Sony Ericsson’s big news from Barcelona is obviously the Xperia Play, the mysterious and oft-rumoured PSP-phone. But they’ve also announced two new additions to the Xperia line - the Pro and the Neo. Between today’s new phones and the Xperia Arc from CES, SE has a complete stable of new devices to take on the rest of the smartphone world.

Interestingly, Sony has kept things very constant throughout the lineup; all three phones announced today run the same 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8255 processor and Adreno 205 GPU as the Arc, as well as Android 2.3 with Sony’s Timescape UI on top of it. In addition, all four devices have 854x480 resolution screens, which was likely done to keep the UI consistent across all devices regardless of screen size.

The Neo and Pro are a pair of 3.7” handsets that have nearly identical spec sheets. The Neo slots in beneath the Arc in the Xperia lineup, with a smaller display than the 4.2” Arc, though sharing the same Mobile Bravia Engine as it’s larger and (presumably) more expensive brethren (no pricing has been announced yet for either device). Both devices have an 8.1 megapixel camera with Exmor R, which is what Sony calls backside illuminated sensor technology. The Pro adds a landscape sliding keyboard to give the Xperia line a messaging-centric device, but is otherwise basically the same as the Neo.

But let’s talk about this PSP phone deal. They may be calling it the Xperia Play, but take one look at the slide-out gaming keypad, and you know what it really is. Overall, the design looks like a sleeker and more streamlined version of the PSP Go, with optical thumbpad analogs in the middle and the classic PlayStation action buttons. The underlying hardware is identical to the rest of the Xperia line, so the Play makes do with the 1GHz Scorpion core and Adreno 205. This is a pretty big statement about how far Qualcomm graphics have come since the Adreno 200 a generation ago. The Play has a 4” screen with the same FWVGA resolution as the rest of the Xperias, along with a 5.1 MP autofocus camera and Android 2.3. So the hardware is pretty standard, but the Play is the first PlayStation Certified device, so it will have access to PlayStation gaming content through Sony’s new PlayStation Suite. It’s a pretty impressive set up actually, with a long list of game developers and game titles available at launch. We’re talking Need For Speed, FIFA 10, Sims 3, Guitar Hero, Asphalt, Assasin’s Creed, and Splinter Cell. Between EA, Gameloft, Namco, Unity and all the other game developers, to go along with SCEA themselves, there’s going to be a lot of high quality games out for PlayStation Suite. If you’re into mobile gaming, Sony has just launched your ultimate device, no questions asked.

For the first time in a while, Sony Ericsson’s smartphone lineup has some clarity. There’s a high end smartphone in the Arc, a smaller and slightly downmarket version in the Neo, a messaging/email-centric device in the Pro, and then the gaming-focused Play. All four share similar hardware and software, but manage to effectively cater to different audiences.

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  • B3an - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    This is the opposite from there last screw up... With SE's first android phone, the Xperia X10, they had the hardware, but lacked the software (dated android 1.6 and it took them ages to update to 2.1)

    Now they have it around the other way. The hardware is obsolete before it's even released but the software is up to date.
    Theres all these other phones appearing with dual core CPU's and far better GPU's. I would have atleast expected the see the Play have a much better GPU. Phones out right now have better GPU's, and you can get emulators for them that run Playstation games.
  • fshaharyar - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    my friend before you comment take a look at this and then decide it SE has an obsolete hardware or not.
  • CharonPDX - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Uh, yeah, I'd say it is:">Link:
    Samsung's Hummingbird with PowerVR SGX540 is expected to beat Adreno 205 by a small margin, however

    And the Hummingbird shipped with the Samsung Galaxy-S six months ago.

    We're on to dual-core A9's now, not single-core A8s. Yeah, the GPU half may be "nearly as fast" as six month old mobile GPUs, but the CPU is obsolete now, and the GPU will be obsolete soon after release - if not on day of release.

    But, the iOS platform has been very popular for gaming, with slower CPU and GPU, so we'll see how well the PlayStation name does for Sony. That alone could make it a big seller. (See Nintendo Wii for more evidence of lesser specs selling well.)
  • VivekGowri - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Here's the thing though - the hardware is powerful enough to be a successful gaming platform, even if it's not the most powerful thing on the block. The Xperia Play is about the gaming content and being a vessel to bring the PlayStation Suite to the market. The SoC isn't a big deal, the hardware is no great shakes, it's probably the most rock solid platform they could find. The gamepad and PSP-phone rep are what will sell the Xperia Play, as well as the more extensive game library.
  • Aloonatic - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    It's powerful enough to be a successful gaming platform now, but that's not going to last for long, which I think is the point.

    Sony may release some great games, but games are being released on Android and IOS, no doubt WinMO7, too so they must be super dooper confident in the quality of their content if they think that people are going to buy into the xperia play, when games will be being written to run on more powerful handsets, which will probably look better.

    Yes, visuals aren't everything, but they do play a big part, and anyone wanting to advertise the games available on their phones in the next 6 months will have a pretty open goal left by Sony's hardware decision.

    Maybe developers will have the final say, but will they really want to be "constricted" by this hardware for the next couple of years? Maybe they will, and will be happy to draw a line in the sand. It seems that every week there is a more powerful phone out now, and an even more powerful one just around the corner.

    My main concern is that if I wanted to play games on the move, and pay a premium to do so, I'll probably buy a 3DS and keep my phone, or even if I am a Sony Playstation loyalist, I might well be tempted to get a PSP2, else the free or cheap games that I can get on my Android phone now are sufficient for the small about of time that I play, and I think that I am probably typical, but maybe I'm not.

    What sort of service and content Sony release is going to be a big part of this, and god knows they haven't exactly spent a lot of time on supporting their last/current generation xperia products, so from a glass half full point of view, maybe they've got something good planned.
  • EclipsedAurora - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    Man, did u consider power consumption?

    The Qualcomm MSM8255 is one of the most power saving performance grade single core CPU currently in the market.
  • Samus - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    it just goes to show how air-headed some AT readers are when just focused on raw power. this is a mobile device, it must be power efficient, and the 205 should offer graphic performance on par with the PSP Go.

    power consumption/performance seem to have been well considered by Sony Ericsson.
  • Voldenuit - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    As someone mentioned in the N8 thread, smartphones are content delivery mediums, not code execution devices (paraphrase).

    We don't spend hours running Linpack on our smartphones. If the phone has the software library and the ability to run it, that's more important than e-penis.

    There may be other reasons the particular configuration was chosen - power, heat, packaging, etc. Or it's also possible that the extra time and effort needed to test and certify these devices meant going with a less cutting edge solution. I'd prefer a stable and reliable device to one that was rushed out without adequate testing myself.
  • B3an - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    Well at the end of the day a lot more people would have been happy if these phones had something like the Tegra 2 SoC in them, or atleast with the Play. Even if most people dont know what a Tegra 2 is they would see a clear improvement visually and it more than easily run PS2 games, even at the higher native res of the phones screen.

    nVidia's backing and developer relations could have helped the Play as well, and Google use the SoC as a reference system, so it cant be bad. If it meant delaying these phones by a couple of months or so, then i dont see that as a problem.

    The only reason i can see SE using this obsolete tech is to keep the retail cost down for the Play.
  • medi01 - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    Since when performance is the most important property of a phone please?
    What are we supposed to do with it (cough, multicore)? Do super duper computationaly expensive menu animations? Encode videos?

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