Sony Xperia Pro-I unveiled — the $1,800 smartphone for professional photographers

Sony Xperia Pro-I
(Image credit: Sony)

Sony revealed its next step in smartphone camera technology with the new Xperia Pro-I, which features a 1-inch image sensor that's based on the company's own RX100 VII camera, dual-aperture settings, multiple lens options, and more.

Aiming to be the perfect smartphone for professional photographers, videographers, and cinematographers, the Xperia Pro-I will be available in select regions by the end of 2021. While the camera steals the spotlight, this Xperia also comes with formidable specs. Read on to see if this is the smartphone for you. 

Sony Xperia Pro-I

Revealed during Sony's Xperia event, the Xperia Pro-I will be available from December in select regions including the US, with pre-orders starting on October 28. Availability in other regions to start sometime in early 2022. The Xperia Pro-I will set you back $1,799/£1,599, which is significantly more affordable than the previous $2,500 Xperia Pro smartphone. That's good news for camera enthusiasts. 

(Image credit: Sony)

The Xperia Pro-I has been made to allow users to shoot, edit, and send with a single device, and it all starts with the shooter. As Sony puts it, "THE Camera" features a large 1-inch Exmor RS CMOS image sensor with a phase-detection AF sensor, inspired by Sony's RX100 VII. This allows for less noise in low light settings, clear details and natural bokeh effects. Plus, the image sensor has a 2.4μm pixel pitch, which is a significant step up from the Google Pixel 6's 1.2µm pixel width.

The main sensor also features ZEISS optics that's been specifically made for the Xperia Pro-I. This features a dual aperture of F2.0 / 4.0, so users can change the depth of field on the fly.

As for the three lenses on the phone, expect a 16mm ultra-wide, 24mm wide, and 50mm standard, along with a 3D iToF sensor that Sony claims can instantly calculate the distance between the camera and a subject. All feature 12MP resolution. The front-facing camera is an 8MP shooter with an F2.0 aperture.

There are a lot of features for photographers and videographers to mess around with, thanks to the BIONZ X mobile image processor. This includes phase-detection AF, Real-time Eye AF specifically for photographing people or animals, 20fps burst shooting, optical image stabilization, 21:9 movie recording and more. Plus, users can shoot high-quality video in 4K HDR at up to 120fps, with audio separation tech to filter out wind or background noise. Like other Sony Xperia phones, there's even a dedicated camera shutter button.

As for the smartphone side of the Xperia Pro-I, expect a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip with 5G connectivity, along with 12GB of RAM and 512GB for storage. According to the listing page, the phone comes with Android 11, but hopefully we'll see an upgrade to Android 12 soon.

The Xperia Pro-I features a 6.5-inch 21:9 wide OLED display with 4K (3840 x 1644) resolution to check out all the high-quality imagery on. Plus, it offers a 120Hz refresh rate with 240Hz motion blur reduction. You can also expect IPX8 water resistance, IP6X dust-proof, along with Corning Gorilla Glass on the front and rear.

The smartphone also offers a 4500 mAh battery capacity, which will hopefully keep up with the heavy-duty work when processing or editing images or video.

As you can expect from a Sony phone, there are some PlayStation features. This includes PS Remote Play, Dualshock 4 controller compatibility and a game enhancer feature. For security, there's a fingerprint sensor. Oh, and there's a 3.5mm audio jack for good measure.

There's a lot going for the Sony Xperia Pro-I, from the significantly more affordable price point compared to the previous model (going head-to-head with the $1,799 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3), to the excellent camera setup. Head over to Sony's store to get notified when it's available, and to check out the Xperia Pro-I's competition, check out our list of best smartphones

Darragh Murphy

Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from washing machines designed for AirPods to the mischievous world of cyberattacks. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for gadgets into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. With a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from The University of Sheffield, along with short stints at Kerrang! and Exposed Magazine, Darragh started his career writing about the tech industry at Time Out Dubai and ShortList Dubai, covering everything from the latest iPhone models and Huawei laptops to massive Esports events in the Middle East. Now, he can be found proudly diving into gaming, gadgets, and letting readers know the joys of docking stations for Laptop Mag.