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Pho­to: www.gsmarena.com

The Xpe­ria Pro‑I is the long-await­ed addi­tion to Sony’s smart­phone port­fo­lio, offer­ing mobile-friend­ly pho­to and video cus­tomiza­tion. In today’s review, we find out what the phone can offer for ordi­nary users, what its advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages are, what char­ac­ter­is­tics the Sony Xpe­ria Pro‑I has, and we ana­lyze who should buy a new prod­uct and who should avoid it.

Unboxing

The Sony Xpe­ria Pro‑I comes in a white card­board box. The pack­ag­ing is sim­ple — on the front side there is the name of the mod­el and man­u­fac­tur­er.

Despite the high cost (from 134,990 rubles at the time of writ­ing the review), the stan­dard equip­ment is a 30 W pow­er sup­ply and a USB‑C cable. A tri­pod han­dle and an exter­nal mon­i­tor that can be used as a viewfind­er when shoot­ing with the main cam­era are sold sep­a­rate­ly.

Design

The Sony Xpe­ria Pro‑I has a unique back pan­el. Pho­to: www.gsmarena.com

The Xpe­ria Pro‑I smart­phone comes in a sin­gle col­or — black.

The rear pan­el makes the phone stand out from the com­pe­ti­tion. At the top, the cam­eras are cen­tered — ultra-wide, main, 3D ToF for focus­ing in the dark, and a tele­pho­to lens. There is a huge Zeiss Tes­sar T* logo ring around the main cam­era. Above the cam­eras are an LED flash and a col­or tem­per­a­ture sen­sor, on the right is the blue Zeiss logo, on the left is a micro­phone hole.

The cov­er of the phone is mat­te, cov­ered with Goril­la Glass 6. Unlike glossy sur­faces, it is not as slip­pery and col­lects fin­ger­prints less.

A secure grip is pro­vid­ed by met­al side frames with a ribbed sur­face. The left side hous­es a hybrid card slot and a lan­yard hole. On the right is a ser­rat­ed shut­ter but­ton, a vol­ume rock­er, a pow­er key with a built-in fin­ger­print scan­ner (dou­ble-tap also launch­es the cam­era), and a round mul­ti-func­tion but­ton (it can be con­fig­ured to launch any appli­ca­tion). Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the shut­ter but­ton is poor­ly placed — you can acci­den­tal­ly press it when the smart­phone is just in your hand.

At the bot­tom are a micro­phone and a USB‑C port with Dis­play­Port sup­port for con­nect­ing an exter­nal micro­phone. Above is anoth­er micro­phone and a 3.5 mm audio jack for head­phones or an exter­nal micro­phone.

There are no cutouts on the dis­play, the self­ie cam­era is locat­ed above the screen. There is also a sta­tus / noti­fi­ca­tion indi­ca­tor. Front stereo speak­ers are a clas­sic fea­ture of Sony smart­phones, they are also installed in this mod­el. One is under the dis­play, the sec­ond is above it.

The front pan­el is pro­tect­ed by Goril­la Glass Vic­tus.

At 166 x 72 x 8.9mm, the Pro‑I is 1mm taller and longer than the Sony Xpe­ria 1 III with the same screen size (6.5 inch­es) but slight­ly nar­row­er (165 x 71 x 8.2mm). The Pro‑I is lighter than oth­er cam­era-focused smart­phones at 211g. For com­par­i­son, the Sam­sung Galaxy S21 Ultra and Xiao­mi Mi 11 Ultra weigh 229g and 234g respec­tive­ly.

The smart­phone has pro­tec­tion against mois­ture and dust IP68 — can with­stand immer­sion under water to a depth of 1.5 m for 30 min­utes.

Display

The dis­play has a res­o­lu­tion of up to 4K, but its bright­ness is aver­age. Pho­to: www.gsmarena.com

The new Sony smart­phone received a 6.5‑inch OLED pan­el with a res­o­lu­tion of 4K (3840 x 1644 pix­els), a refresh rate of 120 Hz, an aspect ratio of 21: 9 and a pix­el den­si­ty of 643 ppi. How­ev­er, 4K mode only works when play­ing video with the appro­pri­ate res­o­lu­tion, oth­er­wise the screen res­o­lu­tion is 1096 x 2560.

The screen refresh rate is set to 60Hz by default. Switch­ing to a smoother mode is done in the set­tings. It works with shell and base appli­ca­tions. To increase the fre­quen­cy in games, you need to turn on the “pro­duc­tive” mode in the spe­cial appli­ca­tion “Game Boost­er”.

The Xpe­ria Pro‑I dis­play sup­ports HDR so you can watch videos in full res­o­lu­tion on most stream­ing apps, includ­ing Net­flix, Ama­zon Prime Video and YouTube.

Although the screen bright­ness is aver­age, it is not lack­ing when used out­doors on a sun­ny day — in stan­dard mode you get 406 nits, in adap­tive mode — 578 nits. In addi­tion, for some appli­ca­tions, a cre­ator mode is avail­able, which allows you to slight­ly increase the bright­ness of the dis­play. For exam­ple, in Google Pho­tos — up to 644 nits.

