Slowly building a reputation for making some of the most promising smartphone camera systems, Xiaomi flagships are something I look forward to now. Although the timing of this review might be a bit suspect, considering the 13 Ultra is almost trickling into reviewers’ hands as I write this, the 13 Pro hands-on impression! Sharing the same, giant 1in Sony IMX989 sensor, the Ultra uses a two-step aperture and a periscope lens for telephoto, but let’s focus our attention on the issue at hand, the capable 13 Pro for now…
Xiaomi 13 Pro review
Do we Leica it or not?
Not breaking any moulds, Xiaomi has stayed in its lane with just the right amount of CMF experimentation. Our review sample came in a Ceramic White finish that was premium looking (and feeling), with curved edges and seamless construction that were in sync with its price tag. I appreciate the single housing for all the lenses. It is much easier to wipe off smudges and prevent dust build-up around the individual lenses like on other competitors. The included clear silicone TPU case is a must-try accessory if you aren’t a fan of accidental touches on curved screens or generally have a tendency to lose grip on things.
Software, in the form of MIUI14 built on Android 13 is what you’d expect - smooth, colourful and hugely customizable, but with some bloatware. Yet, the Quickball, back touch and the huge library of themes ensure that your Xiaomi 13 Pro doesn’t look like any other 13 Pro out there if you wish. The 6.7in 2K AMOLED display does justice to all the vibrancy of the OS with 1900nits of peak brightness and Dolby Vision and HDR10+ compatibility. Needless to say, viewing content in full-screen mode is absolutely immersive and satisfying, thanks to the dual-speaker set-up too that is adequate if not standard setting.
No surprises here! The biggest talking point here is the deepening collaboration between Xiaomi and Leica to massage maximum performance out of its triple-lens system. Similar to previous flagships, Xiaomi sticks to equal resolution for all three rear cameras, which is 50MP and a front 32MP selfie cam. Two Leica modes are available for the rear cameras, Vibrant and Authentic and as the names suggest, they do exactly that. Vibrant just adds a bit more pop to the colours and a wider dynamic range to grab attention on social media whereas the Authentic is the more real-to-life rendition. Switch to Portrait mode and there are more Leica licks with four distinct modes that work in tandem with different focal lengths of 35, 50, 75 and 90mm. The 35mm is only available in B&W mode, harking back to the classic Leica cameras whereas the 90mm soft-focus option creates a dreamy, blurry bokeh that can make every pic look like a bridal shot, so use it creatively!
All of the camera tricks are implemented without drama or stutter, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen2 SoC that can also dip into the storage for additional RAM if need be. The power can be easily felt during photography, with even 50MP images being processed in half a second, letting you shoot faster. Similarly with the RAM boost, you can get up to twice as many FPS in Call of Duty, making it a gaming powerhouse too. It does a tad bit warm to the touch after a few minutes of gaming at full throttle, but then again, every other flagship phone does too!
120W charging on the 4820mAh battery is good enough to get you from nought to 100% in less than 30mins. But if you want to go wireless, 50W wireless charging is impressive too and for added convenience, 10W reverse wireless charging for your earbuds is as good as it gets in 2023. Although, with the inclusion of Bluetooth 5.3 and WiFi 7, Xiaomi has ensured that it is future-ready too.
Since most flagship Androids using the identical Snadragon SoC perform within a similar sandbox, let’s jump right into the camera performance, shall we? Leica’s image processing pipeline and shutter sound notwithstanding, if you treat this like a flagship triple cam set-up, it lives up to the hype, mostly. 50MP mode delivers more detail and sharpness, but at the cost of a warmer colour temperature. Leica Authentic or Leica Vibrant can be used in conjunction with any of the Leica Master Lens portrait modes and the 35mm B&W option does unlock a whole different side to your creativity, and of course your subjects.
Portrait mode is where the 13 Pro shines, with a natural bokeh that does segmentation amazingly well on humans and captures the classic Leica-like warmth and drama. While it may be digitally achieved, Xiaomi has successfully managed to not make the images look over-processed and I found myself eager to try out different angles and focal lengths.
Low-light results are exemplary, managing to preserve the highlights and shadow detail with better colour preservation than most of the competition. Sure, it does tend to over-brigthen the images, but it does make for amazing social-media shots due to the impressive dynamic range. The 32MP selfie cam on the contrary looks a bif soft and pales in comparison to the rear cam set-up.
Teleprompter is a great feature built-into the native camer app that works well for vloggers or when you want to do a PTC for a social media rant/reel. Like everything else these days, there is AI assistance that will make your moon shots better than NASA’s last release and a capable super macro mode that cleverly uses moving lens elements from the telephoto camera to adjust the focal length.
As a daily driver, the MIUI14 is fun and colurful with its plethora of customisations and intuitive graphics that visually illustrate some of the hidden enhancements. There are enough ways to dull your shine and maximise battery life, but no one ever buys a flagship phone to not charge it for three days. The battery was good enough to last a day or less, depending on how demanding you are as a user. While the Indian edition doesn’t get to wear an IP rating, Xiaomi claims it is the exact same device as sold in other markets where it does get an IP rating.
Mid-end brands creeping into the premium segment sometimes struggle with differentiating within their high-end offerings. The Xiaomi 13 Pro might be faced with that conundrum with the imminent release of the 13 Ultra which is a marginal step-up. But if you want one of the best snappers in the business right now, with a healthy dose of authentic Leica special sauce, the Xiaomi 13 Pro wont dissapoint.
Doesn’t set new standards in design, but an honest and successful attempt at making one of the best cameraphones around!
|Display:||6.7in WQHD+ 120Hz|
|Processor:||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2|
|OS:||Android 13 with MIUI14|
|Camera:||50MP triple rear cam / 32MP selfie cam|