Xiaomi has announced its 12S series which includes the Ultra which was co-designed with Leica† That flagship features the world’s largest smartphone sensor: a 50 megapixel 1-inch sensor behind a 13 mm f/1.9 Leica lens.
The Xiaomi 12S Ultra sports a 6.73-inch AMOLED display that promises 1500 nits of peak brightness at 2K resolution with support for the P3 color gamut (details on the actual color accuracy were not provided). Behind the screen, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra is the first flagship model to come equipped with two proprietary Xiaomi Surge chips, Xiaomi Surge P1 fast charging chipset and Xiaomi Surge G1 battery management chipset, which the company says offers great improvements in battery management and overall user experience.
The new smartphone also supports 67W wired fast charging, 50W wireless fast charging and 10W reverse wireless charging. At the heart of the Xiaomi Surge Battery Management System is a 4,860 mAh single-cell silicon-oxygen anode battery and Xiaomi Surge P1 fast-charging chipset, which, according to the company, also supports an output current of 16 A with a conversion efficiency of 96.8%.
Not to downplay a better battery and display size, but the real star of the show is the massive camera array.
A huge camera
The huge camera on the back of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra is centered around a Sony IMX989 1-inch sensor that uses a Quad-Bayer pixel array with individual pixels of 1.6m. After pixel binning, Xiaomi says these pixels are a larger 3, reach 2m, which reduces noise, increases dynamic range, increases recorded light and generally produces better images in low light.
The sensor was actually co-developed by Sony and Xiaomi, which Engadget reports including a 50-50 split in bearing the cost of putting it together.
—Xiaomi (@Xiaomi) July 4, 2022
To use the full size of the 1-inch sensor, Xiaomi leaned on Leica to develop what it calls an “advanced optical lens”.
†[The 12S Ultra] utilizes Leica’s world-class optical design capabilities in its lens system, while adhering to their rigorous optical quality testing standards and implementing Xiaomi’s expertise in component miniaturization to ensure ultra-high resolution, ultra-high light sensitivity, reduced dispersion, and lower flare, company says.
The lens supposedly reduces flare, ghosting and chromatic aberration. In addition to the physical lens design, the camera has also been tuned to reproduce Leica’s tone and aesthetics with “cutting edge algorithms”, realized in the Leica Authentic Look and Leica Vibrant Look photo profiles.
As explained by Xiaomi:
- The “Leica Authentic Look” emulates a natural imagery that Leica is known for. By preserving contrast of light and shadow, it adds a sense of three-dimensional depth to photos, with the characteristic excellence of Leica’s proven light and shadow aesthetics.
- The “Leica Vibrant Look” features input from both Xiaomi and Leica. Combining Xiaomi’s experience in smartphone photography with Leica’s leading edge aesthetics, photographers can strive to capture the emotion of the moment, symbolizing Leica’s exploration of smartphone photography.
The main camera is also the first Android device to support Dolby Vision HDR video recording and playback. In addition, it features Xiaomi’s HyberOIS image stabilization, which the company says offers ultra-stable performance and continuous compensation for motion during video recording.
“HyperOIS uses the gap between two frames to move the OIS engine to its original position, giving each frame a full effective range of stabilization,” the company claims.
Xiaomi says the 12S Ultra is also designed to be more user-friendly for post-production photographers, and it captures photos in 10-bit RAW format calibrated by Adobe Labs, with color correction metadata embedded directly into the files. When Adobe Lightroom is used to open photos taken with the Xiaomi 12S series, Adobe Camera RAW software will automatically optimize photos based on metadata, which Xiaomi says provides professional photographers with a great starting point for post-production.
Xiaomi hinted that it was due to release its signature smartphone camera last week, but the sheer size of the camera array on the back of the new 12S Ultra shows how challenging it is to fully utilize a large 1-inch sensor in a smartphone. design that’s so thin. Sony has tried something similar with his Xperia Pro-I earlier this yearbut due to size restrictions unable to use full size sensor as Xiaomi could here.
The Xiaomi 12S Ultra smartphone starts at 5,999 Yuan, which is about $892. It and the other smartphones in the 12S series will be launched first in mainland China and the company has not disclosed when it can be expected in other regions.