Sony Ericsson’s rumored PlayStation phone was confirmed in major fashion today through a leak of prototype shots and according details. True to expectations, it will be a full touchscreen slider but with PSP Go-style PlayStation controls instead of a QWERTY keyboard; it would go so far as to have shoulder buttons. Engadget was told, however, that the pad in the middle is a multi-touch trackpad, most likely for gestures that would avoid disrupting the screen during gameplay.
The first ever PlayStation phone will resemble PSP Go portable game console, but will feature Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8655 system-on-chip clocked at 1.0GHz, 512MB of RAM, 1GB of ROM and so on, according to Engadget web-site. The smartphone that will reportedly be based on heavily customized version of Android 3.0 “Gingerbread” operating system will feature 3.7″ – 4.1″ screen similar to that of PSPgo. As far as ergonomics are concerned, it sports a design similar to that of the PSPgo, with a directional and control pad tucked underneath the sliding screen. There’s also two all-familiar shoulder buttons.
It is obvious that hardware-wise the SE PlayStation phone will be more powerful than the PlayStation Portable itself, which turns six years old this year, but it is unclear whether it will be possible to play games developed for the PSP on the SE PS smartphone. The new device is based on an ARM SoC, but it should be possible to emulate MIPS4000 architecture that powers PSP or even integrate a separate chip into the gadgetThe PlayStation phone does feature PlayStation set of buttons, which implies that it should support games developed for PSP. Still, once such a device gets released, sales of PSP Go will stagnate unless it will be significantly more affordable.
Assuming Sony Ericsson plans to release this to market, speculation points towards a 2011 release. We’re still left wondering what this thing will actually play, outside of Android market games. PSP titles will not run as-is due to several architectural differences. At the very least, we could see emulated PSOne classics on it.
Sony is known to be eager to turn around its mobile gaming strategy as the PSP has been rapidly declining to the point of being a non-factor in mobile gaming. While it has been engaged in anti-iPhone ads and just this week slashed the PSP Go’s price, Sony has not only been eclipsed by the also declining Nintendo DS but by the iPhone and iPod touch. Apple’s devices have lacked hardware button controls ideal for certain kinds of games, but they have had more powerful hardware and support game genres that simply haven’t been possible without a touchscreen. App Store games also usually cost $10 or less, a quarter of the price of a new PSP release.