Tuesday 10 July 2012

Letter to Sony (Ericsson)

Dear Sony (Ericsson),
Although Ericsson is no longer with Sony, I would like to address some of my thoughts and xperiences on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play. I've had the phone for almost half a year now. About a month ago my friend the Chief Editor of Gametrender.net (might not be the exact title) had issues with his Xperia Play. He sent it in to Sony and they said they couldn’t cover the phone because the phone had water damage. My friend was unaware of and doubts that that type of damage exists. He now has a non Sony Smartphone. There's quite a lot to cover so my thoughts may be random and unorganized. As I think of more things that I may had left out on accident, I may update them into the article.

1)The worst spec I could think about the phone is the Internal Memory
. Internal memory is even used by apps installed on the SD card. Even if the SD card isn’t full, the Internal Memory may be full, not allowing you to install more apps onto neither the SD Card or the Phones memory. Did anyone really test this out and thought that the internal memory was enough? (especially after default software was installed)

2)2nd Worst spec for my preference, is the lagging camera. Takes time to start up, to load between pictures(might be average), to look at the gallery quickly while taking pictures(to delete or view). Camera has a lot of issues. Recording sometimes skips audio. During recording it sometimes turn the screen all black(camera turns off during this process without me telling it to). Sometimes that last problem turns to Force Close. What the heck? I’m recording...or trying to record...i pressed record already. Oh and the phone has inconsistent speed on when it starts recording once you press the record button(might depend on available RAM at the moment). The problem isn’t just the lag anymore. Right after recording, I realized that the new recorded video was corrupted. This event also corrupted some of my older recordings. Corrupt files becomes pink lines as a video. I might had been trying to look at the file as it was saving, or pressed "return" or "home" or tried to record another, but I don't think that justifies the messed up files. The smartphone shouldn't let me take actions that could corrupt it(I did "not turn off the power" while saving was in progress). I no longer get pink files after I got a new memory card. And I almost never get corrupted files any longer.

My Former Phone (this whole section is on it, brags and compares)

I came from a Sony Cybershot C905a so I may be biased with higher standards of camera capabilities, but it’s also an older phone, (at least 2 years which is a lot in phone years if I’m not mistaken.) I don’t expect the Play to take pictures as great as the C905a(although the Play does take extremely better videos when not skipping and has less blur in its pics). But we are not suppose to be in the “Beta” testing stages any longer. Make phones with good camera loading times. Or make a Camera with phone capabilities. Smartphones are suppose to be awesome. Is a little camera power that problematic and lagging? I admit that Over the Years, Phones haven’t gotten that far in the camera department vs other features. I know it’s a phone and not a camera, but if it has a camera feature, that camera feature shouldn’t be so glitchy or glitchier than nonsmartphones.  My C905 started deteriorating a little after about 1 year of ownership. Just in time for my 1 1/2 year waiting period to be up for an upgrade. A screw came out under the cover. And the clear piece that covered the speaker(s) between the two buttons on top of the screen came off. A strip of grey plastic that might be a sealant or glue in between two parts under the battery cover is coming out.
    The plastic piece to cover the external memory card broke after about half a year (I liked flipping it a lot but still.)  Also about this same time my silver navigation button’s coat on the edges started to peel to reveal the true color of the button, slightly tanned pink. The AT&T sign that is about one inch and below the screen is sliding off the glue that holds it. The number pad is flat and cannot really be used for text by feel.
    Overall the Cybershot Phone's camera qualities were ahead of it's time. It's slide out cover mechanism was sturdier than people expected and really fun to slide and activate the camera on the way out of my pocket to be ready to use quicker(unlocking not required). The lens surroundings had a point and shoot-like look. Even the navigation buttons were camera-like. The shortcut buttons on top were a little small and flat, but still useful in the camera. Exposure, Flash, Focus, and Timer could be accessed with just one button without having to go into a menu first. Just one press and then left or right on the directional buttons to adjust the values and enter. One button can be pressed to switch between video capture and photo capture mode. The scratch resistant mineral glass did it's job.
   One big problem with this phone was that the photos and videos couldn't be recorded onto the memory card directly. Videos could be lost if set to automatically save onto a memory card. Photo's would take forever to save onto the card before you can take another picture. So the best way to handle this was to have media saved onto the phones small memory, but this was require you to occassionally transfer them onto the memory card. Another issue with the camera phone was that although it's bright sensitivity was great, it's low light sensitivity was poor. Capturing media indoors was difficult and had lots of wrong colors. The Worst Thing about this phone was that the phone charger died after the first night of charging. I left it in the wall, and on the second day to charge my phone it didn't work. I took it to At&t but because I got the phone online from Amazon with an At&t Contract, At&t couldn't help me (plus I got the phone right as it was getting discontinued). I didn't want to deal with the mailing because we had older Sony Ericsson chargers at home from a (w810i) walkman phone, which also had a better than average camera, flash, and volume. In fact, two people I know still used this phone until last year. One upgraded even though the phone still worked (rare for phones to last that long anymore). The other still loves his. Overall the C905 was one of the smartest dumbphones/non smartphone/feature phone available. It accepted a some common media formats and let me use customized mp3's (smaller than 300Kb) as my ringtones and texttones.


