The race for megapixels is definitely not over. Although even Apple has bucked the trend by replacing its traditional 12 Mpx sensor with a 48 million point version on its iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max, the other manufacturers are waging an all-out war on the photo front. and pixel binding. Because offering very, very high definition sensors means extracting particularly large images (more than 50 or even 60 MB during our tests), but also taking the risk of using only very small photo pages, comfortable in low light. In short, to get the most out of sensors of this kind, you need to combine multiple pixels into one, an exercise that almost all manufacturers are involved in today.
In the case of Xiaomi, which has just formalized its promising 12T Pro, 16 pixels must be combined into one to give the user 12.5 Mpx images. Because its 200 million dot sensor, with the size of 1/1.22 inch, naturally displays very small pixels of 0.64 µm. Thanks to pixel binding 16-in-1, it intends to simulate 2.56 µm pixels.
Think you know the song? You can see because another manufacturer formalized a few weeks ago a smartphone with an identical sensor: the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra. Mounted with the same Isocell HP1 sensor from Samsung and the same pixel bindinghowever, this smartphone relies on a different lens (wide-angle f / 1.9) when the 12T Pro brings out an eight-element lens and a larger aperture at f / 1.69.
The two smartphones differ on this hardware point, but not only: it is of course due to the quality of their software processing that the two devices can make the difference. It should also be noted that Xiaomi, Leica’s partner for a few months, does not mention any collaboration with the German photography specialist: it is currently only about the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, whose performance we have described in detail here.
We immediately notice that Xiaomi works differently than Motorola. It offers a 12.5 Mpx mode, another takes advantage of the sensor’s 200 Mpx, as well as an intermediate mode that makes it possible to obtain 50 Mpx images thanks to a pixel binding 4-in-1. To do this, go to the More section of the camera and then select Ultra HD – it’s set to 50 Mpx by default and a simple button allows you to go up to 200 Mpx. Motorola, on the other hand, offers the choice between 12.5 and 200 Mpx.
The match of images in 12.5 Mpx
The two smartphones deliver radically different images. The Xiaomi model chooses a very bright rendering and a very vivid colorimetry. But if the whole is attractive on the small screen of a smartphone, it ignores the fidelity of reality. Examining all our charts, we also notice that some of them suffer from unsaturated colors.
Apart from these considerations, we note the high level of detail in the images of the two smartphones, but also different behavior. The Xiaomi model, probably thanks to more efficient optics, provides much more sharpness in the periphery of the image, but also less distortion. The sharpness of the small elements that hit our test scene is unevenly distributed, with some sharper at Motorola, others sharper at Xiaomi. Nevertheless, we note that the processing operated by Motorola, which relies on accentuation, provides more readability overall, if not naturally.
Neither of the two smartphones really manages to convince at night, at least with their 12.5 Mpx recordings. That said, the Edge 30 Ultra’s tendency to overemphasize itself is even more apparent at night. The Xiaomi 12T Pro delivers a shot that is definitely less well exposed, but also less noisy and with softer processing. In our opinion, the set is more pleasing to the eye.
The match of pictures in 200 Mpx
Should I switch to 200MP mode? In the case of the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra, we reported during the test a delay of around 2 sec. between pressing the shutter button and taking the picture, which favored camera shake. On the other hand, we do not regret any concern of that kind on the Xiaomi model, which makes its 200 Mpx mode more usable. The fact is that the images generally weigh more than 50 MB, which can quickly strain a storage space of 128 or 256 GB…
In the images of the two smartphones, we observe differences. As in 12.5 Mpx, the Xiaomi model relies on a highly exposed image with contained digital noise and very clear colors. The distortion is imperceptible, but we note that the processing is less effective on elements such as text characters. On the other hand, the image is more homogeneous than that provided by Motorola, which admits certain blurred zones in all parts of the image, but manages to offer a sharper reproduction on the contours thanks to its famous contrast.
And at night? For once, Xiaomi’s processing is better than its competitor’s. The colors are better reproduced, the small elements are less distorted and the smoothing, e.g. on the lion’s mane, is less noticeable. Small artifacts nevertheless break up the image, which makes us advise against the use of this mode in low light.
200 Mpx sensors not so easy to master
Comparing the images of Motorola Edge 30 Ultra and Xiaomi 12T Pro shows that it will take time to master 200 Mpx sensors. At a time when manufacturers are just starting to tame them at 108 Mpx, the transition to almost doubled definitions causes difficulties for those who are the first who dare to throw themselves into the arena.
In fact, Xiaomi’s model has the advantage of fast release and good quality optics, which allows those who choose to use it to get sharp images. The processing it applies to the images, on the other hand, favors an overly saturated colorimetry and struggles to transcribe certain elements of the image.
At Motorola, the difficulties are different, but visible: the contrasts are exaggerated, the optics admit a distortion in the periphery and areas of the scene are blurred. These highly defined sensors finally leave us all the more confused, as our article dedicated to the Edge 30 Ultra had explained, pixel binding 16-in-1 is not necessarily better than 4-in-1.
In light of these facts, it is clear that to date smartphones using very high definition sensors are essentially playing with the springs of marketing to better impress potential buyers by using “big” numbers. , even if it means disappointing the most photo-savvy.
Anyway, to recommend these 200 Mpx modes to you, we’ll wait for Xiaomi and Motorola to roll out updates to their smartphones, or for competitors to enter the dance to exploit their full potential. And if you want to achieve a very high definition image on the 12T Pro, without getting excessively large files, you can try to activate the Ultra HD mode in 50 Mpx. With a pixel binding visibly better controlled than in 12.5 Mpx, it is a good compromise between cropping options and image weight.