Xiaomi prototypes way to mount a full-size lens onto the 12S Ultra

The 12S Ultra from Xiaomi already has a huge camera sensor, but their new concept trailer pairs it with a Leica M-series full-size lens.

Although just a prototype and announced only in concept, the idea is pretty compelling — and possibly indicative — of ambitions in both the camera and smartphone world.

OK — so what exactly is it?

Phone? Camera? How about both? Xiaomi’s 12S Ultra prototype adds to its already-notable one-inch type rear camera sensor. The prototype pairs with it not only a secondary one-inch sensor, but a full-size Leica lens. The concept falls in line with some previous industry accessories, such as the Moto Z attachment MotoMod from Hasselblad.

But why, though?

The Chinese tech giant collaborated with Leica to develop the camera system currently found in the Xiaomi 12S Ultra. Adding a full-size camera lens, though, gives the smartphone the ability to take truly professional photos.

Smartphones tend to overcome their modest hardware by supplementing with AI photography and features. Leica’s combo phone camera, on the other hand, aims to dramatically change the hardware itself.

For instance, unlike most smartphones, which come with software-based background blurring features, the Leica lens will offer an authentic depth of field. The improvements stand to be much bigger, though.

A closer peek

Xiaomi’s prototype offers the ability to shoot in 10-bit RAW. It also draws on its AI Image Solution to process photographs.

Software features like a histogram, focus peaking and zebra lines are available through integration with the camera app.

The future

The concept is pretty cool, right?

Well, don’t get too excited. Xiaomi has a history of letting concepts stay just that — concepts. As of now, the company has no immediate plans to actually sell the device.

Still, the prototype shows promise and speaks — at least in aspiration — to the direction of smartphones and smartphone cameras. What will be next? The possibilities are pretty endless.

Maddy Cowee
Maddy Cowee
Maddy Cowee is a writer, editor and film student.

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