Back to the Xperia Play
Xperia Play Thoughts. When connecting the SD memory card in the phone to the computer with the USB cable and then disconnecting, some of my installed app icons don’t come back to my 1st and 2nd homescreens. Might be due to me not waiting long enough on “connect to memory card” before i start navigating. I no longer have this problem after trying to be more patient and waiting longer before disconnecting the usb cord.

   Google Play doesn’t let you search in your past apps on the web browser. It let’s you scroll alphabetically and view only 12 apps per page, but i have like 8 pages of previously installed apps so far and that is only going to grow. The thing about Google Play that bothers me the most frequently is that while I'm searching for apps in the Play Store and I click on an app. When I press "return" to go look at the search results again, I am automatically taken to the top of the list and must scroll down to find my spot. This gets irritating during searches especially if it's a long list. Call me impatient but I call that inconvenient, especially considering we aren't even close to Android 1.0 anymore. However, Google Play does do a few things that Apple Store leaves out like containing the amount of downloads, show more than 3 reviews of an app (lots of the reviews are helpful) and the Android store looks more colorful.
   Sometimes the phone’s home screen changes to landscape mode when the screen is slid up. This only happens in a flash and it quickly remembers to switch to portrait mode. Looks glitchy, although stable. Sometimes the unlock bar goes hotdog style like it's have landscape mode. However when this happens, the orientation of the lock and mute buttons are still in portrait mode. It looks very odd when it does so. Other times, about half the screen looks like it switches between the normal wallpaper and an extra wallpaper(of the same type but the lines are in different spots). It's hard to explain the glitchy look. Not a biggy, but maybe the Clock Widget could display the Day of the week too while not in screen-lock mode.
     Another cool addition would be cooler sound effects. There is only one sound choice for an "Audible selection" (play sound when making screen selection) besides off. There are a few default sounds for different types of selections. I may have not explored them all. With years of cool digital clicks and computers from movies, some movie like sounds would be appreciated. A few beeps as options would be better, possibly even some Playstation (PSP, PSV, PS2, PS3, PS4) sounds. Although the current clicking sound is okay, it feels limited. The selection or check boxes don't show their checks really well. The checks are so faded gray that you have look carefully to tell if it's checked vs the dark gray check when it's not checked (not a smart design). The plus and minus zoom toggle during web browser viewing isn't really helpful. There's already pinch and zoom(at least until Apple really takes that away from all nonApple products). In fact, the pinch and zoom sometimes gets in my way of what I want to select on a webpage. Another thing, I have no idea what the use of the Overview feature is. I would probably appreciate not having it or being able to turn it off. It isn't hard to get to the desired homescreen to use a widget. Accidentally getting to overview makes my screen looks crowded and ugly, and stops you from accessing your homescreen when you want to. Maybe the flowing icons could be detailed fishes instead.

The Screenshot doesn't capture the flash, just that instant.
When this flashes a lot, I get embarrassed and hopes that nobody sees

 Problematic Facebook. (Might be more Android’s fault than Sony’s)
Facebook through the browser doesn’t work sometimes when i click on a new“notification.” This just takes me back to my facebook page...over and over until a later time when it decides it’s no longer mad at me. While viewing a picture on the app, you have to click “comments” then you have to wait for another page to load before typing in your comment. On the browser, you can scroll down a photo and start leaving a comment (like on the computer web browser). Seems to load a lot slower. The Facebook application  also has a longer start up than the browser. I don't notice it anymore, but I believed Youtube's maximum volume on my phone was very low vs using the same speakers for other applications. (My replacement phone doesn't do this glitchy half homescreen thing).


Side effect of having a slide screen is that when closed, the screen doesn’t feel as firm as a nonflip or nonslide screens. If holding the opened phone, the phone feels firmer, especially the hand touching and holding the screen. Also the touchpads are not as useful as one may think. Not sure if these are fixable besides exceptional breakthrough designs so no suggestions here. Maybe a firmer lock so that touch feels more secure when the device is closed. And I wished the touch pads were more like joysticks that gave feedback(maybe mimic those from the 3DS in the future). However I’m not sure if this is necessary because touch screen controls can be very precise sometimes. Battery could be bigger - I wouldn’t mind the size increase if it meant longer power.

