YOU CAN BUY Sony Ericsson's Playstation certified Xperia Play smartphone at shops in the UK today but stock is limited.
Sony Ericsson told The INQUIRER that its gaming phone is on sale today, as planned, in stores across the UK but said it has "experienced a freight issue that may impact the number of Xperia PLAYs arriving at some retail outlets."
Orange and The Carphone Warehouse will be selling the device, but delays that were announced by Vodafone and O2 remain unchanged. A statement from O2 says, "Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY will be launching on 1 April across all UK mobile operator partners except for O2, who have decided to prolong the testing period in order to ensure that the software loaded on the phones meets the requirements of its procedures."
So the phone will go on sale, SIM free for £479.99, but we could see the shelves empty by a stock shortage and if we go by what O2 is saying, the phone could contain software bugs that haven't been ironed out yet, therefore meaning it's not really ready to hit the shops.
Sony Ericsson told The INQUIRER today that a total of over 60 games will be launched with the phone within the first week, including titles such as Assassins Creed and Need for Speed. Six games will come with the handset, including Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior, FIFA 2010, The Sims 3, Star Battalion, Tetris and Asphalt 6.
The INQUIRER attended the exclusive launch party for the Xperia Play last night in London and had a brief look at the phone. It looks much like other Sony Ericsson handsets such as the Xperia X8, with the main differences being the slide-out gaming control panel and huge focus on the gaming side of the device.
The phone, which runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, worked well as a gaming device when we tried it out last night with a quick go on Asphalt 6 and FIFA 2010. The games were reasonable but the graphics didn't impress us to any great extent. The main advantage of the phone is the dedicated games control panel, which looks much like Sony's PSP handheld console. This does give the best control for gaming on a phone with a classic D-pad, the familiar X, square, circle and triangle buttons, Start, Select, L/R shoulder buttons as well as two touchpad controls.
We enjoyed the experience of playing games on the phone, which will come naturally to gamers. We did find the touchpad controls slightly hard to get used to, especially for FIFA 2010. The phone will appeal to gamers, of course, but it is up against competition in the form of the Nintendo 3DS which was launched a week ago.
People who went out to get the 3D capable console, which has proven very popular with hundreds queuing in London at its release, will be unlikely to want, need or afford the Xperia Play, which is trying to be both a phone and a games console. On the other hand, people might have held off getting the 3DS in favour of the Xperia Play due to its ability to perform different functions. It is certainly the leader for gaming phones on the market, so it might well be a hit after Sony Ericsson saw problems with previous Xperia models. µ