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Xiaomi 13 Pro Review: A True Flagship with Leica-branded camera system

Ask anyone on the road for their opinion on the best flagship phone in the market, their answer will probably be iPhone or any one of the Samsung Galaxy S series smartphone. Well, that’s pretty much the standard answer you get five years ago, but certainly not in today’s world where Chinese phone makers such as Xiaomi and OPPO had already established a huge presence in the upper-end market, especially in the South-East Asian region.

It’s simple to understand their quick burst into popularity when you look at the top-end models offered by these companies, which typically cost a fraction cheaper than those from Apple and Samsung despite having comparable hardware. The new Xiaomi 13 Pro is one such device that undercuts competitors with nearly maxed out specs which cost significantly less.

Good-looking Design with Excellent In-hand Feel

Xiaomi 13 Pro Design -2

Unlike some other phone makers, Xiaomi doesn’t have a habit of recycling their smartphone design for it’s flagship models. As such, the new Xiaomi 13 Pro comes along with a fresh design that allows us to easily differentiate the phone from last year’s Xiaomi 12 Pro (Review).

Xiaomi 13 Pro Design -3

The biggest change lies in the design of it’s rear camera module which is now a square-shaped bump that’s slightly larger and a tad more professional looking than the rectangular slab on the Xiaomi 12 Pro. Likewise, most would also be quick to notice the new Leica branding that sits at the lower right of the module alongside a dual-LED flash.

This time round, the Xiaomi 13 Pro adopts a high-quality ceramic backplate instead of the usual glass back that we normally see among high-end devices. Apart from it’s smooth and gorgeous appearance, the new ceramic back also offers a premium in-hand feel that live up to it’s asking price.

Xiaomi 13 Pro Design -1

At 210 grams however, the Xiaomi 13 Pro might feel a bit heavy for those transiting from a small or compact smartphone. Still, it’s comparatively lighter than majority of the upper-end phones such as the Galaxy S23 Ultra or the iPhone 14 Pro Max, just to name a few.

As expected of a high-end device, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is also IP68 rated for dust and water resistance. That means you wouldn’t have to worry whenever the phone is exposed to light drizzle or drops into the bathtub (touch wood of course!).

Sharp & Vibrant Display

Moving on to the front side of the phone, the Xiaomi 13 Pro greets us with a spacious 6.73” LTPO AMOLED display which looks sharp and vibrant thanks to it’s pixel-dense QHD+ screen resolution and a wide DCI-P3 color gamut coverage. Likewise, it’s uninterrupted bezel-less display also allows a more immersive viewing experience when streaming your favorite Netflix contents.

Xiaomi 13 Pro Design -4

Just like last year’s Xiaomi 12 Pro, the front display supports a fast 120Hz adaptive refresh rate which automatically adjusts the refresh rate from 1Hz all the way to 120Hz based on the onscreen content. This actually helps extend battery life without affecting user experience by a single bit.

Xiaomi 13 Pro Design -5

Those who love to take outdoor photography would also appreciate it’s impressive peak brightness that goes up to 1,900 nits whenever the situation demands. This is important since having a display with insufficient brightness would cause the onscreen viewfinder to appear washed out due to reflection of the sunlight.

Rounding out the front package is none other than an extra layer of Gorilla Glass Victus to protect the screen against any accidental drops or scratches – something which people like me with butterfingers really appreciate.

Superb Performance Driven by Class-leading Chipset

Driven by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is a performance beast when it comes to mobile gaming or any other resource-intensive workload such as photo or video editing.

Coupled with a class-leading LiquidCool thermal management system, consisting of a large vapour chamber and multi-layer graphite sheets, the phone hardly gets into any overheating issue which would otherwise result in inconsistent frame rate when playing fast-paced FPS game titles.

Like any other Xiaomi smartphones, the Xiaomi 13 Pro also features an amazing haptic feedback system which actually gives user the ability to customize the haptic feedback level for a more personalized experience. That means you can easily reduce the intensity if you happen find it too obtrusive.

