Part Android smartphone and part PSP, the new Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is out to change the handheld gaming market. But does this "gamer's smartphone" really offer something different, or is it just a Nokia N-Gage flop in the making? Sony Erisson Xperia Play vs. Apple iPhone 4 Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Apple iPhone 4 Price $199.99 (Verizon) $199.99 (Verizon, AT&T) Operating System Android 2.3 iOS 4 Display 4" multi-touch (854x480) 3.5" multi-touch (960x640) Processor 1GHz Snapdragon II CPU w/ Adreno 205 GPU ARM Cortex A8 CPU w/ PowerVR SGX 535 Memory Up to 32GB microSD card (8GB included) 16GB 32GB Extras VGA front-facing camera, 5.1MP rear camera, microSD slot, Bluetooth, aGPS, DLNA certified, 802.11n, dedicated game controls, 6 bundled games VGA front-facing camera, 5MP rear camera, Bluetooth, aGPS, 802.11n Weight 6.2 oz. 4.8 oz. Controls The Xperia Play is an Android smartphone with one thing on its mind: gaming. And while most of today's smartphones can double as gaming handhelds, only the Xperia Play offers dedicated gaming controls. It features a slide-out game pad with a 4-button D-pad on the left, Sony's signature action buttons on the right and two analog trackpads in the middle. The game pad, which slides beneath the screen when not in use, also features shoulder buttons along the top spine, giving the handheld a PSP-like feel. By contrast, the iPhone 4 relies on touch-screen controls, which although adequate in most cases, aren't as responsive as dedicated controls and can cause your fingers to block parts of the screen during game play. Winner: Xperia Play Game Selection The Xperia Play is not a "PlayStation phone" per se. Instead, it was made to play "optimized" Android games and select PlayStation games from the Android Marketplace. There's no way to (legally) play all of your favorite PlayStation games on the Xperia Play and the phone has no access to the PlayStation Network. That means if a classic PlayStation game is made available for the Xperia, you'll have to re-purchase it if it's a game you once owned on a Sony console. That said, it does come with six pre-loaded games: Madden NFL 11, Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior, Asphalt 6: Adrenaline, Star Battalion, The Sims 3 and Crash Bandicoot. Currently, very few games can take advantage of the Xperia Play's gamepad, which makes us queasy about purchasing this first-generation phone. Price-wise, the Xperia's games are rumored to range from $1 to $15. But until there's a solid amount of game support, there's still the chance this platform can go the way of the N-Gage. By contrast, the iPhone 4 has an extensive catalog of games from both independent developers and larger companies like EA Mobile and Gameloft. In addition, there are dozens of deals on iPhone games with prices starting at $0. Winner: iPhone 4 Hardware Spec-wise, the Xperia Play isn't as impressive as we hoped. It features a single-core rather than a dual-core processor and it doesn't support Verizon's 4G network. Far worst is the fact that it only offers an embarrassing 1GB of internal memory, nowhere near the type of storage a gaming smartphone should offer. Fortunately, it does feature a microSD card slot, although you only get an 8GB card with your purchase. While the Xperia Play's game pad and slightly larger screen constitute a slight hardware advantage over the iPhone 4, it's nothing to brag about. Winner: Tie Conclusion The idea of an Android-powered phone with dedicated gaming controls sounds great on paper. However, we cringe at the thought of re-purchasing games that we already owned and we've yet to see a solid lineup of must-have games for the Xperia. And although the Xperia Play is the first Verizon smartphone to run Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), it still runs in the shadows of newer Android phones, which boast dual-core processors and 4G support. Add to that the fact that any of today's well-equipped smartphones can double as a gaming handheld and suddenly, the Xperia Play doesn't seem so special. Winner: iPhone 4 Which smartphone do you think is better for handheld gaming?Market Research An avid gadget lover, Louis Ramirez has covered technology for Gizmodo, CNET, Laptop, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter — @LouisRamirez. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.