Xiaomi 14 Ultra sounds like an ultra-impressive phone — especially in the camera department

xiaomi 14 ultra
(Image credit: Future)

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra has officially been announced. But like its cheaper sibling, the Xiaomi 14, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t actually be able to buy one. Xiaomi doesn't release its phones in the U.S., which is rather a shame, because the Xiaomi 14 Ultra sounds rather impressive — especially in the camera department.

In usual Xiaomi style, the explanation of what the 14 Ultra’s camera can do is a bit technically slanted. That isn’t what everyone needs out of a camera, but cut through the techno-babble and you can see there’s some very impressive hardware coming along for the ride.

Xiaomi 14 Ultra: Ultra-impressive camera promises

Xiaomi 14 Ultra smartphone

(Image credit: Future)

The fact that the phone comes with a quad-lens Leica camera system is only the half of the appeal. Hiding inside the chunky camera bump is a 50MP main camera lens with what Xiaomi calls a “Stepless Variable Aperture”. Unlike a variable aperture, as we saw on phones like the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S10, this isn’t a switch between two preset apertures. 

This is a motorized system that adjusts the aperture in 0.01 stop increments, so that you have precise control over how much light actually makes it through the camera lens and hits the 1-inch sensor. The mechanism actually has carbon plates that are capable of blocking 100% of incoming light — not that you’d ever want to actually do that.

Joining that main lens is a 50MP ultra-wide angle shooter (f/1.8) and a pair of 50MP telephoto lenses. The first of the pair offers 3.2x optical zoom with 10cm macro photography and f/1,8 aperture, while the second has 5x magnification, 30cm macro photography and an f/2.5 aperture. There’s also a 30x Ultra hybrid zoom, AI-enhanced RAW photography, Ultra-HDR and a 32MP front camera (f/2.0)..

Xiaomi is hyping up the 14 Ultra’s AI and computational photography performance, but hasn’t gone into a great many details about what that involves just yet. We know that recording video will offer an AI-powered framing feature, which keeps the subject in frame at all time. That said, it looked a little blurry at times during the demo I witnessed. 

Xiaomi 14 Ultra smartphone

(Image credit: Future)

In addition, Xiaomi is offering new “cinematic” filming experiences for its users, with what it’s dubbed “Director Mode." This setting is essentially a video-focussed version of the Pro camera modes that are more common among flagships, giving users the option to fully customize their video recording with a professional-esque setup. This also allows other Xiaomi phones and tablets to act as external monitors, so you can see what’s being filmed at any given time. 

What's more, the 14 Ultra offers a MasterCinema mode with extra-high dynamic range for enhanced video and MasterPortrait, which seems to do something similar for still photography.

We haven’t had a chance to test any of the Xiaomi 14 Ultra’s cameras out for ourselves, but we have used the regular Xiaomi 14. We felt that the phone's Leica-tuned camera easily rivaled larger, more expensive flagship phones. So, we have high hopes for the Ultra model.

Xiaomi 14 Ultra: Bright & durable design

Xiaomi 14 Ultra smartphone

(Image credit: Future)

Other noteworthy features in the Xiaomi 14 Ultra include a 6.78-inch display, complete with WQHD+ (2960 x 1440) resolution, 3,000 nit peak brightness and a 1-120Hz adaptive refresh rate — as befitting any phone with “Ultra'' in its name. There’s also an “All Around Liquid Display”, which is marketing-speak for a display that has four slightly-curved edges. 

This curve is very slight compared to most other curved phone displays and the best way to describe it would be a rounded bezel. Xiaomi claims this gives the phone all the benefits of flat and curved displays, but without all the drawbacks. In other words it’ll still look nice, keeping the bezels hidden, but without the usual durability issues commonly associated with curved screens. 

Xiaomi’s new “Shield Glass” should also offer a bit more protection, though it’s unclear how much more durable this screen is compared to the likes of the iPhone 15 Pro or the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. The phone’s frame has also been carved from a single block of aluminum. That way the frame doesn’t have any seams that would introduce weakness to the metal. That’s also a long way of saying that this phone doesn’t feature a single ounce of titanium.

Xiaomi has also promised that its vegan leather exteriors are six times more durable than before, while the redesigned Dual-Channel IceLoop cooling system will be able to transfer heat away from both the chipset and the camera. Naturally the phone also offers IP68 water resistance, like all flagship phones should.

Xiaomi 14 Ultra: Everything else

Xiaomi 14 Ultra smartphone

(Image credit: Future)

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset — arguably the best Android chipset on the market right now. It’s unclear how well the phone will perform while in use, and there has been some variance between other Gen 3-powered phones.

There's only a single 512GB storage option, which uses UFS 4.0 storage and 16GB of RAM. We will also be seeing an upgraded modem in the form of the Qualcomm FastConnect 7800. This is a Wi-Fi 7-enabled modem capable of offering speeds up to 5.8 Gbps and latency as low as 2ms. That's is pretty darn good, even if you’re already used to the benefits of Wi-Fi 6E.

The USB-C port is rated to USB 3.2 gen 2, which means it can hit speeds of up to 10GBps and supports DisplayPort video output of up to 4K and 60Hz. There's a 5,000 mAh battery that supports up to 90W wired charging and 80W wireless charging. The former gets your battery to 100% in 33 minutes, while the latter takes 18 minutes to get you to 50%. Which is seriously impressive.

We'll also see the phone come with 4 years of Android upgrades and 5 years of security updates. Pricing is set at €1,499, which is roughly £1,281 / $1,624 / AU $2,476.

Xiaomi 14 Ultra: Outlook

Xiaomi 14 Ultra smartphone

(Image credit: Future)

We don’t know when or where the Xiaomi 14 Ultra will be available. But the phone is rocking some seriously impressive hardware specs. Especially in the camera department. Considering how impressed we were with the Xiaomi 14, we’re quite excited to see how much better the 14 Ultra will be.

We’ll just have to wait for Xiaomi to tell us the few remaining details, and hopefully we’ll get those before the end of MWC 2024. The show hasn’t officially started yet, so there’s still time to see what else is on the way. In the meantime there’s plenty more happening at the show — and you can check out our ongoing coverage right here.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.