The Sony Ericsson PSP phone is probably the only mobile product in history to have been rumored for a longer period of time than the Apple iPad. That’s no small feat to accomplish.
And while the PSP phone of 2007 is clearly a dead project, the rumors have started again. This time, there are many details, so this actually has a good chance of being true.
It goes like this. Sony Ericsson are hard at work developing a gaming platform on top of Android 3.0. This will come with its own ecosystem and, apparently, a device.
The phone is described as being a cross between the Samsung Captivate and the PSP Go.
The above image is obviously a crude mockup, but you get the idea. A side-slider that reveals dedicated gaming controls instead of a QWERTY keyboard. The d-pad is present, as well as the PSP buttons and shoulder buttons, but a “long touchpad” will replace the traditional joystick.
The phone will have a touchscreen display between 3.7″ and 4.1″ in size, diagonally, with at least WVGA (480×800) resolution. The camera is probably going to be 5 megapixels, but that is subject to change before release. The most likely SoC to power the thing will be none other than Qualcomm’s now-famous Snapdragon solution, clocked at 1 GHz.
Design-wise, there’s a lot of black, some silver highlights, and the gamepad area will be mostly white.
Right now it carries Xperia branding, but when it launches it might also have PlayStation written on it. That certainly wouldn’t be surprising, given Sony Ericsson’s recent history of loving very long names (see Xperia X10 Mini Pro, for example).
The PSP phone will run Android 3.0 Gingerbread with a phone-specific skin and the Android Market on it will have a special category of compatible games. These games may be made available for other Android smartphones as well, if they meet the minimum hardware requirements and have the needed button placement.
Graphically, the games will be in PSP or PSX territory, meaning that full 3D gaming is coming to Android. Future plans for games even include augmented reality features built in.
The phone and games ecosystem may be introduced as early as October, but that’s not confirmed yet, and frankly seems a bit hard to believe. It’s unclear at this point if Google will have finalized Android 3.0 by then, and let’s not forget that Sony Ericsson Android smartphones are currently all stuck on Android 1.6 even if there are already two newer versions available. So Sony Ericsson aren’t really the fastest when it comes to software.
This strategy does make sense, for both Google and Sony Ericsson. Google need a great gaming experience on Android to finally be able to match Apple’s last big platform advantage, and Sony Ericsson need, well, anything that could possibly gain a lot of traction. After their experiences with smartphones in the past year, if they do this right, it may be a much needed breath of fresh air.
However, no matter how good the source, I still find this hard to believe. After more than three years of PSP phone-related speculation, it seemed like such a thing would never exist. And now it turns out it may, and even this year?
Interesting, yes. Can Sony Ericsson pull off the hardware side? Sure. No one really understands why they haven’t tried something like this before. But software… I’ll believe it when their current flagship smartphone, the Xperia X10, gets at least Android 2.2 on board. Because as of now, they’ve scheduled the update to Android 2.1 in Q4.
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