How would you design a Sony Vita Phone?
I, amongst others was hopeful that Sony would push forth with a Vita phone sooner rather than later, but as of right now there've been no announcements. I have no doubt that buried deep somewhere in the bowels of Sony they have someone working on the idea of a Vita phone, but who knows when or if it'll ever see the light of day.
My question to all of you is if you were to imagine what the Vita phone, what would it be like? Tell us what you think would be realistic, or what would be your fantasy Vita phone, go wild. I'll get the ball rolling with my own list.
- SCREEN: Now here we'd have a couple of options. Either use the exact same size screen in the Vita satisfying those who want larger screens, or reduce the size of the screen to something like 4.3" but keep the resolution the same to increase its sharpness. I would think that altering the resolution might be a bad thing, unless of course Vita games and apps are scalable to different resolutions. Personally I think I'd rather use the same screen as the Vita for a Vita phone. Unfortunately I don't think the tech is there just yet to delivery the same quality and ramp up the resolution to what we'd expect out of a high end phone these days... at least not for an OLED display.
- CPU/GPU: The Vita is without a doubt extremely powerful in the CPU and GPU department and AFAIK no phone or tablet currently on the market comes close. The problem of course is that the Vita phone will require communication abilities for the phone part. I'm not exactly sure what the best solution for this would be so I'll leave this one open to other people who are more knowledgable.
- OS: The Vita OS is still in its infancy, but it shows some promise. We also know it was designed to be expandable to cell phones and tablets. In its current form on the Vita, it's terrible for cell phone use, but if Sony were to make a Vita phone I'm sure they'd tweak it accordingly. The big problem here of course is if Sony is relying on the Vita OS to run the phone then they'll have to have their own app ecosystem just like iOS has the app store and Google has Google Play. Fortunately Sony does have Playstation Mobile which seems to be getting close to the end of its beta stage. Playstation Mobile has the potential to be Sonys app ecosystem for their own devices, and has the added benefit of also being on Android which should hopefully expand its userbase and popularity. There is of course a lot of risk in Sony venturing out of Android into its own ecosystem, but I personally feel if they want to be able to truly make it big, they need to get out from under Googles wing and take a shot at it.
I doubt it'd be possible to get the Vita OS and Android on the same device, and even if it were, I doubt Sony would want to do it due to the possibility of using the Android side to hack the Vita side. Sony seems to want to protect the Vita to prevent hacking so I'd expect any sort of Vita phone to be extremely locked down.
Assuming it's popular enough, it'll probably be years before PSM has an app ecosystem comparable to iOS or Android, but you've gotta start somewhere I suppose. The good thing is that as far as gaming goes, Sony does have a pretty nice library already in place between Vita games, PSP games, PS1 games (coming soon) and PS Mini games. Add in Playstation Mobile games and you've got quite a selection right off the bat to cover everything from super cheap to high end console quality games. It'd truly be the best of all worlds.
- MEMORY: The other issue with the Vita are the relatively expensive propriatary memory cards Sony is using. I doubt this would change much with a Vita phone as they'll again want to lock down the system to curb any piracy attempts. I'd put a 16 or 32 gig memory card already built into the unit, and use the currently sold memory cards for expandability. To make them competitive though, a price cut would be mandatory. Nothing too drastic mind you, maybe drop the price of all the memory cards by 33%. Also try to get 64 and 128 gig cards out onto the market ASAP.
Unfortunately, I can't see a Vita phone having SD memory card support which will likely upset a few people. If it's what Sony has to do to get around piracy, then so be it.
- CONTROLS/DESIGN: I think Sony had the right concept with the Xperia Play, they just didn't give it their all on the hardware and software department. A sliding phone design is the only way I think a Vitaphone could possibly work. Sure it'll be a bit chunkier than your average high end smartphone, but I feel the benefits far outweight the added thickness. I'd use all of the Vitas current controls, except of course for the analog sticks. However much I wish the analog sticks could be on the Vita phone, they're just too large. Then again the "analog pads" on the Xperia play are also pretty horrible.
I think the analog "nub" used on the original PSP would be fine here. Put two of them on the phone and they'll be thin enough to keep the phone from being too thick and still give a more satisfying level of control for gaming.
The rear touchpad of the Vita should have no problem working on a cell phone and the triggers could serve dual purposes - for example as the camera shutter button.
- CAMERA: Sony made the decision to put relatively low res cameras on the Vita, but I think that would be a horrible mistake on a Vita phone. Many people use their phones as their go-to camera and Sony does make some of the finest camera sensors in the mobile world. I would put the new 13 megapixel stacked camera sensor that should be appearing in the upcoming Sony Xperia phones codenamed Hayabusa and Mint. An LED flash would be mandatory at least. Personally I'd love to see Sony put a xenon flash on a phone like this, but I'm afraid that might be pushing the boundaries of what they'd realistically do too far.
A 1.3 - 2 megapixel 720p camera for the front should be perfect.
-SOUND: The Vitas built in speakers seem just fine for personal gaming, but for a smartphone I might like to see them be able to get just a bit louder. I'm not asking them to be a boombox, but I have to imagine Sony could cram a bit more audio tech in there. Maybe borrow some stuff from its Walkman line of products.
-BATTERY: Well here's another problem that they'll have to find a way around. The Vita Phone won't be of much use if you've killed its battery after just 3-4 hours of gaming. If you slap an even larger battery into it, it now becomes heavier and larger. Barring a hardware redesign or an advancement in battery technology, I'm not sure how to go about resolving this.
I touched on the topic of piracy earlier. I think one of the reasons that developers might start to look at the Vita and Playstation Mobile in particular as a platform for their games and apps is due to the lack of piracy on the platform. I have no doubt that the day will come when some creative person out there manages to hack the Vita, but Sony seems to be hell bent on countering that as much as possible. Unfortunately the battle seems all but lost on Android and piracy runs rampant. I'm not sure, but I've heard it's possible to pirate apps on iOS too, and I'm really unsure of whether Windows mobile platforms have managed to thrwart piracy yet.
Anyways, my point is even though Playstation Mobile has a relatively small user base compared to iOS or Android as a whole, it will at least for now ensure a developer that their software won't just be pirated. I have to imagine that'd be a bonus in the eyes of aspiring software makers out there. Sony does seem to have a good idea for expanding the Playstation Mobile user base though, by putting it on their Android phoes and expanding it to other providers like HTC. I think I even heard talk that some PSM apps might even come to the PS3, which would expand the number of users significantly.
Well those are my thoughts. Whether anyone wants to add to this thread or just let it sink to the bottom of the forum, I just wanted to get it off my mind and post it somewhere.