Samsung Galaxy S20 review: 3 months later

Is it still “the one” to buy?



I’ve used a Huawei flagship for four long years, and I’m now looking to upgrade my current daily driver — the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. Admittedly, Huawei’s lack of Google Mobile Services made me look elsewhere. I can’t survive without Google, unlike others. Hence, I was elated to try the Samsung Galaxy S20.

Three months in and I find myself wondering, is it still “the one” to buy when there are so many options to choose from? And is it anyone’s GadgetMatch? Let’s find out in this review, or rather, my experience with it as my daily driver for three months. But first, let’s have a refresher on its looks!


When I first saw the Galaxy S20 series, I was enchanted by its charming colors: Cloud Pink, Cloud Blue, and Cosmic Gray. I was  pining for Cloud Blue but I got Cloud Pink instead. But who am I to complain? I’m still trying out the smartphone I fell in love with at first sight.

Samsung maintained its design language albeit it’s subtly refined in the S20. For starters, the corners are more rounded compared to the S10. It was comfortable and I found myself glued to my phone, unable to let it go.

On the right side, buttons are now simplified. Now, there’s only two — one for the power button and one for the volume rockers. There’s also a subtle accent wrapping the buttons, exuding a sleek look.

The top side contains the SIM card slot and an inconspicuous earpiece, keeping it clean and smooth.

Meanwhile, the bottom features the speaker grilles, a USB-C port, and another earpiece. Overall, Samsung’s refined design for the S20 made it look and feel posh. The subtlety in its design is effing attractive.

You’re so gorgeous

The S20 has an alluring display, better than my previous handset. Coming from a 6.39-inch OLED screen, it was a treat to use the S20’s 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x screen.

Its curved display is still here, but it’s hardly curved anymore. Samsung offered a middle ground for those who like and dislike curved screens, so everyone can enjoy this beaut. Although, a punch-hole in the middle of the screen might be distracting to some.

Honestly, Samsung’s punch-hole struck a balance though it still grabs attention over a light interface, like Facebook. If some of your preferred apps support Android 10’s dark mode or have their in-app dark mode setting, utilize it. Your eyes will thank you later!

I’m captivated by you like a fireworks show

It’s important to invest in a smartphone with an astounding display; something that captivates us and makes us want to look at it all the time. After all, we spend most of our time looking at screens.

The S20’s screen has HDR10+ support, perfect for your entertainment needs. It’s marvelous, impressively vivid, and cinematic — what else can you ask for?

Moreover, the S20’s screen supports 240Hz touch-sensing rate. You can choose between two refresh rates for your screen: 90Hz using HD+ resolution, and 120Hz using FHD+ resolution.

Frankly, I didn’t care about refresh rates. What’s the fuss when you’re not a gamer, right? But experiencing it first-hand, I finally understood why people are obsessed with it.

I have only used the phone as a companion to my life’s shenanigans. Despite not being able to use 120Hz on games that would take advantage of it (if there’s any), I was still spoiled.

Browsing, scrolling, and navigating apps on my phone is such a pleasure. Once you go 120Hz, there’s just no turning back.

I see sparks fly whenever you smile

In lieu of hideous camera placements being used nowadays, Samsung is using a bigger, rectangular module that’s already sported by some of its smartphones.

There’s a reason why Samsung uses a bigger bump: to house larger sensors. By now, I’m certain you know the S20 uses a triple-camera setup on its rear. There’s a 12-megapixel main camera, a 64-megapixel telephoto lens capable of up to 3x hybrid optical zoom, and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens.

But let’s forget the numbers and see how it actually fares. There’s a saying that “results speak louder than its numbers.” I think I coined that.

I mostly judge a camera’s ability to produce mouth-watering photos sans using built-in filters. Laudably, the S20 produced vibrant and well-balanced food photos in different lighting conditions. You can post-process the photos to accentuate its details and colors.

Besides, it works wonders when taking photos of my friends. Whether it’s backlit or indoor shots, you can expect the S20 to deliver terrific photos apt for the ‘gram.

The S20 works as a travel companion, too. I’ve used its 3x zoom and wide-angle mode, capturing different moods and perspectives for travel photos.

Speaking of wide-angle, I love this feature more than the zoom. It’s best used during your travels to showcase a place’s charm.

Selfies are an absolute bomb despite sporting a mere 10-megapixel front camera. Even in low-light conditions, the front camera produced vibrant photos albeit it’s still far from being praise-worthy.

We were in screaming color

My friends and I struggled using the front camera in low light conditions, so we opted to use the rear camera and a timer. Still, the S20 produced well-lit, striking, and detailed photos, even though we didn’t use Night Mode.

