Can smartphones be the new DSLRs? Soon, but not now.
The Xiaomi 12S Ultra wowed the world due to its large 1in. sensor, something that is not imagined to fit inside a cramped smartphone. Now, Xiaomi has unveiled its newest contraption yet again. Thanks to their partnership with Leica, they are able to develop a phone with interchangeable lenses. This concept phone was built using a modified Xiaomi 12S Ultra.
The concept is not entirely novel, as Sony has done the same thing with the QX1. Phones with digital camera lenses have existed prior as well, examples include the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom. However, the technology for such sophisticated lenses was not yet mature. Today, phones are as capable as DSLR in terms of picture quality so Xiaomi firmly believes now is the perfect time to experiment with actual camera lenses.
The demo video above shows how this concept phone works. To install lenses, first, you must remove the sapphire ring protecting the camera island. Typically, a DSLR would have a large opening here but since smartphones are more prone to falling than cameras do and smartphones are a flat rectangular slab, Xiaomi is just trying to be safe here. Though, this may affect how light enters the Sony IMX989 1in. sensor.
The large lens costed the telephoto sensor but the 48MP wide angle has been moved onto the side so you still have the option to use it. If the lens is interchangeable, we’re not sure why Xiaomi just remove the entire camera system altogether.
Currently, you could only mount Leica M lens on top of the phone. The one used for the sample is a Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH lens.
Since the phone is still a concept, the probability of it seeing mass production is low. Xiaomi did not state whether it will be produced for consumers to use. All we know is that it was created using a modified Xiaomi 12S Ultra. However, some of the produced units were sent to lucky content creators for them to test and use, under a contract of course. Each unit is projected to cost 300,000 yuan (~Php 2.4M) so this phone alone costs more than an average Filipino household. Better not drop or break it.