Smartphone capturing mountain landscape through camera app.

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra marks a significant milestone in Xiaomi’s journey towards establishing itself in the high-end market. Co-developed with Leica, this device is designed to compete with flagship models from Apple and Huawei. The Xiaomi 14 Ultra, Xiaomi’s latest flagship phone, features a powerful Qualcomm processor and a high-quality display.

The standout feature of the Xiaomi 14 Ultra is its advanced camera setup. Developed in collaboration with Leica, it represents the pinnacle of camera phone technology. The versatile 12-120mm system includes a 1-inch sensor and a variable aperture ranging from f/1.63 to f/4.0, catering to serious photographers. The device can record 8K video, 4K HDR, and LOG formats, and supports a native Photography Kit, which includes a camera-like grip and advanced tools. This makes the Xiaomi 14 Ultra the best camera phone available for photographers in the West, despite some minor flaws.

Overall, the Xiaomi 14 Ultra boasts one of the most impressive camera systems available on a smartphone, with detailed reviews and samples showcasing its photo and video capabilities.

Summary

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra sets a new standard for smartphone cameras, offering advanced features and exceptional image quality. Its primary camera, ultra-wide capabilities, and telephoto lenses make it a versatile tool for photographers. Despite minor issues with the selfie camera, the overall performance is outstanding.

Overall Impressions

  • Control and Customization:
  • Extensive control over photo and video settings
  • Pro mode offers professional-grade adjustments
  • Performance:
  • Exceptional performance across all camera modules
  • Natural and professional-looking photos and videos

Spech of the Xiaomi 14 Ultra

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra stands out in the high-end market with its advanced features and top-notch specifications, making it a strong competitor to flagship models from Apple and Huawei.

Key Specifications:

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
  • Memory: 16GB RAM, 512GB storage
  • Display: 6.73-inch QHD+ CSOT C8 AMOLED flexible screen with a resolution of 3200 × 1440p, P3 wide color gamut, and peak brightness of 3000 nits. It also offers a 1~120Hz LTPO refresh rate, a touch sampling rate of up to 240Hz, and an instantaneous touch sampling rate of up to 2160Hz.
  • Battery: 5300mAh with 90W wired and 80W wireless charging
  • Operating System: HyperOS based on Android 14

Camera System:

  • Main Camera: 50MP Sony LYT-900 with a variable aperture of f/1.63 to f/4.0, 23mm equivalent focal length, HyperOIS, and 8P coating.
  • Ultra-wide Camera: 50MP Sony IMX858 with an f/1.8 aperture, 12mm equivalent focal length, 122-degree viewing angle, and 5cm super macro capability.
  • 3x Telephoto Camera: 50MP Sony IMX858 with an f/1.8 aperture, 75mm equivalent focal length, OIS, and 10cm macro capability.
  • 5x Periscope Telephoto Camera: 50MP Sony IMX858 with an f/2.5 aperture, 120mm equivalent focal length, OIS, and 30cm telephoto macro capability.
  • Front Camera: 32MP with an f/2.0 aperture and 90° field of view.

Additional Features:

  • NFC
  • X-axis linear motor
  • Infrared remote control
  • Flicker sensor
  • Laser focus sensor

With its impressive camera system, powerful processor, high-quality display, and robust battery and charging capabilities, the Xiaomi 14 Ultra is an excellent choice for users looking for a premium smartphone experience.

Performance

Specifications

  • 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage (I even get the 1TO storage only available in China ! )
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor
  • RAM extension up to 24GB using storage
  • Bright, vibrant, and sharp 6.73-inch display

Performance Observations

=> I have observed smooth performance with no issues of slowing down or overheating. The device only gets warm during benchmarks or extensive camera use. Navigation with Android 14 is smooth, and the phone performs excellently in demanding games. However, there are pre-installed apps from Xiaomi and third-party companies.

=> In my case the specs are over my real needs, but I should be covered for the upcoming rise of in-built AI features in the next few years.

Design and Build Quality

Design Improvements

The design is gorgeous. It feels really premium.
The edge design and slightly curved screen enhance grip and handling, maintaining a solid feel despite the 9.2mm thickness. Volume rocker and power button are located on the right side, while the speaker grille, USB-C port, and SIM card slot are positioned at the bottom. It does not support eSIM.

Camera Module

The camera module retains its circular shape with a 15.9mm thickness and is integrated with a an orange decorative circle and black lens, adding to its aesthetic appeal.
=>While the thickness is an issue for a lot, for me it is not an issue at all, and this thickness is a real physical advantage used for the telephoto lenses beating all the competition !

Screen

The device boasts a full-depth micro-curved screen similar to the Xiaomi 14 Pro, combining improved comfort and aesthetics with a flat-screen-like appearance and 2.5D glass. It has a 6.73-inch QHD+ display with up to 3,000 nits peak brightness and a default FHD+ resolution. The display offers options for “Original color PRO,” “Vivid,” “Saturated,” and “Advanced Settings.”

=> Honestly this is a bit too technical for me. In simpler words, the screen is beautiful, the touch is smooth, we can see clearly during the day, the curved design makes it really a pleasure to touch.

