Credit: Tech Times
The Sony Xperia Pro-I is a wonderful addition to Sony’s smartphone lineup, and it represents the company’s image and mobile divisions’ most meaningful union yet. It’s also a good camera phone that will likely appeal to photographers and videographers who aren’t Apple fans. Given its expensive price, Sony’s relatively traditional photo processing, and the fact that it lacks features like wireless charging and a periscope camera, its public appeal is restricted.
- Excellent photo and video capture
- Manual camera modes that are unmatched in their class
- High-quality design and features
- Internals are quite powerful
- Battery life last all-day
- There is no wireless charging
- Traditional photo processing are unappealing
- There is no periscope zoom camera
- Secondary cameras fall short of expectations
- Extremely costly
Sony’s flagship smartphones, like the Sony Xperia 1 III, have always had their focus fixed firmly on photography purists. While Apple, Google, and Huawei were boosting shadows and creating night modes that made evenings look like mornings, Sony was sticking to its guns. If you’re taking a backlit photo with a Sony phone, it will produce a dramatic silhouette. If you’re shooting at midnight – it will look like nighttime.
This purist photo processing has divided smartphone enthusiasts into two camps: the Sony camp and the ‘everyone else’s camp. It’s also resulted in Sony fans on social media being among the most vocal and impassioned, defending the Japanese tech brand to the digital death.
The Xperia Pro-I was born against this backdrop. While Sony’s been piling on camera apps that have mirrored its compact and film camera lines for a couple of years now, starting with the Xperia 1, the Pro-I is the first to feature hardware that’s directly trickled down from Sony imaging; specifically, the sensor. Also, you can see the Google Pixel Review
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Sony’s popular RX100 line features a 1.0-type sensor. While this became synonymous with being one inch, on the Xperia Pro-I, the 1.0 type sensor doesn’t measure up. Instead, it uses a portion of the 1-inch sensor – 12MP of it to be precise.
So while the Xperia Pro-I features a large sensor by smartphone standards, its size is nothing we haven’t seen before, with the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra’s sensor being larger, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s matching it.
So who in their right mind would pay a premium price for a smartphone with hardware that wasn’t treading new turf? Three groups of people: Sony fans, photography purists, and videographers who aren’t in a monogamous relationship with Apple.
With that all accounted for, the Sony Xperia Pro-I 1-inch Image Camera Sensor is a good phone across the board. Its design is very Sony, and also flagship with premium glass and metal matched with welcome photography-focused accents like that shutter release and textured frame. Its screen is also punchy and sharp, albeit a little dull in direct sunlight. As for Sony’s UI, it’s reliably clean and just a couple of degrees off-stock Android.
With flagship power, 512GB storage, SD card support, and nippy 5G data speeds, there’s very little missing from the Xperia Pro-I – wireless charging is the main feature that springs to mind. That said, whether or not you should buy this expensive camera phone will, for the most part, depend on your taste in image processing. Do you pick the very best in Sony-style traditional photo processing and dedicated manual photo and video apps, or a modern point-shoot-and-share camera?
Sony Xperia Pro-I Review
Specifications of Sony Xperia Pro-I Review
|Display||6.5-inch OLED , 3,860 x 1,644 4K , 21|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888|
|Storage||512GB, MicroSD (up to 1TB)|
|Battery||4,500mAh, 30W wired charging, No wireless charging|
|Camera||12MP main camera, f/2.0/f/4.0, 24mm, 1-inch sensor, 12MP ultra-wide, f/2.2, 16mm, 1/2.5-inch, 12MP telephoto, f/2.4, 50mm, 1/2.9-inch, 8MP selfie camera, f/2.0|
|Video||4K at 60fps/120fps|
|IP rating||IP65/IP68 dust/water resistant|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, 5G (sub-6GHz), USB-C|
|Dimensions||166 x 72 x 8.9mm|
Price of Sony Xperia Pro-I Review
The Sony Xperia Pro-I 1-inch Image Camera Sensor is available to buy in the US for $1,799 and the UK for £1,599. Australian availability hasn’t been confirmed, but it is available to import for approximately AU$2,600.
Launched in December 2021, it’s the second Pro series phone from Sony, and the first to feature a new camera system. The phone is only available in black with 512GB of storage. That puts the Xperia Pro-I at around $400/£200 more than a 512GB iPhone 13 Pro Max.
