Find the Xiaomi 13 Pro too unwieldy? Check out this delightfully compact powerhouse instead
- Excellent display
- Premium, almost compromise-free design
- Top notch performance
- MIUI software too fussy by half
- No storage or colour options in UK
- Battery life could be better
The Xiaomi 13 Pro might be getting all the headlines for its supersized flagship specs – including that terrific 1-inch camera sensor – but it’s the plain Xiaomi 13 that most people will be considering. In its own subtle way, it’s actually the more interesting phone of the two.
Xiaomi’s new mainstream flagship has got the price, the compact design, and the specifications to take on the Galaxy S23 and the iPhone 14. It’s an even more serious proposition than last year’s Xiaomi 12, which we liked a lot.
Xiaomi 13 review: What you need to know
Make no mistake, Xiaomi is firmly competing with Samsung and Apple in the compact flagship smartphone market. The Xiaomi 13 uses a top notch Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, a premium flat-edged design, a high-quality 6.36in AMOLED display, and a well-balanced triple camera system.
The phone’s 4,500mAh battery is backed by both 67W wired charging and 50W wireless charging, while the sole UK model gives you 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. It only comes in black, which means you don’t get the option of the appealing Flora Green colour that’s featured here, nor the white model.
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Xiaomi 13 review: Price and competition
The sole Xiaomi 13 option for the UK market costs £849, which at first glance appears to be £100 higher than last year’s Xiaomi 12. The latter’s cheaper starting price applied to the 128GB model, however, and bumping that storage up to 256GB cost £849 at the time, so there’s no real change here.
More significantly, the Xiaomi 13’s UK price is exactly the same as the starting price for the Samsung Galaxy S23 and the iPhone 14 – both compact flagships that give you half the storage. Given the broad spec parity provided by this year’s model, you could argue that Xiaomi is offering you more for your money.
There are cheaper compact flagship alternatives, of course, in the Pixel 7 and the Asus Zenfone 9. However, both of those rival phones make concessions in order to hit their lower price points, while the Xiaomi 13 is flat out gunning for those top sellers.
The £729 OnePlus 11 and the £849 Google Pixel 7 Pro arguably give you more for your money, but those are both full-sized flagship phones. They’re outstanding in their field, but lack the Xiaomi 13’s pocketable appeal.
Xiaomi 13 review: Design and key features
As I said in my Xiaomi 13 Pro review, the Xiaomi 13 is a more desirable piece of kit than its bigger and more expensive brother. Rather than continue with the pleasantly premium but also rather bland design language of the Xiaomi 12, with its dual-curved display and minimal side frame, the Xiaomi 13 takes a leaf out of the iPhone 14’s book. It has a perfectly flat shiny aluminium frame sat at a right angle to a flat display.
Where Xiaomi distinguishes itself from Apple is with a 2.5D glass rear, which essentially means that it curves away slightly at the edges. This is real best-of-both-worlds stuff, with the visual benefits of that striking flat design combined with the more comfortable hand feel that comes with a tapered back. Another premium flourish is the fact that the bezel is identically proportioned all the way around, so no Zenfone 9/Pixel 7-style fat chin.
Fans of big phones will beg to differ, but for me the Xiaomi 13 hits the smartphone sweet spot when it comes to size. It measures 153 x 72 x 7.98mm, and weighs 189g, making it just a little bigger than an iPhone 14.
A further sign that Xiaomi means business this year is the inclusion of an IP68 rating. This was a significant omission from last year’s model, but Xiaomi’s flagship is now as water and dust resistant as its rivals. Conversely, the use of Gorilla Glass 5 represents a backward step (or even two) in toughness terms from the Xiaomi 12’s Gorilla Glass Victus.
One other interesting concession is that the Xiaomi 13 (and indeed the Pro) do without Harman Kardon-tuned speakers this time around. You still get a decent set of stereo speakers here, however, with Dolby Atmos support and a boost in peak volume.
One important area in which Xiaomi continues to fall well short of both Samsung and Apple, especially from an international market perspective, is the range of colour and storage options. I love this fresh Flora Green option, which comes with a meaty 12GB of RAM, but it’s not actually available here in the UK. All you get is a black model with 8GB of RAM. Meanwhile, it’s 256GB of internal storage or nothing.
Xiaomi 13 review: Display
The Xiaomi 13 display has been scaled up from the Xiaomi 12, but it’s still a relatively compact 6.36in AMOLED. Its 2,400 x 1,080 (FHD+) resolution doesn’t match the Xiaomi 13 Pro’s QHD+ equivalent, but it still looks nice and sharp, especially given that it’s much smaller.
This screen also hits 120Hz, like the Pro, though it can’t scale right down to 1Hz when the situation dictates to save battery life. On the flip side, this is a dead-flat display, so you won’t have to worry about the (occasional) false presses or edge distortions of the Xiaomi 13 Pro.
Far more importantly, this is a high quality E6 AMOLED panel, so it’s both bright and accurate. Xiaomi claims that it’ll hit a peak brightness of 1,900cd/m², or 1,200cd/m² in high brightness mode (HBM), just like the Pro. I recorded a top brightness of 488cd/m² in the default ‘Vivid’ colour scheme, with autobrightness turned off, which is strong.
While that ‘Vivid’ mode is easy on the eye, you’ll get better colour accuracy when you switch to the ‘Original’ colour scheme. I recorded an sRGB gamut coverage of 99% and a volume of 100.5%, with an average Delta E score of 0.78. That’s an excellent result.
Xiaomi 13 review: Performance and battery life
The Xiaomi 13 matches its Pro brother in performance terms thanks to the inclusion of a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. Every phone we’ve used running this chip (including the Galaxy S23) absolutely flies, and so it proves here.
