An eBay top-rated seller is offering up hundreds of Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY units for Verizon Wireless for $87.95, as a “seller refurbished” offering. It’s the lowest price we’ve seen for a reputable unit.
The Xperia PLAY has a history that tarnished both the former Sony Ericsson and the newly-minted Sony Mobile. During the transition, the company backtracked on its commitment to upgrade the Xperia PLAY to Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. The company had previously promised to upgrade it, but claimed that technical issues prevented the upgrade from providing matching performance to the Android 2.3 builds released already.
Enthusiasts dispute Sony’s claims, and have even offered Sony code that would permit Xperia PLAY to run Android 4.0 properly. Sony, in a cowardly move, has refused to comment on the matter further. We concluded that the dishonorable act was out of fear of a class-action lawsuit, for Sony backtracking on its commitments.
Still, as an Android gaming device, the Xperia PLAY is very attractive at the $87 price point. Most games today focus on the majority of pre-ICS users, and the Xperia PLAY has a robust graphics processor for a Gingerbread-era device. In addition, the device can be activated on Page Plus Cellular, for use as a prepaid device running on Verizon’s network.
For $87, the device is less than half the price of an iPod touch 4G, and features built-in Autonomous GPS for turn-by-turn navigation, even without a cellular data connection/service.
The Xperia PLAY is one of the only Google Experience devices that features a slide-out game pad, replicating the experience of Sony’s PlayStation Portable line. Many speculate that after Sony Ericsson was acquired fully by Sony, that the Xperia PLAY line was intentionally abandoned, including its ICS upgrade, in order to prevent the device(s) from competing with Sony’s PlayStation Vita.
Many ex-Sony Ericsson leaders have noted that, during Sony Ericsson’s tenure, they repeatedly tried to get Sony to cooperate on PlayStation Mobile initiatives, which ultimately led to the development of the PlayStation Suite, in cooperation with Google. While PlayStation Suite was largely a failure, Sony has reached out to HTC and others with a second-generation offering of the service. The first-generation of PlayStation Suite is shared between Xperia PLAY, 2011 XPERIA handsets, and Sony’s own Tablet P and Tablet S handsets.
Because these units are refurbished by the seller, do not expect any warranty beyond eBay’s non-DOA assurances.