleek and unique curved design. The display is beautiful and has gorgeous resolution, and contrary to some beliefs, is easily viewed in dim environments as well as bright sunlight. The auto-brightness setting is very responsive. Sliding the phone open to reveal the analog touchpads and directional buttons is easily achieved with the spring-loaded assist, and it does so quietly, with a soft “click” into place. The silver facing that comprises a significant portion of the interior of the phone is attractive in it’s semi-matte finish, and as such, fingerprints are not easily visible.
When playing games on the Xperia Play, I did not experience any of the reported trouble or frustration with the analog touchpads. They functioned wonderfully, and the tactile experience was pleasant; playing games on this phone renders the term “gamer thumb” a thing of the past. I didn’t notice any lag in response time or inaccuracy of movement when directing the character or the camera angle with the touchpads. It’s very comfortable to hold in your hands. It is not too heavy, but not so light that it feels fragile. The games that I played seemed to integrate the controls very well and in an intuitive way for those used to PlayStation controllers. My favorite pre-installed games were Crash Bandicoot and The Sims 3. I also enjoyed Pocket Legends and Star Legends. One game that I like to play on my iPod Touch/iPad was a lot more fun on the Xperia because the directional buttons and action buttons made gameplay much smoother in “Cordy”.
I had never used an Android device before in my life, but I found Android Gingerbread very easy to pick up and pleasant to use. Though a Verizon store employee said that the Xperia Play is actually one of their median reception phones, there was absolutely no problem with reception no matter where I was. There is a store in my town where very few phones get any signal at all in the upper level of the store, and none at all in the basement. In the upper level of the store, the Xperia Play had full signal, and in the basement, four out of five bars. The clarity of voice during calls is excellent, and the volume capabilities are adequate enough for even the hard of hearing.
The camera is great in most shooting conditions. In dim environments, it uses a focusing lamp to zero in on the subject and adjust focus before utilizing the flash and taking the picture. Outdoors, it does so quickly and accurately without the need for extra lighting. It is, however, slightly difficult to achieve the task of taking a photo of yourself because it can be difficult to line your finger up with the shutter button on the screen without being able to see it. Though I am a professional photographer and used to high fidelity photographs, I found the quality of the images to be pretty good, which surprised me. I am not used to being satisfied with cell phone cameras. The video that I was able to take outside of my dog’s litter of puppies looked great on the phone and still pretty decent when shown in a larger size after importing it to my computer and playing it on the larger screen.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this phone to my gamer friends. It is sleek, fast, functional, fun to use and gets great signal. As a matter of fact, as I am planning to switch from my current phone carrier because I’m unhappy with their service, I am heavily considering switching to Verizon and getting an Xperia of my own for use on their network. My phone on my current carrier pales in comparison in every way: signal, functionality, bulk and the features of the Xperia Play far surpass my own phone. The one complaint that I would lodge against it is that sometimes it takes a few seconds for the screen to turn on when you wake the phone from sleep mode. I give this product 4.5 out of 5 gears.