Apple Should Steal These Xiaomi 14 Ultra Features for the Next iPhone

Mike Powers

The Chinese company Xiaomi had a lot going on at its Mobile World Congress booth in Barcelona. There was the Xiaomi SU7 electric car, there were smartwatches galore, and there was even a pack of robot dogs doing backflips in sync. But it was the new Xiaomi 14 Ultra phone that truly caught my eye. (OK, the robot dogs were a close second.)

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra, which had previously launched in China prior to MWC, has a list of features that reads like a short fantasy novel written by a phone enthusiast, especially for creative types like photographers. It supports 80-watt wireless charging. The main camera has a large, 1-inch image sensor (which is closer to 0.6 inches diagonally). The wide-angle lens on the main camera has a variable aperture to make it more versatile in a wider range of environments.

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The more I learned about the device, the more I longed to see some of those features end up on the next iPhone, aka the rumored iPhone 16. Apple has probably already locked in the iPhone 16’s design and hardware features, but that doesn’t mean we can’t muse about how nice it would be to see some of the Xiaomi 14 Ultra’s features built in to it.

An iPhone 16 Ultra with two telephoto cameras

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra's camera bump The Xiaomi 14 Ultra's camera bump

This is the camera bump on the Xiaomi 14 Ultra.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

At first glance, I couldn’t help but notice the giant circular camera bump on the back of the Xiaomi 14 Ultra. It looks a little like a bejeweled hockey puck that was cut in half. In this Devil’s Tower-like extension are four cameras: a wide and an ultrawide, and two telephotos.

One of the telephoto cameras has a full-frame equivalent length of 75mm (3.2x) and the other 120mm (5x). Xiaomi isn’t the first phone company to double up on zooming this way, Samsung’s Galaxy S24 Ultra has separate 3x and 5x telephoto lenses, and like the Xiaomi 14 Ultra, Samsung’s top-of-the-line phone also has four rear cameras. In fact, the S24 Ultra’s 3x lens outperformed the iPhone 15 Pro Max in our camera comparison test.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max has a single 5x telephoto camera, so for 3x photos it relies on digital zoom. Photos taken at that magnification don’t look bad, but the ones from the S24 Ultra’s 3x camera look better.

I’d like to see Apple add a second, shorter telephoto camera like Xiaomi and Samsung have on their phones. Imagine an iPhone 16 Ultra that combines the iPhone 15 Pro’s 3x telephoto camera and the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s 5x camera into one phone!

Forget MagSafe, I want 80-watt wireless charging

Xiaomi 14 Ultra Xiaomi 14 Ultra

Here’s an exploded view of the Xiaomi 14 Ultra.


Apple debuted MagSafe charging on the iPhone 12 series in 2020 with the goal of making wireless charging more efficient. But In 2024, MagSafe wireless charging tops out at 15 watts. In fact, the Wireless Consortium adopted a version of MagSafe charging for its Qi2 standard for Android phones that also hits 15 watts.

Compare that against the Xiaomi 14 Pro, which supports up to 80-watt wireless charging. That’s over three times faster than the iPhone 15’s peak wired charging speed of 27 watts.

While I do enjoy magnetic accessories that seamlessly connect to MagSafe-equipped iPhones, like Peak Design’s mobile wallet and TwelveSouth’s HiRise 3 Deluxe charging stand (I’m all about that StandBy mode life), I think I’d prefer to recharge my iPhone’s battery drastically faster instead.

Actually, scratch that, I’d like both. Magnets for accessories and 80-watt wireless charging.

But the potential downside is that 80-watt charging may be more taxing on the battery over the long term than the iPhone’s mere 15-watt wireless charging. Apple’s upcoming release of iOS 17.4 includes iPhone 15 battery health improvements. And as much as I want 80-watt wireless charging, I wouldn’t want it at the expense of degrading my phone’s battery health even faster.

What I’d prefer instead is 50-watt wireless charging for the iPhone via MagSafe. That’s still plenty fast, and I could still use the MagSafe accessories I’ve grown accustomed to at home and in the office, from snap-on cases to convenient charging stands. Even better, I’d love for Apple to add more custom battery controls with iOS 18, like pass-through charging (powers your phone without charging the battery), max recharge limits and a slow-charging option for those times when I’m not in a hurry.

Apple needs a photography kit for the iPhone

Xiaomi 14 Ultra Photography Kit Xiaomi 14 Ultra Photography Kit

Xiaomi’s founder and CEO, Lei Jun, posted this picture of the Xiaomi 14 Ultra’s Photography Kit in black to X.

Lei Jun/Xiaomi

Xiaomi made an optional accessory for the 14 Ultra: the Xiaomi 14 Ultra Photography Kit. It mounts on the 14 Ultra to provide you with more-nuanced camera controls, with physical buttons. The grip has 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 1,500-mAh battery bank. Again with the charging, Xiaomi — we get it!

Why isn’t Apple making one of these for the iPhone? I know there are many third-party accessories made for the iPhone, but remember when Apple would take as much pride in an accessory as it did in its actual product? And no, I’m not talking about FineWoven iPhone cases.

Remember the iPod Hi-Fi speaker dock? It cost $349 in 2007 and was a portable speaker with a 30-pin dock on top for your iPod — or original iPhone if you were so lucky. Was it the best speaker dock? Nope. Did I want one? Yep. There was something unique and appealing about it, despite its high price.

What if Apple made a photography kit for the iPhone? A camera accessory made for the iPhone by Apple would be the ultimate addition to its Shot on iPhone short films, event videos, and ad campaigns.

Imagine what an Apple-made attachable camera grip would look like. It would, of course, be aluminum and could take advantage of MagSafe to make it fit extra securely. It could even have a USB-C connector that charges and interacts with the Camera app. There would be an ultra wideband chip in it so you could locate it with your Find My app.

And if Apple truly wanted to take its accessory to the next level of exclusivity, the grip would unlock a secret pro version of the Camera app designed to work with the manual buttons and levers on the grip. Finally, we could have manual focus controls, adjustments to shutter speed, ISO and white balance without needing a third-party app or subscription!

Of course, all this is nothing more than the fantasy of a phone reviewer. And while I hope to actually try out the Xiaomi 14 Ultra (and its photography kit) one day, I equally hope that Apple will adopt some of its best features. Well, that and what if Apple made robot dogs?

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