Sony Xperia Pro-I is a YouTuber’s dream phone on the go

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The Sony Xperia Pro was released in January as a device for video professionals, and now a new version – the Sony Xperia Pro-I – has been announced as a custom-designed phone for vloggers. The phone will be available for pre-order from October 28 and will be sold unlocked from December 2021 in the United States, although availability in other regions has not been announced.

The Xperia Pro-I (‘I’ for imaging) has almost all of the benefits of its predecessor and a few improvements of its own at a lower price point – $ 1,799 / £ 1,599 (around AU $ 2,400), per compared to the $ 2,500 (approx £ 1,830 / AU $ 3,245) price tag of the Xperia Pro. The new Pro-I lacks an HDMI port at the heart of using the Xperia Pro as an external display for expensive professional cameras, so it’s more of a general-purpose phone designed for videographers.

The Xperia Pro-I has an improved main camera with a 1 inch sensor. It’s one of the first consumer phones to have a sensor of this size (and the first to come to the US), which allows for better low-light performance, dynamic range, and more natural depth of field. compared to the computer bokeh seen in phones with smaller sensors. The main camera’s dual-aperture lens, which lets you switch between f / 2.0 and f / 4.0, gives you additional control over that background blur.

The megapixel count has not changed compared to the Pro – the three rear cameras are 12MP, so the main, telephoto and ultra-wide cameras are not improved in this regard. But the Xperia Pro-I has other improvements over the standard Pro, like having 315 autofocus points (the green grid of the boxes displayed when taking photos) covering 90% of the viewfinder, compared to 247 points on the Xperia Pro. covering 70% of the viewfinder. The phone can also take burst photos at up to 20 frames per second with autofocus, as well as improved anti-distortion over previous Xperia models.

Aside from its revamped rear camera block, the Xperia Pro-I is physically similar to the Xperia Pro, although it upgrades the chipset to the Snapdragon 888 found in this year’s flagship Android phones. It has the same 6.5-inch OLED display as the Xperia 1 III, although that’s fine for most smartphone owners – its 4K resolution (3840 x 1644) is rare among modern smartphones.

It contains a 4,500 mAh battery and a 30 W charger, as well as the front speakers of the Xperia I III as well as a 3.5 mm headphone jack. It has a shortcut button that can be configured to open any app, and the dedicated shutter button has the same shutter switch module as Sony’s RX100 series compact cameras. There is even a small hole for attaching a wrist strap.

And, most importantly, the Xperia Pro-I can record video, which the Xperia Pro cannot. But there’s more to the modern vlogger than Sony’s new phone can offer.

Xperia Pro-I: What’s Here For Video Fans?

The Sony Xperia Pro-I phone with its Vlog Monitor accessory on a blue background

(Image credit: Sony)

The Xperia Pro-I is dedicated to video recording, with some firsts in the smartphone world: it’s the first to natively record 120 fps – and save every frame, unlike other phones that record at this speed. , but record in 30 or 24 fps to play back in slow motion at a specific speed. Saving each frame means users can choose the slow motion rate they want.

There is also new software, Video Pro, which offers a level of manual control and editing similar to that of Sony’s Cinema Pro app that comes with the Xperia Pro. The phone’s wide 21: 9 screen allows the phone to display the viewfinder in 16: 9 with enough room to the side for manual video controls. With software called Optical Steadyshot and StableEye that stabilize images and track moving subjects, the phone promises a lot for action videographers.

There’s also an optional $ 199 / £ 169 (approx AU $ 265) vlogging accessory – a 3.5-inch external display that can be magnetically mounted on the back of the Xperia Pro-I to show what’s being recorded. from the rear cameras. And for those who want to protect their phone in style, a $ 90 (around £ 65 / AU $ 120) leather case.


Analysis: An important moment for camera phones

The Sony Xperia Pro-I phone sitting next to a Sony camera.

(Image credit: Sony)

The Sony Xperia Pro-I has a few “world first” claims, but perhaps the most important is that Sony has officially called it part of its camera line. Given that the lineup features some of the best cameras in the world, it’s a symbolic moment for camera phones – and for high-end compact cameras, too.

This is because the Xperia Pro-I is effectively the telephone equivalent of the Sony ZV-1 and the Sony RX100 VII. Both of these compact cameras are built on a similar 1-inch sensor and Bionz X processors. Until now, they also held an advantage over the Xperia line (and most other smartphones) in terms of sensor size and professional features.

The Xperia Pro-I sees Sony effectively abandoning any concerns about cannibalization in favor of making a smartphone that can compete, on paper, with its best compact cameras for photos and video. It also sees Sony taking a very different path from its big camera phone rivals like Apple, Google and Samsung. While the latter are now largely focused on point-and-shoot computer photography, the Xperia Pro-I is a pro-focused camera that builds on Sony’s more traditional advantages in sensors, lenses and real-time tracking autofocus.

Traditional cameras like the Sony RX100 series still have some advantages in areas like lenses. Despite the inclusion in the Xperia Pro-I of a Zeiss Tessar glass lens, size constraints still limit what’s possible in a smartphone – so we’ll have to see how that plays out in some real world tests.

But there’s no doubt that the Xperia Pro-I is a bold statement of intent from Sony, which is the only smartphone maker to also make world-class standalone cameras. The question is how many people, other than Sony camera fans, want this kind of experience in a phone, compared to the more user-friendly intelligence of the best camera phones.


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