Xiaomi began using Periscope cameras in 2020, starting with the Mi 10 Ultra. The Mi 10 Ultra had 5X optical zoom. The successors, Mi 11 Ultra and Xiaomi 12S Ultra, all share the same 48MP 1/2.0″ sensor (5X zoom, 120mm). Zoom beyond 5X rests on AI and the software’s ability to clean up noise and enhance details.
The Huawei P30 Pro and the Oppo Reno 10X Zoom kicked off the Periscope camera battle in 2019. Oppo and Huawei had 5X Optical Zoom, and the rest used AI for hybrid Zoom. Samsung picked up on periscope cameras in 2020, with a 4X optical zoom camera (10X Hybrid, 100X digital).
The S21 Ultra and S22 Ultra both have a 10X Optical Zoom sensor. They currently lead the industry in terms of zoom capabilities. Samsung also has a dedicated 3X zoom lens for portrait mode. Xiaomi used to have a 2X optical zoom lens with the Mi 10 Ultra in 2020. Intermediate zoom was not present on the 11 Ultra and 12S Ultra.
Some rumors indicate that the Xiaomi 13 Ultra might get the intermediate zoom lens back. The Xiaomi 13 Pro uses the JN1 Sensor for 3.2X optical zoom. Re-using that Sensor for the 13 Ultra makes a lot of sense.
New leaks claim that Xiaomi plans to use an advanced periscope camera for the Xiaomi 13 Ultra. It will likely outperform the S22 Ultra and even the upcoming S23 Ultra.
According to tipster Kartikey Singh on Twitter, the Periscope camera on the 13 Ultra will “shock everyone.” This is in line with previous leaks that said Xiaomi would focus heavily on the zoom aspect of the camera system. It will probably have a new Custom ISP or NPU, and it’s said to be equipped with something called “Black Technology.”
We are unsure what Black Technology is, which could refer to a marketing term. The high-quality periscope lens combined with a dedicated intermediate zoom lens might be enough to usurp Samsung’s throne in terms of zoom. It makes sense for Xiaomi to focus primarily on optical zoom since the lack of intermediate was the only major complaint with the 12S Ultra.
How can Xiaomi possibly topple Samsung’s throne? We might see a sensor with a good aperture value and a large size, larger than Samsung’s 10X Sensor. The Pixel 7 Pro uses the Sensor crop-in mechanism for near-lossless image outputs. Sensor crop involves cropping into the middle frames of a high-megapixel sensor to give you a full-resolution output.
For instance, Sensor Crop, combined with Google’s industry-leading AI and software-based processing, has made the 5X periscope on the Pixel 7 Pro one of the best on the market. The Vivo X90 Pro+ uses a 3.5X periscope, but between 10X and 20X zoom, tests have shown that it performs better than Samsung’s 10X optical zoom.
Xiaomi might get competitive in the periscope segment next year with better image processing. Bringing out more from just the hardware might be the way to win the periscope battle.
But, the exact magnification is not yet confirmed, and initial rumors point to 5X. However, there’s a chance it may change before the phone enters mass production. Moreover, the 13 Ultra has also been confirmed to hit global markets.
On the other hand, we will see 8 Gen 2 SOC and an LTPO 120Hz 2K screen. A well-tuned IMX989 primary sensor with the Leica collab will surely be there.