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Xiaomi 14 Ultra

Xiaomi achieves their coolest smartphone to date - it's that simple.

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The Android market has become a bit inflated. It's certainly not because phones are getting worse - quite the opposite. In fact, the conditions for consumers are pretty fantastic, as there's a wide range of price points, but even the more aggressively priced models perform brilliantly.

But where does that leave the flagships? After all, the same increasingly homogenous specifications are offered, a 120Hz OLED panel, a 5000mAh+ battery, three or more camera lenses with optical zoom and the latest Android version, of course.

However, Xiaomi has still garnered quite a lot of attention with their Ultra line, even in a crowded market, because they go the extra mile with the Spinal Tap amplifier and present a striking design almost every time.

Xiaomi 14 Ultra

This is also the case with the latest Xiaomi 14 Ultra, launched globally for the first time, which directly challenges the most expensive, best smartphones on the market. If you're a regular Android user, this is a special moment, because even though the real innovation comes in the form of a special Leica accessory that we didn't have access to, the 14 Ultra is a fabulous smartphone in almost every way.

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Okay, let's get the boring stuff out of the way. Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, 16GB LPDRR5X RAM, 512GB UFS 4.0 space, 5000mAh battery with 90W wired charging and up to 80W wireless charging (with the right charger of course), reverse wireless charging, Dolby Atmos stereo speakers, 120Hz 6.73" AMOLED display with LTPO technology peaking at 3000 NITS and TÜV Rheinland certified, WI-FI 7, Bluetooth 5.4, dual-SIM, IP68 certified.

Boom.

You might find it slightly annoying that I'm skipping what are considered the most important aspects of the user experience so easily and elegantly. But then again, it's something you can now afford to expect, instead of it being considered a special bonus. Perhaps the most important thing is that the Xiaomi 14 Ultra has a market-leading display with the expected features, a rock-solid charging speed and the correct certifications - neat.

It also looks as expected. Like Oppo flagships, it's a bit of a beast, but thanks to slim sides, it's ergonomic and weighs only 219 grams. On the back, Xiaomi has thankfully chosen to stand out a bit by shipping a vegan leather back as standard. I've long begged industry giants to experiment with materials other than glass, and leather, or something similar, just feels so much better.

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Xiaomi's version of Android 14 is downright comfortable to use, and it's also completely unlocked here, which means you can easily install your own launcher if this look isn't what you're looking for.

Okay, on to the camera, which is the phone's entire raison d'être. Firstly, it might be worth mentioning that Xiaomi hasn't sent us the immensely popular "Ultra Photography Kit", which consists of a Leica-designed cover that also adds a camera grip on one side. This extra kit transforms your phone into a real camera, giving you granular control over every shot. Seriously, check it out:

Xiaomi 14 Ultra

But even without this kit, there are many who say that Xiaomi is giving us perhaps the best smartphone camera ever. In the end, I think individual snapshots, or stills, are individual things, and it's more and more about whether you like the attitude of each camera system. What I will say, however, is that Xiaomi delivers one of the most versatile and exciting systems you can get on the market today.

The central lens is a 23-millimetre Leica "1-inch" sensor with optical stabilisation. It's joined by a 75 millimetre Leica Floating telephoto lens, which works in conjunction with a 120 millimetre periscope lens at 5x optical zoom and finally a 12mm ultra-wide at 50 megapixels and an FOV of 122 degrees. This is all really, really good news. No, there's no 10x optical zoom here, which would have been awesome, but together you really do get the whole package. A wide FOV, great portrait shots and a depth of field you'll hardly find anywhere else. And even better? Leica delivers the attitude here, because in addition to just taking pictures, you can take advantage of special image tuning from Leica: Authentic Look and Vibrant Look. In addition, there are special colour filters, also from Leica, that can give each image a huge amount of character.

It all oozes uniqueness, but it's all optional and thanks to Variable Apeture, the main lens can manipulate its aperture to capture unique moments in a variety of lighting conditions.

The result is a smartphone that really impresses on virtually every parameter, and it's without a doubt one of the best I've tried in the last couple of years. It's also expensive. Right now you're looking at something like £,300 for an unlocked version, which is a little less than the brand new Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, but still £300 more expensive than a Google Pixel 8 Pro. So is it better? Well, it's hard to say, but one thing's for sure; Xiaomi delivers their most powerful and confident phone to date.

09 Gamereactor UK
9 / 10
overall score
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