In the past 12 months, Google released the Pixel 8 series, Oppo launched the Find N3 Flip, and OnePlus unveiled the OnePlus Open. And after launching the MediaTek Dimensity-powered Xiaomi 13T series late in September, Xiaomi surprised everyone by announcing the Xiaomi 14 series at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit a mere four weeks later.
If you’re confused, you’re not alone. Xiaomi’s T-series phones – like OnePlus’ former T-series handsets – are slightly lower-specced, slightly more affordable versions of the company’s flagships that always launch in September/October. By contrast, the full-on flagships are normally unveiled in December/January. In previous years I’ve reviewed the Xiaomi 11T Pro and Xiaomi 12T Pro before the next-gen flagships were released.
But this year, I’m checking out the Xiaomi 13T Pro ($699) after spending time with the Xiaomi 13 Pro (and its mid-range sibling, the Xiaomi 13 Lite) in March, and while already knowing everything about the (China-market only for now) Xiaomi 14 Pro. It’s an odd situation. All three phones boast Leica-tuned cameras, but unlike the others, the Xiaomi 13T Pro is powered by MediaTek’s high-performance Dimensity 9200+ chip.
So, how is the Xiaomi 13T Pro different from its predecessor? Did the company make any compromises? And, critically, are those new shooters worthy of the Leica brand? Let’s find out in my review.
Hardware and design
Design-wise, the Xiaomi 13T Pro is a mixed bag. My black review unit looks pretty boring, but the Meadow Green and vegan leather-clad Alpine Blue versions are a lot more appealing. What stands out is the Leica-branded camera pod – a black glass square with sloped left and right edges reminiscent of the Poco F5 Pro. It’s home to a 50MP main shooter, 50MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide, and LED flash.
Like its predecessors, the 13T Pro uses a plastic frame, which feels cheap, and – vegan leather model aside – the glossy rear glass is a real fingerprint magnet. The good news is that the 13T Pro is IP68 dust and water resistant. In front, there’s a perfectly flat 6.67-inch AMOLED screen with small, even bezels and a center punch hole for the 20MP selfie camera. An optical in-display fingerprint sensor completes the package.
When it comes to ports and controls, the 13T Pro’s layout is almost identical to last year’s 12T Pro. The right side is home to the volume rocker and power/lock key. You’ll find one of the speakers, the USB Type-C Port, the primary mic, and the nano-SIM tray along the bottom – plus another speaker, secondary mics, and an infrared transmitter (to remote control other devices) on top. There’s nothing on the left side.
On the display front, the Xiaomi 13T Pro features a beautiful 6.67-inch AMOLED screen with a 2712 x 1220-pixel resolution (446ppi) and a 20:9 aspect ratio. This panel boasts a 144Hz adaptive refresh rate and supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10+. Colors are vibrant, blacks are inky, and viewing angles are great. At 2600 nits peak, it’s also super bright, making it easy to read outdoors on a sunny day.
Leica’s been partnering with phone manufacturers for several years now, initially with Huawei, and now with Xiaomi. In both cases, this wasn’t a marketing gimmick, but a genuine collaboration on imaging hardware and software. While Leica doesn’t manufacture sensors and lenses for mobile, it does provide expertise in tuning phone cameras in areas such as optical design, image processing algorithms, and color science.
Xiaomi’s first phone with Leica branding was last year’s 12S Ultra, which was followed by the 13 Pro, the outstanding 13 Ultra, and now the 14 Pro – all of which feature Sony’s massive IMX989 50MP 1-inch 1.6-micron dual-pixel PDAF sensor. The 13T Pro’s 24mm main shooter, however, makes due with Sony’s more pedestrian IMX707 50MP 1/1.28-inch 1.12-micron PDAF sensor mated to a Leica-specced f/1.9 lens with OIS.
For the 50mm (2x) telephoto, Xiaomi chose a 50MP 1/2.88-inch 0.61-micron PDAF sensor and f/1.9 lens – but sadly, without OIS. A 12MP f/2.2 1.12-micron 15mm ultrawide round things up in the rear. Now don’t get me wrong, these are pretty decent specs. In fact – ultrawide aside – this is the exact same setup as in last year’s Xiaomi 12S Pro. Just be aware that you’re not getting Xiaomi’s full Leica enchilada here.
The 13T Pro’s 20MP f/2.2 0.8-micron punch hole selfie camera is lifted right from last year’s 12T Pro, and it’s nothing spectacular. Selfies and videos are fine, but aren’t anywhere close to being Leica worthy. Like before, this shooter lacks HDR support in portrait mode, as well as 4k video recording. Frankly that’s unacceptable on a flagship these days, and I hope Xiaomi addresses this in future handsets.
Leica’s special sauce comes in the form of two lovely color science options – authentic and vibrant – and four portrait modes: default (50mm), documentary (35mm), swirly bokeh (50mm), and soft focus (90mm). Other photo modes include night, pro (rear only), panorama, 50MP (main), long exposure, and document. Video modes include HDR, slow motion (up to 960fps at 1080p), time lapse (up to 4k 30fps), pro, and short film.
