Xiaomi 13 Pro Review: The Total Package?

The Xiaomi 13 Pro has been a long time coming – or at least it seems so for us in the West. It launched on home soil in December, but the coveted 1in camera sensor and continued partnership with imaging specialist Leica means phone photography fans are counting down the day to the global debut.

We’ve seen 1in sensors in other phones, most recently Vivo X90 Pro, but Xiaomi actually helped Sony develop the one used here, so the firm should know how to get the best pictures possible. No skimping has been done elsewhere on the spec sheet, with the latest Snapdragon CPU, a top-tier display and some seriously fast charging times. All technology comes at a cost, but one that’s still easy on the wallet iPhone 14 Pro or Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Number 13 is unlucky for some. Could the opposite be true here?

Design & Build: Heavy heater

There’s no power around it: The Xiaomi 13 Pro is a beast of a phone. A 6.73in screen makes it slightly smaller than the mammoth Galaxy S23 Ultra, and it’s almost as thick. The curved display edges and rounded glass back help give the impression of a slim build once you pick it up, but there’s no disguising the 229g bulk.

It still looks absolutely premium with a gunmetal frame made from bio-ceramic and polished rear panel. The material isn’t the best for being free from scratches, and we wish Xiaomi would find somewhere else to put the CE information (which otherwise spoils the mirror-like finish a bit), but after a week of testing it proved perfectly scratch-resistant. The front also has Gorilla Glass Victus.

The UK handsets come in an obsidian-like black color which is very easy on the eyes, although the white version available in other regions has arguably more impact thanks to its contrasting black rear camera module. Its chunky square shape helps differentiate the 13 Pro from the current crop of Android flagships, which have mostly gone for rounded bumps. The way it blends smoothly into the glass back helps avoid copycat complaints even from the latest iPhones.

The waveform-like speaker grill on the bottom edge is a nice touch, as is the inclusion of an IR blaster. Western brands have largely ditched it with the 3.5mm headphone port, but it’s still a must-have on many Chinese handsets. Xiaomi follows the expandable storage crowd, though: the SIM tray has dual slots, neither of which will accept a microSD card.

We dinged last year Xiaomi 12 Pro As for the lack of any water resistance, it’s great to see the firm tweaking things for 2023. The 13 Pro is IP68 rated, and will comfortably hold off a rain shower or accidental submersion.

Screen and Sound: Simply stunning

Even the most demanding screen snob shouldn’t find any part of the Xiaomi 13 Pro’s display worth grumbling about. It has a flagship-worthy 3200×1440 resolution, stretching over 6.73in for an impressive 522ppi pixel density. It ticks all the HDR boxes with support for Dolby Vision, HLG and HDR10+ And the Samsung-sourced E6 AMOLED panel has a 120Hz dynamic refresh rate for near-instant response when scrolling.

OK, maybe the curved screen edges won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the radius is pretty shallow, so light reflection isn’t a big deal. Viewing angles are great, and there’s a promised 1900nit peak brightness on par with the best Android phones It increases height enough to see clearly even in the brightest sunlight, and gives amazing depth to HDR videos.

The refresh rate defaults to a dynamic mode out of the box, which is incredibly smart enough to respond to any onscreen motion and lock video apps like YouTube to low frame rates. You can manually turn on 120Hz all the time if you want, but we see little reason to hit battery life when Dynamic mode is so effective.

Colors are surprisingly vibrant at the default Vivid setting, giving photos and videos enough punch without appearing unrealistic. There are incredible opportunities for customization, including P3 and sRGB presets, a color temperature wheel, and contrast, gamma, and saturation sliders. If you want to get properly nerdy you can even tweak individual red, green and blue sliders.

There’s also an adaptive color mode, which warms or cools based on ambient light, and a reading mode that turns back blue light. It gives a convincing impression of paper while scrolling through ebook pages. It’s comfortably one of the best screens you’ll find on a smartphone today.

We can’t say the same about the dual speakers. They are impressively loud with no hint of distortion, but lean a bit more towards the upper end of the frequency range. It never delivered much bass, but the trebles dominate here in a way they simply don’t. OnePlus 11. Disabling the Dolby Atmos effects helps a lot, and when everything is heavy on the down-firing main driver, the earpiece tweeter helps balance things out nicely.

Camera: The Trio of Awesomeness

If the Leica branding and absolutely gigantic camera bump aren’t big enough clues, this is a phone that takes its photography seriously. The main snapper uses a 1-inch sensor, which was regularly seen on premium compact cameras until smartphones virtually shut down the category, and the three rear cameras have 50MP pixel counts.

The telephoto lens now offers 3.2x optical zoom, up from the 2x seen on the outgoing Xiaomi 12 Pro, which should help it better compete with the latest Galaxy S23 and iPhone 14. Optical image stabilization is present here, as well as the main sensor, which helps in dark environments.

All of this adds up to impeccable daylight performance across the board, with the natural bokeh blur we’ve come to expect from any phone rocking a 1in sensor. like Vivo X90 Pro We tested earlier this year, and Xiaomi’s own 12S Ultra From 2022, the 13 Pro gives a much greater impression of depth. It’s a brilliant portrait camera even without using a dedicated mode. Sensibly it automatically switches to the ultrawide lens for close-ups, where soft focus isn’t always desirable – say when you’re trying to photograph important documents. Because who owns a scanner these days?