The round bottom sides of the phone (while opened) do not fit my hands really well. I don’t feel as much control of it as it it were a rectangular or edgy phone. The bottom half of the phone actually feels slim when the phone is slide open(bigger giant battery could help this). I do appreciate the physical hardware game control buttons and understand the size of the phone couldn’t really be helped. However, if the round side edges could be more edgy and give more space inside for better hardware, than I would like that too. The price of the phone was ok, but because it wasn’t a $200 phone with a contract, it’s specs were guaranteed to not be the best. (My guess it that testing for stability may had kept it from being released earlier where it’s specs would be close to top of the line.)

Scratches that I have on the back of the phone and a little on the screen may be normal. However, the coat for the silver shortcut buttons are starting to get scratched off slowly. I use the phone a lot. After almost a year I noticed some things. The shininess of the blue paint starts to fade. Maybe the Play could use some cover material, paints, clearcoats from the PSP's 1000 and up. Buttons like the R, L ,Volume keys, power button and Android buttons get squeaky after a lot of usage. The Sliding of the phone becomes a little less smooth. The Back Cover cracks upon being opened a few times. This is my first smartphone so I may be opening it incorrectly. There are three fingernail slots. Taking off the back cover almost always takes some uncomfortable amount of force.

Possible Future Features
    Quad-Core. Even if just for the cool sounding term. Faster loading times for bigger 3D games would be appreciated. A great Dual-Core processor will probably suffice(possibly a tri-core). If this phone ever gets a new version, I hope the loading gets upgraded with new phones so it can keep up with the new apps and phones of its time. In other words that it doesn’t fall behind in future releases of the normal loading speeds compared to phones around the same time of release. Not a lot of graphic and processing power is necessary for a good looking fun game, but probably more than the current generation Play for more demanding games.
    Include a decent Graphic Processing Unit(GPU). If my research is correct, the iPhones have always had smooth sliding animations. This may also hold true for top of the line Android phones like he Galaxy S2 and S3. (I don't have much experience with other top Android devices, but cheaper phones clearly show jumpy drags). Some have stated that the reason the graphics are much smoother on the said Apple devices is because they have a GPU. In my opinion this makes the movements less laggy and professional and cool and capable and powerful feeling. Without that sliding smoothness, the device feels like it can't even handle a simple drag and is pushing it's limits.

   Optical Zoom would be awesome, even just a little. Even digital zoom would be appreciated but would really still be below my expectations. Xenon flash, where it’s not a small light that stays on, but a strong flash like a Camera. However this tends to cause overbrightness or washing out of objects with white blur, especially if the objects are close.  The stock camera app didn't allow the phone to use the shoulder buttons as camera buttons. Luckily a camera app “Camera Mod” allowed for the use of those buttons. NO ZOOM is available on the Android 2.3 phone. This would mean I would have to find a video editing program and manually zoom it at a later (time consuming). Also, the current flash flickers during use. I'm not sure if this is suppose to happen, but it seems, again, less polished. Also, if your are using the camera app and change the camera settings and then look at the photos, when you come back to the camera app you must change the camera settings from default again(maybe not focus mode, but definitely the exposure). Funky and irritable. Flash cannot be toggled on and off while you are recording. 
   Add scrolling up and down the apps as an option simulatneously to the original homescreens. Scrolling down and up the apps and will not scroll not pages. Then if left and right is used, the phone will still scroll homescreens to the next 16 apps the way it does now. Apps aren’t locked onto specific screens. It allows  different pictures for different homescreens. This will add variety and fun and users wouldn’t be stuck with one screen and one wallpaper. Navigating will be a lot more versatile. Maybe a different desktop background for each homescreen would be cool too. Another more desktop computer like feature that was in my old phone was the ability to view the size of the photo's I've captured. This may not be helpful, but makes the phone feel smarter and similar to a computer's method of viewing the "properties" on a file. I like to take pictures and videos, so getting a better idea of how big a file was helped me determined whether or not to keep some files to make room for more pictures. Yes, buying a larger SD card (or using Google Drive, similar to iCloud) would probably remedy this.
-A verticle Scrollbar sometimes would be nice too. That would enable faster scrolling through big pages.
     An easy SCREENSHOT CAPTURE ABILITY. Maybe even make the "Search" button turn into a Screen Capture Button because the search button isn't really useful, at least not for me. I'm jealous because on the iPhone 4S this function is easily carried out by pressing two buttons simultaneously (the power button and the home button). Quick and easy.
      Although the screen was bright enough for indoor use, a Brighter Screen for outdoor use would be a nice touch. I shouldn't be playing games outdoors but it would still feel better if my other hand wasn't required to shade the phone's screen while looking at pics or. It's normal for phones to have this issue, but seems a little more apparent with the this one. The auto brightness is funny. It is capable of turning the phone darker than I can manually. And at the brightest setting, the auto brightness cannot be at maximum brightness. In my opinion auto and manual should had the same range, with the auto determining where my setting should be within that range.
-Possibly using the plays physical controls like the C905's shortcut camera buttons while in camera mode. A "Playstation Certified" Cybershot phone would be a dream come true, again. This could be an impractical as the phone is already struggling and trying to be a phone and a game.

