Xiaomi has packed a huge camera sensor into its new Mi 12S Ultra flagship smartphone

Xiaomi presents trio of new smartphones today, and one of them comes with a pretty huge new feature: a 1-inch camera sensor, which is relatively gigantic for a smartphone.

Everything about Xiaomi’s new flagship smartphone, the Mi 12S Ultra, is big. It has a 6.73-inch OLED display, the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 system on a chip, and a camera lens-shaped bump on that back that takes up about a third of the back of the phone.

Inside that artificial lens are the phone’s three cameras: a 48-megapixel ultrawide, a 48-megapixel telephoto with 5x optical zoom (and “120x” digital zoom, which probably won’t look very good), and finally, a 50-megapixel main camera that uses this 1-inch sensor.

or 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 collect more light and capture more detailed images. It won’t turn the phone into a DSLR, but it could be a step up from the typical smartphone camera; The iPhone 13 Pro, for example, has a sensor size of 1/1.65 inches, according to DPReview. (Though for reference, the actual size of the sensor’s imaging area is smaller than its stated measurement allows.)

Xiaomi says the phone’s camera system was “co-developed with Leica” and the company said Engadget that it split the cost of developing the 1-inch image sensor with Sony. Sonny actually launched a phone with a 1-inch sensor late last year, but it captured only part of the sensor, while Xiaomi’s phone will reportedly use the whole.

Camera aside, the Mi 12S Ultra otherwise has the typical hallmarks of a flagship phone. It has IP68 water and dust resistance, a large 4860mAh battery, 67W wired fast charging and a display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The phone is also set to be the first Android device capable of shooting in Dolby Vision HDR.

The 12S Ultra will be launched in China first. An 8GB RAM and 256GB storage model will sell for RMB 5,999 (around $900 USD), while a high-end version with 12GB RAM and 512GB storage will be priced at RMB 6,999 (around $1,050 USD).

In addition to the 12S Ultra, Xiaomi also introduces two lower-end models: the 12S and 12S Pro. These two phones have a 1/1.28-inch main camera sensor, which is smaller than the Ultra but still larger than a 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. Prices for the 12S start at RMB 3,999 (US$600) and 12S Pro prices start at RMB 4,699 (US$700).

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