Review: Sony Ericsson Xperia Play
Sony Ericsson clearly hopes that Xperia Play owners are a forgiving lot. It is a chubby, heavy phone. Granted, Sony Ericsson didn't have a lot of leeway with the design, as it had to accommodate the gaming controls that are revealed when the phone is slid open. But still, at 16mm, the Xperia Play is a thick phone, and your hand feels each millimeter as it rests in your palm. The back surface of the Xperia Play tapers significantly towards the top and bottom edges, but this only helps the Xperia Play slip into and out of pockets with less effort. The materials are typical for a Sony Ericsson Android handset: cheapish, creaky, and chrome-y.
The front is nearly all screen, save for the four physical buttons that form a silver-colored smile at the bottom of the face. These four buttons, thanks to their large profile, are easy to find, but travel and feedback is downright mushy and unsatisfying. They control the Xperia Play's essential Android functions.
The 3.5mm headset jack is on the left side of the phone, as is the microUSB port. The volume toggle is on the right, as are the “shoulder” gaming controls (similar to the L1 and R1 buttons you'd find on a PS3 controller). All three of these buttons are horrible. The volume toggle is placed in the middle, and recessed a bit. The action is about as bad as it gets, and the button often become lodged/stuck in the depressed position. The L1 and R1 buttons are miserable flaps that are easy to use when the phone is closed, but are at the totally wrong angle when then phone is held open for gaming. The travel and feedback is completely crappy.
The power/lock button is on top, and is the only button that didn't make me want to stomp on the Xperia Play. It has good travel and feedback.
The Xperia Play is a sideways slider. The sliding mechanism is far from solid. There's plenty of wiggling between the top and bottom halves, and the seam is uneven around the handset. Popping the top portion up is easy enough. Once open, you have the main gaming controls.
Similar to the layout out a PS3-style controller. there are two sets of directional buttons. Each set of buttons has four: arrow buttons on the left side, and the PlayStation square, triangle, circle and X on the right. These buttons are rubbery in nature and I found that it took a lot of time to get used their feel. There are also a few other small buttons for accessing the menu, and the PlayStation select/start functions. These three smaller buttons are a bit too small and recessed too far into the surface of the Xperia Play's gaming controls, but the travel and feedback are good. There are also two analog controls. They are two circles, each about the size of a nickel, that mimic what would be the dual joysticks on a PS3 controller. I found that they weren't very responsive during games.
In order to replace the microSD card, you need to remove the battery cover. The microSD card can be swapped without pulling the battery, thankfully.