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XIAOMI 14 ULTRA – Spectacular photos and videos but not only…

The times when the first Xiaomi smartphones arrived on the Italian market seem light years away, defined by everyone as best buys but with photographic and video performances that actually disappointed. Over the years the Chinese brand has made a lot of efforts in research and development aimed at improving this gap and in 2024 Lei Jun's company has brought out a technological pearl. Xiaomi 14 Ultra arrives in our hands and immediately wants to dictate the law in the mobile photographic standard, thanks also to a close collaboration with Leica, not only from a hardware point of view but also software. I don't want to add anything else because I have a lot to tell you and so let's see in this review whether Xiaomi has really achieved and managed to detach itself from the competition or not, the strengths and weaknesses of this smartphone camera.

On offer on Amazon

Last updated on July 17, 2024 22:02

unboxing

Although Xiaomi 14 Ultra is very close to the top of the range of the moment, compared to these it offers a very complete sales package: in addition to the smartphone we are offered a protective hard plastic cover, the 90 W charger and its power and data transfer cable. There is also the usual manual and clip to remove the SIM tray, while a plastic film is already applied to the display to protect it.

The flagship smartphone of the Chinese brand arrives in Italy together with a photographic kit worth €199 which includes a dedicated cover, with a premium look and which allows you to attach the photographic grip contained in the kit, i.e. a handle that transforms the smartphone look in a vintage Leica camera. This grip integrates a 1500 mAh battery which can also be used as a sort of power bank, but it is the buttons that give that retro photography touch to the device. A button for starting video recording, one for focusing and taking photos, a lever for zooming in/out and a lever for changing the EV+/- value. On the grip there is a small button for locking with the cover and a slot where you can insert a comfortable wrist strap, supplied together with the manuals. We then find a silver-coloured decorative ring, replacing the one already mounted on the cover, which is orange in color and which can be removed using the appropriate release button and finally a further threaded ring for attaching any photographic filters from the diameter of 67mm.

DESIGN AND MATERIALS

Xiaomi 14 Ultra is very much inspired by Leica's retro professional machines, while maintaining faith in modern stylistic features. The colors available for these reasons are only white and black. The device boasts triple protection through premium materials, such as the 6M42 monobloc aluminum frame (in titanium in the Chinese version), a Xiaomi Shield Glass display glass, with a hardness on the Vickers scale of 860 and a back cover made with vegan leather nano technology, which is resistant to dust and stains as well as being antibacterial. There is also IP68 certification against water and dust, therefore protection at the highest levels at least against falls, impacts, immersions but be careful because the parts that make up the optics could actually be affected. Indeed, in this regard I would like to point out the only flaw, which I actually found only once in my tests, that is, the protective glass of the optics in situations of sudden changes in temperature tends to fog up, causing the fateful moment of a photo to be lost. possible author photo. The company recognized the defect, although not declaring it as such and this is not very acceptable in my opinion for a 1500 euro device.

Xiaomi 14 Ultra is an important smartphone not only in price but also in size and weight, reaching approximately 220 grams without considering the possible grip of the photographic kit, for a thickness of 9.2 mm (dimensions 161.4 x 75.3 x 9.2 mm weight 219.8 grams ). For obvious reasons, the weight is unbalanced towards the top of the phone, due to the imposing camera block with a circular design, just like a reflex lens. However, be careful when handling it with a single hand, because it could slip forward, due to the weight not being distributed on the vertical axis, while the grip given by the vegan leather is excellent, making it not slippery at all.

On the right profile we find the classic combination of the power button, slightly knurled for recognition in the dark and volume rocker, in the upper part we instead lose the beloved IR transmitter and instead find only 3 small holes for the audio output, as Xiaomi 14 Ultra boasts stereo sound. Completely smooth left profile while on the bottom of the device we find the main speaker, Type-C 3.2 input for charging, data transfer and video output, microphone and SIM tray which allows the insertion of 2 nano format SIMs but no memory expansion. Furthermore, the Xiaomi phone does not even offer E-SIM support, an absence that is not serious for me personally but considering the price range, the company could also have implemented it, however the smartphone is resistant to water and dust according to the IP68 standard. 

DISPLAY

Among the advantages of this beautiful smartphone we can mention the screen, supplied by TCL CSOT, equipped with 6.73 inch LTPO AMOLED technology with WQHD+ resolution 3200 x 1440 pixels / 522 ppi and dynamic refresh from 1 to 120 Hz Adaptive Sync Pro, while the frequency touch refresh rate is 240 Hz. There is no shortage of other specifications worthy of the best panel around on a mobile device, such as peak brightness equal to 3000 nits, DC Dimmin, PWM Dimming from 1920 Hz, Dolby Vision support, HDR10+ and profile 3% DCI-P100 true color as well as triple TUV Rheinland certification.

