Just six months after the release of its previous flagship, Xiaomi today unveiled a trio of recognizable-looking smartphones to kick off its collaboration with Leica. The new 12S Series operates on Qualcomm’s purportedly more efficient Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 flagship chipset and comes with MIUI 13, which is based on Android 12. The flagship 12S Ultra is equipped with a large 1-inch, 50.3-megapixel Sony IMX989 primary sensor.
This results in generous pixel sizes of 1.6um, which are then doubled to 3.2um using pixel binning for purportedly improved colour fidelity and low light performance. And in contrast to the Sony Xperia Pro-I, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra appears to utilise the entire 1-inch sensor.
Xiaomi participated in the Sony IMX989’s development, and the $15 million price tag was equally split between the two businesses, according to CEO Lei Jun. It’s interesting to note that Lei said the sensor will be made accessible to his regional rivals after the 12S Ultra is released in order to “promote the advancement of mobile imaging together.”
The Xiaomi 12S Ultra features a “Leica Summicron 1:1.9-4.1 / 13-120 ASPH camera system,” which includes all three of the back cameras: the 48-megapixel periscopic camera (120mm, f/4.1), 48-megapixel ultra-wide camera (13mm, f/2.2), and the aforementioned 50.3-megapixel main camera (23mm, f/1.9). A 1/2-inch Sony IMX586 sensor is used by both 48-megapixel cameras. The entire circular camera island, which is now co-branded with “Leica,” benefits from a coating magic to reduce lens glare and enhance image consistency. Oh, and the rim around here is made of 23K gold.
Users will be able to choose between two photographic looks in addition to a few Leica filters: “Leica Authentic Look” for images that look more authentic and have stronger three-dimensional depth, and “Leica Vibrant Look” that adds Xiaomi’s take on vibrancy while maintaining authenticity (somehow). The watermark banner at the bottom of your images may also be toggled, adding the recognisable red Leica logo, photo metadata, and location coordinates to the right, along with the phone model and timestamp on the left.
A 32-megapixel selfie camera on the opposite side of the phone is powered by an unidentified RGBW sensor. The 12S Ultra is the first Android handset to come equipped with Dolby Vision HDR video recording (up to 4K@60fps) and playback capabilities, as most of these cameras are capable of doing. For more stable video, some people also use the motor-based “HyperOIS” system. When it comes to still images, the entire 12S Series supports 10-bit RAW format calibrated by Adobe Labs. Color correction metadata is incorporated in the files enabling simpler post-production with applications like Adobe Lightroom.
Two exclusive Xiaomi Surge chips—the Surge P1 fast-charging chipset and the Surge G1 battery management chipset—are also found in the 12S Ultra. For the 4,860mAh single cell silicon oxygen anode battery, these offer support for 67W wired fast charging, 50W wireless fast charging, and 10W reverse charging. It’s important to note that certain fast-charging methods employ two cell batteries to divide the current load, therefore it’s fortunate in this case that the Surge P1 can manage an output current of up to 16A while reportedly having a 96.8% conversion efficiency. The 12S Ultra offers adaptive charging, which according to claims raises the number of charge cycles by 25%, just like recent phones from Oppo and ASUS.
Additionally important for a healthier battery and more reliable performance while gaming is keeping the phone cool. The Xiaomi 12S Ultra has a “three dimensional cooling pump” that uses a capillary mechanism akin to that found in leaves to transport cooling fluids across heating surfaces. When compared to typical vapour cooling modules, this appears to dramatically improve thermal conductivity.
The Xiaomi 12S Ultra’s remaining features are typical for a flagship device. A 6.73-inch Samsung E5 AMOLED screen (3,200 x 1,440, 522ppi; LTPO 2.0) with a maximum brightness of 1,500 nits, a refresh rate of 1-120Hz AdaptiveSync Pro, native 10-bit colour depth, and compatibility for P3 colour gamut serves as the display. Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HDR10, and HLG are all supported by the screen, which is evident from the camera features. These formats work nicely with the Harman Kardon speakers, which also support Dolby Atmos audio. Since the gadget is IP68-rated, it should withstand accidental dives into sinks and swimming pools. Additionally, there is an infrared remote control port for home appliances at the top.
Up to 512GB of UFS 3.1 storage with up to 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM is also an option. This storage type uses Xiaomi’s own FBO (File-Based Optimization) storage refresh technology, which is said to maintain read/write performance for at least four years (and Lei added that FBO has already been written into the next-gen UFS 4.0 storage specification). A “Classic Black” and a “Verdant Green,” both wrapped in vegan leather, are available for purchase.
The lesser Xiaomi 12S Pro has a smaller 4,600mAh battery and the same Surge P1 fast charging chip as the 12S Ultra, but it lacks 10W reverse charging and only offers a stunning 120W wired charging for its larger 6.73-inch display. The main sensor is a 50-megapixel Sony IMX707, a more common (though ostensibly still pricey) Sony IMX700 variation that was previously featured in Huawei’s Mate 40 Pro series. This still has a respectable pixel size of 1.22um (or 2.44um after pixel binning) and matches the resolution of its telephoto camera (50mm) and ultra-wide camera (14mm), both of which were obviously fine-tuned by Leica.
With regard to the Xiaomi 12S, which is considered to be the “basic” model, it has the same primary camera as the 12S Pro and the same fast-charging capabilities as the 12S Ultra, but a smaller 4,500mAh battery inside of a more palm-friendly 6.28-inch 120Hz display-compatible shell. Lei claims that there is still a sizable demand for compact flagship phones.
In China, preorders for the Xiaomi 12S Series are now being accepted before its retail release on July 6. The 12S Ultra is available for purchase for between 5,999 yuan ($900) and 6,999 yuan ($1,000) (8GB RAM, 256GB storage). Priced between 4,699 yuan (8GB RAM, 128GB storage; approximately $700) and 5,899 yuan (12GB RAM, 512GB storage; about $880), the 12S Pro is less expensive. With prices starting at 3,999 yuan (8GB RAM, 128GB storage; about $600) and going as high as 5,199 yuan (12GB RAM, 512GB storage; approximately $780), the 12S is the most cost-effective option available. Later, we’ll keep a watch out for availability abroad.