Sony Ericsson has recently filed for European Union trademarks on four Xperia brandings, including one -- "Xperia Play" -- that sounds like it could be the retail name of the company's not-so-secret gaming smartphone. We'd initially heard that the so-called PlayStation phone would hit shelves as the Xperia Z1 -- an homage to its Zeus codename, apparently -- but it would make sense for the joint venture to follow other manufacturers' leads and drop the confusing alphanumeric model numbers for catchy, easy-to-remember brands like Galaxy S, Droid X, and 7 Surround/Mozart/Trophy/Pro. The other three filings, which don't immediately bring to mind any rumored handsets, are the Xperia Neo, Xperia Duo, and Xperia Arc. All four applications classify the products seeking protection under the broad umbrella of "mobile phones and accessories for mobile phones."
Likely to see a formal announcement at February's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the PlayStation phone is an Android-powered slider with full gamepad plus shoulder buttons. It is said to have a greater-than-WVGA resolution, suggesting a Gingerbread or possibly Honeycomb build, and a gaming architecture that may integrate directly with the Android Market for downloads. Initial benchmarks on this model were said to be less than thrilling, but Sony Ericsson is known for waiting until the last minute to tweak its firmware, so we doubt that potential buyers should be too concerned.
Update: The Unofficial Xperia X10 blog discovered that one of Sony Ericsson's PR firms, Jung Relations, has registered the .com, .net, and .org versions of the XperiaPlay domain. Meanwhile, Pocket-lint is reporting an unsourced rumor that this handset will see an April release.