The perfect smartphone camera? Xiaomi 13 Pro's 1-inch sensor with Leica colors to take on iPhone 14 and Galaxy S23 Ultra

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Xiaomi 13 Pro goes official
Just a few days ago, we saw the first official images out of what could be the camera phone of 2023. With a 1-inch type sensor, this phone certainly has the capabilities to beat the iPhone 14 Pro Max, Galaxy S23 Ultra and Pixel 7 Pro in terms of image quality.

And now, that phone is finally official! This is the Xiaomi 13 Pro, the company's flagship phone, which not only packs a much larger main camera than rivals, but is also one of the first phones to feature the cutting edge in the hardware department with the latest Samsung E6 OLED screen tech, the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 running the show and aided by fast LPDDR5X RAM and the new UFS 4.0 storage with nearly double the speeds of the previous generation.

Xiaomi is also launching the vanilla Xiaomi 13 model, a more compact phone with a 6.36" screen, a size that Xiaomi calls the "golden middle", and which features the same processor and hardware chops, but with a flat screen and with a smaller sensor for the main camera.

So what makes the Xiaomi 13 series, and the 13 Pro in particular, so exciting?

Xiaomi 13 Pro: Next-level Camera Tech

1-inch sensor on the main camera and Leica colors


It all starts with the Sony IMX 989 1-inch type sensor on 13 Pro. First used by the innovative Xiaomi 12S Ultra, this sensor is physically larger than even the biggest smartphone sensors used so far, which gives it bigger individual pixels, which translates to an advantage in its ability to gather light and capture photos in even the most challenging and dim conditions.

This main camera is coupled with a wide, 23mm lens with a fast f/1.9 aperture and with HyperOIS technology, and it allows for stunning shots as the ones that you see above.

A new algorithm helps for faster capture too, which is an important improvement over the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, which first introduced this sensor.

Xiaomi 13 Pro and its 75mm Telephoto Lens

You can use this tele lens in the dark too



The telephoto lens of the Xiaomi 13 Pro is another interesting decision.

The company is one of many China phone makers that switch their flagships to this 2X to 3.5X zoom range rather than a longer-range periscope system. Even the Xiaomi 12S Ultra came with a 5X zoom camera.

This shorter range is more versatile, the camera can be used in dimmer light and it just seems more useful and sensible in everyday conditions, and with improvements to the algorithms, you can get clear photos at longer zoom levels as well.

Xiaomi 13 Pro: Close-up Photos with the Tele Lens

Close-ups with an ultra-wide camera are common, but when you use the tele lens you get a more intimate look



One new feature with this lens is its ability to take close up shots and focus at a distance of just 4 inches (10cm).

You have clean detail, nice bokeh, and photos that look incredibly artistic and you'd hardly know they come from a phone.

This 3.2X zoom camera uses the Samsung JN1 image sensor, a 50-megapixel sensor with 4-to-1 pixel binning. This is a regular zoom lens, there is no periscope structure in place here, which helps save space.

Xiaomi 13 Camera Samples

No 1-inch sensor here, but still solid image quality


The more compact regular Xiaomi 13 model lacks the most exciting feature of the 13 Pro, its 1-inch type camera sensor, but it still keeps a lot of exciting features, including the 3.2X 75mm zoom lens.

The main shooter uses the Sony IMX 800 1/1.49" sensor and it is also a wide, 23mm lens with slightly faster, f/1.8 aperture. And this sensor also gets the innovative Hyper OIS stabilization, just like the Pro version. You can reach up to 30X with digital zoom on the Xiaomi 13.

And just like the Pro version, you also get OIS on the 3.2X zoom camera.


A few terms that pop up in the specs sheet really make an impression.

First is the fact that both phones use the latest Samsung E6 OLED panel. This is the most advanced screen technology available currently, with characteristics that are even better than what you get on the current Galaxy S22 Ultra. Actually, the next Samsung S23 Ultra model is expected to feature that exact E6 technology. You get 1,900 nits of peak brightness and excellent color reproduction. Not just this, but the power consumption of this screen has been reduced by a good 22%, and this should help squeeze more juice out of those batteries.


The curved screen is on the 13 Pro is cool, but we are equally impressed by the extremely narrow 1.61mm bezel on Xiaomi 13. Just take a look at the image above where you can see just how much slimmer that is compared to an iPhone 14 Pro. These tiny bezels also help the vanilla Xiaomi 13 model reach a spectacular 93.3% screen-to-body ratio.

Performance


Under the hood, both the Xiaomi 13 and the 13 Pro come with the latest and most advanced Android chip, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.

It's paired with LPDDR5X RAM, again fastest in the industry, and UFS 4.0 storage, which nearly doubles the read/write speeds compared to the previous generation UFS 3.1.

It's really impressive how all of those features are available even on the vanilla version and even in the base storage model, which is quite affordable for modern standards.

Stay tuned for more in-depth testing and benchmarks comparing these phones to the iPhone 14 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra coming soon.

Design



Camera and raw performance power is not the only thing that the Xiaomi 13 series have got going for them.

The design is equally impressive. The Xiaomi 13 Pro is the larger of the two, with a 6.73" curved OLED screen, and it actually resembles those Samsung Edge phones of the past, and the vanilla Xiaomi 13 model has a 6.36" flat display and also flat sides, so that model looks very much like an iPhone.

All are meticulously crafted, and use some very special materials. The 13 Pro features a ceramic back instead of regular glass, and ceramic has the advantage of being significantly more scratch resistant, but it is also a bit heavier. You also have a lighter-weight model that uses a vegan leather finish with special nano coating made by Xiaomi that allows easy cleaning of the phone and ensures it won't get stained easily.

Xiaomi 13 and Xiaomi 13 Pro Colors:
  • Ceramic Black
  • Ceramic White
  • Field green (ceramic)
  • Far Mountain Blue (leather)

Both phones also come with an infra-red (IR) blaster, so they double up as a traditional remote that you can use with your everyday gadgets like the AC or your TV set.

You DON'T get a 3.5mm headphone jack, but that boat seems to have sailed on smartphone a few years ago.

Final words and prices


The Xiaomi 13 and Xiaomi 13 Pro are already available in China, and the prices are quite good.

The vanilla Xiaomi 13 model starts at 4,000 Chinese yuan, which translates roughly to about $570 USD, while the Xiaomi 13 Pro base model sells for 5,000 yuan, or around $717 USD.

Both phones are China-exclusive currently, but we do expect them to launch globally in a couple of months. Xiaomi has not unveiled anything officially just yet. Do keep in mind, however, that when that happens, the international prices of these model would be slightly higher than what you see above, mostly because of tax policies. 

But despite all the excitement and how great these two look, we are already hearing whispers about an upcoming Xiaomi 13 Ultra model that might take the camera game to a whole new level. So far, we have no further specifics, but it seems that this next-generation phone which is expected to inherit the imposing circular camera design of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, could be unveiled in March or April of 2023.

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