Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra Camera review

Powered by Qualcomm’s top-end Snapdragon 865 chipset, the Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra is the Chinese manufacturer’s latest flagship device and was launched on the occasion of the company’s 10-year anniversary. Like its sister device (the Mi 10 Pro that was released earlier this year), the Mi 10 Ultra comes with a quad-camera setup that includes dual-tele cameras and an ultra-wide module. However, there are some important differences in the camera hardware.

The Ultra’s main camera uses a 48MP Quad-Bayer sensor instead of the 108MP version in the Pro. The long tele-lens is stabilized and now comes with a staggering 120mm equivalent focal length versus 94mm on the Pro, and at 1/2-inch versus 1/4.4-inch, the image sensor is considerably larger on the Ultra. Xiaomi has also made improvements to the ultra-wide camera. It offers an optical focal length of 12mm, and even after distortion correction has been applied, we still measured 12.5mm, the widest field of view of all ultra-wide cameras we have seen to date.

With updated hardware and software improvements, can the Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra top the excellent performance of the Mi 10 Pro and head to the very highest spot in our ranking? Read on to find out.

Taking pictures with the Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra

Key camera specifications:

  • Primary: 48MP 1/1.32-inch Quad-Bayer sensor, 25mm-equivalent lens with f/1.85 aperture, PDAF and OIS
  • Telephoto 1: 12MP 1/2.56-inch sensor, 50mm-equivalent (2x optical) lens with f/2 aperture, Dual-Pixel AF
  • Telephoto 2: 48MP 1/2-inch Quad Bayer sensor, 120mm-equivalent (5x optical) lens with f/4.1 aperture, PDAF and OIS
  • Ultra-wide: 20MP 1/2.8-inch sensor, 12mm-equivalent lens with f/2.2 aperture, PDAF
  • Dual-LED flash
  • Multispectral color temperature sensor
  • Video: 8K 4320p at 30fps, 4K 2160p at 30/60fps (2160p/60fps tested)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset

About DXOMARK Camera tests: For scoring and analysis in our smartphone camera reviews, DXOMARK engineers capture and evaluate over 1600 test images and more than 2 hours of video both in controlled lab environments and in natural indoor and outdoor scenes, using the camera’s default settings. This article is designed to highlight the most important results of our testing. For more information about the DXOMARK Camera test protocol, click here. More details on how we score smartphone cameras are available here.

Test summary

130
camera

142
photo

106
video

The Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra achieved a DXOMARK Camera score of 130 in our testing, taking the pole position in our ranking. Its Photo score of 142 is also a new record.

The exceptional Photo score is based on an excellent still image performance across all test areas. The camera gets all the basics right most of the time such as target exposure, color rendering, and white balance, and offers a very wide dynamic range, capturing good detail in both bright and dark areas of the scene. This makes it ideal for shooting in challenging high-contrast conditions.

When shooting in bokeh mode, the Xiaomi uses its 2x tele lens, achieving very natural-looking results.

It’s also a perfect choice for photographers who like as much flexibility as possible in terms of focal range. The Xiaomi’s ultra-wide camera offers the widest field of view we have seen, and at the long end, a 120mm-equivalent tele-lens provides more reach than most competitors. In addition, image quality leaves little to complain about across the entire zoom range, with only some loss of texture and slightly increased noise levels at the widest and longest zoom settings.

Night and low-light photographers will be satisfied with the Mi 10 Ultra, too. Xiaomi has managed a good trade-off between texture and noise in images captured in dim conditions, and the camera is capable of achieving good exposures even in extremely low light. Portrait shots recorded in bokeh mode show the usual slight isolation imperfections around foreground subjects, but the blur effects look quite natural, and bokeh images are overall on a level similar to those from other top-end phones.

The main camera offers excellent exposure and dynamic range as well as pleasant colors with accurate white balance.
The Xiaomi’s ultra-wide camera offers the widest field of view we have seen.

The Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra also moves into the number one position for Video, thanks to an outstanding video score of 106. It’s the first device we have tested that achieves the overall best results at 4K resolution and a frame rate of 60fps. The fast frame rate ensures smooth motion and panning in all situations. Usually using 60fps or even faster frame rates means having to make compromises in other areas, but the Xiaomi is capable of delivering good exposure, nice color, and good detail, even when recording in low light, thanks to its adaptive frame rate control which slows things down to 33fps in dim and/or difficult conditions. The autofocus is fast and consistent, too, and the stabilization system counteracts photographer motion very effectively. Dynamic range could be wider and some highlight clipping can be seen in high-contrast video clips, but overall the Mi 10 Ultra records the best smartphone videos we have seen to date.


Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, outdoor video

Photo scores explained

The Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra achieves a new top mark for Photo at 142 points. The camera achieves new high scores in several categories, with no serious weaknesses observed during our tests. In this section, we take a closer look at how each sub-score was determined and compare image quality against key competitors in a similar price bracket, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, Oppo Find 2X Pro and the Huawei P40 Pro.

Exposure and Contrast

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra

99

Highest Score

The Mi 10 Ultra achieves a new top score for exposure, thanks to a very wide dynamic range and accurate target exposure in all conditions. Good detail is visible in both highlight and shadow areas of the frame, even in challenging high-contrast scenes, and the Xiaomi is capable of recording good exposures even in very low light where many competitors struggle.

In the scene below, all three comparison devices do a good job, achieving accurate target exposure on the subject and maintaining good highlight detail in the brighter background.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, good exposure, wide dynamic range
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, good exposure, wide dynamic range
Huawei P40 Pro, good exposure, wide dynamic range

In this backlit outdoor shot, the Xiaomi captures a slightly better exposure than the comparison devices, which both render the building slightly darker. All three devices capture good detail in the bright parts of the clouds.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, excellent target exposure
Oppo Find X2 Pro, slightly low exposure on buildings
Huawei P40 Pro, slightly low exposure on buildings

Color

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra

91

Highest Score

The Xiaomi is also among the very best in the color category. Color rendering tends to be very pleasant, with nice blue skies and lush greens. This is true for all light levels down to low light, where some other devices lose color fidelity. In addition, the auto white balance system works accurately in pretty much all conditions, avoiding noticeable color casts.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, neutral white balance
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, slight warm cast
Huawei P40 Pro, slight cool cast

The auto white balance system also works well in this outdoor scene. Color balance is again very neutral. In comparison in the Oppo image the sky looks a touch oversaturated. The Huawei’s white balance is similarly neutral to the Xiaomi, only the sky has a slight purple cast.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, neutral white balance
Oppo Find 2X Pro, slightly oversaturated sky
Huawei P40 Pro, slight purple cast

Autofocus

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra

99

100

Huawei P40 Pro

The Mi 10 Ultra autofocus system performs well in pretty much all conditions. It is quick to lock onto the target and consistently delivers sharp images in both our image quality lab and natural scenes. Among all our sample shots we found only a handful of out-of-focus images, most of which were difficult backlit outdoor scenes or taken in very low light, but they were the reason the Xiaomi missed the perfect autofocus score of 100 by one point.

This graph shows the results of our autofocus lab test. The Xiaomi locks on pretty much instantly in low light (20 lux) and delivers good sharpness after both a long and short delay after unfocusing on the test target.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, low light (20 lux) autofocus performance

Texture

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra

81

85

Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro

Noise

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra

80

82

Honor V30 Pro

The Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra delivers a good trade-off between texture/detail and noise, but cannot quite match the very best in this category. The new image sensor’s 12MP output file resolution is slightly more limited than on some competing devices with higher pixel counts, including Xiaomi’s own Mi 10 Pro. The difference can be especially noticeable in low-light scenes.