It’s sad and true that the Xperia Play will no longer get Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, as it was previously stated that it would. Testing proved unstable so the Play was taken off the update list from Sony. I don’t blame Sony for doing so as the phone does seem to be pushing itself a lot already, but I am disappointed in Sony for confirming that it would get ISC for so long. (it was actually one of the reasons why I felt it was okay to get the phone). Even if ICS for the Playstation Certified phone was approved by Sony, there’s no guarantee that your phone phone carrier will approve of it on their wireless network. To be honest I haven’t done much research into ICS so maybe some of the listed features here are already in it.

Speaking of providers, I’ve heard that my provider AT&T sometimes slows peoples mobile Internet speed down to almost having no Internet. I thought it couldn’t happen to me but it eventually did once. I had received my common notice of having used over 60% of my maximum download limit of my data plan (3 gigs max). I don’t think I used much more right after that notification but my wireless Internet was slowed down to almost nothing(or 1 mini-bit/hour) for 2-3 days. Only with constant check up was I allowed to use the mobile web 5 times for short periods a day during those days.(To AT&T- I love the usage notifications, but let me go over my limit if I choose to and you can charge me for it.)

Now the Play may not be popular on the sales charts because of the limited target population. I see the earliest a seed of this phone may be released (if at all) would be about 2 years from now so that it would give the PS Vita time to grow. If my current phone lasts long enough, hopefully the New Play will come out in America around the beginining of 2014 so that I may choose whichever cellular company chooses to sell it when my 2-year contract is up. Maybe the next one could actually be called the Playstation Phone, although lots of articles have already written on a so called Playstation Phone, the Xperia Play.

Some things Sony Ericsson did do right with the Play
-Slick and Sexy control buttons that work really well, especially for being that slim.
-Xperia look is nice
-Optional blue color helps it deviate from the typical black colored smartphone.
-Play Store looks nice
-Good variety of games on Launch, (although some Sony Exclusive games would be nicer).
-First Playstation Certified phone. 

-Acceptable processing power at the time of Launch, but not much longer afterwards.
-Screen is at least 4 inches. Anything smaller is small.
-Letting SD cards be used instead of more expensive proprietary cards. 
-Use of the very common Micro-USB instead of proprietary connections. Allows for the common USB cables to be used for data transfers and battery charging.
-3.5mm headphone jacks makes a lot of sense to use. Makes it easier to find compatible headphones.
-you don't have to unlock the phone to use the volume rocker while listening to music.
-AT&T versions comes with a study Dock (with charging port and audio port), headphones with a microphone that has 1 button, and audio cable with 3.5mm on both sides to plug into sound systems. 
   As far as Gaming Phones goes, the Sony Xperia Play is a success. Having Nintendo 64 games and Gameboy Advance Pokemon games (FireRed and LeafGreen) in your pocket in your phone with physical controls is something I admire. I still consider the Play a part of Gaming History, which is why I had to have it. My phone is Xperia Play Optimized. That's a personal gamefreak type of preference though. As a phone it isn't as polished as the Samung Galaxy S II. As a gaming device it can't even run ps1 games from PSN.
I would suggest that if it were to get a successor, an Xperia Play 2, that it could access the PSN network and play PS One and PSP games flawlessly.

 Joshua Yang

 P.S. Maybe I should be a tester/designer for Sony. I can't engineer.


  1. Then 2 weeks ago ATT suppose to be sending me another phone because of the screen and internet. I still waiting for another one of these dumb phones. I want to know if anyone know if they dont any have this phone no more. Because when I call them again on Friday they stated the phone is on back order. So if I do not see it tomorrow I will be back on here to report the truth if they give it to me.

  2. Thank you for your response,
    The phone was decent at the time of release for Verizon September 2011. It is still a great phone for emulators and lots of smartphones have problems. Although I was single-ling out the Xperia Play, some of it's problems were common Android issues. The phone has been at Att Stores(July 2011) for almost a year. Cell phones get outdated extremely fast, especially if it isn't top of the line(the Xperia Play wasn't top of the line and it would mostly appeal to young males). It was probably getting the red flag by January 2012 when I got the phone at Att (close to free). I wouldn't say the phone is a piece of blank. An older phone shouldn't be expected to perform as well as new phones and the price reflects that. So the price of the phone is still fair. However, I haven't done recent research on complaints on the phone so I'm not sure which problems are common. The phone still meets certain xpectations as far as phone goes and didn't get too much wrong. What I listed as "wants" was more of my Dream Phone, although I didn't pay the price of one. Most people aren't too happy about paying smartphone bills.

    Good Luck with your situation,

    Joshua Yang
    Gametrender Writer


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