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regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 April 2024

First impressions: Xiaomi 14 expands its partnership with Leica on a compact phone

After Samsung Galaxy S24, it’s time for Xiaomi 14 to take the stage. By compact, we are not looking at something on the lines of an iPhone Mini but at 6.36-inch, it’s as good as it gets

Mathures Paul Published 27.02.24, 11:04 AM
 Xiaomi 14 tries to make improvements in the flagship camera department with a partnership with Leica

 Xiaomi 14 tries to make improvements in the flagship camera department with a partnership with Leica Picture: The Telegraph

Compact phones keep coming in. After Samsung Galaxy S24, it’s time for Xiaomi 14 to take the stage. By compact, we are not looking at something on the lines of an iPhone Mini but at 6.36-inch, it’s as good as it gets.

For Xiaomi, it’s a showcasing of its partnership with Leica on the camera front. Truth be told, we have only used the phone for a few days and it’s too early to say if the partnership is going anywhere substantial.

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In a year when the AI buzz will get only louder, Xiaomi has kept AI tricks to a minimum on the camera front. The company wants to compete with the likes of Samsung, Apple and OnePlus but we will keep thoughts about that for another day. At the moment, we are training the 50MP wide, 50MP 75mm telephoto and 50MP ultra-wide on whatever catches the eye.

Perhaps the biggest feature on the phone is the Leica branding on the camera module. There are similar partnerships by the likes of OnePlus and Vivo with other brands but Xiaomi has gone to the extent of having Leica printed in landscape format, encouraging people to hold the phone horizontally. That’s a courageous step in a world that’s become vertical on social media feeds. Looking at technical details, there are Leica’s Summilux lens, co-engineered by German camera company Leica and Xiaomi, the Light Fusion 900 image sensor to tackle noise, and a 75mm optical floating telephoto lens.

The Leica branding on the Xiaomi 14 has been kept horizontal to encourage users to take more panoramic shots

The Leica branding on the Xiaomi 14 has been kept horizontal to encourage users to take more panoramic shots

Of course, to the user, all this shouldn’t matter because it’s about how easy is it to take photos on the move and also, how far can you push the camera on your phone. A photo editor I have known for decades once told me that if he were to get the Hasselblad and Leica, he would rather get the actual camera rather than a smartphone. For him, the smartphone is about capturing off-the-cuff moments while on the move. Does Xiaomi manage it with its latest flagship? You will know in a few days. Meanwhile, I keep switching between Leica Authentic and Leica Vibrant modes. And I am still wondering about the logic behind having a massive camera module on a smallish phone.

The other selling point is the compact nature of the phone. It’s easy to hold, the corners are curvy and the screen is flat. In 2024, 6.36-inch of AMOLED display estate is a bold move. There is the usual dynamic screen refresh rate of one to 120Hz and 3,000 nits of peak brightness, besides support for Dolby Vision and HDR10+. It’s when you combine the compact design with 193g heft that you get a satisfyingly light phone.

The flat screen and slightly curved edges give Xiaomi 14 the iPhone vibes

The flat screen and slightly curved edges give Xiaomi 14 the iPhone vibes

Having Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 Mobile Platform ensures smooth performance. The chipset has been seen in action on other devices and it’s efficient. The processor should be good enough for playing games as well as running AI-powered apps.

There is a 4,610mAh battery that supports 50W of wireless charging. It’s too early to say anything about the battery. Overall, it’s a phone worth exploring and we have to wait and see if Xiaomi can keep the pricing to under Rs 75,000. That would be a sweet spot.

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