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HomeDigital Camera ReviewsXiaomi unveils the 12S Ultra, its Leica-branded flagship with a new 50.3MP...

Xiaomi unveils the 12S Ultra, its Leica-branded flagship with a new 50.3MP 1″-type Sony sensor

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xioami 12s series lead image

After teasing its new 12S series of smartphones last week, Xiaomi has fully unveiled its new Xiaomi x Leica smartphones and they feature some extremely impressive specs.

Before diving into the new Xiaomi 12S Series, let’s briefly discuss the partnership between Xioami and Leica. The ‘Strategic Partnership in Imaging Technology’ began earlier this year, and the new 12S Series is the first product to culminate from the relationship. The entire series of smartphones includes imaging systems jointly developed by Xiaomi and Leica, including Leica Summicron lenses and Leica imaging profiles.

xioami 12s series close up leica

Xiaomi writes, ‘In this new era of mobile photography, Xiaomi and Leica have jointly created a new standard for smartphone photography. Combining Leica’s in-depth understanding of optics, image processing, image quality, and Xiaomi’s rich experience in smartphone computing photography, Xiaomi 12S Series ‘co-engineered with Leica’ offers unprecedented smartphone image quality, colors that closely adhere to Leica’s signature look and feel.’

The Xiaomi 12S Ultra, the flagship model, utilizes Leica’s optical design in its lens system, including the use of an aspheric lens designed to address flare, ghosting and chromatic aberration. The 12S Ultra also incorporates anti-glare lens coating, lens edge ink coating, cyclic olefin copolymer material, and an infrared light filter with spin coating technology. Together, Leica says these technologies promise a clearer overall picture.

xiaomi 12s series leica shot 1

All models in the 12S Series include two Leica imaging profiles, Leica Authentic Look and Leica Vibrant Look. Leica designed the former option to add ‘a sense of three-dimensional depth’ to photos, while Leica and Xiaomi jointly developed the latter option.

xiaomi 12s series leica shot 2

We saw last week that the Xioami 12S Ultra would include a 1″-type Sony IMX989 image sensor, and sure enough, it does. We have since learned it’s a 50.3MP image sensor and it uses a Quad-Bayer pixel array design with individual pixel sizes of 1.6μm. With pixel binning, the pixel size can effectively double, thereby reducing noise, improving dynamic range and producing better image quality in low-light conditions.

The sensor includes Dual-PD autofocus and supports macro focus. The sensor is paired with a 23mm F1.9 8P Aspheric lens. The 12S Ultra includes an ultra-wide 13mm F2.2 camera with a 1/2″ Sony IMX586 sensor (48MP). This sensor also offers pixel binning. The third primary camera is a 120mm F4.1 telephoto lens with the same IMX586 sensor. The telephoto lens includes optical image stabilization. Rounding out the cameras is a 32MP front camera.

xioami 12s series leica shot 3

As for video, the 12S Ultra records 4K UHD video at up to 50 frames per second, including in its new Dolby Vision (10-bit Rec.2020 HLG H.265) format. You can record FHD slow-motion video at up to 480 fps. At a reduced 1280 x 720 resolution, you can record at up to 3,840 fps, with the caveat that it’s 95ms capture speed upscaled to output 12s slow-mo video).

The Xiaomi 12S and 12S Pro use the Sony IMX707 image sensor for their main cameras. The sensor is 1/1.28″ and has a 2.44μm pixel size after binning. These smartphones support 30 fps image capture as well.

xiaomi 12s ultra water

All three 12S Series phones support 10-bit RAW format capture, which Adobe Labs has calibrated. Color correction is embedded in the files, so if you use Adobe Lightroom on the phone, the software will perform automatic optimization.

There are some other noteworthy features, including Dolby Vision HDR support on the 12S Ultra, a first for Xiaomi, two Xioami Surge chips for fast-charging, improved battery algorithms, the use of the all-new Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Mobile Platform, and more. The smartphones promise a 10% improvement in performance and 30% improvement in energy efficiency. The Xiaomi 12S Ultra also includes a whole new heat dissipation system.

xioami 12s ultra lineuop

The 12S Ultra and 12S Pro use the same 6.73″ AMOLED display. The screen has a peak brightness of 1,500 nits, displays the P3 color gamut and has a variable rate refresh display from 1-120Hz. The standard 12S uses a 6.28″ display that also supports P3, HDR10+ and 120Hz refresh.

The Xiaomi 12S starts at 3,999 Chinese Yuan (around $600). The 12S Pro and 12S Ultra start at 4699 CNY ($700) and 5999 CNY ($890), respectively. As of now, availability has only been announced in China.

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