Sony Xperia Pro-I hands-on: Seamlessly professional

With the Xperia 1 III making its mark by being the de facto Android smartphone for creators, Sony now takes it up a notch with the Xperia Pro-I — a branding name I can get on board with when compared to the slightly perplexing 1 III, 5 III, 10 III, and so on. More camera than smartphone, the Pro-I’s standout feature is the 1-inch Exmor RS CMOS image sensor Sony managed to fit in the smartphone. Or, more specifically, a 1.0-type sensor.

That’s what acclaimed British filmmaker Philip Bloom explained in detail during Sony’s hands-on event in London. It was sorely needed, too, as I appeared to be the only attendee that struggled to keep up with the current state of camera technology. Yes, I am a numpty when it comes to cameras, and whipping out my bare-bones iPhone SE (2020) may not have been a good look in a room filled with expert photographers. Once the Xperia Pro-I was placed in my hand, however, I didn’t feel so out of the loop. 

 Sony offered a hands-on look at its next step in smartphone camera technology with the new Xperia Pro-I, and not only did it transform me into a (temporary) professional photographer, but Bloom also claims a photo “looks like it’s from a camera, not a phone.”  

Sony Xperia Pro-I walkthrough   

After being invited to the photography-focused event, I was keen to try out the Sony Xperia Pro-I to see if it really does offer the “professional imaging quality” Sony claims it achieves. I was a fan of the Xperia 1 III, stating that it’s a marvelous Android smartphone for photographers and content creators alike. Since the Xperia Pro-I shares similar specs but with a bigger focus on camera capabilities, my one query was this: can Sony justify the $1,799 price tag despite the $1,299 Xperia 1 III already being a creator-focused smartphone?

(Image credit: Future)

Philip Bloom, known for his cinematography and camera work for big-time productions and companies such as Lucasfilms, BBC, CNN, CBS, Discovery, and more, shed some light on this question. The BAFTA award-winning filmmaker iterated his use of high-quality equipment, stating that he owns around 120 cameras. That’s an impressive collection, but the most important statistic he mentions is that 90% of them are from Sony. “I only use the best,” he says, and a majority of the equipment just so happens to have Sony’s signature on them.

Bloom currently shoots a number of documentaries and reviews for camera over on his YouTube channel. During the event, he showed us one of his “short films” that was shot entirely on the Xperia Pro-I — no extra equipment or vlog monitor kit to stabilize the phone, just a man and his smartphone. 

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