Sony Ericsson today announced three new smartphone handsets, including the much anticipated Xperia Play that will launch globally from the end of March.
Around 800 journalists from around the world attended the Sony Ericsson conference ahead of the official beginning of the 2011 Mobile World Congress.
The Xperia Play was described by Sony Ericsson head of marketing Steve Walker as the “most anticipated launch” in Sony Ericsson history, which will be available from March across Europe and the US.
After rumours began at the end of 2010, along with the teaser advert shown during the Superbowl, Sony Ericsson reported 90 million searches on its own website for ‘Playstation Phone’.
The device will be available in the UK during March on “all major” operators and is expected to be free on £40 per month contracts, Sony Ericsson said.
The Xperia Play was officially unveiled by Sony Ericsson president and chief executive Bert Nordberg.
The device, which uses a slide down Playstation style control pad, is the first ‘Playstation Certified’ product to be launched and has agreed partnerships with 20 major gaming companies including Electronic Arts, Gameloft, Glu and Camelot.
At least 50 games will be available for download at launch it said, with more being added on a weekly basis. Games at launch will include Guitar Hero, FIFA 2011 and Dungeon Fields. Games will be available for download via the Android Playstation Suite which launches later this year. Five pre-installed games will be on the device understood to include The Sims 3 and Fifa 11. Games will typically cost around £5.
The device will also be the first smartphone handset to offer multi player gaming.
Nordberg said: “This is a truly amazing smartphone built on the latest Gingerbread platform and is able to do everything you’d expect from an Xperia device.
“But it’s much more than a smartphone, it’s the worlds first ever Playstation Certified device.
“It’s the perfect combination of communication and gaming”
Walker added: “Since the start of the joint venture (Sony and Ericsson) 10 years ago, people have been dreaming about the Xperia Play.”
Sony Ericsson discussed the Xperia Arc, which was announced at CES in Las Vegas last month, before announcing the Neo and Pro. These will also be available during March, on contract.
The Xperia Neo, which will use the Android Gingerbread (2.3) operating system, features include HD video recording, HDMI output, Bravia Engine and an 8-megapixel Exmore R camera sensor.
The device also includes a number of new software feature including a ‘pinch and drop’ feature to organise folders on the device.
Users can also access the contents of their device, such as its gallery, on a HD television. Users can also now navigate the screen using the TV remote control arrow buttons.
The Xperia Pro device includes the same features and software but with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Sony Ericsson said the device was inspired by its X10 Mini Pro handset.
The device has been designed for “faster” messaging, and includes a split screen to view highlighted emails (emails on left, message body on the right) that allows users to slide left and right to increase the message view pane, or the message view.
It also uses, what it calls, “smart keyboard” which uses “intelligence” to recognise what the user is looking to do when opening the keyboard, such as replying to an email.
“Whatever you want to do next, Xperia Pro knows” said a spokesperson. “We have combined hardware with software to give a perfect experience for the user.”
Both the Pro and Neo are “business ready”, Sony Ericsson said.
Sony Ericsson UK and Ireland managing director Nathan Vautier also confirmed the new handsets will feature as part of its biggest ever marketing campaign, but refused to discuss figures.
A full review of the 2011 Mobile World Congress will feature in the next issue of Mobile News, February 28.