If you’re a Night Mode fan, take advantage of the wide-angle feature to add perspective to your shots. Additionally, the S20 provides stabilization to aid you while using Night Mode. You don’t have to hold your breath now when taking handheld photos.

At utmost darkness, the S20 still captured a well-lit scene using Night Mode. For zoomers, you can utilize its 30x zoom, although you might not like the results compared to when you use a Huawei P40 Pro.

Like a rainbow with all of the colors

The S20 is capable of recording 8K videos and 4K resolution on both its front and rear cameras. However, I only used 1080p to document a weekend getaway. After all, who needs 4K or 8K right now?

Furthermore, I edited this one-minute video using cut-to-cut clips I’ve taken through Adobe Premiere Rush for Samsung, an app exclusively found on the Galaxy Store.

It’s a cruel summer with you

My experience with the S20 resembled my erratic relationship with the last person I dated. Sometimes I adore it, sometimes I’m confuzzled.

Par exemple, apps like Twitter suddenly stop refreshing, requiring a reboot. The phone also heats up quickly. A lot of S20 users in online communities are also complaining about how you can fry an egg using the phone’s intensive heat.

The heat is most felt when you’re doing memory-consuming tasks like video editing. If Samsung didn’t opt for the Exynos 990 chipset for its global units, I’m certain people wouldn’t struggle with heating issues.

This wasn’t something I experienced when I used the Galaxy A71 which sported Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipset. Back then, the midranger ran Black Desert Mobile — a highly graphics-intensive game — without hiccups.

Samsung placing an Exynos chipset for its global units while using Snapdragon for US variants feels like Samsung only cares about the US market.

I love you and that’s all I really know

But those are the only flaws I encountered. For the most part, navigating the S20 is splendid and buttery smooth. It’s the reason why I stuck with it. After all, it still gave me reasons to love it.

And like a bloody martyr in love, I chose to gloss its shortcomings since I’m head over heels with the experience. First, it has a smooth and seamless navigation. There’s also an apps edge feature allowing quick access to my favorite apps. The 120Hz refresh rate helps against exhausting my eyes when scrolling, too.

The S20 runs One UI 2.0 based on Android 10. It’s cleaner and contains less bloatware. It’s also equipped with 8GB of RAM and 128GB built-in storage, offering the right amount of speed you’d expect from a flagship smartphone.

There are Samsung staples that I relish, too. For instance, Samsung Members offer great deals from spas, resorts, cafes, and even restaurants.

Lastly, there’s an AR Emoji, which made me fond of creating avatars. I find it’s an ideal response whenever I don’t have a precise GIF to articulate my emotions during a conversation.

A nightmare dressed like a daydream

I can’t refute how the heating issue is a dealbreaker for a lot of people. When push comes to shove, consistent heating can potentially damage the battery.

The S20 sports a 4,000mAh battery, expected to last for a day for power users. During my stint, the S20 lasted up to ten hours from the full battery down to fifteen percent. It’s somewhat momentary, but the S20 kept up with my nonstop usage for eight hours.

Samsung has a dreadful case when it comes to battery life, which is why you need little tricks to improve it. However, it’s the high refresh rate that took the most toll on my handset’s battery life.

While I’m genuinely happy to have the S20 accompany me throughout the day, the battery started deteriorating three months later. It dips for two to three percent in just an hour despite being on standby and only keeping the WiFi on.

Thankfully, it charges fairly quickly over Power Delivery 3.0 using a 25W adapter and a nice, thick USB Type-C to Type-C cable. You just need to charge it for at least an hour and a few minutes.

One second it was perfect, now you’re halfway out the door

Wistfully, the S20 doesn’t have a headphone jack but you can use any Type-C cable, in case you’re still using wired earphones. If you already went wireless, it’s common knowledge that Samsung has its own line of wireless earbuds.

Pairing the Galaxy Buds with the S20 is effortless, and the sound quality is clear and loud. The connection is consistent, too. It’s not flaky, unlike the person I last dated. Having a consistent connection is important for me, especially when working (or dating).

It’s agonizing when the music suddenly stops because of poor connection with the handset (as I’ve experienced using the Mate 20 Pro). Even in relationships, you’d hate it when the guy suddenly ghosts you, right?

If you want to live your life out loud, the S20 is equipped with a stereo speaker setup tuned by AKG. It’s loud enough to fill the bathroom with your favorite tunes.

I found myself using just the S20 instead of bringing my House of Marley speakers during late night showers. Oh, it has an IP68 rating, too. You don’t have to worry about your phone getting wet!

