It looks like the best Android phones for photography have just dropped: the new Xiaomi 13 Pro with Leica cameras is here, it's coming to Europe and it's fantastic. Don't just take my word for it. Our very own Mike Lowe has just published his five-star Xiaomi 13 Pro review and added the coveted T3 Platinum Award to boot. This is clearly one of the best phones for photography, and for everyday stuff too.
If you're considering a Samsung Galaxy S23 or Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, you really ought to check out his review and the camera samples. The Leica collaboration is a winning partnership that could be a must-buy for many flagship phone customers. Oh, and it's cheaper than the equivalent Samsung too.
What does Leica bring to the Xiaomi 13 Pro?
It doesn't quite match the massive zoom of the Galaxy S23 Ultra, but the Xiaomi's triple 50MP camera assembly doesn't make you choose between lenses and image quality: you get the same massive 50 megapixels with the standard, wide and 3.2x optical zoom. As Mike says, "the optics here are a class act", and it's an act that's much sharper and more refined than many or even most rivals.
One of the key differences between the Xiaomi and the Samsungs is that Samsung is a big fan of pixel binning, where more zoomed-in images use multiple pixels to reduce noise. That also reduces the actual resolution of your image, because if you're using four actual pixels for each image pixel then of course you're getting a quarter of the image resolution. A 3.2x optical zoom image at 50MP and good lenses can therefore deliver a crisper, clearer image than a sensor with many more megapixels.
It's not perfect; no phone is. But it seems to me that the negatives here are the kind of things you'd be okay living with: the case is prone to visible fingerprint smears and there are a few software bugs. But Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra-rivalling cameras for a lot less cash? If I were an Android fan, that'd be seriously seductive.