The new Xiaomi 12S Ultra aims to take smartphone photography to a whole new level

The new Xiaomi 12S Ultra aims to take smartphone photography to a whole new level

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra was undoubtedly one of the best Android phones from last year. It offered top-of-the-line hardware at a relatively affordable price point, making it a great alternative to flagships from Samsung and OnePlus. Due to this, we have been eagerly waiting for its successor ever since Xiaomi debuted the Xiaomi 12 series late last year. That phone is now finally here, but it’s part of the new Xiaomi 12S series.

Xiaomi 12S Ultra Hands-On: Putting that 1-inch Leica camera to the test

Unlike the Xiaomi 12 series, Xiaomi has launched three phones as part of the new Xiaomi 12S series — the Xiaomi 12S, the Xiaomi 12S Pro, and the Xiaomi 12S Ultra. While the Xiaomi 12S and Xiaomi 12S Pro are minor upgrades over the Xiaomi 12 and Xiaomi 12 Pro from last year, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra is a major step up from the Mi 11 Ultra. It features a better display, a faster SoC, impressive camera hardware developed in collaboration with Leica, and much more. Check out the table below for a brief rundown of its hardware specifications.

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Xiaomi 12S Ultra: Specifications

Specification Xiaomi 12S Ultra
Build
  • IP68 dust and water resistance
  • Colors:
    • Classic Black
    • Verdant Green
Dimensions & Weight
  • 163.17 x 74.92 x 9.06mm
  • 225g
Display
  • 6.73-inch Samsung E5 AMOLED
  • Dolby Vision TrueColor Display
  • 3200 x 1440 resolution, 522PPI
  • 1-120Hz adaptive refresh rate
  • 1,500nits peak brightness
  • 360-degree ambient light sensor
  • Native 10-bit color depth
  • 100% DCI-P3 coverage
  • HDR10+, HDR10, HLG
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1
RAM & Storage
  • 8GB LPDDR5 RAM + 256GB UFS 3.1 storage
  • 12GB + 256GB
  • 12GB + 512GB
Battery & Charging
  • 4,860mAh
  • 67W wired fast charging support
  • 50W wireless fast charging support
  • 10W reverse wireless charging support
  • Xiaomi Surge P1 charging chip
  • Xiaomi Surge G1 battery management chip
Security In-display fingerprint scanner
Rear Camera(s)
  • Primary: 50.3MP IMX989, f/1.9, 8P aspherical lens, octa-PD auto-focus
  • Ultra-wide: 48MP IMX586, f/2.2, Leica Summicron 1:1.9-4.1 / 13-120 aspherical lens, dual-PD auto-focus, macro mode support
  • Telephoto: 48MP IMX586, f/4.1, 120x periscope zoom, HyperOIS

 

  • Leica Authentic Look and Leica Vibrant look photographic styles
  • Leica Vivid, Natural, BW Natural, BW High Contrast filters
Front Camera(s) 32MP RGBW image sensor
Port(s) USB Type-C
Audio
  • Symmetrical stereo speakers
  • Tuned by Harman Kardon
  • Dolby Atmos certification
Connectivity
  • Dual 5G
  • 4G LTE
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.2
    • BLE Audio support
    • Snapdragon sound support
    • AAC/LDAC/LHDC/aptX Adaptive
  • Multi-functional NFC
Software MIUI 13 based on Android 12
Other Features
  • X-axis linear vibration motor
  • 3D cooling system

Although the Xiaomi 12S Ultra packs a slightly smaller display than the Mi 11 Ultra, it is significantly better in almost all regards. The 6.73-inch Samsung E5 AMOLED display on the newer model is an LTPO panel that offers 1-120Hz adaptive refresh rate support, a 3200 x 1440p resolution, 1,500nits peak brightness, and a native 10-bit color depth. It has a peak brightness of 1,500nits, 100% DCI-P3 coverage, and HDR10+ support. These upgrades should result in a smoother experience in day-to-day use, enhanced picture quality, and better battery life.

