In recent years, the battle for best Android phone has gotten more and more intense. Swathes of manufacturers have made a name for themselves by introducing capable handsets with impressive spec sheets, at competitive prices.
That includes Xiaomi, a Chinese manufacturer who produces some top-quality handsets. The previous generation Xiaomi 12 was a hit with our reviewer, who praised it for having "all the benefits of a flagship phone, in a more compact device".
But in a year packed with some of the hottest Android phones we've ever seen, will it's successor have the feature set required to keep up? Let's find out.
XIAOMI 13 REVIEW: PRICE
The Xiaomi 13 was officially released on the 26th of February 2023, and will be available to purchase from the 14th of March 2023. There is only one configuration available – 8GB+256GB – which costs £849 in the UK.
XIAOMI 13 REVIEW: DESIGN AND DISPLAY
The Xiaomi 13 will look familiar to fans of older Xiaomi phones. There's a gentle redesign, though – the curved edges are replaced with flat ones and a flat display. It's really sleek and feels much more premium, without being uncomfortable to hold.
Tracing around the edge of the handset, you'll find both the volume up and down buttons and the lock button on the upper right hand side. The bottom of the device has a speaker output, the USB-C port and the SIM tray.
The Xiaomi 13 comes in three colours – White, Black, and an on-trend Flora Green, which is the colour of the model I reviewed. A glass back enhances each colour and offers a mirror-like sheen. It is a fingerprint magnet, but the inclusion of a clear case will help keep the device clean and protected.
The device itself is ever so slightly larger than its predecessor, with an extra 1.6mm width. It is slimmer though – 7.98mm thick, compared to 8.16mm before. It's still very easy to use with one hand, and will fit comfortably in your pocket.
That extra width allows for a larger display, too. Users get a 6.36-inch FHD+ AMOLED display with a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate. It's everything you'd expect from a flagship display, with beautiful, vibrant colours. Xiaomi's selection of wallpapers only serve to enhance that, with well-shot images and saturated hues that show just how great this screen looks.
Peak brightness of 1,900 nits makes it easy to see even in direct sunlight, and I was never left trying to shield the screen to see what was going on despite a rare snap of British sunshine. Plus, with a Corning Gorilla Glass 5 covering, the display should be well protected from drops.
Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support make video content look superb. Rich contrast and vivid saturation are the order of the day, and different styles are selectable from a side panel, to adjust the picture to your preference.
The 120Hz adaptive display is great for smooth motion, and top-notch gameplay. There's up to 240Hz touch sampling too, for perfectly timed button presses in-game.
XIAOMI 13 REVIEW: CAMERA SYSTEM
Chances are, if you're looking at the Xiaomi 13, you're looking for a great phone camera. And I'm happy to report that you've come to the right place, because the camera on the Xiaomi 13 is absolutely outstanding. It's been crafted in partnership with photography legends, Leica, and it really shows.
You get three cameras on the rear of the device – a 50MP main sensor, with a 10MP telephoto and a 12MP ultrawide. Optical zoom goes up to 3.2x thanks to that telephoto lens, while up to 30x digital zoom is on offer too.
For users who want a slightly more "professional" experience, the Xiaomi 13 comes with the Master-lens system. This gives users the choice of four lenses – a 35mm black & white, a 50mm swirly bokeh, a 90mm soft focus, and a 75mm portrait – to enhance the control over creative shots.
I found mixed results with these. Portrait, black and white and soft focus all worked nicely, adding an extra dimension to images. For me, the swirly bokeh lens was harder to get right, with results often looking very similar to the portrait lens.
You'll also get some other camera modes like night mode and supermoon. Night mode is astounding. Unsure of quite how well it would work, I took a shot of my garden in the pitch black of night. You can see the results for yourself – and you'll just have to trust me when I say, you could not see anything when the photo was taken.
Supermoon mode was less impressive, though. At the standard 5x zoom, subjects were still too small in the frame. Utilising the full 30x zoom was better for framing, but lacked any kind of detail. Don't expect those crisp, crater-laden shots here.
XIAOMI 13 REVIEW: PERFORMANCE AND BATTERY
The Xiaomi 13 is equipped with the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. That means users can enjoy enhanced performance in everything from daily tasks to intense gaming. Plus, the enhanced efficiency should help out with battery life.
I tried the Xiaomi 13 with a couple of mobile games to get a feel for how it worked. Graphics-intensive titles like COD Mobile and FIFA Mobile were handled with ease, and the resulting gameplay was smooth and snappy.
Remarkably, it didn't overheat, either. That is likely to be a combination of the processor and the massive heatsink inside, which covers almost half of the smartphone body.
To match the performance credentials of the Xiaomi 13, a 4,500mAh battery should be enough to keep you charged all day. In real world use – replying to messages and emails sporadically throughout the day, some social media surfing and gaming on a lunch break and a bit more of everything for a few hours in the evening – it comfortably lasted me a whole day without even thinking about charging. I think I could have got through a full two days without charging, with a small degree of management, which is really brilliant for peace of mind.
To test this further, I streamed a video for two hours on full brightness. In that time, the battery dropped 9%, suggesting it could have kept going for 22 hours. That's a really strong performance, and puts the Xiaomi in the company of some of the best handsets on the market.
The MIUI 14 OS on the handset is Xiaomi's take on the Android 13 update. It will be familiar to Xiaomi fans in particular, but it's also not a million miles away from stock Android – there's a slightly cartoonish quality, but it's not the end of the world, and there are a wide range of themes to allow you to customise things to your taste.
I did find the stock keyboard to be a bit temperamental at times, though. On a handful of occasions, the keyboard would open, but be unresponsive. Closing and re-opening it was always enough to rectify the issue, but it's worth noting.
Stock apps include a full suite of Google products, as well as a selection of others like Facebook, Spotify and Genshin Impact. You'll also get a suite of Xiaomi's own apps, if you prefer them.
XIAOMI 13 REVIEW: VERDICT
The Xiaomi 13 is undeniably a premium handset. It is powerful enough to handle almost any task you can throw at it, and is deserving of consideration against the likes of the Google Pixel 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S23.
Aside from a couple of software glitches, the overall experience was seamless and gave me no reason to doubt its abilities. In particular, the Snapdragon processor is a home run, which makes anything and everything you do on the Xiaomi 13 completely seamless.
The real highlight here, though, is that camera, which effortlessly churns out beautiful looking images without needing an intricate knowledge of different photography terms and parameters. Whether it's better or worse than the cameras on other phones will come down to your personal preference, but one thing is certain: it deserves to be in the conversation. That, alone, is high praise right now.