Home Tech Gadgets Xiaomi 12S Ultra Concept Phone: Is this the new entry-level Leica?

Xiaomi 12S Ultra Concept Phone: Is this the new entry-level Leica?

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Rumblings of discontent over the untimely death of Leica’s APS-C range have highlighted the absence of an entry-level offering from Wetzlar. The Leica Q2, at over £4,000, is now the cheapest digital Leica you can buy. But there could now be a chink of hope for disappointed CL-ers. Enter the Xiaomi 12A Ultra Compact Concept Phone sporting an M-Mount adaptor so you can use all your favourite classic glass (but at a distance).

The Xiaomi 12S Ultra Concept Phone offers a second one-inch sensor and screw-on M-Mount adaptor. The Sony IMX989 sensor with 10-but RAW support occupies the centre spot, while the original 48MP ultra-wide camera has been shifted off to the side.

Xiaomi stresses that this is only a concept, and it’s anybody’s guess if it will ever reach production.

It could answer Leica buffs’ call for a lighter entry-level system (tongue firmly in cheek), although there are some snags that no one seems to have mentioned.

Snag 1

There is the inconvenient little problem of crop factor, which, with a one-inch sensor, means multiplying the focal length of any attached full-frame lens by 2.7.

Thus, the Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH shown in the pictures is anything but wide. It’s 95mm. And the good old nifty-fifty would become a not-so-nifty 135mm. Attach an 18mm M lens and back to the original nifty fifty. But I’d wager that not many Leica users own such a wide lens. These long focal lengths wouldn’t sit well with many smartphone photographers who are so used to the 28mm equivalent.

The designers seem to have addressed the distance between the lens and the sensor, which was another of my initial feasibility worries. That screw-in M adaptor is pretty massive and will add considerably to the bulk of the average M lens.

Perhaps it isn’t such a good idea after all. But full marks to Xiaomi for whetting our appetite.

Xiaomi 12S Ultra Concept phone

Factory view (Mandarin with English subtitles)

Marquess Brownlee on the base Xiaomi 12S Ultra

NEW: LEICA V. HASSELBLAD PHONE TEST

Discuss…

What’s your view? Would a hybrid smartphone camera such as this tempt you to choose Xiaomi over your common-or-garden Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max? Let us know in the comments section below.


9 COMMENTS

  1. For U.S. this will remain a Scrabble word you can’t buy their phones here, some carrier stuff I don’t understand!

  2. The concept of a 1″ sensor-phone camera is interesting, but Panasonic realized it years ago and it was not successful, in spite of a good 28 mm equivalent lens. Would I buy one? I did not buy the Panasonic at the time because it was quite expensive and the ergonomics was suboptimal thus I think that I would neither buy this one.

  3. With regards to the question in the title, I am not so sure that there will ever be another entry-level offering from Leica… and if there is I would be very reluctant to buy into it… either it is not successful enough and Leica will pull the plug… either it is too successful and Leica will also pull the plug as it cannibalizes other sales…

  4. I was wondering, too, if this is really to be taken seriously. If Leica want to make an offer on entry level, they should listen to our editor Mike Evans. He made the suggestion they sell a body for the micro four thirds lenses that are already being produced under the Leica brand. Panasonic would be a fine partner there, or OM systems with their more design-driven approach. A smartphone with a 1 inch sensor that optically uses only a fraction of my expensive, designed-to-be-sharp-into-the-corner lenses just makes no sense for me. JP

    • Hi There Joerg – I really enjoyed your article – lovely photos too.
      I’ve always thought that, considering their relationship with Panasonic, Leica should have gone down the Micro-Four Thirds route (and said so to them on many occasions). Going to APS-C left them rather out on a limb developmentally, and it would have worked really well (especially with so many great Leica ‘badged’ MFT lenses).
      Sad really

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