Xiaomi took the wraps off its much-hyped ‘Leica Phone’ — Xiaomi 13 Pro — at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona recently. The phone, which claims to deliver the greatest photographic experience on a handset, has also recently gone up for sale in India. At Rs 79,999, it comes with a premium price tag. For that price, you get everything that you would expect from an Android flagship (2K curved AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, 5,000mAh battery with super fast charging, et al), and also the first one-inch camera sensor in a phone being sold in India, as well as a camera system designed and tuned by Leica, and even featuring its 35mm black-and-white mode.
On paper, that makes the Xiaomi 13 Pro a phone photographer’s dream but even then it faces some stiff competition from other devices in this segment. Here are five phones that we think can rock Xiaomi 13 Pro’s boat:
Google Pixel 7 Pro: Computational wizardry
Price: Rs 84,999 onwards
This is the most obvious challenger to the Xiaomi 13 Pro in terms of photographic prowess and price.
The Pixel 7 Pro comes with all the bells and whistles you would expect in an Android flagship and a truckload of smart features. But there’s no mistaking its biggest USP — photography. The 50-megapixel main sensor with optical image stabilisation (OIS), a 48-megapixel telephoto (also with OIS) and 12-megapixel ultrawide sensors might not sound very impressive on paper, but they deliver some of the best smartphone photography around.
Google’s use of computational photography is unmatched and as a result, one gets a wealth of detail in normal mode, and the telephoto sensor serves up very usable snaps even at 30x digital zoom.
The 10.8-megapixel front-facing camera also captures some very impressive selfies. If you are just into point-and-shoot photography, this would be one of the best cameras to get on the Android side, even though photo tweaking fanatics will complain about the absence of a Pro mode.
The rest of the specs are good too, with a 6.7-inch 2K AMOLED display with 120Hz rate, a Google Tensor G2 chip and a large 5,000mAh battery (although with no charger in the box).
This being a Pixel, you have assured Android updates before anyone gets them as well.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: The power of zoooooom-ing in
Price: Rs 1,24,999
If it is sheer camera hardware muscle that you seek in a smartphone, then the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is perhaps the one that can actually go toe to toe with the Xiaomi 13 Pro.
It lacks the one-inch sensor of the Xiaomi device, but compensates with several camera tricks up its photographic sleeves. The most spectacular of these is the zoom, which is unmatched in flagship phones.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with not one, but two telephoto lenses, both with OIS. This enables users to get optical zoom of up to 10x and can go up to 100x in terms of digital zoom (although we think digital zoom loses its charm beyond about 20x, unless you are trying to shoot the moon, which you can!).
The main sensor, too, is a heavyweight with a massive 200-megapixel resolution with OIS, delivering an astounding amount of detail. The 12-megapixel ultra wide camera is a good one as well, although the selfie camera with a similar megapixel count is a bit of a disappointment.
The colours are definitely very much on the super poppy, slightly oversaturated side but you get lots of shooting and editing options.
And well, there is also arguably the best hardware you can get on the Android side, including a brilliant 6.8 inch Dynamix AMOLED 2x display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor designed especially for Samsung, a large 5,000mAh battery and the little matter of the S Pen stylus!
iPhone 14 Pro: Master of videos
Price: Rs 1,19,999 onwards
It might be priced significantly more than the Xiaomi 13 Pro but for many people phone photography is synonymous with the iPhone. The iPhone 14 Pro is the gold standard in iPhone photography at the moment.
The phone sees Apple join the megapixel race with a large 48-megapixel main sensor, accompanied by a 12-megapixel ultrawide and a 12-megapixel telephoto sensor.
The telephoto remains a rather humble 2x in terms of optical zoom and you need to shoot in RAW mode to get 48-megapixel snaps, but the real charm of the iPhone 14 Pro is its sheer consistency in terms of results. Time and again, the cameras deliver realistic colours and details that are ample without seeming artificial.
Even the 12-megapixel selfie camera is amazingly consistent. The introduction of preset styles lets you give your images a signature look and the filters on effects, while basic, work beautifully. When it comes to video, the iPhone 14 Pro is frankly in a zone of its own in terms of sheer stability, consistency and quality of footage and sound.
Round that off with a great 12 megapixel selfie camera, and you have perhaps the ultimate simple yet high quality photographic experience on any phone. Of course, this being an iPhone Pro device, you get a fantastic display, speedy processor, smooth software and good battery life as well (though again, no charger).
OnePlus 11: The Hasselblad challenger
Price: Rs 56,999 onwards
Xiaomi is not the only phone brand with an affiliation with a famous camera brand. OnePlus tied up with the legendary Hasselblad a few years ago and its flagships have worn Hasselblad branding loud and proud on their camera units.
OnePlus 11 is the latest with Hasselblad-branded cameras, and it certainly does enough to match the likes of the Pixel in image quality. The phone comes with a 50-megapixel main sensor with OIS and a 48-megapixel ultrawide, but the star of the show is a 32-megapixel Tele-Portrait sensor that delivers a modest 2X optical zoom but shines in taking portrait shots, with images that are in tune with those taken by an actual Hasselblad camera.
The 16-megapixel selfie camera is not the greatest and videos are perhaps the weakest in this list, but you still get very good images and footage from the device. It also packs in some formidable hardware, including a 2K Fluid AMOLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, a 5,000mAh battery with 100W fast charging (with an adapter in the box) and clean Oxygen UI.
Last but not least, it is the most affordable device in this list by some distance.
iPhone 14: No Pro moniker, but still pro-level photography
Price: Rs 71,990 onwards
Want some iPhone-level photography, but are not inclined to go into the Pro zone, or even beyond the price of the Xiaomi 13 Pro? The iPhone is a great option for you.
It might have only two 12-megapixel cameras (one main with OIS, one ultrawide) on its back, and might lack the telephoto sensor or the large 48-megapixel camera that its Pro sibling has, but in terms of performance, the iPhone 14 remains a very formidable proposition.
It has the photographic styles of the Pro and has a lot of its video shooting wizardry as well, and is a smooth and speedy snapper, with the realistic colours and consistent quality that are an iPhone trademark.
The processor under the hood is a slightly older one, but the performance of the cameras on board, be they the duo on the back or the single one in front, remains as good as any. And with its price having come down in recent times, the iPhone 14 is a potential pain in the neck even for the much better-specced Xiaomi 13 Pro.