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Apple should steal these features from the Xiaomi 14 Ultra for the next iPhone

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The Chinese company Xiaomi had a lot of things going for it Mobile World Congress stand in Barcelona. There was the Xiaomi SU7 electric carthere was smart watches galoreand there was even a pack of robot dogs doing backflips in synchronization. But it was the new Xiaomi 14 Ultra phone that really caught my attention. (OK, the robot dogs were close behind.)

The Xiaomi 14 Ultra, which had already launched in China before MWC, has a feature list 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 main camera’s wide-angle lens 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 wanted to see some of these features make their way to the next iPhone, aka the iPhone 16 rumor. Apple has probably already locked down the design and hardware features of the iPhone 16, but that doesn’t mean we can’t imagine how nice it would be to see some of the Xiaomi 14 Ultra’s features integrated.

An iPhone 16 Ultra with two telephoto lenses

The camera bump of the Xiaomi 14 Ultra

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 bit like a bejeweled hockey puck cut in half. In this extension similar to Devil’s Tower there are four cameras: a wide-angle and an ultra-wide, as well as two telephoto lenses.

One of the telephoto lenses has a full-frame equivalent length of 75mm (3.2x) and the other 120mm (5x). Xiaomi isn’t the first phone company to double zoom in this way, Samsung’s Galaxy S24 Ultra features separate 3x and 5x telephoto lenses, and like the Xiaomi 14 Ultra, Samsung’s high-end 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 lens, so for 3x photos it relies on digital zoom. Photos taken at this magnification don’t look bad, but those from the S24 Ultra’s 3x camera look better.

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

Forget MagSafe, I want 80-watt wireless charging

Xiaomi 14 Ultra

Here is an exploded view of the Xiaomi 14 Ultra.

Xiaomi

Apple debuted MagSafe Charging on the iPhone 12 series in 2020 with the aim of making wireless charging more efficient. But in 2024, MagSafe wireless charging caps at 15 watts. In fact, the Wireless Consortium has adopted a MagSafe charging version for its Qi2 standard for Android phones which also reaches 15 watts.

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

Although I appreciate magnetic accessories that connect seamlessly to MagSafe-equipped iPhones, like Peak Design’s mobile wallet And TwelveSouth HiRise 3 Deluxe Charging Stand (I’m all about that Standby life), I think I would rather charge my iPhone battery much faster.

Actually, forget it, I’d like both. Accessory magnets and 80-watt wireless charging.

But the potential downside is that 80-watt charging may be more demanding on the battery in the long run than the iPhone’s simple 15-watt wireless charging. Apple’s next version 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 would prefer is 50-watt wireless charging for the iPhone via MagSafe. It’s still very fast and I could still use the MagSafe accessories I’ve become accustomed to at home and in the office, from from snap-on cases to convenient charging stands. Better yet, I wish Apple would add more custom battery controls with iOS 18like direct charging (powers your phone without charging the battery), maximum charging limits, and a slow charging option for times when I’m not in a hurry.

Apple needs a photography kit for the iPhone

Xiaomi 14 Ultra Photography Kit

Xiaomi founder and CEO Lei Jun posted this photo of the Xiaomi 14 Ultra photography kit in black at X.

Lei Jun/Xiaomi

Xiaomi has created an optional accessory for the 14 Ultra: the Xiaomi 14 Ultra Photography Kit. It mounts to the 14 Ultra to give you more nuanced camera controls, with physical buttons. The grip features a two-stage shutter release, zoom lever, customizable video record button, and an additional custom dial. It also works as a 1500mAh power bank. Once again with charging, Xiaomi, we understand!

Why doesn’t Apple make one for the iPhone? I know there are many third-party accessories designed for the iPhone, but remember when Apple was as proud of an accessory as its product itself? And no, I’m not talking about FineWoven iPhone Cases.

Remember the Docking station for iPod Hi-Fi speaker? It cost $349 in 2007 and was a portable speaker that had a 30-pin dock for your iPod – or your original iPhone if you were so lucky. Was this the best speaker dock? No. Did I want one? Yeah. There was something unique and appealing about it, despite its high price tag.

What if Apple created a photo kit for iPhone? A camera accessory designed for the iPhone by Apple would be the ultimate complement to its Shot on iPhone short filmsevent videos and advertising campaigns.

Imagine what a detachable camera grip made by Apple would look like. It would of course be made of aluminum and could benefit from MagSafe to make it more secure. It might even have a USB-C connector that charges and interacts with the Camera app. It would contain an ultra-wideband chip so you can locate it with your Find My app.

And if Apple really 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 grip’s manual buttons and levers. Finally, we could have manual focus controls, shutter speed, ISO and white balance adjustments without the need for a third-party app or subscription!

Of course, this is all nothing more than a phone reviewer’s fantasy. And while I hope to test the Xiaomi 14 Ultra (and its camera kit) one day, I also hope Apple adopts some of its best features. Well, what if Apple made robot dogs?

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