PlayStation phone is coming… but when?

by Howard Wolinsky

It was only a few days ago when rumors were flying that Apple (AAPL) was considering buying Sony (SNE). Nothing to that.

Rumors have also been making the rounds for at least a year about a PlayStation gaming phone.

Now pictures are circulating of the first PlayStation-branded gaming phone as Sony prepares to invade the iPhone mega-verse.

Joshua Topolsky reports in engadget that the new phone will boast Android 3.0 and will offer games via a Sony Marketplace. The device will have a screen in the range of 3.7 to 4.1 inches with a long touchpad in the center and Sony’s PlayStation shoulder buttons. The prototype has no Memory Stick slot, but it supports MicroSD cards,

So when will the PlayStation phone show up?

Topolsky is keeping his fingers crossed for this Christmas. But don’t count on it.

Gizmodo quotes Sony Ericcson gaming chief Peter Ahnegard as saying a gaming phone will be coming by Christmas, just that it might not be this Christmas.

Paul Tassi in Forbes puts the launch of the PlayStation phone, which he describes as resembling the new PSP Go, in late 2010 for the holidays or early 2011.

He speculates that the phones will go for at least $300.

“Sony isn’t exactly known for being cheap in any of their product lines. Remember that $600 PS3 launch?” Tassi notes.

Why pick a PlayStation phone over an iPhone or anything else?

The answer is clear for dedicated gamers of the PlayStation ilk. Tassi, himself a gamer, said: “It’s going to be better for gaming. While Plants vs. Zombies or Angry Birds might be just dandy on a touchpad, actual gamers prefer actual hand-held systems, be they the PSP or Nintendo DS. Add in phone capability and you have yourself a winner.”

Still, he personally wouldn’t give up his iPhone for a PlayStation phone. He doesn’t like very many PSP titles.

Could an Xbox or Nintendo phone be next?