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Xiaomi 14 review: Solid camera chops in a compact package

The Xiaomi 14 features a great OLED display, versatile camera system, and a compact size that will please many. But the one area it may be lacking is software

At  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>69,999, the Xiaomi 14 competes with the likes of the Pixel Google Pixel 8. OnePlus 12, Samsung Galaxy S24, and other premium smartphones.
At 69,999, the Xiaomi 14 competes with the likes of the Pixel Google Pixel 8. OnePlus 12, Samsung Galaxy S24, and other premium smartphones. (Xiaomi)

Is it an iPhone? Does it run on iOS? Is it a compact flagship smartphone? Is it a ‘one-handed’ wonder? When it comes to the Xiaomi 14 - the answer to the latter two questions is a resounding yes.

Xiaomi - China’s largest phone maker - has been releasing smartphones and dominating market share for many years. Xiaomi smartphones feature a great combination of hardware and software (which has only improved with time). For 2024, Xiaomi came in with a surprise for the Indian market. For the first time, the ‘Ultra’ model has launched in India. At 1,00,000, the Xiaomi 14 Ultra may have been hard to digest for Indian consumers.

Also read: ​​Xiaomi 13 Pro review: will the Leica luck shine?

With a much more pocket-friendly smartphone - in both price and stature - the Xiaomi 14 is the one that should be grabbing all the headlines. It’s got flagship-grade hardware, a versatile camera system, a gorgeous display, runs on Android and is bundled in a compact package.

The Xiaomi 14 may be similar in looks to last year’s Xiaomi 13, but with improvements in key areas, it is a worthy successor.

The designated photographer’s device of choice

Quiz nights. Many a correct answer. Few wrong answers. Multiple beer pitchers. Some food on the side. 200 plus photos.

Yes, that’s what’s been happening consistently for over a year now. I’m an avid photographer (portrait photography in general), and I get the latest and greatest smartphones companies in India offer. So, naturally, I’m the designated photographer in the group.

The morning-after quiz nights are interesting. One of the first things I do is to open the Google Photos app. I do this because all my smartphones back up the photos to the cloud via Google Photos.

A sea of black-and-white portraits hit me. Even in my sleepy state I instantly knew which smartphone was my primary choice for photography during the extended evenings. My love for black-and-white photography was rekindled with the Xiaomi 13 Pro last year and continues with the Xiaomi 14.

On the back of the Xiaomi 14 is a triple camera array. There’s a trio of 50MP cameras. There’s a 50MP main camera (1/1.31-inch sensor, f/1.6 aperture and OIS and 23 mm focal length), a 50MP (f/20 aperture, 3.2x optical zoom, OIS and 75 mm floating lens) telephoto camera and a 50MP (f/2.2 aperture and 14 mm focal lens) ultra-wide sensor. It’s a versatile camera system that everyone - all my quizzing friends and more - has come to love.

The icing on the cake is that the primary camera boasts a fast shutter speed. Then come the portraits. The camera can take photos with a natural bokeh (either focusing on the foreground or background). Thanks to its ‘Leica-able’ cameras, the Xiaomi 14 outputs portraits that everyone will instantly fall in love with.

For portraits, you get an option to jump between 35 mm and 90 mm focal lengths. This allows you to get the portrait style of your choice. For me, the 35mm ‘documentary’ style worked best in black and white. It’s up to the photographer and what style they prefer but it’s fun to play around with all the options. Last, but not least, thanks to the large sensor, the smartphone is very well capable of doing justice to low-light photos.

Let’s move on to daylight photos. The images captured were bright and vibrant. Xiaomi has worked with Leica to fine-tune its camera system. You get an option of Leica Authentic or Vibrant style. The photos, in good daylight conditions, are immensely pleasing.

Switch to the ultra-wide or telephoto lens and the colour matching is on point. You can hardly tell a difference in the colour science of the three lenses. Zoom in to the photos and there are a lot of details retained. Up till 3.2x zoom is optically zoomed images and those look great. Even up to 10x digital zoom, the photos looked natural and with good colour science. Of course, it cannot compete with the liks of the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, as the photos from the Xiaomi 14 lose sharpness and clarity at 30x zoom.

The 32MP front camera was a little bit disappointing. You can get some natural bokeh with it, and portrait mode is there too. But the images were at times soft. The skin tones were good, and people thought I looked good on video call, but some selfies captured in the daylight sun were overexposed.

Everything else

The Xiaomi 14 comes with HyperOS out of the box. As I’ve talked about before (in my Poco X6 Pro review), the new Android skin isn’t anything to write home about. It is fast and fluid, but there is still bloatware that exists. It is a solid improvement over MIUI. There’s a lot more customisation but deciphering the icons and making sense of the OS is still a learning curve.

The company has guaranteed four years of Android updates along with five years of security patches.

The battery life on the Xiaomi 14 is amazing. I was easily - even with my heavy usage - able to eke out a full day's worth of battery on a single charge. Xiaomi has outfitted the Xiaomi 14 with a 4,610 mAh battery and the smartphone comes with a 90W charger in the box. A full charge takes about 35 minutes to complete. If you like to charge your phone wirelessly, then you’d be happy to know that the Xiaomi 14 will satisfy your cravings. There’s support for 50W wireless charging. Furthermore, the phone supports 10W reverse wireless charging.

Verdict: Worth the asking price?

The Xiaomi 14 is a smartphone with no glaring weakness. There’s fast and fluid performance, a great OLED display, a versatile camera system, and a compact size that will please many out there.

Yes, the Xiaomi 14 lacks the bells and whistles of something like a Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, iPhone 15 Pro, or even the Xiaomi 14 Ultra. Nonetheless, with a more affordable price point, the Xiaomi 14 manages to be a top-tier smartphone.

At 69,999, Xiaomi has introduced a smartphone that competes with the likes of the Pixel Google Pixel 8. OnePlus 12, Samsung Galaxy S24, and other premium smartphones out there. The one area where the Xiaomi 14 may be lacking is software. Beyond that, there is little to complain about.

Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist. He posts @IMSahilBhalla

Also read: Xiaomi Pad 6 review: Fluid, snappy and good for gaming

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