Xiaomi is best known for its affordable range of smartphones which coincidentally, make up the bulk of the company’s sales. But, that hasn’t deterred the brand from experimenting with flashy devices and innovative concepts. Take the company’s Mi 11 Ultra, for instance, which among other things, featured a stacked camera array. It even shipped with a tiny OLED display on the back of the phone! The company’s 12S Ultra from last year upped the ante again by bundling an industry-first, 1-inch sensor.
By now, the company has the flagship formula at the back of its hands and the brand’s latest endeavor is a testament to the same. I am, of course, talking about the Xiaomi 13 Pro that was recently unveiled to the masses. And, having spent some time with the phone, I strongly feel that it is the company’s best foot forward in the premium space. Here’s why.
I could be preaching to a choir but the Xiaomi 13 Pro looks decidedly unexciting. Don’t get me wrong, the smartphone doesn’t look bad, per se. If anything, the handset exudes luxury and is quite possibly, the most well-built phone that has come across my desk. Be that as it may, the smartphone’s design will not turn heads and to the untrained eye, the device will look like any other Android phone from afar.
On that note, the smartphone uses ceramic and metal for its construction, which makes it a tad more robust than its all-glass counterparts. More notably, the phone’s back feels velvety to the touch. So much so, on numerous occasions, my heart skipped a beat when I was trying to pick it up as the device nearly slipped through my fingers.
On the bright side, the back of the phone, as well as its display swoop gently into the metal rail, thereby giving the impression that it has sleek edges. Moreover, the 13 Pro comes with a gorgeous camera module that partitions each lens inside a 2×2 grid. Now, sure enough, the unit swoops outwards by quite some margin. But, that is to be expected when you’re buying a phone with a 1-inch sensor.
The only downside of the camera array is that the phone wobbles quite a bit when kept on a flat surface. Thankfully, Xiaomi bundles a TPU case with the device that somewhat levels out its chassis. So, if you must use the phone when it’s laying flat on its back, slap on the case for good measure.
Coming back to the design of the phone, the Xiaomi 13 Pro can be picked up in two different hues, namely Ceramic White and Ceramic Black. I was sent the white colorway for review and if you’re eyeing the phone, I’d recommend it is the color to go for. You see, the phone’s glossy black finish is extremely prone to smudges and it attracts fingerprints like nobody’s business. Conversely, the white shade requires less maintenance and looks a smidge more elegant too.
With that said, the phone is quite heavy and tips the scales at 229 grams. Add to that its bulging camera module and you’ll find it hard to stow the phone inside the pocket of slim-fit jeans.
Thankfully, the smartphone boasts excellent weight distribution and the device didn’t feel top-heavy during my stint with the phone. I should also add that the phone’s haptics was to my liking, although I much preferred the tighter feedback of the Xiaomi 12 Pro.
One of my biggest gripes with Xiaomi flagships in the past has to do with the lack of any IP rating. Well, Xiaomi has addressed the issue with the 13 Pro too. To that end, the device comes with IP68 certification and can be used near a waterbody without any hassles. Do note that the Indian variants of the smartphone don’t come with any official IP rating. However, per the brand, the smartphones have been constructed in the same vein as the models sold overseas. So, even though the device doesn’t get any official IP certification in India, it should still be somewhat impervious to damage from water.
Moreover, the phone also comes with a fantastic in-display fingerprint sensor which unlocks it in the blink of an eye. Additionally, you can unlock the phone by using the built-in facial recognition tech as well. It’s a bit finicky, especially in dimly lit environments but it gets the job done.
Display and Audio
The Xiaomi 13 Pro’s display is a treat to look at. Spec-wise, the E6 AMOLED panel measures 6.73 inches and comes with a WQHD+ resolution. Add to that, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is among the handful of devices that can relay media encoded in HDR 10 as well as Dolby Vision HDR codecs. As you might’ve guessed by now, text and images appear superbly crisp on the display. The panel exhibits deep, dark blacks too, which makes watching shows or movies shot in a gloomy setting more immersive.
