Sony to release PlayStation-branded Android phone

Sony Ericsson is working of a PlayStation-branded mobile gaming phone based on Android 3.0, according to a report on tech blog Engadget.

It sounds an unlikely move for the company, which has yet to even release an Android 2.0 device, but the handset - along with a whole new gaming platform and ecosystem - are said to be in the late stages of planning, including a new, dedicated gaming area on Android Market.

Engadget, which has only seen a mock-up of the device, describes it as "a cross between the Samsung Captivate and the PSP Go" - a landscape slider with a large, wide screen display of between 3.7 and 4.1 inches. Resolution is said to be 800 x 480 or higher.

Those who have seen the phone in the flesh apparently describe it as "pretty damn sexy". But then, they might just need to get out more.

Gaming controls replace the usual QWERTY keyboard, with a "long touchpad" for analogue control, and standard PSP and shoulder buttons.

The device is driven by a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, and according to early reports could feature a five-megapixel digital camera - though this feature may go in the final release version.

The handset is set to run Android 3.0, code-named 'Gingerbread', and could be the first to bring 'true' 3D gaming to the Android platform, with graphics described as being at a similar level to those of the PSP or PSX.

The news looks set to ruffle a few feathers at Apple, which has been looking to steal a march on the Android platform by launching a Game Center social gaming network for its iOS 4 operating system, planned for release in the autumn.

Statistics released in March by Flurry Analytics reported that Apple's share of the US mobile gaming market had risen from 5% to 19% between 2008 to 2009, significantly eating into the Sony PSP's market share, which nearly halved from 20% to 11%.

Recent rumours have suggested Apple is close to buying Chinese mobile gaming company Handseeing for an estimated $148 million.

Early reports suggest Sony's new handset could be with us as soon as October this year.