The Xiaomi 13 Pro, which is the smartphone giant’s first flagship offering of the year, has just been announced for the Indian market. The phone is priced at Rs 79,999 for the single 12GB RAM and 256GB storage variant, although there is a special ICICI bank discount that knocks off Rs 10,000 from this price. In any case, the 13 Pro is competing in the upper echelons of the smartphone world and looking at its spec sheet, the device can give the likes of Samsung and Apple a run for their money.
Chief among things to look out for is the Xiaomi 13 Pro’s triple-camera setup which does seem quite impressive, especially considering the fact that it has been co-engineered with the iconic camera brand Leica. Apart from that the device also has the backing of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC, a 6.73-inch E6 AMOLED panel, 120W charging and more. Let’s check out, in this full review, how good the phone actually is and if it can be your flagship of choice.
The Xiaomi 13 Pro is a top-drawer device, whether it is in its variety of image-capturing prowess or performance-oriented tasks. Few phones, if any, can compete with the 13 Pro in providing a better smartphone experience. If you can overlook the average selfie camera and the occasional heating up of the handset, the Xiaomi 13 Pro can definitely be your next flagship daily driver.
The optical hardware implemented on the Xiaomi 13 Pro is very clearly the highlight of the device. Fundamentally it is still a triple-camera setup that was seen last year with each shooter having a 50MP resolution. However, there have been sizeable increments in two of the sensor’s quality and size. For starters, the primary camera is utilising Sony’s IMX989 1-inch sensor, the very same that was seen on Xiaomi’s 12S Ultra from last year. There’s also a new 50MP telephoto shooter, which also facilitates macro snaps, and a 50MP ultra-wide sensor that has a 115-degree field of view. German camera maker Leica has partnered with Xiaomi to help design the image processing pipeline of the 13 Pro. Let’s dive into a few photos to see if the Xiaomi 13 Pro is really the camera champ that the Chinese giant is making it out to be.
Before dissecting any of the shots, the first thing to know is that the phone takes images in two LUTs ie Leica Authentic and Leica Vibrant. Above I have attached two images taken with both modes and you can see that the difference is subtle in terms of colours and saturation levels. As can be understood from the name, snaps taken using Leica Vibrant mode have a more punchy output, tailor-made for instant sharing on social media handles. Leica Authentic is for natural tones with shots that are more akin to reality. My personal choice was the former, just because of how good the colours looked in the final image.
Analysing the daylight images, I could clearly make out the high level of detail being showcased in each shot. The sensor pulled focus on subjects and scenarios very reliably whether I was indoors or outdoors. With its large sensor size, the 13 Pro’s main camera is also able to get a lot of light in the shot while maintaining a healthy dynamic range. Apart from that you can further enhance a shot’s appeal with Xiaomi’s AI camera setting on the top although I rarely ever used it. Highlight clipping around the edges of the subject is negligible and exposure handling in darker areas of the frame is well-controlled. Very little, if any, difference is visible between HDR and non-HDR shots from the phone. Having a large sensor size also allows for close-up objects to get a very natural bokeh in the background.
Talking a bit about the telephoto shooter, Xiaomi is calling it a ‘floating telephoto camera’ which basically means that the sensor utilises some internal movement to achieve a focal range of 10cm to infinity. Marketing jargon aside, the phone uses a ‘Master lens’ setup to shoot 35mm black and white images, 50mm bokeh shots with a swirly background blur at 2X, 90mm portraits for objects that are far off and 75mm portrait snaps at 3.2X zoom. You can play around with all the settings in the camera app but my favourite was the output from the 35mm mode. Regular portrait images are clicked by the telephoto lens 3.2X but there is a Full Body mode option on the top-right which uses the main sensor to get bokeh shots at 1X.
In addition to this, edge detection and background separation from the lens are top-class. You can also adjust the level of bokeh manually in the viewfinder, a feature that works flawlessly. The floating telephoto camera also enables the macro mode which can turn on automatically as you approach closer to the subject. I think the images look great and rich in colours, making it one of the few phones to actually be decent at super close-up photography. Finally, the sensor itself is much improved from last year’s 12 Pro with an increase to 3.2X optical zoom while capturing substantially more details. Digitally, the device can achieve up to 70X zoom although I highly recommend you do not push the sensor that far if you are looking for usable shots.
The 50MP ultra-wide shooter is actually nothing out of the ordinary and is basically the same sensor from last year. For daylight conditions, the lens is actually good enough with its colour temperatures and enhancing the plane of view. However, there’s still a bit to be desired in terms of detailing and the focus tapering off towards the edges.
Let’s also get into the device’s low-light capabilities, which are quite impressive, to say the least. The quality is almost always enhanced for the better using the in-built Night mode although regular shots are pretty good as well. As you can see in the shots above, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is able to keep details and define shadows in challenging lighting conditions. I did feel that the colours can be cranked up a bit in different scenes, but the overall tonality of the shot is very natural. Focusing on the subject is pretty much instant, a fact that I appreciate a lot, and the shutter speeds are fast as well. You can play around in the settings with ISO, focal length, white balance and more in the Pro mode. There’s also a Supermoon feature in the camera options but I didn’t get to test it out as of now.
Apart from that phone also can shoot 4K 60fps videos in Dolby Vision, and the footage turned out to be more than decent. The phone has a feature called 4K Ultra Night Video which works well in low-light conditions. Both the primary camera and the telephoto sensor have OIS capability for capturing smoother videos. One thing that Xiaomi could improve is the phone’s 32MP selfie shooter. The exposure behind my face is all over the place in some shots and the level of facial detail is none too great. Even so, overall, I think the image-taking capabilities of the device are absolutely stacked for photography enthusiasts. Most of us will likely never use even half of what’s on offer but I think having too many options to choose from is always better.
