Xiaomi 13 Pro Review: Cameras stand true to the promise
- Xiaomi 13 Pro is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.
- The camera set-up is co-engineered with Leica and features the world’s first 1-inch sensor in a smartphone.
- The smartphone comes at a price of ₹79,999.
Xiaomi's latest flagship smartphone the 13 Pro goes on sale today. Over the years, the smartphone wars have taken different routes and flavors. The flavor of the season now happens to be the camera. Don’t believe me? Look around, from Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro, Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra, and the OnePlus 11 , camera technology is the war zone now. In this space where brands are offering camera set-ups in partnership with veteran camera brands, Leica coming on board with Xiaomi is not surprising. And the way Xiaomi is promoting its co-engineering efforts with Leica, it sounds like a big deal. So, is the Xiaomi 13 Pro the new camera king? And how does it perform in other key areas? I answer that in my full review.
Price & Availability
Xiaomi is offering the 13 Pro in one variant. Packing in 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. The device is priced at ₹79,999and you can buy it from Amazon, Xiaomi’s D2C website, and Mi retail stores.
I am taking a different route in my review this time starting with the camera performance first. And why not? This is what excites me the most. On paper, Xiaomi has delivered jaw-dropping specs. The primary sensor is a 50MP 1-inch IMX989 with an f/1.9 aperture. This is the biggest sensor on a smartphone - ever.
Then there is a 50MP telephoto sensor with floating lens technology, another exciting addition for a smartphone. Finally, there is a 50MP ultra-wide sensor with a 115-degree field of view.
Before I jump into the samples, a special shout-out to the Leica-themed camera app here. The red trims add to the character and make the smartphone special. As you can see in the image below.
Coming to the primary sensor first. The 1-inch IMX989 is unlike anything I have tested in a while. From the color science to details and dynamic range, the camera just doesn’t seem to miss. Yes, at times, the results are a bit oversaturated sometimes. But the details are generally top notch. As you can see in the image above, the orange tiles on the building are highlighted, but the details are top-notch. I have tried to zoom in on the pictures, and it is only in the final pinch that the details start to distort.
This is where color science comes in since I have clicked pictures of people with different skin tones. As you can see in the samples below, the camera enhances the skin tone, making it a bit lighter, but it’s not completely off the source. If you use pro mode to click pictures with some adjustment, this too shall go away.
Night photography is pretty solid, too, I have tested the camera in low-lighting conditions and under artificial lighting. However, it will require some time to capture the perfect shot.
Then we move to the 50MP telephoto lens with the floating lens technology. To make things clear, this is nowhere close to the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Particularly in terms of details, but do I respect it? Definitely. The floating lens makes its presence felt when the camera exceeds your expectations. As you can see in the collage below, I have shared a sample of .6X, 2X,10X,30X, and 70X. There is a noticeable color shift once you reach the 30X mark. But the details tend to lose out only on the brink.
Coming to the section which is my favorite, portraits. If you are a fan of black and white portraits then Xiaomi 13 Pro is the smartphone for you. I have clicked multiple images from the device and frankly, all are worthy of a Time magazine cover. But, mind you, I am not talking about the black-and-white filter in the gallery.
You also get Leica centric frames in the gallery which might interest you.
The portrait results are stunning with the master-lens system presets available in the camera app. My favorite, of course, as I mentioned, is the black & white 35mm setting. Swirly bokeh is a close second that the camera takes at a 50mm focal length. 75mm portrait shots are pretty solid too, and definitely the best in the price range I have seen. 90mm soft focus was not up to my taste mostly because it tends to distort the subject, and edge detection takes a hit. On the bottom two images, I have made a collage in the order of my review.
The super macro mode, under natural lighting, can deliver detailed images which can pass off as wallpapers. As you can see in the samples below, the colors on the flower are accurate, with all the details in place.
The camera’s video prowess is a bit understated when we put it against pictures. I can’t pitch it against an iPhone 14 Pro, but it has to be the strongest camera I have reviewed on an Android in a while. For reference - I have shot a B-roll for my latest video with the camera at 4K 30FPS, and the results are clean. Yes, the saturation issue remains where the reds stand out.
The camera can record up to 8K videos, but the files tend to get heavier and I could feel the back warming up. So I suggest sticking to 4K.