In bright light the Mi10 Ultra is capable of resolving high levels of detail, though. In this outdoor scene, the difference between it and the Huawei P40 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, which both achieve higher-resolution figures in our lab testing, is fairly marginal. This is also one of the few outdoor examples where the Xiaomi auto white balance system produces a slightly too warm color cast.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, outdoor detail

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, crop, good detail

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, outdoor detail

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, crop, very good detail

Huawei P40 Pro, outdoor detail

Huawei P40 Pro, crop, excellent detail

The difference in texture rendering between the Mi 10 Ultra and P40 Pro is a little more visible in the sample shot below. The Huawei is capable of squeezing a little more detail out of the low-contrast textures in the brickwork of the building in this scene.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, outdoor detail

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, crop, good detail

Huawei P40 Pro, outdoor detail

Huawei P40 Pro, crop, excellent detail

Image noise is very well managed and image output is similarly clean to that of the best cameras in this category. As usual, noise becomes a little more visible in low light, but the Xiaomi is among the best in this category, too.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, indoor noise

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, crop, low noise

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, indoor noise

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, crop, low noise

Huawei P40 Pro, indoor noise

Huawei P40 Pro, crop, low noise

Real-world results are confirmed by our lab tests in which the Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra achieves very good results across all light levels.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, visual noise comparison

Artifacts

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra

83

86

Huawei P40 Pro

Image artifacts are generally well managed on the Mi 10 Ultra camera. Our testers found some fusion artifacts and color quantization, as well as flare, moiré, and some color fringing, but you would have to look very closely to spot any of these effects. It’s also worth mentioning that the Xiaomi maintains good sharpness into the corners of the image, which is where many other devices, even high-end models, suffer from a loss of acutance.

If you look closely in the corners of this shot, you can see an unnatural rendering of texture that is likely caused by the Xiaomi camera’s fusion algorithms.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, artifacts

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, crop, unnatural texture rendering

Maze artifacts are visible in the fine textures on the facade of the building in the background.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, artifacts

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, crop, maze artifact

Zoom

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra

117

Highest Score

The Mi 10 Ultra follows in the tradition of previous Xiaomi flagships like the Mi 10 Pro and sets a new benchmark in the zoom category. Image quality in general and detail specifically are outstanding across the zoom range, making the Mi 10 Ultra the new go-to device for mobile photographers with a need for lots of zoom power.

Compared to the output of most of the competition, zoom images are very sharp with lots of detail, especially at close, long, and very long zoom distances. At medium zoom factors (around 4x) the Xiaomi images still offer very good detail at the center of the frame but there is a noticeable fall-off in sharpness towards the edges which is caused by image fusion. Some strong luminance noise is also visible in some images and our testers also observed an occasional loss of texture on small surfaces, such as on the side of a distant building.

The shots below were captured at a zoom factor of approximately 10x. The Xiaomi records more detail than both the Samsung and the Huawei, and also produces the cleanest image in this comparison. For a smartphone zoom, these are really quite impressive results.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, long-range zoom

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, crop, very good detail

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, long-range zoom

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, crop, good detail

Huawei P40 Pro, long-range zoom

Huawei P40 Pro, crop, good detail

The difference between the Xiaomi and the competition is even more visible at a 30x zoom factor. A loss of detail is evident when viewing at pixel level, but the Xiaomi images are more than adequate for web use, even when captured at such extreme zoom settings.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, long-range zoom

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, crop, loss of detail

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, long-range zoom

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, crop, strong loss of detail

Huawei P40 Pro, long-range zoom

Huawei P40 Pro, crop, strong loss of detail

Bokeh

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra

75

Highest Score

The Mi 10 Ultra is more than capable of producing a good-looking simulated bokeh shot and is among the very best devices we have tested in this category. The camera uses the short tele-lens with its 50mm focal length in bokeh mode, which gives it an advantage in terms of field of view over devices that record images with a wide-angle camera in portrait mode.

Depth estimation is also generally accurate, with only fairly minor depth artifacts visible around challenging elements of the scene. Bokeh mode also gets all the basics right, such as exposure and color, and sharpness is good.

