Xiaomi 12s Ultra review - the best camera phone I've ever used

A 1-inch Sony sensor and Leica color science make the Xiaomi 12s Ultra a world-class camera phone despite its China-only availability

5 Star Rating
A photo of the Xiaomi 12s Ultra
(Image: © Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

Digital Camera World Verdict

The Xiaomi 12s Ultra is the best camera phone we've ever used. With its incredible 1-inch Sony IMX 989 sensor and Leica color science, it captures rich photos loaded with depth and detail. Strong telephoto and ultra-wide cameras also help it shine, and with a premium design, quality screen, and impressive battery life, there's very little to complain about – other than the fact it hasn't been launched outside China.


  • +

    Best-in-class primary camera

  • +

    Capable ultra-wide camera

  • +

    Powerful telephoto camera

  • +

    No major product flaws


  • -

    No Western availability

  • -

    Xiaomi's interface is heavy

  • -

    Depth of field can be impractical

  • -

    The selfie camera isn't great

Why you can trust Digital Camera World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out how we test.

The 12s Ultra represents a huge commitment in photography from Xiaomi. Starting with its partnership with legendary camera maker, Leica, to its investment in Sony's imaging division, which saw the brand part-fund the development of the huge 1-inch IMX 989 sensor in the 12s Ultra – Xiaomi means business. Even with all that commitment, though, we didn't expect the 12s Ultra to be as good as it is, especially after the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra didn't quite hit the mark.

The Mi 11 Ultra should have been incredible. It packed class-leading hardware – another massive Sony sensor but was let down by inconsistent image processing and overheating issues. This time, though, Xiaomi seems to have learned from its mistakes.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Basil Kronfli

Basil Kronfli is a freelance technology journalist, consultant, and content creator. He trained in graphic design and started his career at Canon Europe before moving into journalism. Basil is also experienced in video production, independently running the YouTube channel TechEdit, and during his time at Future, he worked alongside the Digital Camera World team as a senior video producer.