Back in July, we were surprised by the Xiaomi 12S Ultra’s 1-inch camera sensor and Leica co-branding, but it turns out that the Chinese company was working on something far more ambitious at the same time.
The “Xiaomi 12S Ultra Concept Phone” was unveiled earlier today, with an almost identical appearance to the namesake flagship device, but with a second 1-inch 50.3-megapixel sensor occupying the center of the camera island instead.
Allow that to sink in for a moment. Furthermore, this new sensor is intended to work with an interchangeable Leica M lens.
Here's @Xiaomi's promo video for the wild "12S Ultra Concept Phone," which can mount any interchangeable @leica_camera M lens over its *second* 1-inch sensor. More here: https://t.co/CQkL6dayll pic.twitter.com/YEQNHdI4IE
— Richard Lai (@richardlai) November 2, 2022
Interestingly, Xiaomi has chosen to conceal this additional 1-inch sensor — also a Sony IMX989 with 10-bit RAW support — beneath a large, circular piece of durable sapphire glass, rather than cutting a hole for it as is common with interchangeable lens cameras.
While this would protect the sensor from dust and larger foreign objects, we are curious how this additional layer of glass would affect overall optical transmittance. But, hey, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Meanwhile, the 48-megapixel ultra-wide camera that was originally located in the center of the camera island has been relocated to the side, taking up the space previously occupied by a 48-megapixel periscopic telephoto camera.
To install an interchangeable lens onto this 5G concept phone, first, unscrew the protection ring around the rear camera island, then mount any Leica M lens using an adapter, as shown in Xiaomi’s video.
The full assembly with a Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH lens looks rather impressive from the side, as captured by a Xiaomi staffer in the above photo.
Previously, the only thing that came close to this intriguing combination was one of those Yongnuo 4G-connected Android cameras (which never left China). Alternatively, you can go further back in time and reminisce about the good old days with the Samsung Galaxy NX.
— Agatha Tang (@aggasaurus) November 2, 2022
Xiaomi did not say whether the 12S Ultra Concept Phone would ever be mass-produced. We only know that this project was developed alongside the actual 12S Ultra and that only ten units of the former were produced.
A few of those samples were given to a few lucky influencers for some quick hands-on time, but with each unit costing around 300,000 yuan (approximately $41,210), they couldn’t afford to throw them away.
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