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Pros:
Good build quality and finish
IP54 rated dust and splash resistance
Sharp and vibrant AMOLED display with Dolby Vision
Decent processing hardware
Competent main camera
Good battery backup, 67W fast charging

Cons:
MIUI is borderline unusable
Poor macro camera, focusing issues from close quarters
Pricing could have been more competitive

Rating: 3.5/5 Price: Rs 25,999 to Rs 29,999

After a decade of Xiaomi in India, their Note series handsets still happen to be among the most popular smartphones in this country. They started off as highly competent budget phones that offered great value for money and have moved on to a more premium category over the past few years with the addition of some higher-end features. The latest Redmi Note 13 series is probably the most pricier to date.

Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

The series has three phones at the moment – the Note 13, Note 13 Pro and Note 13 Pro+, in increasing order of processing power, features and price. We take a closer look at the Note 13 Pro today that looks to trade a middle path between the other two. The 25K to 30K segment of smartphones in India is highly competitive and packed with some excellent options. Can the Redmi Note 13 Pro carve a niche for itself? Let’s find out.

Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G: Design (3.75/5)
I wouldn’t call the design unique, but the Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G looks pleasant. We got the Aurora Purple variant for review, which is quite easy on the eyes with its pastel shades. Despite the plastic frame, the build quality and finish are pretty good, especially the matte glass back. Though there is no mention of any scratch resistance, we haven’t managed to put a scratch on it in the past month or so. Of course, we handle our units very well.

The back doesn’t attract fingerprints or smudge marks either, nor does the frame. There are no rough edges on the phone and feels great in hand with good weight distribution. The phone weighs about 187 grams and is fairly slim given its 8 mm thickness. The screen bezels are incredibly thin too, which is great to see on midrange phones. The volume rocker as well as the power button are located along the right edge of the phone, while the left edge is completely vacant.

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Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

The bottom edge has a SIM tray, a speaker and a USB-C charging port. The other speaker is located on the top edge along with a 3.5 mm headphone jack and an IR blaster. You get an in-display fingerprint scanner here which works well, but its placement could have been an inch higher on the screen for better accessibility. The placement of the volume rocker and power button are fine.

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Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G: Display (4/5)
The display on this phone is one of its best features. The Note 13 Pro has a 6.67-inch AMOLED screen with a higher than Full HD resolution of 2712 x 1220 pixels.You get 120 Hz variable refresh rate, ranging between 30 Hz to 120 Hz depending on the content being displayed, and a peak brightness of 1800 nits. Unlike most phones, you get a 12-bit display here with support for close to 68 billion colour shades. While it is great to have, there’s very little content that can make use of it at the moment.

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Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

The Note 13 Pro display is Dolby Vision compliant and makes videos embedded in that HDR format look more vibrant with better contrast. The screen is protected against scratches and cracks by a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. The sharpness and colour reproduction are excellent in Standard mode, and Vivid mode is pretty good too. There’s also the Saturated mode which makes colours pop but isn’t exactly accurate. You also get manual screen calibration options ranging from colour temperature adjustments to adjusting the hue, saturation, contrast and gamma.

Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G: Hardware and performance (3.5/5)
This is one area where Xiaomi could have done better, but first, let’s see what’s on offer here. The Redmi Note 13 Pro is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7s Gen 2 chip, accompanied by either 8GB or 12GB LPDDR4X RAM. You get options of either 128GB or 256GB UFS 2.2 storage. There is no memory card slot to expand it further. While we obviously don’t expect UFS 4.0 storage in this segment, the company could have opted for a faster UFS 3.1 storage instead of 2.2.

Coming back to the SoC, while the Snapdragon 7s Gen 2 performs reasonably well in day-to-day tasks, it is significantly less powerful than the similarly named Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 chip, as we will see ahead in this section. The performance is perfectly fine in day-to-day tasks like using social media apps, photography, browsing, watching videos or switching between multiple apps. It can handle most of the newer games too but you need to tone down the visual settings quite a bit to get a decent frame rate.

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Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

The phone doesn’t heat up to alarming levels even after constant use, nor does the performance throttle much under load, which is great. It is just that this Qualcomm chip has limited muscle power, and barely feels like a new Snapdragon 7 grade processor. Let’s check a few popular benchmark scores in comparison to those of the Poco F5 (with a Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2) to understand it better.

In Geekbench 6, the Note 13 Pro returned scores of 1027 and 2945 in single and multi-core tests. In comparison, the Poco F5 managed 1133 and 4346 respectively. In PCMark Work 3.0 benchmark, the Note 13 Pro scored 11,633, while the Poco managed 13,419. The biggest difference in performance remains in gaming benchmarks where the F5 scores are almost 2.5X that of the Redmi. In the 3D Mark Wild Life benchmark, the two phones managed 7396 vs 3024 at 44.3 and 18.1 average fps respectively.

Incidentally, the 3D Mark scores of the Poco F5 are almost at par with that of the OnePlus Nord 3 powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 9000 chip; another popular and more powerful phone available under 30K. While the Snapdragon 7s Gen 2 is not bad for a sub-25K phone, it feels a little underpowered for a sub-30K device. Beyond that, things are generally fine with little to no room for complaint.

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Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

The speakers produce a loud and punchy sound output with decent stereo separation. The call quality and reception were fine during testing on this 5G-ready phone. Wireless connectivity options include Bluetooth 5.2 and dual-band WiFi with support for a/b/g/n/ac standards. Wired data transfer is limited to USB 2.0 through the USB-C port.

Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G: OS and User interface (2.5/5)
The Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G runs Android 13 with MIUI 14. Having used a phone with MIUI in the past, I knew what to expect. While the user interface is not too difficult to comprehend, even if you are switching from a non-Xiaomi Android phone, the whole experience feels cluttered with too much bloatware preloaded on the device. Even worse, the constant unnecessary notifications add to the distractions and are counter-productive.

