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Is this the Playstation phone?

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Maybe...

Sony's PSP is in dire need of a hardware upgrade. Sony's good buddy Sony Ericsson makes upmarket cellphones. Apple's iPhone, which combines impressive gaming capabilities with passable phone functions, has been something of a success. Consequently, over the last year or so there's been no shortage of speculation about a possible PSP-cellphone hybrid device.

But there's never been anything quite like this before.

Leaked to tech blog Engadget by what the site calls "multiple, trusted sources," this is (apparently) the Playstation Phone, which is codenamed "Zeus," says Engadget, and runs Android.

According to Engadget's sources, the "Zeus" is substantially more powerful than the PSP, boasting a 1 GHz Qualcomm processor and 512 MB of RAM, with a screen about 4" across. It's equipped with most of the same buttons as the PSP, is branded Sony Ericsson, and apparently includes a microSD card slot for removable storage instead of the PSP's more traditional UMD drive and/or Memory Stick. Taking a cue from the Nintendo DS and iPhone, it also includes a small touch-sensitive control surface.

Sony, you'll be unsurprised to hear, hasn't been too keen to provide clarity. Early responses from the electronics giant decried the pictures as "definitely fake," but the company later retreated to its more usual "we don't comment on rumors or speculation" stance.

Engadget, though, remains resolutely convinced of the device's existence, going so far as to run a post yesterday titled "The Playstation Phone is still real", and suggesting the device's software infrastructure might be named "Z-System." They also point out their track record for scooping unannounced hardware, which includes first pictures of the MacBook Air, the iPad, the Nexus One, and the now-infamous iPhone 4 prototype.

Our take? A PSP-phone hybrid seems like such an obvious step -- and has been so widely reported by outlets as eminent as the Wall St. Journal -- that it's hard to believe there's no truth at all to the rumors. But these pictures? Color us, at the outside, unconvinced. Feel free to speculate in the comments.

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