Xiaomi and Leica push smartphone camera boundaries with the Xiaomi 13 Ultra

Is this the best camera-centric smartphone money can buy?

by Justin Choo

For those who are excited about the next new high-tech smartphone, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra is finally here. No prizes for guessing whom this phone is designed to entice–Xiaomi’s flagship phone bears the Leica branding and features accessories that let you use your phone like a camera.

A monstrously capable camera system

This phone’s heart is a quad-camera system centred around a camera with a 50MP, 1-inch IMX989 sensor. More than that, the primary camera also offers a physical, two-stop variable aperture (f1.9 or f4.0), which not many phones can claim to have. It is a feature that photographers will certainly love to have on their phones as it offers more creative control. 

Xiaomi’s partnership with Leica is pretty extensive and also includes the development of a M-series inspired Summicron lens for mobile phones. Xiaomi adds that the COC plastic lens (for higher transmittance) is shaped with nanometer-level precision and also features high-performance coatings that reduce glare and ghosting and improve stability in extreme temperatures.

The 13 Ultra one-ups the Xiaomi 12S Ultra with a fourth camera. In addition to the street photography-friendly 23mm primary shooter, the 13 Ultra has three other 50MP cameras to cover all your needs. This includes a 12mm ultra-wide (f1.8) with 5cm macro and two telephotos: a 75mm (f1.8) and a 120mm (f3.0). The phone also offers two additional focal length settings through in-sensor zoom (centre crop)–46mm and 240mm.

On top of stills, the phone also supports 8K video recording across all lenses, with 10-bit LOG and support for importing custom LUTs.

Photography-friendly settings and modes

The 13 Ultra also features a throwback to an age-old street photography technique with the Fastshot mode. Users can manually set the focus point to enable focus-free snapshots via the principle of hyperfocal distance–you’re more likely to capture those elusive spontaneous moments on the streets as you can fire off a shot in 0.8 seconds.

The 13 Ultra is also optimised for RAW workflow with 14-bit RAW support. Colour correction metadata is embedded so photos are optimised when you open them up in Adobe Lightroom.

Bells and whistles

And as you would expect from a smartphone of this stature, the 13 Ultra features a colour-calibrated (according to CIE 2015 colourimetry), 6.73″ WQHD+ Display that supports Dolby Vision. With a peak display brightness of 2,600 nits, this is one of the brightest smartphone displays you can get. Like most flagships, it sports a 120Hz display with a 240Hz touch sampling rate.

The bells and whistles treatment continues with the latest and more efficient Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 flagship processor, with up to 16GB LPDDR5 RAM and 1TB UFS4.0 storage. Xiaomi will be offering the  12GB+512GB configuration in Singapore and Malaysia. The 13 Ultra also features what Xiaomi calls Loop LiquidCool technology to keep temperatures under control. 

The cooling system is an “aerospace-grade” large toroidal cooling system that offers one-way conduction and vapour-liquid separation for optimal internal circulation. Xiaomi says its thermal conductivity is three times better than traditional vapour chambers, and hence the 13 Ultra is able to maintain stable 4K 60fps video recording without frame rate issues. The USB 3.2 Gen 1 port lets you output up to 4K 60Hz as well.

The 13 Ultra also features the Xiaomi Surge Battery Management System: the Surge P2 Charging Chip and Surge G1 Battery Management Chip. The system provides granular battery life estimations and a new Hibernation mode that automatically activates during low battery situations, limiting background activities to squeeze out up to an additional hour of standby time.


Priced at SGD1,899 | MYR5,199, the Xiaomi 13 Ultra is available in Black and Olive Green at authorised Xiaomi Stores and partner stores. You can pre-order till June 30 2023 (June 29 in Malaysia) to receive a complimentary Xiaomi 50W Wireless Charging Stand worth SGD79 and a Xiaomi 13 Ultra Professional Photography Set worth SGD249. Malaysian customers will receive a Xiaomi Instant Photo Printer 1S set worth MYR619 instead. On top of that, customers will receive 100GB of free cloud storage on Google One for six months and most importantly, 1+1 years of extended warranty on the premium device. Singapore customers will also receive three months of free access to YouTube Premium. These offers are available on a first-come, first-served basis while stocks last.

To see samples from this phone, you can follow Leica Ambassador Adele Chan, who showcases the phone’s capabilities via “A Shot Above”–a collection featuring Singapore’s iconic landmarks, vibrant streets, and rich cultural heritage–on Adele Chan’s Instagram and Xiaomi’s Facebook page (Singapore | Malaysia).

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