Home Tech The Sony Xperia Pro-I 1 ″ Sensor Marketing Trap

The Sony Xperia Pro-I 1 ″ Sensor Marketing Trap

The Sony Xperia Pro-I 1 ″ Sensor Marketing Trap

Sony introduced the Xperia Pro-I, its latest flagship with a triple rear camera where the main camera especially stands out.

The main camera uses a slightly modified version of the 1 ″ 20MP stacked CMOS sensor with built-in memory and phase detection autofocus like that found in a compact camera Sony RX100 VII ( € 1,046)

It’s not the first time we’ve seen a 1″ sensor on a smartphone: Panasonic has done it with the Lumix CM1, which looked more like a camera with smartphone functions than anything else, and also didn’t use computer photography, so in terms of quality, its results weren’t as good as you might have expected.

More recently, Sharp was able to fit a 1 ″ sensor in a relatively small form factor into its Aquos R6. It offers pretty good image quality, as you’d expect from a sensor of this size, but its less advanced computational processing than other competitors means the image quality isn’t as good as other smartphones with smaller sensors.

The Sony Xperia Pro-I managed to maintain a format similar to previous Xperia devices, but incorporating the RX100 VII’s 1 ″ stacked CMOS sensor and the full shooting experience of Sony.


However, there is a little “gotcha”: Only the center section of the 20MP sensor is used to capture a 12MP image (or 4K video), and this has expected image quality implications.

To keep the phone’s size, Sony designed a lens that cannot project an image circle large enough to cover the entire 1 ″ sensor area. So instead of images of 20 MP, like those obtained with the RX100 VII camera, images from 12 MP.

The combination of an f/2.0 lens slower than many competitors (the iPhone 13 Pro has an f/1.5 lens) and a sensor that’s not as big as 1 ″ means that image quality may not meet your initial expectations when you think about “A smartphone with RX100 sensor”.

In fact, if only the area used for 12 MP photos is taken into account, people from DPreview calculated that we are facing a sensor with a diagonal of 12 mm and a surface area of ​​70 mm2: closer to the specs of a 1/1.31 ″ sensor (like Google Pixel 6).


with your lens F/2.0, the main camera has approximately an aperture equivalent to F/ 7.1 in full format. For reference, the 1/1.65 ″ sensor on the iPhone 13 Pro with a F/ 1.5 has an opening equivalent to F/ 6.8 in full format.

This means that the Xperia Pro-I’s main camera actually offers fewer light-gathering and depth-of-field features than the iPhone 13 Pro, in single exposures, before applying any image processing.

That said, the portion of the sensor used for photos and videos on the Xperia Pro-I is still larger than that used on many phones (although similar to that used on the Google Pixel 6 and some recent phones from Chinese manufacturers).

Its still image area is 59% larger than the iPhone 13 Pro’s main sensor, and while the iPhone makes up for this with its brighter lenses in low-light conditions, the dynamic range captured will likely be greater on the Xperia. Pro-I, although the AE and HDR algorithms play a big role.

In short, although the Sony Xperia Pro-I can offer superior image quality than some smartphones (we’ll have to wait for analysis), the argument of having a 1″ sensor is more marketing than reality, since the area used for the sensor is just the central part.

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