As phones get better cameras and stay thin, we are running into the limits of what is possible. So does Xiaomi. And that's why they are experimenting with an interchangeable lens, as seen on this custom-designed Xiaomi 12S Ultra.
The already official Xiaomi 12S Ultra already featured an impressively large 1-inch camera sensor. In the video below, Xiaomi has added a second 1-inch sensor. Around the camera module, we see a Leica M-compatible lens mount.
The 1-inch large sensor is covered by sapphire glass, unlike system cameras, where it sits unprotected. Whether this Xiaomi 12S Ultra Concept Phone will hit the market remains to be seen. Xiaomi made no statements about that. As interesting as this solution may seem, it doesn't look that practical. After all, you can't just tuck the phone, including the lens, in your pocket undetected.
Is this the next step for camera phones?
Still, camera phones are getting better and better. Especially the sensor, partly because it keeps getting bigger. That is not true for lenses, which are also essential in image quality. Lenses must not become too thick; there are limits. This solution from Xiaomi certainly offers a way forward, but only time will tell whether it is the right path.