Xiaomi is introducing a trio of new smartphones today, and one of them comes with a pretty big new feature: a 1-inch camera sensor, which is relatively huge for a smartphone.
Everything about Xiaomi’s new flagship smartphone, the Mi 12S Ultra, is big. It sports a 6.73-inch OLED display, a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 system on a chip, and a camera lens-shaped bulge on the back that takes up about a third of the back of the phone.
This artificial lens houses the phone’s three cameras: a 48MP ultra-wide camera, a 48MP telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom (and “120x” digital zoom, which probably won’t look very good), and finally the 50-megapixel main camera uses this 1-inch sensor.
A few different companies have already put 1-inch sensors in their phones, but that wasn’t very common – you’re more likely to find 1-inch sensors in high-end point-and-shoots like Sony’s RX100 series. The larger size allows the sensor to collect more light and capture more detailed images. It won’t turn a phone into a DSLR, but it could be an improvement over the typical smartphone camera; For example, the iPhone 13 Pro has a sensor size of 1/1.65 inch DPReview. (Although for reference, the actual size of a sensor’s field of view is smaller than the stated measurement allows for.)
According to Xiaomi, the phone’s camera system was “co-developed with Leica,” and the company said so Engadget that it shared the cost of developing the 1-inch image sensor with Sony. Sony did indeed release a phone with a 1-inch sensor late last year, but it only captured part of the sensor, while Xiaomi’s phone will reportedly use the whole thing.
Apart from the camera, the Mi 12S Ultra otherwise has the typical features of a flagship phone. It features IP68 water and dust resistance, a large 4,860mAh battery, 67W wired fast charging and a display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The phone is also said to be the first Android device capable of Dolby Vision HDR can record.
The 12S Ultra will be launched in China first. A model with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage costs 5,999 RMB (about US$900), while a high-end version with 12GB RAM and 512GB storage costs 6,999 RMB (about US$1,050).
In addition to the 12S Ultra, Xiaomi is also introducing two models in the lower price range: the 12S and 12S Pro. Both of these phones have a 1/1.28-inch main camera sensor, which is smaller than the Ultra but still larger than the typical smartphone sensor. The 12S has a smaller 6.28-inch 120Hz display, while like the Ultra, the 12S Pro has a 6.73-inch 120Hz OLED display. Both get the same Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chip. Pricing for the 12S starts at 3,999 RMB ($600) and pricing for the 12S Pro starts at 4,699 RMB ($700).