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The Xiaomi 13 gets design right – the 13 Pro should have been the same

OPINION: Xiaomi announced the worldwide release of its Xiaomi 13 series of devices at MWC 2023, and I have spent the past couple of weeks moving between both devices.

While I have yet to render full verdicts on either device, something has become increasingly apparent – the cheaper, smaller Xiaomi 13 is by far the nicer phone. It has a far more eye-catching design, a practical display and a fun green colour option that tastefully stands out.

For the Xiaomi 13, the Chinese brand has gone for a very straight, flat design. Instead of being curved, the sides are flat, just like the back and, surprisingly, so is the screen. This is a change from the Xiaomi 12, which had a more common curved display.

Xiaomi 13

I’ve long bemoaned Android phone makers’ desire to use a sloping display on every high-end phone, typically finding it far harder to comfortably grip and use than a flatter alternative – Apple’s iPhone for example. So it’s great to see Xiaomi utilising it for the Xiaomi 13.

The Xiaomi 13 Pro, on the other hand, looks like any other non-descript Android phone from the past decade. Curved large screen, sloping sides and an option of either a black colourway or a white alternative. Now, to give Xiaomi credit, the build quality is very strong. The 13 Pro has a ceramic-like back and a tasteful camera module, yet it just doesn’t stand out in the way the Xiaomi 13 does.

I also found it strange that both these phones are from the same series, yet look very distinct with radically different design traits. Add in the more affordable Xiaomi 13 Lite and you have another phone that looks wildly different and more akin to the Xiaomi 12 from 2022.

The smart choice, at least in my eyes, would have been to ditch the curved, traditional Android look on the Xiaomi 13 Pro and go full-in with the flat screen, flat sides and flat back. Not only would it have looked far sleeker, but it would have set the Xiaomi 13 apart from other large-screened Android devices, giving those tired of sloping displays a viable alternative.

This decision would also have brought the Xiaomi 13 and Xiaomi 13 Pro closer together and made the series feel a little more connected, almost like the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max feel like two versions of the same device.

Xiaomi is clearly onto something with the 13 series. Strong cameras, excellent screens and plenty elsewhere, yet the design of the Pro model could have been so much more. Maybe the change will finally come with the Xiaomi 14 Pro.

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