Xiaomi 13 Ultra review, THE cameraphone of 2023

0
24
recensione xiaomi 13 ultra, il cameraphone del 2023! | video
recensione xiaomi 13 ultra, il cameraphone del 2023! | video

I have to admit it, as a photography and technology enthusiast, this is one of the reviews I’ve been looking forward to in 2023. In my hands there is finally the new Xiaomi 13 Ultra, a particular product that takes the concept of photography to extremes. smartphones. Its photographic sector created in close collaboration with Leica offers many ideas and, at least on paper, top-of-the-class performance . I’ve been using it for a few days and I was able to test its capabilities and was pleasantly surprised. But let’s not go any further and let’s go immediately to see how this Xiaomi 13 Ultra, which has also been available in our area for a few days, behaves when put under pressure.

 

A WONDERFUL PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPARTMENT

And contrary to what we usually do, today we start immediately by talking about the photographic sector which is certainly the most interesting topic to dissect. First of all, a small premise, this is not the place where I will go into detail because in a few days we will publish a photographic study in which there will be time and a way to dig deep into the characteristics of this set of cameras and bring to light all the their secrets with a more careful analysis of the results. However, here you will find a final judgment and some of the photos I took these days, but I will tell you about all of this in general.

First of all, let’s see how the four cameras of this Xiaomi 13 Ultra are made up and to do this, let’s outline the characteristics a bit :

Main camera: 1″ SONY IMX989 sensor with 50 mpx resolution and HyperOIS stabilization, 8-element aspherical Leica Summarit lens with variable aperture f/1.9 of/4 and 23mm equivalent focal length.

– Ultra-Wide camera: SONY IMX858 sensor with 50 mpx resolution and autofocus. Leica lens with f/1.8 aperture and 12mm equivalent focal length.

– 3.2X Zoom Camera: SONY IMX858 sensor with 50 mpx resolution, optical stabilization and autofocus. Leica lens with f/1.8 aperture and 75mm equivalent focal length.

– 5X Zoom camera: SONY IMX858 sensor with 50 mpx resolution, optical stabilization and autofocus. Periscope lens with f/3 aperture and 120mm equivalent focal length.

120mm, f/3, 1/1200s, ISO125

We are therefore faced with one of the most complete photo compartments that can currently be found on the market with the added value of the collaboration with Leica which leads to some important improvements in terms of hardware implementation. Let’s face it, the sensors for smartphone cameras have reached a level whereby it is now very difficult to improve in an important way. At the same time, computational photography algorithms work well at any level and manage to squeeze the available sensors to the maximum. Xiaomi and Leica have therefore focused on the elements on which there is still a certain margin for improvement, namely the lenses.

Strengthened by their decades of experience, Leica engineers have thus miniaturized their Summicron lenses and transported them on board a smartphone, effectively equipping it with the best lenses currently available for what concerns mobile photography.

Therefore, it is useless to tell you that the photos taken during the day with this Xiaomi 13 Ultra are absolutely exceptional whatever the optics you are going to use . All shooting parameters are managed very well and the algorithms develop JPEGs using one of the most iconic Leica color profiles (you can choose between Authentic and Vibrant when you first access the camera).

The results of the point and shoot are therefore excellent but this is obviously a solution that is not designed for this kind of photography. If you are a lover of this art, the first thing to do here is to activate Pro mode, switch to 50 megapixel resolution and activate capture in Ultra RAW format. After that, have fun. The results you will obtain will surprise you and the 14-bit RAW (yes you read correctly) obtained allow you an unparalleled depth of intervention in post-production . The images offer a dynamic range that will practically make it nearly impossible for you to fail to recover even what seem like unforgivable mistakes.

OPTICS UNIFORMITY

View in Full Screen

And the feature that first of all catches the eye is the uniformity of the user experience regardless of the optics we use. Thanks to the common characteristics of the sensors and the high-performance lenses, Xiaomi and Leica have managed to guarantee an absolutely uniform shooting experience, characterized by great speed and an identical white balance. The resulting experience is very similar to the one we will get by shooting with a camera and a single zoom lens that covers all the focal lengths listed above.