Moving to the selfie camera, this is a 32MP sensor which in comparison to the primary set-up is definitely underwhelming. But as a stand-alone unit, it can deliver some sharp images. Where it misses out is how it softens up the skin tones and tends to make them look artificial. This is particularly annoying with the AI turned on. In no way am I saying that the AI enhancement here is not well executed, but it’s not suitable to my taste.
Now that we have addressed the camera, It’s time to talk about the design of the Xiaomi 13 Pro. In terms of looks, Xiaomi has gone out and changed the aesthetics of the device and not the overall form factor. Like the 12 Pro, this is a glass sandwich design with a curved display, up front. The device feels premium in every aspect and looks the part too.
I was impressed with the 12 Pro’s design last year, and the 13 Pro built on that. That being said, it is heavier than the 12 Pro, and you can feel a substantial heft to it. Majority of it can be attributed to the behemoth of a camera sensor, placed on the back.
I have big chunky hands so handling a heavy device isn’t a problem for me, and I don’t mind the extra space it takes in my pocket. However if you are someone with petite hands and prefer a lighter device, then consider this a heads up.
Turning the smartphone around we see the camera sensor with a proud Leica branding on top left. Now, if it wasn’t for the impressive results I would have complained about how huge it is. But frankly, if you are buying the device, you should be prepared to face this situation. Xiaomi is pitching it like a camera centric smartphone, and that's exactly what you get. I had the opportunity to spend some time with the 12S ultra, a device that was never launched in India. And compared to the round camera module there, this one is better and compact.
The variant with me is in the ceramic white color, which definitely looks chic. However, this is a fingerprint magnet and registers noticeable smudges that spoil the look. I would prefer going with the ceramic black instead, for this particular reason.
Other design elements are similar to the 12 Pro, with a flat top and bottom, and an aluminum frame all around. On the bottom you see a speaker grill, the Type-C port and the SIM card tray. The smartphone supports two nano SIMs.
The era of curved displays has come back and how. Every possible flagship is sporting one so no surprises we see it on the Xiaomi 13 Pro as well. This is a 6.7-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 3200 x 1440 Pixels. The bezels here are non-existent and the display is gorgeous to look at.
Xiaomi made it clear in their briefing that the display was not only developed to watch and enjoy content but also to look at the pictures you click. We get 1900 nits of peak brightness, which makes it easy to look at no matter where you stand. Delhi has had very moody weather lately, with the sky switching between sunny to cloudy with-in an hour. And between these switches I have not had any issues looking at the device. More so with the auto-brightness turned on. The 13 Pro finally gets the auto-brightness right, and it can dim or brighten up the display correctly most of the time.
The display also supports Dolby Vision and you can notice the bump in the video and audio output once it kicks in. Since the smartphone supports HD content across applications I could throw any show to the test. My choice was Doctor Strange and the multiverse of madness. Yes, I was rewatching it over the weekend. A perfect blend of well lit CGI scenes and dingy practical sets, the experience of watching it on the 13 Pro was very solid.
It maintains black levels and the clarity is top-notch. HDR performance was also impressive, with Dolby Vision enhancing the audio both in terms of pitch and details.
Here I would like to mention the audio set-up as well which is much louder than what we had in 12 Pro. The stereo speakers can cover more room and definitely add value to the content you are watching.
The display as you would expect is also very responsive. Especially in typing. I have been using the 13 Pro to type captions, messages, emails and pretty much everything. Not once, was I annoyed, something I felt while using the Samsung Galaxy S23. The default keyboard here is responsive and registers the input more precisely. This is one of the more looked past quotients while buying a smartphone, but it is definitely crucial.
It comes with a max refresh rate of 120Hz and yes it does support adaptive refresh rate as well. Fortunately, the refresh rate switches efficiently here, and I didn’t see any lag while moving between a game or a web page. This is still not as smooth as the Galaxy S23 but commendable for sure.
We also get an in-display fingerprint sensor here which is an optical unit. So of course there is a delay before it unlocks the device. Having used the S23’s ultrasonic sensor, this definitely felt slower. I found my hack by switching to face unlock which is instantaneous and mostly accurate.