In the set­tings, you can enable a dark theme, sleep mode (after 10 min­utes of inac­tiv­i­ty), adjust bright­ness, white bal­ance, col­or gamut and con­trast. There are sev­er­al pre­sets — the afore­men­tioned cre­ator mode and stan­dard. Stan­dard mode is enabled by default with auto-cre­ator mode enabled for sup­port­ed con­tent. In cre­ator mode, in addi­tion to increas­ing the bright­ness, the pic­ture is processed tak­ing into account 4K res­o­lu­tion and HDR. In addi­tion, the option to visu­al­ly improve the qual­i­ty of the video is avail­able.

Battery

The bat­tery capac­i­ty is 4500 mAh. A full bat­tery is enough:

  • almost 24 hours of talk;
  • 9 hours 37 min­utes of web surf­ing at the max­i­mum screen refresh rate;
  • 13 hours 42 min­utes of video play­back (60 Hz).

For com­par­i­son: Xiao­mi Mi 11i with a 4520 mAh bat­tery can work 24 hours 25 min­utes / 13 hours / 16 hours 28 min­utes, respec­tive­ly.

The 30W adapter sup­ports USB Pow­erDe­liv­ery. With it, the smart­phone is ful­ly charged in 1 hour 49 min­utes. A 30-minute charge is enough to replen­ish ener­gy from 0 to 53%.

Unlike the Xpe­ria 1 III, the Pro‑I does not sup­port wire­less charg­ing.

Performance

The Sony Xpe­ria Pro‑I smart­phone is equipped with the flag­ship Snap­drag­on 888 chipset with Adreno 660 GPU (6th place in the mobile proces­sor per­for­mance rat­ing). There is one RAM / inter­nal stor­age con­fig­u­ra­tion avail­able — 12 + 512 GB. If that’s not enough for you, microS­DXC mem­o­ry cards up to 1TB (hybrid slot) are sup­port­ed.

Even demand­ing games run quick­ly, all appli­ca­tions launch instant­ly. The excep­tion is Sony’s pho­to and video appli­ca­tions, which take about two sec­onds to turn on.

How­ev­er, the per­for­mance of the Xpe­ria Pro‑I is not sta­ble. In the 3DMark stress test, the sta­bil­i­ty rat­ing is only 60%. This means that, for exam­ple, dur­ing games, the frame rate may drop sharply, and the pic­ture will become less smooth.

In the CPU Throt­tling Test, a 32% drop in fre­quen­cies is record­ed at an aver­age per­for­mance lev­el of 178 GIPS (the result is weak for a flag­ship plat­form).

Snap­drag­on 888 is char­ac­ter­ized by increased heat dis­si­pa­tion. Sony has not been able to com­plete­ly solve this prob­lem, although the over­heat­ing of the Pro‑I is not as severe as that of Xiao­mi smart­phones. The phone may over­heat when shoot­ing for a long time in 4K res­o­lu­tion (a warn­ing appears before record­ing starts).

Camera

The place­ment of the front cam­era is unusu­al for smart­phones of recent years. Pho­to: www.gsmarena.com

Sony is one of the best man­u­fac­tur­ers of mobile cam­era sen­sors (along with Sam­sung). The rear cam­era of the Xpe­ria Pro‑I real­ly has some impres­sive specs:

  • the main one is 12 MP with a large 1‑inch sen­sor (13.2 × 8.8 mm), an equiv­a­lent focal length of 24 mm and a vari­able aper­ture of f / 2.0–4.0, there is PDAF aut­o­fo­cus with 315 phase sen­sors that cov­er 90% of the frame area, and opti­cal image sta­bi­liza­tion (OIS), Zeiss optics brand, T* anti-reflec­tive coat­ing installed;
  • zoom — 12 MP, sup­ports 2.1x opti­cal zoom, there is phase detec­tion aut­o­fo­cus and OIS;
  • ultra-wide-angle — 12 MP, view­ing angle 124˚, there is a Dual Pix­el PDAF phase detec­tion aut­o­fo­cus, there is no image sta­bi­liz­er;
  • depth sen­sor — 0.3 MP, TOF 3D.

The res­o­lu­tion of the front cam­era is 8 megapix­els, there is no aut­o­fo­cus, flash and back­ground blur mode.

Three appli­ca­tions for shoot­ing are installed — Pho­to Pro, Cin­e­ma Pro and Video Pro. Inter­nal menu Pho­to­Pro sim­i­lar to the inter­face of Sony Alpha cam­eras. It offers many set­tings — shoot­ing in RAW, choos­ing a focus mode (track­ing, sin­gle-frame, man­u­al) with the abil­i­ty to detect eyes or faces, expo­sure mode, acti­vat­ing a wide dynam­ic range, and oth­ers. For those who don’t want to play with the set­tings, there is a basic mode.

Cin­e­ma Pro Sony’s most advanced app with gran­u­lar con­trol over every aspect of the shoot­ing process. 4K video shoot­ing up to 120 frames per sec­ond with an aspect ratio of 21:9 is avail­able. You can shoot with pro­fes­sion­al pro­files, HDR, cin­e­mat­ic fil­ters, adjust ISO, shut­ter speed, white bal­ance, set focus between pre­set focus dis­tances (AB) with tran­si­tion dura­tion con­trol, and more.

