I haven’t exactly been quiet in my discontent with the current state of the creative side of the mobile industry. While our phones are unquestionably better than ever, it seems that everything new and exciting is really part of a day and age that rests in the past. Manufacturers see what people wanted to buy and they have very few reasons to try anything too unconventional at this point. You keep everything mostly the same and add a unique feature here and there, and that’s about it. But that’s not how it used to be.
There was one device that I remember being particularly interested in a few years ago, the Sony Xperia Play. As a person who enjoys smartphones and gaming, the device seemed like the perfect mix for somebody like me. It was an Android device that had a fairly large screen (well, at the time) and a slide-out gamepad - not keyboard, gamepad. I thought that was pretty rad. Unfortunately, carrier exclusives were still pretty “in” at the time, and AT&T wasn’t my carrier. It’s probably also worth mentioning that this device was released at a time when Android wasn’t exactly in its prime. Force closes and slow, laggy software was common back then. There also wasn’t a ton of support for games.
But all of that has kind of flipped around at this point. Almost everything that made the original Xperia Play a not-so-great purchase has been fixed. Android is now much more reliable, battery life isn’t as completely horrid as it once was, and phones that have carrier exclusives don’t really do that well anymore. Most importantly, games - decent games - are rather plentiful on Android at this point.
I think it’s time to give the Xperia Play another try.
I realize that chances are pretty slim of it ever happening. Gamers aren’t exactly the biggest target market, but I’d like to think that there is enough of the demographic to at least give it one more chance, and I think Sony is probably the company that would be able to pull it off the best. Not only are they the ones that created the Xperia Play in the first place, but they’re also in a pretty good place right now when it comes to how people view their smartphones. The Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact have gotten pretty great reviews all around. Then you have the whole PlayStation aspect. Most importantly, though, I think Android is finally in a good enough place to make a device like this work well.
I think the biggest obstacle is being able to sell a phone with a slide-out gamepad again. People have gotten used to seeing thin as the new in, and anything thicker than a credit card is simply unacceptable. However, I want to say that even with a slide-out gamepad, Sony could probably manage to pull off something that people would consider attractive when it comes to how today’s smartphones are expected to look.
Maybe it’s not a completely new or innovative idea given that it’s already been done before, but it didn’t really stand a chance then. Maybe it doesn’t stand a chance now, either, but I think it has a much better chance at making it than it ever did before. I hope Sony is at least considering reattempting the Xperia Play again someday.