The Sony Xperia Pro-I is a Sony phone in every way. Since the original Xperia 1 was released three years ago, we’ve become accustomed to its towering build. There’s no notch, and the extended 21:9 display gives the phone a slim design.
The phone’s chassis is blasted aluminum with a substantial chamfer around the front and rear sandwiched between two glass panes: Gorilla Glass Victus on the front and Gorilla Glass 6 on the back. The fact that, unlike the Pro, the Xperia Pro-I is water-resistant with IP68 certification adds to the phone’s toughness.
The Xperia Pro-frame I’s has a groove that runs around it, making it easier to hold than most metal-framed phones. This provides more area for your fingers to grip, and we like the visual and tactile texture it offers.
The Xperia Pro-I is without a doubt the most secure in the hand, even when compared to an iPhone 13 Pro Max and a Pixel 6 Pro. It’s also the nicest to hold, thanks to its narrow 72mm width, and it’s practically the lightest, at 211g vs 240g for the iPhone and 210g for the Pixel 6 Pro.
A centred camera surround is a star around the back of the phone. With tiered secondary cameras – an ultra-wide camera above and a portrait camera below — the primary camera protrudes the most. The smooth surface on the matte glass back feels considerably more luxurious than the original Xperia Pro, and it’s evocative of Apple and Samsung’s finest.
A 3.5mm headphone jack is located on the top side of the Xperia Pro-I, while a USB-C connector is located on the bottom of the phone. The USB-C connector isn’t only for data and charging; with the correct adaptor, it can transform the phone into an external display for your camera, making the original Xperia Pro obsolete.
There are lots of buttons on the right side, including a volume rocker, fingerprint scanner/power button combo, shortcut key, and camera key.
The Xperia Pro’s camera button We’ve never seen anything like that on a phone before. First, it’s big, unlike the Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III, which have a little nub that protrudes from the back. A delicate criss-cross ridged pattern is also present. This makes it simple for a clumsy finger to recognize. It’s also quite spongy, which is an odd decision. Despite being two-stage when pushed – half-press to concentrate, full-press to capture – the half-press resistance isn’t as pleasant as we would have liked. Finally, the Xperia Pro-design I’s works well, and while it isn’t as visually appealing as a Google Pixel 6 Pro or as stunning as an iPhone, it feels great and looks timeless.
The display on the Xperia Pro-I is a 10-bit OLED panel with a refresh rate of 120Hz. This is a solid start, and it matches the phone’s screen with top-tier Sony phones from the past, including the original Pro, with HDR and BT.2020 color space compatibility. This also makes the phone more accessible to filmmakers.
On paper, nothing from the Sony camp comes close in terms of clarity, though the screen most of the time operates at a virtual resolution of 1096 x 2560, so you’ll seldom see a genuine 4K image being presented, especially when making your way through the interface.
Despite the downsampling, the Xperia Pro-I still has a superior display than other 1080p hardware, thanks to AMOLED displays’ pentile sub-pixel creation. Everything appears to be exceedingly sharp with a true pixel density of over 400 pixels per inch.
With a lofty 21:9 aspect ratio and a 6.5-inch screen, the phone is long and slender, making it simpler to carry than the competitors. Thumbing from the middle to the top will take a stretch or two hands due to its height. It’s also worth noting that it lacks notches or cameras with punch-hole holes. Instead, to fit the 8MP selfie camera, the bezel above the display is a little thicker.
On the Xperia Pro-I, the display quality is superb. Blacks are deep, colors are vivid, and there’s a degree of versatility in the settings to modify the appearance, warm things up, or cool things down whether you’re watching movies, playing games, surfing a site, or swiping through an app.
The Pro-I has good viewing angles from all sides, although it struggles in bright situations, especially off-angle. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it does continue a trend: the whole Sony Xperia 1 range has struggled to match the brightness of iPhones and Samsung Galaxy flagships.
Cameras of Sony Xperia Pro-I
Credit: World Today News
The Xperia Pro-1.0-type I’s Exmor RS sensor is merely cropped to 12MP, which implies it’s closer to a 1/1.33in the sensor in actuality.
