Xiaomi 13 Ultra: A Remarkable Camera Phone That Won’t Be Available in India
Xiaomi’s latest offering, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra, is a groundbreaking smartphone created in collaboration with renowned camera brand Leica. However, it’s important to note that this device will not be launching in India. The smartphone has already been introduced in China and might soon be unveiled globally.
Last year, we had the opportunity to test the Xiaomi 12S Ultra briefly and were impressed, particularly with its exceptional cameras. This year, Xiaomi has taken things even further by enhancing the cameras and making design changes to match the overall dynamics of the device. Undoubtedly, the partnership with Leica has positioned Xiaomi among the top camera phones, including its recognition on the DXO Mark listing. The real evolution of Xiaomi cameras began in 2021 with the Mi 11 Ultra, a phone that was ahead of its time with incredibly capable cameras.
Earlier this year, we also experienced the Xiaomi 13 Pro, which we believe offers one of the best cameras in India under Rs 80,000. The good news is that Xiaomi has consistently met expectations since the Mi 11 Ultra, and the all-new Xiaomi 13 Ultra is another testament to their commitment.
Xiaomi 13 Ultra: What Makes It Special
The Xiaomi 13 Ultra is packed with flagship-grade features and specifications. It boasts a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC, a quad 50-megapixel camera setup, a WQHD+ display, and a classic design.
Here are some key highlights:
Processor: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC, up to 16GB RAM, and up to 1TB storage
Display: 6.73-inch 2K LTPO display with 1440×3200 pixels resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, peak brightness of 2600nits, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus
Battery: 5000mAh battery with 90W fast-charging support (adapter included in the box)
Cameras: Quad camera setup, featuring a 50MP Sony IMX989 1-inch primary sensor (23mm) with OIS, a 50MP IMX858 ultra-wide camera (12mm), a 50MP IMX858 telephoto (75mm) camera, and a 50MP super-telephoto IMX858 sensor with periscope structure (120mm)
Design: Faux leather back, unibody metal frame, IP68 certified for water and dust resistance, weighs 227 grams, and dimensions of 163.18×74.64×9.06mm
Xiaomi 13 Ultra: Camera Excellence
The Xiaomi 13 Ultra showcases a quad camera setup, all equipped with 50-megapixel sensors. The collaboration with Leica has resulted in the smart selection of the IMX989 sensor for the 1-inch primary sensor, while the telephoto, ultra-wide, and super-telephoto sensors feature IMX858 sensors, creating a powerful camera combination. The 13 Ultra presents itself as a versatile professional camera in a phone, offering six focal lengths, which is rare in the current market.
The camera user interface (UI) is familiar but incorporates advancements. Users can choose from six focal lengths, ranging from 0.5x to 10x. The 3.2x telephoto lens impressed us with its ability to capture 47% more light, and the 5x lens also produced great results. The Xiaomi 13 Ultra excels in all aspects, from the camera UI to its design, making it the ultimate choice for smartphone photography.
In real-world performance, the 13 Ultra delivers excellent camera capabilities with a decent dynamic range. We captured over 300 camera samples during our limited time with the phone, and the results were impressive. The level of detail, color accuracy, and exposure were exceptional. Below, we have selected a few samples to showcase the camera’s capabilities.
With its Leica Authentic style, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra can transform an ordinary scene into a stunning work of art. The camera captures an abundance of details, from fine hair details on a cat to the intricacies of shadows inside a yellow tempo. There are numerous options to explore, and users can easily get lost in the array of portrait modes available. In response to feedback on the 12S Ultra, Xiaomi has made improvements, allowing the 35mm lens to capture color photos instead of solely black-and-white. Both Leica Authentic and Leica Vibrant modes offer plenty of versatility for users to experiment with.
Overall, the camera performance of the Xiaomi 13 Ultra is exceptional. While there were slight discrepancies in skin tones, with the Xiaomi 13 Pro delivering slightly better results in that regard, it is likely due to software differences between the locally tuned 13 Pro and the China ROM of the 13 Ultra. Even selfies turned out well, although the skin tones appeared slightly softened even with AI features turned off. Again, this is most likely a software tuning-related aspect.
For professional photographers, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra offers the ability to capture 14-bit RAW pictures, providing greater flexibility in post-processing. Additionally, users can enjoy the full Leica experience with custom photographic styles, Leica Filters, and the option to watermark their images. The video performance of the 13 Ultra is equally impressive, supporting recording of up to 8K videos across all focal lengths, a rarity in the current market.
Initial Impressions of the Xiaomi 13 Ultra
The Xiaomi 13 Ultra represents a significant leap forward from its predecessor, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra. The improvements extend beyond just the cameras, encompassing the design as well. Inspired by professional Leica cameras, the phone features a rear panel that slightly lifts, mimicking a point-and-shoot camera. The faux leather back adds a touch of elegance and enhances the overall grip. The phone feels solid and well-built, while the display stands out as one of the best Xiaomi has ever offered.
In terms of color choices, Xiaomi doesn’t disappoint. The 13 Ultra is available in Black, Olive Green, and White, with additional nostalgic Lumia-inspired colors like Blue, Yellow, and Orange. Xiaomi also showcased a custom case with a large camera fitting, further enhancing the photography experience. It brings back memories of the Galaxy S4 Zoom from 2013.
While it’s not uncommon for smartphone brands to partner with camera makers, Xiaomi’s collaboration with Leica stands out for its success. Similar examples can be seen with Vivo and OnePlus in India. Xiaomi’s partnership with Leica has propelled them to new heights, comparable to the opening stands of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag for the Indian cricket team.
The Xiaomi 13 Ultra is Xiaomi’s most daring smartphone to date. However, it is disheartening to know that it is unlikely to ever reach the Indian market.