The Xperia Pro is More Camera Than Smartphone

It has HDMI?!

Key Takeaways

  • The Xperia Pro is designed for videographers.
  • It has a 4K screen, 5G connection, and built-in HDMI port.
  • Expect to see more specialized "phones" in the future.
Sony's Xperia Pro setup with a camera through hdmi and taking someone's photo

Sony’s Xperia Pro is a smartphone with features aimed at videographers, but its $2,500 price tag makes it almost pointless. 

It’s a phone, but it’s not a phone. The Xperia Pro packs a 4K screen, 5G connectivity, and—here’s the interesting bit—an HDMI port. This connects it directly to video cameras, so it can be used as an external monitor, and also to live-stream video over 5G. The trouble is, it’s not good enough, cheap enough, or focused enough.

"The concept is certainly interesting, and there will always be early adopters," Lensrentals video marketing strategist Ryan Hill told Lifewire via email. "I just don’t think there’s much demand from videographers who want a combination cell phone and video monitor, especially at this relatively high price point."

Not Specialized Enough

The problem, says Hill, is that the Xperia Pro doesn’t distinguish itself from dumb monitors. Or rather it does, but not in any useful way. 

"Dedicated monitors with similar or better features can be found for under $1,000," says Hill. "You might not get 4K resolution at that price point, but for a 5-inch field monitor, I wouldn’t consider 4K a necessity."

The idea is certainly a tempting one. A great screen with 5G, so you can view your footage as you shoot, and stream it over the 5G connection. But even this has a limited appeal. 

"I think the key is 5G streaming. I could see the appeal as a YouTuber, for instance, of having a combination monitor and streaming device if one were frequently streaming in the field and didn’t want to juggle multiple devices," says Hill. "Again, though, that niche is not a lot of people."

Another knock against the Xperia Pro is that, for YouTubers and other mobile video-makers, a regular phone will do it all. The iPhone 12, for example, also has a great built-in video camera, along with its 5G connection. A dedicated camera might be better, but is it "better enough"? 

Phones Are Computers

Smartphones have gone from specialized devices to multi-purpose computers to being specialized devices once again. Sony’s bet is an interesting one, but the lack of 5G coverage in much of the world, along with the unnecessary inclusion of such a high-resolution screen, makes for an unbalanced device.

The Xperia PRO streaming video content from the camera it's connected to using HDMI

However, we can expect more of these specialized phones in the future, as manufacturers struggle for a piece of the market.

"In the US. Apple, Samsung, and LG have something like 80% of the market, leaving a ton of other companies to fight over that remaining 20%," says Hill. "The only way to succeed in that sort of environment is to find a kind of specialized corner of your own. And I do think photographers and videographers make sense as specialized customers to pursue. I’m just not aware of any products that have really succeeded in that goal."

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