A brilliant panel and also very precise in color reproduction, with pure whites and well-balanced colors, deep blacks and an excellent contrast ratio. If you really want to get the most, you can deeply customize all these factors in the settings. Under direct sunlight the screen does not lose quality and the contents always remain clearly visible. To unlock this Xiaomi 14 Ultra we can rely on an excellent unlocking with the fingerprint thanks to the recognition sensor placed under the display or alternatively via the selfie camera with Face Unlock function, less secure but still reliable even in lighting conditions poor.

PERFORMANCE AND HARDWARE

14 Ultra by Xiaomi also excels in the hardware sector by offering under the hood, the Qualcomm Snadpragon 8 Gen 3 processor at 4nm, octacore solution with max clock speed of 3.3 GHz with 16 GB of LPDDR5X 8533Mbps RAM and 512 GB of internal memory (the only cut available in Italy) of UFS 4.0 type. A dizzying technical sheet that would make us think of an imminent fire if we make the most of the phone's potential but Xiaomi has introduced a liquid cooling system that adds a final circuit dedicated to the camera, the Xiaomi Dual-Channel IceLoop System, which keeps temperatures at bay even under severe stress. I have never noticed overheating and uncertainties. It goes without saying that every operation you carry out with Xiaomi 14 Ultra will be fluid and without difficulty.

Also for connectivity, Xiaomi 14 Ultra can boast of the best around, offering support for Wi-Fi 7 thanks to Qualcomm's mobile modem, Dual 5G support, Bluetooth 5.4 with various high fidelity audio codecs including LDAC and LHDC 5.0, NFC and GPS Dual L1+L5. Excellent reception and always stable signal with navigation speeds that seem to go beyond the sound barrier but above all excellent stereo audio provided by the Dolby ATMOS and HiRes Audio certified speakers. Furthermore, on this terminal we find 4 microphones that support directional, surround and Zoom Audio audio recording to obtain very high quality recording effects. Finally, to reassure you from the point of view of phone calls and listening to voice notes, we find a physical and not virtual proximity sensor.

SOFTWARE AND UPDATES

If from a hardware point of view we cannot complain from a software point of view Xiaomi 14 Ultra, despite boasting the new HyperOS, in terms of user experience it is not far from MIUI, in some ways chaotic if you are not used to the interface graphics of the Chinese brand. It's true, the new HyperOS didn't cause any problems such as freezes, crashes or anything else but considering the high price of the device, I couldn't stomach the presence of so much bloatware at all as well as some double apps, such as Google Photos and the MIUI Gallery to name a few, which can be justified on €200 Redmi devices but not on a €1500 top of the range. Finally, I would like to point out that a desktop mode is still missing.

For the rest, there is no shortage of many functions inherited from MIUI but here in a lighter way from the point of view of system resources, contributing to the already excellent performance of the device. Xiaomi has not played at a marketing level with AI, continuing to offer tools such as the magic eraser or replacing the sky in images as software tools and not linked to artificial intelligence. Having said that, everything runs on Android 14 with patches updated in May 2024, but from the point of view of future updates I wouldn't count much on Xiaomi, which no matter how hard it is trying has never shone for consistency in this area, so I doubt it will arrive to the 7 years of Samsung's major update for its S24 but for at least 3-4 years you should rest assured, while there are 5 years of security patches guaranteed by the brand.

BATTERY/AUTONOMY

This technological marvel integrates a 5000 mAh battery with support for super rapid charging: 90 W via cable and charger supplied which in just 33 minutes allows a full charge of energy from 0 to 100%, or 80W in wireless mode which in 46 minutes offers 100% charging. We also have reverse wireless charging available, to quickly charge headphones or other small gadgets, whose power is 10W.

Despite the well-armored and high-performance hardware, the Xiaomi 14 Ultra is well optimized from an energy point of view, always calmly closing the standard day with a display value of around 6 hours. Naturally, in addition to the fact that in about half an hour you can recharge your smartphone to full battery levels, in extremis you also have the opportunity to have a gain in terms of autonomy thanks to the grip of the photographic kit which also acts as a power bank with the its 1500 mAh battery, giving you that glimmer of at least 2 hours before you actually run dry.

