Xiaomi 13 Ultra: The real Android camera phone makes Samsung and Apple nervously tremble

Xiaomi 13 Ultra: The real Android camera phone makes Samsung and Apple nervously tremble

It could be argued that focusing much of a company’s R&D, marketing efforts, and presentation time on one aspect of a piece of technology is a bit much. In the case of smartphones, which are supposed to be good at multiple things and serve as a stand-in for a number of separate devices (calculators, flashlights, music players, handheld consoles, etc.), this heatmap is concentrated in the top half of phones or , in other words, the camera area. The simple answer to why phone makers focus so much on the camera in flagship phones really is that simple: Phone cameras and their features are easy to market, and we live in the golden age of social media to snap. and sharing photos and videos of us and everything around us is part of life.

However, in this heated race to create the best smartphone camera for social media content, one phone maker is trying to play by its own rules, and that’s Xiaomi. The latest example of the Chinese company’s attempt to recover the phone’s real camera and make it cool again (like it was a decade ago), is called Xiaomi 13 Ultra.

Recently unveiled in China, the latest Ultra flagship is expected to hit the global market soon. Here’s a first look at what this super premium Android flagship might be capable of. Please note that we still need to test the Xiaomi 13 Ultra for ourselves, so take these first impressions with a grain of salt. Our review will come soon.

That said, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra might be the best camera phone of the year! Could be.

Xiaomi 13 Ultra: iPhone 14 Pro and Galaxy S23 Ultra make a mistake in photography and Xiaomi is not afraid to call out Apple and Samsung

After witnessing the long announcement of the Xiaomi 13 Ultra (expected, at least 80% of camera talk), I can tell you that Xiaomi is banking on two things here:

  • The company fully embraces its partnership with German camera maker Leica and now designs its flagship Ultra with Leica cameras in mind, inside and out

  • Xiaomi is now a self-proclaimed global ambassador of authentic photography and is not afraid to openly and verbally call out the likes of Apple out to turn photos into images (and it’s awesome)

As for the first point, with the Xiaomi 13 Ultra the Chinese brand has made a phone that is the camera first and then everything else (that said, everything else about the device is also quite remarkable). The vegan leather finish, gentle slope at the upper back, and very little subtle curves in the bezel seem to make this (large) phone much easier to take photos and videos with. It is a combination of aesthetic and functional design that draws its inspiration from Leica compact cameras.

Leica DNA is written all over the Xiaomi 13 Ultra, making it finally clear that the once superficial partnerships with camera makers are now real. While he worked with Huawei to create some of the best camera phones of 2017-2020, Leica’s influence is now substantially stronger.

The 13 Ultra looks, feels and even works like a real camera thanks to a Nokia-inspired accessory that promises to change the way you take photos

But the camera feel of the Xiaomi 13 Ultra doesn’t just come down to vegan leather and curves. Your phone now comes with an additional accessory designed to take your photo-taking experience to the next level. That’s if you’re ready to pay $100 to buy it.

Reminiscent of the camera grip of the Nokia 1020 (from 2013), Xiaomi’s version of the same accessory exudes a more refined and professional look. As well as offering a much better grip for extended photo sessions, it also adds a physical shutter button which (wait for it) you can half-press to lock focus and fully press to take the shot! I’ve been asking for a Sony-like shutter key on all phones for years, and this is the closest we’ve come, so thank you, Xiaomi! Next year, move the button to the actual phone, please.

The elaborate case/handle combination is full of pleasant surprises as it also uses a physical zoom lever, assigned according to the focal lengths of the Xiaomi 13 Ultras’ four rear cameras: 0.5x (12mm), 1x (26mm) , 2x (48mm), 3.2x (75mm), 5x (120mm), 10x (240mm). You can jump between optical focal lengths or hold your finger to zoom seamlessly. Xiaomi is truly bringing the real camera feel back to modern phones and this shouldn’t be underestimated.

Xiaomi 13 Pro becomes the latest and greatest weapon in Xiaomi’s war against Apple and Samsung’s artificial-looking photos

As for the second point (see above), Xiaomi says enough: computational photography and images are great, but camera hardware and actual photos matter more. The Chinese phone maker openly called Apple on stage, and the reason is the iPhone’s tendency to take very artificial looking photos that misrepresent not only people’s characteristics but also pets, as well as the things around us . The same goes for Samsung flagships, by the way.

As the first photo examples and my own experience demonstrate, Apple and Samsung phones actually overprocess photos and create unnatural textures and details that aren’t really there (this is what we call oversharpening). It’s one of my biggest complaints about the Galaxy and iPhone, and I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t thrilled to see Xiaomi point this out.

The new Pro mode of Xiaomi 13 Ultras makes it easy to take professional photos even for ordinary people

Apart from that, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra now lets you select different photography styles within the Pro mode menu – if that sounds familiar, it’s because Apple did something similar with photography styles. However, unlike Apple’s filters, the Xiaomi phone offers a more complete set of controls such as highlights, shadows, brightness, exposure, color, sharpness, focus, aperture (physical), ISO, shutter speed, and more. While this level of control might seem overwhelming to the average user, Xiaomi is making it much easier than you think. You can save these settings for each individual camera (ultra-wide, wide-angle, zoom photographers) and have them ready to use whenever you open Pro mode. So once you’ve figured out your photography taste, there’s not much else what do you need to do but switch to Pro mode and start taking pictures as you normally would.

While it takes some practice (if you’re not a photographer), Xiaomi’s revamped Pro mode would allow regular smartphone users and enthusiasts to easily snap those moody, dark, bright, vibrant, vintage ( or whatever your style is) with little to no effort.

The Xiaomi 13 Ultra has the potential to (finally) end the reign of the iPhone 14 Pro in the video department (unless you’re into 4K selfie videos)

There is much more to talk about when it comes to the Xiaomi 13 Ultras camera system, which now also has a physical variable aperture (f/1.9 – f/4.0) positioned above the main 1. inch sensor. This solves another big problem with modern phone cameras: edge feathering (aka when certain parts of a photo with a foreground subject are blurry). And besides being a camera phone, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra is also shaping up to be a brilliant phone. But I’ll leave that speech for our full review.

Before concluding, I would suggest the smartphone camera enthusiasts among you to also pay attention to the video performance of the Xiaomi 13 Ultra! I actually can’t believe I’m saying this, because Xiaomi didn’t even discuss video performance when unveiling the 13 Ultra, but judging by the first samples I’ve seen (screenshots attached above), this phone could be the main contender to snag the corona video that iPhones have been wearing for over a decade now! And it would be absolutely monumental for Xiaomi and Android. If it works.

One thing is certain, the video quality of the Xiaomi 13 Ultras is leaps and bounds compared to what was offered by the Xiaomi 12S Ultra just a year ago. We were talking about generational leaps in the areas of exposure, detail, stabilization, etc. So beware, Apple and Samsung!

Speaking of Apple and Samsung, I take the liberty of asking the two most popular phone makers to simply take note of the Xiaomi 13 Ultra. I mean. Now that these will hit the global market, they’ll have to, but even without the whole competition factor, the approach to photography of the Xiaomi 13 Ultras (which is also the main selling point of the Samsung and Apple flagships), seems just right. And by right I mean the opposite of what Samsung and Apple do with the image processing in their cameras.

Xiaomi and Leica are basically showing Apple and Samsung how to make a real camera phone, and I just hope the market leaders notice! That would be good news for everyone because if you are looking to make a camera phone, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra is a camera phone worth copying.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *