1 0 Sony Ericsson launches the Xperia PLAY, we go hands on

The much anticipated and already leaked Sony Ericsson Xperia Play was launched last night at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain and VR-Zone was on location to get an early hands-on with the new PlayStation certified mobile gaming Android handset. Although the units on display weren't final production handset, we were impressed with what we saw and it's clear that Sony Ericsson is serious about its Android based products.

The much anticipated and already leaked Sony Ericsson Xperia Play was launched last night at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain and VR-Zone was on location to get an early hands-on with the new PlayStation certified mobile gaming Android handset. Although the units on display weren't final production handset, we were impressed with what we saw and it's clear that Sony Ericsson is serious about its Android based products.

Although only four games were playable at the launch event, namely Crash Bandicoot, Star Battalion, FIFA and Asphalt, Sony Ericsson said that the Xperia PLAY will ship with six to seven pre-installed games and as many as 50 downloadable titles will be available at launch. We got some hands on time with Star Battalion which is something of a StarFox clone with reasonably impressive 3D graphics and the game was very responsive during play. The only games of the ones demoed that is part of the PlayStation Pocket app was Crash Bandicoot, but more titles are expected here as well, although as these games are actual PS One titles, we presume they're being ported over to the Xperia PLAY and this might take some time. So don't expect to find PSP titles on the Xperia PLAY, instead you're looking at PS One games, but this might not be a bad thing.

xperia play 1 Sony Ericsson launches the Xperia PLAY, we go hands on

Beyond games from Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Ericsson has teamed up with several software launch partners which includes Digital Chocolate, Digital Legends, Electronic Arts, Fishlabs, Gamehouse, Gameloft, Glu Mobile, Handy Games, Namco Bandai Networks, Polarbit, PopCap, Trendy Entertainment and Unity Tecnologies. As for specific titles we're looking at Need for Speed, the Sims 3 and FIFA 10 from EA, Gameloft promised to have 10 of their best-selling games ready at launch with over 20 titles available over the next six months and with version of Assassin's Creed and Splinter Cell arriving first and finally GLU Mobile/Activision is said to be bringing Guitar Hero to the Xperia PLAY. Many of these titles should be available via the Android Marketplace and might as such not be exclusive to the Xperia Play.

That takes care of the games, but what about the hardware? Well, don't expect the Xperia PLAY to be the fastest device announced during the Mobile World Congress, as it has a single core 1GHz Qualcomm Scorpion SoC with Adreno 205 graphics, although Sony Ericsson didn't specify the exact model, although it's very likely that it's the MSM8655, especially as the Xperia PLAY is said to be launching on Verizon in the US first. What's rather disappointing is the fact that the Xperia PLAY only has 400MB of user accessible memory and there was no mention of how much RAM it has, although it's likely to be 512MB.

xperia play 2 Sony Ericsson launches the Xperia PLAY, we go hands on

The 4-inch capacitive multi-touch screen has a native resolution of 854×480 pixels and can display 16 million colours. What we did note is that it's quite a finger print magnet and it smudges very easily, at least on the prototypes that were on display, so make sure you have something to polish it with handy if you decide to get one. It also has a 5.1Megapixel rear camera with auto focus and an LED light, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, Wi-Fi, aGPS, a micro USB port and a 3.5mm audio jack. The battery life is said to be good for up to 8h and 25min talk time in GSM mode, up to 6h 25min in UMTS/3G and 7h 40min in CDMA2000 mode while you'll get about 5h 30min worth of game play time out of it. The downside of having your phone and your handheld console in a single device is of course when you've been playing games for a few hours, there might not be enough battery life left for making calls, but hey, such is life.

xperia play 4 Sony Ericsson launches the Xperia PLAY, we go hands on

A few other interesting features worth pointing out is the ability to host multi-player games between to handsets by setting up a Wi-Fi hotspot on one handset and the ability to play multi-player games against users on consoles and PCs. Sony Ericsson will also offer an optional dock for the Xperia PLAY called the DK300 and it will be available in black or white. We're not really sold on the dock though, as the Xperia PLAY attaches to it via the micro USB port and the 3.5mm audio jack and these ports are replicated at the rear of the dock. The idea is that it's meant to make it easier to charge the phone and connect it to a stereo while it also has a built in application trigger that launches the desktop alarm application on the handset.

xperia play 3 Sony Ericsson launches the Xperia PLAY, we go hands on

As far as the phone side is concerned, the Xperia PLAY comes with the usual selection of features you'd expect from an Android device, although in this case the UI has been tweaked quite a lot by Sony Ericsson. That said, unlike some custom Android UI's Sony Ericsson has come up with a version that works quite well. Finally the Xperia PLAY is expected to hit retail sometime in March in the US, although as far as the rest of the world is concerned the launch date is early spring and of course no pricing was announced.