Build Quality

The build quality is exceptional, featuring a metal frame with a vegan leather back and slightly curved edges for a comfortable hold. The Xiaomi 14 Ultra is available in black and white with a silver frame, adding to its sleek and sophisticated look. The 6.8-inch curved display on all four sides provides a subtle curve that gives a floating screen effect.

Photography Department

Main Camera Features

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra’s main camera boasts a 50MP Sony LYT-900 sensor with a variable aperture ranging from f/1.63 to f/4.0. This 1-inch sensor, paired with a Leica Summilux lens, captures more light and provides a better dynamic range compared to competitors like the iPhone 15 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. The collaboration with Leica enhances the lens elements, supporting 8K video, 4K HDR, and LOG recording.

=> This is one of the main reasons why I bought this camera : Basically it makes it closer to a camera that a phone, due to unbeatable hardware compared to other models.

Performance

I find the camera’s performance exceptional, with high dynamic range and vibrant color style. The macro capabilities are beyond expectations, offering varying focusing distances. The zoom performance is strong, enhanced by the UltraZoom beta AI function. Portraits are realistic and balanced, thanks to improved metering.

Camera Setup

  • Main Camera: 50MP Sony LYT-900 sensor, 1-inch, f/1.65
  • 75mm Telephoto: 50MP, floating telephoto
  • 120mm Periscope: 50MP, 5x optical zoom
  • 12mm Ultra-wide: 50MP
  • Front-facing Camera: 32MP

Camera Modes

  • Leica Authentic: True-to-life colors with subtle differences
  • Leica Vibrant: Adds color and vibrancy
  • Super Macro: Uses 75mm lens for 3.2x zoom, delivering excellent quality
  • Night Photography: Performs well in low-light conditions with accurate color reproduction

Primary Camera

The primary 50MP, 1-inch sensor excels in low-light performance, offering a natural depth of field due to the larger sensor and fast aperture. The variable aperture, from f/1.6 to f/4, provides excellent HDR performance and true-to-life colors through Leica collaboration. The camera offers both regular and Pro modes, with four aperture presets and finer control in Pro mode.

Secondary Cameras

The secondary cameras include IMX858 sensors for ultra-wide, 3X upright telephoto, and 5X periscope telephoto lenses, all with larger apertures.

Photography Experience

The Pro mode allows shooting in both RAW and JPEG formats. The Leica high-contrast black-and-white filter provides a monochrome look, while JPEG images deliver impressive quality straight out of the camera. RAW files offer extensive post-processing flexibility, benefiting from the high dynamic range.

Image Editing and Dynamic Range

The high dynamic range facilitates significant editing flexibility, allowing adjustments to underexposed images and correction of overexposed highlights. Night photography benefits from manual control and RAW editing.

Photography Kit

The photography kit includes a nylon braided case, a grip with a USB-C attachment, a zoom wheel, a record button, a shutter button, and a built-in battery. The kit also includes a case with a mount for professional photo filters like a 67mm ND filter. The grip attachment provides a camera-like feel with a shutter button for focus and capture and contains a small battery for extended shooting time, enhancing the ergonomics and usability of the phone as a camera.

Additional Camera Features

The camera features 3.2x and 5x optical zoom lenses with 50-megapixel sensors and an ultra-wide lens with a 50-megapixel sensor. It performs excellently in low light due to the large sensor and wide aperture, offering manual aperture control for creative night photography.

Things That Could Be Improved

  • Pro mode presets cannot be dragged and dropped to reorder them.
  • No bracketing mode.
  • No way to limit the maximum ISO or minimum/maximum shutter speed.

Comparison to Other Devices

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra is not only a top-tier smartphone but also a competitor to premium compact cameras like the Sony RX100 and Sony ZV-1. Its advanced camera technology integrated into a smartphone form factor makes it a compelling option for photographers seeking portability without compromising image quality.

=> While Iphones and Samsung produce gorgeous images, I find that they are a bit over processed, while Xiaomi took a clear decision to align with a film camera style, more natural which is a wise decision. The Xiaomi’s look won’t earn amateurs heart who might prefer a more saturated look, but on the other side, many photographers may fall in love with this solid setup in the pocket.

## Video Recording

Capabilities

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra excels in video recording with the ability to capture:

  • 4K at 120fps in Pro mode
  • 4K at 60fps in normal mode
  • 8K recording across all rear cameras

Stabilization

The stabilization is excellent, resulting in sharp and natural-looking videos.

Filters and LUTs

The device supports the use of LUTs for real-time preview in log recording and offers various filters for video recording.

Battery Life and Charging

Battery Capacity

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra is equipped with a 5000mAh single-cell high-density silicon carbon battery

=> If you buy it from China, you’ll get an extra 300mAh, which is greatly appreciated !

Battery Life

I have found the battery life to be adequate for a full day of mixed use.

=> Some other reviews complain about it’s battery life, or simply that it is not the king. Well in my case, I am still at 50% at the end of the day. During the night it only lost 6% battery. So it is perfectly fine for me. Added that if you have the photography kit, you’ll have and extra 15%.

