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Sony Xperia Pro-I debuts with a big main camera and a price tag to match

Sony melds its camera and smartphone knowledge into one beefy device, but can you look past its price?

Published onOctober 26, 2021

sony xperia pro i 1
  • Sony has announced the Xperia Pro-I.
  • The camera-centric smartphone packs a 1-inch sensor, 4K display, and Snapdragon 888 SoC.
  • There’s a host of accessories, too, for vloggers and enthusiasts.

Sony‘s pretty adept at crafting compact yet capable mirrorless cameras. It’s not too bad at making smartphones either. So effectively, it would be a shrewd idea to meld the two into one device, right? That’s seemingly what the company’s new Xperia Pro-I is.

The Sony Xperia Pro-I isn’t a direct successor of the original Xperia Pro, which debuted earlier this year. Instead of packing an HDMI out port that few seemingly embraced, the Xperia Pro-I brings in a 1-inch primary camera sensor that dominates the phone’s rear plate. It sits behind a 24mm lens which can shoot at f/2.0 and f/4.0. It’s by no means the first 1-inch camera phone we’ve seen out in the wild, but it might be more accessible to most than the Sharp Aquos R6, or Leica’s Leitz Phone 1.

Sony’s claiming a laundry list of advantages using such a large sensor, too. Less low light noise, more bokeh, autofocus that covers “90% of the frame,” and suppressed rolling-shutter effect while snapping moving objects. In terms of video, the Sony Xperia Pro-I can shoot 4K at 120fps with HDR and employs optical image stabilization throughout. There’s a vlogger mode, too, which includes object tracking up to 120fps in 4K and eye-focus smarts within video modes. Sony’s also pushing a shooting grip accessory and a vlog monitor (see below).

Sony Xperia Pro-I: Hot or not?

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Beyond the primary sensor, Sony’s tacking two additional sensors to the Xperia Pro-I. A 12MP 1/2.9-inch sensor sits behind a 50mm f/2.4 lens for portraiture, while an additional 12MP 1/2.5-inch sensor is used with a 16mm f/2.2 lens for ultra-wide shots. Notably, there’s no long-reaching telephoto camera here which might be a disappointing omission for some. An 8MP selfie camera is positioned within the top bezel up front.

See also: The best camera phones

Sony Xperia Pro-I specs

sony xperia pro i 2 vlog monitor

In terms of core specs, the Sony Xperia Pro-I is primarily based on the Xperia 1 III. It uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 SoC as a base with 12GB of RAM and 512GB of UFS storage alongside. Also, dual-SIM slots with a shared microSD card slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack feature.

The familiar 6.5-inch 4K OLED display can be found up front, with a 3,840 x 1,644 resolution. A 240Hz touch sampling rate joins its 120Hz refresh rate, and it also packs 100% of the DCI-P3 gamut. Powering all this is a 4,500mAh battery which tops up at 30W via USB-C.

Other niceties include Bluetooth 5.2 support, a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, NFC, a dedicated camera shutter button, a camera strap mounting loop, and Gorilla Glass Victus slathered across the display. “Full-stage” stereo speakers also feature alongside support for Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format.

Sony Xperia Pro-I pricing and availability

While Sony’s previous Pro smartphone packed key features only a tiny portion of the population would use, its real issue was its price. At $2,500, it was far too expensive to make an impact on the market. Sony’s seemingly learned from its mistakes this time around.

The Sony Xperia Pro-I is much more accessible albeit still pricey. It will retail in the US for ~$1,800. That’s still a pretty penny for a smartphone and puts it well into foldable territory. Pre-orders begin on October 28, while shipping commences in December.

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