So, you’ll revel in watching movies like Uncharted and The Old Guard, or TV shows like Daredevil or Witcher on the phone. And since we’re on the subject, I should also add that I didn’t notice any ‘black crush’ issue crop up when I was watching HDR media on the smartphone.
Unfortunately, as is the case with most curved-screen phones, the handset’s display does exhibit some color-shifting, especially when viewed at an angle.
That said, the display can get extremely bright – in fact, the Xiaomi 13 Pro’s screen is brighter than the one on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra too! On that note, the panel offers a peak brightness of 1,900 nits, which is mind-boggling, to say the least.
Needless to say, I didn’t have to squint my eyes to read messages when I was out and about. More importantly, the panel can refresh at up to 120Hz, meaning you’ll be able to bask in slick animations and smooth UI transitions.
Interestingly, unlike Samsung’s S23 range of flagships, you can lock the Xiaomi 13 Pro’s display refresh rate to 120Hz. Moreover, the device gets a highly customizable Always-On Display utility too. Do note that enabling the features mentioned above will tank the phone’s battery life more quickly. On the upside, you can drop the display resolution to FHD+ if you want the phone to last longer.
All things considered, the Xiaomi 13 Pro’s panel is right up there with the best displays I’ve seen on some other flagships. If anything, the device comes with a curved screen that is more susceptible to accidental touches than a phone with a flat display. Moreover, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a reliable screen protector for the device, which is a bummer considering the Xiaomi 13 Pro doesn’t ship with one applied out of the box.
As for audio, the handset comes with dual speakers that support Dolby Atmos. The speakers sound terrific, offer good stereo separation, and can get quite loud as well. Rest assured, the phone’s display and audio prowess will not disappoint avid media buffs.
No surprises here, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is among the fastest phones you can buy today. The device is backed by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC, which works alongside 12GB of LPDDR5X memory and 256GB of UFS 4.1 storage.
Going by the smartphone’s spec sheet, you’d be wise to assume that the device packs a wallop in the performance department. And, you’d be absolutely correct. Take the Xiaomi 13 Pro’s GeekBench 6 scores, for instance, wherein the phone overturned 1,925 and 4,488 points in the single-core and multi-core runs. To put things in perspective, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus – which is backed by the same SoC – secured 1,698 and 4,520 points respectively.
Turn the page over to Antutu Benchmark and you’ll get a similar result. Here, the device smashed the one million tally barrier and yielded 12,69,529 points. Making matters that more interesting, the smartphone’s stability scores are off the charts – and in a good way.
Although the phone heats up considerably, it barely throttles under strenuous loads. To give you a better picture, take a look at the device’s CPU Throttle test numbers.
Here, the handset was taxed with 20 threads for a period of 30 minutes. And, despite enabling the phone’s high-performance mode to ensure maximum throughput, the device throttled to just 90 percent of its peak performance.
Quite frankly, the Xiaomi 13 Pro’s benchmark figures are in a league of their own. And, the handset’s real-world performance doesn’t disappoint either. To that end, I don’t recall running into any instances of lag or stutter whilst using the phone as my daily driver. Apps opened swiftly and the phone multitasked briskly once I had tweaked MIUI’s battery-saver settings. Notably, the phone tends to kill apps running in the background aggressively.
So, I had to manually lift battery restrictions from select apps. More to the point, the phone can run demanding games without breaking a sweat too. In fact, I could max out CoD Mobile on the set and leverage the 90FPS mode on the Xiaomi 13 Pro.
Genshin Impact ran flawlessly at 60fps too, with most, if not all settings maxed out. The FPS did dip when I was exploring the vegetation-heavy environments, but that is to be expected from any phone.
All things considered, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is a godsend for spec enthusiasts.
Software and Battery Life
If this isn’t your first rodeo with a Xiaomi phone, then you’ll know that the company’s handsets ship with a custom interface dubbed MIUI layered on top of Android. In the case of the Xiaomi 13 Pro, the smartphone comes with MIUI v14 on top of Android 13. Now, MIUI v14 is a far cry from stock Android and the heavily-skinned interface has its share of pros and cons.
