Rumors of a “PlayStation Phone” eventually panned out in the form of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, but the gaming handset we were left with could have turned out much differently. New information is coming to light from several sources that reveals Google’s desire to launch the phone as an Android 2.3 flagship along with a unique form factor that never came to fruition.
A US patent application has surfaced showing an early concept for a phone with two sliders, one a gamepad and the other a full QWERTY keyboard. The design dates to October of 2010 and was likely passed over due to hardware constraints before even reaching the prototyping phase. Elements of the initial patent did carry over to the Xperia Play, however. The unique design would have offered greater functionality and helped to target a wider audience, not those looking for a portable game console that could double as a smartphone. The extra bulk of a slider form factor was hard to justify for many consumers who didn’t see game controls as an essential part of their mobile experience.
If Google had their way, Android fans would have had even more of a reason to pick up the handset. When the Xperia Play launched, Verizon carried a version of the device that shipped with a stock Android 2.3 build. The anomalous offering seemed a bit perplexing but makes more sense in the light of information emerging from the Google v. Oracle trial. A slide detailing “lead” devices for the various Android platforms listed the Play (then codenamed Zues) as the flagship handset for Gingerbread. Instead of earning the title of “Nexus Play,” the honors eventually went to Samsung and their Nexus S. The rest is history.