You and I will be safe and sound

It’s always nice to feel secure — whether it’s on your device, your home, or your relationships. For a flagship smartphone, expectations should be high when it comes to security and peace of mind.

First, the S20 had an IP rating, ensuring protection against the elements. Accidents do happen, mostly during night outs where you spill your drink over your phone.

Next, it has three types of device protection: in-display fingerprint scanner, the usual password-protection, and facial recognition. All forms of protection work fast, requiring minimal effort to access your phone. If you have trouble reading your fingerprint scanner, you might need to read this little trick.

Apart from physical security, I care about my online security now more than ever. While I’ve been privy of ways on how to keep my accounts secure, I still rely on my handset to keep me safe and secure. Thankfully, Samsung cares about security as much as I do. It even has its own security platform and solutions!

For starters, you can utilize Samsung Pass much like Google Passwords to keep your accounts safe and remember your login info again for easier access next time around. Then, there’s Samsung Knox — which I only learned from a data and security conference held in 2019. I even talked about how Knox is the one thing that keeps Samsung apart from other brands in an exclusive interview.

In a nutshell, Knox is a fail-safe to protect your data. Learning about it made me appreciate the thought Samsung puts in its smartphones. It’s always the little things that make us fall in love with a brand even more. How can you not love something (or someone) that made you feel safe and sound?

Can you be my, my, my lover?

This is where the “Is it your GadgetMatch?” part comes in. The Samsung Galaxy S20 is still one of the best flagships you can get in 2020, hands down. It’s the perfect paradigm of a smartphone; everything just works with little effort on your part.

Priced at PhP 49,990, it’s ideal for those who want to upgrade from their Galaxy S8 or S9. It’s also suitable for those who want to jump from midrange to the flagship category, especially if you have the money to burn.

For former Huawei users who are looking for a flagship alternative that has Google (aka me), it’s an excellent choice.

If you prefer a bigger handset, there’s the S20+. Then, there’s the S20+ Ultra, in case you need a monster phone. If you still don’t know which Galaxy S20 is your GadgetMatch, you can read our brief comparison.

Alternatively, those who aren’t loyal to Samsung might find the OnePlus 8 Pro and Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro as viable options. Both phones offer the same flagship experience and prowess, but at a much affordable price.

You can purchase the Samsung Galaxy S20 at Samsung’s online store and its authorized retailers like Abenson and MemoXpress. It’s available in Cosmic Black and Cosmic Gray.

SEE ALSO: Which Samsung Galaxy S20 is your GadgetMatch?


How well do PlayStation games run on the ROG Ally?

Spoiler: Pretty good



ROG Ally, PlayStation Dual Sense

The ROG Ally has caused quite a buzz in the gaming community at large. Personally, I’m thrilled at the prospect of owning a handheld gaming PC/console to play games I otherwise would not have access to. I mainly play on my PlayStation 5 (PS5). Naturally, I was curious how some of my favorite games will run on the ROG Ally. 

Things are promising on paper. The ROG Ally is built to be able to run AAA titles. Here’s a quick look at the specs of the unit we had for recap:



CPU AMD Ryzen™ Z1 Extreme Processor 

      • 4nm 
      • Zen 4/ 8 core & 16 threads  
      • 24M cache 
      • CPU Clock: up to 5.10 Ghz 
      • TDP: 9 – 30 watts
GPU With AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme Config: 

  • AMD Radeon™ Graphics 
  • RDNA3 & 4G RAM capacity / 8.6 TFlops 
  • 12 CU 
  • GPU Clock: 2.7GHz
Panel Full HD (1920 x 1080), 120 Hz / 7 ms eDP1.4b, 500 nits, IPS-panel, 100%  sRGB, FreeSync™ Premium, Gorilla® Glass Victus™ and Gorilla® Glass DXC,  10-point Touchscreen 

Gyro support

Memory  16GB (LPDDR5 6400Mhz) dual channel LPDDR5 8GBx2 on board  memory
Audio  2 x 1W speakers with smart amp technology, Dolby Atmos®, Hi-Res Audio,  AI Noise Cancellation
Wi-Fi / Bluetooth  WiFi 6E (802.11ax) / Bluetooth® v5.2 
Storage 512GB (for Z1 Extreme config) 

+SD card slot UHS-2

I/O PORT ROG XG Mobile interface (8PCI express lanes) and USB Type-C  combo port (with USB 3.2 Gen2, DP 1.4 support) — (1x)

3.5mm Audio jack — (1x)

Micro SD slot (UHS-II, Micro SD 4.0) — (1x)

Battery  40Wh
Adapter  65W PD adapter, supports pass through charging
Dimensions  280.44 * 111.18 * 21.22 mm


PlayStation Studios on PC 

PlayStation, in the past couple of years, has decided to spread the love and let PC players experience some of the best they have to offer. Currently, there are 12 PlayStation exclusive titles playable on PC. And they’re available on either Steam or the Epic Games Store. 

