Xiaomi puts a Leica lens twist on flagship phone concept
Xiaomi snuggled up with Leica back in June for the launch of the 12S Ultra smartphone featuring a 1-inch-type image sensor and Summicron optics. Now the companies have partnered again on a concept version with a lens adapter for mounting Leica glass.
The 12S Ultra proper already has pretty impressive camera chops, with the main camera built around a 50.3-megapixel 1-inch-type IMX989 sensor paired with a 23-mm F1.9 lens, and 48-MP ultra-wide and telephoto cameras making use of Sony's IMX586 sensor. Optical image stabilization is cooked in, along with 10-bit RAW capabilities, while Leica brings its optics know-how along with image and color processing tech.
The rear camera array of the concept handset looks similar to the production setup, but there's a 1-inch-type sensor exposed in the center – albeit behind protective sapphire. This module awaits a Leica M Mount camera lens to be attached to the smartphone body via an adapter, resulting in a kind of phone/camera hybrid like Sony's QX series or Photogram's Alice.
The structure around the lens mount area has been reinforced and the reward for the extra bulk when a lens is attached is a handset that "can capture ultra-high resolution with unique light and beautiful optical depths," according to Xiaomi's sample image tweet.
The sensor in the middle means that the main 50.3-MP camera has been pushed out to the edge of the array's disc, along with a 48-MP ultra-wide. In day-to-day use these two camera modules would take on the bulk of mobile imagery needs, with the user twisting and locking on an adapter-packing Leica M lens – such as the Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH full-frame lens used in Xiaomi's demo shots – to turn it into a flagship phone with next-level imaging capabilities, including features like 10-bit RAW shooting, focus peaking, exposure control and histogram also on tap.
This concept was developed in parallel with the flagship 12S Ultra smartphone, but Xiaomi hasn't indicated whether it will go into production. So, for the moment, it remains an interesting design study.
Source: Xiaomi (Twitter)