Xiaomi 12S Ultra vs iPhone 13 Pro Max


The new flagship Xiaomi 12S Ultra causes a small revolution in the smartphone camera sector with a 1-inch sensor, which we are more used to from prosumer cameras than from phones. But can it actually outperform the popular iPhone 13 Pro Max?

In this head-to-head comparison, we look at camera quality, but we also compare these two in terms of their performance and overall speed. The Xiaomi 12S Ultra is equipped with the latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor coupled with an innovative head conduction system that could rival the Apple A15 Bionic chip in the iPhone.

So what are the advantages that each of these phones has and which one should you go for? And has Xiaomi finally made the “iPhone killer”? Let’s take a look.

Xiaomi 12S Ultra vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max in a nutshell:

  • Curved screen on Xiaomi vs flat screen on iPhone
  • Top notch processors but faster RAM on Xiaomi
  • Xiaomi uses a larger camera sensor
  • The iPhone is the battery champion
  • Much faster loading speeds on Xiaomi
  • Xiaomi costs a little less

Table of Contents:

Design and display quality

Big screen party

These two are large and well-constructed premium phones, and it shows. The Xiaomi uses a leather-like textured finish on the back, which you rarely see these days, and that gives it a bit of a vintage camera feel and just gives it… character. The iPhone, on the other hand, is your familiar sandwich of glass and metal, with a shiny stainless steel used for the frame.

At 6.7 inches, both are clearly extra-large phones, but the iPhone is also a bit heavier.

Both are IP68 rated against dust and water, a good thing in case you drop your phone in water or get caught in the rain.

The screen quality is also top-notch on both. We have 6.7-inch OLED panels with variable refresh rates (the Xiaomi varies from 1Hz to 120Hz, while the iPhone goes from 10Hz to 120Hz). The two also get very bright, but it’s the Xiaomi that’s slightly more with 1,500 nits of peak brightness versus the 1,200 nits on the iPhone, making it a little easier to use the Xiaomi outdoors on a sunny day.

Oh, and you have a slightly curved screen on the Xiaomi compared to a completely flat screen on the iPhone.

Like most Android phones, the 12S Ultra uses an in-screen fingerprint scanner, while the iPhone 13 Pro Max relies on Face ID for biometrics.

performance and software

Snapdragon vs Bionic

The Ultra is equipped with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen1 processor and this chip is manufactured using 4nm technology. This is comparable to an Apple A15 Bionic processor, a chip that remains the fastest in the industry but is admittedly also based on the less efficient 5nm technology.

Xiaomi also uses LPDDR5 RAM versus the slower LPDDR4X type of RAM on the iPhone.

Finally, Xiaomi talked a lot about the new heat dissipation system used in this phone, which uses a leaf-like network of tubes to get hot air out of the phone more efficiently.

Expect a lot more details on the actual performance of this cool solution once we review the Xiaomi 12S Ultra soon.

On the software side, you have Android 12 with MIUI 13 on the Xiaomi vs iOS 15 on the iPhone. MIUI has borrowed some elements from iOS and will look quite familiar to Apple users as well.

However, Apple has the upper hand when it comes to updates, as iPhones typically receive major operating system updates between 5 and 6 years. No Android phone can keep up with that.

  • Xiaomi – 3 years major OS updates, 4 years security updates
  • Apple – 5-6 years major operating system updates, 5-6 years security updates


A history of camera sensors

This gigantic camera system on the Xiaomi is no coincidence and is present thanks to a new 1-inch sensor that powers the main camera. This size of a camera sensor is found on prosumer cameras, and bringing it to a smartphone comes in a kind of camera revolution.

Here’s how that compares to the iPhone:

Early samples show that Xiaomi has inherited some beautiful color science from its newly formed partnership with Leica, and has a range of high quality filters in the camera app. For its part, the iPhone has photographic styles that you can customize yourself.

We’ll dig deeper into photo and video quality once we’re able to test the phones very soon. So stay tuned.

Audio quality and haptics

The iPhone 13 series has set something of a benchmark for smartphone audio, with boomier bass than a typical phone, but the Xiaomi is also well equipped with its own dual stereo speaker system and one fine-tuned by Harman Kardon if we want it should trust the marketing.

Stay tuned for our real world impressions of these two speakers coming soon.

Also, don’t forget that none of these phones have a 3.5mm headphone jack.

For years, the iPhone has featured the Taptic Engine, their powerful vibration motor that provides excellent haptic feedback (and is now used when typing with iOS 16). We’ve yet to see if Xiaomi can compete with a solution of its own.

Battery life and charging

Can Xiaomi challenge the iPhone?

iPhones have never been the phones with the largest battery, quite the opposite. Still, they get solid battery numbers. And the iPhone 13 Pro Max is very typical in that regard. It only has a 4,352mAh battery, but it’s the unofficial flagship battery champion of 2021 and 2022.

This is all down to the iOS battery and standby optimisations, of course, which really make a big difference, and you can’t just expect any Android phone with a similarly sized battery to last as long. For its part, the Xiaomi has a 4,860 mAh battery.

We’ll be updating you with real battery tests soon, so stay tuned.

On the charging front, however, Apple has been lagging behind for years. The iPhone 13 Pro Max unofficially supports a maximum charging speed of 27W, which sounds paltry compared to the 67W offered on the Xiaomi.

Real life shows the difference these numbers make: it takes around 2 hours to fully charge the iPhone battery and it only takes around 41 minutes to fully charge the Xiaomi.

And the difference could be even worse when it comes to wireless charging: an iPhone takes over 3 hours, while the Xiaomi charges in just over 50 minutes (with a compatible charger).

The Xiaomi also has reverse wireless charging, allowing you to charge smaller devices like watches or headphones, a feature missing on the iPhone.

specification comparison

The Xiaomi seems to have a small technical advantage, don’t you think?

Summary and Final Verdict

So at the end of the day, it boils down to your preference: the Xiaomi, with its impressive new camera system and Android open platform, looks like a great tool for an avid photographer, while the iPhone, with its familiar iOS and ecosystem integrations with iMessage , Apple Watch, AirPods and other gadgets might appeal to you just for their ease of use.

Which one would you choose?

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