The Xiaomi 12S Ultra is a high-specced powerhouse

First things first – this is not one of Hypertext’s fully fledged reviews. The reason for this is simple, as the Xiaomi 12S Ultra that we received access to has not been made available for the South African market at the time of writing.

Instead it is designed for the Chinese market and the software ecosystem is specifically aimed for it. As such, we cannot explore all the UI, app marketplace and operating system elements.

That said, all of the hardware is up and running, and will form the basis of our quasi-review below.

We also could not pass up the chance to gain exclusive access to a device that is yet to launch in the country, particularly as Xiaomi has continued to grow its local presence over the past year. This has seen more phones enter SA, with a few interesting premium mid-range ones worth noting.

How then is the experience on a premium flagship phone like the Xiaomi 12S Ultra?

In a word – powerful.

The 12S Ultra certainly keeps to its moniker. While past Ultra and Pro models that we have reviewed from other manufacturers skirting the line between killer feature and spec overkill, the 12S Ultra has focused on three key elements – the display, the camera and the speed.

Starting with the display and the WQHD+ 6.73″ offering is large with narrow bezels to support a more focused viewing experience for media.

On top of this it boasts a 3200×1440 resolution and 522 ppi to yield superb clarity. This is particularly visible when making use of the camera and on-device viewfinder app, which serves up great colour accuracy.

Back to the display and it is Dolby Vision and HDR10+ certified, meaning higher quality content should look great on the 12S Ultra too. With 1 500 nits of peak brightness too, the 12S Ultra is solidly specced to deliver a great all-around visual experience – one that it indeed provides.

Now for the camera, and here we reserve some high praise, noting that the Xiaomi 12S Ultra is on par, if not better, than the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, which we said was the best phone camera we experienced to date.

On this front, the recent partnership with Leica is already yielding dividends. Paired with Sony’s IMX989 1″ sensor for the 50MP wide-angle primary lens on the rear, the amount of light that is captured is truly impressive.

Add to that the aforementioned colour accuracy afforded by Leica Authentic and for photographers looking to make serious upgrades in terms of the phone they add to their arsenal, the 12S Ultra is easy to recommend.

We would be remiss, however, for noting that the rear camera housing does take some getting used to and is quite the imposing piece of tech.

You can read about our entire experience with the camera array here, along with checking out some of the pictures we captured.

Moving on to speed, and here we are talking about performance. Like many of the newer premium flagship Android phones, Xiaomi has opted for Qualcomm’s 8+ Gen 1 processor to power the experience. This is paired with 12GB of RAM to deliver a rapid performance while multitasking and switching between resource-intensive applications.

There was no lag while navigating and 12S Ultra never got hot under the collar, even during benchmarking.

Speaking of which, we had the chance to run AnTuTu (v9.4.3) on the phone, which is a rarity these days given it is no longer accessible on the Google Play Store. Running the standard mobile test the 12S Ultra recorded a total score of 1 050 773.

To put that score in perspective, only the Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro recorded a higher total in AnTuTu’s rankings. This is rather impressive given that device is specifically designed with gaming in mind.

While we normally try not to put too much weight into benchmarking scores, when we are comparing high-end smartphones, it helps to discern which is serving up the best performance on paper.

In the case of the 12S Ultra, that performance also translates to the in-hand experience.

The only remaining element to consider is cost. This 8GB RAM/256GB storage model is recommended to retail for 6 499 Chinese Yuan (~R16 146).

We can only speculate what the local price tag would be, but given the performance on offer, there is certainly room to justify picking one of these up, especially if it’s in line with what we have seen from the likes of Samsung and its premium flagship phones.


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