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The Playstation Phone will reportedly launch early next year, packing Android 3.0 Gingerbread.  (Source: Engadget)
The next killer Android smart phone may come in familiar form

On Tuesday night images leaked of an incoming device that will almost certainly shake up the mobile phone market.  That device is the long rumored PlayStation Phone.

The photos come from a reputable source -- Engadget -- which claims that they are 100 percent authentic.  The site first reported on the device back in August, but at the time it seemed like an unsubstantiated rumor.

What is particularly surprising is that rather than go on its own into the mobile phone market, Sony is wisely choosing to saddle up with the market's hottest property -- Google's Android OS.  Reportedly, the PlayStation Phone will be powered by Android 3.0 "Gingerbread".

The device will likely launch early in 2011 and may well be one of the first Android phones to support Google's much-anticipated upcoming OS overhaul.

The phone's hardware is being designed by Sony-Ericsson, a joint-venture between the Japanese Sony and Ericsson, a Swedish cell phone maker. 

The screen is slotted to be between 3.7 and 4.1 inches (it's unclear whether a size has been selected yet).  The phone will be powered by the 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8655 the second most powerful member of Qualcomm's "Scorpion" chip family.  That chipset means that it will probably be paired with the Adreno 205 GPU, though it could well get a custom graphics processor, given its gaming focus.

The device will pack 512 MB of RAM, 1 GB of ROM, and a microSD expansion slot.  Sony may alienate some its fans in forgoing support for its Memory Stick format, but this ultimately seems like a wise decision.

Game resolution is rumored to be along the lines of the PSP/PSX.  Early titles reportedly demoed by Sony include God of War, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and LittleBigPlanet.  Users will have access both to Google's standard Android Market and to a custom Sony Marketplace.

This new device is significant in a number of ways.  First, it spells serious trouble for Apple.  As the iPhone sees its momentum bleeding away and being sucked up by Android, one of its last great draws is its superior gaming.  Now Android may be getting its own gaming powerhouse -- and with discrete controls to boot (a long-standing gripe with iPhone gaming is the lack discrete buttons).  That likely will leave Jobs and company losing plenty of sleep.

Another significant point is that the upcoming product showcases a deepening relationship between Sony and Google.  Sony has wholeheartedly thrown its enthusiasm and advertising might behind Google TV -- a new distribution of Android that looks to conquer the internet-connected TV market.  It should be interesting to see where this relationship takes both companies.

The device is reportedly currently quite buggy and its exterior is still incomplete, so the images shown are by no means a finalized case design or screen.

Still, Sony has plenty of time to iron out these issues.  And assuming it does, this may become the Android device to get early next year.  Competition may be tightening with the release of Windows Phone 7, which largely follows Android's model (multiple carriers, multiple hardware partners) and is also gaming focused.  But this upcoming handheld could steal the show if its put together with sufficient polish.

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No Keyboard?
By DarthKaos on 10/27/2010 9:21:41 AM , Rating: 2
OK I get that this would be huge but seriously, no keyboard? Make the device a little thicker and have an additional sliding panel so a keyboard can be added. I know you can use the touch screen but anyone who texts knows that touch screen sucks for texting anything more than a few words.

Don't get me wrong. I am excited for this piece of hardware but to really dominate this device has to be great at texting, talking, gaming, and run apps well. If it also is a good mp3 player it would be going head to head with apple for sure.

RE: No Keyboard?
By xkrakenx on 10/27/2010 9:56:30 AM , Rating: 2
touch keyboards are excellent now and more than adequate. I used a blackberry for years and dont miss it once I started using swype on a droid x.

RE: No Keyboard?
By JosephMcD on 10/27/2010 10:49:26 AM , Rating: 2
A normal touch keyboard is definitely cumbersome to use but anyone who has played around with Swype knows that touch screen typing has come a long way.

I would be hard pressed to want to use a physical keyboard on a phone since I've been using that program. Knowing that it came from the guys who created T9 typing you know that they can take a clunky interface and make it easy to use.

RE: No Keyboard?
By cokbun on 10/27/2010 11:15:16 AM , Rating: 1
If it also is a good mp3 player it would be going head to head with apple for sure
yeah they do, its called a WALKMAN tm

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