The Xiaomi 12S Ultra concept solves the cameraphone’s biggest problem

As impressive as smartphone cameras are these days, even the best camera phones face some major limitations. One is lens selection, as there is a limit to how many different lenses you can reasonably equip a phone with, and the other is the quality of those lenses, which is limited due to their size. necessarily small. But Xiaomi has just shown a phone that solves both of these problems.

The company took to Weibo (opens in a new tab) – a Chinese social network – to unveil a modified version of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra (which already includes a one-inch sensor) on which you can mount a Leica M-series lens. The post included a video which was uploaded to YouTube by XDA Developers (opens in a new tab)so you can watch it below.

An inch is incredibly large for a smartphone camera sensor, but as is the case with any smartphone that touts photography as a key selling point, the bottleneck then becomes camera-sized lenses. a used smartphone. While the Xiaomi 12S Ultra’s standard 50MP Sony IMX989 is designed like any other smartphone camera, this recently unveiled Xiaomi 12S Ultra concept doesn’t have a lens on the sensor at all – or at least not so much as you don’t fix one.

In order to keep the sensor as clean as possible when a lens isn’t attached, the company opted for a sapphire crystal cover, which should repel scratches well; dust between the lens elements and the sensor seems to be a persistent challenge though.

Since you can attach and swap Leica M-series lenses, you’re not limited to just one lens, so you can take advantage of this powerful one-inch sensor on a variety of lenses (assuming you invest in a variety).

And these Leica lenses are designed for proper mirrorless and rangefinder cameras, so they’re much larger and more capable than the lenses you’ll typically find on a smartphone. If one were permanently attached to this Xiaomi phone it wouldn’t be practical, but you can simply remove it when not in use, to keep the conventional form factor of the phone intact.

For now, it’s just a concept phone, so there’s no guarantee it’ll ever go on sale, but it’s not impossible to imagine that we’ll ever see this or something similar sold.

Analysis: a niche but fascinating idea

A phone like this Xiaomi 12S Ultra concept will probably never be mainstream, as it will only appeal to people who already have or want a proper camera, and are unhappy with the quality or appearance of the photos. conventional smartphones, but for those few it might be a revelation.

There’s a saying that the best camera is the one you have with you, and since we all carry our phones around with us, that makes them the best – or at least the most useful – even if they’re not not of the highest quality.

Carrying around a DSLR or mirrorless system is, for most of us, something we’d only do when we’re actively planning to take pictures while we’re out and about, and even then it’s a extra thing to carry, which can be a nuisance.

So Xiaomi’s 12S Ultra concept could offer proper camera quality without the need to carry a separate snapper. Of course, you’ll still need to bring at least one lens with you, but there’s less weight and size than in an entire dedicated camera system.

Plus, there’s a wide variety of Leica M-series lenses, so there are already plenty of compatible options, and for people who already own them, this Xiaomi concept might be even more tempting. So there is no doubt that this would be one of the best camera phones and best xiaomi phones around, if ever it was launched.

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