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Sony Ericsson Xperia Play review




Our Score:


User Score:


  • Game controls are excellent
  • Surprisingly fast interface
  • Games can look great
  • Screen is sharp with good viewing angles


  • Selection of games is limited
  • Build quality is below par
  • Screen is a bit dull

Key Features

  • Slideout Playstation game controls
  • High resolution screen
  • 5 megapixel camera
  • Android 2.3 Operating System
  • Manufacturer: Sony Ericsson
  • Review Price: £414.00

The arrival of a PlayStation phone has been rumoured for years and finally Sony Ericsson has obliged with the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play. However, rather than being a PSP with a few phone features bolted on, it's actually a fully fledged touchscreen Android smartphone with slideout game controls. With so many new and very capable smatphones now available, can it possibly find its niche, or is it a compromise too far? Read on to find out.

Sadly the first impression one has of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is not good. It's theoretically stylish enough with its standard black and silver livery and gently curved design, and given the bonus of slideout gaming controls we can forgive any extra bulk (119 x 62 x 16 mm) and weight (175g). However, the whole thing just reeks of plastic. There's discernible flex in the body and screen when squeezed and fingerprints love every surface of this phone.

It's the screen that is the biggest disappointment. It just doesn't compare to the smooth solid feeling glass ones used in most high-end smartphones. It also comes with some sort of non-removable protective layer on the screen that looks like the after market screen protectors you can get, in that there's a clear gap around its edge below which is the screen itself. This just adds to the sense of cheapness and lack of style. It's also very reflective, with a much more silver finish than the deep black of many alternatives.

Further irritations include the tiny buttons and lack of bezel below the screen. The buttons themselves aren't actually too difficult to use but the lack of space to simply rest your thumb without having it touch the screen is a bit annoying (though admittedly not that much of a problem once you're used to it).

A headphone jack is a welcome addition, as is the standard microUSB socket for charging the phone and transferring data to it, but having the former on the side of the device means it's likely to cause headphone jacks to snag on pockets.

A smaller slip up is that we would've liked to see a shutter button for the camera but instead there are shoulder buttons for the game controller – in between which sits the little volume rocker – so we can forgive that omission.

The camera itself is a 5 megapixel unit that has both autofocus and an LED flash. It will also shoot HD video. It's simple enough to use and produces reasonable results for general moment capturing but it's definitely not a patch on the best available.

Up top, meanwhile, sits the small and rather awkwardly positioned power button.

Middling, is how we'd describe the 4in display. It's an SLCD panel with a resolution of 480 x 854 pixels, which is ever so slightly higher than most smartphones, so is nice and sharp. Colours look accurate and viewing angles are good as well. However, it does lack a little bit of punch to its colours, while blacks do tend to look a little grey. Overall brightness is also quite low, and there isn't an automatic setting for keeping the screen at an appropriate brightness level in different conditions. It's not appalling by any means but it's definitely not the best.

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April 19, 2011, 4:09 pm

I'm a bit disappointed the small bezel is an annoyance(this was something i hoped would become the norm).

I would like to try this phone out(seeing as the hardware market has been a bit flat of late)

perhaps if the release a full psx catalogue optimised for the screen width and is free on a contract,i may even be tempted.

Think this will sell well.


April 19, 2011, 6:14 pm

I was really interested in getting one of these until I saw the size of the internal memory. 400mb?!!! That is pathetic. I'm currently using an HTC Desire which is great except for one thing, the small internal memory. There are still many apps that do not have the option to install to sd card and even with the ones that do you need enough internal memory for the initial installation to sd. Being a gaming phone this will become a very real problem very quickly. If I do still get it then I think I'll have to go down the route of rooting (pun intended).


April 19, 2011, 7:08 pm

You may be right that it will encounter problems at some point but we downloaded several games of hundreds of megabytes and they all seemed fine.


April 19, 2011, 9:05 pm

Re Ed: I'm guessing you hadn't installed much when you reviewed it. I've got about 20mb of internal space left on my desire. This means I cannot install anything larger than 20mb even onto the sd card as it needs that internal space to be able to install. I wouldn't even say I've got that many apps installed. Everything I have is stuff that I need or regularly use. The problem is there are some large apps that don't have the option to install to sd. Flash Player, Maps and facebook are prime examples. It's amazing how soon it all adds up. Plus anything that's cached in the system.

Really Android phones need to have 1gb native storage as a minimum.


April 19, 2011, 10:10 pm

I think Ed's referring to the Xperia Play. You would think that the Play's games are being installed to the SD card, or at least the game data is being stored there, or it wouldn't be a very practical device.

I think my Xperia Arc has the same internals as the Play, and as I look at it I have 48 apps installed (including CoPilot, Flash & Facebook) though I still have 112MB of internal storage free. Also, there's still a bunch of apps I could move to SD if I needed to.


May 3, 2011, 1:20 pm

What's happened to this site?

The engadget Xperia Play review has 1214 comments. TrustedReviews has 3. Well, 4 if you let this one through.

This redesign hasn't really worked, has it?

Tic Sy

November 18, 2011, 12:06 am

Kindly do a review of Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro MK16a/MK16i codename Iyokan. We would appreciate it a lot if you specifically compared the screen legibility with other phones in its price range. Thank you.

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