To that end, the utility comes with a truckload of customization features and from stylizing the lock screen, to choosing a custom theme and revamping the look of core apps like the phone’s dialer, you can do it all. You’ll also get some more nifty features bundled with the custom skin, including but not limited to hiding apps and documents inside a private vault of sorts and scanning your heart rate via the fingerprint sensor.
That’s right, the light emanating from the fingerprint scanner can measure the changes in your blood flow, thereby giving you insights into your heart rate. The feature takes about 15 seconds to run its course, after which, you will be presented with the HR reading. While all that’s good and dandy, the custom skin comes with a lot of bloatware.
Moreover, the company’s apps tend to clutter the notifications tray with irrelevant prompts. As such, I had to go into the settings menu and disable notifications for all in-house apps which couldn’t be uninstalled from the set.
I’d also like to point out that the smartphone will lock you out of gesture-based navigation if you use a third-party launcher. Disappointingly enough, the device doesn’t let you use third-party icon packs either and you’ll have to contend with the ones that are available in the company’s theme store.
This reminds me, if you do end up buying the phone, search for the ‘amazing icon pack’ theme. The theme has serviceable icons that don’t take the shape of a square or a circle. All things considered, MIUI has ways to go and the interface could do with a bit less clutter.
As far as the battery backup is concerned, the smartphone ships with a 4,820mAh cell that can fast charge at 120W. As such, you should be able to completely charge the device in well under 25 minutes with the bundled charger. Moreover, the device supports wireless charging too and can top up at 50W via select wireless charging pads.
More notably, the handset can comfortably last a full day off a single charge. In fact, with the display set to WQHD+ resolution and the processor chugging along in performance mode, I was getting close to six hours of screen on time with heavy usage.
Coming to the meat of the matter, the Xiaomi 13 Pro comes with a triple camera array that is headlined by a 50MP Sony IMX989, 1-inch sensor. The auxiliary shooters include a 50MP telephoto sensor with a 3.2x (75mm) optical range and a 50MP ultrawide snapper with a 115-degree FoV. For selfies, the smartphone gets a 32MP snapper up front. Now, there’s a lot to dissect here so let’s take a closer look at the images snapped from the main sensor under ideal lighting conditions.
First and foremost, you should know that Xiaomi has partnered with legendary camera maker Leica to finetune the photography experience on the 13 Pro. To that end, you can use two separate processing modes when clicking pictures with the device. These include Leica Authentic and Leica Vibrant. Now, as their moniker suggests, Leica Vibrant processes images with a bit more pizazz, whereas Leica Authentic holds fast to how the scene actually looked.
Understandably, you’ll notice that the Leica Authentic photo mode offers a more neutral white balance. Further, images shot with the mode exhibit more realistic colors as well. I’d also like to point out that with the mode selected, the smartphone doesn’t go out of its way to bring out the shadows in a shot.
That said, I preferred the output of the Leica Vibrant mode a smidge better. To that end, I was in awe of the contrast and the peppy colors overturned by the phone when clicking photos in that mode.
For instance, if you look at the slider attached above, then you can tell that the device has brought out the shadows near the foliage in the ‘Leica Vibrant’ image. Furthermore, the color of the generator appears a smidge darker too. You’ll also notice that the sky appears bluer in the snap. Other than that, though, the images are neck and neck and offer similar sharpness and equally good exposure metering.
The images attached above substantiate my findings further. Here, the snap captured with the Leica Vibrant preset has, once again, added a tinge of blue to the sky. Moreover, in a bid to bring out more shadows, the green flower pot appears oddly brighter too. However, the Leica Authentic photo is truer to life.
Photographic presets aside, I have no gripes with the 13 Pro’s main sensor. To that end, the unit is quick to focus and doesn’t exhibit any shutter lag. What’s more, the images snapped by the sensor appear superbly sharp and offer oodles of details around the center and the periphery of the frame.
