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Xperia Play to land at Verizon by early May

Verizon Wireless promises a release date of late April or early May for its Sony Ericsson Xperia Play. CNET gets a hands-on look at the gaming phone at CTIA 2011.

ORLANDO, Fla.--Sony Ericsson didn't offer any new phones at CTIA 2011, but we did get the chance to handle the official Verizon Wireless version of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play. What's more, Sony Ericsson also revealed that the gaming Android phone will land in the United States either late next month or in early May.

In fact, Verizon Wireless may be the first carrier in the world to get the Xperia Play. Rogers in Canada may beat it with a release of the GSM handset on April 14, but either way it means that North America will get the Xperia Play before Europe and Asia. That's quite a change from previous Sony Ericsson devices. And did we mention this is the first Sony Ericsson CDMA device in years?

Except for the carrier branding, Verizon's Xperia Play is unchanged from the global handset we saw at Mobile World Congress. Inside, however, you will see some modifications. Verizon has stocked the phone with the Android Kindle app, Skype Mobile for voice, and a few of its own services like VZ Navigator and the V Cast App Store. That's a decent assortment, fortunately, and it doesn't reek of bloatware.

Verizon's handset will come with six gaming titles: Asphalt 6: Adrenaline, Star Battalion, Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior, Madden NFL '11, The Sims 3, and Tetris. Users will be able to purchase games form either the Android Market or Big Red's V Cast App Store. The selection of titles should be the same, Sony Ericsson says, with the only difference being the method of payment. While charges from the latter option will appear on your Verizon bill, you'll need to pay separately for Android Market purchases.

We should get a review unit in the coming weeks. And, of course, we'll let you know the official release date and price when Verizon spills the details.