You’ll miss out on a powerful 10x optical zoom lens, like you’ll find on Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra, and digital magnification tops out at 70x, but Xiaomi’s sharpening algorithms are very effective. In good light, we were happy with shots taken at 15x and 20x zoom.

There are many choices in portrait mode, including 30mm black and white and 50mm bokeh options that use the main sensor, and 75mm portrait and 90mm soft focus that use telephoto and rely more on software processing for depth effects. Stray hair and glasses still prove tricky with the latter two, and the larger main sensor yields better results.

We saw amazing detail and dynamic range, accurate exposure and non-existent noise in good lighting, with very subdued image sharpness to boot. We were also impressed with the phone’s focusing and processing speed.

The Leica partnership brings a choice of processing modes: Authentic prioritizes realistic colors, while Vibrant goes for a slightly punchy look, which may not be true to life, but is arguably visually more pleasing. The differences aren’t dramatic, so there’s little incentive to snap the same scene twice – just pick what you like and stick with it. Once you use the Leica-inspired filters you can expect particularly subtle colors or even more vibrant colors. They come with contrast-heavy grayscale and retro-inspired tones that mimic analog film. Creative types will love experimenting with them.

The main camera is easily among the best around in low light, with the large sensor capable of using faster shutter speeds to capture more true-to-life images. Expect very little noise, accurate colors and plenty of detail. Ultrawide and telephoto aren’t quite as convincing here, but it’s a close-run thing – and still on par with our current favorite phone cameras from Apple, Samsung and Google.

Performance and software: Strongly flagship

With a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 CPU, 12GB of RAM and your choice of 256 or 512GB of on-board storage, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is as powerful as any high-end phone launching in 2023. It is located at the top of the pile. Synthetic testing, and always feels responsive in demanding real-world tasks like editing 4K video footage or live streaming. Split-screen multitasking works like a charm, even if activating it is a slightly cumbersome three-tap process.

Gaming is also a dream. Even graphically intense titles like Diablo Immortal and Call of Duty Mobile ran flawlessly at their highest settings, and we didn’t notice any degradation after an extended session. Screen resolution defaults to 2400×1080 out of the box, which takes some of the strain off the GPU, but things were still pretty GP when going to full 3200×1440. If it shows up on the Google Play Store in the next twelve months, it should be fully playable here.

It helps that the latest version of Xiaomi’s Android skin includes a Game Turbo mode that frees up resources and enhances touch responsiveness. MIUI’s other, more general battery optimizations had a habit of swallowing incoming notifications in previous years, but these are mostly disabled by default in version 14.

The phone runs Android 13 under Custom UI, which adds a few Apple-like extras, including a separate notification tray and quick settings menu. There are also fewer own-brand apps this time around, with Google’s own doing most of the heavy lifting. Xiaomi has promised three major Android updates and five years of security patches, which is now the minimum expected for a high-end handset. Rivals are starting to promise four years of updates, so perhaps Xiaomi needs to step up here.

Battery life: Leadership for speed

At 4820mAh, the Xiaomi 13 Pro’s battery is modest enough for a big-screen flagship – but there’s nothing modest about how quickly it drains power once you plug it in. The bundled power brick maxes out at 120W, which is enough for a full charge in twenty minutes. That’s almost three times faster than the best Apple or Samsung offers right now.

Wireless charging is almost as impressive. 50W isn’t the fastest I’ve seen from my phone, but it’s definitely up there, and even surpasses what a Galaxy S23 Ultra can handle via USB-C. Reverse wireless charging is a handy addition that will stop you shorting out if your true wireless earbuds run out of puff before you reach the mains outlet.

Do you need to charge the phone often though? Not in our experience. Even after lots of camera snaps, hours of watching YouTube videos, an hour of gaming and lots of social media scrolling in between, we made it through the entire day without dipping into the red. It still had enough juice to last overnight and a quick refill over breakfast would last another 24 hours.

Heavy gamers will still want to keep the Power Brick handy, but that’s true of most top-tier smartphones today.

Xiaomi 13 Pro Verdict

Xiaomi 13 Pro Review Homescreen

In isolation, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is an absolute gem of a phone. It’s extremely powerful, has an absolutely gorgeous display, and takes incredible, mind-blowing photos in almost all conditions Battery life is on par with other flagships, but charging speed is on another level.

Xiaomi has also addressed the criticism leveled at the previous-gen model, adding an IP rating and adding more magnification to the telephoto camera. Performance is no longer hampered by hot-running CPUs. The software experience can be a bit clunky, but that’s a minor gripe considering how much it undercuts heavy-hitting rivals like the Galaxy S23 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro.

Anyone serious about photography should have this on their shortlist.

Xiaomi 13 Pro Technical Specifications

screen 6.73in, 3200×1440 AMOLED w/ 120Hz, HDR10+/Dolby Vision/HLG
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Octa-Core
memories 12GB of RAM
the camera 50MP, 1in, f/1.9 w/ OIS + 50MP, f/2.0 telephoto w/ OIS + 50MP, f/2.2 ultrawide rear
32MP, f/2.0 front
storage 256GB on-board
operating system Android 13 w/ MIUI 14
battery 4820mAh w/ 120W wired charging, 50W wireless charging, reverse charging
dimension 163x75x8.4mm, 229g

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