In case you’re curious the available games are as follows: 

  • Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • God of War (2018)
  • Uncharted: The Legacy of Thieves Collection
  • Destiny 2: Lightfall 
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn
  • Returnal
  • Days Gone
  • Predator Hunting Grounds
  • Sackboy: A big Adventure
  • The Last of Us Part 1

PlayStation Asia was kind enough to give us codes for three of the 12 titles now available on PC. Here’s how they ran on the ROG Ally. 

Quick note: I played on Performance mode with brightness hovering at around 50-55% indoors in an air conditioned room. 

Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered

Marvel’s Spider-Man, along with NBA 2K, is my comfort game. Whenever I feel frustrated or just having a bad day, I fire up either game. On Spider-Man, I just swing aimlessly around the digital Manhattan that Insomniac built. 

It was such a delight to learn that I can do this on the go now too with Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered playing pretty darn well on the ROG Ally

I had the framerate limiter turned on, maxing out at 60. Despite that, I only reached a max of 31 fps with dips to as low as 15. It looks bad on paper, but is much more tolerable during actual gameplay. The dips usually happened during cutscenes. Majority of the gameplay hovered around 25-30 fps. 

ROG Ally, Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered

I knew it was never gonna reach the level of detail and smoothness that I get on the PS5 and LG C2 combo that I usually play on. There was plenty of noticeable stuttering especially during the busier sections of the game. But I didn’t think any of it was game breaking. 

Audio wasn’t as loud as I hoped it would be despite me playing in a pretty quiet room. I opted to pair it with Bluetooth earbuds (OnePlus Buds Pro 2) to get the most of the audio. There were no audio delays whatsoever which was a very welcome development. 

My average play time was about one hour and 20 minutes. That’s with the battery going from 100% to 20% each time. 

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Coming from the same Studio and pretty much being essentially the same game, Spider-Man: Miles Morales didn’t run too differently from Spider-Man Remastered.

I played in the exact same conditions: Indoor room, AC on, started at 100%, performance mode, and medium brightness settings. Curiously, the frame dips happened more during open-world swinging and not as much during cutscenes. This could be because of the busier version of New York due to the events of the game being set during the Christmas season. 

But the numbers weren’t too different. I still maxed at 31 fps, with most of the gameplay hovering around 25-30 fps, and the lowest dip coming in at 16fps. 

Again, nothing game breaking and it is much more tolerable during gameplay. Naturally, you have to have your expectations set properly. The ROG Ally is, after all, a handheld gaming PC. 

Average play time is around one hour and 25 minutes with about 75% to 80% of the battery life being consumed. 



Returnal is one of the titles I was most excited to try. I was curious about how the audio and controller rumble would translate to the ROG Ally. On the PS5, Audio and DualSense implementation are two of the game’s many strengths. 

Due to audio cues on enemies’ locations, this game is best played with earbuds/headphones on. The experience on the ROG Ally isn’t quite 3D Audio on PS5 levels, but it’s as close as it gets. 

The same can be said for the controller rumble. It’s not as precise nor finely implemented as the DualSense – that’s a unique feature after all. However, I was still thoroughly impressed with how the ROG Ally implemented rumble in certain sections of the game. The rumble effect is also a testament to how well-built the Ally is. Despite the internals shaking, the Ally never felt brittle nor that it would suddenly come apart. 

Knowing this is a shooter game, I turned the framerate limiter off and reached highs of 115 fps. The framerate did dip to as low as 15 fps which is about the widest variance I got from any game I played using the Ally. This did affect gameplay especially during sections where I had to deal with multiple enemies. 

I did experience plenty of crashes which isn’t ideal for a game like Returnal whose progress relies on you surviving as long as you can on a single run through. But this only happened during the first few minutes. After a while, it seemed like the ROG Ally had adjusted to the performance-demands of the game. 

It took about an hour and 10 minutes before I had to plug-in the Ally to not lose a playthrough. 

Remote Play?

ROG Ally, Dual Sense, Horizon Forbidden West

Since the ROG Ally is essentially a handheld gaming PC, you can certainly install the Remote Play app on it. However, you can’t just immediately use the gamepad. To play Horizon: Forbidden West, and generally just run the app, I had to pair the Ally with my DualSense controller.

