Tech

Xiaomi 12S Ultra has an absolutely bonkers camera on the back

Xiaomi 12S Ultra

When is a phone no longer a phone, but a camera with a phone attached? Xiaomi might have an answer.

On Monday, the company launched the new Xiaomi 12S Ultra, a powerful flagship designed to showcase Xiaomi’s new partnership with imaging specialist Leica. And showcase it will, as every conversation about that phone is going to start with, “Holy crap, look at that camera!”

The 12S Ultra has a triple rear camera — a 50-megapixel main unit with Sony’s 1-inch, IMX989 sensor, a 48-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and a 48-megapixel telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom and a maximum 120x magnification. The whole thing is equipped with Leica lenses and housed in an absolutely massive camera bump on the back, making even the one on the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra pale in comparison.

All this gear should primarily make your photos less noisy in the dark, with more dynamic range and more light captured, though we’ll judge the actual results when we test the phone. The Xiaomi 12S Ultra is also the first phone, Xiaomi says, to take Dolby Vision HDR video.

Now, take a moment and observe the camera in detail.

Xiaomi 12S Ultra camera up close.

The star of this show is Sony’s 1-inch IMX989 sensor.
Credit: Xiaomi

After you’ve soaked that in, here are the other specs of this phone: It’s powered a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip with Xiaomi’s new “3D cooling system,” a 4,860mAh battery with 67W wired charging, 50W wireless charging, and 10W reverse wireless charging.

On the front, you’ll find a 6.73-inch AMOLED display with 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, and a punch-hole, 32-megapixel selfie camera. The phone is available with 8/12GB of RAM and 256/512GB of storage. Other specs of note include dual, Harman Kardon-branded speakers, and IP68 dust and water resistance.

Three Xiaomi 12S Ultra smartphones side-by-side.

Two colors are on offer: black and green.
Credit: Xiaomi

One other important tidbit: The phone weighs a hefty 225 grams. Hopefully, that weight is more evenly distributed than it was on the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, which was top heavy and hard to hold due to its huge camera module.

The Xiaomi 12S Ultra will be available in two colors: Classic Black and Verdant Green.

Xiaomi also launched the far-more-normal looking Xiaomi 12S Pro as well as Xiaomi 12S. The 12S Pro is exactly the same on the front, and also has a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip, but has a slightly less powerful triple rear camera with a smaller main sensor and just 2x optical zoom on the telephoto unit. It also has a smaller, 4,600mAh battery, weighs a bit less at 204 grams, and has a 128GB storage option.

Four Xiaomi 12S Pro smartphones in a row.

It doesn’t make such a bold statement, but it’s 21 grams lighter.
Credit: Xiaomi

The Xiaomi 12S is also powered by a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip, but it’s smaller at 6.28 inches, has a 50/13/5-megapixel rear camera, and a slightly smaller, 4,500mAh battery.

All of the phones are running Android 12 with Xiaomi’s MIUI 13 on top.

All four devices will be on sale in China. The price for the Xiaomi 12S Ultra starts at 5,999 RMB ($896); the Xiaomi 12S Pro starts at RMB 4,699 ($702), and the Xiaomi 12S starts at RMB 3,999 ($598). There’s no word on global availability just yet.

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