Xiaomi's new Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra rival is impressive - but you can't buy it

Xiaomi 12S Ultra
(Image credit: Xiaomi)

There's a curse among the best Xiaomi phones, and that's that many of them don't go on sale globally, with the company opting to only launch them in its home country. That's the case with the brand's newest series, which includes a flashy-looking Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra rival.

This is the Xiaomi 12S series, consisting of a standard, Pro and Ultra model - as you can guess, it's the Ultra that we're considering the rival to Samsung's best camera phone. These are the first handsets created from Xiaomi's partnership with camera brand Leica, so you know they're going to be great for photography.

The Xiaomi 12S Ultra comes with 'just' three rear cameras, but what it lacks in snappers (compared to the Samsung) it makes up for in megapixels. There's a main camera with a 1-inch 50MP sensor and ultra-wide with a 48MP camera - both of those have aspherical lenses - and a 48MP telephoto camera with a 120mm focal length. 

The camera is also packed with new stabilization tech called HyperOIS and new AI image processing tech.

Beyond that the phone has a 6.73-inch 2K 120Hz screen, a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset, a 4,860mAh battery, 67W wired and 50W wireless charging, and a design that - well, you can see above. The rear screen of the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is gone, it seems.

Analysis: a quiet Xiaomi year

Xiaomi has confirmed that the 12S Ultra isn't launching in most other regions of the world, like its two siblings - in fact, it's been quite quiet for the brand (not including its sub-brands like Redmi and Pocophone).

We saw the Xiaomi 12 and 12 Pro at the beginning of the year, but there was no Ultra version or even a Lite alternative. We're still hoping to see a Xiaomi 12T later in the year but we don't have confirmation on that yet.

It's a shame that Xiaomi isn't launching its 12S phones worldwide, as the Ultra, in particular, sounds impressive, but there's still a chipset shortage after Covid, and it's also possible that the Ultra's impressive-sounding hardware is hard to manufacture in large quantities.

Hopefully, we'll see similar tech in future phones from the company though, including ones that launch outside China - if so, we could see more handsets from Xiaomi hit our list of the best smartphones.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.