Design and display
Xiaomi has used premium materials like ceramic to craft the 13 Pro and the handset’s subtle elegance is rather apparent when picking it up. The phone comes in two colour variants of Ceramic White and Ceramic Black, the latter of which has been provided to me for review purposes. The overtly glossy finish employed on the back panel does make it a smudge magnet. The phone can be considered a bit on the heavier side at 228g and also relatively thick with 8.33mm of depth.
Nevertheless, all other aspects of the device remain quite plush, from the elegant curves on the sides to the slit-like volume rocker and power buttons accommodated in the minimal space on the edges. The triple-camera layout and the Leica branding are arranged in a matrix layout that juts out from the frame. On the bottom a speaker grille, a dual-SIM tray and USB Type-C charging port are present. The handset has been given an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance.
The 13 Pro also excels at ensuring any visual content consumed on the device is a treat for your eyes. Packed in is a curved WQHD+ (3,200 x 1,440) resolution AMOLED panel that can refresh at 120Hz. Xiaomi is using the latest LTPO 3.0 technology which allows the display to refresh at as low as 1Hz when not in use. For protection, the handset employs Corning’s latest Gorilla Glass Victus to prevent the screen from breaking.
The panel itself can display over 1 billion colours in the DCI-P3 gamut while also having a peak brightness of 1,900nits. Certification-wise, the Xiaomi 13 Pro supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ standards for OTT and media output. Our Universe on Netflix is a pretty reliable benchmark to test out the dynamic range and colours on offer by any smartphone. I’m happy to say the 13 Pro passes the test with flying colours.
Performance and software
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is running operations on the device and the SoC is the default choice for flagship smartphones this year. There has been a marked improvement in performance throttling from last year’s 8 Gen 1 and the 13 Pro makes full use of it. There’s not much sense in discussing benchmark numbers as all devices with the 8 Gen 2 are currently the best in the market for processing needs. I can tell you that no task is going to be too difficult for the Xiaomi 13 Pro to handle and it is equally capable as other flagships launched this year.
The only thing of concern to me was how the ceramic back on the device got hot after some gruelling GPU-intensive tasks. Now, this thermal increase did not do anything to hamper the performance of the device, with 3DMark giving the 13 Pro a 97 percent stability score, but it is something to keep in mind.
As far as gaming goes, I was able to push the device towards long hours of CoD: Mobile at 60fps at the highest graphics. There was no noticeable drop in the frame rate count although the handset does get quite warm which might lead to sweaty fingers. I also appreciate the haptics on the device whether it was gaming or typing or just navigation. For audio, the device has a very good stereo speaker setup tuned by Dolby Atmos, churning out rich and vibrant tones that maintain depth even at high volumes. Finally, the device has 12GB of LPDDR5X RAM and 256GB of UFS 4.0 storage, both of which contribute to the handset’s fluid performance.
The phone is 5G capable and comes with support for all the popular sub-6GHz NSA and SA bands in the market. My time using Jio’s 5G network in Noida turned out to be quite satisfactory as was the handset’s microphone and earpiece quality. Another thing of note is that the phone supports Wi-Fi 7 for wireless connectivity although it is more for future proofing than for current utility.
MIUI 14, based on Android 13, is the UI on the Xiaomi 13 Pro. I think the interface isn’t the simplest one out there. Apps installed outside of the Play Store have to go through a mandatory and unskippable 10-second warning. Then there is a further check for malware which makes the process cumbersome. The quick settings are set by default to be pulled down from only the top-right side and notifications can only be removed via a right swipe. To change both of them you have to go deep into the settings menu. And of course, bloatware still exists.
It isn’t all bad though, MIUI offers a level of customisability that is unparalleled through its theme store. The UI also compresses unused apps to save up space on your phone. Text recognition in photos has definitely gotten a lot better than MIUI 13, as has the interoperability with other Xiaomi products. In my opinion, the software experience does have some scope for improvement but seasoned Xiaomi users will not find it hard to adapt.
The phone has a 4,800mAh cell that supports Xiaomi’s 120W HyperCharge solution as well as 50W wireless charging. In my time with the handset, I regularly got upwards of six hours of screen-on time. This includes operating the 13 Pro at full brightness, 120Hz frame rate and WQHD+ resolution. The handset can easily become a one-and-a-half-day phone with more moderate usage like cutting down on both video consumption and heavy-duty gaming. However, if you still feel the need to grab the charger, the phone can get juiced up from 0-100 percent in about 25 minutes.
Xiaomi really has upped its camera game over the years and the 13 Pro is at the pinnacle of its optical prowess. The phone’s wide array of shooting modes, features and camera tricks will be a joy for consumers looking to experiment with their photography. I do feel that the selfie camera on the device is not the best. There’s also a fair bit of heating on the back panel when the smartphone is pushed in terms of its processing chops.
However, that does not dampen the 13 Pro’s experience one bit, whether it’s heavy-duty gaming or watching Dolby Vision content on Netflix. The device really does outclass comparative smartphones in its price range and I can fully recommend the Xiaomi 13 Pro as your go-to flagship choice.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- Great display
- Excellent rear cameras
- Solid performance
- Elegant design
- Selfie camera could be better
- Can heat up sporadically