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Battle: Best Gaming Smartphone: Sony Ericcson Xperia Play vs. Apple iPhone 4

Published
Part Android smartphone and part PSP, the new Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is out to change the handheld gaming market. But does this "gamer's smartphone" really offer something different, or is it just a Nokia N-Gage flop in the making?

Sony Erisson Xperia Play vs. Apple iPhone 4

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play
Apple iPhone 4
Price
$199.99
(Verizon)
$199.99
(Verizon, AT&T)
Operating System
Android 2.3
iOS 4
Display
4" multi-touch (854x480)
3.5" multi-touch (960x640)
Processor
1GHz Snapdragon II CPU
w/ Adreno 205 GPU
ARM Cortex A8 CPU
w/ PowerVR SGX 535
Memory
Up to 32GB microSD card
(8GB included)
16GB
32GB
Extras
VGA front-facing camera, 5.1MP rear camera, microSD slot, Bluetooth, aGPS, DLNA certified, 802.11n, dedicated game controls, 6 bundled games
VGA front-facing camera, 5MP rear camera, Bluetooth, aGPS, 802.11n
Weight
6.2 oz.
4.8 oz.

Controls
The Xperia Play is an Android smartphone with one thing on its mind: gaming. And while most of today's smartphones can double as gaming handhelds, only the Xperia Play offers dedicated gaming controls. It features a slide-out game pad with a 4-button D-pad on the left, Sony's signature action buttons on the right and two analog trackpads in the middle. The game pad, which slides beneath the screen when not in use, also features shoulder buttons along the top spine, giving the handheld a PSP-like feel. By contrast, the iPhone 4 relies on touch-screen controls, which although adequate in most cases, aren't as responsive as dedicated controls and can cause your fingers to block parts of the screen during game play.
Winner: Xperia Play

Game Selection
The Xperia Play is not a "PlayStation phone" per se. Instead, it was made to play "optimized" Android games and select PlayStation games from the Android Marketplace. There's no way to (legally) play all of your favorite PlayStation games on the Xperia Play and the phone has no access to the PlayStation Network. That means if a classic PlayStation game is made available for the Xperia, you'll have to re-purchase it if it's a game you once owned on a Sony console. That said, it does come with six pre-loaded games: Madden NFL 11, Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior, Asphalt 6: Adrenaline, Star Battalion, The Sims 3 and Crash Bandicoot.

Currently, very few games can take advantage of the Xperia Play's gamepad, which makes us queasy about purchasing this first-generation phone. Price-wise, the Xperia's games are rumored to range from $1 to $15. But until there's a solid amount of game support, there's still the chance this platform can go the way of the N-Gage.

By contrast, the iPhone 4 has an extensive catalog of games from both independent developers and larger companies like EA Mobile and Gameloft. In addition, there are dozens of deals on iPhone games with prices starting at $0.
Winner: iPhone 4

Hardware
Spec-wise, the Xperia Play isn't as impressive as we hoped. It features a single-core rather than a dual-core processor and it doesn't support Verizon's 4G network. Far worst is the fact that it only offers an embarrassing 1GB of internal memory, nowhere near the type of storage a gaming smartphone should offer. Fortunately, it does feature a microSD card slot, although you only get an 8GB card with your purchase. While the Xperia Play's game pad and slightly larger screen constitute a slight hardware advantage over the iPhone 4, it's nothing to brag about.
Winner: Tie

Conclusion
The idea of an Android-powered phone with dedicated gaming controls sounds great on paper. However, we cringe at the thought of re-purchasing games that we already owned and we've yet to see a solid lineup of must-have games for the Xperia. And although the Xperia Play is the first Verizon smartphone to run Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), it still runs in the shadows of newer Android phones, which boast dual-core processors and 4G support. Add to that the fact that any of today's well-equipped smartphones can double as a gaming handheld and suddenly, the Xperia Play doesn't seem so special.
Winner: iPhone 4



An avid gadget lover, Louis Ramirez has covered technology for Gizmodo, CNET, Laptop, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter — @LouisRamirez. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.

DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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4 comments
hugoksouza
emiren was right on the spot.

LG Optimus 2X / T-Mobile G2x was totally ignored...
T-Mobile is taking G2x to E3: http://www.androidcentral.com/...battle-e3-contest
dowerchin
It's without a doubt an interesting device, but part of me is skeptical because it's Sony. Sony's proven quite regularly that it clearly doesn't know or care about what the customers really want, and therefore mismanage their incredibly good stuff, dooming it. I really hope they prove me wrong.
The idea of dedicated gaming controls is a great idea, but it remains to be seen if it's worthwhile.
emirem
The t-mobile G2x (lg optimus 2x) is a dual core 4g phone alas on t-mobile, has a 1080p screen and is by far the best gaming phone !!!
carlosriosness
this is slightly flawed, in the "game selection" section it basically puts xperias handful of "optimized" games against apples FULL collection. but to be fair, it should state that the xperia will play Androids full collection (from $0 to $15 AS WELL) in addition to xperia optimized games. which in my eyes would make it the winner.

in the hardware section also. both phones are similar in power. but the xperia has a bigger screen and actual gaming controls. those 2 facts should be the deciding factor. even though i do agree, every android should be 8gb built in, at the very least. but again, that point is a weak argument since android phones can be upgraded any time (with micro sd cards), you can even have multiple cards. when i still used my psp i had 3 cards, each card was loaded with different types of games.

granted, i am still waiting for a 4g dual core phone, imo the xperia is overall better then the iphone in terms of a "gaming phone".
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