Gaming fans have had the opportunity to take their favourite pass time on the move for a long time with the likes of Gameboys, PSP’s and more recently mobile phone games and the PS Vita. Until now a lot of these have had their limitations due to file sizes and proprietary cartridges or cards or even uniquely shaped disks in the case of the PSP. Now however there might just be an evolution to this mobile gaming market. Sony Remote Play on your mobile phone.
The Sony Xperia Z3 and Z2 range of phones as well as their accompanying tablets have had a recent software update which might slip past some but for a growing selection of gamers will be a huge bonus. Combined with a PlayStation 4 and some handy WiFi you can now remotely access your PS4 and play all those triple A titles and that ever-growing collection of PS+ titles that you have sitting in your entertainment centre or under your tv.
Downloading the app to use the remote play feature is simple enough. The app can be found in the google play store by searching for ‘PS4 Remote Play’. The app downloads quickly and you are then ready to go. I would have liked to see the app incorporated into the PlayStation App as an option but considering this is a specific feature for the Xperia Z2 and Z3 models I can understand why it hasn’t been incorporated.
Initial set up for the dual shock 4 controller is extremely simple. Just make sure your phone has its Bluetooth connection turned on and then the remote play app will ask you to hold down the ‘share’ and ‘PS’ buttons on the controller until you see the light bar flash white. Once this is done the controller can now be paired with the phone to play games. If you reconnect the controller to the PlayStation 4 then you will have to go through the process of pairing it back with the phone next time you want to remote play. The process took me about 10 seconds to do so it really isn’t a long drawn out issue. Note: When finished playing, remember to turn off your Bluetooth connection to the controller as the Dual Shock 4 controller can actually control your phone outside of the app so you want to make sure that having it bump and bounce around in your pocket or bag isn’t making it accidentally ring someone or any other activity that your phone is capable of doing.
Note: you need to make sure that you have turned the PS4 network setting via rest mode on before attempting to remote play. This is simply done by going to the settings on your PlayStation 4, then going to the ‘Power Saving Settings’ sub menu and clicking on the ‘Set Functions During Rest Mode’ option. Once there just click to activate both ‘Stay Connected To The Internet’ and ‘Enable Turning On Of PS4 From Network’ options. Once done you are good to go.
Connecting the remote play app to the PlayStation 4 worked flawlessly for me. I was highly expecting to have some kind of connection issues with low WiFi connections but it is pretty stable. I tested it on two WiFi connections. The first being a broadband speed of 45mg and the second had a broadband speed of 6.5mg. On both of these occasions the connection to the PlayStation 4 that was sitting at home with a WiFi connection speed of 50mg went seamlessly and connected within 1 minute. The app takes you though how to connect very easily. In fact, if you take out the need to pair the Dual Shock 4 controller then you only need to press 2 buttons to activate the remote play and one of those button presses is to open the app itself!
After testing the phone’s connection I did discover that the phone also needs to be in a WiFi connection as well as the PlayStation 4. This does limit the ‘on the move’ ability but with the amount of growing WiFi connections in towns and cities all over the world this isn’t a significant issue as much as it might once have been.
This is where it all counts. If the remote play doesn’t work well then it will become just another failed app that floats around not doing much. In the case of this app I can report that it works exceedingly well. After connection is made you come face to screen with your PlayStation 4. In landscape mode it shows the screen as you would expect in all its glory. In portrait mode you get the top third of the phones display showing the PS4 display and the lower 2 thirds are a touch screen representation of the Dual Shock 4 controls. Obviously, on a smaller screen you are better off with the landscape mode. Even in this form you can still use the touchscreen as a controller if you don’t have a Dual Shock to hand. Touchscreen controls do work although I did find them to have a degree of lag. This would be fine for certain types of game but for quick reactions needed in other types I think you would find this frustrating at times. The Dual Shock 4 control on the other hand was smooth and clean. Testing the game on titles such as Resogun, Entwined and Destiny showed that the controls function just how you would want them to. I was able to play as I would if I was sitting in front of a larger screen and the PS4 itself. Again, with some games such as FPS a smaller screen can be a disadvantage but this is not a deficiency with the remote play itself. Using one of the Sony compatible tablets would help with screen size issues of this nature.
I used the remote play to game for an hour or so at a time and on only one occasion did I get a warning that the WiFi signal was dropping to a speed where connection was an issue. In this case I was playing Resogun and I did notice a certain amount of slow down and some screen tearing but this was when I was using the 6mb broadband so a drop in this would cause any system to have an issue let alone a remotely accessed PS4 playing a fast paced shooter.
A coming addition that will make remote gaming with the Sony Xperia Z phones and a Dual Shock 4 controller much more ergonomic is the addition of the mount which will attach the controller to screen making it feel more like a portable gaming system. I look forward to trying one of these attachments out and seeing how much of a difference it does make.
We have seen remote play in other devices especially with Sony. The original PSP could remotely access the PlayStation 3 and play certain titles although these were very few and far between. The connection was also flaky at best. From personal experience I found that it used to drop on multiple occasions. We have also seen remote play to the PlayStation 4 by using the PS Vita. This is more stable than the old PSP and you can play plenty of the games out there. The PS Vita is a great device and we here at JoypadAndMe are huge fans of it but the simple fact of the matter is that it is an added device to carry. In this world where we want to minimise the amount of stuff we carry about and in particular the amount of electrical gadgetry that we have to keep an eye on and keep charged up (any gadget fan will know the horrors of keeping dozens of charging cables organised). The benefit of having the remote play access directly to your phone that you already carry about anyway is ideal. Screen size on the PS Vita and the Sony Xperia Z2 is pretty much the same so you don’t lose out on any viewing real estate. The option to carry a Dual Shock 4 controller might not appeal to everyone for the specific reason stated above but its an option, you can play using the touch screen if you so wish. If it was a necessity then I think there may be people who would consider that an issue. I personally have no trouble in carrying and using a controller if it means I have better feel and control over the games I want to play and by using a familiar controller that I already own due to having the PlayStation 4.
If you own one of the Sony Xperia Z2 or Z3 models as well as a PlayStation 4 then you will love this feature. It really does give you access to your games while away from your console. I personally would have liked it to run over a data connection such as 3G or 4G but this may well have been an executive decision regarding the amount of data the remote play would take up. Playing over a WiFi connection negates for most people some unexpected bills at the end of the month!
This may be a feature that will not roll out to further models and I know that some people are asking if it will ever be seen on the Xperia Z1 and Z1 compact models. Many phones and devices have specific features that are not seen on other devices and if this is the case with the PS4 remote play feature then so be it. It makes for a great selling point if marketed well. With other mobile phone competitors seemingly stagnating in their development, any advantage one can have over the others can make all the difference. Sony have combined two sides of their business to create a feature that I feel will seal the deal on many a undicided buyer. Remote play may not be to everyone’s taste but to those that it is, these devices combined with a PlayStation 4 is certainly the way to go.
Sony Xperia Z3 Prices
Sony Xperia Z2 Prices
One last thing to note: Although the Sony Xperia Z2 and Z3 as well as their counterpart tablets are waterproof (I’ve personally tested this and seen it to be true), the Dual Shock 4 controller is not and I wouldn’t advise expecting the controller to survive a session of gaming while in the bath, shower, swimming pool, scuba diving or other such aquatic activities!
Products used for this review:
Sony PlayStation 4, Sony DualShock 4 Controller, Sony Xperia Z2 Mobile Phone on a Vodafone Monthly Contract.
All reviewers own products bought and paid for by the reviewer.