Every smartphone that isn’t the iPhone has to offer something the iPhone does not. For some, it’s a larger screen (or even a 3d one); for others, it’s a slide-out hardware keyboard. But Sony has taken advantage of Google’s open-source Android operating system to make some truly interesting phones, that have unique features you’re not likely to see from Apple anytime soon.
The Xperia Play
The Sony-Ericsson Xperia Play is the world’s first “PlayStation Certified” smartphone. That means it has access to an Android Market app which allows it to connect to the PlayStation Network. But more than that, it can also buy PlayStation games … and it has the controller to play them.
Unlike many Android phones, which have slide-out keyboards, the Xperia Play is the first to include a slide-out game controller. And while it lacks analog sticks, or even the nub used on the PlayStation Portable, it has dual analog touchpads, with a raised dot in the middle of each to help you center your thumbs.
Add in a D-pad, face keys and shoulder buttons, and you’re ready to take on the hottest new Android games that support the Xperia Play’s controller, along with select PlayStation classics. The Xperia Play even comes with seven free games, like Crash Bandicoot and The Sims 3.
Sony has promised more PlayStation-certified Android phones in the future, so this is apparently a big thing for them. The only real cause for concern is the upcoming PlayStation Vita, formerly known as the NGP. The Vita will be a separate handheld game console, which will have 3G wireless Internet access but will not be powered by Android. Furthermore, if you’ve already bought PlayStation Network games, don’t expect to be able to run them on an Xperia Play … or any other Android smartphone.
The Xperia Active
The “Active” in the Xperia Active smartphone’s name means that it’s designed for the sporty type. It comes with built-in apps like a compass and a barometer, plus it has accessories like a wrist strap, armband, and “handsfree active headset.” And did I mention it’s waterproof and has a scratch-resistant screen? At three inches across, that screen’s not even as big as my HTC Aria’s, but the Xperia Active may still be just the thing for a particularly active Android smartphone fan.
The biggest problem? There’s no word on price yet, and the Xperia Active Android smartphone will only be available in “selected markets” in the third quarter of 2011. So if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, keep your elbow pads on and your fingers crossed.