We’ve seen smartphones with stratospheric price tags before, but usually there’s something special about them. Phones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X are somewhere between $2,000 and $2,600, but those were first-generation foldable smartphones with brand new display technology. Sony’s latest entry into the smartphone market, the Sony Xperia Pro, is a drab, old record phone that seems utterly forgettable until you look at the price: an astonishing $2,500, or the price of three brand-new $800 Samsung Galaxy S21s. really surpassed.
Mostly, the Xperia Pro looks a lot like the Xperia 1 II, Sony’s overpriced $1,300 flagship smartphone from 2020. Both have 6.5-inch, near-4K, 3840×1644, 60Hz OLED displays, the Snapdragon 865 SoC , three rear cameras, an IP65 rating and a 4000 mAh battery. This year’s Xperia Pro gets a tier bump to 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, but that’s usually only worth an extra $100. There’s also mmWave 5G this year, two “app shortcuts” on the side and a shutter button. Luxury.
None of that explains why this phone is at least $1,000 more than it should be. Sony’s justification for the outrageous price is (drum roll) an HDMI port. Yes, in addition to the USB-C port on the bottom, there is also a Micro HDMI port that can be used as a video input. Sony suggests connecting the phone to a Sony Alpha camera and using it as a live video monitor or sending an external video source to the Internet for live streaming. Just this one feature and the camera proximity is worth an extra $1,000 according to Sony’s logic.
There have been other Android phones with HDMI before. The Motorola Atrix comes to mind, a $480 phone that was released in 2011. That was micro HDMI output, though, and it can be connected to a TV or a dedicated laptop. Sony calls this “the world’s first smartphone with HDMI input”, allowing the phone to act as a mini TV.
If the idea of an Android phone on top of your camera appeals to you, you can basically make the same setup as the Sony example at home, with a $20 dongle. Android phones come standard with USB support, and with the small Today’s HDMI recording dongles allow you to use an Android phone as a video monitor or live streamer with relative ease.
An upcycling-type setup with an adapter seems more appropriate for an idea like this rather than running out and buying a multi-thousand dollar custom Android phone. If you’re really willing to spend thousands of dollars on a camera monitor, you’ll probably want one with a removable battery, since the permanent battery in a smartphone will run out in a few years. A purpose-built monitor will also be cheaper, have more inputs, have a larger screen, and have a sun visor. If you really need a phone, you probably don’t want your real phone connected to your camera all the time.
In addition, the Xperia Pro as an Android phone does not seem very good. It has last year’s SoC, the Snapdragon 865, instead of the Snapdragon 888, an unforgivable problem if you charge $2,500. Last year’s Xperia 1 II has a side-mounted fingerprint reader, but this isn’t the case, and there’s no mention of any kind of biometrics on the website. The phone’s camera proximity has also apparently led to Sony giving it an ugly design, with a thicker body and thicker bezels over the Xperia 1 II. But the battery isn’t bigger and the phone doesn’t seem to be more robust.
List image by Sony