Regardless, it has a pixel size of 2.4m, which is still rather huge for a smartphone, especially when compared to the 12MP sensor in the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which has 1.9m pixels. While it doesn’t have as many binned pixels as the Nokia Pureview 808 and Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra’s oversampled sensors, it does have more individual pixels than any other smartphone sensor.
The primary camera on the Xperia Pro-I also has a variable aperture that can be adjusted to f/2 or f/4. There’s a 12MP, 1/2.5-inch, f/2.2, 16mm ultra-wide lens and a 12MP, 1/2.9-inch, f/2.4, 50mm portrait lens on the secondary cameras. OIS is available on the primary camera and portrait lens.
If you think the Xperia Pro-I features the best cameras Sony makes for mobile, you’re only partly right. While the primary camera is indeed mighty with that large sensor, the Pro-I’s telephoto camera is modest with a 50mm focal length, versus the Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III, which reach as far as 105mm. As for the ultra-wide and selfie cameras, they are the same across all three phones, with fixed-focus lenses.
The secondary cameras of the Xperia Pro-I are obviously outperformed by the Oppo Find X3 Pro in ultra-wide photos and the Pixel 6 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, and other periscope cameras in telephoto capture. Given the phone’s huge price tag, this is a pity.
The camera interface on the Xperia Pro-I is where Sony’s imaging really shines. It’s the only manufacturer to forego smartphone-style photography in favor of a more camera-like UI that uses a physical shutter release and displays on-screen capture information when shooting images, as well as offering substantial film-grade video capture control.
While Sony’s out-of-the-box applications are wonderful for photography and video capture – and they are really for enthusiasts — the Xperia 1 III and 5 III have the majority of them. Filmic Pro, which unlocks pro-grade manual video control for iOS and Android, is also available for a very low price. So, while Sony provides something unique, if you don’t mind dealing with third-party apps, it isn’t as good as the competition.
In terms of photo quality, Sony’s cameras generate photographs that are classic and natural-looking. We’d expect to find a similar photo style to that captured by Sony’s Pro-I if we opened a photography magazine from the 1980s or 1990s.
The contrast in Sony’s processing is good, and it avoids the HDR-like enhanced shadows and brightened dark patches that you see in Galaxy and Pixel shots. Take the raw shot above with a shutter speed of two seconds on ISO 100 and a tripod to capture a lot of information. The shadows are purposely downplayed in the JPEG, although the RAW provides enough detail to increase.
When photography backlit subjects in automatic mode, the Xperia Pro-I isn’t concerned about foreground detail until it recognizes a face. While the Pixel 6 Pro’s photographs have unquestionable drama, the sample below shows the limitations of Sony’s photo processing when compared to a camera that uses more aggressive HDR methods. Sure, Sony’s shot doesn’t have a blown-out backdrop, but it’s a useless image for the typical smartphone user, and even professionals won’t be able to extract meaningful detail from the cat’s features.
We truly got into our stride with the Xperia Pro-I after we became accustomed to its eccentricities. On a city vacation, we carried the camera with us, and it seemed like a compact camera at times. It can capture a pleasant degree of bokeh, and its processing is subtle enough to keep photographs appearing tasteful – unlike some smartphone companies like Realme, which use radioactive processing.
It catches moderate quantities of noise and exposes photos less than the competition when left in automatic mode for the most of the time, resulting in more atmospheric shots.
The Pro-I is also more flexible than another huge sensor smartphone, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.
Xiaomi’s narrow depth of field can be overkill at times, but with its somewhat smaller sensor and customizable aperture, you aren’t forced to shoot bokeh when you don’t want to. The processing on the Xperia Pro-I is likewise more natural, however the secondary cameras on the Mi 11 Ultra are superior.
The Pro-I focuses quickly, and the eye-tracking works well. When taking images inside, though, cropping in might result in photos that are a touch soft.
Skin tones have an almost Canon-like warmth under incandescent light and a natural coldness under fluorescent light, and colors caught by the Pro-I are often correct.
The fact that the colors are constant across all three cameras is even more striking. Even when a light source is introduced as a result of switching to a wider lens, there aren’t the massive color shifts found in some rival cameras – albeit there is a noticeable exposure change.
In all modes other than Basic, the camera obliged us to utilize the physical shutter release for photo capture, which took some getting accustomed to. A stranger had no idea what to do with a physical shutter key on a phone when we handed it to them to snap a photograph.
