The Xiaomi 12S Ultra is much more than a high-end Android smartphone: with its 1-inch sensor, Leica optics, and powerful Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, it aims to replace real cameras.
Smartphones follow and resemble each other. So much so that the global market is collapsing, as indicated by a recent study by the specialized firm Counterpoint Research, which notes sales down 10% over one year in May 2022 and a slow decline since 2016. Even Samsung, still number one in the sector just ahead of Apple, would remain with some 50 million copies on hand this year according to The Elec. Faced with this recession-like gloom, Xiaomi has decided to stand out to stay in the top three by remotivating consumers. And if the Chinese manufacturer has built its reputation on the quality/price ratio with well-balanced entry-level models, this time it is betting on the top and even the very top of the basket with its brand new 12S family. And more particularly with the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, which was presented in China on July 4, and which aims to redefine the game in mobile photography. An approach that joins that of Vivo with its X80 Plus, a premium smartphone also photo-oriented, produced with the assistance of Zeiss, another major specialist in optics.
Xiaomi 12S Ultra: a sensor and optics cut for the photo
Without even reading its – impressive – technical sheet, we immediately understand the vocation of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra by looking at it. dressed in a coating imitating leather, in the manner of film cameras, the back of its case is in fact surmounted by an imposing optical unit, thick and circular, stamped with the Leica logo, a legendary manufacturer of optics, very appreciated by experts. Funny detail, the names of the two brands – Xiaomi and Leica – are written vertically, so as to be easily readable when the phone is placed horizontally, in landscape mode… like a traditional camera.
Of course, the interest of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra is not limited to its design, as attractive as it is. Its photo score benefits from two major advantages. First, its main competition stabilized sensor, the brand new Sony IMX989. A large model, in 1 inch format – i.e. 13.2 x 8 x 8 mm –, as found in many Reflex type cameras. It is the second smartphone to integrate such a large sensor after the Sony Xperia Pro-I. In addition to its very high definition of 50 megapixels (Mpx), this format makes it possible to benefit from larger photosites – the photosensitive elements – and therefore to recover more light, the essence of photography. This format promises, at least on paper, to take much better shots in low light than with the tiny sensors that equip the majority of smartphones, regardless of their displayed definition – which is often just a simple advertising argument. to attract the customer with impressive numbers… In practice, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra is even content by default to photograph in 12.5 Mpx, by associating the photosites in groups of four, to gain even more sensitivity: an amply sufficient definition, even for professional uses. With a focal length of 23mm (f / 1.9), this module is completed by a 48 Mpx sensor (IMX586) decked out with an ultra wide-angle and by a third 48 Mpx sensor also associated with a periscopic lens equivalent to a 120 mm (f / 4.1) and equipped with a magnification factor of 5. The second advantage lies precisely in the optics and image processing, which were designed in partnership with Leica. Among the various optimizations made by the German specialist, we note the presence of an aspherical lens for better image quality on the edges.
A word on the front photo module, equipped with a 32 Mpx sensor: enough to take selfies in very high definition, for self-portrait lovers, so many on Instagram and other social networks.
Xiaomi 12S Ultra: a very high-end smartphone
The Xiaomi 12S Ultra does not just focus on its photographic capabilities: it is also, and first, a high-end Android smartphone, with characteristics allowing it to compete with its premium competitors signed Samsung, Oppo , OnePlus or Vivo. It is thus equipped with the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, the new all-in-one very high performance chip from Qualcomm, which promises excellent energy management according to its designer. The kind of new generation processor that should logically perform all tasks, even the heaviest, without flinching, whether it’s video processing or gaming.
And everything else is up to date. The 6.73-inch diagonal Amoled LTPO 2.0 type screen displays a definition of 3,200 x 1,440 pixels (QHD +) with an adaptive refresh rate from 1 Hz to 120 Hz, with a maximum brightness of 1500 nits. Enough to ensure good fluidity and excellent brightness in all circumstances, especially since it is compatible with Dolby Vision and HDR10+, with 10-bit color depth. The sound is entrusted to a pair of speakers, to benefit from the stereo, with again the Dolby Atmos label which makes marketers so happy – one wonders about the interest of this fashionable mode on a phone…
For energy, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra relies on a 4,860 mAh battery that accepts 67 W fast charging and 50 W wireless charging. A very decent, but not exceptional capacity, which will have to rely on optimizations system to offer autonomy worthy of the name. On the communication side – which remains the primary function of a phone… – the Xiaomi 12S Ultra takes advantage of the best of current technology by being compatible with 5G, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2. Finally, note the IP68 certification which provides good protection against water and dust.
Available in two colors (black and green), Xiaomi 12S Ultra will be available in three versions with different combinations of RAM and storage: 8-256 GB, 12-256 GB and 12-512 GB. available only in China, they will be sold respectively at prices of 6,000, 6,500 and 7,000 yuan, or the equivalent of approximately 860, 930 and 1,000 euros, in simple conversion. But it is more than likely that prices will be raised by several hundred euros when these models arrive in Europe. An ambitious move upmarket, dangerous friends in this delicate period, especially in front of the emperors Samsung and Apple…