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printed September 22, 2014
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Review: Sony Ericsson Xperia Play

Form Basics Extras Wrap-Up Comments  4  

Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's  

Screen

The Xperia Play offers a 4-inch capacitive display with 480 by 854 pixels. It doesn't look any better or any worse than the myriad similar displays found on most of today's Android handsets. It looks really great, but doesn't dazzle; it's bright, but not blinding; it's good enough for gaming, but would be better if it stepped up to qHD resolution. Perhaps most importantly, the display washes out almost entirely when out in the sun, making the Xperia Play difficult to use outdoors.

Signal

The Xperia Play is a 3G phone, and not a very good one. The Xperia Play showed significantly lower signal strength when next to other Verizon Wireless handsets. Throughout most of my testing, it rarely captured more than two bars of coverage. Calls connected most of the time, but not all the time. It lost the signal entirely in my basement and in the NJ vault test (my local Shop Rite), and in those places, it wouldn't connect calls. Thankfully, the Xperia Play didn't drop any calls (especially the one with my mortgage broker). Data sessions were also iffy. Most often, web pages were slow to load. Speedy web performance was hard to come by.

Sound

Quality of the calls that went through was actually quite good. Voices were clear in the earpiece, with little-to-no extraneous noise at all. The earpiece volume left a bit to be desired, though. Set to maximum, it would work well in a quiet home, but even a TV was enough to make phone calls hard to hear. The ringers were very loud, as were alert tones, and alarms. The speakerphone was plenty loud, but the vibrate alert was hardly strong enough to be felt in my pocket.

Battery

When the Xperia Play is used only as a smartphone, I was able to eke a full day's use out of it consistently. When I say use it as a smartphone, I mean you have to completely ignore the gaming functions. If you use it for calls, email, SMS/MMS, Twitter, Facebook, and light browsing, you should get through a day no problem. Extended gaming sessions, however, will chew through the battery in what feels like moments. Playing Crash Bandicoot, I was able to destroy the battery from a full charge in just three hours. Ouch. Game on, but only with the charger on.

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