Sony Ericsson unveils Neo, details Play

Although its most recently announced phone is called Neo, it’s not “the one” most people are paying attention to at this week’s Mobile World Congress, as the unofficially-named “PlayStation phone” is on mass display for the first time.

It’s the Xperia Play that’s getting the most attention this week, as the radical gaming phone is finally in the hands of media and analysts after months of speculation and one week since it was officially announced during a high-profile Super Bowl ad.

The Xperia Play is essentially a PSPgo with a phone built in. The PSPgo was Sony’s bungled attempt at creating a portable game system that had no media slot and relied exclusively on digital downloads. It has sold miserably.

But the Play will have something in its favor – first off, it’s an Android phone so people will be using it for something other than gaming, and thus will have it on them at all times. This also means it has 3G connectivity, so it’ll be possible to buy and download new games without a Wi-Fi connection.

And finally, because Sony is launching PlayStation Suite across all Android 2.3+ phones later this year, there will be greater support, a larger user base of connected players, and even connectivity with the upcoming NGP system.

The fervor surrounding the device isn’t extreme because most of the details were already known, but we know for sure now that the Play will have Android 2.3 out of the box and be available this spring.

Then there’s the Xperia Neo, which Sony Ericsson announced for the first time today. The big story here is it will comes with Android 2.3, the most recent version of Google’s operating system which only 0.5% of all Android users have access to right now. The Nexus One got it from a firmware update and the Nexus S was first to have it pre-installed. Every other Android phone is running at version 2.2 or earlier.

The Neo will have a 3.7-inch capacitive touchscreen and a 1 GHz Snapdraggon processor. An 8 GB microSD card will be pre-installed.

Pricing on both the Neo and the Play has yet to be announced.