The rumours have been with us for well over three years now, but it looks like they're finally coming to fruition; Sony Ericsson is finally launching a PlayStation phone. According to Engadget's "trusted sources" (nothing to do with us) the device will be launching as early as October and will run version 3.0 (Gingerbread) of Google's Android operating system.
Described as a merger of the PSPgo and Samsung Galaxy S the device will reportedly feature a touch-sensitive display between 3.7in and 4.1in in size, with a resolution of, or possibly greater than, 800 x 480 pixels. Qualcomm's 1GHz Snapdragon will most likely power the device, which will feature a button layout like that of the PSPgo, but instead of an analogue nub will have a touch-sensitive control area.
The implication is that rather than launching this 'PlayStation Phone' handset in isolation, it is intended to be a flagship device for a mobile gaming ecosystem. The handset will be marketed as an Xperia device, with the PlayStation twist coming in the form of a skin over vanilla Android, and a special area of the Android Marketplace will be dedicated to the games. Titles apparently being shown off include God of War, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and LittleBigPlanet, with graphical quality said to be in the PSP ballpark, so the quality level looks to be high.
It's no secret that the PlayStation Portable is suffering from the competition of devices such as the iPhone and iPod touch, which despite their inferior hardware are gaining great traction as portable gaming devices. It's not hard to imagine that if successful this PlayStation phone could mark the end of dedicated portable gaming devices for Sony, and a move into being a mobile gaming platform provider. And if the games are notably better in quality (in terms of both visuals and gameplay) than those available on Apple's App Store, that might not be a bad move.
While we've seen gaming phones fail before (you probably don't even remember the N-Gage), there's every chance for Sony to get this right. We're not writing the PSPhone off quite yet.