Xiaomi started its journey as an affordable brand but its aspirations have made it enter the premium segment. The focus started with the Mi series, and you could say that the Mi 11 Ultra showed us its first steps. But when the company decided to partner with camera giants Leica, it made the whole proposition serious. Xiaomi 12S Ultra showed us the potential of this pairing but it was limited to the Chinese market.
Now, in 2023, you finally can try out the expertise of Leica on a Xiaomi phone with the Xiaomi 13 series, more specifically the Xiaomi 13 Pro which comes for Rs 79,999 in India. People hear the word premium and the names that pop up on their minds are Samsung, Google and Apple. Can Xiaomi break this image of being a mid-range brand and really make everyone stand up and notice with the Xiaomi 13 Pro? We used the phone for a few weeks to find out.
Xiaomi 13 Pro Review: What’s Cool?
Xiaomi 13 Pro borrows the ceramic finish from the Mi 11 Ultra which does give it a premium touch. You have it in black and white colours, and the build quality of the phone looks solid but its overall weight distribution means you don’t find it unwieldy even at 209 grams. The camera module is a handful, since a lot of tech is fitted underneath the panel. The power and volume buttons on the right side and you have premium finish on the frame as well.
But the richness doesn’t end there, the giant of a screen features a curved E6 AMOLED panel with support for QHD+ resolution with a 120Hz adaptive LTPO 3.0 screen. Xiaomi claims the screen offers a peak brightness of 1900 nits and during our time with the phone we found those qualities evident.
The colours are punchy, vivid and the AMOLED does its magic with the high-quality panel. The screen refresh rate switches will improve with future updates. Usually curves tend to be an issue on the screen but we didn’t find anything obtrusive about it with the Xiaomi 13 Pro.
Flagship hardware is warranted on a premium device and Xiaomi is giving you them aplenty. Xiaomi 13 Pro is powered by the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset and for buyers in India you only have the 12GB + 256GB option, which sounds good for the price tag.
The performance of the phone is top notch, something we have already experienced with other flagship phones using this chipset. Barely any stutters to report, gaming on the highest available settings was a breeze and the only instances of heating was observed while charging, which is generally accepted.
Now, coming to the main highlight of the Xiaomi 13 Pro, its Leica co-engineered cameras. Xiaomi says they have gone beyond colour tuning and using Leica as a logo for the phone. It has worked extensively with the Leica team at its Germany centre to make it possible for the phone to be equipped with the new 1-inch sensor from Sony along with the other versatile Leica portrait lenses. The resulting images from the sensor showed us the work that has been done behind the scenes to produce visuals that can easily help you narrate a story.
The black & white mode via the portrait lens is a strong point for the camera and you get excellent details from the main camera along with the ultra-wide and the telephoto sensors. Even in low light, you notice the heavy work done by the 1-inch sensor to throw light into the subject without losing the details. Xiaomi showed us its camera growth with the 12S Ultra last year, and now Xiaomi 13 Pro has the best camera from the brand in the market till date.
The competition is tough this year, especially when you rival the likes of the Pixel 7 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and the iPhone 14 Pro Max but Xiaomi clearly is onto something different, courtesy Leica.
But the company has not forgotten that even with all the camera tech, this is a smartphone, and it needs to be robust. Having a 4820mAh battery with support for 120W wired and 50W wireless charging provides that in abundance. Even with all this power, the phone does not give you any battery anxiety, ably helped by the charging speeds that gets you up to speed in under 20 minutes.
Xiaomi 13 Pro Review: What’s Not Cool?
Xiaomi continues to champion the hardware side but for a premium device it is imperative to heavily focus on the software as well. Xiaomi has its MIUI available on all its devices, starting from Rs 10,000 to Rs 80,000 and that’s fine. But what really matters is how the company plans to support the higher end devices like the Xiaomi 13 Pro.
The company says you will get three years of OS updates and five years of security patches for the device. The promises made here sound reasonable and at par with other flagship brands (except Apple). But the company’s past record leaves us a bit skeptical, especially when you see that Android 13 is coming on its devices after Android 14 goes official this year.
MIUI 14 gives us the first taste of Android 13 on a Xiaomi phone, and the changes are positive. However, you still have pre-loaded apps like Netflix, Facebook, LinkedIn. You can uninstall them so that’s good. However, you still have those local apps that send notifications for various other apps, which is not warranted on a phone costing Rs 80,000. Xiaomi claims that MIUI 14 will become leaner and more privacy-focused in the months to come, and we are hoping the changes happen soon.
The other big difference between the Indian and the global variant of the Xiaomi 13 Pro is the lack of an IP rating. Xiaomi says the unit gets the same durability but it has not managed to get the certification, which has probably helped with the pricing of the product in the country (Rs 1.13 lakh in Europe).
Xiaomi 13 Pro Review: Should You Buy?
Xiaomi 13 Pro is a good start in the premium journey for the company and its partnership with Leica has us excited. This device has the looks and the brains to tussle along with the best in the business. It uses the latest chip, packs the new 1-inch camera sensor along with co-engineered lenses from Leica. The battery life is impressive, the display offers excellent colours and performance and yes, even the pricing will get you talking.
But the challenge for the brand is to make its software cycle efficient, reduce the bloatware and give buyers the confidence that this phone will not lose support for many years. Xiaomi says it has a special focus with this phone, and it will find buyers to match its preference. But if you have the budget and want a compelling package, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is definitely worth the try.
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