Xiaomi 12S Ultra Has the World's Largest Smartphone Camera Sensor

The Xiaomi 12s Ultra packs a 1-inch sensor into its chassis....And in doing so, beat Samsung to the punch.

Sareena Dayaram Senior Editor
Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
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Sareena Dayaram
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The Xiaomi 12S Ultra against a background of trees and hills

Xiaomi's new 12S smartphone lineup consists of the Xiaomi 12S, Xiaomi 12S Pro, and 12 Ultra. All three phones will have camera modules developed in partnership with Leica. This partnership, announced in a virtual event Monday, is a first for the Chinese phone-maker, which called it a "strategic upgrade."

Of the trio, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra is the most high-end model. It has a distinct design that aims to mimic the larger-lens aesthetic of DSLR cameras, and packs a formidable camera module to boot. There's a 48-megapixel periscope-style telephoto lens, a 48-megapixel ultra-wide lens and a 50-megapixel wide lens.

The Xiaomi 12S Ultra in black

Xiaomi 12S Ultra


But the headline feature is the one-inch sensor, the Sony IMX 989, for the main camera (wide lens), which Xiaomi managed to cram inside the chassis of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra. For context, that's the same sensor found in Sony's $1,200 point-and-shoot camera, the RX100 VII, and it means the Xiaomi 12S Ultra houses the largest image sensor found on any phone. 

However, a word of caution: The phone's history-making camera hardware isn't a guarantee of best-in-class photos. As with any other phone, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra's software will play a crucial role as well in determining the image quality of the final photo, though Xiaomi has a solid track record. CNET is working to get hold of a device so we can put this phone through its paces, and perhaps compare it with the iPhone 13.

Other specs for the Xiaomi 12S Ultra include a top-of-the line processor in the form of the first-gen Snapdragon 8 Plus, which Xiaomi says will mean reduced power consumption as well as lower heat emissions. There's a 4,680-mAh battery powering the phone, which relies on 67W fast charging for replenishment. There are also two custom Surge chips for battery management.

As usual with Xiaomi gadgets, it is extremely unlikely the Xiaomi 12S will receive a release in the United States.

Xiaomi 12S Ultra key specs

Dimensions: 163.17 by 74.92 by 9.06mm
Resolution: 3,200 by 1,440 pixels, 522ppi 
Camera: 50-megapixel wide lens, 48-megapixel ultrawide lens, 48-megapixel telephoto lens
Weight: 225 grams
Battery: 4,860 mAh
Charging: 67W wired charging, 50W wireless charging, 10W reverse wireless charging