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Sony Xperia Pro-I review

Introduction

What if the Sony Xperia 1 III went to school and got a degree in filmmaking? No need to wonder – it would become an imaging professional. It would become the Xperia Pro-I.

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Sony has a habit of making phones no one expects, and no one has thought to ask for. That’s how the Xperia Pro came to be. The Xperia 1 II’s ultra-expensive alter ego was meant to be used as an external monitor for Sony Alpha cameras… and it also happened to be a phone with 5G connectivity.

The Xperia Pro-I, on the other hand, is not an accessory, it’s the main act – the phone is the camera. Inside the Pro-I, Sony fitted a 20MP 1.0″ Type sensor, and it’s the first one this big with phase-detect autofocus on a phone, they point out to get that Sharp out of the conversation. What they don’t explicitly mention is that the Pro-I isn’t using all of it – just 12MP, but we’ll elaborate on that later on. The point is – great main camera chops.

The other cameras aren’t all that special but complete a capable tri-set. There’s an autofocusing ultrawide that’s at the reasonable end of the ‘ultrawide’ spectrum instead of the extreme. As for zoom, gone is the dual focal length periscope of the Xperia 1 III, replaced on the Pro-I with a more modest 2x-only unit.

Sony Xperia Pro-I review

The rest of the internals are almost entirely straight from the Xperia 1 III. The Pro-I reuses that one’s 120Hz 4K display, the Snapdragon 888 is doing the calcs (not the plus, not that it matters), the battery is the same too.

The Pro-I does take its own unique path when it comes to design, but we’ll talk more about that on the next page.

Sony Xperia Pro-I specs at a glance:

  • Body: 166.0×72.0x8.9mm, 211g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass Victus), glass back (Gorilla Glass 6), aluminum frame; IP65/IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins).
  • Display: 6.50″ OLED, 1B colors, 120Hz, HDR BT.2020, 1644x3840px resolution, 21:9 aspect ratio, 643ppi; Runs at 1096 x 2560 pixels except for select use cases.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G (5 nm): Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 680); Adreno 660.
  • Memory: 512GB 12GB RAM; UFS 3.X; microSDXC (uses shared SIM slot).
  • OS/Software: Android 11.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 12 MP, f/2.0-4.0, 24mm, 1.0″-type, 2.4µm, PDAF, OIS (315 PDAF points, 90% frame coverage); Telephoto: 12 MP, f/2.4, 50mm, 1/2.9″, PDAF, 2.1x optical zoom, OIS; Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2, 124˚, 16mm, 1/2.55″, Dual Pixel PDAF; Depth: 0.3 MP, TOF 3D.
  • Front camera: 8 MP, f/2.0, 24mm (wide), 1/4″, 1.12µm.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 4K@24/25/30/60/120fps HDR, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps; 5-axis gyro-EIS, OIS; Front camera: 1080p@30fps, 5-axis gyro-EIS.
  • Battery: 4500mAh; Fast charging 30W, 50% in 30 min (advertised), USB Power Delivery.
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (side-mounted); NFC; 3.5mm jack; Native Sony Alpha camera support.

Sony Xperia Pro-I unboxing

The Xperia Pro-I arrives in an unassuming white cardboard box – certainly nothing that hints at the $1800 worth of phone packed inside. There is a splash of gold that accents the Pro-I inscription on the lid, and that’s as far as the flair goes. For what it’s worth, there’s zero plastic used for the packaging.

Sony Xperia Pro-I review

The contents aren’t lavish either. Aside from the phone, you’re getting a 30W charger and a USB-C cable, and that’s it.

There are a couple of accessories that are optional and can be purchased at an extra cost that complement the Pro-I in its pursuit for camera greatness. Those include a grip – previously available and compatible with the company’s current lineup of standalone cameras, and a newly-launched vlog monitor that you can use as a viewfinder to record yourself on that 1.0-inch main camera. Here’s a glimpse of those, but they’ll get their own page too later on.

Sony Xperia Pro-I review

First things first – let’s talk about the Xperia Pro-I itself.

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