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Long term review: The Xiaomi 14 is a pocket Leica camera that also happens to be a decent phone

I’ve spent several weeks with the Xiaomi 14, taking it to several locations as my daily driver for photography, games, and productivity. This is a long term review of a device that I initially found rather awkward to carry, but slowly fell in love with its quirks.

For purposes of scope, I am aware that in international markets, the Xiaomi 14 is not the top of the line device for 2024 — that would be the Xiaomi 14 Ultra, which blows away a lot of the competition in performance. However, the Philippine market does not carry the Ultra, which makes the Xiaomi 14 the local flagship device that is pegged at a more affordable price versus giants like the HONOR Magic 6 Pro and HUAWEI Pura 70.  As someone who has used other flagship devices in tandem with the Xiaomi 14, I will share some insights on how I feel as a consumer who dabbles in occasional photography.

The funny thing about the Xiaomi 14 is that on paper, it’s a device that sports a 6.36” screen – that sounds quite big, but is actually one of the smallest – if not the smallest of the flagship phones by today’s standards. This may be nerve-wracking to consumers with big hands, or are used to bigger 6.8” screens which are available in all price categories. The screen real estate is most likely going to be the first thing everyone will look at when considering this device. Coming from bigger phones such as the realme GT 6, Samsung S24 Ultra, HONOR Magic 6 Pro, and the HUAWEI Pura 70 Pro, the “tiny” screen of the Xiaomi 14 will definitely be daunting. As a long time Android user, I have not fully adjusted to using it, but have instead made some tweaks to GBoard, which I install on every Android phone I use. Admittedly it’s a minor issue, but one that should be taken into account depending on how comfortable you are with smaller phones. I suggest trying it first at a store before you buy.

That being said, the size does have its advantages: it is obviously more pocketable. And this is where I began my epiphany as holding it felt more like holding a compact camera like the Panasonic LUMIX LX3 or the Sony RX100 MkII during my younger days when I dabbled with a lot of street photography. The main selling point of the Xiaomi 14 is that it’s essentially a Leica camera disguised as a high-end smartphone. As HUAWEI has moved away from the Leica brand to set up their own X-MAGE imaging technology, Xiaomi is now the biggest partner of Leica for the past two years, since 2022. 

But here’s the thing: what is so special about Leica? What is the “Leica look?” A part of it is heavily ingrained in culture — photojournalism was Leica, and Leica was photojournalism since the days of film. It’s partly that legacy that gives Leica such brand love. Shooting with Leica means you are a “real photographer.” At least, of course, that was how it was until the last few decades where anyone could take snapshots with their phones. The other part seems to be more technical and I guess the simplest way to explain it would be the rise of Instagram in the mid 2000’s and how some of the filters achieved a similar glow to Summilux lenses, a technical aesthetic that the Xiaomi 14 has achieved for itself.

When it comes to shooting modes, I pretty much have two mindsets: me documenting mundane things in life such as Lazada packages, presentation notes, quick group photos — the stuff that usually goes on IG Stories. And for that I make use of the default photo mode in the camera. Now, the Xiaomi 14’s magic happens when I switch to Portrait Mode, unlocking the Master Lens system and really transforms the Xiaomi 14 into a beast of a camera. The Master Lens system gives you access to four different shooting modes: 35mm documentary (for street photography), 50mm Swirly bokeh (for those lovely swirly background lights), 75mm Portrait (Portrait Photography), and 90mm Soft focus — which is like adding a really soft filter to get those semi-blurred surreal photo samples.

I can write more, but I would rather my images do the talking. For some of these shots, I post-process using the camera’s other filter settings including Leica Vivid, Leica Natural, Leica B&W, High Contrast B&W, Sepia, Blue, and a bunch of other filters like KP160 and R600 (and more). With some of these images, I applied the Leica watermark afterwards using the built-in editing tool. The iconic red Leica watermark is really something worth showing off!

Some observations: when doing group shots, Portrait mode has a bit of difficulty identifying all the heads on focus. I guess Portrait mode is really meant for more artistic shots with very obvious background blur as seen in this image of a football team huddle with really bright fill lights. In that case, shoot using normal camera mode.

I’ve been going on about the Xiaomi 14 as a camera, but we have to remember it’s also a phone!And a pretty good one at that.

On the surface the device stands tall with its specs sheet: Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor with Adreno GPU, 12GB + 512GB RAM and storage (this is the one I am currently using but there is also a 256GB version). 1000 nits display (it can jack up to 3000 nits), 120Hz refresh rate, 90W HyperCharge (Xiaomi’s version of QuickCharge / SUPERVOOC), but I was also able to push fast charging using a MOMAX Flow fast charger. Although the Xiaomi 14 has fast-charging capabilities, it has a smaller 4610mAh battery (well, more than 4000mAh but still less than 5000mAh). You may be able to get through a day with a full charge if you stick to browsing, some social media, and some photography.

Running games, although without lag, will drain it quite fast. Running a full Simulated Universe session with Honkai Star Rail drained my battery from 100% to 85%. Because the device is quite small, heat management is also an issue. The phone noticeably heats up with several processes running at the same time. So I am torn: I know I am running a flagship device that can truly handle multiple operations simultaneously, but I can’t help but notice the heat. Wearing thin pants will make this more evident as it seems you have a mini heater in your pocket. That being said, although it can run games well, I don’t in order to preserve battery integrity and overall wear and tear. 

Speaking of wear and tear, Xiaomi promises 4 years of Android updates and five years of security patches. It is worth noting that the device runs HyperOS, not MIUI which is typically the more “premium” OS of Xiaomi running on top of Android. It’s less cluttered, more minimalist and brings about several optimizations to the device.


I stand by the Xiaomi 14 as a photography companion first, and a performance flagship second. The smaller screen real estate may turn off some users but again it’s a case to case basis: I have made the case to treat it like a pocket travel camera. And hey it’s a Leica!


  • It’s a Leica! Master Lens system delivers amazing photography experience
  • Dual SIM with eSIM support
  • Stock phone case is quite adequate
  • Loud audio


  • Smaller battery in the flagship series
  • Heat issues

Do you need a second opinion? Take a look at another review of the Xiaomi 14 here.