The never-ending battle for king of the flagship Android smartphones has heated up again, with Xiaomi using the mammoth Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to officially launch its two new handsets, the flagship Xiaomi 14 Ultra and the more mainstream Xiaomi 14.

With an impressive specification sheet, including a Leica Summilux-branded four camera array and stepless variable aperture for the first time in a handset with a one-inch sensor, the Xiaomi 14 Ultra already looks like a contender for one of this year’s best smartphones for photographers.

Xiaomi 14 Plus Ultra in hand
Deputy Editor Geoff Harris at the press launch for the Xiaomi 14 Ultra and 14 handsets

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra: key details

Available in white or black, complete with natty vegan leather finish, this flagship camera looks like it means business straight from the box. While the very circular rear camera set-up might not be to everyone’s taste, the phone is certainly eye-catching.

Xiaomi 14 Ultra black
With its vegan leather livery, this phone certainly makes a statement

The main camera features a 50Mp Sony LYT-900 1-inch sensor – noteworthy, as phones with a one-inch chip are still relatively rare in the UK, and Xiaomi claims this enables a dynamic range of up to 14EV. In addition, 50Mp Sony IMX858 sensors are used across the other cameras.

Xiaomi 14 Ultra one-inch sensor
The LYT-900 one-inch sensor. Image credit: Xiaomi

The four camera array is as follows

f/1.63 main, 23mm, 1x optical zoom, optical image stabilisation
f/1.8 ultra wide, 12mm, 0.5x optical zoom, OIS
f/1.8 floating telephoto, 75mm, 3.2x optical zoom, OIS
f/2.5 periscope telephoto, 120mm, 5x optical zoom, OIS

Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed that Xiaomi has teamed up with Leica to offer Summilux-branded lenses. The relationship between the two companies appears stronger than ever, with Leica CEO Matthias Hersch appearing onstage with Xiaomi executives at the official press launch in Barcelona earlier today.

Xiaomi 14 Ultra Stepless Aperture
The new stepless aperture feature in more detail

Another headline feature is stepless variable aperture (f/1.6 to f/4) on the main camera, driven by a 12-bit motor. This is the first time this feature has appeared on a smartphone with a one-inch sensor, so it’s something of a coup for Xiaomi. As well as being handy for everyday shooting, In Pro mode it enables users to lock ISO and shutter speed, offering manual adjustment in 0.01 stop increments.

Also new is AI-driven ‘Smart Composition,’ which automatically crops the frame to ensure the subject remains prominently positioned for easier vlogging and solo video creation. Via AI – or computational photography, to be more specific – a 30x ultra zoom feature is also available.

Returning to video, the Xiaomi 14 Ultra supports 8K 30fps shooting support on all four cameras. The main camera supports shooting at 4K 120fps and is adaptable to 5x slow-motion effects.

Additionally, at 4K resolution, it offers full-range zooming at 60fps. The device also supports Dolby Vision shooting at 4K 60fps and features stabilisation for smooth video capture. An additional microphone has been added to form a 4-Mic array, enabling both surround sound recording and directional sound recording.

Furthermore, a new Movie mode introduces a 2.39:1 aspect ratio and 180° shutter rule, for example, giving your videos a more pro cinematic look.

Xiaomi 14 Ultra in white
Any colour you like so long it’s black or white

Xiaomi 14 Ultra pricing details

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra goes onsale globally from February 25th for £1299 in one storage variant (512GB).

If you buy the handset between between February 25th and March 18th, you get a free Photography Kit and £300 to spend on other Xiaomi products.

The Photography Kit is essentially a stylish battery grip; there’s 23% extra juice from the 1500mAh battery, which enables, for example, 40 minutes extra 4k 60fs video shooting, as well as a 67mm filter adaptor, zoom lever and custom dial for exposure adjustment.

Other goodies include five years of security patches and 100GB of Google One storage for six months, along with three months of access to YouTube Premium.

Xiaomi 14 in green
With the lower-specced Xiaomi 14 you get the choice of green, which looks great, or black

The Xiaomi 14: key details

This is presented as a ‘daily’ handset but still offers a decent spec sheet for photographers. The design is attractively minimalist and compact, with a six-inch display.

The three camera array is as follows

f/1.6 main, 23mm main, 2x optical zoom, OIS
f/2 floating telephoto, 75mm, 3.2x optical zoom, OIS
f/2.2 ultra-wide, 14mm, 0.6x zoom, OIS

Geoff Harris with Xiaomi 14
The XIaomi 14 is a neat, decently specced everyday phone that feels very nice to use

The floating telephoto zoom is effective for close-focusing. About 10cm from the subject, the lens array automatically shifts back toward the sensor to enable you to get more intimate with your subjects. As with the 14 Ultra, a 50Mp high resolution mode is also available across all cameras.

The sensor, meanwhile, is a 1.31-inch Light Fusion 900 sensor developed in-house. It supports 16-bit raw shooting and 8k video recording with 10-bit Log.

While a competent enough smartphone, the Xiaomi 14 does not appear to be particularly ground-breaking, with the excellent OnePlus 12 featuring Hasselblad imaging and other attractions available at a similar price.

Xiaomi 14: pricing details

The Xiaomi 14 with 256GB storage will go on sale for £849.
Customers who purchase between 25th February and 31st of March will receive a free Xiaomi Pad 6 and Xiaomi Band 8 Pro.
The Xiaomi 14 with 512GB of storage will go on sale for £899.
Those who purchase between 25th February 2024 and 31st of March 2024 will receive a free Xiaomi Pad 6.