Bright spotlights in the background are round with good contrast, as they should be, but the blur gradient from front to back can occasionally look a little unnatural, with fairly abrupt changes in blur intensity.

In this sample below, the Xiaomi does an excellent job at isolating the subject’s fine hair from the background. The Huawei is good as well, but the Samsung struggles somewhat.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, indoor bokeh

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, crop, excellent subject isolation

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, indoor bokeh

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, crop, some depth estimation artifacts

Huawei P40 Pro, indoor bokeh

Huawei P40 Pro, crop, excellent subject isolation

In this long-range comparison, the Xiaomi produces stronger background blur than the other devices, which makes for a very pleasant effect overall.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, strong background blur
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, less background blur
Huawei P40 Pro, outdoor bokeh, slightly less background blur

Wide

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra

53

Highest Score

The ultra-wide camera is a highlight of the Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra’s camera performance. On paper it offers a very wide 12mm focal length but the camera applies some distortion correction which very slightly reduces the field-of-view. However at a measured 12.5mm it still offers the widest field-of-view of all smartphone cameras to date, making it a great option for fans of ultra-wide-angle photography. In terms of image quality, the ultra-wide gets all the basics right, too, delivering very good target exposure and a wide dynamic range as well as pleasant color.

Detail could be better, but the Xiaomi has that in common with most ultra-wide cameras we have tested. Some noise is visible, too. Images show some distortion, but the effect is fairly well under control. Thanks to a fairly light distortion correction, the loss of sharpness towards the edges of the frame that we see on many ultra-wides is not too strong on the Xiaomi. Our testers also observed some chromatic aberrations and ringing under indoor lighting, but image artifacts are otherwise pretty well controlled on the Mi 10 Ultra’s ultra-wide camera.

In the scene below you can see that the Xiaomi squeezes a lot more scene into the frame than the Huawei (and other phones on the market). On the other hand, the Huawei’s ultra-wide camera is hard to beat in terms of texture/noise and dynamic range.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, very wide field of view
Huawei P40 Pro, narrower field of view

The Xiaomi is also slightly wider than the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and produces images with slightly better detail and less noise.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, ultra-wide

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, crop, good detail, low noise

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, ultra-wide

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, crop, slight loss of detail, oversharpening

Night

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra

72

Highest Score

The Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra is also our new top performer for night and low-light photography, thanks to excellent image quality in all types of low-light scenes.

With the flash set to auto mode, the camera behaves as it should, triggering the flash for portrait shots, but not for landscape or cityscape images. Further, the Xiaomi does an excellent job with indoor portrait shots. The flash output is nicely balanced with the ambient light, making for a nice exposure and overall natural feel of the image. The Samsung does not trigger the flash for this scene, which results in a target exposure on the subject that is lower than on the Mi 10 Ultra, and there is also some highlight clipping in the background.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, flash-auto

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, crop, excellent balance between flash and ambient light

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, flash-auto

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, crop, slightly dark face and highlight clipping

In night landscapes and cityscapes, target exposure is usually good and the auto white balance system works accurately. In the sample below, you can see that the Xiaomi produces a slightly brighter exposure than the Oppo Find 2X pro and especially the P40 Pro, which makes for an overall more pleasant look in many night shots.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, flash-auto, excellent exposure
Oppo Find X2 Pro, slightly darker exposure
Huawei P40 Pro, flash-auto, slightly dark exposure

Flash-off mode produces good results, too, with good exposure and decent detail. The portrait shot below has pleasant skin tones with good facial exposure and well-controlled noise. The P40 Pro produces an overall brighter exposure for this shot, but this results in slightly washed-out skin tones, highlight clipping in the background, and a strong loss of detail. The Oppo captured a strongly underexposed image. The Xiaomi deals by far the best with this difficult low-light situation.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, flash-off

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, crop, excellent target exposure, low noise

Oppo Find X2 Pro, flash-off

Oppo Find X2 Pro, crop, strong underexposure

Huawei P40 Pro, flash-off

Huawei P40 Pro, crop, good exposure, lack of detail

The Mi 10 Ultra also comes with a dedicated night mode that can slightly improve exposure and the texture/noise trade-off, but otherwise doesn’t offer any substantial improvement over the standard mode, which already performs very well in low light.

