Xperia Play

Everytime I take out my phone, my friends would go,

Aww man, why is your phone so thick!

I will go, yeah it’s thick, but because it’s a gaming phone. *slides open the gamepad*
My friends will now stare in awe.

Holy crap! That’s freaking cool! Are those touchpads? Yeah, they are. Can I play some games? Sure.. oh wait..

No, I’m sorry, there are no games on my phone currently.

Are you nuts? You have a Playstation Phone and no games on it?

No, I’m not nuts. I’ve had my Xperia Play for a little over a year (got it early July last year), and I must say my experiences with it have been mixed at best.

The gamepad.

Now of course this would be the reason why anyone (including me) would’ve bought the phone. The sliding mechanism is of awesome quality – the sliding sets into motion once a little force is applied, and snaps to its position with a nice click sound. That would probably be the best thing about this phone. 🙂 The feel of the buttons is pretty nice, though the buttons themselves are quite small (especially if you come from any console controller) and it’s impossible to do multiple presses on the 4 shape buttons (triangle square circle cross) with your thumb.

The dual-analog touchpad.. sucks. Even on games that are rated to have the best touchpad support, I still find it hard to navigate through them. I think it’s partially due to the dot in the middle of the two touchpads being too small (the dots are an indication of where the middle point is), and most of the time I find myself walking in some random direction that I did not intend to. (I have to give my hands down to a few awesome games that make use of it though, namely Age of Zombies and Guerrilla Bob.)

As for the L and R buttons, they do feel quite good on the presses. However, the recession feel of my R button is already very different from that of the L button; I think it’s because I excessively used the R button as the fire/charging button when I was emulating the Mega Man games. The button now requires more recession before it registers the click, and it’s quite irritating (I would rather both buttons are this way).

Another factor to consider is the thickness of the phone. In order to keep the phone thin, the portion of the phone with the gamepad is also extremely thin – and this leads to a poor grip of the phone while playing games – your hands will start to feel sore from long periods of play time! I bought the extended battery which made the phone thicker, and ironically it made the grip better too. Ha ha.

The phone.

What’s a smartphone without its smartphone functions? The Xperia Play, in my opinion, fails largely at this area – its 1GHz processor is supposed to be able to handle the various load thrown at it, but somehow the Xperia Play just seems pretty laggy towards anything once you start installing more applications. It has pathetic internal storage too (380MB), and a paltry 320MB of RAM. It’s quite funny how the Galaxy S has similar specs (processor and RAM) but yet can be so smooth under the right developer support.

I’ve installed the latest version of CM9 (Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich) on my Play (and thus lost touchpad support, yeah), and it’s pretty laggy all around. The Galaxy S, in contrast, blazes through Ice Cream Sandwich without problems.

The screen.

I can live with the screen brightness being too dim (and yes the Xperia Play is awesome at being dim here), but I get really irritated by how the screen isn’t responsive, especially at the corners. When I try to bring up the symbols keyboard by tapping the bottom left button, the phone registers the shift button (above the symbols button) more than half the time. Very. Freaking. Annoying. Similarly, trying to press Enter often gets me deleting a few of my letters.

Thankfully, the Xperia Play has a really vibrant development community, and there are dozens of custom ROMs for me to tweak to my liking. That’s a really heartwarming thing. (Most custom ROMs break the touchpads, though.)

I can go on and on, but let’s take a look at what I’ve just reviewed:

  1. The gamepad is not very good.
  2. The phone is slow.
  3. The screen sucks.

I guess, I probably didn’t make the right choice when selecting my phone.

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