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Xiaomi 13 Pro hands-on impressions: Lucky number 13?
Update: Check out our full Xiaomi 13 Pro review at the link!
Xiaomi has never been one to shy away from power. It’s usually first in line for Qualcomm’s latest flagship chipset, and high-speed charging is guaranteed. However, the devil is in the details, as they say. Xiaomi’s penchant for conservative designs and unusual feature omissions has held back some of the company’s best phones in the last few years. Now, it’s hoping to buck that trend in a big way with the global launch of the Xiaomi 13 and Xiaomi 13 Pro.
We haven’t had quite enough time to put the new flagship Xiaomi 13 Pro through its paces (it’s been a jam-packed February!), but we’ve had a chance to gather our initial impressions. Here’s what we’ve picked up on during our Xiaomi 13 Pro hands-on testing.
Really fast charging
New engine, new coat of paint
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it — at least not too much. That seems to be Xiaomi’s approach to the 13 Pro’s display, which is nearly the same 6.73-inch LTPO OLED panel as its predecessor. You still get a crisp 120Hz refresh rate, Dolby Vision support, and Gorilla Glass Victus durability, but the Xiaomi 13 Pro gets one significant boost — it’s brighter. Xiaomi’s premium panel now tops out at 1,900 nits of peak brightness compared to the 1,500 nits of the Xiaomi 12 Pro. Sticking with the familiar, you still get waterfall edges and a central punch hole selfie camera.
Once you flip the Xiaomi 13 Pro over, however, it’s clear that you’re playing with an all-new device. Gone is the matte-textured glass finish, as is the simple three-camera bump. In their place is either a high-gloss ceramic finish in black, white, or green or a blue silicone polymer that’s textured to imitate leather. Whatever your material, the sweeping back panel leads to the completely redesigned, much larger, Leica-branded camera bump. We’ll come back to this in a few minutes, but the overall look is similar to both the OnePlus 10 Pro and the OPPO Find X5 Pro.
The Xiaomi 13 Pro's revamped design finally matches its penchant for premium internals.
The good news is that Xiaomi’s changes aren’t just skin-deep. It’s still one of the first to adopt Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, and the Xiaomi 13 Pro has picked up a slightly larger battery than its predecessor. You now get a 4,820mAh cell instead of a 4,600mAh cell, but the blistering 120W wired charging is still there. The Xiaomi 13 Pro also supports 50W wireless charging, proving that you don’t have to choose between fast wired speeds or wireless charging altogether. Take note, OnePlus.
You can still choose between quite a few configurations of the Xiaomi 13 Pro, but it pays to upgrade from the base model. If you opt for one of the versions with 12GB of RAM and either 256 or 512GB of storage, you’ll get UFS 4.0 rather than the UFS 3.1 on the 8GB, 128GB model. Essentially, that means faster read and write speeds without the same level of power consumption.
The Xiaomi 13 Pro also — finally — has an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance — a move we’ve waited on for a few years.
Is the camera sensor a one-inch wonder?
As promised, we’re back to the big old (new) camera bump. It’s the shining star of Xiaomi’s partnership with Leica, and it’s capped off by the 1-inch Sony IMX989 sensor that it inherits from the China-only Xiaomi 12S Ultra. Like the Xiaomi 12 Pro, the camera bump consists of three 50MP lenses — wide, ultrawide, and telephoto — but that flagship was released before the start of the Leica partnership, so there are plenty of changes in the picture.
Leica's photography fingerprints are evident through every last element of the Xiaomi 13 Pro's camera setup.
Xiaomi touts its 13 Pro as the first international product with Leica professional optics, meaning Leica’s fingerprints dig deeper than just some fancy color science. Each part of the triple camera setup is tuned to a Leica equivalent, with the ultrawide stepping in at a 14mm focal length, the telephoto tackling 75mm, and the primary sensor offering the equivalent of a 23mm lens.
Outside of Xiaomi’s premium hardware, you also have two color profiles: Leica Authentic and Leica Vibrant. As the names suggest, Leica Authentic, which I used for the images below, is closer to real life with a hint of the “Leica look.” On the other hand, Leica Vibrant gives a little more saturation and punch if you’re into that. I quite like the Leica Authentic look, and the details out of the primary camera have been sharp throughout my time with the Xiaomi 13 Pro.
That said, portrait mode might take some getting used to. It uses the telephoto lens by default, and there’s no easy way to hop to the primary camera if you want to fit a little more in your shot. Instead, you can choose from a black and white 35mm equivalent, a 50mm swirly bokeh, or a 90mm soft focus if you’re not into the default 75mm setup. Edge detection is generally very good, as seen on the clock and the Nittany Lion, but it’s an unusual approach to portrait mode, at the very least.
We’ll need to test it out a bit more to see if it can hang with the best camera phones, but the results are promising so far.
Xiaomi 13 Pro hands-on impressions: Polish meets power, mostly
Xiaomi finally has a modern flagship. It’s always had performance and charging pretty well figured out, but the Xiaomi 13 Pro brings the rest of the setup to a premium level. The upgraded materials, Leica-tuned camera, and official IP rating allow it to compete against other flagships in a way that its predecessor did not. Xiaomi’s high-gloss design — fingerprint magnet and all — now celebrates its camera rather than slapping it on as something of an afterthought.
The Xiaomi 13 Pro’s update commitment also gives its premium package some staying power. Three years of Android updates and four years of security patches might not be the longest update policy in the industry, but it will carry your flagship well into the future.
The Xiaomi 13 Pro is Xiaomi's most complete flagship yet, MIUI quirks and all.
Despite the solid update commitment, MIUI 14 won’t be for everyone. It comes with a good amount of bloat out of the box, and the separate quick settings and notifications take some getting used to. On the bright side, Xiaomi’s reliance on Google apps means you can ignore duplicates like the Mi Browser and Mi Video. Also, the Xiaomi 13 Pro remains a tough sell for US users as it won’t be officially released in North America. While you can import one, its limited 5G band support means you won’t get top-end speeds from any of Verizon, T-Mobile, or AT&T, though you’ll have slightly better luck on 4G LTE networks.
In spite of the MIUI quirks and the dodgy US support, the Xiaomi 13 Pro feels like the company’s most compelling flagship yet, even in our short time with the device. It’s close to a complete package, matching top-of-the-line hardware to excellent connectivity options with a powerful camera setup to boot. If you want to break out of the Apple, Samsung, or Google track, the Xiaomi 13 Pro might be worth a look.