While we understand that it is a measure to keep the price in check, the time has come for Xiaomi to put a stop to this or at least reign it in. At the moment, once the phone is set up, the barrage of notifications and alerts can be overwhelming, making the overall user experience extremely poor. I prefer to call such UIs clutter-ware. And let’s not forget, it impacts the battery life negatively too.

Yes, quite a few of these preloaded apps can be uninstalled (but not all) and several notifications disabled, if you get down to it. But this is an unnecessary task that an average user may not want to undertake or not know that it can be done. Hopefully, HyperOS will address this; one can always hope. The Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G is expected to get an Android 14 update with HyperOS soon.

Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G: Camera performance (3.5/5)
The Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G has three cameras at the back with a combination of a 200MP primary camera with optical image stabilisation (OIS), an 8MP ultra-wide camera and a 2MP macro camera. The company hasn’t shed light on the sensors used in the cameras. But as you may have rightly guessed, the main camera does most of the heavy lifting, while the other two make up the numbers, especially the macro unit.

The 8MP ultra-wide camera with a 118-degree FOV actually does a pretty decent job in good lighting. The captured images have reasonable detail if you don’t pixel peep and just want to use them on social media. In fact, at times the dynamic range seemed better than the main camera in good lighting, as you can see from the captured images of the waterfront. The link for the unedited camera samples is present at the bottom of this section.

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Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

Avoid using the ultra-wide camera in low light though and stick to the main camera in those conditions. Speaking of the main camera, the 200MP unit does 16:1 pixel binning and captures 12.5MP images. The results are pretty good across the board with good colour reproduction, dynamic range and detail most of the time in proper lighting. You also have an option of capturing 200MP images if you wish to crop a part of them later.

There is no telephoto camera on this phone, but you do get 2X and 4X zoom toggles in the camera app; it’s digital zoom smartly using the 200 megapixels on offer. Images captured at 2X and 4X zoom are pretty good and exhibit ample detail, but they aren’t lossless as the company claims. They are perfectly usable though up to 4X in good light and up to 2X in low light. Beyond that, things tend to get blurry and noisy.

The main camera is highly capable in low light too with Night mode enabled. Interestingly, the colours look a lot more accurate without Night mode turned on, but the details are significantly poorer. In Night mode, the captured images are noticeably sharp with minimal noise and a good amount of detail. Certain colour shades tend to get distorted but not to a point where it looks drastically different. But then, we are talking about a sub-30K phone here, and the performance is more than acceptable.

The portrait shots come out quite well for human subjects with good separation but can be a hit or miss for other subjects. There are also minor focusing issues when shooting from about 20 to 30 cm away from an object; it can be a hit or a miss as you can see from the sample photos. And that’s not exactly macro photography, for which you get a dedicated 2MP camera, but that’s nothing great either like most 2MP macro cameras. The captured images look dull most of the time.

The 16MP front camera does a decent job with selfies, but nothing special. It can record videos in 1080p resolution at 30 or 60 fps. The rear cameras on the Redmi Note 13 Pro can record videos up to 4K resolution at 30 fps and at 1080p up to 60 fps with support for gyro EIS. The phone lets you capture slow-motion videos in Full HD at 120 fps and in 720p resolution at up to 240 fps. Captured 1080p and 4K footage looks neat with decent stabilisation.

Click here for
uncompressed camera samples clicked on the Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G
:

Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G: Battery backup (4/5)
The battery backup on this phone is pretty good, of course after uninstalling some of the preinstalled apps and disabling all the unwanted notifications. The Note 13 Pro 5G has a 5100 mAh battery that lasts for about a day and a half of moderate use. The company bundles a 67W fast charger that claims to charge the phone fully in 44 minutes. During our tests, it took 52 minutes to go from 0 to 100 per cent using the bundled charger, which may not be the fastest around but perfectly acceptable.

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Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G: Price, verdict and competition
The Redmi Note 13 Pro 5G is priced at Rs 25,999 for the 8GB RAM and 128GB storage variant, Rs 27,999 for 8GB RAM and 256GB variant and Rs 29,999 for 12GB RAM and 256GB variant. After analysing its features and performance, we feel Xiaomi could have priced it a bit more aggressively; it’s a Redmi Note after all that is meant to have a competitive price tag. The phone isn’t bad at all and has a good spread of features and decent performance. It’s just that the competition is too stiff in the segment.

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Image Credit: Firstpost | Ameya Dalvi

Let’s look at the other options available in this budget, starting with a sort of in-house competition from Poco. The 256GB variant of the Poco F5 5G with a more powerful SoC can be purchased under 30K. Then you have the Poco X6 Pro 5G, again with a more powerful Dimensity D8300 Ultra SoC selling for well under 30K; in fact, you get its 512GB variant for Rs 27,999. And let’s not forget the 256GB variant of the Poco X6 5G with a Snapdragon 7s Gen 2 chip going for as low as 21K. As for alternatives beyond Xiaomi, especially for a lot cleaner UI, the OnePlus Nord 3 5G can be yours for Rs 28,999.

While it hosts a much more powerful MediaTek Dimensity 9000 chip, you just get 128GB storage on that one in this budget. Another thing to note is that all the Poco phones we mentioned have a 64MP primary camera with OIS and the Nord 3 has a 50MP unit with OIS, while the Redmi Note 3 5G has a 200MP main camera with OIS. Rest of the features are comparable. If letting go of the extra megapixels is an acceptable tradeoff for you, the Poco phones offer better value, unless you spot the 256GB variant of the Redmi Note 13 Pro under 25K.

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