Sony Xperia Pro-I review: our take –

The Sony Xperia Pro-I is not the first phone to feature such team. But it is the first to integrate the sensor of a popular camera, in this case the Sony RX100 VII. Luckily for us, Sony didn’t stop there and added a dual mechanical aperture (f / 2.0 / f / 4.0), 50mm lens, EyeAF eye-tracking support for video, and a new app called Video Pro.

If you’re obsessed with finding the best camera phone, the past few weeks have been intense: Apple released its iPhone 13, Google launched the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, and now Sony with its Xperia Pro-I – “I” for imaging – which it calls “the ultimate camera” and “a captivating addition to Sony’s camera lineup.” Sold out € 1799, the Sony Xperia Pro-I does not replace the Xperia 1 Mark III. It slips between the latter and the Xperia Pro.

A 1-inch sensor on the Xperia Pro-I? Yes and no

For years many of us have waited for a phone with a truly amazing camera built around a large image sensor. Don’t get me wrong, what Apple, Google, Huawei, and Samsung have been able to do with tiny image sensors is absolutely amazing.

But you have to ask yourself: what if the iPhone, instead of having a 0.6-inch image sensor, had a 1-inch sensor? This is where Sony positions itself with its Xperia Pro-I.

Therefore, Sony would have managed to integrate a 1-inch sensor into a phone case that is roughly the same thickness as an iPhone 13 Pro Max. A larger sensor means a wider dynamic range and improved low-light performance. But it turns out that this 1-inch sensor is not fully utilized. The company told us that it was using an optic that was too small to cover the entire surface of the module. In the end, Sony operates 60% of the unit for photos and videos. In other words, we have to deal with a 1 / 1.33-inch drive. And in this field, the Sony smartphone is accompanied by the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and the Xiaomi Mi 11. Instead of taking 20-megapixel photos like the Sony RX100 VII, the Xperia Pro-I takes 12-megapixel photos.

On the telephoto side, we are offered a 2x optical zoom while the Xperia 1 Mark III goes up to 4.4x. Sony explains that these decisions were made in order not to make the smartphone thicker. So we are left with a device with a thickness of 8.9 mm and a weight of 211 g.

Here are some photos taken with the different lenses of the Sony Xperia Pro-I:

Processing done by the Xperia Pro-I is far from aggressive

Like the other smartphones in the Xperia range, the Pro-I does not have a dedicated night mode

Dynamic range is good

In good light conditions, the main sensor of the Xperia Pro-I offers quality renderings

Above is the same scene taken by the main sensor and the telephoto lens. We note once again the lightness of the treatment applied by the smartphone

Xperia Pro-I’s main sensor preserves many details indoors

Ultra wide angle offers usable results under the same conditions

These two photos show that the Sony Xperia Pro-I handles the backlight quite well

The 2x zoom gets the job done and gives us very accurate renderings.

The ultra wide angle is interrupted by shadows on the sides, but the subject is properly highlighted.

A new Video Pro app

Like the Xperia 1 III, the Xperia Pro-I includes Sony’s Photo Pro and Cinema Pro applications. But the manufacturer wanted a better video option for those looking for something more advanced than basic video recording and something less complicated than using the Cinema Pro app. With the Xperia Pro-I, Sony is launching a new app called Video Pro, which is aimed at journalists, vloggers and others.

At the top of the application there is an Automatic button that allows the phone to choose all the options in terms of shutter speed, ISO and white balance. But when you turn off this button, you can control everything manually. You have the option to switch between manual focus and autofocus, and a slider lets you zoom in and out while recording. You can change the aperture from f / 2.0 to f / 4.0 and you can even reprogram your phone buttons to trigger a shortcut in Video Pro.

In the end, you have to deal with three photo / video apps. We won’t lie to you, we get lost fast. But according to Sony, each application is an idea. The firm explains that the developers do not have in mind the average consumer but rather photo or video enthusiasts who are not doing the same thing at the same time.

High-end configuration but little autonomy

The Sony Xperia Pro-I has the same 4K 120Hz display, the same USB-C port, and the same dedicated headphone jack as the Xperia 1 III.

It is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G processor which is paired with 12GB of RAM and 512GB of internal memory. In short, a top-of-the-range configuration that nothing can resist. Multitasking enthusiasts will be won over as gamers. The smartphone tends to get a bit warm, but nothing too dramatic, video game sessions can be linked for several hours.

Sold with Android 11, the Sony Xperia Pro-I offers an experience very similar to Google. If you are putting your first foot in the world of Android or if you want to navigate a clean interface, you are in luck.

Sony smartphones are not known for their endurance, and the Xperia Pro-I has the same 4,500 mAh battery as the Xperia I III. Unfortunately, he is no exception to the rule by limiting himself a day in mixed use. And on the recharge side, nothing very silly either since the Xperia Pro-I is accompanied by a 30W block. A full tank will cost you 1h40 of your time. Also, it doesn’t support wireless charging.

One point to the competition

The Sony Xperia Pro-I costs € 1799, a small fortune in short. Aimed at a specific audience, the flagship of the Japanese manufacturer must face a more “affordable” competition composed, among others, by the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (€ 1259) and iPhone 13 Pro Max (€ 1259).


At first glance, the Sony Xperia Pro-I does not look like any other phone. But after a few days of use, We were not impressed by this model that does not stand out from the more accessible competition despite serious advantages (versatile photo section, 120 Hz OLED screen and high-end settings). Hardcore fans of the Japanese brand should instead turn to the excellent Xperia 5 III which gathers most of the Pro-I arguments in a more compact format.

article adapted and enriched by CNETFrance

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