Video­Pro — large­ly repeats Cin­e­ma Pro, but with sim­pli­fied set­tings. It allows you to shoot 4K video with a ratio of 16:9, when shoot­ing, you can enlarge the image. It is pos­si­ble to adjust the white bal­ance and ISO. There are up to three cus­tom pre­sets for white bal­ance, unlike Cin­e­ma Pro’s only one.

Cin­e­ma Pro and Video Pro appli­ca­tions are very sim­i­lar, they could be com­bined. Pho­to: www.gsmarena.com

Basic mode is enabled by default. The qual­i­ty of day­time pho­tos is decent — a lot of detail, excel­lent dynam­ic range, col­ors are not over­sat­u­rat­ed or dull.

An exam­ple of an image tak­en in basic mode with the main cam­era. Pho­to: www.gsmarena.com

You can change the aper­ture — how­ev­er, its effect on the sharp­ness of pho­tos in the case of a smart­phone cam­era is neg­li­gi­ble. This option can be use­ful when shoot­ing close-ups to con­trol the amount of back­ground blur.

There is a sem­blance of a night mode, it turns on auto­mat­i­cal­ly, you can­not force it to be acti­vat­ed. In low-light con­di­tions, the shots are sharp with a fair amount of detail in the shad­ows.

Sam­ple pho­to tak­en at night in auto­mat­ic mode. Pho­to: www.gsmarena.com

There is a “bokeh” mode for tak­ing pho­tos with an opti­cal­ly blurred back­ground (not only por­traits, but also objects), you can set the degree of blur.

The qual­i­ty of self­ies tak­en with the front cam­era is aver­age. The dynam­ic range is quite wide, in good light­ing the detail is nor­mal, but noise is notice­able. The col­ors are not bad, but the skin has a yel­low­ish tinge. For a blog, it is bet­ter to take self­ies on the main cam­era using an exter­nal mon­i­tor.

An exam­ple of a self­ie tak­en with the front cam­era. Pho­to: www.gsmarena.com

Results

The Sony Xpe­ria Pro‑I is a pow­er­ful niche smart­phone for pho­tog­ra­phers, video­g­ra­phers, mobile pho­tog­ra­phy enthu­si­asts and blog­gers. How­ev­er, its main­stream appeal is lim­it­ed giv­en its high cost and lack of some flag­ship fea­tures (such as wire­less charg­ing and a periscope cam­era for loss­less opti­cal zoom).

Pros of Sony Xperia Pro‑i:

  • mois­ture pro­tec­tion, grooved frame, lan­yard eye­let, addi­tion­al con­trols (mul­ti-func­tion but­ton, shut­ter key);
  • head­phone jack and microSD card slot (+ lots of built-in mem­o­ry);
  • ample oppor­tu­ni­ties for shoot­ing set­tings, excel­lent image qual­i­ty;
  • flag­ship per­for­mance;
  • great 4K screen.

Cons of the Sony Xperia Pro‑i:

  • aver­age screen bright­ness;
  • ten­den­cy to over­heat under pro­longed loads;
  • aver­age auton­o­my, no sup­port for wire­less charg­ing;
  • mediocre self­ie cam­era, aver­age qual­i­ty of night shots;
  • high price.
The Sony Xpe­ria Pro‑I is a great option for blog­gers and pho­tog­ra­phy enthu­si­asts. Pho­to: www.gsmarena.com

Buy Sony Xpe­ria Pro‑I if:

  • you are fond of pho­tog­ra­phy and videog­ra­phy — Xpe­ria Pro‑I is com­pa­ra­ble to pre­mi­um mir­ror­less cam­eras in terms of set­tings and degree of con­trol of the pic­ture;
  • you need a 3.5 mm head­phone jack — espe­cial­ly true for those who have wired head­phones;
  • you want the best cam­era phone from Sony — the main cam­era has impres­sive per­for­mance and can cap­ture pho­tos in any light­ing con­di­tions.

Do not buy Sony Xpe­ria Pro‑I if:

  • you need the best smart­phone in terms of price and qual­i­ty — Xpe­ria Pro‑I is expen­sive even for a flag­ship, while it lacks some fea­tures;
  • high-qual­i­ty auto­mat­ic shoot­ing is need­ed — Xpe­ria Pro‑I does not enhance shad­ows, does not increase bright­ness, and image sharp­en­ing is too aggres­sive. To get the best image qual­i­ty, you need to play with the set­tings.
  • you need a great zoom or ultra wide-angle cam­era — the Sony Xpe­ria Pro‑I ultra-wide cam­era los­es out to Oppo Find X3 Pro and Xiao­mi Mi 11 Ultra, which are equipped with high-res­o­lu­tion sen­sors (12 MP vs. 50 and 48 MP, respec­tive­ly) and aut­o­fo­cus lens­es. The 2.1x tele­pho­to lens is out­per­formed by the Sam­sung Galaxy S21 Ultra (3x opti­cal zoom) and the Google Pix­el 6 Pro (4x opti­cal zoom).

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