The "Playstation Phone" (Xperia Play) coming to Verizon next week

First it was a far-fetched rumor, then it was one of the most leaked new products in recent history, and now, finally, it's here. Verizon will be getting the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play (aka the Playstation Phone) next week, on May 26th. The Play will cost $199 with a two year contract. If you're excited about the phone, you can pre-order starting this Thursday.

I was excited about the Playstation Phone, once upon a time, but now I'm less sure about the Xperia Play. The phone has a 4" screen, which seems a little puny for gaming now that a lot of 4.3" phones are hitting the market. It's running Gingerbread (Android 2.3) which is fine, but inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon II processor running at 1 Ghz. This is a second generation Snapdragon chip, but it isn't a dual-core chip. I can't help but think a device dedicated to gaming and launching half-way through 2011 ought to have a dual-core chip in it. Maybe I'm being overly influenced by Nvidia's "Tegra Zone" promotion on Android devices. I'll admit I'm not a hardcore chip-head though, so I'd welcome comments educating me if I've got this bit wrong.

The phone has a 5 megapixel camera on the back (when 8 megapixel is becoming common) and a front facing VGA camera for video chat and taking profile pics. Of course the defining feature is the slideout deck with physical game controls, and to that end the Play comes pre-loaded with 7 titles: Madden NFL 11, Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior, Asphalt 6: Adrenaline, The Sims 3, Star Battalion, Crash Bandicoot and Tetris. That collection is a nice mix of old and new, but nothing there really screams 'system seller' to me. At launch, 50 additional titles will be ready for purchase via V-Cast.

The Xperia Play is the first "Playstation Suite" certified handset to hit the market, but according to some reports that whole service isn't really ready for prime time yet, anyway.

I'd love to be proven wrong and find out that this is an exceptional smartphone, but I'll be waiting for reviews. I want to know how the phone feels in your hands (does that slider make it feel awkward/thick/heavy?) and how snappy the 2nd gen Snapdragon processor is. I'm not particularly interested in playing old Playstation One titles these days, but if current Android developers embrace the Xperia Play and support the physical controls, that might make the device a lot more appealing.

As things stand now, though, I think I preferred the Xperia Play back when it was the mysterious Playstation Phone; a beast conjured from pixie dust and ground unicorn horn.

Anyone out there interested in buying one of these things?

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