The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is currently residing in bargain bins (most notably that of Expansys) at almost half its original price, just four-and-a-bit months after release. Who’d have thought?
Prior to release, Sony Ericsson reckoned it had the potential to give the iPhone 4 a run for its money, and the idea didn’t seem overly ridiculous. So what went wrong?
While it was in production, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play was often referred to as the PlayStation Phone, and threatened to sex up the handheld gaming/smartphone divide. Why carry a smartphone and a PSP?
Following eons of speculation, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play finally made its public debut in a Superbowl ad on February 6. It doesn’t get much more high profile than that.
Fast forward one week, and the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play was one of the most talked about smartphones at Mobile World Congress. Indeed, we noted: “Along with the LG Optimus 3D, the Xperia Play was the device everyone wanted to play with most at this year's show. And on first impressions it's hit the mark perfectly, just about managing to live up to the ridiculous hype.”
I spent a lot of time at Sony Ericsson’s stand (erm, working of course), playing the likes of Asphalt 6: Adrenaline Rush. I was far more impressed with the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play than I was with, say, the LG Optimus 3D, which gave me a bit of a headache.
Back then I figured I might be seduced by the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play when it hit the shelves, being a seasoned gamer ‘n’ all. But even at the frankly ridiculous price of £260, I’m barely tempted. Gimme a shout when it’s £150.
What the hell happened?
While smartphone gaming is on the rise (much to the chagrin of Nintendo), people want quick-fix games. Many of the most popular titles – Angry Birds being the obvious example – are broken down into easily digestible levels, ideal for a quick blast on the bus or train.
If on-the-move gamers are after something a bit meatier, I reckon they’d rather invest in a full-blown handheld like the PSP or Nintendo DSi. Technically, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play ain’t all that impressive, sitting somewhere around the PS1 mark.
Incidentally, when the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play was first released, you could grab an HTC Desire and a PSP for the same price. Just saying.
Looking at the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play’s specs, it’s really quite modest by today’s standards. It has a 1GHz single-core processor and 5MP camera. True, it ships with Gingerbread, but that’s not exactly a deal maker.
By the time the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play was unveiled, we’d already played with dual-core goodies, such as the Motorola Atrix, Samsung Galaxy S II and LG Optimus 2X. By comparison, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play doesn’t seem quite so cutting edge.
There’s plenty of software support for the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, and a few cheeky exclusives, but people are too used to getting games for less than £1, or even free.
I can’t help but feel that I’d resent the slide-out controls too. They add a fair bit of chunk to the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, and are ultimately redundant when using the phone as a, uhm, phone. It’s not like, say, a sliding QWERTY that’d get whipped out on a fairly regular basis. Having said that, I guess it depends how much gaming you intend to do.
- People want cheap, quick-fix games
- The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play doesn’t impress as a gaming machine
- The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play doesn’t impress as a smartphone
Maybe it’ll be a different story when we see the quad-core Sony Ericsson Xperia Play 2 playing PS2 games without breaking a sweat. Maybe.