The ever-shrinking gap between the best smartphones and dedicated cameras just got that bit smaller with the launch of the Xiaomi 13 Ultra. Initially announced for China only, but now heading to other Asian markets and Europe (though not the UK), it’s the first camera to combine a 1-inch sensor with a variable aperture. That should give photo and video enthusiasts more nuanced control over their content creation than any phone before it.
This is the latest of a new breed of camera phone that doesn’t neglect ultra-wide and telephoto quality. Three 50MP Sony IMX 858 sensors mean the ultra-wide, 75mm (2.5x zoom), and 120mm (5x zoom) lenses all have the same sensor at their heart, so should pack similar picture characteristics. Three of the four rear snappers have optical image stabilisation and apertures wider than f/2; add on Leica lenses and processing and the 13 Ultra would be turning photo enthusiast heads even without a headline grabbing main camera. But it does, of course.
It’s packing the same 1in Sony IMX 989 sensor as the Vivo X90 Pro and Oppo Find X6 Pro, but thanks to dual aperture, the lens can switch between f/1.9 and f/4 for a shallower or broader depth of field. That means stacks of natural, soft, dappled background blur when you want it, and less stylised, more in-focus shots when you don’t.
While the cameras are undeniably its main flex, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra is a flagship across the board. It combines a bright, punchy, curved 6.7in AMOLED screen with a smooth, adaptive 1-120Hz refresh rate.
You can bank on top-tier performance from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 CPU, and the large 5000mAh battery should keep it going all day. Nippy 90W charging promises a full tank in around 35 minutes, and 50W wireless charging can manage similarly quick top-ups without a cable.
Confirmed for Europe, but not the UK or US
The Xiaomi 13 Ultra hit China in April, where it could be picked up in Black, Olive Green and White colours, with a leather-style finish at the back around its giant camera cutout. At launch there was no confirmation of a wider release, which made it tempting to import, but while Google Play services worked with a quick install of the Play Store, there was no guarantee everything you needed from your phone would work without fail.
Xiaomi has since revealed a global version will be getting a ‘limited release’ in certain European territories, as well as Hong Kong. It’ll go on sale on the 12th of June for €1499, in Black and Olive Green colours, directly from the mi.com website. Germany, France, Spain and Italy will be getting in on the action.
“After continuous efforts, Xiaomi and Leica engineers have successfully integrated Leica’s professional optical capabilities into mobile imaging, creating the most perfect Leica Summicron lens currently available on our smartphones,” Xiaomi Western Europe GM Ou Wen said. “I am sure our fans and all photography lovers in Western Europe will be excited to experience the extraordinary quality of our new premium flagship very soon.”
Sadly the UK isn’t on that list, and as with other Xiaomi phones, there are no plans to bring it to the US at any point.