Sony PlayStation Phone Real, Dubbed 'Ericsson Xperia Play'

Okay, it's only kind of a PlayStation Phone, but Sony Ericsson's funky Android-PlayStation hybrid handheld looks to be real at last. How do we know? Because Engadget's actually fiddled with one.

Call it an Xperia Play phone, because Engadget is. It's apparently a slide-keyboard Android gizmo running Gingerbread with 512MB of RAM, WiFi (though Engadget couldn't get it to work), and a 4-inch 854 by 480 pixel multitouch screen powered by Sony's Bravia technology (though what the latter means in context remains a marketing mystery).

Also a mystery: Whether it's still powered by a 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8655 chipset. No one's been able to get the chip to identify itself, but Engadget was able to pick out a secondary Adreno 205 GPU. The latter's fairly new (sampling last summer) and features hardware accelerated SVG and Flash, better shader performance than the Adreno 200, and streaming textures that can fold video, camera, SVG, and other images in with 3D graphics.

Slide the lower part of the phone out, and voila, it's a PSP Go! Well, kind of. You've got your standard PlayStation shoulder pads behind and up top, a d-pad at left, the geometric quad-buttons at right, and a touchpad sandwiched in the middle. Yep, no thumb-nubs or thumb-stick, just smooth gleaming silver space. Are those dots in the middle holes for drop-in sticks? I can't tell from the shots, and Engadget doesn't speculate, but since I'm terrible using touch-surfaces for 3D gaming, I'd like to think so.

So what do I mean, "kind of." We're not looking at actual PlayStation hardware here, which either means new, native PlayStation-branded games, or--more likely--emulation. Engadget wasn't able to test any actual PlayStation games, but loaded an emulator for the PS One and another for the Game Boy Advance. According to Engadget, the games they tested ran "pretty well," but then we're talking ancient software. What this all means for full bore PSP games, if there's even that option, remains to be seen.

Don't look for the device's official reveal at tonight's rumored PSP2 event, taking place in Tokyo at 3pm GMT+9 (that's 10pm PT, 1am tomorrow ET). Maybe Sony tips its hat, maybe it doesn't, but everyone expects the Xperia Play to debut at next month's Mobile World Congress, leaving the stage to Sony's official PSP successor.

And if the PSP2 turns out to be as svelte and powerful as some are saying, are you still interested in a phone that might (and I stress 'might') be limited to older PlayStation games in emulation?

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