And even at night or in any case in low light conditions, exactly the same judgment applies. The photos taken using the night mode are very good, the results obtained by entrusting everything to the automatisms and algorithms do not disappoint, but that air of artificiality typical of photos taken with the night mode remains, regardless of the smartphone used. Remaining in the classic photo mode or using the manual controls of the Pro mode, on the other hand, we will have much more natural shots and close to what our eye sees. But contrary to what happens with other smartphones, we will not lose practically anything in terms of brightness, becausethe excellent lenses, sensors and stabilization work in unison to allow you to capture much more light than you could with any competitor.

In general, the yield of the two Zoom optics is surprising, which manage to offer incredible brightness and sharpness (considering the miniaturization of the lenses and the shooting conditions) in all situations. They are perfect optics for taking portraits with absolutely soft and natural bokeh, or even for shooting scenes from a distance while maintaining essentially the same quality as the main camera. The latter is an excellent all-rounder that transforms into the perfect lens for street photography when used at 2x, with an equivalent focal length of 42mm. With the quick shot mode you can then, with a double click on the Volume Down key, open the camera and capture a snapshot in just 0.8 seconds, this speed combined with the variable aperture set to f/4.

75mm, f/1.8, 1/1200s, ISO64. Filtro Leica BW

Shutter speed which is however a common feature of all cameras. Thanks to the very fast memories Xiaomi has in fact managed to cancel the shutter lag . It may seem like a detail but it is a feature that makes the difference when you want to capture moving subjects. From the series, “everyone is good at taking pictures of flowers or statues”.

120mm, f/3, 1/1200s, ISO64

Well, you will have understood it, this photo sector has absolutely satisfied me and although the somewhat dubious analyzes of DXOMark try to make us believe the opposite, I really believe that Xiaomi 13 Ultra is the best cameraphone of 2023.

Oh I almost forgot, there is also a front camera useful for taking selfies and video calls. A discrete module for performance and equipped with a 32 megapixel sensor that allows you to take pictures in the average of other competing solutions. Nothing more, nothing less.

And finally I’m talking about videos because Xiaomi 13 Ultra reserves a record in this field too, at least as regards Android solutions. With all four cameras it is in fact possible to capture video in 4K at 60 fps but also in 8K at 24fps, especially thanks to the dynamic liquid dissipation system that allows you to keep the temperatures of processors and ISPs within a more than acceptable range. Performance is very good, especially with the prime lens. The videos are characterized by excellent stabilization and very good management of exposure and focus which is very very fast and equally precise. In short, although it is a smartphone born to take photos, Xiaomi and Leica have not forgotten the video part, so much so that it is possible to shoot in 10-bit LOG to then have greater control over the colors in post-production.

A DISPLAY THAT DOES THE PHOTOS JUSTICE

 

And here we are talking about the display which, given the quality of the photographic sector, could only be of an equally high level. After all, it is to all intents and purposes the viewfinder of our cameras and therefore it must necessarily be up to the task. In the specific case of this Xiaomi 13 Ultra we are talking about an AMOLED LTPO panel, made by TCL, which offers a diagonal of 6.7 inches and a resolution of 3200×1440 pixels, with a refresh rate that can go up to 120Hz.

The first feature that catches the eye for this panel is certainly its brightness. The peak is in fact of 2600 nits, which we have not been able to verify but which is, in fact, the figure declared by Xiaomi. What we have managed to measure with our instruments is instead the maximum value of the typical luminance, which is around 1300 nits, exactly what the manufacturer declares. It is therefore a display that has no problem being viewed in sunlight and that returns brilliant colors and very deep blacks in all situations.

 

The quality in color reproduction is also very good, which meets the CIE 2015 standard and is characterized by an error that is always very limited compared to the reference . The panel therefore leaves the factory perfectly calibrated and substantially, if you edit a photo on this panel and then import it to the PC to work on a calibrated display, you will not find any differences. It may seem like a detail but it is a fundamental feature if we want to start working on our photos on the smartphone and then end up with finer and more targeted interventions on the PC or tablet.

