True to an earlier leak, Sony has unveiled not only a new Xperia phone but also an ecosystem of software and accessories that has a specific market segment in its crosshair. The Xperia PRO-I, a capital I for “Imaging” and not the Roman numeral, has been groomed to appeal to the growing number of “pro” vloggers and amateur videographers proliferating on the Internet these days. It is, of course, also a solid high-end smartphone for 2021 and thankfully doesn’t have a mind-blowing price tag like its predecessor earlier this year.
As far as smartphone specs go, the Xperia PRO-I is like a rehash of the Xperia 1 III and almost feels like a rebrand of the 2021 Sony flagship. They share almost everything in common, like the Snapdragon 888 with 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, down to the 6.5-inch 4K OLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate. The same 4,500 mAh powers the phone and, unlike Samsung and Apple, comes with a 30W in the box.
There are, of course, some differences, like in the design of the camera array, but the biggest one is the main imaging sensor. Although still at 12 megapixels, the new sensor is boasted to be the first in the smartphone segment to use a 1.0-inch Exmor RS sensor that’s paired with a BIONZ X imaging processor, bringing it close to Sony’s Alpha cameras and, specifically, its CyberShot RX100 VII that uses the same sensor. Sony makes sure to note that the dual-aperture lens is also special with a 24mm ZEISS Tessar Optics and T* anti-reflective coating.
While Sony can talk endlessly about the phone’s camera hardware, part of the formula for success will be in the phone’s camera software. For the Xperia PRO-I, Sony added a new Videography Pro feature that brings the same level of fine control that still photographers enjoy in the usual “Pro” camera mode, except for recording videos. There’s also a distinct Cinematography Pro mode that offers preset color settings, a 21:9 recording ratio, and other video-making features. Once all the recording is done, creators can edit and share those videos right from the device as well.
To emphasize the Xperia PRO-I’s vlogging mission, Sony is launching a new Vlog Monitor accessory so that users won’t have to compromise with the more modest front-facing camera. The 3.5-inch 1280×720 screen can be attached to the phone via a metal holder with a magnetic, detachable design, allowing for better use of that 1-inch 12MP sensor to create higher-quality content than you would be able to with the selfie cam. The design is also modular, so you can attach your preferred tripod, monopod, or gimbal, as well as a 3.5mm 3-pole jack for a dedicated mic.
The Sony Xperia PRO-I (again, I for Imaging, not Roman numeral “one”) will go on sale in December for $1,800, a far cry from the first Xperia PRO’s mind-blowing $2,500. The Vlog Monitor will also launch around that time for $200. Sony will also be selling a Style Cover in Leather for the Xperia PRO-I for $90, also starting in December.