Internally, there's not much to set the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play apart from its rivals. You get a 1GHz Snapdragon MSM 8255 processor accompanied by 512MB of RAM. This is on the money for a mid to high-end smartphone of late last year but with phones now arriving packing dual-core 1.2GHz processors and 1GB of RAM, the Xperia Play is already looking a little behind the curve. The 400MB of internal storage is also paltry, though this can be upgraded via the microSD slot that hides under the battery cover, with up to 32GB cards supported and an 8GB card included in the box.
Connectivity wise it's also standard fair with quad band HSDPA and standard GSM for mobile, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for local networks and the aforementioned USB socket for plugging into a computer. You also get gyroscopes and GPS for location based services. So, there's no 4G, LTE or any other future tech, but these certainly aren't requirements.
The phone runs Android 2.3.2, which is essentially the latest version of Google's phone operating system (OS). As such it packs in the latest speed and interface tweaks that combined with the not-class-leading-but-still-fast processor make it a speedy phone for general navigation. Opening most apps, flicking through the interface and browsing graphically intensive webpages are all tasks that feel utterly unhampered by slow down of any sort.
Sony Ericsson has modified the interface slightly but mostly kept things fairly standard. You get five homescreens to fill with widgets, shortcuts and folders, and Sony Ericsson has provided a few widgets of its own including quick setting switches and a More Games widget that gives you quick access to – you'll never guess – more games!
Along the bottom of the homescreen, Sony Ericsson has tweaked the standard layout of shortcuts with Media, Messaging, App Launcher, Contacts and Phone instead of just Phone, App Launcher and Web Browser. You can however, change these to whatever you like simply by dragging icons to and from this area.
The App Launcher has also been divided up into pages, which seems a bit pointless as compared to the default arrangement of one long list. Where it's potentially useful is that you can choose to have the phone show all these apps in alphabetical, most used, recent or your own order. Pick the latter and you can again drag around the apps to whatever arrangement you want.
TimeScape is another Sony Ericsson addition. It provides a stream of all your social networking activity from one app. It would be a reasonable app but for some reason the company felt it necessary to stylise the stream of updates like some kind of floating stack, achieving little more than making them difficult to read.
Otherwise this is a very typical Android phone. Log into your Gmail, Facebook and Twitter accounts and you should find all your contacts updated with profile pictures and your friend's latest updates from those services. The web browser is powerful and fast, and of course supports Adobe Flash so you can view online videos. Email is well catered for with a powerful and easy to use app and of course there's the myriad Google location services such as GoogleMaps, Locations and Places.
Pop into the MarketPlace and you'll find hundreds of thousands of apps to do just about all the smartphone tasks you might want. There's still not quite the wealth of apps you'll find on an iPhone but there should be enough for the vast majority. From here you can also download some games, which brings us onto the core of the Xperia Play experience…