And then we also have excellent management of the refresh rate which is dynamic and, as mentioned above, can go up to 120Hz, even if, given the bad implementations of many competitors, the news here is that 1Hz is reached practically every time the display plays a static image. Basically as long as the screens are moving, if the apps are compatible, the panel remains at the maximum refresh rate or at intermediate steps, only to drop suddenly as soon as the screens remain static for a few moments. With this type of implementation it is really possible to save something in terms of autonomy, otherwise the AMOLED LTPO remains only a good marketing boost.

Remaining on the subject of multimedia, a few words also about the speakers who are two and are real. It is therefore not the usual trick of the loudspeaker at the base strengthened with the ear capsule. And among other things, the sound produced offers a very high volume and excellent general quality in the reproduction of the different frequencies. A high quality of the audio sector that we also find in calls, both for the speakerphone and for the capsule, with the microphones that do an excellent job guaranteeing an outgoing pillowcase timbre.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED UNDER THE BODY

 

Well, but such a beautiful display and such high-performance cameras can only be supported by hardware that must never be a bottleneck. In this regard, under the body of Xiaomi 13 Ultra, we find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, which is the best that can currently be found on the market in terms of SoC, and which is accompanied here by 12 GB of LPDDR5X RAM and 512 GB of storage on UFS 4.0 memories. This is the fastest type of memory among those commercially available for smartphones, but in this particular case it seems that Xiaomi has worked closely with the manufacturer of the memories themselves (should be Western Digital) to optimize reading speeds to the maximum and writing. This is a fundamental process to ensure that the memories themselves do not create buffering problems when you go to capture bursts of photos; or even simply to, as mentioned above, eliminate shutter lag.

DATA SHEET

  • display: AMOLED 6,73″ 3200×1440, 522ppi, 20:9, adaptive refresh rate 1-120Hz (AdaptiveSync Pro), touch sampling up to 240Hz, peak brightness 2.600nit, Pro HDR, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, Sunlight mode, reading mode adaptive, PWM dimming 1.920Hz, heart rate sensor integrated in the display, Corning Gorilla Glass Victus
  • mobile platform: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
  • memory:
    • 12GB in LPDDR5x RAM
    • 512GB internal
  • resistance: IP68
  • cooling system: Loop LiquidCool
  • audio: 2x speaker, Dolby Atmos
  • connectivity: 5G, WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, USB 3.2 Gen 1 and DisplayPort video output up to 4K at 60Hz
  • Leica Vario-Summicron 1:1.8-3.9/12-120 ASPH cameras :
    • anteriore: 32MP, pixel da 0,7um (1,4um 4-in-1), f/2,0, Dynamic Framing (0,8x, 1x)
    • posteriori:
      • 50MP principale Sony IMX989, 1″, pixel da 1,6um (3,2um 4-in-1), f/1,9-4,0, HyperOIS, 23mm eq.
      • 50MP ultra grandangolare Sony IMX858, f/1,8, FOV 122°, AF, macro 5cm, 12mm eq.
      • 50MP tele Sony IMX858, f/1,8, OIS, 75mm eq.
      • 50MP periscopica Sony IMX858, f/3,0, OIS, 120mm eq.
  • battery: 5,000mAh, Xiaomi Adaptive Charge, 90W wired charging, 50W wireless, reverse charging
  • size and weight: 163.18×74.64×9.06mm by 227g

So how does this smartphone behave in everyday life? Obviously very well. Even in the most complex situations, with several apps open at the same time, we manage to have a system that is always responsive, with a speed further accentuated by the fluidity of the 120Hz panel. In short, it is exactly what I expect in 2023 from a top of the range and therefore, although it is not a surprise, it is good that it is.

The dynamic dissipation system I was talking about above in relation to the cameras also serves to cool the rest of the components and I must say that the work done in this sense seems very good indeed. Even playing demanding titles such as Genshin Impact or Call of Duty for several minutes, the smartphone becomes only warm, despite the outside air temperature well over 25 degrees.

 

For the rest there is really everything you need, even in terms of connectivity. We have full support for European networks, including 5G, WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.3, full GPS, nFC, and there is also the infrared sensor, typical of Xiaomi solutions. Reception is very good in all situations , in line with those of the best products in the category, even in the most complicated situations. In short, the only thing missing is support for eSIMs, but I don’t think they are yet so widespread that it can be considered a vital lack.

