Step Aside iPhone 15 Pro Max - Meet the Android Phone with an Exceptional Camera

It’s fair to say that when we’re talking about the best phones on the market, the camera plays a big part. For many, it’s the only camera they own, so it has to be adept at covering all kinds of photo and video needs. At the top of the smartphone pile, we see devices like the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Both of those pack in really top notch camera systems, though it’s the iPhone which just about takes the prize.

Well, that is until now. At Mobile World Congress, Xiaomi unveiled their latest Xiaomi 14 series. At the top of that pile is the Xiaomi 14 Ultra – a massively capable handset with a truly awe inspiring camera.

Seemingly not content with just having one of the most prestigious camera brands in the world on side, the 14 Ultra also packs in a quartet of sensors. That includes a one-inch main sensor, a periscope telephoto and a floating telephoto, for a real who’s who of camera technology buzzwords.

It’s not just for show, though. The combination of the Leica magic and the stellar hardware results in some truly staggering images. Everything looks more cinematic and generally lovely.

What makes this extra special is the sheer range of focal lengths on offer. So much was made of the iPhone 15 Pro Max at launch, with that camera packing in some seriously cool camera tech. And while I’m not going to sit here and make direct comparisons between spec sheets, Xiaomi is certainly not giving Apple any room to breathe.

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra with Photography Kit at MWC Barcelona 2024

Xiaomi 14 Ultra Photography Kit

The raw specs of the Xiaomi 14 Ultra are impressive enough, but the optional Photography Kit sends it to another level. This includes a regular case with a leather back and a filter ring around the camera module. That means users can pop their favourite ND, Polariser or other filter onto the camera, for a more professional result.

That’s all paired with a camera grip. This piece slips over the case at the bottom, attaching to the USB-C port. You’ll then gain a two-stage shutter button – half-press to focus, full press to shoot – as well as a configurable dial and a dedicated movie recording button.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, the grip also packs in a 1,500mAh battery. That provides some additional juice for photographers on the go, making it easier to spend a full day shooting without having to dash for a charger.

But why am I this excited about it? Well, almost a year ago to the day, I tried out the Xiaomi 12S Ultra Concept. That was shown off at MWC last year, and was a really unique way of improving the photography on a phone.

While that never looked likely to hit the market in a larger way, this feels like a solid part two. Sure, you can’t pop your own lens on there, but some top tier sensors paired with the ability to add other accessories like filters is a good alternative.

It also adds the one thing which I was really looking for when I tested that concept device – a grip. See, all of that glass on the back of a really lightweight phone made it pretty unwieldy. Adding that grip makes it much easier to handle without fear of it falling.

With the device set to hit the market around mid-March, we shouldn’t have long to wait before we can get a closer look.