After months of rumours, a slew of leaks and one creepy commercial, Sony Ericsson's worst-kept secret is now a reality. On Sunday, the day before Mobile World Congress officially opens, Sony Ericsson finally took the wraps off of the Xperia Play.
Long billed as the "PlayStation Phone", the Xperia Play is very much the handset that Sony Ericsson highlighted last week during the US Super Bowl.
The four-inch (854x480-pixel resolution; 16.7 million colours) display is up to the usual Sony Ericsson standards. Colours were bright and vibrant and graphics showed up well. From our brief hands-on experience, the display also appears to do the gaming features justice. Below the display are four physical controls for the usual Android functions (back, menu, home and search). On the left spine you'll find a 3.5mm headset jack and a micro-USB port, while the power control, a volume rocker and shoulder gaming controls sit on the right spine.
Of course, what the phone can do is the real story. At the top level, the Xperia Play runs on Gingerbread (Android 2.3), so you'll get the new text selection tool, a Wi-Fi hot spot and new options in the Settings menu. And like on the Xperia Arc, you can pinch your fingers to see all five home screens on one page. As we said when the earlier handset made its debut at CES, it's very much like HTC's Leap feature.
Slide up the face to reveal the gaming controls, which are very similar to those on a Sony PlayStation DualShock controller. Instead of joysticks, however, you'll find two round touch pads. And as mentioned, the handset has only one set of shoulder buttons.
Game downloads will be available from an online Sony Ericsson store. Once you purchase a game, individual icons for each title will sit in the phone's main menu.
The Xperia Play also has a 5.1-megapixel camera with autofocus, a flash, image stabilisation, geotagging, and video recording. Other features include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, a personal organiser, a speakerphone, assisted-GPS, messaging and email, 400MB of internal memory, Sony Ericsson's Timescape interface, a music player, and a full HTML browser with Flash Lite. It also supports the usual Google apps and you can download additional titles from the Android Market.