As impressive as smartphone cameras these days, even The best camera phones Face some major limitations. The first is the choice of lenses, since there is a limit to the number of different lenses you can reasonably equip a phone with, and the other is the quality of those lenses, which are limited based on their necessarily small size. But Xiaomi has just shown a phone that solves both of these problems.
The company took to Weibo (Opens in a new tab) – Chinese social network – to detect a modified version of Xiaomi 12S Ultra (which already includes a 1-inch sensor) to which you can mount a Leica M-series lens. The post included a video uploaded to YouTube by XDA Developers (Opens in a new tab)so you can view it below.
One inch is impressively large for a smartphone camera sensor, but as in any smartphone touting photography as its main selling point, the bottleneck then becomes the smartphone-sized lenses used. While the standard 50MP Sony IMX989 Xiaomi 12S Ultra is designed like any other smartphone camera, the newly revealed Xiaomi 12S Ultra Concept doesn’t have a lens over the sensor at all — or at least not until you mount one.
In order to keep the sensor as clean as possible when the lens is not attached, the company has opted for a sapphire crystal cover, which should repel scratches well; However, it seems that dust between the lens and sensor elements will still be a constant challenge.
Because you can attach and replace Leica M-series lenses, you’re not limited to just the one lens out there, so you can take advantage of this powerful one-inch sensor across a variety of lenses (assuming you invest in a variety).
And Leica lenses are designed for the right mirrorless and rangefinder cameras, so they’re much larger and more capable than the lenses you usually find on a smartphone. If one was permanently attached to this Xiaomi phone, it would be impractical, but you can simply remove it when not in use, to keep the phone’s traditional form factor intact.
Right now, this is just a concept phone, so there’s no guarantee it’ll ever go on sale, but it’s not impossible to imagine that we’ll one day see this on sale or something similar.
Analysis: a niche but exciting idea
It is highly unlikely that a phone like this Xiaomi 12S Ultra concept will be mainstream, as it will only appeal to people who already have or want a decent camera, and are not satisfied with the quality or look of traditional smartphone photos, but for those few, it can be a revelation.
There’s an old saying that the best camera is the one you have with you, and since we all carry our phones with us everywhere, that makes it the best – or at least the most useful – even if it’s not of the highest quality.
Carrying a DSLR or mirrorless system is, for most of us, something we only do when we’re actively planning to take pictures while out and about, and even then, carrying it around is an added affair, which can be a hassle.
Therefore, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra Concept can provide the right camera quality without having to carry a separate snapper. You’ll, of course, still need to bring at least one lens with you, but there’s less weight and size than a fully dedicated camera system.
In addition, there is a variety of Leica M-series lenses, so there are already plenty of compatible options, and for people who already own this Xiaomi concept may be even more enticing. So there is no doubt that this will be one of the best camera phones and The best Xiaomi phones around, if it has ever been launched.