Xiaomi 12S Ultra has a Leica camera with a massive 1 inch sensor

Just six months after his previously flagship launch, Xiaomi today announced a trio of familiar-looking smartphones to mark the beginning of its Partnership with Leica. The new 12S series features MIUI 13 based on Android 12 and runs on the supposedly more efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Flagship processor, headed 12S Ultra with a massive 1-inch 50.3-megapixel Sony IMX989 main sensor. That equates to a generous 1.6um pixel size, which then doubles to 3.2um via pixel binning for what is claimed to be improved color accuracy and low-light performance. And unlike the Sony Xperia Pro Ithe Xiaomi 12S Ultra apparently uses the entire part of its 1-inch sensor.

According to CEO Lei Jun, Xiaomi was involved in the development of the Sony IMX989, and the cost of $15 million was also shared equally between the two companies. Interestingly, the sensor will not be exclusive to Xiaomi; Lei added that it will be made available to its local competitors after the launch of the 12S Ultra to “jointly promote the advancement of mobile imaging.”

A close-up of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra's rear camera module, co-developed with Leica.
Xiaomi 12S Ultra

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For Leica’s part of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, you get a “Leica Summicron 1:1.9-4.1 / 13-120 ASPH camera system” that covers all three rear cameras: the aforementioned 50.3-megapixel main camera (23mm, f/1.9 ), along with the 48-megapixel ultra-wide camera (13mm, f/2.2) and 48-megapixel periscope camera (120mm, f/4.1). Both 48-megapixel cameras use a 1/2-inch Sony IMX586 sensor. The entire circular camera island – now co-branded “Leica” – benefits from a coating magic to reduce lens glare and improve image consistency across each lens. Oh, and there’s a 23k gold rim here, too.

In addition to some Leica filters, users can switch between two photographic styles: “Leica Authentic Look” for natural-looking shots with more three-dimensional depth, and “Leica Vibrant Look” that adds Xiaomi’s contribution to vibrancy while preserving the authenticity (kinda). You can also toggle the watermark banner at the bottom of your photos, which adds the iconic red Leica logo, photo metadata, and location coordinates on the right, and the phone model and timestamp on the left.

A sample shot captured with the Xiaomi 12S Ultra showing a cyclist on a river bank early in the morning before sunrise.

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On the other side of the phone is a 32MP selfie camera powered by an unknown RGBW sensor. Most of these cameras can record and play back Dolby Vision HDR video (up to 4K at 60fps), making the 12S Ultra the first Android device with these features. Some also use motor-based “HyperOIS” for more stable footage. For still images, the entire 12S series supports Adobe Labs-calibrated 10-bit RAW format with color grading metadata embedded in the files for easier post-processing with Adobe Lightroom.

The 12S Ultra also comes with two proprietary Xiaomi Surge chips: a Surge P1 fast charging chipset and a Surge G1 battery management chipset. These provide support for 67W wired fast charging, 50W wireless fast charging and 10W reverse charging for the 4,860mAh silicon-oxygen anode single-cell battery. Note that some fast-charging solutions use a two-cell battery instead to share the current load, so it’s a good thing that the Surge P1 can handle up to 16A of output current here, and apparently with a conversion efficiency of 96.8%. Like recent phones from Oppo and ASUS, the 12S Ultra offer adaptive charging, which is said to increase the number of charge cycles by 25 percent.

Keeping the phone cool is also key to a healthier battery, not to mention more stable gaming performance. The Xiaomi 12S Ultra is equipped with a “three-dimensional cooling pump” that moves cooling liquid over warm surfaces via a capillary mechanism similar to that of leaves. This appears to significantly improve thermal conductivity compared to traditional vapor cooling modules.

Xiaomi 12S Ultra

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The rest of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra is standard flagship affair. For the display, you get a 6.73-inch Samsung E5 AMOLED panel (3200 x 1440, 522 ppi; LTPO 2.0) with a peak brightness of up to 1500 nits, a 1120 Hz AdaptiveSync Pro refresh rate and a native 10-bit color depth and support for the P3 color space. As you can see from the camera features, the screen is capable of Dolby Vision as well as HDR10+, HDR10 and HLG; These pair well with the Harman Kardon speakers, which also support Dolby Atmos audio. The device is IP68 rated, meaning it should survive accidental dives into sinks and pools. At the top you will also find an infrared remote control port for controlling household appliances.

Options include up to 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM, up to 512GB of UFS 3.1 storage — with Xiaomi’s proprietary File-Based Optimization (FBO) memory refresh technology, which is said to maintain the same read/write performance for at least four years (and Lei added that FBO has already been written to the next-gen UFS 4.0 storage specification). Buyers can choose between a “Classic Black” and a “Verdant Green”, both of which are wrapped in vegan leather.

A close-up of the Xiaomi 12S Pro's Leica Vario-Summicron 14-50 f/1.9-2.4 ASPH camera system, with all three cameras equipped with a 50-megapixel sensor.
Xiaomi 12S Pro

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The smaller Xiaomi 12S Pro has the same 6.73-inch display and Surge P1 fast-charging chipset as the 12S Ultra, although for its smaller 4,600mAh battery it supports a whopping 120W wired charging but no 10W reverse charging. It features a more regular (but apparently still expensive) 1/1.28-inch 50-megapixel Sony IMX707 main sensor, which is a variant of the IMX700 previously found on Huawei’s Mate 40 Pro Series. This still offers a good pixel size of 1.22um (or 2.44um after pixel binning) and matches the resolution of its ultra-wide (14mm) and telephoto (50mm) cameras – all also Leica fine tuned course.

As for the “simple” Xiaomi 12S, it has the same main camera as the 12S Pro and the same fast charging capabilities as the 12S Ultra, but with a smaller 4,500mAh battery in a more palm-friendly body beneath the 6.28-inch 120Hz display. According to Lei, there still seems to be considerable demand for small flagship phones.

The Xiaomi 12S series is available for pre-order now in China before it hits stores on July 6th. The 12S Ultra costs between 5,999 yuan (8GB RAM, 256GB storage; about $900) and 6,999 yuan (12GB RAM, 512GB storage; about $1,000). The 12S Pro is cheaper, ranging from 4,699 yuan (8GB RAM, 128GB storage; about $700) to 5,899 yuan (12GB RAM, 512GB storage; about $880). The 12S is the cheapest option here, starting at 3,999 yuan (8GB RAM, 128GB storage; about $600) and capping at 5,199 yuan (12GB RAM, 512GB storage; about $780). We’ll keep an eye on international availability later.

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