After years of turf wars, Xperia phones finally land Sony's Alpha camera mojo

There's something strange going on in Sony phones. While everyone and their dogs are using Sony-invented sensors for some of the best shots in mobile photography, the Japanese maker itself has planted itself firmly in the middle of the pack when it comes to camera quality, even in flagship phones.

Bear in mind that this is the phone maker that had intelligent auto scene recognition that did roughly the same thing as "AI" now does since the first Xperia, and introduced electronic image stabilization in video recording before it was cool. That's not to mention how today's 48MP phones are all using Sony sensors and plenty of other features that made mobile photography history.

There's only one fly in that honey - Sony Xperia pictures are just not that good. There's always been something inexplicable amiss in the camera department of Sony phones, and now we know what might be the reason. 

Adam Marsh, Senior Manager of Global Marketing at Sony, sat down for an interview recently and revealed that the camera and mobile departments were simply light on communication. The team that makes the expensive Alpha cameras was understandably reluctant to give away technology found in pro equipment worth thousands of dollars to the lowly cell phone department. The recent management changes at Sony, though, attached mobile to digital imaging, and the first fruit of those labors is the Xperia 1:

Thus, the Xperia 1 could be the first phone that really hints at Sony's photography prowess instead of carrying only empty marketing buzzwords during keynotes and then deliver ho-hum results in testing. It's got a triple camera set, a first for Sony, OIS, large pixels instead of large resolutions, RAW format support, plus the Eye autofocus and Cinema Pro app brought directly from the digital imaging division.

Why, then, isn't Sony going with its own latest and greatest 48MP camera sensor? After all, it's been a pioneer in the ever-increasing mobile camera resolution, regularly churning out 20+ MP rear and even front cameras before everyone else. The marketing honcho has a satisfying answer:

Needless to say, we salute such decisions, as higher resolutions mean smaller pixels that gather less light. Now that the game is called computational photography, however, it's hard to simply excel at the hardware level. The Pixels can do wonders with just one 12MP sensor thanks to the machine learning that Google Photos brought over, and that is not an easy feat to replicate for anyone but Apple that also introduced computational photography with its latest iPhones. 

Even Samsung simply bumped the scene recognition options to a larger number instead of going the Google or Apple route, so Sony might have a steep hill to climb and we can't wait to test the Xperia 1 proper to see how it stacks up. Here Mr Marsh had one final thing to say:

Related phones

Xperia 1
  • Display 6.5" 1644 x 3840 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, Octa-core, 2840 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3330 mAh(24.8h 3G talk time)



1. Djz89

Posts: 445; Member since: Aug 25, 2014


2. mimicryXD

Posts: 175; Member since: Apr 03, 2015

Now im so excited for Xperia 1. And first of all, im not surprised by that. Japanese tends to do it on their own ways. They dont like "copying" japanese championing themselves for evolution of technology. I saw the reviews of a7iii and its a wonderful camera so i hope alpha team give their expertise bcos afterall theyre one company.

3. rsiders

Posts: 1974; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

This is what needed to happen for so many years. It's like Sony finally "got it" all of a sudden. They are going in the right direction and I like the new Sony guy. He's the man.

7. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Exactly. This seems like they finally "got it". The X1 combines all of their strengths into one. Their screens, the imaging chops and their build quality. I even heard they made some clever unique UI tweaks too. Now I'm excited for the Xperia 1 even more so than the GS10 and sibling.

4. Sparkxster

Posts: 1240; Member since: Mar 31, 2017

Xperia 1 camera hoping for great results.

5. abhinavjangir0201

Posts: 21; Member since: Aug 25, 2018

They are unique Non competitive & best in their own ways

6. abhinavjangir0201

Posts: 21; Member since: Aug 25, 2018

You can't compare sony with any other

8. User123456789

Posts: 1008; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Phone Arena, explain me how photos of XZ1/XZ2/XZ3 look much better than iphone ( except DR) when scaled to 12MP???? Comparing different resolutions is wrong.

9. Arthurhkt

Posts: 725; Member since: Apr 19, 2012

It is both happy and sad to see that while Sony finally make a good come back with it camera department, Sony mobile had left my country because most of the local think that the camera of Sony smartphone are not up to par compare to Samsung, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo. Now they are making a good come back, we had no chance to try it out.

10. Playstation

Posts: 22; Member since: Dec 15, 2018

That's sad. But there's always importation available if you want one.

13. cheetah2k

Posts: 2271; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

Yep, same here in Australia. They have pulled their mobile division out and there is no way ill slap down GBP849 for one from an overseas online store without being able to try it first.... I do hope one of the carriers here in Australia decide to stock it

11. Nevita

Posts: 44; Member since: Sep 01, 2018

I respect that

12. cheetah2k

Posts: 2271; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

Sony's weak points with phones have always been price, camera software (s**ttttt) and big chins... hopefully they can fix the camera issues and keep the price point reasonable. Lets face it, no one will buy a AUD$1900 sony phone when in recent times a AUD$900 OnePlus 6T has done the job way better and for less than half the price

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.