The photos are replete with splendid, punchy colors that, unlike the samples from some competing devices, don’t appear gaudy either. The dynamic range was to my liking as well and you’ll notice that the smartphone tackles HDR scenes really well.
The same is true for lowlight stills as well. For instance, in the samples attached above, you’ll notice that the smartphone has resolved all the different light sources commendably. Moreover, the compositions are void of any noise, and be it the elements in the frame, or the night sky, the photos exhibit ample sharpness.
The handset’s selfie camera does a half-decent job too. To that end, the subject’s skin tone doesn’t come across as doctored or edited. Moreover, the sensor captures adequate details around the subject’s face as well. In contrast, the lowlight selfies do appear a tad soft and that’s despite using the built-in, screen flash functionality. What’s more, they tend to have a lot of noise as well.
On the upside, the Xiaomi 13 Pro gets terrific zoom capabilities. To that end, the device can take a 2x crop of the main sensor. You can even use the dedicated telephoto sensor to take images at 3.2x zoom. The camera app even has the aforementioned zoom presets plastered above the shutter button, thereby allowing users to sift through different focal lengths seamlessly.
More notably, images shot at 2x appear quite sharp. So much so, you’d be hard-pressed to tell that the phone is not using a dedicated telephoto sensor to click the stills. If anything, I noticed a slight color temperature disparity in the photos.
The photos clicked with the dedicated telephoto sensor are excellent too. In fact, I was in awe of the natural bokeh effect in some of the images. The same is evident if you look at the snap of the red flower. Here, the blur effect has mapped its way around the petals of the flower elegantly. Moreover, the photos have bountiful details, which is apparent if you zoom into the edges or the center of the images.
More importantly, the smartphone gets a Leica-backed, Master Portrait mode that can click beautiful images of human subjects with distinctive blur effects. To that end, the device can click photos at four different focal lengths, namely 35mm, 50mm, 75mm, and 90mm.
The 35mm preset snags images with a black-and-white filter, whereas the 50mm preset adds a swirly bokeh effect to the images. And, while these might seem like marketing gimmicks, the presets do add a refreshing spin to portrait photography.
Understandably, each of the four Master Portrait modes has its own flair and rendition. I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed the 35mm mode, which clicks moody and – for the lack of a better word – melancholic photos. The 75mm portrait mode clicked resoundingly sharp images of my friends and family too. In fact, I was taken aback by the efficacy of the blur effect and the details encapsulated in the snaps. That said, the mode does add a ‘bloom’ effect around the subject’s face.
All things considered, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is among the better camera phones out there. Thanks to its software niceties, the device adds a fun twist to photography. So much so, I am yet to take a ‘bad’ photo with the phone and I reckon you wouldn’t be able to either. The same holds true when recording videos with the device as well.
To that end, the smartphone can shoot at up to 8K resolution. Realistically, you will be shooting 1080p clips at 60FPS with the device. And, the test footage came out brilliantly as well. To wit, the clips showcased ample stability, good exposure metering, and vivid colors.
The Xiaomi 13 Pro checks most, if not all of the right boxes. The device is stupendously fast, offers a solid battery backup, and clicks incredible photos with its triple-camera array. The smartphone’s design, albeit not unique, feels sumptuous too. What’s more, the handset is enveloped in Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus and gets an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance as well.
There’s fast wireless charging and faster wired charging onboard and the handset features a splendid display too. If anything, I am not the biggest fan of Xiaomi’s MIUI interface. Moreover, the handset has a lot of heft to it. So, it’s not ideal for folks looking for pocketable Android devices. Regardless, of its asking price, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is a stellar deal.
To that end, the phone costs €1,299 (Rs 79,999 in India), and for the price, goes up against the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus (see review). Between the two, the 13 Pro offers a more pixel-dense display, faster wired and wireless charging speeds, and a superior camera array.
That said, the Galaxy S23 Plus offers a better interface that will be supported for longer. Between the two, I would personally get the Xiaomi 13 Pro in a heartbeat. That said, you will enjoy using the Galaxy S23 Plus just as much, should you opt for the phone.
Last updated on 20 March, 2023
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