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The PlayStation phone that might've been: a 'lead device' for Google with an extra slide-out keyboard

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Two newsbits this week paint a picture of what might've been for the "PlayStation phone," including a patent for a device with two slide-out panels — a gamepad and a QWERTY keyboard — and a Google slide that shows it was intended as a flagship Android 2.3 Gingerbread device.

Xperia Nexus mockup
Xperia Nexus mockup

In an alternate universe, teens and twentysomethings are playing Thrill Kill on a device we can only imagine was dubbed the Xperia Nexus. Two little newsbits this week gave insight into directions Sony Ericsson almost took for its long-in-development, even-longer-rumored "PlayStation phone," the Xperia Play. The first comes from a recently-published US patent application originally filed in October 2010 that shows a hybrid Xperia Play / Xperia Pro with not one but two sliders — a gamepad on the bottom and a QWERTY keyboard that could slide out just above that (see pictures from the patent below). We'd love to know if a prototype exists somewhere, but our safe assumption is that it never made it past the design phase.

The other piece information is more concrete and comes from the Oracle vs. Google trial. Nested inside one of the released slides was a list of Lead Devices Google had planned in Q4 2010 to tout each of its dessert-themed Android updates. While 3.0 Honeycomb went to the Motorola Xoom (nee Stingray), the 2.3 Gingerbread flagship was not Samsung's Nexus S. Instead, the slide listed Sony's "Playstation phone (Zeus)," with the slide-out game controls, a game catalog within the Android Market, and both the PS1 emulator and "new Z-system content" (presumably the PlayStation Suite).

What a world that would've been.

Note: likely goes without saying, but the top image is our own rendering — not Sony's.