The Xiaomi 13 Pro is a bigger upgrade than you might thinkon February 26, 2023 at 16:01 Tech Advisor


Xiaomi has officially launched the 13 series phones internationally, but you could be forgiven for thinking not much has changed on the 13 Pro compared to the equivalent phone from last year.

The huge camera bump has been redesigned, sure, but it still houses a trio of 50Mp rear sensors. Aside from that, isn’t this just the usual boring spec bump we’ve come to associate with flagship phones?

Absolutely not. As it turns out, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is a substantial upgrade compared to 2022’s 12 Pro. There is a slight increase in price (now £1,099/€1,299), but it’s justified thanks to four key improvements.

The first is one you’ve probably already guessed: cameras. Within that massive, ugly camera bump is a new 50Mp sensor – specifically, Sony’s 1in IMX989. That’s the same lens found in Vivo’s X90 Pro, the best camera phone you can buy by our reckoning, so it should come as no surprise that shots from the Xiaomi 13 Pro are excellent.

Detail, dynamic range and exposure are all close to best in class, while swapping the saturated default ‘Vibrant’ mode for ‘Authentic’ gets you an image that’s impressively true to life. It excels across a range of different scenarios, including low light photos.

But that main lens is ably supported by two other 50Mp cameras. The telephoto now offers optical zoom up to 3.2x, and it’s great to have an ultrawide lens that doesn’t result in a noticeable drop in quality. Alongside a great 32Mp selfie camera, there aren’t many better phone camera systems.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

Battery life was one of the key weaknesses of the Xiaomi 12 Pro, but that’s not the case on its successor. The 13 Pro can comfortably last a full day, even with high brightness, GPS and the 120Hz refresh rate enabled.

That’s due in part to a larger 4820mAh battery (up from 4600mAh) but also the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip. As well as delivering top-of-the-line performance, the power efficiency is significantly better than on the 12 Pro. It’s now one of the few phones that delivers great battery life and fast charging – 120W to be exact.

But the other notable upgrade is one you might not have noticed. The Xiaomi 13 Pro has an IP68 rating, meaning it can withstand dust and submersion in up to 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes. Considering the 12 Pro had no IP rating of any description, it’s a big upgrade.

Performance on the 13 Pro is still superb, while the 6.73in, 120Hz OLED display is a joy to use.

But all these strengths don’t necessarily mean you should buy one. The MIUI 14 software experience is based on the latest Android 13, but it’s a big departure from the version you might be used to, and not in a good way. A confusing Settings menu, tons of bloatware are just a few of its downsides compared to so-called ‘stock’ Android.

At its £1,099 price point, that becomes very difficult to ignore, especially when you consider the flagship competition. But one of Xiaomi’s other new phones might be more suitable.

Xiaomi 13

The £849/€999 regular Xiaomi 13 opts for a 6.36in flat display (1080×2400) rather than the curved one on the 12 Pro, but retains its 120Hz refresh rate.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

You still get the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which delivers great performance alongside 8- or 12GB of RAM. Its power efficiency will also benefit battery life, although you’ll have to make do with a smaller 4500mAh cell here.

Wired charging drops to 67W here, but you still get 50W wireless charging. IP68 water and dust resistance also makes its way to the regular Xiaomi 13.

However, cameras have had a significant downgrade. The 50Mp main lens is much smaller than the Pro’s 1in sensor, while the telephoto drops to 10Mp and ultrawide to 12Mp. A 32Mp selfie camera remains, though.  

Xiaomi 13 Lite

The Xiaomi 13 Lite costs just £449/€499, but that’s reflected in the specs.

It drops down to the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chipset and 8GB of RAM, plus a slightly smaller 4500mAh battery. The 6.55in 120Hz OLED display is identical to the regular 13, but there’s no telephoto camera and the ultrawide drops to just 8Mp.

It should still be a solid option among mid-range phones, though.


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