These Japanese companies are truly innovative. PROtography!
Remember earlier this year when the company released a few professional-grade smartphones? That seems like the focus the company is working on now, as the Xperia phones are no longer as popular as they were when they first hit the market. What they do have in their strengths though, is Sony’s amazing camera hardware that was made possible thanks to their big-name professional cameras. However, early Xperia phones had problems in terms of camera tuning and software which partly lead to their demise.
The last professional-grade phone Sony released was the Xperia Pro, which has a whopping price of around USD2500 (~Php 127K). Now Sony is back for a second round, with a more clear focus (no pun intended) on photography.
Sony today released a truly professional-focused camera phone, that is, with a 1in. Zeiss-coated camera sensor, the Xperia Pro-I (read as “Pro Eye”). Yes Sony’s naming schemes is still pretty confusing. The “I” in Pro-I stands for Imaging. And based on its hardware, it’s definitely true to its name
As vlogging, photography and videography get more and more popular on mobile handsets, phones get more advanced optics, camera software and AI tuning to get the right tones, focus, blur and much more. These days, most phones have a manual mode that is nearly comparable to a DSLR camera, apart from removable lenses and truly adjustable shutter and aperture.
While Xperia phones were no longer the reigning champions as they were back in early 2010s to late 2014, they are still around and Sony has adjusted the series so that they would focus on professional videography and photography, as well as for enthusiasts.
The new phone has a 1in. EXMOR RS Zeiss-coated camera sensor that was taken straight off from their point-and-shoot camera called the RX100 VII but has been optimised for use on phones. According to Sony, this is the first 1in. camera phone with PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus). The resulting photo used by this lens is a 12mp image with a 2.4µm pixel size. In comparison, this resolution and micronpixel size is similar to that of the Galaxy S21 Ultra and is about 20% larger than the iPhone 13. The Xperia Pro-I should be better in low light situations than the iPhone 13 thanks to the large µm size.
The variable aperture is present as well, as the phone has a sensor that can actually adjust the aperture based on your settings (and this isn’t just software tricks, it really does adjust the aperture). The shallowest is F/4.0 and the deepest is F/2.0. Remember that a lower aperture results in more blur while a higher aperture results in less blur. The higher the aperture, the darker the image. Therefore F/4.0 has the most focus but the darkest image and F/2.0 has the least focus but results in the brightest image.
In terms of video, the phone can record 4K@120fps and supports OIS, This one has eye-detection autofocus that can track even through the smallest of creatures, say, birds. In addition to the main Zeiss-coated 1in. lens, the phone is complemented by two other cameras, which are two fairly useful 12mp telephoto and ultrawide lenses. The telephoto camera has a focal length of 50mm and an aperture of f/2.4. The ultrawide has a focal length of 16mm and an aperture of f/2.2. In addition to these, there’s also a Time-of-Flight sensor that is used to track objects and keep things in focus even when the subject is moving very rapidly.
There are multiple camera software features that help improve your photography game, most of which are on a technical professional level. These include Cinematography Pro, 4K HDR Video, Optical Steadyshot with Flawless Eye and Intelligent Active Mode with 5-axis stabilisation,
Sony didn’t do much about the front punch-hole camera, and remained a typical 8mp in terms of resolution.
The display is also stunning. The phone comes with a 6.5in. 4K OLED screen with support for HDR, 21:9 aspect ratio and 120Hz refresh rate and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus as well as an IPX5 and IPX8 water and dust resistance rating. The rear is made of glass that is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 6.
While other phones are getting rid of their MicroSD card slot, the Xperia Pro-I has kept it, and this has a capacity of up to 1TB. They probably kept it so that it would have a feel similar to a DSLR as well as having more storage to keep your videos and photos in. Memories are better remembered when they are around for you to see them. As a flagship, it will of course be equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor coupled with 12GB LPDDR5 RAM and 512GB internal memory.
The battery is quite typical from other phones of the same category. A 4500mAh battery keeps the phone running, and this can be charged on a USB-C, with a fast charging rate of 30W. Unlike other flagships which seem to remove valuable features, this phone has kept the 3.5mm jack in addition to its Hi-Res sound. Sony has included several battery management apps to increase the lifespan as well as manage apps that continually use it, such as the Xperia Battery Care app, and Xperia’s Adaptive Charging technology.
There’s also a Display Port as well as a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, which they pioneered, for biometrics.
The phone itself is priced at EUR 1799 (~Php 106K) and you can buy two accessories which also come with a hefty price. These are the Vlog Monitor at EUR 200 (~Php 11.8K) and the back cover attachment at EUR 89.99 (~Php 5.3K). Inside the box is a 30W charger and cable, the phone itself and a hard case.