Concept Sony phone has slide-out PSP-style controls

You might have seen Sony's recent ad campaign—you know, the one that ridicules smartphone gaming and promotes the PSP as a genuine handheld gaming platform. Deep inside its labs, however, Sony is attempting to bridge the gap between grandma-texting devices and portable gaming systems. Engadget has the scoop:

It's hard to believe that what we're looking at is real -- but we assure you, the picture above is in fact the PlayStation Phone you've long been waiting for. As we reported back in August, the device you see is headed into the market soon, likely boasting Android 3.0 (aka Gingerbread), along with a custom Sony Marketplace which will allow you to purchase and download games designed for the new platform.

Based on Engadget's photos, this "PlayStation phone" looks like a regular Android touch-screen smartphone with a slide-out d-pad and PlayStation-style buttons. Those two holes in the middle might be for analog sticks. Engadget says the device will feature a 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8655 system-on-a-chip, 512MB of RAM, and a display "in the range of 3.7 to 4.1 inches."

Considering how popular smartphone gaming is becoming, and how today's phones can churn out gorgeous real-time 3D graphics, Sony is probably wise not to put all its chips on the PSP. Also, offering proper gaming controls on a phone could be a good thing. Touch screens work well enough, but they're not quite as precise or as comfortable. The big question, I suppose, is how many developers will be willing to add support for this control scheme to their Android games.

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