Xiaomi 14 Ultra Reviews: User & Mi Fans’ Take

Image Source: Provided by the company

After Lu Weibing, President of Xiaomi Group, took over as General Manager of the Xiaomi brand, the debut of Xiaomi 14 Ultra and the “People-Car-Home Full Ecology” press conference was held at the Xiaomi Technology Park on the evening of February 22. During the event, Lu Weibing and Xu Fei, Vice President of Xiaomi China, jointly explained the Xiaomi 14 Ultra series products. Lu Weibing summarized the key points of the two-and-a-half-hour event with the words “optical, computational photography, and sense of dimension,” and the Xiaomi 14 Ultra series products start at a price of 6499 yuan.

The term “computational photography” refers to Xiaomi’s first AI large-model computational photography platform, “Xiaomi AISP,” which was a key part of the presentation at this event. The optical part mainly refers to the use of Leica’s Summilux lens. Not only Xiaomi, but mobile imaging is also a battleground for all smartphone manufacturers in the high-end field, with coil configuration and algorithm competition being common strategies.

According to Xiaomi, the Xiaomi Imaging Brain of Xiaomi 14 Ultra will be upgraded to the first AI large-model computational photography platform, Xiaomi AISP. By fully integrating CPU, GPU, NPU, and ISP computing power, this platform can achieve computing power of up to 60 TOPS, providing “super snapshot” and “super film” functions. Additionally, it can achieve all-algorithm, high image quality, and continuous shooting of 150 frames.

Current AI is only functional and has not yet become a selling point for smartphones

Since the beginning of the year 2024, AI has already become a common topic at major smartphone manufacturers’ events. Recently, OPPO announced its entry into the AI smartphone era, while Meizu directly announced the cessation of traditional smartphone projects and a shift “All in AI.” However, during visits to offline stores of these brands by reporters from Lanjing Finance, it was found that frontline salespersons and consumers did not strongly perceive the significance of AI, and Xiaomi’s offline store salespersons did not use AI as a focal point in their explanations.

Regarding the empowering of AI in the field of imaging for the Xiaomi 14 Ultra series, reporters from Lanjing Finance also interviewed some Xiaomi fans (Mi fans) at the event venue. Most of them have been Xiaomi fans for over a decade, coming specifically to attend this event from Anhui, Jiangxi, Hebei, and other places.

“From my perspective, Xiaomi’s choice of the AI strategy must be correct, but I don’t think AI will be a selling point for a phone. For users, the greatest significance of AI must not lie in optimizing a specific function but in how to activate the entire ecosystem, where imaging is just one aspect,” Mi fan Li Ling told a reporter from Lanjing Finance.

“In the future, phones will definitely function as an interconnected operating system terminal. Currently, AI is just a performance scheduler, for example, AI photography and AI voice assistants,” another Mi fan, Li Yang, added.

When asked whether AI functionality would become the main factor influencing the purchase of a phone, veteran Mi fan Ye Yang’s opinion was, “Not necessarily. The development of AI must progress from being functional, good to use, and finally, easy to use. Currently, it’s just functional, and it will depend on what features manufacturers aim to achieve with AI in the future. It’s just a budding stage now, but I am very optimistic about the future development trends.”

Will Lu Weibing be able to uphold Xiaomi’s smartphone high-end strategy?

In 2024, Xiaomi has two important tasks ahead: to continue advancing its high-end strategy and to launch its first car, the SU7. Considering the overall strategic perspective of Xiaomi Group, Lei Jun, the founder, Chairman, and CEO of Xiaomi Group, chose to focus his energy on the automotive business, while Lu Weibing took over the smartphone business.

In the general perception of everyone, Xiaomi’s success is closely related to Lei Jun personally. Some voices have questioned whether Lu Weibing’s takeover will affect the market performance of Xiaomi smartphones. Random interviews with some Mi fans at the event venue by reporters from Lanjing Finance revealed that their shared opinion is that Lei Jun’s personal charisma is a plus but not a deciding factor. In the consumers’ minds, product quality always takes precedence, so this shift in leadership is not expected to impact consumer purchase desire.

Another experienced Mi fan, Wang Rui, told reporters from Lanjing Finance, “In fact, I believe that Mr. Lu will lead Xiaomi smartphones to a new height. The market response to the Redmi series products demonstrates that Mr. Lu has unique capabilities in brand marketing and supply chain integration and is also the fastest-promoted executive within Xiaomi. Xiaomi has its own group strategy, and I don’t think this adjustment will affect Xiaomi’s smartphone sales.”

Since Xiaomi announced its full commitment to entering the high-end market in 2020, it has also experienced many setbacks and challenges in trying to rid itself of the “value for money” label. With the release of the Xiaomi 14 series products, Xiaomi’s high-end smartphone strategy is beginning to show initial success.

At the beginning of the event, Lu Weibing stated, “The first sales volume of the Xiaomi 14 series is 7.8 times that of the previous Xiaomi 13 series, and in the first month of sales, Xiaomi gained a 38% market share in the 4000-6000 yuan price range.” According to predicted data from Counterpoint Research, Xiaomi’s share in the global high-end smartphone market (≧$600) increased slightly from 1% to 2% by 2023.

Corresponding production capacity upgrades are also required for high-end strategies. On February 18, the Xiaomi Intelligent Factory in Changping, Beijing officially started operations. This factory is Xiaomi’s first self-built and self-operated factory focused primarily on producing high-end flagship smartphones and achieving scaled mass production delivery, with an annual capacity exceeding ten million units.

For Xiaomi, a new chapter is unfolding.

(All Mi fans mentioned in the article are given aliases)

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