You can map the gamepad so that it works but mapping isn’t an activity I enjoy nor did I have the time (I had to return the review unit) to do it. Other reviewers pointed to using a third-party app called Chiaki. But again, I didn’t have time to test it. I did see gameplay of it though so it seems to be working just fine. 

Knowing that you can do all these on the Ally actually makes you question the upcoming PlayStation Q handheld. Sure, the integration will likely be seamless. But its core function can already be replicated on other handhelds and handheld-like devices. I digress.

It’s worth noting that the relatively smooth experience I had with the ROG Ally was also aided by an internet connection that constantly hovers in the 250+ mbps range along with a Wi-Fi 6 router. 

The ROG Ally is PlayStation friendly 

If you want to know what it’s like playing PlayStation 5 games on a handheld device, the ROG Ally is easily one of the best devices to play with. The gameplay isn’t quite as smooth but you shouldn’t expect it to be. And yes, you’ll find yourself reaching for the power adapter after a little over an hour of playthrough. But being able to play AAA titles on a handheld device still feels crazy to me.

Having started gaming on a family computer and covering tech for a living, it’s still mind-blowing to me how far technology has come. The stuff I only dreamed of as a little fat gamer is coming true thanks to the ROG Ally and its contemporaries. 

The ROG Ally Z1 Extreme retails for US$ 699. The ROG Ally Z1 variant retails for US$ 599. Pre-orders begin on May 11. It will be available for sale worldwide on June 13, 2023.

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OnePlus Pad Review: If iPad Ran on Android

Give this Android tablet a chance



First announced during the Cloud 11 Launch Event in India way back in February 2023 together with the OnePlus 11, the newest OnePlus Pad seems to rival the very dominated tablet territory full of iPads.

And by that, even making direct accessory contenders such as the OnePlus Stylo, a Folio Case, and even a Magnetic Keyboard.

But is the experience even close?

Well, if you’re looking for an Android tablet less than what the latest entry-level iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab offers,

it’s a tablet you might want to try out — and our OnePlus Pad review might just entice you to buy one.

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Xiaomi 13 Pro: Frustrated photographer’s review

Where have you been all my life?!




The Xiaomi 13 Pro launched to much fanfare at MWC 2023. However, the company has since released a smartphone usurping the Pro as the king in its smartphone photography hierarchy. The said phone is the Xiaomi 13 Ultra.

However, while that may be the case, it is the Pro that I spent the most time with. And it’s also the gadget that reinvigorated my fancy for photography.

Before I expound on its camera performance, let me give you a background of myself being a lowkey (and frustrated) “photographer”.

Unintentional introduction

When I was five, the memory of our old Ricoh film camera, Kodak + Fujifilm canisters, and even a Samsung digital camera in my mom’s dusty drawers still remain as one of my core memories.

Back in grade school, I used our Casio EXILIM EX-Z60 digital camera for school events and trips. High school went by and our Yashica camcorder plus my classmate’s Canon EOS 1100D added to that list — which all contributed to my photography mesmerization.

Mesmerization and ambition

Back in 2014, my aunt gave me a Canon EOS 60D as a gift. That’s also my life’s crucial moment where I started learning photography and wanted to solely focus on it after I graduate.

And while on the topic, I made this college project (watch at your own risk).

While the endeavour was a group work, I had the core idea of equipping all kinds of spec absurdities in this imaginary smartphone — including a DSLR’s interchangeable lens system coupled with an APS-C sensor.

Can’t believe this absurd idea actually became a reality years later

I just thought it’s a great solution to the lackluster imaging quality of smartphones (and hefty bodies of DSLR cameras) of yesteryears.

The frustration

The usual Sony a6500 we use for pro shooting

I became a GadgetMatch intern back in 2018. I then remember having to hold a Sony a7S during my first day. The rest was history as I was able to hold several more pro-grade cameras such as the Fujifilm X-T30 and the Canon EOS RP.

SEE ALSO: Learning street photography with the Canon EOS RP

But all of us in the team know how to shoot great photographs. My main role is to edit videos for our YouTube channel. That’s also when I felt like my photography skills became rusty and my frustration as a “photographer” grew further.

Compounding the frustration, I’m the type of “photographer” who doesn’t have a “forte” as I love shooting any and every interesting subject I see — be that a pet, product, portrait, food, architecture, landscapes, or even the challenging ones like wildlife/nature and even photojournalism.

Utmost fascination

Xiaomi 12S Ultra Concept (2022)

Surprisingly, eight years after that college project, a phone with a detachable lens system became a real thing with the Xiaomi 12S Ultra Concept.