Backed by 8GB of LPDDR5X RAM (the UK isn’t getting the 12GB option we reviewed), I recorded an average Geekbench 5 score of 1,462 in single-core and 4,982 in multi-core, which is broadly similar to the Xiaomi 13 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S23. It’s also quite a bit worse than the iPhone 14 in single-core, but way better in multi-core terms.
When it comes to GPU performance, the Xiaomi 13 scores similarly to its Pro brother on the GFXBench offscreen tests, and better in the onscreen tests. That’s precisely what you’d expect, given the Pro is driving a much sharper display. It’s very closely matched to the similarly specced Samsung Galaxy S23.
Xiaomi has equipped its compact flagship with a 4500mAh battery, just like the Xiaomi 12 before it. The Xiaomi 13 can get through a full day of moderate to heavy usage (four hours of screen on time) while leaving you around 35% left in the tank, which is a solid rather than spectacular result.
It didn’t perform so well in our battery test, which plays a looped video at a standard 170cd/m² brightness with Flight mode on. The Xiaomi 13 only lasted 16hrs 28mins, which is almost two hours short of the Xiaomi 12, and a massive six hours short of the Samsung Galaxy S23. This seems to be a quirk with Xiaomi phones rather than any massive cause for concern, so I wouldn’t discount the Xiaomi 13 on this basis, unless you’re planning on some truly epic video sessions.
You’ll get a 67W charger in the box at any rate, which can get the Xiaomi 13 from 0 to 50% in 15 minutes, and right up to 100% in less than 45 minutes. Perhaps more impressively, you also get 50W wireless charging, as well as 10W reverse wireless charging.
Xiaomi 13 review: Software
With so much unabashed praise for the Xiaomi 13, it feels all the more regrettable to have to lay into a familiar weakness. Despite such impeccable hardware, the software is really letting the side down here.
To be clear, Xiaomi’s MIUI 14 isn’t a total write-off – it’s fluid and customisable, and relatively glitch-free – but it’s simply not as visually cohesive as stock Android, nor the cleaner UI’s out there like Motorola or Nokia.
There’s still a faintly unhealthy obsession with Apple’s iOS on display here, with a convoluted split notification menu, no app tray by default, and some ‘bad cover version’ menu design. The first two can be altered, reflecting MIUI’s key strength – its customisation potential – but it all feels just a little too fussy.
Then there’s our perennial bugbear with Xiaomi’s UI: bloatware. As I noted in the Xiaomi 13 Pro review, there are three web browsers and two messaging apps pre-installed here, which is a borderline nonsensical state of affairs.
With that said, Xiaomi is promising three major Android updates and five years of security updates. That’s not quite a Samsung level of reassurance, but it’s not far off, and should see you through a lengthy contract with room to spare.
Xiaomi 13 review: Cameras
The Xiaomi 13’s camera offering has been rather overlooked with all the fuss surrounding the Xiaomi 13 Pro and its huge 1-inch sensor. That’s a little unfair, because while the Xiaomi 13 doesn’t have anything outstanding about it, it’s a very pleasing system to shoot with.
It starts with a 54MP (50MP effective) Sony IMX800 main sensor, which is a component that debuted in the mid-range Honor 70 last year. That was a much cheaper phone, of course, but then the Xiaomi 13 also brings the more capable ISP of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and – crucially – OIS to bear.
The results I captured during my time with the Xiaomi 13 were decent, if not quite at the same level as the iPhone 14 or the Pixel 7. Let’s hear it, too, for the inclusion of a dedicated 10MP telephoto with a strong 3.2x zoom length. It’s very welcome after the Xiaomi 12 skipped out on such a telephoto option altogether, and it stands the phone out from cheaper compact flagships like the Pixel 7 and the Zenfone 9. It also helps out with the Portrait mode, getting nice and close to the subject and making them stand out sharply against a blurred background.
The 12MP ultrawide, on the other hand, is a noticeable step back from the other two in terms of tone and HDR abilities, but it does a job.
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The Xiaomi 13 doesn’t miss out on the Leica branding of the Pro, either. Once again, you get the choice of Leica Vibrant and Leica Authentic shooting modes, with the former providing more pop and the latter being more muted and natural.
If you’re wondering about comparison with the Pro, you can see some identical shots in our review. Suffice to say, the Xiaomi 13 Pro obtains noticeably better results in all conditions and across all three cameras, with superior colour tones, HDR compensation, and low-light clarity. You’d expect as much given the £250 price disparity, of course.
The 32MP front camera seems identical, however, with both phones turning out sharp selfies.
Xiaomi 13 review: Verdict
The Xiaomi 13 is a commendable step up from the Xiaomi 12 before it. With the addition of a much improved design, IP68 certification and a dedicated telephoto camera, it has addressed several of the major issues we had with that (still very good) phone.
Its compact yet classy design and bright, vibrant display are an absolute joy to behold, especially for those who aren’t enamoured with the steady supersizing of smartphones. Performance, meanwhile, is every bit as strong as many bigger, uglier Android flagships.
While the Xiaomi 13 doesn’t have the top level camera set-up of its Pro brother, it’s still a very capable shooter in most situations. And while battery life isn’t the absolute best, it should still see you through the day without fuss. Speedy wired and wireless charging helps here.
Xiaomi’s fussy software does continue to hold it back somewhat, however. If there’s one area the company needs to address with some urgency, it’s this. While they’re at it, Xiaomi would do well to match the checkout options of its key rivals, too. Offering just the one colour and storage option here in the UK is a mistake that Apple and Samsung just wouldn’t make.
Even with those caveats in place, the Xiaomi 13 gets tantalisingly close to the holy grail of being a compromise-free compact flagship smartphone. In most of the ways that count, this is a genuine rival to the Samsung Galaxy S23, and a viable alternative to the disappointing iPhone 14.