Android 2.3, aka Gingerbread (Finally!)
The Xperia Play is the first Verizon phone to ship with Gingerbread (Android 2.3). In a display of regrettably rare restraint, Sony Ericsson and Verizon didn’t mess with the OS too much. The phone comes with some preloaded software—including the whole Verizon suite of apps (VZ Navigator, Visual Voicemail, My Verizon Mobile, Backup Assistant, and the V Cast App Store) and a handful of games to show off the Play’s game-playing prowess—but nothing I would classify as bloatware. The seven preloaded games are Madden NFL 11, Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior, Tetris, The Sims 3, Star Battalion, Crash Bandicoot, and Asphalt 6: Adrenaline. These are all the full versions, and (with the exception of Tetris) they’ve all been optimized for use with the Xperia Play’s slide-out gamepad.
Oddly, though the Play runs Gingerbread and has a front-facing camera, our review unit didn’t include the latest version of Google Talk. As a result, the phone lacks a native video calling app, but I hope that Verizon will push out the up-to-date version of Google Talk for the Play in the near future.
Unfortunately, the Xperia Play carries some rather outdated specifications. It is a 3G-only phone in a world that increasingly embraces 4G and LTE-enabled devices; and it has only about 400MB of internal storage, which severely limits the number of apps and games you can download and store. The Play compensates for this deficiency by including an 8GB MicroSD card, but the limited onboard memory is still disappointing.
The 1GHz Snapdragon processor does an admirable job of keeping the phone and games running smoothly. Even high-definition games like Cordy played without a hitch. A dual-core processor would have been nice for game performance, but its adverse effect on battery life might have been severe). The screen was nice and responsive, and the UI felt fluid as I swiped around the homescreen and navigated through the phone.
Call quality was reasonably good. Voices came through clearly, and I didn’t notice any static or hissing. The Xperia Play managed to last almost an entire day of phone use on a single charge, though playing games on the device will significantly deplete the battery. After an hour of playing Crash Bandicoot, I saw that my battery had dropped from 75 percent charge to 50 percent. If you plan on using this device as your primary gaming handheld, you would do well to carry a charger with you.
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