From previous 1-inch sensor headliners like Sharp’s Aquos R6, the Leica Leitz Phone 1, and eventually the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, I felt nothing but excessive excitement when I was assigned to play with this crazy 1-inch-sensor-touting Xiaomi 13 Pro — even crazier that it’s co-engineered with Leica.

Leica’s special sauce

If you’re like me who focuses the most on a smartphone’s camera performance, the Xiaomi 13 Pro is more than enough to capture picture-perfect photographs taken through its revolutionary camera system.

However, it’s not just about its advanced camera sensors. Leica’s partnership with Xiaomi is more than just bringing in photo filters and Summicron optics. They also wanted you to use their two special camera concoction.

If you were able to read my Xiaomi 13 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra: Camera Shootout article, this shouldn’t be new information to you. But for the rest, Xiaomi lets you choose between ‘Leica Vibrant’ (more saturated) and ‘Leica Authentic’ (less saturated) looks.

Don’t confuse them as color filters. Rather, built-in color calibration techniques based from Leica’s color science. Together with Xiaomi’s AI algorithm, they work together to bring out the best look for each photo taken.

Picking between these two Leica looks is mandatory and obviously, your choice will affect the overall mood of the photographs you take. However, you cannot totally turn this off. The Pro mode isn’t even exempted as you still need to choose between the two while you take “RAW” photos.

Pro-tography within your fingertips

The main highlight of the Xiaomi 13 Pro is none other than its 1-inch camera based on the Sony IMX989 sensor — which isn’t different from last year’s Xiaomi 12S Ultra as well as the newer Xiaomi 13 Ultra. The 13 Ultra just has the upper hand of having a variable aperture instead of relying on a fixed f/1.9 aperture.

That’s also the reason why I said earlier that getting the Pro variant over the Ultra doesn’t make it “less capable”. The wide 1x samples below (23mm lens equivalent) will prove my very bold statement

Even with a dark subject like my indoor cat Kaori with her visible strands of black fur and whiskers, or a random black cat walking outside, its fast shutter release will just blow your mind — all thanks to that large 1-inch sensor.

On the other hand, its 50-megapixel ultra-wide shooter relies on a totally different Samsung JN1 sensor with a 1/2.76-inch size. But even if it’s smaller than its wide lens counterpart, these photos still show superb quality.

Its 115-degree FoV (Field of View) is wider than the competition. I usually use this lens mode when shooting architecture to emphasize the vastness of a structure — especially when indoors such as churches, cathedrals, pathways, and even alleyways.

50mm + 75mm lens excellence

Another great thing about Leica x Xiaomi’s partnership is being able to bring in special 35mm B/W, 50mm, and 75mm portrait modes which not only mimics how prime lenses of pro-grade cameras perform, but also being able to apply Leica’s post-processing techniques after clicking the shutter button.

However, it’s worthy to point out that while the 50mm still relies on the phone’s ginormous 1-inch sensor, its 75mm portrait mode uses the dedicated 3.2x telephoto lens instead.

Good mood for food

Whenever good food is served, I automatically take out the Xiaomi 13 Pro (regardless if I have other flagship phones with me) and shoot ’em using the handy-dandy 50mm “swirly bokeh lens” feature.

I just love how Xiaomi processes food shots without actually over-saturating and over-sharpening the shot just to make it “scrumptious” to viewers. Leica’s color science preserved the real colors of the food — which was also how I perceived them IRL.

If you look closely, shots taken using any of the special portrait modes always has a vignette (or that subtle radial black border around the image). I’m all for it as it emphasizes the subjects I capture regardless of who or what it is.

I’m not fond of using the regular wide (1x) lens as it requires you to get closer to the food subject. But relying on that 1-inch sensor through 2x cropping reduces the amount of that nasty radial blur but still preserving details. The 2x option is also helpful in avoiding pesky shadows when shooting food indoors.

Nonetheless, food still looks great when shot on 1x (23mm) as long as you’re on the right shooting distance with ample amount of light.

While its 75mm relies on a completely different 3.2x telephoto camera, it was still able to quickly capture my brother’s hand while he was rolling that melted cheese on his fried chicken.

Another testament: this cup of lychee lemonade I drank taken in a not-so-well-lit environment. The only source of light was the measly bright LED TV while I was binge-watching one of the best K-dramas around (*coughs* Taxi Driver Season 2).

Portrait expert

While using the dedicated 50mm swirly bokeh lens requires you to be farther from your shooting subject, it also lets the camera get closer to the subject.

Other than that, the tighter Field of View (FoV) makes me frame my shot better and looking symmetrical than ever.

And just like a real 50mm prime lens for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, it’s also the best lens when shooting portraits as it requires just the right amount of distance between the lens and the subject — whilst delivering a creamy background blur.

