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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  • The0ne - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - link

    One of my duty as an Engineer is to write for others be it technical people or non technical; I write a lot to be honest. But I do spend quite a bit of time choosing and modifying any graphics (charts included) to ensure they are essential in any document. Randomly using graphics is generally not a very good idea. The only reason I know of is to cater to people who love to have tons of graphic and who love to stare at them all day long. Thankfully, I don't care much about these type of people until they pay me or the company to do so, I guess :) hahaha

    I'll take an Anandtech review over any Dailytech "news" article. Now, those are just poorly written, especially by Jason Mick who seem to think the audience is a bunch of kids and resort to the numbering type news reporting.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, August 8, 2011 - link

    Let's try this again :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • vshah - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - link

    Are you confusing the two? you mention it has 512mb of RAM, and that when that drops, the phone complains about free space being low. I think you meant ROM, as android will almost never complain about RAM, it will just kill stuff in the background to free up more. Reply
  • vshah - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - link

    also, the large game installs would go to the 1 gig of flash storage, not the 512mb of RAM Reply
  • bdipert - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - link

    Great point, vshah, I did indeed intermingle RAM and ROM (aka local flash memory storage) observations. I'll go update the writeup now. Thank you! Reply
  • snajk - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - link

    I'll probably get one of these, not for the branded games but for using emulators. My current android works ok at this, but the controls are a pain to use even though I have a phone with a "D-pad". Why settle for a few old ps1 titles when you have all the old nes/snes/genesis/neogeo/mame games to choose from? Reply
  • eallan - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - link

    My main device is a GS2, but i also have one of these.

    They are absolutely perfect for emulation.

    So many super nintendo games, genesis games, even PSX games and N64. I'm pretty sure thats the best use of this phone.

    The dpad and buttons are truly excellent.
    Reply
  • BaCh - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - link

    Dear Mr. Anand, you should have spared a few words for its exceptional audio quality, as testified by both Gsmarena and Phonearena. Reply
  • PC_Jones - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - link

    The main reason for me getting a Play was so I wouldn't have to tote around a Wiimote if I ever wanted to play any SNES games on my phone with any accuracy. I'm surprised that the use of emulators wasn't discussed more in this article. Reply
  • The0ne - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - link

    I'm a retrogamer by heart. The problem with emulation is that most people don't own the games/roms they are using. I'm sorry, this is just the sad case. Retrogamers like myself, and even more hardcore, have games that we do own and setups to be able to play them with nostalgia.

    And while I would love to see a discussion about emulation on any platform it quickly becomes more of a "pirated" scene than anything. I collect classic games, it's sad for me to see people pirating them because they can.
    Reply

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