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Xiaomi 14 Ultra combines a 1-inch camera sensor with four AI imaging models

It also supports two-way satellite calling and texting.

Xiaomi

Xiaomi just couldn't wait until MWC to unveil its latest Leica-endorsed flagship phone. Following the 12S Ultra and 13 Ultra, Xiaomi is finally catching up with the competition by picking up Sony's second-gen 1-inch mobile camera sensor, the LYT-900, for its brand new 14 Ultra flagship phone. This marks the second device to don this crème de la crème of imaging silicons, after Oppo's Hasselblad-tuned Find X7 Ultra from early January. That said, the Xiaomi 14 Ultra does have a slight edge with its faster main variable aperture at up to f/1.63, beating the Find X7 Ultra's f/1.8 — on paper, at least.

With the exception of the faster f/2.5 aperture on the new 120mm periscope shooter, the remaining three Summilux rear cameras are almost identical to the previous set, and they are still powered by a Sony IMX858 sensor each. The biggest change in this field is the new Xiaomi AISP neural chip, which claims to be the world's first AI large-model computational platform for photography. This leverages four large models — "FusionLM," "ToneLM," "ColorLM" and "PortraitLM" — to fine-tune results, especially with digital zoom at 30x or more.

Xiaomi 14 Ultra
Xiaomi

The 14 Ultra also packs some surprises in the battery, durability and connectivity categories. As seen in the super-slim Mix Fold 3 and Honor Magic V2, the 14 Ultra is Xiaomi's first candybar to jump onto the silicon carbon cell bandwagon, in order to pack 5,300mAh of juice into a space that's 8 percent smaller. Xiaomi claims that compared to the previous model, you get 17-percent more stamina with this battery upgrade. To replenish the battery, you get both 90W of wired fast charging and 80W of wireless fast charging — these take 12.5 minutes and 20 minutes to reach 50 percent, respectively.

Going along with the "Year of the Dragon" theme, Xiaomi claims that the 14 Ultra's "Dragon Armor" structure has double the bending resistance, thanks to its special "6M42" aluminum alloy mid-frame (supposedly crafted with a better grip as well). The Chinese brand even claims that this part is 8-percent stronger than the iPhone 15 Pro's titanium frame." aluminum alloy mid-frame (supposedly crafted with a better grip as well). The Chinese brand even claims that this part is 8-percent stronger than the iPhone 15 Pro's titanium frame, but it decided to offer a more premium titanium version as well.

Xiaomi 14 Ultra
Xiaomi

This metallic frame is complemented by a "Dragon Crystal" glass — shielding the 6.73-inch AMOLED screen (3,200 x 1,440 120Hz; made by TCL CSOT) — with apparently 10 times more drop resistance. Xiaomi also touts its new vegan leather material, which has been certified by SGS to have six times more wear resistance, has more dirt resistance and is less prone to yellowing due to ultraviolet rays — an important breakthrough particularly for the white version. But if you prefer something shiny, the 14 Ultra is also available in a blue "Dragon Crystal" ceramic flavor, which resembles ceramic but isn't as heavy — it only weighs 5 grams more than its vegan leather counterpart. Regardless of the cover material, this device has IP68 rating for dust and water resistance.

Much like the 14 and 14 Pro from October (and the SU7 electric sedan's in-car entertainment system), the 14 Ultra runs on Xiaomi's Android-based HyperOS, and it's powered by Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor. This is cooled by a dual-loop vapor chamber, which also sucks heat out of the camera modules. The processor is backed by Xiaomi's new proprietary chip, the Surge T1, which apparently boosts cellular connectivity by up to 37 percent, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections by up to 16 percent.

Xiaomi 14 Ultra
Xiaomi

This device also supports two-way satellite calling and texting, now with 60-percent faster satellite locking and 29-percent faster satellite connection. As a bonus, when you're lost, you can send your location data along with vital signs from your wearable device — presumably exclusive to one of the latest Xiaomi watches or smart bands. Sadly, these satellite features are likely limited to China for now.

We'll likely be hearing about the Xiaomi 14 Ultra's global launch at MWC next week, but for now, we can refer to the Chinese pre-order pricing. The vegan leather and ceramic variants all start from 6,499 yuan (about $900) for the 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage configuration, and max out at 7,799 yuan ($1,080) with 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. These will be available for retail from February 27. The titanium version with dark gray vegan leather is based on the top configuration but costs an extra 1,000 yuan ($140), and it won't be available until March 12.

Xiaomi 14 Ultra Titanium Edition
Xiaomi

Likes its predecessor, the 14 Ultra has an optional photography kit with a shutter button grip that adds an extra 1,500mAh of power. The upgrade this time is the new video recording button, along with a customizable jog dial. You can get this accessory for 699 yuan ($100) as a bundle with the phone.