Xiaomi reveals concept phone with a mount for Leica M lenses based on the 12S Ultra
Xiaomi narrowed the gap between smartphones and premium digital cameras with the release of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra and its 1” sensor. But even that has lenses with fixed focal lengths like a typical smartphone. Now the company offers a rare glimpse behind the scenes – there were actually two projects being developed concurrently, one of which became the 12S Ultra. The other is a hybrid between a smartphone and a mirrorless camera.
This concept device has a second 1” sensor, one that is not covered by its own lens (but it is covered by sapphire glass for protection). This allows the user to attach Leica M mount lenses, opening the door for (semi-)professional use. The wide variety of lenses is combined with an advanced camera app that supports focus peaking, zebra lines, a histogram and other tools that photographers have come to expect. And 10-bit RAW support, of course.
A concept smartphone/mirrorless camera hybrid based on the Xiaomi 12S Ultra
This does require an adapter, which makes the device bulky. However, notice that we said second 1” sensor – this concept can shoot photos and videos like a regular phone because it has the same main camera as the 12S Ultra (1” sensor, 23mm lens) and an ultra wide camera (13mm), these can be used without any extra hardware.
There have been lens accessories for smartphones before, but that is a flawed design - light has to pass both through the external lens and the phone’s own lens, which leads to light losses and a softer image. This Xiaomi concept is different in that an attached Leica lens sends light directly to the sensor (except for the protective glass that keeps dust and water out).
Camera samples from the Xiaomi 12S Ultra concept device (12MP)
This functions more like a 1” mirrorless camera when a lens is attached. Unlike a typical mirrorless camera, however, this device is also blessed with the advanced computational photography skills enabled by the powerful Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset.
Black & white camera samples from the Xiaomi 12S Ultra concept device (12MP)
Again, this is different for add-on lenses that go on top of the smartphone’s lens. It’s not like the lens-style cameras that Sony was pushing a decade back either. Those were compete digital cameras, the phone was just the display. And it’s not like the Android-powered cameras that happened to have phone functionality. Those didn’t have removable lenses. This is something quite unique built by Xiaomi and Leica.
We don’t have the complete details for this concept device, but it is clearly from the same stable as the Xiaomi 12S Ultra. It even has the same grippy faux leather back and it enjoys full IP68 dust and water resistance too. The company did add some reinforcement to the frame where the lens attaches to make it sturdier.
Xiaomi has given no indication of whether it will sell this 12S Ultra-based concept device. Maybe it won’t and maybe it shouldn’t – the upcoming Xiaomi 13 Pro is said to have a 1” sensor as well, maybe a special edition of that device would be more appropriate. Either way, Sony better take note of this when planning its next Xperia Pro phone.
- Alex Benjamin
- 10 Nov 2022
Is it possible to mount any lens on it?
- 08 Nov 2022
Can a wired connection over USB-C help fix this issue? I think they can focus in that direction to help address the lag.
- 08 Nov 2022
Great to know this tech is in existence. Smartphones are now more powerful and a wired connection over USB-C can help address issues to do with lag.