A one-inch camera sensor in a phone, and this phone actually uses it all? The Xiaomi 12S Ultra, the third part of the company’s line of ultimate flagships with an extra focus on image processing, has just arrived. Unfortunately, like the groundbreaking Mi 10 Ultra, this latest one will not be sold outside of China – but we have at least one to review.
Xiaomi Ultras (left to right): Mi 10 Ultra • Mi 11 Ultra • 12S Ultra
To avoid confusion, let’s clarify one thing from the start – you probably already know that, but no physical dimension of the ‘one-inch’ sensor is actually an inch. It’s a long-standing oddity in digital camera sensor nomenclature, and we’ll talk about it in more detail in the camera section of this review.
It is still the largest camera sensor in a smartphone, paired with the Sharp Aquos R6, which virtually no one outside of Japan has seen, and the Xperia Pro-I, which has received more publicity but which has probably sold even fewer devices. The Chinese Xiaomi means that one-inchers will retain this exclusivity, but it is still closer to a mainstream device than the other two.
Oh, and unlike Sony, which cuts from the center of its one-inch sensor, Xiaomi uses it all. And unlike Sharp, the latest Ultra has advanced phase detection autofocus. So bound for size it may be, but it is better – a properly remarkable camera, so much is certain.
The rest of the rear setup is not so bad either – it’s just pretty much the same as it was on the Mi 11 Ultra. Still amazing, and in many ways superior to the competition, just not that new. New, however, is the selfie camera, and here it must draw its own weight – with the small display on the back now gone, more photo operations must be handled by the front camera.
Outside of taking pictures, the 12S Ultra is a true flagship. The phone will be launched in the second half of the year, so it’s time for the plus version of Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. There is plenty of RAM and storage space, the screen is groundbreaking, and the little goodies are here – IP68 rating, stereo speakers, infrared port. Battery capacity and charging capacity are not class-leading, but should do just fine. All things considered, this is not a specsheet we can complain about, no.
Xiaomi 12S Ultra specifications in an instant:
- Body: 163.2×75.0×9.1mm, 225g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass Victus), eco-leather back, aluminum frame; IP68 dust / water repellent (up to 1.5 m in 30 minutes).
- Screen: 6.73 “LTPO2 AMOLED, 1B colors, 120Hz, Dolby Vision, HDR10 +, 1000 nits (HBM), 1500 nits (peak), 1440x3200px resolution, 20: 9 aspect ratio, 522ppi.
- Chipset: Qualcomm SM8475 Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 (4 nm): Octa-core (1×3.19 GHz Cortex-X2 & 3×2.75 GHz Cortex-A710 & 4×1.80 GHz Cortex-A510); Adreno 730.
- Memory: 256 GB 8 GB RAM, 256 GB 12 GB RAM, 512 GB 12 GB RAM; UFS 3.1.
- OS / Software: Android 12, MIUI 13.
- Rear camera: Wide (head): 50.3 MP, f / 1.9, 23 mm, 1.0 “, 1.6 µm, multi-directional PDAF, Laser AF, OIS; Ultra wide angle: 48 MP, f / 2.2, 13 mm, 1 / 2.0 “, 0.8 ,m, Dual-Pixel PDAF; Telephoto: 48 MP, f / 4.1, 120 mm, 1 / 2.0 “, 0.8µm, PDAF, OIS, 5x optical zoom; Depth: TOF 3D.
- Front camera: 32 MP, f / 2.4, 25 mm (wide), 0.7 .m.
- Video recording: Rear camera: 8K @ 24fps, 4K @ 30 / 60fps, 1080p @ 30/60/120 / 240fps, 720p @ 3840fps, gyro-EIS, Dolby Vision HDR 10-bit rec. (4K, 1080p); Front camera: 1080p @ 30.
- Battery: 4860mAh; Fast charging 67W, Fast wireless charging 50W, 100% in 52 min (announced), Reverse wireless charging 10W, Quick Charge 4, Power Delivery 3.0.
- Various: Fingerprint reader (under display, optical); NFC; Infrared port; stereo speakers.
Xiaomi 12S Ultra unboxing
The 12S Ultra arrives in a black box to distinguish it from the smaller twelve – a difference we also observed last year. It’s not the specially designed disposable package that 10 Ultra appeared in, but it’s still something of a statement.
The content brings no surprises. A 67W charger is included, with a USB A-to-C cable to follow – Xiaomi still uses proprietary charging technology. You also get a soft transparent case for protection, although it does not feel right to slap a piece of silicone worth a penny on a phone as premium as this. And it turns heads, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra.