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Get In The Circle With Our Hands-On Preview Of The Xiaomi 12S Ultra

It’s time to get our eager hands on one of the year’s most intriguing phones. We’re not here to discuss the just released iPhone 14 Pro Max or some obscure foldable; rather, we’re here to discuss our early observations of the eagerly anticipated Xiaomi 12S Ultra.

The Chinese company keeps expanding its product line with new models, acronyms, and appendices, but we can actually find a very fascinating phone hidden under this confusing jumble of characters and numbers. This is the first product to feature the Sony IMX989, the company’s new flagship camera sensor, along with additional “Ultra”-level features.

12S Ultra Design by Xiaomi

The Xiaomi 12S Ultra’s design could seem a little too auspicious to some people; the enormous circle on the back is anything but subtle, and it somewhat resembles the Honor Magic4 Pro in terms of looks.

With its Ultra versions, Xiaomi has always been adventurous (recall the built-in secondary display in the camera bump of the 11 Ultra), and this time, the camera is the main attraction (it attracts your gaze the same way a black hole attracts innocent photons).
The back, an obvious departure from the standard glass sandwich design, is also quite intriguing with its leathery texture (really, it’s eco leather and it feels fantastic to the touch). Things around the frame seem quite conventional, and the front features a curved display with a hole-punch selfie camera in the center (I thought we were done with these…).

12S Ultra Display from Xiaomi

A 6.73″ AMOLED color display with a claimed peak brightness of 1,500nits is a feature of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra. Although I was unable to verify the precise figures, the screen was quite bright and easily readable in broad daylight.

Because the Xiaomi 12S has an LTPO display, the refresh rate can go up to 120Hz and all the way down to 1Hz. You can pick between a resolution of 1080p and 1440p. Although you can manually select between 60 and 120, automatic mode yields the greatest results.

12S Ultra Camera from Xiaomi

On that specific stage, the camera system is obviously the star; yet, this does not mean that the other elements are any less important. The Sony IMX989 50MP 1-inch camera sensor with a 1.6 micron pixel size is exclusive to the Xiaomi 12S Ultra (which grows to 3.2 microns with pixel binning). Here are the key camera specifications:

Specs for the Xiaomi 12S Ultra camera

Xiaomi 12S Ultra Imaging Limited Edition augments the flagship smartphone's  1-inch main camera with new screw-on filters and the case to match - News

  • 23mm, f/1.9, 50MP wide-angle, and 1″ sensor (Sony IMX989)
  • 13mm, f/2.2, 48MP ultra-wide camera with a 1/2″ sensor (IMX586)
  • 120mm, f/4.1, 48MP, 5.2X zoom, and 1/2″ sensor (IMX586)

The Leica brand is another recent addition to the Xiaomi photography portfolio. The lenses are “tuned” and handled by the German expert, and there are two distinct Leica settings in the camera app, one of which produces more realistic colors and the other of which slightly increases vibrancy.

Samples from the Xiaomi 12S Ultra primary camera

The ultrawide camera makes use of the Sony IMX586, a well-known name in the field of smartphone sensors, with a 13mm lens equivalent and an f/2.2 aperture. When moving between the primary camera and the ultrawide camera, there is a slight but not overly noticeable change in color tone.
Samples from the Xiaomi 12S Ultra wide-angle camera:
The dedicated telephoto lens provides 5.2x optical zoom by employing the same IMX586 sensor with a 120mm equivalent lens and f/4.1 aperture. The outcomes from the telephoto and ultrawide cameras are reasonably comparable.
Xiaomi 12S Ultra Telephoto Samples: Since the Sun refused to set while we were testing the Xiaomi 12S, our low-light samples include various scenes from subterranean parking lots as well as a few dim pictures taken in a room with no lighting. Even without using the phone for too long, the sheer size of the senzor shines here.

Samples of Xiaomi 12S in really low light

With a 20MP sensor, the selfie camera produces very nice images with lots of detail and a good dynamic range. Check out the portrait photos we were able to take utilizing the built-in portrait algorithms below the break.

Life of the 12S Xiaomi battery and charging

The phone has a 4860 mAh single battery cell that has some unique technology built into it to increase its lifespan. Fast charging up to 67W is supported, and wireless charging is limited to 50W. On that front, we need to conduct adequate testing to evaluate the phone, but on paper, everything appears to be in order.


It’s really energizing to see a 1-inch camera phone with a leather back that’s located at the end of the alphabet in a smartphone world dominated by glass flagships from companies beginning with an A or a S (see what I did there, Xiaomi?).

No matter what the other letters of the alphabet attempt to convince you of, Xiaomi is one of the brands that propel smartphone innovation. The newest in smartphone camera technology, super-fast charging, and second screens inside the camera bump.

Even given the brief amount of time I’ve had with the device, the Xiaomi 12S looks and feels like a genuine flagship. The model’s global accessibility is the only real issue here, so let’s hope it launches outside of China at some time because everyone benefits from competition.

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