You’re probably thinking, ‘oh no, not this again.’ And we’ll admit, the rumour mill has been hard at work for too long for the first real confirmation of a Sony PlayStation phone.
Well, the wait may be finally coming to end - if fresh reports of Sony Ericsson working on an Android 3.0 powered PlayStation smartphone prove to be true, that is. Here’s ten features we’d like most like to see from this hotly anticipated gadget.
1 Dedicated physical controls
Sony’s PlayStation phone, in whatever shape or form it may arrive, must have dedicated hard controls or face collective rejection by the millions of dedicated gamers out there. While touchscreen gaming has certainly gained popularity with the iPhone, there is simply no substitute for physical buttons when it comes to playing a shooter or action title.
The handset needs to emulate the PSP and at the very least have a dedicated directional pad onboard, plus a minimum of one analogue stick, two shoulder buttons and the trademark PlayStation face buttons to ensure full compatibility with existing titles.
2 PlayStation Store app
Sony has a massive advantage on its side as it gears up to launch its first dedicated gaming phone. It already has a vast library of games released over five years on the PSP, which in my opinion, outshines the majority of games found on any smartphone platform. Sony only needs to provide the means by which consumers can get their hands on these titles.
Enter PlayStation Store. This is essentially the PlayStation counterpart to Apple’s App Store. All Sony needs to do is create a dedicated PlayStation Store app that comes pre-installed with the device and provides the same functionality and content found on the PSP version, and voila. Sony will have, out of the gate, the best gaming phone to ever grace the market.
3 Great graphics chip
The quality of the existing PlayStation catalogue also means Sony’s handset will need to push more polygons than any smartphone out there. And to do that, the phone must come equipped with a graphics processor that can deliver a solid 60 frames per second in Riiiidge Racer without so much as breaking a sweat.
4 PS3/PSP compatibility
Having released multiple home consoles and several iterations of a dedicated gaming handheld, Sony already has PlayStation hardware nestled in the hands and living rooms of millions of consumers out there. The PlayStation phone needs to take advantage of this by offering full compatibility with the PS3 and PSP. This means, being able to transfer movies, music and games directly between the devices. PSP is able to receive an automatically formatted movie from a PS3 Blu-ray disc. The PlayStation phone needs features like this and more to entice gamers and movie-fans alike.
5 Remote Play
One of the most innovative, yet underrated features of the PSP is Remote Play, which allows the handheld to connect via the Internet to a PS3 system across the world and stream music, movies and even compatible games that are stored in the console’s hard-drive. It can also be used to access the PS3’s PlayStation Store to download new content and have it ready for you when you get home.
The Sony Ericsson Aino, which already had this feature, tanked badly. But with a PlayStation phone capable of both gaming and a 3G connection, Sony could finally position this feature as a unique selling point.
6 Great build quality
Sony Ericsson is generally well regarded for the build quality of its handsets, but it will have to up its game this time to compete against the likes of Apple, HTC and Samsung. The PlayStation phone needs to be sturdy enough to withstand hours of button mashing on God of War and Tekken. It needs to have a screen that’s actually good for gaming outside. And it needs to be portable and look great, too.
Sony has a good track record of slimming down bulky products. A slightly slicker version of the PSPgo that doesn’t veer off too much into the direction of the infamous N-Gage will do the PlayStation phone just nicely.
7 Attractive price point
All right, maybe this is technically not a feature but we think it’s still too important to ignore. It’s not going to matter how good a product is if it costs an arm and a leg. Better products, including many of Sony’s own (I’m looking at you Betamax), have failed in the past because of the price tag and that’s something Sony needs to keep in mind in developing its PlayStation phone.
If Sony Ericsson can keep costs down and price the handset competitively against the iPhone and high-end Android smarties, it will have a genuine chance of being commercially successful.
8 Trophies, friends and PSN
We reckon this could be the killer feature that would set the PlayStation phone apart from any handheld gaming device out there. Microsoft has already integrated Xbox Live features into its upcoming Windows Phone 7 operating system and Apple has also announced plans to release a match-making/achievement system in the form of Game Center, which is slated for launch later this year.
Sony can’t afford to let Apple and Microsoft get the upper hand in this area, especially as it already has an infrastructure in place called the PlayStation Network that could blow the competition out of the water. Give PlayStation phone users the ability to connect with friends, unlock trophies and play each other online over PSN and watch Steve Jobs and Ballmer tremble in fear.
9 Memory matters
With so many games, movies and music to download, the PlayStation phone will need all the gigabytes it can handle. Sony had the right idea with the PSP Go but it suffered due to being too expensive for a gaming device only. However, as a phone AND a gaming device packing 16 to 32GB of onboard memory, and a hot-swappable memory card slot for even more, there will be no excuse for consumers to not pick up this kit.
10 3D is the future
3D is the big buzz right now and Sony knows this more than anyone. The electronics giant is already pushing the technology with its television range and the PS3 as well with both Blu-ray movies and some major games franchises currently in development.
Nintendo announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) that it’s developing its own 3D handheld, the 3DS. And with reports of Samsung also working on a 3D smartphone, Sony can’t miss this prime opportunity to 1up both its rivals by releasing its own 3D gaming smartphone.