This Xiaomi 12S Ultra Concept Uses Full-Size Leica M-Series Lenses

Earlier this year, Xiaomi released its camera-focused flagship smartphone — the Xiaomi 12S Ultra. Besides becoming the first Xiaomi smartphone to feature Leica optics, the key highlight of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra was that its primary camera featured a massive 1-inch sensor — typically used on high-quality point-and-shoot cameras. While there is no denying that larger sensor size typically translates to better picture quality, the arrival of computational photography and advanced imaging algorithms has completely transformed the smartphone imaging game. Groundbreaking developments in this space have allowed companies like Apple, Google, and Samsung to achieve great results without needing large sensors.

Xiaomi, however, seems to think otherwise and believes that it isn't entirely impossible to get the right mix of great hardware and equally impressive software on their devices. That, unfortunately, wasn't the case with the Xiaomi 12S — with most reviewers ranking it well below the latest Apple iPhones, Google Pixels, and Samsung Galaxy S22s in terms of overall imaging capabilities.

As Xiaomi continues to polish its imaging algorithm, the company seems to be in no mood to stop its experiments with high-quality hardware. This has become more evident after Xiaomi recently came up with a concept iteration of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra that supports Leica's popular M-Series lenses. Before you jump the gun and look for a "Buy Now" button, let us reiterate that this version of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra is still in its concept phase.

The first smartphone to feature twin 1-inch sensors?

It is interesting to see how the company has gone about designing this variant of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra. To begin with, Xiaomi claims that this iteration of the 12S Ultra was not an afterthought and that the company had been working on it at the same as it was developing the vanilla 12s Ultra. The polished-looking teaser video from Xiaomi shows that the phone features not one, but two 1-inch sensors. While one sensor is mated with Xiaomi's smartphone lens and works like any other smartphone sensor-lens combo, the other 1-inch sensor is designed to work specifically with externally attached M-Series Leica lenses.

The concept Xiaomi 12S Ultra uses an adapter that latches on the phone's camera ring design. Users can then attach Leica lenses directly to the rear panel, enclosing the entire camera ring. Xiaomi claims that this design reduces "light loss" and lets the phone capture sharper images. Xiaomi also claims that attaching external lenses allow users to achieve "authentic depth of field."

To support the additional weight of the lens, Xiaomi says it has reinforced the body of the phone. Additionally, the lens mount is mechanically attached to the phone's frame, giving it added rigidity. When not attached to an external lens, the "exposed" 1-inch sensor is protected by a layer of tough sapphire glass. Completing the professional camera experience is the updated camera software which now supports features like focus peaking, zebra lines, histogram, and 10-bit RAW.

Xiaomi stopped short of revealing if it ever plans to release this smartphone to consumers. There is no denying that it would make for an interesting little purchase if they decide to do so.