Xiaomi 14 review: shooting from the hip

Review Summary

Expert Rating
8.0/10

Design
★  
8.0
/10
Display
★  
8.0
/10
Software
★  
7.5
/10
Camera
★  
8.0
/10
Performance
★  
8.5
/10
Battery
★  
8.0
/10

Pros

  • Handy size
  • Versatile Leica cameras
  • Smooth performance
  • Superfast wired & wireless charging

Cons

  • Pre-installed apps
  • Small light flare issues

As Xiaomi’s newest flagship and the torchbearer for the brand, the Xiaomi 14 has a lot riding on its slender shoulders. I call it slender because I think the smartphone’s handy dimensions work really well in its favour. But the mainstays of the phone, without an iota of a doubt, are its Leica cameras. The “co-engineered with Leica” tag isn’t an easy one to bear, with both brands leaving no stone unturned to make sure the device delivers on the photography front. The top-end specs of the device, headlined by Qualcomm’s flagship SoC, are no less exciting.

Verdict

The Xiaomi 14 is a loaded smartphone that scores high on most aspects. Purists might not like the bunch of pre-installed apps it comes with, and there are some small issues in terms of how the cameras handle light flares. Those apart, the device shines in terms of performance, fast charging, and above all, the versatility of its Leica cameras. The smartphone’s size is perfect for one-handed usage as well.

Cameras

Let’s begin by tackling the bull by the horns and checking out what those Leica snappers have to offer. On board is a 50MP f1.6 primary shooter with OIS, mated to a 50MP f2.0 telephoto with 3.2x optical zoom, OIS and a 75mm floating lens, plus a 50MP f2.2 ultra wide.


Up front, a 32MP camera handles selfie duties. The camera specs include a Light Fusion 900 sensor, while a dive into the camera app reveals a ton of settings and options. While I won’t go details of all of them, let me just say that if you want to get creative with photography, the Xiaomi 14 won’t disappoint.



Among the noteworthy highlights is the shooting style that lets you switch between Leica Authentic and Leica Vibrant, and you can opt for one depending upon how you like your photos. Then there’s the master lens system available under the portrait mode, offering a bunch of options, including documentary (35mm), swirly bokeh (50mm), portrait (75mm), and soft focus (90mm). The range of filters available for customising output are worth checking out as well, thanks to the flavour added by Leica.

Elsewhere, you’ll find options like Super Macro, long exposure, a special movie mode, Director’s cut etc, all designed to give you creative flexibility in terms of what you want to shoot and the kind of output you desire.

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I got a chance to try out the Xiaomi 14’s cameras in a variety of shooting conditions, and overall, the smartphone does deliver on the photography promise. Daylight shots turn out nice and crisp, with ample detail and dynamic range. The telephoto and ultra wide snappers are quite capable as well. The night shots are fine for the most part, but do have a bit of an issue with light flare. The dedicated night mode does help a bit with this, but I think a software update should be able to address this properly. The front camera does its job, with some smoothening visible. Check out some sample shots above. Of special mention are the results obtainable using filters, and I did have a lot of fun with the black and white ones. The B&W modes are especially useful for adding some character to street imagery, buildings and portraits, and I do want to show you some here.

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Overall, the Xiaomi 14 might just be an update or two short of being the best camera smartphone, but that might just be a tiny niggle in the overall scheme of things. The fact remains that the range of options and creative flexibility that the smartphone offers make it a highly versatile shooter, and the size of the device helps quite a bit too. It’s a little difficult to put down in words, but I took the phone with me on a long trip, and I can assure you it’s a cinch to carry it around in the pocket all day and fast draw it for quick shooting (much like a pistol from a holster) when required, as compared to a larger device.


One thing to keep in mind is that one does need to play around with the camera settings, modes and options, and get a good sense of what each feature does, to be able to get the best results from the Xiaomi 14’s cameras. One example of this is the macro shot of a small dinner table lamp I captured after tweaking some settings.

