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Xiaomi 12 Pro Review: Falls just shy of being a top contender in 2022

Xiaomi 12 Pro AH HR Feature
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Xiaomi 12 Pro has one of the best displays in 2022 flagships along with blazing fast charging speeds.

Xiaomi 12 Pro
$999
Rating
star star star star star_empty
Pros
  • Display is one of the best in 2022
  • Hardware design language is very professional looking
  • Blazing fast charging speeds - wired or wireless
  • Main camera produces excellent results day or night
  • MIUI 13 running on top of Android 13 provides a fluid experience
  • Superb sounding stereo speakers
Cons
  • No formal IP rating
  • Battery life is middle of the road
  • Telephoto camera is only capable of 2x optical zoom
  • Ultrawide camera lacks autofocus

Xiaomi provided AndroidHeadlines with a review unit of the Xiaomi 12 Pro. As usual, they didn’t have a say in our opinion, nor did they see an advance copy of the review before you. The review device was used for approximately 14 days before composing this review. The phone is running MIUI 13 on top of Android 12 with the February 2022 security patch.

The Xiaomi 12 Pro is currently the best smartphone available from the Chinese juggernaut. Of course, the 12 Pro is going to be eclipsed as soon as the Xiaomi 12 Ultra is released. But for now, the Xiaomi 12 Pro is the undisputed champ in its smartphone lineup.

Now, the Xiaomi 12 Pro has been available for quite some time in China but the 12 series is finally available for the rest of the world. This device is running the global version of MIUI13 with the Google Play Store. Oh, and it happens to be one of the first Xiaomi devices I have tested that is running on Android 12.

Hardware design language is clean looking and very functional

Xiaomi 12 Pro AH HR HW1

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The Xiaomi 12 Pro is slightly smaller than its predecessor albeit very slightly. The newer version is 0.8mm shorter but also 0.3mm thinner. The overall height of the phone is shorter due to a smaller screen – 6.73″ versus 6.81″. And a smaller 4,600 mAh battery versus a 5,000 mAh battery results in a thinner phone that weighs 4 grams less.

Xiaomi 12 Pro AH HR HWD

Don’t get me wrong, this is still a fairly large device with a bright LTPO AMOLED screen. The selfie camera is now in the center instead of the corner – seems to be a general trend these days. An in-display fingerprint scanner is included and worked just fine during the review period.

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I like the smaller radius on the corners which gives the appearance of a slightly larger overall screen. And the phone is very easy to hold thanks to curved front and back surfaces. The metal rails have a nice matte texture which helps with gripping the phone.

Xiaomi 12 Pro AH HR RearCamera

On the rear, the biggest change is of course the new camera module layout. Along with the layout, there are three completely new 50MP cameras for main, ultrawide, and telephoto modes. In my opinion, the new camera module design makes the Xiaomi 12 Pro look quite professional.

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In-hand feel and ergonomics are excellent for such a large device. Build quality is top-notch and the materials used are definitely premium. And lest I forget, the haptics on this device are easily in the same league as what you get from Samsung and Google.

There is a clear case in the box but it could be better

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Xiaomi includes a clear TPU case in the box which is great since other device makers don’t give you much in the box these days. I just wish that they would have paid a bit more attention to the case for their flagship since they did improve their clear cases for their budget smartphones this year.

The Xiaomi 12 Pro is launching in three color variants including Gray, Purple, and Blue. Of course, our review unit is the Gray color version. One of these days I am hoping Xiaomi sends me a colorful device for review instead of the standard black or gray variants.

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Xiaomi 12 Pro has a bright LTPO 120Hz AMOLED display

Xiaomi 12 Pro AH HR Display

The Xiaomi 12  Pro features a 6.73″ 1440x 3200 LTPO AMOLED display that runs at 120Hz. The display can render 1 billion colors and has Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support built-in. There is also just the right amount of curvature on the long edges causing no swiping issues during my review period.

Here in sunny Southern California, there were no issues in terms of outdoor visibility. I did not have to manually toggle the brightness a single time during the review period. Xiaomi claims a consistent brightness of around 1000 nits and a peak brightness of 1500 nits. I don’t believe there is any reason to doubt those factory specification numbers after using the phone for a couple of weeks.

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AdaptiveSync Pro allows the Xiaomi 12 Pro to auto adjust the LTPO display from 1Hz to 120Hz depending on the content. And MIUI 13 has a lot of options in the Display Settings to let you choose the color scheme, display resolution, eye comfort via reading mode, and a host of other options under the AI image engine. I am quite confident that you will be able to find a setting that works for your individual preference.

Performance is top of the line on the Xiaomi 12 Pro

Xiaomi 12 Pro AH HR Performance

The latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor is powering the Xiaomi 12 Pro. My review model also has 12GB LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB UFS 3.1 storage which is the higher-end version.

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Geekbench 5 scores are in line with other 2022 devices running on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 with at least 12 GB RAM. My review unit of the Xiaomi 12 Pro shows a single-core score of 1235 and a multi-core score of 3837. These numbers are pretty much identical to the Geekbench 5 scores seen on the RedMagic 7.

Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor is built on the 4nm wafer fabrication process. The new octa-core processor has a 1+3+4 configuration and uses Arm’s newest v9 architecture cores.  The main big core is a Cortex-X2, running at 3.0 GHz while the three middle cores are Cortex-A710, running at 2.5 GHz. Finally, the four efficiency cores are Cortex-A510, running at 1.8 GHz. Qualcomm also claims that the new Adreno 730 GPU is 30% faster and 25% more power-efficient in contrast to the Adreno 660 on the Snapdragon 888+ platform.

Excellent thermal management and no hiccups during regular use including gaming

Besides the newest flagship processor from Qualcomm, the Xiaomi 12 Pro has LiquidCool Technology for thermal management. This includes a large vapor chamber and three graphite sheets for better heat dissipation. In my review time for daily tasks such as browsing, scrolling, and streaming I didn’t see any noticeable heating. During heavy photography or videography, sessions to test the camera the phone did get a little warm but no noticeable slowdowns occurred.

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And yes, there were zero issues playing Genshin Impact for almost an hour with the latest Spring update on the Xiaomi 12 Pro. From a performance standpoint, the Xiaomi 12 Pro is definitely one of the best smartphones you can buy in 2022.

Incredibly fast charging times via 120W Xiaomi HyperCharge technology

Xiaomi’s 120W HypeCharge technology makes the jump to its 2022 flagship. We first saw this on the Xiaomi 11T Pro last year.  And if you are wondering about the 120W charging brick, fear not because Xiaomi includes it in the retail box. The power brick has a USB-A connector and uses 20V and 6A to achieve the 120W output.

As I have said before the actual power delivered might be slightly less than 120W. Still, 120W charging is an impressive achievement and one that allows Xiaomi to reduce the battery size to 4,600 mAh from 5,000 mAh a year ago. Unlike the Oppo Find X5 Pro, the Xiaomi 12 Pro has a single-cell battery to support 120W charging. Xiaomi uses a custom Surge P1 charging IC that enhances the battery’s capacity and output, which results in increasing its overall charging efficiency.

Despite this custom circuitry, I would strongly recommend that you use the OEM charging cable that comes in the box since 6A is a large amount of current traveling through the cable. You definitely do not want to post a viral video of your latest flagship smartphone catching fire while charging.

MIUI 13 on Android 12 supports adaptive charging and so the device will learn your charging routine to optimize the phone’s battery health. Especially if you are prone to charging your phone overnight.

Fast charging times but screen-on-time could be better

In my review time, I saw the phone get to 100% charge in about 20 minutes or so. Charging the phone for about 10 minutes will get you to around 70% charge which should last for a full day. If you are in a bind just toggle the refresh rate down or turn on battery saver till you can get to a charger. The reason I point this out is that the battery life is a bit on the low side compared to flagships from other device makers. I was only able to get around 5 hours of SOT during my review period so you may want to top it up if you plan on having a long day.

There is built-in support for 50W wireless charging

Besides the incredibly fast 120W wired charging, the Xiaomi 12 Pro also has support for 50W wireless charging. Alas, I could not verify the wireless charging times because I do not have a wireless charger rated for 50W output. I am hoping that the next time Xiaomi sends us their wireless charger so we can test it during the smartphone review.

Triple 50MP cameras on the rear produce stunning pictures

Xiaomi 12 Pro AH HR Camera

The Xiaomi 12 Pro has three 50-megapixel cameras on the back. The main camera is a 50MP Sony IMX707 sensor. The other two are 50MP ultrawide and telephoto cameras which use the Samsung JN1 sensor with different lenses. Only the main camera has optical image stabilization and autofocus. The ultrawide has a 115-degree FOV with fixed autofocus and no stabilization. The telephoto camera has 2X zoom capability and doesn’t have image stabilization. On the front, there is a 32 MP, f/2.5, 26mm lens selfie camera which is new.

Xiaomi 12 Pro AH HR CameraApp

The camera app is simple and easy to use. You can either swipe or tap to switch modes and can customize the modes in the More tab. The hamburger menu in the top right corner lets you access additional options in each mode. And in the More section, there are extras such as Long Exposure, Supermoon, and a few others.  Night Mode is available for all the rear cameras and auto night mode is activated by default which is quite beneficial in my opinion.

Daytime pictures are quite good

Pictures taken during the daytime have a good amount of detail with excellent dynamic range. However, I find the colors to be a bit too punchy. Luckily there isn’t too much oversharpening going on. Also, I found that focusing is an issue with the ultrawide and telephoto cameras, especially at close range. But once you find the limitations you also learn to work around these. And for the most part, results are quite good.

One gripe is that there is only 2X zoom which isn’t much and the Pixel 6 manages equally great results via digital zoom. Yes the camera app slider will let you go to 20x zoom but the images are really poor at that magnification unlike what Samsung has managed on the S22 Ultra.