Classic Black Xiaomi 12S Ultra on white background.

Powering the upgraded display on the Xiaomi 12S Ultra is Qualcomm’s latest flagship chipset — the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1. The new chipset is a massive upgrade over the Snapdragon 888 on the Mi 11 Ultra, so you can expect to see significant performance gains in all scenarios. The Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 also offers 10 percent better CPU performance than the non-Plus variant, while also cutting down power usage by nearly 20 percent.

Xiaomi has paired the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 with a new 3D cooling system, which should help improve thermals in demanding applications and games. In theory, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra should perform better than Snapdragon 8 Gen 1-powered flagships from Samsung and OnePlus. But we’ll reserve all judgments for our in-depth review.

Along with display and performance improvements, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra also comes with some impressive upgrades on the camera front. Xiaomi has developed the camera system for its latest flagship in partnership with Leica, and it consists of a 50.3MP Sony IMX989 primary sensor, a 48MP ultra-wide camera, and a 48MP periscope zoom telephoto camera. Over on the front, the device sports a 32MP selfie shooter.

Close up image of Xiaomi 12S Ultra's camera setup.

The main 50.3MP camera features an eight-piece aspherical lens, octa-PD auto-focus, a lens edge ink coating, and multi-layer ALD ultra-low reflectance coating. The 48MP ultra-wide camera features a Leica Summicron 1:1.9-4.1 / 13-120 aspherical lens, dual-PD auto-focus, and macro mode support, while the 48MP periscope telephoto camera features dual-PD auto-focus and HyperOIS.

In addition to the hardware improvements, Xiaomi has also packed a couple of new software goodies to enhance camera performance. The Xiaomi 12S Ultra will give users access to two new photographic styles — Leica Authentic Look and Leica Vibrant Look. According to Xiaomi, the former “adds a sense of three-dimensional depth to photos, with the characteristic excellence of Leica’s time-proven light and shadow aesthetics” by retaining light and shadow contrast.

The Leica Vibrant Look style, on the other hand, combines “Xiaomi’s experience in smartphone photography with Leica’s leading aesthetic” to help users capture “the emotion of the moment.” We’ll share more details about these new styles as soon as we get our hands on the Xiaomi 12S Ultra. As spotted previously, the device also comes with a few Leica filters. These include Leica Vivid, Natural, BW Natural, and BW High Contrast.

Classic Black and Verdant Green Xiaomi 12S Ultra on white background.

In terms of connectivity, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra offers dual-5G support, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, and multi-functional NFC. Other noteworthy features include an in-display fingerprint scanner, an X-axis linear vibration motor, symmetrical stereo speakers tuned by Harman Kardon, a USB Type-C port, and IP68 dust and water resistance.

Lastly, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra packs a 4,860mAh battery which features support for 67W wired fast charging, 50W wireless fast charging, and 10W reverse wireless charging. Although it’s slightly smaller than the one found on the Mi 11 Ultra, the minor capacity difference shouldn’t impact the battery life, given that the phone packs a more power-efficient chip and display.

On the software front, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra runs MIUI 13 based on Android 12. Currently, Xiaomi has not shared its software support commitment for the device. We’ll update this post with additional details as soon as we learn more.

Xiaomi 12S Ultra: Pricing & Availability

The Xiaomi 12S Ultra will come in three RAM/storage variants, which are priced as follows:

  • 8GB+256GB: CNY 5,999 (~$896)
  • 12GB+256GB: CNY 6,499 (~$970)
  • 12GB+512GB: CNY 6,999 (~$1045)

The Xiaomi 12S Ultra will go on sale in China starting July 8 with pre-orders starting later today. The device should make its way to other markets over the next few months. We’ll make sure to let you know as soon as we have more details.

What do you think of the new Xiaomi 12S Ultra? Let us know in the comments section below.

About author

Pranob Mehrotra
Pranob Mehrotra

A Literature and Linguistics graduate with a keen interest in everything Android. When not writing about tech, Pranob spends most of his time either playing League of Legends or lurking on Reddit.

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