Design and display


The very first thing that strikes you about the Xiaomi 14 is its size. Thanks to its 6.36-inch display, the smartphone is a cinch to hold and use with one hand. I’d call it compact — and it is small considering most phones these days use larger screens — but the fact is that the Xiaomi 14 is just the right size. It’s compact and lightweight enough to use all day, easy to slip in and out of the pocket, and yet, the screen doesn’t feel cramped while using the phone for web browsing, working with email and documents, gaming or entertainment.


My black review unit does look rather subdued and probably won’t turn heads, but I think the Jade green option just might. In any case, the fit and finish is excellent, and every bit as premium as the phone’s positioning. The matte finish on the glass back (on the black version) feels smooth to the touch, and doesn’t get smudged easily. Of special mention is the IR blaster which is placed on an unusual spot — on the camera module at the rear. The location does feel odd at first but does make this feature easier to use, since the screen can be facing you as you set up and use the universal remote to control appliances around the house (or at the pub or airport — I’m not judging). The phone is IP68 rated, so minor water splashes or a drizzle or two shouldn’t be a problem.


Moving on to the display, Xiaomi has ensured that the 6.36-inch screen is no less enticing than the rest of the phone. The LTPO AMOLED screen offers up to 120Hz refresh rate, goes up to 3,000 nits and supports HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. The bezels are super slim, and a fast and responsive fingerprint scanner is present front and centre. And the display is quite capable too — no complaints there.

Software, performance and battery


From a software standpoint, the Xiaomi 14 comes with HyperOS working atop Android 14. There are a bunch of pre-installed apps (which can be removed if you don’t need them), but that apart, the overall usage experience is smooth and hassle-free. Signature elements and features, including Mi Share, support for themes, access to Mi Cloud for backup and restore, Find my phone, second space etc, are all there. Hidden deep inside device settings is a heart rate feature, which uses the in-display fingerprint sensor to show your current heart rate.


From a performance perspective, the Xiaomi 14 is quite impressive. This is hardly surprising, since the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 SoC is at the helm, along with 12 gigs of RAM and 512GB of storage. Notably, that is the only storage variant Xiaomi is bringing to India, at least for now. The Xiaomi 14 aces benchmarks and delivers a smooth performance, handling heavy apps and games with ease. It keeps its cool when stressed too.


Moving on to the battery, the 4,610mAh battery does seem a bit underwhelming if you consider the capacity on paper, but manages to deliver a day-long battery life with medium usage. Moreover, the 90W wired charging speed juices up the phone in the blink of an eye, taking battery levels to 50 percent in less than 15 minutes, 80 in about 25 minutes and full in about 35, give or take. Also noteworthy is the support for 50W wireless charging, and 10W reverse wireless charging.

Final verdict


The Xiaomi 14 lands squarely in the premium flagship space, and has the likes of the Google Pixel 8 (review) and the Samsung Galaxy S24 (review) to contend with in terms of competition. These are strong rivals, and each has unique strengths and foibles. Both the Pixel 8 and Galaxy S24 shine in the software and camera aspect, though those looking for pure performance might not prefer Google’s offering. The Galaxy S24 is especially notable for the Samsung ecosystem features on offer, which include features like DeX, and others. The Xiaomi 14 I think, stands out for its Leica cameras and the immense versatility these shooters offer to anyone looking to do more with photography. That, combined with its performance and fast charging, make it an option you’d definitely want to keep at the top of your shortlist.

Editor’s rating: 8 / 10

Reasons to buy:

  • The Xiaomi 14’s handy size works in its favour
  • Thanks to the Snapdragon 8 Gen3 and 12 gigs of RAM, the phone delivers smooth performance
  • The Leica cameras are capable and provide immense creative control
  • Both wired and wireless charging are superfast

Reasons not to buy:

  • The phone comes with a bunch of apps pre-installed
    The camera has some issues handling light flare

Key Specs

Xiaomi 14
RAM12 GB
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
Rear Camera50 MP + 50 MP + 50 MP
Front Camera32 MP
Battery4610 mAh
Display6.36 inches (16.15 cm)
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Xiaomi 14 Price
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Rs. 69,950.00
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