On offer on Amazon

Last updated on July 17, 2024 22:02

PHOTO AND VIDEO PERFORMANCE

Xiaomi 14 Ultra probably owes its name to the photographic sector, a real poker of 50 MP lenses, with both hardware and software cooperation from LEICA. Specifically, the smartphone comes with:

  • Main camera: 900″ Sony LYT-1 with OIS and variable aperture with mechanical diaphragm f/1.63-4.0 with Leica Summilux lenses, 23mm focal length;
  • Ultra-wide camera: Sony IMX858 with FOV of 122° F/1.8, 12mm focal length, support for 5cm macro photos;
  • 3.2x zoom camera: Sony IMX858 f/1.8 OIS, support for 10cm macro photos, 75mm focal length;
  • 5x periscope camera: Sony IMX858 f/2.5 OIS, 30cm macro photo support, 120mm focal length;

All lenses also boast laser autofocus. Perhaps the least interesting optics could be the 32 MP selfie camera, f/2.0 equipped with EIS but still capable of recording in 4K 60fps and capturing video in HDR with Dolby Vision. In general, videos can enjoy the master cinema mode, which allows the capture of greater details in the light and shadow areas, presenting them on HDR screens with a dynamic range that reproduces human vision almost perfectly. For photos, the shots are ultra-fast, ideal for street photography and for the true "pros" of the sector, we find the possibility of shooting in RAW, 16-bit Ultra RAW and LOG profiles for videos. In this regard, you can create your own personal modes pros, to be retrieved on the fly when needed.

Xiaomi therefore adopts the current best sensor in circulation for the main camera, i.e. the 900-inch Sony LYT-1 with variable aperture between f/1.63 and f/4.0, and the same sensor for the other 3 cameras, with a consequent advantage over coherence that these sensors have among themselves. I really liked the portrait mode photos with LEICA profiles, but in general all the photos taken with this camera in a smartphone body, turned out to be rich in detail, with excellent dynamic range. Quality that can really reach perfection if you have the opportunity to edit photos in RAW. What is disappointing are the night mode photos, because I found them poco natural, too bright to the point of appearing to have been taken during the day, but you can go as far as taking photos of the moon complete with silhouette effects to apply.

The videos are good, but not great. These can be recorded at a maximum resolution of 8k at 30fps, more than useless for the vast majority of traditional uses. However, we can have 4K at 60 fps with which we can change each lens even during the recording phase. The quality is good, as is the stabilization, but not at the levels of other even less expensive smartphones. It can be recorded in Dolby Vision, but when the HDR mode is activated the framerate drops to 30 fp or in LOG mode with the possibility of loading personal LUT, but this only with the primary optics.

CONCLUSIONS AND PRICE

Xiaomi 14 Ultra is probably a niche smartphone, at least as far as the price is concerned, not really within everyone's reach. In fact, we are talking about one of the most expensive devices in circulation, with a price list of 1499 euros to which the extra money for the purchase of the photographic kit must be added. The Chinese brand has certainly succeeded in its aim of creating a smartphone with one of the best photographic and video performances on the market, a very positive thing on the one hand but which I personally don't think is suitable for everyone. This terminal is aimed mainly at professional photographers or anyone who makes photography a fundamental element, those looking for a truly compact "camera" without having to carry around many bulky lenses.

Let's be clear, Xiaomi 14 Ultra will never be able to replace a professional camera but it is the closest thing to date. As I was saying, however, the potential and performance of this smartphone cannot be appreciated by everyone. It's as if I took a Ferrari to go to work in city traffic: I wouldn't appreciate anything about a super car like that, in fact I would risk burning money on petrol and that's it. Having said that, the collaboration with Leica can be seen and felt throughout and therefore if you are willing to shell out a very considerable sum, or if you want the best performance related to the smartphone, I recommend it, perhaps taking into consideration the current offer on Ebay which with a saving of around 500 euros compared to the official price, will allow you to savor the thrill of Xiaomi 14 Ultra and its photographic kit. Alternatively it is available for purchase on the official Xiaomi store or on Amazon.

8.9 Total score
XIAOMI 14 ULTRA

A devastating smartphone in terms of performance. Not just pure power in running applications but a true photographic vocation thanks to LEICA lenses and software. Xiaomi 14 Ultra is an undisputed king. No myth, no legend, but pure reality available to everyone, or almost everyone, considering the price.

CONFEZIONE
10
DESIGN AND MATERIALS
8.5
DISPLAY
10
CAMERA
8.9
HARDWARE AND PERFORMANCE
10
SOFTWARE
8
BATTERY/AUTONOMY/CHARGING
9
PRICE
7
PROS
  • PERFECT DISPLAY
  • LATEST GENERATION HARDWARE
  • POWER WITHOUT OVERHEATING
  • QUICK CHARGING BOTH BY CABLE AND WIRELESS
CONS
  • NO e-SIM
  • NO DESKTOP MODE
  • TOO MANY BLOATWARE
  • VIDEO NOT AT THE LEVEL OF THE PHOTOS
Add your review
Emanuele Iafulla
Emanuele Iafulla

Nerd, Geek, Netizen, terms that do not belong to me. Simply myself, technology lover and provocative as Xiaomi does with his products. High quality at fair prices, a real provocation for the other most famous brands.

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