Review, Smartphone

Xiaomi 14 Review: Fast Flagship Phone With Capable Leica Cameras From RM3,499

Xiaomi’s range of devices are always known for their great value propositions, and the same applies to the new Xiaomi 14. Retailing from RM3,499 for a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset and a Leica-branded triple camera system, there’s no denying that this flagship phone offers great value for money.

However, the Xiaomi 14 has its fair share of shortcomings too, including a software experience that isn’t particularly intuitive or user-friendly, which is my biggest qualm with the device. Nonetheless, if you’re in the market for a flagship phone with great value proposition, the Xiaomi 14 is certainly worth considering.

What It Is

Display6.36-inch FHD+ AMOLED (2670 x 1200), 1-120Hz adaptive
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 3.3GHz octa-core
GPUAdreno 750
RAM12GB
Storage256/512GB, non-expandable
Camera (rear)50MP f/1.6, OIS
50MP f/2.0 (telephoto)
50MP f/2.2 (ultra-wide)
Camera (front)32MP f/2.0
Battery
4,610mAh with 90W charging
Dimensions152.8 x 71.5 x 8.2 mm
Weight
193g
OSXiaomi HyperOS based on Android 14
Connectivity5G
LTE
NFC
Bluetooth 5.4
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e/7
USB Type-C
PriceRM3,499 (256GB), RM3,799 (512GB)

Looking at its hardware, the Xiaomi 14 has all the makings of a flagship smartphone. It has a fast chipset, a bright and vibrant AMOLED display with adaptive refresh rate, and even a Leica-branded camera system with three different focal lengths that can capture great-looking shots.

Granted, the Xiaomi 14’s camera isn’t quite as sophisticated as the higher-end Xiaomi 14 Ultra’s camera hardware, though the latter is also a much more costly RM5,199 smartphone. Either way, it’s not like the Xiaomi 14’s camera is sub-par by any means, which I’ll get to in the following section.

The Good Stuff

Since the Leica-branded camera system of the Xiaomi 14 is one of its most highlighted features, let’s talk about that first. The triple camera setup is made up of a 50MP main shooter, a 50MP telephoto lens, and a 50MP ultra-wide sensor. Collectively, these cameras can return great-looking shots in all kinds of lighting conditions. Judge for yourself with these sample shots:

Evidently, the Xiaomi 14’s Leica cameras are capable, and the camera interface feels smooth for a pleasant shooting experience with very quick focus locking. While I would’ve personally wanted to see a farther-reaching telephoto camera in the Xiaomi 14, at least the Xiaomi 14 Ultra fulfills that need with its 5x telephoto lens.

Beyond its camera performance, there’s the overall design of the Xiaomi 14, which is both ergonomically sound and aesthetically pleasing. The flat metal frame looks and feels great to the touch, the glass back has a nice matte finish, and the camera bump, while noticeable, doesn’t look too out of place.

Basically, it’s a flagship phone that is built like a flagship phone.

And then there’s the performance of the Xiaomi 14, which does not disappoint. After all, it’s powered by the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, which can handle practically anything I throw at it. Whether it’s juggling between multiple apps or playing Honkai: Star Rail at 60fps with maxed out graphics settings, the chip does not have any issue keeping up at all.

Further enhancing the gaming experience of the Xiaomi 14 is its 6.36-inch 2670 x 1200 AMOLED display. Not only does it look great with vibrant colours, deep blacks, and wide viewing angles – desirable traits of an OLED-based panel – the 1-120Hz adaptive refresh rate also lends to very smooth animations while being more power-efficient than a regular display that constantly stays at 120Hz.

Speaking of which, the Xiaomi 14’s battery life is quite good. While Xiaomi HyperOS doesn’t show the screen on time of the phone – much to my chagrin – the 4,610mAh battery can roughly return about five hours of battery life on average under heavy use. While this isn’t fantastic battery life, it’s certainly not bad.

But what is bad – in my opinion, anyway – is the software experience of HyperOS. Let me elaborate in the next section.

The Bad Stuff

Truth be told, I haven’t been a fan of Xiaomi’s version of Android, and I still share this sentiment with the company’s new HyperOS software. For one, I don’t love the fact that the “control centre” is separated from the notification shade. Pulling down the left side of the screen on the home page summons the notification shade, while doing the same gesture on the right side activates the command centre instead.

On top of that, I can’t swipe down on multiple notifications from the same app to expand them; a gesture that is natively supported on many, many other versions of Android. This makes it a lot less intuitive to go through my notifications on HyperOS as I’m required to click on a tiny button to expand said notifications.

Besides that, there’s the wallpaper carousel feature on the lock screen of HyperOS. For the most part, I like this feature as I see different images on the lock screen every time I reach for the Xiaomi 14. But what I absolutely do not like are the “recommended stories” that accompany these images.

Say there’s a nice shot of a marble cake on the lock screen; there will also be a small text that will take me to a story if I click on it. Essentially, it’s as if I have the homepage of MSN on my lock screen, which is not great.

While these qualms I have with HyperOS are not exactly dealbreakers – I can always disable the wallpaper carousel, for example – they don’t exactly improve or enrich the user experience either.

Is It Worth It?

Even though the software experience of the Xiaomi 14 isn’t the best – again, to me personally – it is still a fantastic flagship smartphone with great value proposition. Yes, RM3,499 is not exactly a small amount, but you are getting a flagship smartphone through and through with that kind of money.

Whether you want a flagship phone with fast performance, good camera system, or solid build quality, the Xiaomi 14 offers it all. What would’ve made it that much better is for HyperOS to be more intuitive to use, which I personally hope will be addressed in future updates of the software.

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