|At first glance, the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY looks like most of the other Android smartphones on the market. It has a power button on the top of the phone, while the left side sports a 3.5mm headset jack and microUSB port for charging the smartphone. Youll also find the four basic navigation keys (Back, Home, Menu, and Search) at the base of the cell phone. At the top front of the phone hidden by the Sony Ericsson logo is a front-facing VGA camera, while as expected the back of the cell phone has a 5.1-megapixel camera with a flash. It sports a bright 4-inch touchscreen that isnt as vibrant as a Super AMOLED screen, but the graphics are sharp. Theres a touchscreen QWERTY keyboard with a predictive text feature that can be used in horizontal and vertical modes. Its the standard Android keyboard and the Swype keyboard isnt an option. Using the keyboard was acceptable, but we had more accuracy when we used it in horizontal mode. Overall, the cell phone feels good in the hand and despite the black plastic casing the Xperia PLAY is definitely durable.
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Its not until you take a closer look at the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY that you realize this isnt your standard Android smartphone. On closer inspection, youll notice the addition of two large buttons flanking the volume adjustment key on the right side of the phone. These are the Left and Right Trigger buttons. You might recognize them from the PlayStation 3 game controller. The similarities between the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY and the PlayStation game controller dont stop there. Slide the screen to the right to reveal the game pad. It has all the controls you need to play a PlayStation game: Directional buttons, game menu, touch pad, PlayStation buttons (triangle, square, circle and x), select key, and start key. The controls are easy to use and the games all have information about which keys or buttons to use when. So whether youre a first time user of PlayStation games or an avid game player youll have not problem playing games out-of-the-box.
Making Calls: During calls we could hear callers pretty clearly and callers said they had a similar experience on their end. However, we did sense a bit of a hiss on our end whenever we spoke. Regardless of how close you hold the smartphone to your face, the End Call button never seems to get accidentally hit.
- Volume Adjustment: You can use the side buttons to adjust the volume, but we rarely needed to use them.
- Speakerphone: Call quality is acceptable when using this feature. We didnt cut each other off when speaking simultaneously.
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Operating System: The smartphone comes loaded with the Android 2.3 OS, sports a 1GHz processor, and has an 8GB microSD card pre-installed. Theres plenty of room to store files, music, and pictures out-of-the-box. It also supports multitasking and multiple screens with the ability to organize apps just about any way you want. Overall, the user interface is fairly straightforward and icon friendly. The main benefit of the Android 2.3 Ginerbread OS is an overall improved user experience. In short, everything on the phone is much smoother, slicker and faster.
At the base of the screen are three quick launch buttons for Phone, Apps, and Web Browser. On either side of those buttons are dots that you can use to navigate to the five home screens that are all customizable . Verizon has included a few apps on the cell phone such as Amazon Kindle, Verizon App store, Backup Assistant, Skype Mobile, VZ Navigator, and My Verizon Mobile. That said, the user interface is a straightforward Google Android experience, so no overlays. As expected, there are also quite a few games (see Games for more information).
- Web Navigation: You can easily access any website you want simply by entering the name of the site in the Google search bar, which you can change to search the Web, apps or contacts. The cell phone does support Adobe FlashPlayer . We did also appreciate that you can have multiple browser windows open simultaneously and easily navigate between them. Overall, surfing the web on the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY was fast over a WiFi connection. That said, even using the phones 3G connection we didnt have to wait for pages to load. It just wasnt as instantaneous as it was using WiFi.
- Social Media: The are no social networking apps included on the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY out-of-the box, but if you want to load them on the phone you can easily download them from the Android Market.
Gaming: Often referred to as the PlayStation phone, the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY delivers a rich and fluid gaming experience. As noted previously, the game controllers are almost identical to those found on the PlayStation game controller, which makes playing games feel more like youre playing on a portable gaming device and not just a cell phone. The cell phone comes loaded with 6 games: Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior, The Sims 3, Star Battalion, Asphalt 6: Adrenaline, Madden NFL 11 from EA, and Crash Bandicoot. While they are preloaded, some games require downloading additional data. The games are free and give you a good taste of the overall gaming experience. If you want to add more games youll need to purchase them and download them to the cell phone. Theres an Xperia PLAY app on the phone that takes you to the store. You cant transfer games you already have on a PlayStation device to the cell phone. [img 4 R]
Camera Features: The Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY sports a rear-facing 5.1-megapixel camera on the back of the cell phone and a front-facing VGA camera. The smartphone may lack a tiny mirror on the back for framing self-portraits, but once in the camera app you can easily switch to the front camera lens if you want to snap pictures of yourself .
- Shutter Speed: We found the shutter speed on the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY to be fast enough, but you shouldnt rely on it to capture action shots.
- Picture Quality: We found colors to be true and details clear, but not crisp when looking at pictures on the phone.
- Photo Settings: You can control the flash, focus, exposure, resolution, white balance, set location, select a scene mode (automatic, portrait, landscape, action, night, night portrait, party, beach, or snow), effects (normal, mono, negative, solarize, and sepia), and quality (fine, super fine, and normal).
- Video Features: You can record video with this Android cell phone. We found quality was acceptable, but we preferred watching movies and YouTube videos on the cell phone to our own creations. [img 5 R]
Music Features: Playback of music through the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY speaker is solid; songs sounded loud, but not distorted or too tinny.
- Formats Supported: We were able to play MP3, and unprotected AAC (Apples audio format) files. The player doesnt play unprotected WMA (Microsofts audio format) music files.
- Features: Repeat, Shuffle, and Playlists (you can even create playlists on the cell phone). You can also save tunes stored in your cell phone as a ringtone, but not as an alarm..
Connectivity: The Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY works with Verizons 3G networks.
- Bluetooth: The cell phone worked seamlessly with the Motorola T505 and callers didnt know we were using a Bluetooth connection. We were also able to connect the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY with a MacBook Pro and transfer contacts, pictures, and music.
- WiFi: It has 802.11 b/g/n WiFi (thats pretty secure) and we were able to log onto available WiFi networks to surf the Web or send/receive e-mail. It just takes moments to set up. The only thing you need is the WiFi network you want to use and password if needed. We also recommend using a WiFI connection when downloading Xperia PLAY games.
Battery Life: Although, this is only a 3G cell phone, we found that the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY It delivered better battery life performance than other 3G and 4G Android cell phones currently available. We were able to go about three days before needing to recharge the cell phone, when we had the cell phones screen set at half the brightness (the Xperia PLAY screen was still easy to view) and used it to check e-mail, surf the web, listen to music, play games, and take a few pictures.