So, when I reviewed the Xiaomi 12S Ultra last year, I said that the phone had just one problem: it’s not being released globally. Because that phone was near perfect in every other way. Now, fast forward to today, and we have this: the Xiaomi 13 Ultra being released globally.
So in this video, I’ll let you know if this RM5,199 or US$1,118 phone is worth it and how this phone stacks up against the other Android flagship phones out right now.
Now, firstly, in Xiaomi 13 Ultra’s box, there’s a nice hard plastic case in black, a USB-C to USB-A cable, and here’s a weird thing: Xiaomi has decided to ship with a 90-watt charger instead of the 120-watt charger, which they did in the Xiaomi 13 Pro. Not sure why they came up with such a decision, but yeah, so it’s a 90-watt charger instead of 120 watts.
Build Quality & Design
Now, as for the build quality and design, according to Xiaomi, they claim that the design was inspired by Leica’s M series camera, which was indeed a lovely tribute. But when I held the phone, my initial thoughts were that it looked and felt very familiar. So I went into my secret smartphone cabinet, and voila! I found out why it looked familiar because it looked like this: the Huawei Mate 50 Pro.
But the obvious difference is that the Xiaomi 13 Ultra was quite a thick boy, comparing side by side with the Mate 50 Pro.
Now, in the pictures, I thought that the camera bump looked big, but in person, it’s like Bigfoot’s footprint BIG. Now, you’d think that I would be exaggerating, but trust me, I am not. Now, usually, I’d be worried about this Hulk of a bump, but the good news is that it didn’t make the phone wobble at all when I was typing on a surface. So I did truly appreciate and love this size and, of course, the overall shape of this camera bump.
Now, another thing that I love about the design is this slight curvature of the phone towards the camera bump, and the cherry on top was, of course, this leather-like finish, which I really loved on the Huawei Mate 50 Pro. Hence, I loved it over here as well. And Xiaomi has also mentioned how the leather is antibacterial silicon leather. Now, who knew that a phone could join the fight against germs? Now, that is something to live then.
The phone is also IP68 dust and water-resistant, saving you from those “oops, I dropped the phone in the pool” moments.
And other than this Olive Green color, it is also available in Black. And unfortunately for me, or if you are one of those people who loved a white color smartphone, well, the White color version will not be available in Malaysia.
So overall, I would rate the design and build quality an A+ because it’s surely one of the best-looking smartphones out right now.
Okay, next, let’s talk about the phone screen. Now, since the build of the phone was a little curved, I was expecting a very curved screen. But to my surprise, it wasn’t very curvy, only slightly at the sides, almost looking like Samsung’s S23 Ultra.
But the bezels towards the corner did not scream like it was a flagship smartphone, since it’s not exactly symmetrical. But it’s something that you will get used to when you use the phone daily.
Now, as for the phone’s screen quality, it is keeping pace with the Xiaomi 13 Pro. But then, damn, it hits you with a whopping 2600 nits of brightness. So it’s like staring against the sun without losing your eyesight.
Now, I don’t know why or who needs that level of brightness on a smartphone, but hey, Xiaomi is flexing their muscles so hard that they just might pull a muscle. But then again, I don’t mind that because that comes with a very good reason. Because their screen is the elite member of the Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos certification club.
And in the Android world, this is rarer than a unicorn in a horse race, because even top-notch flagships like the S23 Ultra or even Huawei’s finest don’t have Dolby Vision certification.
And while you can reduce the refresh rate from 120Hz to 60Hz or even the screen resolution to FHD+ to save on battery (more on my battery experience later), my recommendation is to leave it at the highest setting to really appreciate the best experience when using this phone daily.
Now, speaking of the screen quality again, Xiaomi calls this the Pro HDR display. And when it comes to comparing the king of smartphone displays, the S23 Ultra, I would say that the screen quality does indeed beat the S23 Ultra because of its higher brightness value. But then again, the whole bezels at the sides and the chin area is a huge No-No for me. So this does come down to a personal preference.
Then, the fingerprint unlock is very quick, and you can even unlock the phone if your thumb or finger is wet.
Okay, so with a camera bump like this that could rival a mountain, you would expect some big sensors, right? B-big? Yes or no? Yes, because we’re talking about a one-inch IMX 989 sensor of a 50-megapixel camera setup.
