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Sony's PlayStation phone is for real

The folks at Engadget got their hands on an honest-to-goodness Sony Ericsson Xperia Play phone and ran it through its paces. Here's hoping Sony reveals even more details tonight.
The folks at Engadget got their hands on an honest-to-goodness Sony Ericsson Xperia Play phone and ran it through its paces. Here's hoping Sony reveals even more details tonight.Engadget

As gamers and Sony fans wait for official word on how the company plans to tackle an increasingly competitive handheld gaming market, tech blog Engadget has revealed an exclusive look at Sony's forthcoming game-savvy smart phone.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play phone has run rampant in the rumor mill for months now, but Engadget reports they have their hands on the elusive phone itself. And they've revealed what earlier rumors suggested: that the phone has a slide-out gamepad with four PlayStation style buttons, a pair of shoulder buttons, a touchpad as well as a set of directional gaming buttons. There are no apparent thumb sticks. 

The blog found the device comfortable to hold and better built than Sony's portable PSPgo. The phone will apparently come pre-loaded with a PlayStation Pocket app, a tool for managing downloaded games.

Of course, questions remain. Where will gamers get their downloadable games and how will that marketplace look? Not to mention, how much will the phone cost?

It's possible some of that information will be revealed as soon as this evening. Sony is expected to officially reveal their newest handheld gaming devices at a press event taking place in Japan tonight. (Stay tuned, as we'll be covering that news as it happens.) According to some reliable rumors, the company is planning to launch not only the Xperia Play but also a PlayStation Portable 2 gaming device — a sequel to the current PSP that is not a phone.

In its Xperia Play sneak peak, Engadget revealed the following geeky details about the Android phone with a 5-megapixel camera:

It's now clear that this HSDPA phone with Gingerbread will be marketed under the Xperia brand, with a hint of PlayStation here and there. In terms of specs, we can confirm that the Xperia Play has a 4-inch multitouch 854 x 480 LCD... both Quadrant and Android System Info indicate that there's a single-core processor inside that clocks from 122.88MHz to 1GHz (and note that the MSM8655 can even go up to 1.2GHz), and it's coupled with an Adreno 205 GPU. This combo, along with Gingerbread and the generous 512MB of RAM, scored a chart-topping 1,689 on Quadrant and an impressive 59fps on Neocore. Other benchmark scores include: about 35 MFLOPS on Linpack, and around 43fps on NenaMark (tying with the Tegra 2-packing LG Star).

Engadget reports that they couldn't get Wi-Fi to work on the phone but surmise that it was a driver issue that will presumably go away by launch.

They also found that, after using it as their main phone for a few days, "it's been very snappy and fairly stable for the majority of the time — we've only seen one reboot max per day."

And after playing some games on an emulator, they said they "all ran pretty well."

Engadget reminds readers that "what we're seeing here is subject to changes." They expect Sony to reveal many of the final details about the phone at the Mobile World Congress taking place in Spain in mid February.

Check out the entirety of Engadget's coverage and their many photos of the device here. And stay tuned to In-Game tonight for details out of Sony's event which begins 8:30 p.m. PST.

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Winda Benedetti writes about games  for You can follow her tweets about games and other things right here on Twitter.