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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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    HomeTechnologiesThe Xiaomi 14 Ultra is a camera giant

    The Xiaomi 14 Ultra is a camera giant

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    The cameras on the Xiaomi 14 Ultra are outstanding in every sense of the word. Anyone who likes to take photos and films will enjoy this device. But overall, the Chinese hit is one of the best smartphones currently available – which is also reflected in the high price.

    39 out of 55 Xiaomi smartphones at Stiftung Warentest are good, the manufacturer's devices are particularly good in the entry-level and middle class. With a market share of 12.5 percent, the Chinese are clearly number 3 in the world; a year ago they still had 11 percent. If developments continue like this, Xiaomi will soon overtake Samsung, which is still in second place with 16.3 percent behind Apple (24.7 percent), but has lost around 11 percent market share year-on-year.

    The camera unit protrudes far from the housing. The camera unit protrudes far from the housing.

    The camera unit protrudes far from the housing.

    (Photo: kwe)

    In the premier class, Stiftung Warentest's big rivals from Apple, Samsung and Google, are still ahead, but here too the Chinese want to overtake them with the Xiaomi 14 Ultra. The smartphone, which costs just under 1,500 euros, primarily boasts powerful camera equipment, but also offers other top-level high-end technology.

    Quite handy, but huge camera unit

    As long as you don't turn it over, the 14 Ultra, which weighs just under 220 grams, looks like many other Android smartphones – and it's not too big for a smartphone with a 6.7-inch display. At 161.4 x 75.3 x 9.2 millimeters it is still easy to handle.

    If you put it in your pocket, you have to be careful not to get stuck. There is a powerful, round camera unit with four lenses on the back. In the center is the word “LEICA” written in large letters, which means that Xiaomi is working with the German manufacturer.

    main camera,... main camera,...

    main camera,…

    (Photo: kwe)

    You can also see this on the back in a black imitation leather look, which is intended to be reminiscent of the traditional company's legendary cameras. This not only looks good and prevents reflections. The material, together with a matt aluminum frame, also makes the smartphone pleasant to grip.

    Magnificent display, strong interior

    The magnificent OLED display has a very high resolution of up to 522 pixels per inch (ppi), shows excellent, natural colors and strong contrasts. It can shine brightly when needed and supports Dolby Vision and HDR10+.

    ... double magnification, ... ... double magnification, ...

    … double magnification, …

    (Photo: kwe)

    The interior of the IP68 dustproof and waterproof smartphone is also at a top level. It is powered by Qualcomm's current number 1 chip Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, which has access to 16 gigabytes (GB) of RAM (LPDDR5X). In terms of performance, the Xiaomi 14 Ultra is on the same level as the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.

    The flash memory (UFS 4.0) is sufficiently large at 512 GB; the device does not have a slot for microSD cards. You can insert two SIM cards, but strangely, eSIMS does not support smartphones. With Wifi 7 and Bluetooth 5.4, the 14 Ultra is state-of-the-art.

    Good endurance, loaded very quickly

    ... five times magnification, ... ... five times magnification, ...

    … five times magnification, …

    (Photo: kwe)

    The battery has a capacity of 5000 milliamp hours (mAh). In the practical test, the device usually made it through the day well. It only became scarce during long photo safaris in the evenings, which is no different with most other smartphones. In an emergency, the included 90-watt power supply pumps an empty battery back up in around 50 minutes. The device can be charged inductively with up to 80 watts.

    These are all strong values, but they don't make the Xiaomi 14 Ultra unique. The quadruple camera on the back is supposed to make the decisive difference to other Android machines – and it largely does.

    Excellent cameras

    ... fifty-fold magnification, ... ... fifty-fold magnification, ...

    … fifty-fold magnification, …

    (Photo: kwe)

    The 50 MP main camera with optical stabilization (OIS) has a continuously adjustable aperture f/1.63 – f/4.0. In addition to a 75 mm telephoto camera (OIS/50 MP), the 14 Ultra also has a 120 mm camera (OIS) with a periscope lens that optically magnifies five times. It has an aperture of f/2.5 and also has a resolution of up to 50 MP. There is also a 14 mm ultra-wide-angle camera with an aperture of f/1.8. It also has a resolution of up to 50 MP, but does not offer optical stabilization.

    In automatic mode, the smartphone combines four pixels for better light output, resulting in 12.5 MP images. But even without the highest resolution, the images from the main camera are particularly impressive with their many details. The images are excellently lit and show strong contrasts. The camera also does a great job at night.

    ... macro "authentic" and "lively". ... macro "authentic" and "lively".

    … macro “authentic” and “lively”.

    (Photo: kwe)

    The videos don't disappoint either, their quality is very good. When rotating, the camera reacts quickly to changing lighting conditions and focuses quickly. If you want, you can take 8K recordings at up to 60 frames per second (fps); at 8K it is 30 fps. There is a special cinema mode, automatic focus change and videos in Dolby Vision are possible.

    The ultra-wide-angle camera also delivers very good images; the low distortion on the sides is worth highlighting. It also delivers beautiful macro shots.

    The Xiaomi 14 Ultra with the Photography Kit installed. The Xiaomi 14 Ultra with the Photography Kit installed.

    The Xiaomi 14 Ultra with the Photography Kit installed.

    (Photo: kwe)

    The Xiaomi 14 Ultra's telephoto cameras outshine those of most competitors. The photos have a lot of detail up to five times magnification, and the quality is high even up to ten times zoom. At 50x magnification the sharpness decreases significantly, but the results are still impressive.

    The cameras generally reproduce colors very naturally. However, in the app you generally always have the choice between “vivid” and “authentic” images with slightly less bright colors. This is sold as a Leica special, but it's not really exceptional.

    Practical photography kit

    The photography kit, which is optionally available for 200 euros, is actually exceptional. This is a set that includes a case and a handle with an additional battery (1400 mAh), two-stage shutter release, zoom lever, a customizable button for video recording and a custom control dial. There is also a pretty copper-colored lens ring and an adapter for filters. A strap is also included.

    In practical testing, the kit proved to be practical and helpful. This makes the smartphone actually feel like a high-quality compact camera. The zoom lever makes the work much easier. But the adjustment wheel is particularly useful because, like with “real” cameras, you can use it to quickly change the aperture or exposure. However, the price of 200 euros is quite steep.

    Conclusion

    In general, the high price is the only real weakness of the Xiaomi 14 Ultra. It is an excellent smartphone with an excellent quadruple camera, and it is sold online at just under 1,300 euros, significantly cheaper than the recommended retail price. The Google Pixel 8 Pro, which you can currently get for around 1000 euros, is no worse. The same applies to the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, which is available for less than 1200 euros. And both competitors offer seven years of updates, while Xiaomi only keeps the 14 Ultra up to date for five years.

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