Video scores explained

A device’s overall Video score is derived from its performance and results across a range of attributes in the same way as the Photo score. The Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra’s video scores are as follows: Exposure (87), Color (93), Autofocus (98), Texture (84), Noise (81), Artifacts (90), and Stabilization (96). In this section, we take a closer look at the device’s strengths and weakness for video, with some comparisons against key competitors.

The Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra delivered its best results in video mode when set to 2160p resolution and a frame rate of 60fps. Overall, the device performs very well at these settings, achieving our highest Video score to date at 106. Exposure is not one of the camera’s strengths for video, though. Target exposure tends to be accurate, but dynamic range is more limited than on some competitors, with highlight clipping often visible in challenging high-contrast scenes. Exposure adaptation in changing light levels is good but not quite perfect, so there’s some room for improvement here.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, video target exposure comparison

Color, on the other hand, does not leave any reason to complain. Color rendering is pleasant in all situations and white balance is accurate, usually avoiding nasty color casts of any kind. In our lab tests the Xiaomi video mode delivered very accurate colors, as you can see in the chart below.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, video color rendering

The camera also finds a very good compromise for texture and noise. Texture is consistently high and at the same time noise is very well under control.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, video texture comparison

The frame grabs below were taken from a real life clip and confirm the results of our lab tests. The Xiaomi squeezes a tiny amount of additional detail out of its video footage when compared to the comparison devices but in bright light the difference is fairly minor.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, 4K video frame

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, crop, excellent detail

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, 4K video frame

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, crop, very good detail

Huawei P40 Pro, 4K video frame

Huawei P40 Pro, crop, very good detail

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, video spatial noise comparison

Like in stills mode, the autofocus system performs very well, reacting quickly and offering reliable tracking in both bright outdoor conditions and under indoor lighting. Stabilization is very effective, too, reducing camera shake and walking motion significantly. The 60fps also means panning is buttery-smooth and the judder effect that is often noticeable at lower frame rates is reduced to a minimum.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, outdoor video

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, outdoor video

Conclusion

The Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra is the new number one in the DXOMARK Camera ranking and deservedly so. In Photo mode it doesn’t show any real weaknesses and delivers class-leading results in several categories. It’s particularly impressive in the wide and zoom sections, making it an ideal choice for those who want a zoom range as big as possible without compromising on image quality.

It’s also a great tool for mobile videographers, offering excellent overall video quality with efficient stabilization at 4K and a fast 60fps frame rate that makes for super-smooth panning and motion. Overall, if it fits within your budget, the new Xiaomi flagship phone is an easy recommendation for mobile content creators.

Photo

Pros

  • Good target exposure and wide dynamic range
  • Accurate white balance
  • Excellent detail at medium- and long-range zoom
  • Very wide field of view and good dynamic range on the ultra-wide camera
  • Wide dynamic range and pleasantly bright exposures in night shots
  • Good white balance in flash shots
  • Pleasant bokeh effect with strong but natural-looking blur

Cons

  • Fusion artifacts in HDR scenes
  • Slight luminance noise in most conditions
  • Occasional unnatural texture rendering on fine details in HDR shots
  • Depth artifacts on complex objects in bokeh mode
  • Noise and loss of detail in ultra-wide shots
  • Strong yellow cast under low sodium vapor light

Video

Pros

  • Very good texture/noise trade-off in all conditions
  • Accurate white balance and nice color in almost all situations
  • Very effective stabilization, especially in bright light
  • Fast and repeatable autofocus

Cons

  • Slightly limited dynamic range
  • Occasional slightly low target exposure in indoor videos
  • Artifacts such as flickering, color quantization, aliasing, and moiré are sometimes visible

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Videos

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra camera review

Aug 13, 2020

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