Even when the subject is moving such as my bestie walking on the side of the pool, its 75mm was fast enough to catch the candidness of his actions — all while being able to separate the foreground from the background precisely.

Fast AF

Whether you read that as “Auto Focus” or “As F***”, both of those terms are acceptable.

The Xiaomi 13 Pro truly takes photos quickly and swiftly — just like how I captured this river scenery while walking on a ginormous bridge between Intramuros and Binondo.

I took this 50mm while I was in a hurry, yet it still looked clear and crisp with the appearance of gradual blurring between the foreground and the subject in focus. It really felt like this was shot on a pro-grade DSLR/mirrorless camera.

This 75mm shot of a very handsome Toyota GR Supra was shot while I was in the back seat of a speeding Honda Civic. Despite using the 3.2x telephoto lens, it was still able to shoot fast with enough details and less blurriness altogether.

The same thing can be said when I took these zoomed-in shots of two structures while I was walking on the sidewalk without actually trying to slow down.

The zoom shooter was also able to capture these kids in fast playing motion — and even felt like the time froze.

Surprisingly, that 75mm shooter performed fast too even in conditions where the presence of natural light is fading.

In my wildest dreams

Back then, my ambitious self dreamt of being a wildlife photographer for National Geographic. I admit how foolish that sounded. Still, I was delighted and astounded that the Xiaomi 13 Pro can capture the beauty of nature like I have a real DSLR and that long-ass telephoto “bazooka” lens with me.


Photojournalism on a phone? Why not?

Another aspiration I’ve had in college is being a photojournalist. Unlike most photographers, photojournalists should have the utmost courage to capture the world without the added sugarcoating.

Having to use the Xiaomi 13 Pro and its speedy shutter release during our special one-day photowalk definitely proves how it can be one of (if not) the best gears for photojournalism.

The photography technique I always bring with me is none other than being able to put juxtaposition into context.

In the easiest of terms, it’s putting two different subjects in one frame with a contrasting effect — like this lady and her vibrant stuff against a dull and busy background (two opposing hues)…

…or this bird kite flying on the vast sky (man-made versus nature).

My shot above is one of my favorites. Technically speaking, the presence of that artificial light added drama to the shot. But actually, there’s more than that.

Despite having different kinds of social classes, all of us have our right and freedom to go and enjoy our time along with our family and friends outdoors.

Low-light goodness

The Xiaomi 13 Pro may not have the brightest low-light photos ever taken in a smartphone, but as I always say in my reviews, being the brightest of the bunch doesn’t mean it’s the best performer.

With that large 1-inch sensor, it takes night mode photos pretty quick and doesn’t exceed a second in shutter duration — unless it’s a really dark environment.

Remember those special 50mm and 75mm special lenses I showcased earlier? Well, they both work well in low-light scenarios too!

Most phones usually struggle when you take portrait shots under low-light shooting conditions, but the Xiaomi 13 Pro is built different.

Even in harsher low-light conditions, the Xiaomi 13 Pro was very capable. It showed the beauty of my NewJeans Binky Bong as well as its box content with the littlest amount of noise.

This sign of a famous taco joint isn’t any different. The Xiaomi 13 Pro was able to preserve the authenticity of the shot without bumping too much exposure, highlights, and most of all, shadows.

For comparison’s sake, the difference is quite stark between the 50mm and 75mm portrait shots of my two lovey-dovey friends.


While 50mm relies on the 1-inch sensor and the wide f/1.9 aperture of the main lens (artificially widened to f/0.95), the 75mm was able to give a shallower Depth of Field (DoF) and a clearer foreground-background segmentation thanks to the farther focal length — mimicking what telephoto zoom lenses do.

And despite how high the ISO sensitivity of the two photos are, the photos are still sharp with barely visible noise. I also have to thank Xiaomi’s AI algorithm for cutting out subjects more accurately than the rest of the competition.

Regardless of what type of shooting subject you shoot in low-light, the 75mm does the job well and consistent.

Leica B/W

It wouldn’t be a full Leica experience without trying Leica’s classic B/W (black and white) looks.

But unlike what Leica previously did with other smartphone manufacturers (specifically Huawei), the B/W calibration actually looks closer to what Leica offers in its cameras.

Don’t take my word for it though. Those came from the words of the Leica photographers I’ve been with in that special one-day photowalk I mentioned earlier.

Leica’s special B/W and B/W NAT color filters add flare to your existing shots.

And just like how I mentioned “juxtaposition” earlier, taking B/W into consideration gives more depth and drama to your already “controversial” and “heart-wrenching” photographs.

Surprisingly, the presets look good even in candid shots — even if the subjects convey happiness and enjoyment.

