May 21st, 2011 publishUpdated   Jan 16th, 2015, 9:05 pm

If you’ve been keeping up with Android news and release dates, you would know that the release of the Sony Xperia Play for Verizon is fast approaching us (May 26th to be exact). While attending Google I/O last week I was actually one of the lucky few who walked away with an Xperia Play. Since then, I’ve been getting loads of messages asking if the phone is worthy of a purchase and/or upgrade. After messing around with the device for about a week now, I am excited to finally bring you my review on Sony’s first gaming smartphone.

I have to say, I haven’t really heard too much buzz about the device other than the fabled PSP Phone that was rumored since before there was an actual PSP. But maybe it has something to do with the fact that the handset is not yet available in the U.S., or possibly because most of the uber-techie Android snobs already have their sights locked on some of the many dual-core options coming out later this year. I have to admit, I was on that boat as well. Don’t let the fact that the Xperia Play comes with a single-core processor dissuade you. I found it snappy and more than capable of handling all the 3D games from the Android Market I could throw at it. Not only that, in the UK version I’m reviewing, Sony’s Timescape UI thrown on top does nothing but enhance the user experience (note- the Verizon version delivers a stock, plain, vanilla Android Google experience). One thing you should know about me, I’ve always preferred the super, chunky monkey, rocky road, chocolate fudge brownie UI’s like that of HTC’s Sense with all the polish and added functionality that comes along with it.

Alright, before we jump into the video, lets start by listing off some quick specs of the phone for those that are curious (and for others to scoff at). It comes pretty much standard with what you expect from a mid-level-ish handset these days. A 4-inch, 800×480 Super LCD display is found on top along with a VGA front facing camera. On the back you have a 5MP camera that focuses and adjusts exposure during the LED flash and delivers perfectly exposed and clear photo snapping. Was very impressed.

Just underneath the handset’s “L and R” gaming buttons, there are 2 stereo speakers tucked away out of sight. Don’t forget the noise cancelling microphone on the back that lets you know Sony Ericsson didn’t cut any corners when it came to features on the device . Inside we find a 1GHz, 2nd generation Snapdragon processor that seems to be aging rather gracefully and a 1500mAh battery that delivers easily 9 hours+ of juice even with light gaming.

On the software side, we see that the handset is running the latest version of Android (for smartphones) 2.3.2 Gingerbread. Sony has also gone on the record as saying their Xperia line of phones will come with easily unlocked bootloaders and even provided links on their website for those that like to tinker around with that kind of stuff. I should also note that although generous of Sony Ericsson to include some free games pre-installed on the device, they CANNOT be uninstalled. This results in far less internal memory on the device for your own apps and games. Couple this with Verizon’s own bloatware and we’re talking maybe about 226MB of internal storage in the end making rooting of the device almost a necessity.

So, for the main event, lets just jump straight into my video review to see how I really felt about the world’s first Android gaming smartphone. Will it be another mid-level snoozer? Or will Sony’s latest offering turn out to be something truly unique in a world of smartphones not suitable for the gaming enthusiast?