Xiaomi 14 review

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Undergoing a breakthrough phase, Xiaomi is achieving peak maturity in its smartphone campaign, especially in the top-tier category. The 14 being written about here is most certainly going to give way to the 14 Pro and 14 Ultra very soon, but it’s the perfect early showcase of the all-new HyperOS that is said to be built from the ground up (or kernel up, if you please). It replaces MiUi as the dominant skin for all Xiaomi devices from here on and in slick hardware like the Xiaomi 14, it does set the tone for what’s lined up for this promising range of devices.

Xiaomi 14 review: Design

We’re big fans of one-handed designs and like the Samsung Galaxy S24, the Xiaomi 14 too comes in at about 6.3in of pure, single-handed AMOLED goodness. But you’ll appreciate it even if you don’t have Hobbit-sized hands, thanks to its evenly sized bezels all around, 120Hz LTPO display that is sharp at 460ppi, supports HDR and Dolby Vision and comes wrapped in Corning Gorilla Glass Victus at the front and a smooth 3D curved glass back. Our review sample was the new Jade Green shade that does look premium and indeed feels so as well. The large Leica camera housing pops in this shade too.

Although the frame looks like stainless steel, they’re made of specially coated aluminium and Xiaomi claims this not only saves weight but also resists scratches much better. We do suspect it saves a handsome sum too. A punch-hole selfie cam completes the look and while it doesn’t set any standards, it has a satisfyingly expensive hand feel with highly polished surfaces and edges that don’t dig into your palm. And oh, IP68 certification adds to that peace of mind if you, like us, get excited enough to jump into pools without emptying your pockets. Blame the open bar at a certain MWC party.

Xiaomi 14 review: Camera

Moving away from the Leica Summicron lenses to the more sophisticated Summilux lens from Leica, the 14 also unlocks more stops with an f/1.6 aperture that lets more light in, making for better low-light photography. There’s also an all-new Light Fusion 900 image sensor. While it does sound like an interstellar rover that Elon may be working on, the Xiaomi 14, allows for a higher dynamic range. It is optimised for the 1/1.3in sensor deployed in the main camera. Resolution is locked to 50MP for all the rear cameras, with focal lengths of 23mm (main) 75mm (3.2x telephoto) and 14mm ultrawide which is also in charge of macro shots with a 10cm focus range. Selfie cam is a 32MP unit that supports night, portrait and HDR modes. 

Customisation has always been Xiaomi’s strong suit and along with the two main Leica modes - Vibrant and Authentic, which alter the colour science ever so subtly, there are tons of filters, beautification tools and even AI assistance built right into the native camera and gallery apps. 

Video can be shot natively with Dolby Vision HDR as long as you keep the resolution to 4K 30fps (or lower), but if you choose to deselect HDR, you could go all the way to 8K/30fps.

Xiaomi 14 review: HyperOS

Undertaking a massive OS rehaul is no joke; thankfully, Xiaomi hasn’t treated it like one either. HyperOS is a subtle visual upgrade but a massive under-the-hood upgrade over the MiUi. Starting with the firmware size itself, HyperOS takes about 9GB on your Xiaomi 14 as opposed to MiUi, which would’ve taken approximately 12.5GB! That aside, the smoothness and latency have been approved across the board and this is tangible in everything from switching apps to the subtle but classy animations on the app icons.

They’ve clearly been inspired by many facets of iOS including the lock screen customisations and a clean Control Centre layout, but if you do it well, no one seems to mind and certainly, Xiaomi has done a fine job of blending their own graphics and software trickery to familiar UX standards. There are easy ways to free up space, add more useable memory from storage and all sorts of cross-device control that again, emulates an Apple ecosystem. Or at least, aspires to. It’s a good thing because evidently Xiaomi is working on a trajectory that will allow its tablets, smart home accessories and phones (duh) to look, think and work like different parts of a single, organic entity. That is the basis of HyperOS and it may very well extend to Xiaomi’s first car as well, showcased at the MWC recently.

Xiaomi 14 review: Performance

Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon Gen 3, the mating with the HyperOS seems to have worked wonders for the Xiaomi 14. Navigation across the board is quick and even the camera responses have perceptibly improved, whether processing a burst of 50MP images or binned ones. Video edits do take a tad bit longer to process and save but surprise surprise…they’re still faster than on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra! Like all things in 2024, there’s a healthy dose of AI built right into the native Gallery app to edit photos. You can erase objects, change the kind of sky, add bokeh to a regular photo and then some, but they all seem a bit like WIP compared to the Galaxy AI we’ve seen on the Samsung S24 devices.

Gaming performance was solid and like most top-tier phones this year, there’s enhanced cooling within the chassis and with Game Turbo mode on, there was nothing to complain about regarding performance and efficiency. The 4160mAh battery too has benefitted from HyperOS’ system level changes and conserves its power much better than before, easily lasting a day and beyond under normal use. 90W wired fast charging and 50W wireless charging are great numbers to have when in a hurry too and it all adds to the 14’s everyday practicality.

Xiaomi 14 review: Photography

Xiaomi has built a solid association with Leica over the years and it usually manifests itself as improved camera performance YoY. On the 14, even though it doesn’t sport the hallowed 1in sensor, it compensated for it with the new Light Fusion ISP and the results are seriously good. The trio of lenses are matched in resolution, but more importantly, in their colour temperature, white balance and skin tones too. Colour accuracy is high in the Leica Authentic Style and portraits have well-defined segmentation, even on difficult subjects, with a creamy bokeh that really does look like a DSLR. As with most high megapixel count cameras, shooting at the 50MP resolution does yield more detail and higher colour fidelity, but only under the most optimal lighting conditions. Use it indoors and you’re bound to feel shortchanged. 

Video is much improved as well and with 10-bit LOG mode, gives you more flexibility in post workflows too. Compromises still have to be made between the interplay of  HDR, 4K and Steady Video. All cannot be used in tandem, so depending on your requirements and the scene, there will be some selections to be made before you start recording. However, at 1080p with Steady Video Pro, the stabilisation is fantastic and approaches gimbal levels. 

The 32MP front camera is just about average, not securing enough light on faces in indoor conditions and smoothening the skin in outdoor shots. It’s definitely workable but doesn’t push the needle forward in any meaningful way besides letting you make your jawline look like Aditya Roy Kapoors.

Xiaomi 14 review: Conclusion

There’s a lot to like in the Xiaomi 14 and the most impressive quality it possess is how unified its hardware and software feel. You will have to look past the blatant bloatware on it though, but once you do disable most of them, HyperOS is an impressive upgrade over MiUi and Xiaomi is counting on you to invest in more of their peripherals and devices to truly showcase the unified design approach of HyperOS. Whether you go all chips in or not, the Xiaomi 14 is a fantastic value-for-money device an it only whets our appetite for what the 14 Ultra might be capable of!

Stuff Says

One of the best mid-tier phones with Snapdragon Gen 3 SoC and all the learnings from Leica.
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. HyperOS feels like a significant step forward

  1. Overall camera system highly evolved and consistent

  1. Handy size without sacrificing performance or specs

  1. Lots of bloatware persists

  1. Selfie cam still lags behind

  1. AI implementation rudimentary

Display: 6.3in, AMOLED 120Hz (460ppi)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
Memory: 12GB
Storage: 512GB
Camera: 50MP triple rear cam, 32MP selfie
Battery: 4610mAh
Charging speed: 90W (wired) 50W (wireless)
Weight: 193g