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The Xperia 1 II brings Sony’s mirrorless camera tech to a smartphone

Sony’s Alpha-series mirrorless cameras are known for the best-in-class autofocus and fast continuous shooting, and those same features are now trickling down into Sony’s latest phone. The Xperia 1 II will ship July 24, with pre-sales beginning June 1, Sony announced today. The Android 10 device also borrows tech from Sony’s gaming and entertainment products.

No, the phone won’t get a large APS-C or full-frame sensor like an Alpha camera, but Sony is integrating several key performance features of its camera line into the Xperia 1 II, like a 20-frames-per-second burst mode. That’s as fast as the sports-oriented — and $4,500 — Sony A9 II mirrorless camera.

That speed is pointless without autofocus that can keep up. Here, the Xperia 1 II adapts another key component of Sony’s high-end camera systems, with a continuous autofocus system capable of making 60 calculations per second. Real-time Eye AF, another Sony camera technology, also makes it into the phone. This uses artificial intelligence to automatically track a person’s (or a pet’s) eyes to keep focus locked right where it needs to be.

While those features sound an awful lot like Sony’s latest mirrorless autofocus system, there are some key differences. The active focus area covers just 70% of the sensor compared to up to 93% in an Alpha camera. The fast burst speed is also only available when using the wide lens, not the ultra-wide or telephoto.

While sensor size is obviously limited by the size of the phone, the 24mm wide lens is paired with a larger-than-usual 1/1.7-inch sensor. Sony says this new sensor is also 1.5x more light sensitive than the previous version, which should help create cleaner images in low light.

The triple camera array also includes a 70mm f/2.4 and 16mm f/2.2 lens, and all cameras offer 12 megapixels. The wide and telephoto lenses use optical image stabilization while the ultra-wide does not. The selfie camera uses an 8MP sensor.

Video is recorded at 4K and 60 fps, including in HDR mode. Slow-motion goes down the 120 fps and the stabilization is available in video mode, too.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Besides shooting like a mirrorless camera, Sony also wants to make the Xperia 1 II feel like one. The camera user interface is inspired by Alpha cameras, with manual exposure controls included in the native camera app.

Like the Xperia 1, the second generation model takes inspiration from Sony’s entertainment and gaming divisions, as well. The phone is equipped with a 6.5-inch 4K HDR OLED screen, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 with Game Enhancer mode, and Dolby Atmos sound. The smartphone uses Corning Gorilla Glass and is rated for water resistance.

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