Xiaomi broke new grounds back in July by debuting the China-only Xiaomi 12S Ultra, the first smartphone to feature Sony’s 1-inch 50 MP IMX989 camera sensor, along with enhancements provided by renowned German camera manufacturer Leica. As we’ve pointed out in our hands-on article, this in itself is already impressive as far as smartphone photography is concerned. However, it appears that the company has even bigger plans.
Earlier today, the company shared a short video on Weibo, revealing a new concept version of the phone, which is aptly known as the Xiaomi 12S Ultra Concept. What sets this model apart from the original is its rear camera array, where a secondary 1-inch 50 MP sensor now occupies the middle portion of the island instead of a 48 MP periscope. But that’s not all that’s different.
Here's @Xiaomi's promo video for the wild "12S Ultra Concept Phone," which can mount any interchangeable @leica_camera M lens over its *second* 1-inch sensor. More here: https://t.co/CQkL6dayll pic.twitter.com/YEQNHdI4IE
— Richard Lai (@richardlai) November 2, 2022
Due to the lack of a lens, this sensor is actually fully exposed, though it is still well protected. This is thanks to a layer of sapphire glass, which also provides protection to the phone’s primary 1-inch 50 MP camera and the repositioned 48 MP periscope. Meanwhile, surrounding the exterior of the concept model’s circular camera island is a mount where you can attach an adapter that supports Leica M series lenses.
That’s right. The reason why the secondary sensor is fully exposed is because it is designed to work with interchangeable lenses – transforming the Xiaomi 12S Ultra Concept from a smartphone to an actual mirrorless camera. Additionally, the company adds that this version of the phone comes with the ability to shoot in 10-bit RAW, as well as access to new external lens-supported camera app features such as focus peaking, zebra lines, and histogram.
As shown from the video, a protection ring is placed on the camera island’s mount when it is not in use. In a way, it’s convenient that Xiaomi retains the phone’s original Leica-enhanced primary and telephoto cameras so users can still shoot photos without having to attach a lens. However, there’s no denying that featuring two 1-inch 50 MP sensors on a single device is kind of an overkill. But hey, the company did it anyway.
— Agatha Tang (@aggasaurus) November 2, 2022
Xiaomi says the Concept model was developed alongside the original Xiaomi 12S Ultra, though it has no immediate plans to actually sell the device. Even if it did, it wouldn’t be surprising if the phone ends up as a China-only exclusive like its sibling, let alone fetch an even heftier price tag.