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.

Comments closed
    • aatu
    • 12 years ago

    Well, remains to be seen how much it costs and how long the battery lasts when gaming.
    (And what it really needs is a decent camera with xenon flash. Not a deal breaker, though.)

    And I don’t think this undermines their previous ad campaign. This is about bringing proper gaming to phones. And that’s what the controls are for.

    • cobalt
    • 12 years ago

    The lower touchpad isn’t redundant, it appears to be replacing traditional analog sticks, not the touchscreen. With on-screen touch controls only, you have to block the action with your fingers, and you don’t know how far you are from the null center.

    • entropy13
    • 12 years ago

    I personally prefer my PSPGo over the older PSP in terms of design and button placement though, so I’d welcome this if ever this pushes through.

    • darc
    • 12 years ago

    I’ve read elsewhere that the “leaked” photos were actually photoshop fakes.

    In any case, I think the design is a miss. Sliding a panel out the bottom of a landscape screen makes sense for a contiguous qwerty keyboard, but for a gaming interface it’s a no-brainer to split the mechanical controls into 2 panels, and have them slide out from behind either *side* of the landscape screen. Assuming said screen is touch-sensitive (why wouldn’t it be), that cheesy, redundant touchpad between the gamepads could be done away with entirely – a cost savings – with context-sensitive controls being implemented as needed on-screen.

    In other words, slide it closed, it’s an iPhone killer, slide it open, it’s a PSP2. The improvements in balance, ergonomics, and scale vs. the proposed PSPGo-esque design would be enormous.

    • cobalt
    • 12 years ago

    Not certain, but I interpreted that area in the middle as being a multi-touch based pair of analog sticks, and the things that look like holes are just anchor points for your fingers to find the center. (like the bumps on the F and J keys on a keyboard) I’m not sure how I feel about it without trying, since it ditches the resistance of a proper analog stick, but I’m open for some innovation if it works reasonably well. I still think they’re erroneously giving the D-pad priority in the layout, when the left analog control is vastly more used on modern games.

    • blastdoor
    • 12 years ago

    Exhibit one for why apple will not buy Sony.

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 12 years ago

    Sony should put their efforts in releasing 2.1 for the Xperia phones. It’s sad that I had to pay a premium price for this phone and still be using 1.6 donut when others are on 2.2.

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