Xiaomi 13 Pro comes with Android 14 out of the box which is paired together with the MiUi 14 skin. Aesthetically, the UI looks identical to any Xiaomi, Redmi or Poco device. I find it a bit disappointing considering this is a premium device. Of Course the experience is smoother here, but aesthetically it can get boring.
Coming to the usability, the MiUi 14 on the Xiaomi 13 Pro is very stable and bug free so far. As one would expect from a flagship, we do not get any shady pre-loaded app that might spoil the experience.
The UI is clean, easy on the eyes and is flexible to move around as well. Sometimes simplicity is the best way forward and it’s the case here. We get the usual MiUi benefits here like the access to themes, wallpapers and customisation options. And with a display like the 13 Pro most of them look stunning. However, I stuck to the default theme and launcher since that’s my personal preference.
MiUi 14 does bring some add-ons that I liked. Starting with the smart home device panel, which we can find in the drop down menu itself. I have 2 smart speakers at my home, both running on Google Home. Usually connecting them requires going on a dedicated app and finding them. Here I could just do a swipe and control them which was very convenient.
AdvertisementAnother feature that I enjoyed was the game turbo. I said it in my Redmi Note 12 Pro+ review as well, the game turbo in MiUi is massively underrated. Not only is it stable,but works instantly while giving you options to screen record, take a screenshot or to set custom profiles. So if you are planning to buy the 13 Pro for gaming, you will have a fun time.
Of course there are some rough edges, most notably the floating windows. We get an option to pin floating windows on the screen, and while it works mostly fine, we can’t add all the apps here. Like Instagram, an app which I use the most. I hope we can have access to all the apps down the line to get more out of the massive panel at hand.
The Xiaomi 13 Pro is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC. This is my third encounter with the processor in a matter of two months. I have tested it out on the iQOO 11, Samsung Galaxy S23 and now on the 13 Pro. And I have to admit each time I am impressed with how well it mixes up with different hardware.
On the Xiaomi 13 Pro, the performance is blazing fast as one would expect, and that reflects in the numbers as well. I ran a Geekbench 6 benchmark test on the device and the results were significantly higher than what I observed on the iQOO 11. 13 Pro had a single-core score of 1384, while the multi-core score was 5023. This is higher when we compare it against 1340 and 3994 respectively on the iQOO 11.
AdvertisementOf course a normal user might not notice the performance difference right away. But I could observe comparatively less throttling and heating on the device. I have been playing COD:Mobile everyday on the Xiaomi 13 Pro, and the output is stable. No frame drops, or surprises. The game was running on maxed out graphics and for long spells of time delivering respectable frame rates. This performance combined with the game turbo that I mentioned in the software section made me respect the gaming prowess of the smartphone.
The 13 Pro is being offered in only one configuration in India. With 256GB of internal storage and 12GB of RAM. This to me is an overkill for most users and I am sure you will not find any issues with storing your data on the device. However, if you shoot consistently in heavy formats like 4K or 8K then it might fall short. I would have preferred 512GB as a standard considering enthusiasts would like to shoot consistently with the device.
Its 12GB of RAM has been efficiently handling all tasks here, and I have not felt the need to switch to fusion memory at all.
The 4820 mAh battery on the 13 Pro has been unkillable in the last 1 week of testing, with me getting an average screen on time of 6 hours. This is with a weekend full of watching non stop content, social media and calling. This is in fact more than the iQOO 11, a device that had impressed me a lot with its battery life.
The 120W charger takes about 40 minutes to charge from 0-100% which is decent and doesn’t heat up the device either.
AdvertisementXiaomi 13 Pro also supports 50W of wireless charging. I tried using it, but ran out of patience eventually. Wired charging is a quicker option. That being said, if you charge your smartphone on the bedside overnight then you are in good hands.
Xiaomi 13 Pro is an out and out flagship which delivers on its promise of providing a great camera in a smartphone. What users might look past is the solid flagship experience the device has in store. The display, battery and processor paired with the software stability promise make it a value proposition. That being said, if camera is not the priority and Leica doesn’t excite you; you can look at other options as well. I recommend going for either OnePlus 11 (which also has a good camera and a lesser price tag) and Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus which delivers an overall better quality UI experience at the same price point.
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