Published June 6, 2011
Usability, Calling / Data
The Verizon Wireless version of the Xperia PLAY features a stock version of the Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system. This, combined with a snappy, second-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon processor clocked at 1GHz, makes the PLAY fast and quick to use, with little or no lag for most functions.
While stock Gingerbread might not have the over-the-top look of custom interfaces like HTC's Sense UI and Samsung's TouchWiz, it is cohesive and easy enough to use. There are five homescreens available that a user can populate with shortcuts and widgets to personalize their experience. Android 2.3 Gingerbread's improved copy and paste works well, and the newer version of the Android keyboard is the best stock Android keyboard to date.
The PLAY does not feature any sort of integration with social networking services out of the box, though you can download the Android Twitter and Facebook apps from the Android Market to satisfy your social networking needs. I was able to get the Twitter app to integrate with the contact list in the phone, but I was not able to do this with the Facebook app. I am not sure why the option wasn't present in the app, as I have been able to easily sync Facebook data with my contacts with other Android phones (including ones that ran Android 2.3 Gingerbread).
Calling / Data
The Xperia PLAY is not a 4G phone, therefore it relies on a 3G CDMA radio and Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n) for data connectivity. The data performance with the PLAY was reliable in that it did not drop connections often. I did find that it was a bit slower than other Verizon 3G phones in the same areas when connected over 3G, which was a bit surprising.
It would have been nice to have seen a 4G option on the PLAY, as Verizon's 3G network, while reliable, is not known for blistering data speeds. Wi-Fi performance was as expected, and the capability to use a 802.11n network was a nice addition. The Xperia PLAY for Verizon Wireless does not have a GSM radio in it, so it can only be used in areas where there are CDMA networks available.
Calling performance with the PLAY was acceptable, if not out of the ordinary. Callers were easy to hear with both the earpiece and the speakerphone, and I was able to be heard clearly on the other end. The speakerphone did not get very distorted at full volume, either, as it does with most phones. I did not experience any dropped calls with the Xperia PLAY.
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