Low Light Photography results are excellent

Unless it is pitch dark, low light results are excellent with Auto Night mode on. There is no discernable lag in shooting a picture and post-processing unless it is pitch dark. Results look closer to what you can see in real life versus the over brightening that you see with some smartphones.

Overall I think low light results are excellent all around. Take a look at the camera samples in our Flickr gallery.

Xiaomi 12 Pro Camera Samples - Flickr Gallery

Selfies are quite good for sharing on social media as long as you keep the phone at arm’s length due to the fixed autofocus. Portrait mode on selfies is decent but not as good as what you get from the rear cameras. In daylight, the background will get blown out depending on the conditions.

Video quality is best at 4K and you get good results day and night from the main camera. The other two cameras struggle at night time. One thing to note is that for some reason the ultrawide camera produces more accurate colors in the daytime compared to the other two cameras.  If you don’t take a lot of videos, you will be quite happy with the still photography results from the Xiaomi 12 Pro.

MIUI 13 Impressions

Xiaomi 12 Pro AH HR HWD

My review unit is running MIUI Global 13.0.10 with the January 2022 security patch. In my daily use, I did not find the MIUI 13 (Android 12) to be too different from MIUI 12.5 (Android 11) that I recently reviewed in a bunch of other devices from Xiaomi/Poco.

I do like that there are stock apps for Phone, Messages, Chrome, Contacts, and Google Discover. The only true duplicate app is the Mi Browser. Of course, there is the usual “Tools” folder with a bunch of Xiaomi apps tucked away in it. I find these apps to be quite useful, so I suggest you hide the folder away if you want to free up some real estate on your second screen. Bloatware is limited to 5 apps and you can uninstall all of them with the exception of the Mi Community app. The 4 apps that you can uninstall, I use all 4 on a regular basis so I left them as is on my review unit.

A couple of quick things about the software – since this is a flagship device there weren’t any flagrant advertisements peppered throughout the UI like the budget offerings from Xiaomi. Another thing is that for this review I left the Contol center style in the default iPhone clone mode. But you can easily change it in the Settings menu > Notifications & Control center > Control center style to look like the regular Android version.

Xiaomi 12 Pro audio quality output is head and shoulders above the competition

Xiaomi 12 Pro AH HR Audio

The Xiaomi 12 Pro boasts quad speakers tuned by Harman Kardon with Dolby Atmos support. And the audio quality on the Xiaomi 12 Pro is fantastic. I decided to put up the 12 Pro against the Pixel 6 and iPhone 13. At roughly 70% output on the volume slider, the Xiaomi 12 Pro is the loudest, followed by the iPhone 13 and then the Pixel 6.

With the Xiaomi 12 Pro, you can hear the full spectrum of audible sounds including a reasonable amount of bass which is always lacking in most smartphones. Both the iPhone 13 and Pixel 6 sound clear and crisp with vocals but you can sense that the bass is clearly lacking in contrast with the 12 Pro.

Audio quality via the wired USB-C headphones or wireless earbuds was equally good.  As far as audio goes, this is probably one of the best smartphones that I have tested in recent times. So go ahead and crank up the volume while gaming or streaming.

Connectivity is excellent on the Xiaomi 12 Pro

Xiaomi 12 Pro AH HR Connectivity

Xiaomi usually has the most possible connectivity options and the 12 Pro continues that trend. From Dual-SIM 5G to Wi-Fi 6, you are covered. There is also support for Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, and USB-C for file transfer. And even though the spec sheet doesn’t mention it, there is the IR blaster on the top rail in the right corner.

Even with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 for some reason, I could not see an official 5G signal on my Xiaomi 12 Pro. I got LTE+ and LTE consistently. And yes data speeds were abysmal but were about as good as what I get on my daily driver which is a Pixel 6. So I blame that on my mobile carrier’s poor signal and not the Xiaomi 12 Pro.

Aside from the low data speeds, there were no issues with calling, texting or streaming music, or watching YouTube around town. Since this is a global device I suspect users outside of North America are likely to get much better data speeds and utilize this powerhouse of a device to its fullest sans Wi-Fi.

You can also use the Cast, Nearby Share, Mi Share, NFC from the quick settings menu for additional connectivity options.

Should you buy the Xiaomi 12 Pro?

Xiaomi 12 Pro AH HR Verdict

Xiaomi has made an excellent smartphone but for the $999 retail price, it falls a bit short of the competition. You can usually get great discounts on Samsung S22 offerings while Google Pixel 6 Pro is cheaper without any discounts or trade-in deals.

While this device has blazing fast charging speeds it also has mediocre battery life. Also on paper, the three 50MP cameras stack up well to the S22 Ultra but the actual results fall short of the flagship from Samsung.

The Xiaomi 12 Pro has great design, display, build quality, and a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. But the trade-offs it makes in the other departments make it hard to justify at the suggested retail price. People might spend a bit more for Samsung S22 Ultra or a bit less for a Google Pixel 6 Pro.