Depending on your usage pattern, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is offered in two different configurations: 12GB+256GB and 12GB+512GB in the local market. For an average user, the 12GB+256GB model is certainly more than good enough for a seamless smartphone experience, though you may opt for the higher-end model to enjoy the extra storage space.

A Camera System Co-developed by Leica

Xiaomi flagship phones are known to have one of the best camera system and the new Xiaomi 13 Pro definitely not an exception. The upgraded camera system is now lead by a 50MP Sony IMX989 main camera which has a whopping 1” sensor size that sits behind Leica’s Professional Optical Lens with an 8P lens array. This will be accompanied by a 50MP ultra-wide unit for landscape photography as well as another 50MP telephoto camera which supports 3.2x optical zoom and up to 70x digital zoom.

Xiaomi 13 Pro Camera Sample -1
Xiaomi 13 Pro Camera Sample -2
Xiaomi 13 Pro Camera Sample -3
Xiaomi 13 Pro Camera Sample -4

Unlike last year’s Xiaomi 12 Pro, the new 13 Pro’s camera system is co-developed with German optic specialist Leica which plays an important role in improving the color science of photos with Leica True Color Imaging that makes photos look more realistic than before. Coupled with a large high-res imaging sensor, the main camera is able to capture some truly flattering photos with excellent details and dynamic range.

To assist in low-light photography, the Xiaomi 13 Pro also comes with a reliable night mode feature which does a commendable job in improving shadow details and managing image noise especially in darker scenes. Speaking of image noise, the adoption of Leica’s Professional Optical Lens also helps to minimize lens flare and chromatic aberration when shooting low-light photos.

Xiaomi 13 Pro Ultra-Wide Sample -1
Xiaomi 13 Pro Ultra-Wide Sample -2
Xiaomi 13 Pro Ultra-Wide Sample -3

The 50MP ultra-wide camera on the Xiaomi 13 Pro is (almost) equally impressive in terms of image quality as we’re able to get photos with good details and contrast regardless of lighting condition. Besides landscape photography, the ultra-wide unit can also be used for macro photography thanks to it’s autofocus support.

Xiaomi 13 Pro 3.2x Zoom
3.2x Optical Zoom
Xiaomi 13 Pro 30x Zoom
30x Digital Zoom

Coming to it’s 50MP telephoto camera, this is the one you’ll rely on for faraway shots. As noted earlier, the camera is able to support 3.2x optical zoom which allows you to capture usable photos with acceptably good details and dynamic range. While it’s able to support up to 70x zoom factor via digital cropping, but photo quality inevitably drops as you edge towards the upper limit.

Long Lasting Battery Life with Ultra-fast Charging

The Xiaomi 13 Pro comes with a 4,820mAh battery which is slightly larger than last year’s 12 Pro’s 4,600mAh battery. Most of the time, I was able to end off the day with around 25% battery remaining when the screen resolution is set to FHD+, and refresh rate to default. Of course, you can expect the battery life to drain quicker if you dial up any of the parameter.

Courtesy of it’s 120W HyperCharge support, the phone can also recharge really quickly, taking merely 25 minutes to recharge a completely drained out battery from 0 to 100%. Wireless charging is onboard as well, though the speed is limited to a slightly slower 50W charging speed.

Verdict

Geared with a class-leading chipset and a versatile Leica-branded camera system, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is a full-fledge flagship which excels in every respects be it day-to-day usage, camera performance or battery life. Beside it’s impressive hardware, the phone itself is also half a thousand cheaper than competing models such as the Galaxy S23 Ultra or iPhone 14 Pro Max, making it a better deal for those who wouldn’t want to spend more than 2k on a high-end device.

For those who’re interested, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is now available for purchase in Singapore at S$1,599 and S$1,699 respectively for it’s 12GB+256GB and 12GB+512GB trim.

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