- Credit: Sony Media Gallery

Sony made a camera with a phone attached to it . . or so they claim

The Xperia Pro-I is aiming to grab a piece of the premium pie with old marketing tricks. But will it work?

Mr. Big

Sony is literally using "I'm packing big time" to make the distinction between their product and the competition. The Xperia Pro-I is packing one of the largest camera sensors out there - a 1-inch EXMOR-RS straight from their capable RX100 VII (Mark 7) point-and-shoot camera. While this is not exactly a first, since Panasonic CM1 did it back in 2014 and then Sharp Aquos R6 repeated this feet, Sony has arguably the most advanced implementation.

Credit: Sony Media Gallery

Credit: Sony Media Gallery

Weirdly though, while the full sensor resolution is 20MP the Xperia Pro-I can only snap 12MP photos. Sony claims a full-sensor readout and clever pixel binning to basically emulate much larger sensor size. Again, that's not unheard of and there are 100 to 12 megapixels implementation on the market, but the sensor's already large physical size here makes a huge positive difference. To make it even more camera-like, Sony added the BIONZ X image signal processor from their A9 mirrorless camera as a separate entity to work on the photos.

Credit: Sony Media Gallery

Credit: Sony Media Gallery

As for the optics, there is now a variable aperture on the main camera that goes from f/2.0 all the way to f/4.0 and for a sizeable sensor this is necessary, rather than just convenient. You see, big sensors tends to have a shallower depth of field and for a full incher, it's next to impossible to compensate only in software. Then there's the autofocus, which as trivial as it sounds nowadays is actually spectacular, compared to every other smartphone out there.

Credit: Sony Media Gallery

Credit: Sony Media Gallery

The focus points are 315 in total, covering 90% of the frame area, they are phase-detection and the performance of that whole system is noting short of impressive! The Xperia Pro-I can take 20 fps burst with continuous autofocus and even real-time eye tracking, which would work on your pets as well. Importantly, the positive effects are carried over the video section. With 4K resolution and even 120 fps slow motion with no input frame compression - it's vloggers delight! On the software side, Sony offers their cinema-like VENICE colour modes with a 21:9 aspect ratio option.

The rest and accessories

By now nobody reading this could be bothered about the actual phone, but here it is anyway. There are two more 12MP cameras for ultra-wide and 2x telephoto capture, albeit with regular, smaller sensors. There's also a separate 3D-ToF sensor to help those not-so-capable shooters and the all important nowadays 8MP selfie camera.

Credit: Sony Media Gallery

Credit: Sony Media Gallery

The screen is a 6.5-inch 4K OLED capable of 120Hz refresh rate. The power comes from a Snapdragon 888 chipset, paired with 12GB of RAM. Storage is plentiful at 512GB and expandable by a microSD card slot. The battery is 4500 mAh and supports up to 30 watts of charging. The fast charger is bundled in the box, along with the USB cable and strangely - a case! There is a 3.5 mm headphones jack, so Bluetooth deniers can rejoice.

Credit: Sony Media Gallery

Credit: Sony Media Gallery

Sony has been very keen to their claims that the Xperia Pro-I is a camera on the first place and then a phone, so they've explained that the "I" in the naming is a reference to their Alpha series . . in their mind anyway. And to prove a point, especially among vloggers, Sony will offer a special Vlog Monitor - a 3.5-inch 720p screen accessory that attaches to the Xperia Pro-I's rear and allows you to film yourself with a little bit of ease on the framing.

Credit: Sony Media Gallery

Credit: Sony Media Gallery

The elephant in the room

It's time to talk about the pricing. The phone will start to ship in December at the hefty price of $1800 and this is when the real issue starts. The Xperia Pro-I equals in price Samsung's flagship Z Fold 3 and it's $200 more expensive than a 1TB iPhone 13 Pro Max! Heck, the thing is $500 more expensive than the camera it has been derived from (RX100 VII costs $1300)! It would cost the same as Sony's own A7C full-frame camera! But Sony claims the 5G connectivity part to be the point of separation for their potential customers. Yeah . . right!

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Comments (16)

  • So it’s just a phone then…

      1 month ago
    • Yes, no matter what Sony claims. It's an expensive phone with a bigger camera sensor that's crippled by the usual suspect - smartphone software. I've seen and sold the numerous attempts from companies like Samsung, LG and Sony to strap a...

      Read more
        1 month ago
  • Lets face it, over 90% of people have no idea how to use the software that can possibly give you great pictures and lots of them think they have to have a phone with the best camaca around. Photographers study long and hard to achieve great work, it does not come from buying the best phone. Can you take a great pic with a phone, sure but only in the right conditions. If your going to a race event and expect to get great action shots from 30 yards away, guess again. Oh look at all those guys with there thousands of dollars of cameras and lenses, they should just get a phone like mine. Ya sure.

      1 month ago
  • I’d love to have this camera … errr… phone. I wouldn’t buy it.

      1 month ago
  • This is a car site

      1 month ago
    • How do you take pictures of your cars and share them? 🀨

        1 month ago
    • Ok? You don't see me posting about the clothes I buy because I wear them in my car. Just seems weird and unrelated.

        1 month ago
  • its not like social media applications would support it lol, it would deafult to 720p 30fps or whatever

      1 month ago
    • You have a good point - imagine someone doesn't know what S-Log is and decides to record a video for FB in that. The result would be hilarious πŸ˜‚ The phone supports S-Log like their previous flagship, and this is a super flat-coloured video...

      Read more
        1 month ago
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