From Xiaomi, February 25th

Xiaomi 14 Ultra: Professional Imagery Flagship, Unmatched Performance, and Innovative Design

Drawing inspiration from traditional camera aesthetics, Xiaomi 14 Ultra showcases a distinctive circular camera module with streamlined flat back design and is available in two classic colors, Black and White, in its international markets.

Xiaomi 14 Ultra is engineered around the robust Xiaomi Guardian Structure, comprised of high-strength aluminum frame, Xiaomi nano-tech vegan leather, and Xiaomi Shield Glass.

Crafted from a single aluminum block, Xiaomi 14 Ultra offers a remarkable 1.38x improved frame strength. Xiaomi nano-tech vegan leather features a newly developed formula, resulting in a thinner and lighter finish with 6x improved wear resistance.1 Utilizing Xiaomi Shield Glass, the innovative All Around Liquid Display of Xiaomi 14 Ultra redefines display by achieving consistent curvature on all sides and corners, seamlessly blending the visual appeal of a flat screen with the tactile feedback of a curved edge.

Enjoy an immersive visual experience with Xiaomi-custom C8 WQHD+ 6.73″ AMOLED display, additionally featuring a stunning WQHD+ (3200 x 1440) resolution, pixel density of 522 ppi, and variable 1-120Hz refresh rate, all backed by an impressive peak brightness of 3000 nits.

Xiaomi 14 Ultra is equipped with a professional quad-camera configuration with a remarkable range of focal lengths, spanning from 12mm to 120mm. Its main camera, equipped with a ƒ/1.63-ƒ/4.0 stepless variable aperture, offers seamless exposure adjustments in diverse scenarios. Integrating an ultra-large 1-inch LYT-900 image sensor with a dynamic range of up to 14EV guarantees outstanding image quality even in challenging environments.

Completing the quad-camera setup are the Leica 75mm floating telephoto camera, the Leica 120mm periscope camera, and the Leica 12mm ultra-wide camera.

Xiaomi 14 Ultra leads the mobile imaging realm with 8K 30fps shooting support on all four cameras. With Leica optics and a 50MP sensor, it captures unparalleled clarity in 8K videos, facilitating professional post-production edits. Its main camera supports shooting at 4K 120fps and is adaptable to 5x slow-motion effects.

Additionally, at 4K resolution, it offers full-range zooming at 60fps. The device also supports Dolby Vision®️ shooting at 4K 60fps and features stabilization for smooth video capture. An additional microphone has been added to form a 4-Mic array, enabling both surround sound recording and directional sound recording.

To enable a professional videography experience, the new Movie mode introduces cinematic industry practices like a 2.39:1 aspect ratio and 180° shutter rule, delivering videos with an authentic cinematic look and motion blur.

The all-new MasterCinema encodes HDR videos in 10-bit Rec.2020 to capture richer details, highlights and shadows, surpassing the previous 8-bit BT.709 standard, especially on HDR screens. Director mode offers professional-grade interface with advanced parameter controls and Log format recording for flexible post-production. Xiaomi 14 Ultra can be integrated with other Xiaomi devices as external monitors for an immersive production experience, including the new Xiaomi Pad 6S Pro 12.4.

Introduced alongside the Xiaomi 14 Ultra, Xiaomi 14 Ultra Photography Kit is designed for photography and videography enthusiasts, offering extended features in a dedicated grip and case. It includes a two-stage shutter button, a zoom lever, a customizable video recording button, and an additional custom dial. It also functions as an external charging battery bank, providing 1500mAh of battery life. This accessory is available for separate purchase.

Xiaomi 14: Compact Size, Leading Imagery, with Uncompromising Experience

Designed as a compact daily companion, Xiaomi 14 measures just 152.8mm x 71.5mm x 8.20mm. Its gently curved back panel ensures a comfortable and secure grip, allowing for extended periods of use. A minimalist aesthetic is achieved by relocating the speaker to the display and the infrared port to the camera deco, offering a clean look on the top and side frames. The ultra-thin bezel design utilizes advanced FIAA technology to integrate panel circuits within the display, resulting in a slim 1.71mm bottom bezel for an immersive viewing experience.

Xiaomi 14 features a comprehensive triple-camera configuration, providing a well-rounded photography experience, covering an extensive focal range from 14mm to 75mm. Xiaomi 14 has been engineered with Leica Summilux optical lenses with an upgraded ƒ/1.6 aperture on the main camera, combined with the Light Fusion 900 image sensor and boasting up to 13.5 EV of dynamic range. Moreover, the resolution of the Leica 14mm ultra-wide camera has been upgraded to 50MP while also offering the highly acclaimed Leica 75mm floating telephoto lens, with a minimum focus distance of just 10cm.

In terms of display, Xiaomi 14 features a striking 6.36-inch CrystalRes AMOLED 1.5K (2670 x 1200) screen. The screen pixel density has been enhanced to 460ppi, delivering more details than ever. With an outstanding peak brightness of 3000 nits, colors are vibrant, and visuals remain clear even under direct sunlight. Additionally, its variable refresh rate, ranging from 1 to 120Hz, guarantees smooth and seamless viewing experience across various activities, including browsing, reading, and gaming.

Further reading
Xiaomi 14 / 14 Pro Series announced with Leica
iPhone vs Android: Which is better for photography?