Check out these images: new phone camera takes shockingly good DSLR-like photos impossible to capture on iPhone or Galaxy S23 Ultra
We have all been waiting for that one phone to bring the next generational leap in phone camera quality and show us meaningful innovation over the Galaxy S23 Ultra, iPhone 14 Pro Max and the Google Pixel 7 Pro, and now it's here.
But maybe not in the form that we expected. The just-released Xiaomi 13 Pro makes no secret of its huge camera aspirations, but most of the talk has actually been about its main camera sensor that is much larger than the competition.
Xiaomi is one of the first companies to bring a 1-inch type sensor to its main camera, a bigger and more powerful size than what we have on the iPhone, Galaxy and Pixel.
But surprisingly, a few days after the release of the phone, Xiaomi 13 Pro owners are actually sharing less photos from that 1-inch dream camera sensor and more pictures from... one of its other cameras!
A surprising new telephoto camera with close-up focus steals the show
Xiaomi 13 Pro has a triple camera system with a main, ultra-wide and telephoto shooters, and it is this innovative new telephoto camera that has surprisingly turned out to be the star of the show.The
Instead of using a long-range periscope zoom camera like you have on say the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the Xiaomi 13 Pro uses a traditional zoom camera with a 3.2X zoom range, or around 75mm.
And if this was the whole story, it would be... well, quite unremarkable! But this new camera actually comes with one superpower that we have never before seen on a zoom shooter: it is able to focus at extremely close distances!
Xiaomi 13 Pro Close-up Zoom Photos
Users on Chinese microblog Weibo (via Notebookcheck) have been jubilant about this new camera, and the images they have captured are truly a testament to the incredible look that you can get out of this shooter. It really looks nothing like a smartphone picture, this has dreamy bokeh that you typically expect out of a professional camera coupled with an expensive macro lens!
Being able to get so close with the zoom camera, opens a whole world of possibilities. Close-up shots of pets, beautiful pictures of bees and other insects, all of that just lends itself perfectly to this new camera.
The innovation behind this ability to focus close with a telephoto camera is a floating element inside the lens that moves as you shift the focus. Traditional cameras use a stationary lens and they cannot achieve such close-up focus.
There is a bunch of Xiaomi 13 Pro photos uploaded by various new owners over on the Weibo microblog all the time and if you want to see even more you might want to look there.
Xiaomi 13 Pro Telephoto Camera in Low-light
One big advantage of going with a relatively close zoom range like 3.2X is that you can use a larger aperture, which allows a lot more light to hit the sensor.
Many flagship phones cannot really use their zoom cameras at night simply because the combination of a slow aperture and small sensor makes this impossible. But not the Xiaomi 13 Pro. As you can see above, you can use the 3.2X zoom camera in various low light and even night time conditions and get some impressive shots.
Colors are also something that Xiaomi has worked on in collaboration with its partner, legendary camera company Leica.
Actually the lens on the Xiaomi 13 series carries the Vario-Summicron brand name, where the "Vario" part refers to the presence of a zoom feature and the "Summicron" part signifying Leica's badge of utmost lens quality.
And it's notable how Xiaomi actually switched to this lens after using a longer, 5X zoom periscope shooter on the 12S Ultra from earlier this year. It is just that this closer zoom range might be more versatile and more often used by people, plus it will come in handy for portrait shots too.
Xiaomi 13 Pro Close-up Zoom Video
And of course, you can use this same close-up focusing in video recording too.
Here is what super close-up video looks like:
Xiaomi 13 Pro comes with a 75mm (3.2X zoom) camera that can focus at very close distances (as close as 4 inches or 10cm). Photo and video quality is insane! Video source - Xiaomi official account on Weibo pic.twitter.com/7U9zgywgA8— Victor Hristov (@TheVicExpress) December 14, 2022
This is seriously impressive, the detail, the colors, and just the overall cinematic look that you can get with this lens.
Xiaomi 13 Pro: not just a camera phone
But the Xiaomi 13 Pro is far from just a camera phone, it's a full fledged flagship! In case you missed its main characteristics, here is a quick summary.
Xiaomi 13 Pro specs highlights:
- Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip
- 6.73" curved OLED screen with latest Samsung E6 panel
- Latest LPDDR5X RAM, newest UFS 4.0 storage
- Triple rear camera system with 1-inch main sensor
- 4,820mAh battery
- 120W fast wired charging, 50W wireless charging, 10W reverse charge
- MIUI 14 with Android 13 on board
The phone also features a solid construction with four different models. A black, a white and a green one that use ceramic instead of traditional glass, and ceramic is a more premium material that has far better scratch resistance than glass. Our personal favorite, however, has got to be the blue faux-leather version which uses a new type of nano-coating that protects it from dirt. A recent Xiaomi demo showed it being sprayed with graffiti and tortured in all possible ways, and if you act quick before the paint dries, you can just wipe this off easily with a cloth and have the material remain clean.
Xiaomi 13 Pro: where and when can you buy one?
Xiaomi already impressed phone camera aficionados with the 12S Ultra earlier in 2022, but that phone remained exclusives for the Chinese market, while the Xiaomi 13 Pro will be available outside of China. Company head honcho Lei Jun teased that a global launch is expected to happen earlier than what we saw last year with the Xiaomi 12 series, so this could mean that the phones will arrive in the UK and Europe around February of 2023.
Xiaomi phones are not officially sold in the United States, and this will not change anytime soon (if ever), but you can still import one. Amazon is selling older Xiaomi phones, so that's one place to look after a few months, just keep in mind that an imported phone may not have all the proper 5G connectivity bands for the US market.