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Xiaomi 13T hands-on review: The perfect compromise?

With very few corners cut from the Pro version, the Xiaomi 13T could be the brand’s best-value phone in years

The Xiaomi 13T has just been announced at the brand’s September showcase, and upon first glance, I had to do a double take. I was sure I had just written about this phone, only then it was called the Xiaomi 13T Pro. It took some searching, but I eventually found the areas of difference that denote that Pro suffix, or the lack thereof, but the list is not as expansive as you might think, given the price difference.

Unless you’re eager to squeeze every last drop of performance prowess possible from your new smartphone, the déjà vu here could well prove to undermine the sales potential for the Pro model, such is the value for money that the Xiaomi 13T appears to be offering. How well it holds up in our benchmark tests will have to wait for the full review, but for a brief hands on, the Xiaomi 13T certainly makes a very good first impression.

Xiaomi 13T hands-on review: Specifications, price and release date

  • 6.67in, 144Hz FHD+ AMOLED display
  • Octa-core 3.1GHz MediaTek Dimensity 8200 Ultra processor
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 256GB of storage
  • Triple rear cameras: 50MP (f/1.9), 50MP (f/1.9) telephoto, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide
  • Selfie camera: 20MP (f/2.2)
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • 67W fast charging
  • IP68-rated waterproofing
  • 162 x 76 x 8.6mm (Alpine Blue), 162 x 76 x 8.5mm (Black, Meadow Green)
  • 193g (Alpine Blue), 197g (Black, Meadow Green)
  • Alpine Blue, Black, Meadow Green
  • UK release date: 26 September
  • UK price: £549

Xiaomi 13T hands-on review: Design and key new features

If you don’t have the time to read my Xiaomi 13T Pro hands-on review, I can briefly summarise the latter’s specs as “cannily similar”. The design, display and camera setup are all identical across both devices, with the main differences happening beneath the surface. The Xiaomi 13T runs off a slightly less powerful MediaTek Dimensity 8200 Ultra chipset, clocked up to 3.1GHz. Where the Pro has several RAM and storage options, we’re only getting one variation of the Xiaomi 13T in the UK, with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of onboard storage.

Once again, we’ve got a 5,000mAh battery here, but the 13T only supports 67W fast charging, as opposed to the ludicrously fast 120W that features on the 13T Pro. For me, 67W is plenty, and Xiaomi claims that it can take the phone from empty to full in 42 minutes, with just five minutes on charge yielding around 26% battery life. As with the Pro, I would have liked to see wireless charging folded in alongside its impressive wired sibling, but it’s more forgivable at this price.

The final thing that sets the two phones apart is that the Xiaomi 13T Pro is one of the first phones to support the brand new Wi-Fi 7, whereas the Xiaomi 13T tops out with Wi-Fi 6. Alongside this, you’ve got Bluetooth 5.4 support, a dual-SIM tray and the same IP68 rating as the Pro model. This certifies the phone as dustproof and able to withstand being submerged in 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes – this is a big improvement over the Xiaomi 12T, which lacked an official rating.

Otherwise, the Xiaomi 13T is a dead ringer for its pricier sibling. Given how much we loved the Xiaomi 13 for offering a powerful compact flagship in a market that is woefully underserving small-handed folk, it would have been nice to carry that setup into the mid-range, but the 6.67in AMOLED display we get is a good consolation prize. The 2,712 x 1,220 resolution produces a sharp 446ppi pixel density, the maximum refresh rate of 144Hz should deliver silky smooth scrolling, and the layer of Gorilla Glass 5 will hopefully fend off cracks and scratches. Like the 13T Pro, this screen supports Dolby Vision and HDR10+, with twin stereo speakers covering the audio with Dolby Atmos support.

Flip the phone over, and you’ll be met with one of two materials, depending on the colour you choose. The Black and Meadow Green versions have a standard glass cover, but the Alpine Blue gets a soft vegan leather that adds an elegant edge, while also feeling much nicer in the hand. The back marginally affects the depth and weight of the phone too; the glass models measure 8.5mm thick and weigh 197g, while the vegan leather model weighs less, at 193g, but is also a tiny bit thicker, at 8.6mm.

Getting the one negative out of the way, the design is a bit bland. It’s not aggressively ugly, it’s just that the standard flat edges and rounded corners feel overdone. The camera module also needs a redesign; it’s a big raised square that’s black, regardless of which colour you choose. If you go for black, it looks too drab, whereas if you pick either the Alpine Blue or Meadow Green colourways, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Something in a more subtle two-tone aesthetic would go a long way to adding some class, and making it smaller wouldn’t hurt, either.

I may not be thrilled about the housing, but the cameras themselves have my attention. The most eye-catching of the new setup is the 50MP (f/1.9) telephoto lens, which is a direct carry-over from the Pro model, and is quite unique at this price. Joining that, we’ve got another 50MP (f/1.9) sensor for the main lens, a 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide shooter and a 20MP (f/2.2) selfie camera. Like the Pro model, the Xiaomi 13T can shoot HDR10+ video in 4K at 30fps, and supports OIS but lacks the 8K recording.

The Xiaomi 13T doesn’t miss out on the Leica collaboration, at least. There are two shooting modes on offer – Leica Authentic and Leica Vibrant – with the former being better for your natural shots and the latter dialling up the colours and contrast for a bigger visual impact. You’ve also got a range of Leica filters and watermarks that can be applied, as well as the option to create your own custom style that can be saved and quickly applied to future shots.

Xiaomi 13T hands-on review: Early verdict

It could well be that, when we come to running the Xiaomi 13T through our rigorous testing process, it falls flat on its face with terrible performance and an ugly, inaccurate display. Barring something that dramatic, however, we may be looking at the best value-for-money phone we’ve seen from Xiaomi in a long time.

We’ll be getting a sample in for a full review in the near future, at which point we’ll see for sure how well it performs in our usual benchmark tests. Until then, anyone who is looking for flagship-level features at a mid-range price will want to keep their eye firmly on the Xiaomi 13T.

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