The Xperia Play's form factor was the topic of an opinion-filled, entertaining and informative recent cyber-debate between Anand, fellow staffer Brian Klug, and myself. Anand, who briefly had the Xperia Play before transferring it to me, commented, "it may be light for a slider but I really wasn't pleased with the thickness or build quality for that matter, it all felt too thick and loose." I, on the other hand, was quite pleasantly surprised with its seemingly svelte shape and diminutive weight, both in an absolute sense and relative to the two other phones currently in my possession, an Apple iPhone 4 (Verizon) and a Google Nexus One (AT&T).

The table below shows how the three handsets stack up from a factor standpoint, along with a HTC Evo Shift (Sprint) that I recently had the opportunity to handle. For grins, I also included my previous work phone, a Motorola Droid whose design whose first production dated back to October 2009. And finally, I tossed in the slider that I owned prior to that; the very first Android handset, the T-Mobile G1 dating from October 2008:

Form Factor Comparison
  Weight (w/battery) Height Width Thickness
Sony Ericsson Xperia Play  (slider) 6.2 oz (175.0 g) 4.7 in (119.0 mm) 2.4 in (62.0 mm) 0.6 in (16.0 mm)
HTC Evo Shift (slider) 5.9 oz (167.3 g) 4.6 in (116.9 mm) 2.3 in (58.4 mm) 0.6 in (16.0 mm)
Apple iPhone 4 (slate bar) 4.8 oz (147 g) 4.54 in (115.2 mm) 2.3 in (58.66 mm) 0.37 in (9.3 mm)
Google Nexus One (aka HTC Passion) (slate bar) 4.6 oz (130 g) 4.7 in (119 mm) 2.35 in (59.8 mm) 0.45 in (11.5 mm)
Motorola Droid  (slider) 6 oz (169 g) 4.56 in (115.8 mm) 2.4 in (60 mm) 0.54 in (13.7 mm)
T-Mobile G1 (aka HTC Dream) (slider) 5.6 oz (158 g) 4.63 in (117.7 mm) 2.19 in (55.7 mm) 0.67 in (17.1 mm)

Here's how the Xperia Play looks when placed side-by-side with the Nexus One:

Anand's right, of course, the Xperia Play is thicker (and heavier) than either of the two phones I own. But as I note in the above table, that's largely because it's a 'slider' form factor; as such, it's identical in thickness to the HTC Evo Shift (and thinner than the geriatric G1). Whether or not Sony Ericsson was wise to devote the lower layer of the 'slider' to gaming-centric functions versus a generic physical keyboard (as with the HTC Evo Shift, Motorola Droid and T-Mobile G1) is a discussion that I'll save for later in this writeup. And to that point, keep in mind that the Xperia Play is notably thinner than a dedicated portable gaming console; the upcoming PlayStation Vita is 0.73 inches thick, for example, and the Nintendo 3DS is an even more bulbous 0.83 inches deep.

To me, part of the reason that the Xperia Play doesn't feel as bulky as its specs would otherwise suggest is because of its tapered shape, which results in its thickest-girth portions being in areas that are cradled by the palm of your hand but with a design that still allows it to lie flat when put down. Conversely, the 'industrial' design of the iPhone 4 seems bulkier to me than its specifications reveal to be the case; note that it's the thinnest of the bunch! More generally, by this point in time I tend to find that pretty much all smartphones are 'good enough' from both thickness and weight standpoints to comfortably fit not only in the hand but also in a shirt or pants pocket, with the possible exception of ultra-large-screen models such as the HTC Evo.

Overview Build Quality
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  • RoninX - Wednesday, August 10, 2011 - link

    Maybe they should just release a 3G/4G version of the Vita that makes calls.

    Then you would get by far the best portable gaming experience without having to carry two devices.
    Reply
  • SimKill - Wednesday, August 10, 2011 - link

    But then battery life would go to the dogs. Reply
  • etobare - Monday, August 8, 2011 - link

    There you make it sound as if xperia play didn't have access to android non-xperia play optimized games... i concur with much of the review but that may lead to confusion Reply
  • Mike1111 - Monday, August 8, 2011 - link

    A gaming smartphone with fewer, more expensive and worse looking games compared to iOS devices? Why even bother. It's a niche market at best. To have a chance in the mainstream market the successor must have PS Vita-like hardware, graphics and kick-ass games. And should Apple ever decide to make an adequate Bluetooth profile available for (analog) gamepads then the dedicated gaming smartphone market is dead anyway. Reply
  • lowlymarine - Monday, August 8, 2011 - link

    I just finished a run of BrowserMark on my Captivate (AT&T Galaxy S) and got a score of over 71,000. Admittedly I'm running at a fairly modest overclock of 1.2 GHz, but unless each one of those 200 MHz are imbued with pure magic, there's no way the likes of the Droid 3 and the Atrix should be doing worse. Similar with Sunspider - my 3193ms result (yes, on 0.9) beats out even the fastest device you've tested. I'm not using Firefox Mobile or something either; this is all with the stock AOSP browser.

    I'm just curious as to why there's the massive discrepancy in browser performance. My Linpack scores are, while still nearly 3 times what you've got for the SGS (largely attributable to the difference between Gingerbread and Eclair, I'm sure), no where near those of the dual-core powerhouses. I know the second core won't really help them on Sunspider et al., but certainly it shouldn't be hurting them?
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Monday, August 8, 2011 - link

    Are you using other/newer kernels and roms? They usually add nice boosts to those benchmarks by either having better drivers, better optimizations or just fewer active programs. :-) Reply
  • Vepsa - Monday, August 8, 2011 - link

    I considered getting a Xperia Play, but I decided against since I kinda like having more than 512MB of RAM on my phone. The bulk doesn't bother me and nor does the SoC since I have the same one in my Droid Incredible 2. If the phone had had 1GB of RAM & 2GB+ of app storage I would have probably gotten it. The only thing that will get more games made for them is if more are sold since its an open API. Reply
  • StormyParis - Monday, August 8, 2011 - link

    Did someone just receive a new digital camera ? Is there an epidemic of photographic logorrhea I'm not aware of ? Are Ars writers paid a lot more for each picture ? Or is it about the page views ?

    One could easily cut half the pictures in the article (first page), redo some (you can put 3 phones in a single picture for comparison, yessir....).

    This article is giving me a feeling akin to PCmag's infamous "slideshows"
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, August 8, 2011 - link

    Fixed :)

    We have no internal mandates for picture or page count, sometimes it's easier just to string a bunch of images together rather than toss them in a gallery but I've done the latter here at your request :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • StormyParis - Monday, August 8, 2011 - link

    Thanks. Am I the only one bothered when there are so many pics in an article ? because, frankly, the numerous screenshots and charts on the following pages also bother me. With Anandtech's already narrow, heavily paginated format, there's lots of scrolling involved already... I find more than 1 pic/page a pain, except when the pics are *really* needed... which they are not, for example, to report a *one-number* test result. It gets even worse when reading the article on my phone or tablet.

    Personally, I simply jumped to the conclusion after a few pages. I find the galleries you put in the first coupl of pages the best trade off: really motivated readers can see all the pictures, the rest of us can read the article without kilometers of scrolling. <ripoff source="Arrested Development ">It's a nice way to satisfy the "buy" crowd and the "curious" crowd, and we're all buy/curious </ripoff>
    Reply

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