Barcelona, Spain - Sony Ericsson expanded its Android
smartphone selection with the avowed intent of expanding its U.S. market share,
and it announced that Verizon Wireless would begin carrying its
PlayStation-certified Android-based game phone, the Xperia Play, in early
The game phone will be Sony Ericsson's
first phone for a U.S. CDMA carrier in years. The company left
the North American CDMA market in 2003.
Prices weren't announced.
Like the Xperia Arc announced at International
CES, the three new Xperia-series phones unveiled here at the Mobile World
Congress use the latest Android OS, called Honeycomb or 2.3. All three feature
The Xperia Neo and Arc, which is
the thinnest of the four at 8.7mm
at its thinnest part, will ship in global markets in March, and though
versions banded for U.S. 800/1900MHz HSPA networks have been developed. The
Xperia Pro, also planned for U.S. 850/1900MHz HSPA networks, will be available
globally at the end of Q2. U.S. consumers will be able to enjoy the Neo, Arc,
and Play "in the next few weeks," a spokesman said during a launch event here.
Although the Pro and Neo were
promoted by brand and strategy head Cathy Davies as "business-ready," in part
because of Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, the Pro is optimized for email and
chat, thanks to a slide-from-the-side keyboard, preloaded Office Suite Pro to
view and edit documents, a split email user interface that displays an inbox on
one side of the screen and previews emails on the other side, and a smart
keyboard that automatically opens up a dialog box to reply when opened when the
email app is in use.
All Xperia models are also positioned
"as the most entertaining smartphones," said Rikko Sakaguchi, Sony Ericsson
executive VP. But the Play will be the first-ever smartphone to deliver "an
immersive game experience," thanks to PlayStation certification approved by
Sony Computer Entertainment, said Sony Ericsson president/CEO Bert Nordberg.
The Play is the first phone with PlayStation
certification and licensing; certification is open to all phone makers.
The Play features a slide-out PlayStation game
controller and ability to play select PlayStation titles "as originally
designed" for Android smartphones, said executive Dominic Neil-Dwyer. More than
50 PlayStation titles will be available at launch for the device from such
companies as Electronic Arts, Gameloft and Glu Mobile. The titles will include
Guitar Hero and Battlefield. Mobile-dedicated games will also be enhanced for
the phone, including Electronic Arts' Fifa with multiplayer gaming.
Initially, classic PlayStation
games will be available for download from Google's Android Marketplace, and the
phone will ship with one preloaded classic PlayStation 1 title, but Sony Ericsson
will launch toward the end of the year a PlayStation Network store to download "richer"
games, said Sakaguchi.
The Play features a 4-inch
screen, compared with the Arc's 4.2-inch screen and the 3.7-inch screens of the
Pro and Neo. All four new Android phones, however, feature 854 by 480-pixel
multi-touch touchscreen with Sony's proprietary Reality Display and Mobile
Bravia Engine, 1GHz processor, DLNA certification, Wi-Fi, assisted GPS,
included 8GB MicroSD card, HDMI output, HD video capture and Sony Exmor R CMOS
sensor for low-light photography. All have an 8.1-megapixel camera except for
the Play, which features a 5.1-megapixel camera. The Play, however, adds Wi-Fi
hot spot capability.
Like other Sony Ericsson phones, all four
phones feature Sony Ericsson's Timescape UI, which consolidates all types of
messages with a particular person, whether SMS, email, Facebook, Twitter or pictures,
the company said.
Other features common to all four
phones include stereo Bluetooth and Adobe Flash (Flash Lite for the Play). All
but the Play have FM radio.