Sony built a $2,500 smartphone for creators and broadcasters

Shortly after Sony showed off its first 5G phone in early 2020, it teased an even more capable Pro model that the company quickly stopped talking about for the rest of the year. After a long silence, the Xperia Pro has finally resurfaced, along with some crucial details: it’s going on sale in the US, and it’ll cost an eye-watering $2,500.

If that price tag didn’t make it immediately obvious, the Xperia Pro isn’t for you or me. While Sony concedes some deep-pocketed individuals may buy one anyway, the company’s latest smartphone is geared toward video professionals working in the field, especially those who might use its mmWave 5G connection to stream events or quickly ferry files to clients.

Sony’s concept is a tantalizing one, especially now that broadcasters are experimenting with more mobile camera setups. Remember that one cameraman on the sideline of a Seahawks/Washington game? The one using a Sony A7R IV on what people jokingly called a “poor man’s steadicam”? That’s the kind of situation where Sony thinks its 5G smartphone can shine — camerapeople can use the Xperia both as a wired, external 4K HDMI monitor and as a mobile hotspot to push a live video feed directly to their platform of choice. And to prove it, the company conducted field trials with NBC Sports where the Xperia was lashed to Sony broadcast cameras, and during stints of live streaming coverage from the Berlin Marathon.


The glaring issue with Sony’s idea is that mmWave 5G is notoriously difficult to find — it’s largely limited to dense, metropolitan areas, so local news crews probably won’t be using it to cover breaking events in suburbs. Still, Sony kitted the Xperia Pro out with a few tweaks and additions to make the most of those super-fast data connections. Unlike the standard Xperia 1 ii, the Pro model packs a four-way beamforming antenna for improved network performance, and comes with a handy network strength visualizer that shows users where the most stable signal can be found. (Think of it as 5G radar and you’re on the right track.)

Apart from these pro-specific tricks, the Xperia Pro is basically just a gussied up Xperia 1 ii — it still uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 chipset with 12GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and a 4,000mAh battery. And while Sony might prefer people use its 6.5-inch 4K OLED screen isn’t being used to frame up shots with another camera, the Pro’s rear triple camera setup is no slouch. There are three 12-megapixel sensors around back, tuned to shoot at the focal equivalents of 16, 24, and 70mm, all of which are assisted by Zeiss’s T* lens coating, optical image stabilization and phase detection autofocus. Best of all, the Xperia’s cameras can be set to shoot 20fps bursts with continuous autofocus, resulting in stills that are almost more impressive than the Pro’s 10-bit video.


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