We've reached that point where all smartphones are lookalikes, and the only thing that often distinguishes one phone from another is the camera housing. And that's probably the biggest change on the Xiaomi 13 series since the Xiaomi 12 phones.
The Xiaomi 13 and Xiaomi 13 Pro are the first global phones the maker launches with an official IP68 rating for dust and water resistance. Technically, the international Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra was the first, but its market availability was cut short not long after its premiere. And that's why we think it's safe to proclaim the globally available series 13 as pioneers.
The Xiaomi 13 Pro is a curved smartphone with durable panels, a metal frame, and huge square camera housing with Leica branding. It is also waterproof, as we established, but the most memorable thing about the 13 Pro is its glossiness.Xiaomi 13 Pro and 12S Ultra
The Xiaomi 13 Pro is a shiny smartphone with a slightly curved Gorilla Glass Victus front and an equally curved ceramic back. The frame is made of aluminum, quite thin for the most part, and polished to perfection. It's either silver for the Ceramic White model or matching dark gray for the (dark gray) Ceramic Black version we have for our review.
The most notable design change - the camera housing at the back - is of the volcano-like type, slowly evolving from the back panel towards the camera glass. It looks fine on the Xiaomi 13 Pro, the Leica branding hints at its premium quality. And because it is gigantic, the 13 Pro does not wobble when used on a flat desk. But if it were up to us, we'd have preferred the Xiaomi 12S Ultra circular housing. It looks, well, more pro.
The 13 Pro's sleek looks are a double-edged sword. The shiny exterior is both stylish and eye-catchy, and it can distinguish your phone from its flagship peers. On the other hand, the grip is rather poor. The Xiaomi 13 Pro is a nightmare to handle and operate, let alone shoot photos or videos. You can fix this by using the provided case, but the concept of making a $1,000 design and then slapping a $5 case on it is beyond this reviewer's understanding.
Let's take a closer look at the Xiaomi 13 Pro now.
The 6.73-inch LTPO OLED panel is the centerpiece at the front, covered with a slightly curved Gorilla Glass Victus sheet. The screen has 1440p resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, 10-bit color depth, Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support. Its bezels are reasonably thin.
The panel has a small perforation centered around the top - here, you can spot the 32MP selfie camera. It uses one of those dated Quad Bayer sensors, and its video-capturing resolution maxes out at 1080p.
There is also an optical fingerprint scanner under the screen, centered around the bottom. It appears to be of the most current generation and is fast and reliable.
There is a small and impressively thin outlet between the Gorilla Glass and the metal frame around the top. Here lies one of the speakers, which also doubles as an earpiece. Just like on other Xiaomi phones, this top speaker also has a second outlet for the sound positioned on the frame, at the top of the phone.
The camera island is the only thing of interest on the back, and it's huge! The 50MP zoom camera is first at the top left corner, and next is the 50MP ultrawide shooter. The 50MP primary camera is below, just before the Leica logo.
The island also houses the laser emitter and receiver for the laser-assisted autofocus, and the dual-LED flash.
Let's explore the aluminum frame. It is quite thin around the longer sides, and flat at the top and the bottom. There is nothing on its left side.
The volume control and the power/lock key are on the right.
The top of the Xiaomi 13 Pro has two microphones, the IR blaster, and a small speaker outlet.
The bottom of the phone accommodates the dual-SIM slot, the primary mic, the USB-C port, and the other speaker.
The Xiaomi 13 Pro measures 162.9 x 74.6 x 8.4 mm and weighs 229 grams - that's about the same as the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, just a whisker thinner. Note that the profile number excludes the camera housing.Xiaomi 13 Pro and 12S Ultra
The Xiaomi 13 Pro is a beautiful smartphone of distinguished build (IP68, ceramic) and it's very pleasant to look at. We would have preferred a round camera housing for the digital camera look, but maybe it wasn't possible on the 13 Pro.
The handling experience is terrible as the Xiaomi 13 Pro has no grip at all. And that's our only beef with it - the Xiaomi 13 Pro must be used with a case otherwise, we can see many users drop it on day one. But such a flagship phone deserves more than a cheap silicone case like the bundled one.