Xiaomi’s brings interchangeable lenses to phones with its new 12S Ultra Concept smartphone

Nov 5, 2022

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Xiaomi’s brings interchangeable lenses to phones with its new 12S Ultra Concept smartphone

Nov 5, 2022

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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The idea of using a lens from a “real camera” on a smartphone is not new. There have been a number of adapters announced over the years with some as far back as 2014 and older. Most of them haven’t really had an amazing reception, which is why they’re not really all that mainstream today. But mobile photography has come a long way since those early devices. Now, there are a number of 3D printable adapters and other options out there to do this.

Xiaomi, though, is doing away with adapters completely and building an interchangeable lens mount right into the phone itself. Their newest 12S Ultra concept phone sports a Leica M mount with a 1-inch 50.3-megapixel sensor.

It’s a very interesting design and you’re not forced to use it with an M mount lens if you don’t want to. As with most smartphones today, the 12S Ultra concept has an array of lenses and cameras built-in, but the 12S Ultra Concept Phone features two 1-inch sensors. One of these is placed directly in the centre of the array and has had its lens assembly completely removed. The device has had to sacrifice its periscope array to account for this but given that you’ll be able to use pretty much any Leica M lens with it (and a lot of things can be adapted easily to Leica M) that’s not much of a sacrifice if you care about telephoto.

Unlike in a traditional camera where the sensor is exposed when the lens is removed, this sensor does sit behind a protective cover. That way, it doesn’t get damaged in your pocket and you can still use the other cameras as normal when you just want to grab a quick phone shot. But, it gives you more options when you want them.

From looking at the promo video and photos above, a protective ring typically covers the built-in Leica M mount on the back of the phone itself when not in use and removing it allows you to attach your lenses. You still need to add a kind of extension tube, though, in order to get the correct flange distance between the back of the lens and the 1-inch sensor contained on the phone.

It’s a pretty awesome concept indeed, although right now it is still exactly that. A concept. There’s been no word from Xiaomi if the idea will ever go into production or not, although Digital Trends reports that Xiaomi says that the 12S Ultra Concept as it stands will not be mass-produced. They also say that had it become a production smartphone, it would’ve cost around $41,000 to make. I’m not sure where DT gets that figure, but hopefully, if such a design does come to a smartphone at some point, the price will be a little more reasonable than that.

Would you buy a smartphone that had a built-in mount to use your DSLR/Mirrorless lenses?

[via Engadget]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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5 responses to “Xiaomi’s brings interchangeable lenses to phones with its new 12S Ultra Concept smartphone”

  1. hfgh Avatar
    hfgh

    May be extra gadgets like lens are the next things to expensive phones like Pizel 7 and Iphone 14 Max Pro.

  2. Mike Shwarts Avatar
    Mike Shwarts

    Needs a micro 4/3 mount. Smaller lenses would work better since phones are pain to handle as a camera.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      Yeah, I’d be happy with a phone that had a MFT mount – and I was really excited for the mysterious Yongnuo Android camera that doesn’t appear to have materialised. Then I could use the same lenses across my cameras, drone and phone! :)

  3. Olly Bowman Photography Avatar
    Olly Bowman Photography

    If I’m going to carry lenses around to attach to my phone, I might as well carry a proper body as well. Doesn’t make much sense to me.

  4. Ian Norman Avatar
    Ian Norman

    I would classify this as an ergonomics nightmare.