The 13T Pro records stabilized video (with stereo audio) at up to 8k 24fps (main only), 4k 60fps (all three rear cameras), 4k 30fps (HDR, main only), 1080p 30fps (steady video, main only), 1080p 30fps (steady video pro, ultrawide), and 1080p 30fps with the selfie camera. The resulting videos are pretty solid, but as always, I don’t see much value in capturing video at 8k. I’d rather get 4k support on the selfie camera.
Overall, the 13T Pro snaps wonderful pictures with great detail, accurate exposure, rich colors and excellent dynamic range. Night mode kicks in automatically (this can be disabled), and delivers superb low-light performance. My only real disappointment is with the telephoto, which at 2x is really more of a portrait lens. This, together with the lack of OIS makes it difficult to get quality results when zooming beyond 3-4x.
Reception and audio
I tested the Xiaomi 13T Pro in San Francisco, Vancouver (Canada), and Maui on T-Mobile, AT&T, and Telus’ sub-6GHz 5G and 4G LTE networks, and didn’t run into any problems with call quality or data speeds. Obviously, the 13T Pro isn’t compatible with Verizon’s network and lacks some US 5G bands, so you might end up on 4G LTE (or without service) in some areas. Keep that in mind if you plan to import this phone.
The 13T Pro packs stereo speakers that feature Dolby Atmos and sound loud and clear. But unlike its predecessors, the 13T Pro’s speakers aren’t tuned by Harman Kardon, and aren’t quite as punchy and rich as before. While the 13T Pro doesn’t have a headphone jack, it supports both analog and digital wired audio accessories over USB Type-C, along with LDAC and aptX HD for high-quality wireless audio over Bluetooth.
Performance and battery life
Under the hood, the Xiaomi 13T Pro is powered by a Dimensity 9200+. This powerful chip was MediaTek’s best until the Dimensity 9300 was announced last month. Whether you’re running everyday apps or playing complex games, this SoC still packs a serious punch, and makes the 13T Pro sing. It’s paired with 12 or 16GB of LPDDR5x RAM, plus 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of UFS 4.0 storage, but there’s no microSD support.
The remaining specs aren’t too shabby either, with sub-6GHz 5G, LTE, tri-band WiFi 7 (802.11be), Bluetooth 5.4 (LE), NFC, quad-band A-GPS / BDS / GALILEO / GLONASS / QZSS / NavIC, plus a full suite of sensors on board. For biometrics, the 13T Pro includes an optical in-display fingerprint scanner plus face unlock, and both are quick and reliable. Haptics are handled by a linear motor, and are excellent.
When it comes to battery life, the 13T Pro delivers. In my tests, it often kept on ticking for two days on a full charge. That’s pretty solid but not surprising for a flagship with a 5000mAh battery these days. Like its predecessors, the 13T Pro lacks wireless charging, but it supports Xiaomi’s 120W HyperCharge wired fast charging and comes with a 120W brick in the box. This means you can charge from 0-100% in just 19 minutes.
The Xiaomi 13T runs MIUI 14.0.14 on top of Android 13, and generally speaking, the user experience is reasonably clean and intuitive. But while Xiaomi’s skin has improved significantly over the last few years, it remains a bit too distant from stock Android for my tastes. Some of you will enjoy it, but I prefer what Google, Moto, and OnePlus have to offer. Plus, this new version has taken a step back.
My biggest gripe is that out of the box, MIUI tries to copy iOS. For example, you have to swipe down from the left of the screen to access notifications, and swipe down from the top right for the quick setting. But, with the 13T Pro, there’s no way to switch back to the default Android behavior, which is frustrating. Also, the app drawer is optional, so you have to trudge through the heavily customized settings menu to enable it.
On the plus side, the 13T Pro should be getting three years of Android OS upgrades and four years of security updates, which is good news. This is based on what Xiaomi committed to back in 2021. My review unit came with a bunch of pre-installed third-party apps – AliExpress, Amazon Shopping, Booking.com, LinkedIn, Netflix, Spotify, and WPS Office. While these are easy to uninstall, that’s too much bloatware in my book.
Xiaomi 13T Pro review: Final thoughts
There’s a lot to like about the Xiaomi 13T Pro. It delivers a beautiful 1220p display, excellent Leica cameras, decent speakers, solid performance, great battery life, and speedy 120W charging. Unfortunately, the 13T Pro also cuts a few corners. The plastic frame, lack of wireless charging, and telephoto limitations all leave room for improvement – not to mention Xiaomi’s MIUI skin, which is frustrating at times.
Still, at $699 (currently $679 on Amazon) the 13T Pro offers decent value, and might be worth considering if you absolutely want the Leica shooters. Just remember that you’ll have limited sub-6GHz 5G and 4G LTE access – and no Verizon support – if you use this phone in the US. Instead, I recommend you check out the $699 Pixel 8 (currently $549), $699 OnePlus 11, or $799 Moto Edge+ (currently $599).