Charging

The charging capabilities are impressive:

  • Wired Charging: 90W fast charging, which fully charges the device in around 35 to 50 minutes.
  • Wireless Charging: Supports up to 80W wireless charging, though I have not tested this personally.
  • USB-C Charging: Charges at above 40W.

Additionally, the battery maintains over 80% health even after 1600 complete charging cycles.

=> Frankly I’ve never seen that before. I was shocked when I first saw the charging speed !!! So fast !

Software Support

Operating System and Updates

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra runs on Android 14 with HyperOS 1.0.4. Xiaomi promises four years of OS updates and an additional fifth year of security patches. This is slightly less than what Google and Samsung offer, which is seven years of updates.
=> For me this is one of the biggest drawbacks of this phone. They should provide at least 6 years.

User Interface

The user interface is similar to MIUI, featuring options for an app drawer and categorized app views. Notifications and quick settings can be accessed by swiping down from different sides of the screen.

=> Almost all reviews criticize the HyperOS, but for me, coming from a 7 years old device, I just loved the UI : it is fluid, fast, smooth. I generally avoid default application, like the gallery or defaut editing app, but in that case, I use the defaut applications with pleasure as they provide a seamless experience.

Satellite Communications

Capability

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra supports satellite communication with signal enhancement accessories. However, it requires a specialized telecommunications card for operation.

Pros

Camera

  • Class-leading Sensors: The Xiaomi 14 Ultra utilizes high-quality sensors across all four cameras, ensuring top-notch image quality.
  • Variable Aperture: Features an f/1.63 to f/4.0 variable aperture, allowing for better control over depth of field and low-light performance.
  • Near-focus Capability: Provides near-focus capabilities across all cameras, enhancing versatility.
  • Video Quality: Captures stunning 4K and 8K video with excellent stabilization and real-time LUT previews.
  • Camera Accessories: Includes an innovative camera accessory kit that enhances the photography experience.

Performance and Build

  • Powerful Performance: Equipped with a powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, ensuring smooth and efficient operation.
  • High-quality Build and Design: Features a robust build with a sleek design, including a metal frame and vegan leather back.
  • Strong Battery Life and Fast Charging: Offers strong battery life with a 5300mAh battery and fast charging capabilities (90W wired and 80W wireless).

User Experience

  • Comprehensive Control: Provides extensive control over photo and video settings, catering to both casual and professional photographers.
  • Versatile Camera Performance: Excellent performance across primary, ultra-wide, and telephoto lenses, with impressive macro and zoom capabilities.
  • Pocketable Design: Despite its advanced features, the Xiaomi 14 Ultra maintains a compact, pocket-friendly design.

Overall, the Xiaomi 14 Ultra stands out with its class-leading camera system, powerful performance, strong battery life, and high-quality build, making it a top choice for photography enthusiasts and tech-savvy users alike.

Cons

eSIM Support

  • Lack of eSIM Functionality: The Xiaomi 14 Ultra does not support eSIM, which may be a drawback for some users.

User Interface

  • Heavy Interface: The user interface may feel heavy and cumbersome to some users, leading to mixed feelings about HyperOS.

Cost and Availability

  • High Price: The Xiaomi 14 Ultra is positioned at a premium price point, costing around €1500, which might be considered expensive by some, but totally worth it in my opinion as it offers both a phone and a professionnal camera worth (8.000 usd).
  • Limited Availability: The device has limited availability outside Asia and Europe, making it harder to obtain in other regions.

Camera Performance

  • Ultra-wide Camera: There are occasional issues with overexposure when using the ultra-wide camera.
  • Selfie Camera: The performance of the selfie camera is not as refined as other camera features on the device.

Summary

  • Buy if:
  • You want the best camera in a smartphone.
  • You value advanced camera accessories.
  • You need a powerful, versatile smartphone.
  • You appreciate fast charging capabilities.
  • You prefer Xiaomi’s design and performance.
  • Don’t buy if:
  • You do not need the best camera quality.
  • The high price is a deterrent.

Conclusion

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra is highly recommended for anyone seeking a mobile phone with advanced camera capabilities, making it an excellent tool for both casual and serious photography.

It offers powerful features and high-quality output, eliminating the need for a separate camera on day trips. Ideal for those prioritizing camera performance and willing to invest in a premium device, it excels despite its high price.

The phone boasts exceptional camera capabilities, solid performance, and innovative design, though minor issues like hand discomfort. Its extensive focal length range and advanced features make it a versatile choice for street photographers. For general use, alternatives like the Pixel 8 may offer better value.

=> The 14 Ultra is the best phone I have ever used in my life.

Not only is the camera module the best I’ve ever used but just the stand alone phone is amazing. Trust me you won’t regret buying the 14 Ultra & don’t worry about the bump on the back it’s actually quite nice to hold on to.

Your Turn

When choosing a smartphone, consider whether top-end photography skills are crucial for your decision. Reflect on how often you use your phone’s camera and whether you rely on advanced features for your photography needs.

Perhaps your daily use involves capturing professional-grade images or maybe you simply enjoy casual snapshots.

Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, detailing how important high-end photography capabilities are to you in a smartphone. This discussion can help others make informed choices based on real-world usage and preferences.