Latest Tech: Xiaomi 14 hands-on review: Size matters | Expert Reviews

The Xiaomi 14 has been announced during the brand’s annual showcase just ahead of MWC. Like the Xiaomi 13 before it, the Xiaomi 14 fills a relatively under-served section of the market, catering to those who prefer smaller phones.

The compact form factor doesn’t denote a downgrade from traditional flagships, however, with the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset present, alongside flashy (and improved) cameras. With no price increase in sight, in a year dominated by them, the Xiaomi 14 might well be 2024’s best compact flagship.

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Xiaomi 14 hands-on review: Design, key features and first impressions

Outside the entry-level Samsung Galaxy S24 and iPhone 15, no flagship in this past year has catered to compact fans in the same way as the Xiaomi 13. It bodes well, therefore, to see the Xiaomi 14 is very much taking design cues from its older sibling.

Physically, it has the same flat edges and rounded corners, with a slightly deeper 3D panel on the rear. Tucked in the top-left corner is another rounded-square camera module.

The square is a little bigger this time around, but it also has bigger cameras to accommodate – at least when it comes to pixel count. The main shooter is still 50MP, but the image sensor is a new Light Fusion 900 model and the aperture has widened slightly to f/1.6.

Backing this up are two more 50MP lenses: an ultrawide camera with an aperture of f/2.2, and an f/2.0 3.2x telephoto camera.

As has been the case with all of Xiaomi’s recent flagships, these cameras are co-engineered with the photography whizzes at Leica. On top of the hardware, Leica has helped in the development of a couple of shooting profiles: Leica Authentic and Leica Vibrant. The former is supposed to mimic standard Leica colouring, while the latter, as the name suggests, lifts the saturation a notch for brighter, punchier images.

Flipping the phone over, the display is once again a 6.36in panel, but the resolution is slightly higher than the Xiaomi 13, at 2,670 x 1,200, while LTPO technology allows for a dynamic refresh rate between 1Hz and 120Hz. The same 32MP (f/2.0) selfie camera sits nestled beneath the glass, and there’s an optical fingerprint sensor, too.

For protection, a layer of Gorilla Glass Victus sits over the display, and the phone as a whole is rated IP68 for weatherproofing, which is the same as the Xiaomi 13, and most other flagships.

Under the surface, the Xiaomi 14 runs an octa-core 3.3GHz Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, backed up by 12GB of RAM and either 256GB or 512GB of storage space. We’ve seen this chipset a few times already this year, with the OnePlus 12, Honor Magic 6 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, and we’ve been impressed with both processing power and efficiency each time.

We’ll have to wait for the full review to see if the Xiaomi 14 can keep the streak going, but a slightly larger battery than its predecessor (4,610mAh, up from 4,500mAh) definitely won’t hurt its chances.

On the charging side of things, 50W wireless support carries over from the Xiaomi 13, while wired charging has been juiced up to 90W from 67W.

Looking to the software, we see what appears to be the biggest change that the Xiaomi 14 offers. Gone is the MIUI OS that has long been a staple of Xiaomi devices, and in its place, we’ve got the new HyperOS.

While the name sounds vaguely futuristic and exciting, it  feels like more of a facelift than a major step forward. The icons are the same gaudy colouring as MIUI, and even with the (overly busy) new command centre, things don’t feel as straightforward and user-friendly as it does with the best Android smartphones.

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Xiaomi 14 hands-on review: Early verdict

The new software might not feel like much of an improvement, but it’s about the only area in which the Xiaomi 14 stands still. The processor upgrade speaks for itself, both battery and charging speeds get a tidy little boost, and the camera suite has received some interesting tweaks.

The Xiaomi 13 is available now, though at the time of writing, the 256GB model can only be ordered directly from Xiaomi, for £849. The 512GB model, meanwhile, is £899, and that’s already made its way to Amazon. Both of those prices are cheaper than the comparative models of the Samsung Galaxy S24 and Apple iPhone 15, so if the Xiaomi 14 can ace the tests in our full review, it could well be the most affordable way to pick up an excellent compact flagship this year.

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