Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY First Impressions

Aaron Baker
Writer from  Dallas, TX
| June 1, 2011

Xperia 1

Announced at Mobile World Congress and delayed due to the tsunami devastation in Japan, the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY is finally available on Verizon Wireless.  It packs a 1 GHz single-core Snapdragon processor, 4-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, a stock build of Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), and perhaps most importantly, a full-fledged Playstation game controller.  It's available now for $199.99 with a two-year contract.

I've spent a few days testing the device and playing the pre-installed games (and subsequently losing), and have a few first impressions:

  • The Xperia PLAY is relatively compact, considering the fact that a full-fledged game controller is hidden underneath the display.  On that note, the 4-inch screen is a nice balance between "too tiny" and "too large" and fits well in Verizon's existing lineup.  In the box, you'll get an AC adapter, USB cable, 8 GB microSD card, and a 3.5mm headphone jack adapter.

Xperia 2

  • Xperia PLAY is Verizon's first Android device to run a stock build of 2.3 (Gingerbread), and as you would expect, performance is good.  Apps open with ease and overall performance is incredibly smooth, not necessarily because of the device's specs - the CPU is a single-core Snapdragon - but because there's no manufacturer overlay cluttering things up.  For the most part, it's the same experience that you'll find on the Google Nexus S line. 
  • The phone ships with six pre-installed games: Bruce Lee Dragon Warriors, Crash Bandicoot, FIFA 10, The Sims 3, Star Battalion, and Tetris.

Xperia 3

  • The PLAY has a 5-megapixel camera with flash, and while it doesn't support 720p HD video, overall image quality has been quite good.  Colors look good, and in the case of video, the audio quality is impressive.  I put it to the test along with some of the other recent 720p-capable Verizon devices like the LG Revolution and Motorola DROID X2, and it certainly holds its own.
  • Battery life is on par with most of the Android phones on the market, thanks to the 1,500 mAh battery.  That's with moderate use including calling, text messaging, emailing, and downloading a few apps from the Android Market, though - doing any sort of gaming will kill the battery pretty quickly.
  • Signal strength has been good thus far.  I took the phone to a Verizon dead zone in Charlotte, and was able to complete a call, despite some audio cutouts and static.  The speaker is reasonably loud, and my Bluetooth headset connected with ease.

The Xperia PLAY is a high-end, feature-packed device that's a nice addition to Verizon's lineup, though I wish it had 4G LTE connectivity.  Regardless, Sony Ericsson did a good job fusing a Playstation with a smartphone.  More to come, but in case you missed it, check out the unboxing video below!

Products mentioned