Xiaomi 12S Ultra Includes The World’s Biggest Camera Sensor

Built in collaboration with Leica using some high-end Sony photography tech, Xiaomi’s latest phone is a beast.

Xiaomi are most definitely on a mission to take the smartphone camera crown from whoever you think currently deserves it, and their new 12S Ultra model certainly has the spec to take on the likes of Samsung, Huawei and OnePlus.

The phone is part of the new 12S series which includes three models – the Xiaomi 12S, the 12S Pro and the 12S Ultra. The 12S and 12S Pro feature the usual annual upgrades from their previous versions, but it’s the 12S Ultra where the real magic has been happening, with the flagship model being a substantial upgrade from the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.

Xiaomi 12S Ultra upgrades include an impressive camera system featuring Sony’s monster IMX989 1-inch sensor, new camera hardware developed in partnership with Leica, a faster processor and an improved display.

The sensor found in the Ultra is actually the same one that Sony use in their ‘professional’ smartphone camera, the Xperia Pro-1 – which is often hailed at the best camera in a phone you can buy.

You won’t miss that rear camera either – it literally dominates the back of the phone, taking up nearly a third of the available space and protruding with a camera bump that most definitely says ‘big, powerful camera’.

Xiaomi 12S Ultra camera
Image credit: Xiaomi

The phone weights in at 225g and has an aluminium casing and a curved display, with a punch-hole selfie camera in the centre on the front. The back of the phone is covered in a premium-looking leather-type material which comes in Verdant Green and a Classic Black. IP68 water and dust resistant rating round off the design spec.

Under the hood you’ll find Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip alongside a new 3D cooling system, which should help improve gaming performance and running demanding apps.

Powered by a 4860mAh battery with 67W wired charging and 50W wireless charging, RAM and storage options are: 8GB/256GB, 12GB/256GB and 12GB/512GB.

For the display, the 12S Ultra features a large 6.73-inch screen, which has a quad HD+ 3200×1440 panel and a pixel density of 522 pixels per inch – the same as the Xiaomi 12 Pro.

Tell me more about that camera

The new Xiaomi 12S Series is the first to benefit from company’s partnership with Leica. Together they’ve worked on the lenses that are featured on the phones. The top-end Xiaomi 12S Ultra’s main 50.3MP camera uses an eight-piece aspheric lens, which apparently helps reduce flare, ghosting, and chromatic aberration.

Xiaomi 12S Ultra camera
Image credit: Xiaomi

The 12S Ultra camera also includes an anti-glare lens coating, lens edge ink coating, cyclic olefin copolymer material (yeah we genuinely don’t know what that part means either), and an infrared light filter with spin coating technology to provide a clear overall picture across the lens.

The 48MP ultra-wide camera features a Leica Summicron 1:1.9-4.1 / 13-120 aspherical lens with dual-PD auto-focus, and macro mode support and a 48MP periscope telephoto camera featuring dual-PD auto-focus and HyperOIS complete the 12S Ultra’s serious triple camera system.

Completing the camera spec, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra is equipped with the huge Sony IMX989 sensor that we mentioned earlier. Bigger than the sensors found in most other flagships, including the Samsung S21 Ultra, it should reduce noise, extend dynamic range, increase light captured and achieve overall better photos in low-light conditions.

Xiaomi have stated that the 12S Ultra won’t be getting a UK or USA release, with the phone only going on sale in China. However, imports will no doubt be available and expect to see many of these features in the smartphone giant’s next official Western release which may appear before the end of the year or early next year.

In China the 12S Ultra costs CNY 5,999 (£753) for the 8GB+256GB variant, CNY 6,499 (£815) for the 12GB+256GB variant and CNY 6,999 (£878) for the 12GB+512GB variant.

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