Aside from its quirks, the Sony Xperia Pro-I is a good camera phone. The usual focal lengths – 16mm, 24mm, and 50mm – were a hit with us. However, it isn’t the technical showcase that Sony’s pricing promises; rather, it’s another excellent Sony camera phone that comes at a high price.
As for video capture, once you’ve decided which of the three apps you’ll use to capture it, results look good.
The Xperia Pro-I has three cameras, all of which may be used to record video in any of the three applications. You can catch some stunning footage with excellent detail if you give them balanced lighting.
The camera features consistent exposure and natural-looking colors. When we brought the footage into an editing suite, we were able to save a lot of shadow detail, which isn’t bad for a smartphone. Dark situations, on the other hand, overpower it, resulting in noise — particularly when utilizing the ultra-wide camera.
The 8MP hardware in the selfie camera is underwhelming. It has the same 1/4-inch sensor as the original Xperia 1 from three years ago, as well as a fixed-focus 24mm f/2 lens. As a result, it’s adequate for a front camera — video calls and casual selfies are good, but we mostly avoided it. Sony has released an extra monitor for vlogging that simplifies rear camera selfies and costs $200 (£169).
The Pro-I, unlike the original Xperia Pro, comes with the most recent commercially accessible flagship processor – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, which is paired with 12GB of RAM. It also has 512GB of storage, which can be expanded using the microSD card.
The Pro-I featured top-tier smartphone performance in everyday usage, able to run any game from the Google Play store with fluid interactivity and 4K video playback.
The latest Sony Pro uses Android 11, which isn’t the most recent version of Google’s operating system. However, Sony has a history of being dependable when it comes to software updates, and Android 12 will be available to the Pro in the near future, along with Android 13.
In our Geekbench 5 testing, the Xperia 1 III achieved an average of 3474, which is precisely what we’d expect from a top-end phone in 2021. The Samsung Galaxy S21 had a score of 3367, while the OnePlus 9 Pro received a score of 3630.
We found the 5G connection to be satisfactory, with signal strength and reliability comparable to other handsets of this sort. On EE, we were able to attain speeds of 320Mbps down and 50MP up in a London borough with 5G coverage, which is the same speed as the Google Pixel 6 Pro and an iPhone 13 Max.
Sony used the same battery in the Pro-I as it did in the Xperia 1 III, resulting in even longer battery life.
On paper, the Pro’s 4,500mAh battery isn’t large, but the phone’s screen, with its 21:9 aspect ratio, doesn’t have as much surface area as some other phones. Even so, it will require a nightly charge, especially if you use the camera frequently.
After moderate use, we had roughly 20% to 30% charge left at the end of a full working day, so if you’re cautious and turn it off at night, you could get two days out of it, but you’ll probably just get one.
The phone can charge up to 30W, and the charger that comes with it can charge it to 50% in 30 minutes. This isn’t the quickest charging we’ve seen, trailing behind OnePlus and Xiaomi, but it exceeds Apple’s normal charging speeds for smartphones.
Wireless charging isn’t available on the Pro-I, which is a bummer. Given that the technology is on the Xperia 1 III, and that it’s also now widespread, with charging stations in coffee shops and furniture all over, this is a true puzzler.
The Chromebook Duet 5 is nearly identical to what I had hoped for in a successor to the first Duet. But, as it turns out, that’s not exactly what I was looking for. It’s still a good tablet, especially if you need something that can survive through intercontinental travel in terms of battery life. It can also play videos with the best of them.
However, the Duet 5’s MacBook design — and, in particular, its unnecessarily broad screen — means it loses a lot of value as a tablet. It’s still a great price for the hardware you receive if you’re comfortable with using it as a laptop most of the time and tolerating its flaws. However, I’d recommend a traditional Chromebook to most customers looking for something in this size factor and pricing range.
- Sony Xperia Pro-I
The Xperia PRO is a smartphone from Sony. I have the look and feel of a smartphone, and it has many of the same features as its competitors, plus a few more. In addition, the phone has superior camera capabilities that enable it to capture amazingly high-quality stills and video. It’s an excellent option for content creators, smartphone photographers, and filmmakers who want to improve their technical