Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY 4G Review

Introduction and Design

Although it’s no longer considered to be at the head of the class, like where it was when it first launched, AT&T’s Sony Ericsson Xperia Play 4G manages to differentiate itself with its “stealth blue” paint job and 4G HSPA+ “with enhanced backhaul” connectivity. At its core, it’s still that fun loving gaming centric smartphone that we know and love – though, it’s priced competitively at $49.99 with a 2-year contract.


Preserving the same “human curvature” design style of the other variants, there’s nothing relatively new about the Xperia PLAY 4G. In fact, this mostly glossy plastic smartphone employs a decent build quality, but it easily stands out being thicker than most contemporary smartphones.

You can compare the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play 4G with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

We’re content with the 4” LCD display it’s sporting since it’s able to exhibit some good viewing angles and warm looking colors, which are crucial as we’re tilting the phone while gaming away. Furthermore, its 480 x 854 resolution is seemingly detailed enough to stand up with most tasks – though, its brightness output is still on the reserved side.

Sliding up the handset to reveal its PlayStation fashioned gaming pad. We’re able to easily get acquainted with its layout – however, it still might prove too cramped for casual gamers. The directional pad and iconic PlayStation buttons are responsive, but it requires some adjusting with the touch sensitive dual-sticks.

As we mentioned, it’s the same handset as we’ve seen before – meaning, we find all of its ports and buttons in their same locations. There’s the 5-megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash in the rear, while a front-facing one is perched above the display. Lastly, removing its plastic cover provides access to its microSD card slot, 1,500 mAh battery, and SIM card slot.

Interface and Functionality:

Internally, this gaming conscious smartphone is powered by the combination of its 1GHz Snapdragon processor with Adreno 205 GPU and 512MB of RAM. Even though it’s no longer considered to be the fastest thing on the block, we’re content by its responsive operation in handling basic and advanced tasks.

Rather than finding a stock Android 2.3 Gingerbread experience, like what’s found with Verizon’s version, the Xperia PLAY 4G chooses to use the Sony Ericsson UX Android interface used by the original European GSM model. Naturally, there are plenty of eye-catching visuals with its presentation to perfectly accompany a “PlayStation phone,” but we’re still presented with all of the rich aspects of Android in general.

On the gaming side, the handset’s focus is profoundly felt, as we’re able to play games like Asphalt 6, Crash Bandicoot, Dungeon Defenders: Second Wave, Madden NFL 2011, Star Battalion, TBloxx My City, and The Sims 3. Being a PlayStation certified device, it can run some exclusive titles, including original PS1 games. Thanks primarily to its gaming pad, the experience is undeniably suitable as we’re able to play all games with a great deal of responsiveness.

Camera and Multimedia:

It’s hard to say why, especially when the original model fared well in snapping photos, but we’re not impressed by the results offered to us by the Xperia PLAY 4G. Specifically, images are muddy looking, lack distinguishable details, and indoor shots tend to be fuzzy looking.

Still lacking 720p video capture, there’s nothing pretty with the VGA (640 x 480) videos that it’s able to shoot. Although we like its clear audio recording and smooth capture, details are lacking tremendously.

Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY 4G Sample Video:

Using the same music player found with other Xperia devices, it’s straightforward and to the point with its layout – though, it retains the same 10 equalizer settings as before. Clear and crisp sounding, we’re content with the tunes being blasted by the handset’s stereo speakers.

Again, the handset flexes its muscles, as it’s able to perfectly play a video encoded in DivX 1280 x 720 resolution without any hiccups.

Internet and Connectivity:

Finding the “4G” branding in its name, data speeds aren’t all that different from 3G devices as we’re able to get average results of 4Mbit/s down and 1.5Mbits/s up. With the overall web browsing experience, it’s able to handle Flash heavy sites with relative ease.

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Global traveler can jet their way to any part of the globe with this GSM smartphone, since it’ll work with most networks abroad. Meanwhile, it packs other connectivity features like 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and aGPS.


Through its earpiece, we can hear some static noise, but it’s not prevalent enough to mask voices through it entirely. On the other end, our callers didn’t have any issues as they’re greeted with audible and distinct voices. Lastly, the speakerphone’s volume is decent enough in tone to make out conversations, but voices have a tendency to sound squeaky.

Using the handset in high coverage areas, it’s able to retain a solid connection in the greater Philadelphia region.

Battery life is more than acceptable while using it primarily for web browsing, emailing, texting, and the occasional phone call. In fact, we’re able to easily get by one day out of normal usage on a single charge.


Gaming enthusiast will no doubt love the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY 4G as it’s a suitable gaming device that intricately presents us with a fantastic gaming experience. Add the lovable elements of any Android smartphone, we essentially have something that’ll keep us preoccupied during some down time. However, the best thing going for the handset is the $49.99 on-contract price it’s flaunting, which packs a lot of value for the buck. Sure it’s classified as a mid-range device nowadays, but it’s able to work well while offering a satisfying gaming experience.

Software version of the reviewed unit:
Android Version: 2.3.3
Kernel Version:
Build Number: 3.0.1.B.0.270

Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY 4G Video Review:


  • $50 cost
  • Great gaming experience


  • Lacks detail with its photos
  • No 720p video capture

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

2 Reviews

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