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Xiaomi concept clips a full-size Leica lens onto a smartphone


Xiaomi’s new concept phone allows a full size Leica camera lens to be attached to the back of a prototype version of its 12S Ultra. The version of the smartphone released earlier this year is already notable for having a 1-inch-type camera sensor on its rear, which is far larger than those typically used in phones and more in line with what you might find in a compact standalone camera. Xiaomi’s new concept gives it both a secondary 1-inch sensor, as well as a full size lens to match. 

In a teaser trailer, Xiaomi shows how the concept is designed to work with lenses in Leica’s M-series lineup. The Chinese tech giant previously collaborated with Leica to co-develop the camera system used in the 12S Ultra, which GSMArena reports included working together on the design of its optics. But it says stepping up to a full-size camera lens turns the smartphone into a “professional photo-making tool” offering benefits like “authentic depth of field” rather than the software-based background blurring features found in most smartphones. 

It’s an interesting concept. Smartphone cameras have made huge strides in recent years by embracing computational photography to overcome their relatively modest sensor and lens hardware. That raises the question of what results you could get from combining the AI photography smarts of a flagship smartphone, with the hardware of a standalone mirrorless camera. Xiaomi’s concept follows in the footsteps of accessories like Hasselblad’s MotoMod attachment for the Moto Z. 

Xiaomi says its concept phone would draw upon its AI Image Solution to process photographs, and offer the ability to shoot in 10-bit RAW. The attachable lens would integrate with its camera app, with software features like focus peaking, zebra lines, and a histogram. 

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