BONUS: AI Removal

In instances where you have no control over the unwanted humans or objects in your shots, Xiaomi’s AI removal feature in its in-app gallery editor comes in very handy.


We gotta give credit where credit is due. Even though it’s not a fresh feature (as this was introduced by Google as “Magic Eraser” during the Pixel 6 launch), I’m still stoked that Xiaomi offers the same AI-based feature out of the box.


From the term itself, it lets you remove distractions from your shots. Other than the typical manual erasures, Xiaomi’s AI algorithm also detects people, objects, lines, and even shadows.

Although to be very frank, the most usable of the bunch is none other than the removal people selection. It worked 95% of the time and only had trouble identifying people in a couple of shots. Other times, the AI removal isn’t clean, like in the last sample above.

Featured by Xiaomi

Back in March 2023, Xiaomi Philippines held a one-day photoshoot with select media friends and Leica photographers towards the sights of San Fernando and Clark in the province of Pampanga.

That’s the time when I finally started using the smartphone after given to me by our team head, Rodneil, when he came back from Barcelona, Spain for MWC 2023.

SEE ALSO: GadgetSnaps: Xiaomi 13 Pro in Barcelona

Xiaomi’s Founder and CEO Lei Jun even tweeted about it (unfortunate though how I wasn’t in this first group photo session because the irritable morning heat led me to stay inside the van).

TMI aside, here are some of my shots that Xiaomi PH chose to feature on their Instagram page.

And just a day after, I went to Intramuros by myself, thinking how I needed to take more photographs using the amazing camera system of the Xiaomi 13 Pro.

Fondness for flagship

Other than the excellent camera system the Xiaomi 13 Pro possesses (and the thicc camera bump proves that), what makes it a true flagship experience is none other than its hardware.

Being equipped with the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset paired with the speedy LPDDR5X RAM and a UFS 4.0 storage standard guarantee the longevity of the phone both in performance and power.

I have to be honest though that I’m not a fan of the phone’s overall material selection — mainly because the black colorway I have is a huge dust + fingerprint smudge magnet. My opinion would differ though if it was offered in that clean-looking Ceramic White slate.

Still, I love how slim and light the phone feels even if it has a gigantic 6.73-inch curved display. For my XL hands, it’s a perfect fit.

LE SSERAFIM is UNFORGIVEN – but forgive me for I have sinned

Speaking of that display, I enjoyed watching multimedia whenever, wherever. Its 120Hz refresh rate is buttery smooth, while its 2K AMOLED display and Dolby Atmos speakers bring the best out of the content I watch — especially those in 4K.

Lastly, one of the best features of this phone is none other than the support of 120W HyperCharge with a bundled charger and cable. The Xiaomi 13 Ultra doesn’t even have this as it only relies on a “slower” 90W fast charging.

It honestly saved me from times where I have to leave the house unplanned. That 30-minute charge from 0 to 100 percent is a huge lifesaver. Let alone, its battery life efficiency is topnotch as it lasts me until the end of day at the very least — and more than that when used lightly.

Is the Xiaomi 13 Pro your GadgetMatch?

The Xiaomi 13 Pro is already available in major Asian and European markets. Retail pricing starts at PhP 59,999 (SG$ 1699 / INR 89,999 / EUR 1299 / GBP 1099).

The Xiaomi 13 Pro is a great smartphone meant for photographers, casual shooters, and aspirers alike. If the plethora of photo samples I took aren’t enough to prove that, you’d be amazed to see more photographs taken with the Xiaomi 13 Pro by other talented individuals around.

Although at the end of the day, any photographer will be able to nail the device they are using as long as they know the basics as well as having a unique shooting style. Lastly, trusting their own creative process.

That said, the Xiaomi 13 Pro still offers the flexibilities of a smartphone while having the excellence of today’s advanced imaging system — plus a well thought-out partnership with a world-renowned camera brand. It’s a smartphone that isn’t gimmicky and actually offers the real deal compared to other smartphone photography contenders.

Where have you been all my life?!

I’ve been dreaming of owning a smartphone that can at least keep up with the quality of a DSLR or a mirrorless camera.

The Xiaomi 13 Pro (or any existing 1-inch-equipped smartphones around) can’t and won’t “replace” any professional cameras anytime soon. However, I can confidently say that the Xiaomi 13 Pro lives up to its professional photography promises.

It may not have the most affordable price tag for flagships out now. But the Xiaomi 13 Pro still a worthy recipient of the GadgetMatch Seal of Approval. That’s especially if you’re one among those prospect buyers who are looking for the best cameras in a smartphone today.

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