Sony has launched a new smartphone today that has the world's biggest camera sensor that has ever been put on a smartphone. It's the successor to the Xperia Pro that was launched earlier this year and it was a phone the company made for video professionals. Now, Sony is back with a second professional-grade smartphone designed to appeal to photography enthusiasts. Called the Xperia Pro I, this smartphone has some ridiculous camera hardware, featuring a massive 1-inch sensor borrowed straight from the company's RX100 VII point-and-shoot camera. But there's one problem with this phone which I'm going to address in a minute, but technically Xperia Pro I hold the joint record for the largest camera sensor in a phone. Panasonic and Sharp have released a 1" camera phone already.
The Xperia Pro-I is also the first smartphone in the world that can record 4K videos at 120fps and be able to preserve all 120 frames. While other smartphones can record 4K videos, they often compress the frames into a smaller file, which means you won’t have as much control in post-production. The phone's main 24 mm lens has dual aperture f2 and f4 that allows you to change the depth of field more quickly to create “authentic bokeh,” rather than the digital software-created bokeh effect that other phones produce. If you remember, Samsung did it first on the Galaxy S9+ but for some reason, they stopped using it in their recent flagships.
Now coming back to the 1" sensor. Even though the phone has this large 1" camera sensor, but Sony isn't utilizing the full sensor size. And that's because the lens that Sony is using here can't project an image circle large enough to cover the entire area of the 1" sensor. This means the Xperia Pro-I only makes use of part of the sensor, meaning it outputs a 12-megapixel image on this device of 20 megapixels in total.
So this effectively means the actual usable sensor size drops to 1/1.33" which is the same as the Galaxy S21 Ultra. I really don't get why Sony didn't increase the size of the lens to accommodate the full sensor. Yes, it might have looked a little weird, but the end result would have been totally worth it.
Speaking of the end result, this bigger sensor has surely helped Sony take better photos with the handset. I mean it's the best Xperia camera phone so far but like I've said in the past, hardware is only half of the story. Computational photography plays a big role in smartphone cameras and based on the extensive research I've done on this handset, it's clear Sony is lacking in this area compared to Samsung and Apple.
However, if you are a professional and want total control of the camera then you can actually take better photos from the Xperia Pro I than the iPhone 13 Pro Max. For that, you need to use a tripod and long exposure and all of that camera tricks. But if you are an average consumer that just aims at a subject and takes photos then I don't think this phone is for you because like I've said, Sony's computational photography isn't on par with other big players like Google, Samsung, and Apple just yet.
Anyway, the other aspect of the phone is virtually identical to the Xperia 1 III released a few months ago, Snapdragon 888, 4k 120Hz display, headphone jack, and all of that stuff. Sony plans to sell the handset for the eye-watering price of $1,800 which is ridiculously high for what it offers.