While the Xiaomi 13 Pro has some of the best cameras around, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra is here to take that newly adorned title with not only a 1-inch-backed main sensor but variable aperture, more capable zoom lenses and much more.
The question is, do you need all that the Xiaomi 13 Ultra has to offer, or should you save yourself a bit of money with the (still very premium) £1,099 Xiaomi 13 Pro? While I’m yet to go hands-on with the new top-end model, here are five key differences between the two that might help you make your buying decision.
The Xiaomi 13 Ultra has a variable aperture
While both the Xiaomi 13 Pro and Xiaomi 13 Ultra have top-tier camera tech on offer, including a large 1-inch Sony IMX989 sensor powering the main snapper to deliver huge gains in overall quality and light capture, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra takes things a step further.
You see, as well as offering key specs including a 50MP resolution, HyperOIS and an 8P lens system, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra is one of very few phones (in fact, it’s the second after Huawei’s P50 Pro to my knowledge) to offer variable aperture technology – something usually reserved for traditional DSLRs.
It’s a physical two-stop aperture switch built into the rear main lens, allowing you to switch between f/1.9 and f/4.0 for more freedom in terms of exposure levels, though that’s not quite as advanced as the Huaewi P50 Pro’s f/1.4 – f/4.0 range.
Still, it should allow you to adjust the depth of field on-the-fly, making for better portrait photography, and it should bring improvements to low-light shots too – especially combined with that large 1-inch sensor.
The Xiaomi 13 Ultra has better zoom capabilities
Not only does the Xiaomi 13 Ultra have a better main camera than the (already capable) Xiaomi 13 Pro, the top-end model also offers more versatility in terms of zoom. The Xiaomi 13 Pro has one of the best 3.5x telephoto lenses around in terms of quality and performance, but it can’t quite compete with the sheer level of zoom on offer from the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
The Xiaomi 13 Ultra looks to fix that issue with not only the same 50MP 3.5x telephoto lens as the Xiaomi 13 Pro, but an additional 50MP “super-telephoto camera” with 5x zoom, upped to 10x with digital in-sensor zoom technology.
It’s still shy of the 100x digital zoom from the S23 Ultra, but given the limited uses for such high levels of digital zoom, it shouldn’t matter too much.
The Xiaomi 13 Pro has faster charging
Despite the Xiaomi 13 Ultra looking to offer the best all-around experience in Xiaomi’s flagship range, that doesn’t seem to extend to charging speeds. Xiaomi claims that it’s still rapid, though at 90W, it’s 35W slower than the 125W Xiaomi 13 Pro.
Xiaomi claims that the 5,000mAh battery of the 13 Ultra can charge fully in 35 minutes, though that’s yet to be confirmed in testing. Still, the claimed speeds are faster than the likes of the Honor Magic 5 Pro’s 66W in just under an hour, but it’s not quite as fast as the 24 minutes you’ll get from the Pro model.
If charging speeds are most important to you, the Ultra may not be the one to go for.
The Xiaomi 13 Ultra has a new Hibernation Mode
With a large battery and top-end Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset found within the Xiaomi 13 Pro and Xiaomi 13 Ultra, there shouldn’t be too much difference when it comes to overall battery life. The Xiaomi 13 Pro certainly lasted all day during tests, and we expect the same from the 13 Ultra, though it has an extra trick up its sleeve to help boost its longevity.
That comes in the form of a new “Hibernation mode” that Xiaomi claims is automatically enabled once the 13 Ultra drops down to 1% battery. The new mode will apparently limit your background activities with the aim of making that 1% last as long as possible, with the company claiming that it can last up to 60 minutes on standby, or long enough to make a 12-minute phone call.
Admittedly it’s not something most people will need on a daily basis, but it’s great for peace of mind.
The Xiaomi 13 Ultra is less of a fingerprint magnet
The Xiaomi 13 Pro is a solid all-rounder with a stylish, premium design, but that doesn’t stop the reflective ceramic black (or white, depending on the finish you opt for) rear from becoming an absolute fingerprint magnet. I found myself constantly wiping the back of the 13 Pro during my time with the phone for review.
That’s something that won’t happen with the top-end Xiaomi 13 Ultra, with Xiaomi ditching the shiny glass rear for an “antibacterial nanotech silicone leather back” – that’s pleather to you and I, but still.
The use of material on the rear should not only make the phone easier to grip and less likely to slide off a table (an issue I had with the Pro model) but it’s also more tactile. It should feel very nice in the hand depending on how soft the material is to the touch, though that’s something I’ll have to confirm once I go hands-on.
Will you be buying the top-end Xiaomi 13 Ultra, or is the Xiaomi 13 Pro enough smartphone for your needs? Let us know on Twitter!