And yes, thank God, there’s no dedicated macro lens. But then again, all the flagship phones do not have that. So thank God for that once again.
Now, the main camera swings between F1.9 to F4.0 in terms of its variable physical aperture, but that’s not quite ready to step into the ring with the Huawei P60 Pro, which starts from a wider F1.4 instead to F4.0.
Now, the camera apps are pretty extensive compared to other flagship Android smartphones that I’ve reviewed recently. And there are unique features like the Fast Shot mode where if you quickly double press the volume down button and snap, you got your shot in less than 0.8 seconds. There are also custom photographic styles. And since this is just a first impressions video, don’t worry, I will be diving further into the camera app during my full or long-term review video.
Now, like the rest of the Xiaomi 13 gang, the camera gets a helping hand from Leica for image processing. And as usual, I’m still loving the Leica Vibrant all the way compared to the Leica Authentic with all of these sample shots taken.
Now, the telephoto lens is surely one of the biggest strengths, being able to zoom optically up to 3.2x zoom at 75mm and 5x zoom at 120mm. So, according to the DXOMARK camera score, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra sits at the number 17 spot. What nonsense!
And since the Huawei P60 Pro sits at the number one spot, I decided to compare several shots between the phones. And based on some of my quick sample shots, the ultrawide lenses on the P60 Pro were wider because of its 12mm compared to 13mm focal length. Now, the colors look the same, but the images were just a little brighter in the shadow area under the net. It looks pretty much similar.
Then, comparing with the main lenses, other than me slightly slanting while taking the image on the Xiaomi 13 Ultra, they look like they were identical twins.
I even tried portrait mode on each, and as you can see in this particular picture of the red flower, the colors on the Xiaomi 13 Ultra are extremely color accurate and have nicer deeper blacks and better texture on the object.
But if you’re looking at taking portrait mode on humans though, the bokeh and the dynamic range on the P60 Pro and color accuracy is better over here.
Then, as for selfie photos, it was very subjective, but it was equally really great.
So, is the DXOMARK score putting this number one and this number 17 right? Well, you tell me.
Now, since the phone comes with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, I wanted to test the gaming performance on the phone.
And based on my gameplay on Genshin Impact, I am happy to report that the phone performed really, really well at high settings, 60 frames per second, with motion blur turned on.
Now, it does get a little warm after 20 minutes of continuous gameplay, but not too hot to the touch. So, the advanced heat dissipation was true indeed in this particular phone. And the battery drain was also at the optimum level. However, due to the huge camera bump at the back, it’s not the most comfortable phone to game for a long period of time, so keep that in mind.
Now, based on me using the phone for several days, I got an average of 5 hours and 11 minutes to sometimes 5 and a half hours of screen-on time with heavy usage of gaming, taking photos with dark mode turned on at 10% battery on this 5000 mAh capacity.
And the phone has wireless charging up to 50 watts, which has always been my primary charging method daily since I typically only charge the phone when it’s really low in battery through this fast charging method. So, this whole lower charging adapter of 90 watts compared to 120 watts did not really bother me at all.
Software-wise, at the time of review, it was MIUI version 14.0.2 on top of Android 13. And based on me using the phone daily, I found two quirks about the phone.
Firstly, dark mode is still not properly integrated for all apps like YouTube Studio. You need to toggle it manually after you select the dark mode. Not sure why, but it’s only on MIUI, and it’s not fully committed to the dark side when it comes to Google Chrome as well. And sometimes Instagram timeline for reels cuts the top and the bottom when navigating through that. So, I hope all of these MIUI issues do get sorted.
Then, the only variant available in Malaysia is the 512GB storage with 12GB of RAM, which, to me, is a mistake by Xiaomi because they could have provided us with a 256GB option to give a lower-priced variant of the phone, which won’t typically scare away potential buyers of the phone with this kind of price point.
But with all of this during my first impressions, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra is indeed a very powerful flagship smartphone. It is the best-designed I’ve seen on any Xiaomi phone.
But if you want the best of the best that Xiaomi has to offer and also come with a very versatile camera, and if you’re coming from an older flagship smartphone, then yes, this is a very compelling option. But if you already have the Xiaomi 13 series already, I don’t see a big reason for you to upgrade as of now. So, for me, I’m still gonna stick to my favorite Android smartphone of 2023, which is the Xiaomi 13!
Get the Xiaomi 13 Ultra at the link below:-