Xiaomi is introducing a trio of new smartphones today, and one of them comes with a pretty huge new feature: a 1-inch camera sensor, which is relatively giant for a smartphone.
Everything about Xiaomi’s new flagship smartphone, the Mi 12S Ultra, is big. It has a 6.73-inch OLED display, a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 system on a chip, and a camera-lens shaped bulge on that back that takes up about a third of the phone’s rear side.
Inside that faux-lens are the phone’s three cameras: a 48 megapixel ultrawide, a 48 megapixel telephoto with 5x optical zoom (and “120x” digital zoom that will probably not look very good), and finally, the 50 megapixel main camera, which uses that 1-inch sensor.
A few different companies have put 1-inch sensors in their phones before, but it hasn’t been very common — you’re more likely to find 1-inch sensors in higher-end point-and-shoots like Sony’s RX100 series. The larger size allows the sensor to gather more light and capture more detailed images. It won’t turn a phone into a DSLR, but it could be a step up from the typical smartphone camera; the iPhone 13 Pro, for instance, has a sensor size of 1/1.65-inch, according to DPReview. (Though for reference, the actual size of a sensor’s imaging area is smaller than its stated measurement lets on.)
Xiaomi says the phone’s camera system was “co-engineered with Leica,” and the company told Engadget that it split the cost of developing the 1-inch image sensor with Sony. Sony actually released a phone using a 1-inch sensor late last year, however it only captured on part of the sensor, whereas Xiaomi’s phone will reportedly use the whole thing.
— Xiaomi (@Xiaomi) July 4, 2022
Camera aside, the Mi 12S Ultra otherwise has the typical hallmarks of a flagship phone. It has IP68 water and dust resistance, a large 4,860 mAh battery, 67W wired fast charging, and a 120Hz refresh rate display. The phone is also supposed to be the first Android device capable of shooting in Dolby Vision HDR.
The 12S Ultra will launch first in China. A model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage will sell for RMB 5,999 (around $900 USD), while a high-end version with 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage will go for RMB 6,999 (around $1,050 USD).
In addition to the 12S Ultra, Xiaomi is also introducing two lower-end models: the 12S and 12S Pro. Those two phones have a main camera sensor with a 1/1.28-inch size, which is smaller than the Ultra but still bigger than the typical smartphone sensor. The 12S has a smaller 6.28-inch 120Hz display, while the 12S Pro has a 6.73-inch 120Hz OLED display, like the Ultra. Both get the same Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chip. Pricing for the 12S starts at RMB 3,999 ($600 USD) and pricing for the 12S Pro starts at RMB 4,699 ($700 USD).