Sony’s Xperia Pro-I is a $1,800 phone with a 1-inch camera sensor

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At the start of 2021, Sony introduced the $2,500 Xperia Pro. It was a phone the company made for video professionals. Now, Sony is back with a second professional-grade smartphone designed to appeal to photography enthusiasts. The headline feature of the Xperia Pro-I is a 1-inch sensor borrowed from the company’s RX100 VII point-and-shoot camera. That’s a much larger sensor than you’ll find on most phones. 

To put things in perspective, the primary sensor on the Pixel 6 Pro features a pixel pitch of 1.2µm. By contrast, the main sensor on the Pro-I has 2.4µm-sized pixels, making it much better in low light. It can also shoot 12-bit RAW files and native 4K video at 120 frames per second with eye-detection auto-focus. Speaking of auto-focus, it comes with 315 points that cover 90 percent of the frame.

The Pro-I also includes one of Sony’s BIONZ X imaging processors, giving it the ability to shoot up to 20 frames per second with both auto-focus and auto-exposure enabled. The fast readout speed of the sensor allows it to avoid a rolling shutter effect, a feature Sony says helps the Pro-I stand out from other phones with 1-inch sensors like the Mi 11 Ultra. Those handsets also don’t have phase-detection autofocus like the Pro-I does.

Complimenting the 1-inch sensor is a 24mm lens made from glass that can switch between f/2.0 and f/4.0 apertures. Sony went with an aspherical design to make the optics as small as possible. Flanking the primary camera is a 16mm ultrawide camera and a 50mm telephoto camera. Sony says it chose that lens arrangement after consulting with photographers who told the company they wanted a setup that matched their collection of prime lenses.

Once you get past its camera, the Xperia Pro-I is essentially a souped-up Xperia 1 III. Internally, the phone features a Snapdragon 888 supported by 12GB of RAM and 512GB of internal storage. You can add up to 1TB of additional storage with the help of a microSD card. Powering everything is a 4,500mAh battery Sony claims will allow you to use the Pro-I for a full day on a single charge. Inside the box is a 30W power adapter that can charge the phone to 50 percent in 30 minutes.

The Pro-I also features the same 6.5-inch OLED that came on the Xperia 1 III. It’s a 4K display with a 120Hz refresh rate and 21:9 aspect ratio. On the audio front, the Pro-I not only comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack, but it also includes Sony’s LDAC and DSEE technologies.

All of those capabilities come with a hefty price tag. In the US, Sony plans to sell the Xperia Pro-I for the eye-watering price of $1,800. The way the company sees it, you’re effectively getting a flagship phone and RX100 VII for less than the price of buying those devices separately. However, the Xperia Pro-I isn’t a one-to-one replacement for the RX100 VII. Sony’s point-and-camera outputs images at 20.1-megapixel, using the full readout from its sensor. The Pro-I uses a crop because taking advantage of the entire sensor would necessitate a much larger lens than would be feasible to include on a smartphone. 

Pre-orders for the Xperia Pro-I open on October 28th, with general availability to follow in December.  

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