Sony Ericsson Xperia Play finally launches

What? You thought it had been launched already? Actually no, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play has just had the official unveiling, with Sony Ericsson detailing what was originally known as the PlayStation Phone at a press event.

The idea is high-end smartphone meets console-style gaming, with that slide-out gaming control being something of a first, offering up a phone that doesn't just play games, it's been designed specifically for the world of mobile gaming. More on that later, but first, let's look at the basics.

An Android smartphone, it will run Android Gingerbread 2.3, with a heavyweight (and 'optimised') Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with a 1Ghz CPU within, along with an embedded Adreno GPU graphics processor for 'silky smooth' (according to SE) 60fps play-back 3D mobile gaming and web browsing with minimal power consumption. Which means more battery life and more gaming. There's also a 5-megapixel camera with all the usual features and a 4-inch multi-touch screen.

All well and (very) good, but the big news here is that the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is the first PlayStation Certified device. That means it will have access to PlayStation game content provided through the PlayStation Suite initiative, currently under development and due to launch later this calendar year. Obviously that indicates that the phone will launch ahead of the PlayStation Suite - the handset actually due to be on the shelves in March, which is just a couple of weeks off.

In the meantime, you'll be able to download optimised games via the Android Marketplace, including some big-hitters in the gaming world, the likes of EA's Need For Speed, Sims 3 and a world-first multiplayer version of FIFA 10, along with Guitar Hero, Assassin's Creed and Splinter Cell. Sony Ericsson is apparently also partnering with Unity Technologies for what's described as a 'continuous flow of high quality 3D game titles'. We'll see if that holds true in the coming months. A pre-loaded application will allow you to easily find and download titles that have been optimised for game play on Xperia Play too.

No firm network dates and prices as yet, but with Sony Ericsson talking up that launch date, we expect those to be here in the coming days. This is, without doubt, a huge launch, with the handset likely to be available across all the networks - and, we suspect, coming with a premium price when it does land. That's before you start splashing out for the games too, which are unlikely to be free.

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