In-depth Analysis of the Xiaomi 14 Ultra

It is clear that the protagonist of the year for Xiaomi in 2024 is going to be the Xiaomi SU7, their first electric car. This product has been a bold and risky bet by the company to position itself in a sector where no other smartphone manufacturer had entered directly before.

The company has spent years designing this vehicle, making a significant economic and strategic investment. But this is not an analysis of the car, but of a mobile phone, the Xiaomi 14 Ultra. So, why are we talking about the SU7? Because of the way Xiaomi works.

Xiaomi, known for entering the smartphone market with very affordable models and a strong emphasis on pricing, decided to shift its strategy a few years ago, moving away from the idea of good products with above-average quality-price ratio for the Redmi family. Xiaomi would focus on high-end models that would not shy away from costing the same or more than their competitors.

The Ultra family of devices is a perfect example of how, through investment, design, and perseverance, a top-of-the-line product can be created by a company that was not originally meant for it but decided to focus on that market segment. The Xiaomi 14 Ultra is priced at 1499.99 euros, not including the optional photographic grip accessory, which costs an additional 199.99 euros. This price is competitive with the best offerings from Samsung and Apple, and its features are at least on par with them.

## An Iconic Design

One of the most challenging things to achieve in industrial engineering is a functional design that is also iconic. Xiaomi has accomplished this with the Ultra family, using its main feature, the camera, as a standout element.

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra is very similar to the 13 Ultra but with more comfortable shapes, fewer protrusions, and lighter weight, while maintaining IP68 certification. However, one significant weakness of this device is that the top part is much heavier than the bottom, making one-handed use challenging unless fingers are placed on the camera, potentially smudging the lenses.

While the rear finish remains vegan leather in white or black colors, it’s a shame that the previous year’s green tone did not give way to a more iconic color, as these models are less conspicuous, especially the darker one.

The device’s structure is made of aluminum, giving a solid feel, with volume and power buttons on the right side. The secondary speaker is located at the top, which, despite many other brands placing it in the earpiece, ensures that the sound of this phone is one of the best on the market.

In the upper portion are the main speaker, microphone, and USB-C charging port, along with the SIM tray that lacks support for microSD, although given the ample memory of this device, this is not likely to be an issue.

## The Best in Processing Power

Despite being designed for those who want to maximize photographic capabilities, top-notch hardware is required for this purpose. The Xiaomi 14 Ultra features a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, known for its high power and efficiency, along with advanced AI functions that Xiaomi is beginning to implement, although not yet at the same level as Samsung.

The 512GB of UFS 4.0 internal memory and 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM ensure fast data transfer and ample background app support, with battery management typically closing apps in the background.

## Display Excellence

The phone boasts one of the best displays on the market, with a 6.7-inch WQHD AMOLED panel with a resolution of 3200 x 1440 px. The screen can switch between 1 to 120 Hz for smooth content display while optimizing battery usage. With a peak brightness reaching 3,000 nits in some areas for HDR content, it offers unmatched visibility under various lighting conditions.

The display also incorporates fall protection, making the glass much more durable than previous models, now featuring curved edges not only on the sides but also in the corners. This design choice, a first for Xiaomi, is visually appealing but may expose the device to greater vulnerability to impacts, making the included protective case a thoughtful addition.

## Camera Innovation

The standout feature of the Xiaomi 14 Ultra is its photography capabilities. Collaborating with Leica, Xiaomi has introduced innovative camera technologies, such as the automatic aperture adjustment on the primary camera for better light capture and the ability to shoot videos in log format for editing flexibility.

The main camera utilizes a 50MP sensor (LYT-900), which through pixel binning captures default 12.5MP photos, with an aperture ranging from f/1.63 to f/4.0. This sensor is optically stabilized, featuring autofocus and an 8-element lens.

Additionally, a second 50MP telephoto sensor (Sony IMX 858) offers a 3x zoom equivalent to 75mm, with optical image stabilization and an f/1.8 aperture. Capable of focusing at 10 cm, it enables macro functionality even without using the wide-angle lens.

Another telephoto lens, equivalent to 120mm with a 5x zoom and f/2.5 aperture, allows macro photography at 30 cm, making this phone ideal for such photography. This device even supports macro video recording.

The final rear camera is a 50MP wide-angle lens with an IMX 858 sensor and a 12mm equivalent focal length, featuring a 7-element lens and enabling macro shots at 5 cm. It offers two photographic styles, Leica Vibrant and Leica Authentic, catering to different tastes and scenarios.

The phone’s portrait features, including night mode and various filters for creative photography, along with the Xiaomi ProFocus system for precise focus tracking, enhance the overall photography experience.

## Battery and Fast Charging

Equipped with a 5,000 mAh battery, the Xiaomi 14 Ultra offers respectable battery life, lasting a full day with moderate usage. The phone supports 90W wired fast charging (33 minutes for a full charge) and up to 80W wireless charging (46 minutes for a full charge). However, the unique camera module creates compatibility issues with some chargers, requiring attention to ensure proper charging connections.

## HyperOS Evolution

Xiaomi has introduced its new operating system, HyperOS, the successor to MIUI, in its flagship device. HyperOS, featuring HyperMind, an AI system enhancing interoperability with other Xiaomi products, offers a familiar interface with minor improvements and a strong focus on customization for seamless integration across the Xiaomi ecosystem.

The device excels in system performance, leveraging the hardware capabilities of the Xiaomi 14 Ultra and offering peak efficiency when combined with other Xiaomi products like tablets or smartwatches.

## Should You Buy It?

If you are seeking a device that represents the pinnacle of technology in 2024 and places paramount importance on the camera, the Xiaomi 14 Ultra is a compelling choice. However, the price tag of 1,499 euros may not be accessible to everyone, making it a premium option among competitors like the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra or iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Xiaomi’s collaboration with Leica has proven successful, positioning the brand as a strong contender in photography alongside industry giants like Samsung, Apple, and Google. While the Xiaomi 14 Ultra is not without its flaws, particularly in terms of weight and ergonomics, it remains a solid device overall, especially for photography enthusiasts.

Xiaomi’s pursuit of excellence in photography technology sets it apart, making the Xiaomi 14 Ultra a top contender in the market. Although not every user may fully appreciate its advanced features, those who value exceptional photography capabilities are sure to be impressed by what this device has to offer.