And finally two positive notes, the first concerns the haptic feedback, very strong and precise, just the way I like it; while the second is linked to the proximity sensor which is physical and always works properly . It may seem obvious but given the recent past I would say that it is still news, indeed excellent news.

I LIKE OUTSIDE BUT IT STAYS BIG

 

We understood that technically we are dealing with a very high-end smartphone but from an aesthetic and ergonomic point of view what can we say about this product?

Starting from the dimensions, it is certainly not a compact smartphone, on the contrary: the display measures 6.7 “, the scale stops at 227 grams while the thickness, in correspondence with the bump of the cameras, is almost 1 centimeter.

So let’s say that the impact in terms of ergonomics can be very different depending on the devices you have dealt with in the past. If like me you come from an iPhone 14 Pro Max you probably won’t notice much of the difference, but if instead you have always had to deal with light and compact products, most likely, at first glance you might be a little scared. Don’t worry though, these are sensations that disappear after a few days of use and are compromises that you will gladly accept in order to enjoy your cameras.

 

The frame that surrounds the smartphone is slightly squared and is made of metal material. The shape helps to increase the grip of a smartphone which, however, due to its size, remains a bit awkward to use with one hand. The rest of the back cover has a finish with a texture that recalls me leather which should guarantee greater resistance than the latter because it is actually made of a polymer more similar to rubber. Frontally to protect the display we then have a glass Gorilla Glass Victus which gives us a certain security in terms of resistance to bumps and scratches.

For the rest it is a smartphone like many others, except for a camera block with an iconic design and certainly impressive in terms of size. Along the frame we obviously find all the usual set of keys, microphones and speakers, including the trolley that can accommodate two nano SIMs. Note of merit for the USB-C which is of type 3.2 and guarantees very high data transfer speeds. In this way it is possible to pass our photos on external media very quickly and then go to work on them on larger screens.

AUTONOMY OK AND RECHARGE AT 90W

And finally, let’s talk about autonomy. This Xiaomi 13 Ultra integrates a 5000 mAh battery which is absolutely sufficient to guarantee a full day of even quite intense use . In my “stress day” during which I took practically all the photos of the review, together with many others that you will see in the photographic in-depth analysis, I managed to arrive in the evening with still 10% of battery remaining and almost 6 hours of active display . By limiting the use of cameras a little, it is therefore not utopian to think of improving this figure.

Speaking of fast charging, the maximum supported power is 90W and the charger in the package is able to deliver just this amount of energy. It’s certainly not a record, but a full charge from scratch is still completed in about 40 minutes, which is still a very good result.

CONSIDERATIONS

Here we are at the time to sum up and let’s start by going to find out the price of this Xiaomi 13 Ultra. Only one version is available in Italy, namely the one with 12 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage, in two colors: Olive Green and Black. The sales channels are mi.com and Xiaomi Store Italia. The list price is 1499.99 euros, a figure which, when compared to the competition, can only be judged as absolutely adequate. If I look at the market this is one of the rare cases in which a product is positioned correctly, if not even a little lower than I would have expected, and no, Xiaomi is not paying me for this review as you will surely write in the comments.

XIAOMI SITE PURCHASE LINK

Also because any reasoning on the price, in my view, is superfluous in the case of a smartphone like this. The motivation is very simple: those interested in such an extreme and exclusive solution simply don’t look at the cost. Had it cost 999 euros or 1999 euros, nothing would have changed, if one really wants it, they can find a way to buy it regardless, a bit like with iPhones that are paid for over 3-4 years. And I’ll tell you more, since quantities will be limited I wouldn’t be surprised if it sells out in a few weeks, if not days.

PROS AND CONS

Very high camera quality. Excellent LTPO display. Very nice design. Top of the range general performance

It weighs and is bulky Selfie camera only discreet

VOTE: 9.5

VIDEO

Previous articleGalaxy S23 range, with the June update, news and even some bugs
Next articleTCL NXTPAPER 11 is the tablet with a color display that doesn’t tire your eyes
Abraham
Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise