Xiaomi 12 Pro Review: A Premium Flagship at the Right Price

Xiaomi’s Mi 11 Ultra (Review) was all about big numbers and bragging rights, and it managed to deliver a very good premium Android experience with only a few shortcomings.The Xiaomi 12 Pro is the company’s most premium offering yet for 2022 and Xiaomi has taken a slightly different approach with it. Rather than simply pushing for the biggest numbers on a specs page like it did with the 11 Ultra, Xiaomi claims it has focused more on consistency while still packing enough premium features to justify the price. A quick look at the specs reveals the usual suspects in terms of hardware, but the quad-speaker setup in the Xiaomi 12 Pro is certainly unique and not something we’ve seen in any flagship phone in India.

The Xiaomi 12 Pro is also less expensive than last year’s Mi 11 Ultra, probably because it’s not a direct replacement. Rumours suggest that a more premium model dubbed the 12 Ultra is possibly in the works and should feature a faster Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1+ SoC. Currently, the 12 Pro is Xiaomi’s flagship phone, and after using it for a week, I discovered that it’s an extremely good one. But is it better than flagships from OnePlus and iQoo?

Xiaomi 12 Pro price in India

The Xiaomi 12 Pro is available starting at Rs. 62,999 in India for 8GB RAM and 256GB of storage. The second variant has 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and is priced at Rs. 66,999, and this is the variant I have for this review. The phone is available in three finishes: Couture Blue, Noir Black, and Opera Mauve.

Xiaomi 12 Pro design

Xiaomi’s 12 Pro looks and feels very polished and premium. The metal frame is very slim on the left and right sides of the phone, where the front and back glass curve to meet it. The frame and rear Corning Gorilla Glass 5 panel have matte finishes, making the device quite slippery. The camera module around the back is made of metal and looks modern and sleek thanks to fine lines that separate the sensors. The ports and all cutouts in the metal frame are polished to perfection, with no sharp edges or corners.

Xiaomi 12 Pro back design speakers ndtv Xiaomi12Pro  Xiaomi

The Xiaomi 12 Pro has two speakers hidden under each grille.

 

While the Xiaomi 12 Pro is a top-end smartphone, it lacks an official IP rating for dust and water resistance. Xiaomi did confirm to Gadgets 360 that the phone has all the necessary seals in place to meet the equivalent of an IP53 rating, but this is still insufficient at this price, in my opinion, since we expect nothing less than an IP68 rating. It’s has become more common for Android manufacturers to skip obtaining an official IP certification of late, possibly to save a bit on cost. However, considering the fact that even many budget phones such as the Redmi Note 11S (Review) have at least an IP53 rating, it’s strange to not have any such assurance with a flagship offering.

The phone’s 6.73-inch AMOLED display has Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus protection and is also good at resisting fingerprints. The cover glass curves sharply on either side but the display itself has a much milder curve. There are speaker grilles on the top and bottom, and an infrared emitter on the top.

Xiaomi 12 Pro specifications and software

The Xiaomi 12 Pro uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC. The internal storage is not expandable. The SIM tray can hold two nano-SIMs and this phone supports dual-5G standby. Communication standards include several 5G bands, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, and multiple satellite navigation systems.

The Xiaomi 12 Pro’s display offers a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz, and a 480Hz touch sampling rate. LTPO 2.0 technology allows the refresh rate to drop as low as 1Hz in order to save power. It also has an embedded fingerprint reader. The WQHD+ resolution (3200 x 1400 pixels) makes for a density of 522ppi.

Xiaomi 12 Pro front display ndtv Xiaomi12Pro  Xiaomi

The Xiaomi 12 Pro’s 6.72-inch AMOLED display is Dolby Vision and HDR10+ certified

 

The phone has a 4,600mAh battery and comes with a 120W charger in the box. There’s also support for 50W wireless charging and 10W reverse wireless charging.

The Xiaomi 12 Pro runs Xiaomi’s MIUI 13, which is based on Android 12. The software has all the Android 12 essentials including the new widgets, a permissions manager, and a privacy dashboard (called Privacy Protection). MIUI 13 still has the usual bloatware including Xiaomi-branded apps and some third-party ones. I also kept receiving annoying pop-up notifications prompting me to update apps through the GetApps store.

The interface for the widget picker now looks different and takes up the whole screen. Adding a widget requires a long-press (or a pinch-out gesture) on the home screen, after which you get three options at the bottom for the wallpaper, widgets, and home screen settings. Xiaomi’s implementation of resizing widgets is a bit annoying as you need to move each one a bit (just a wiggle) to enable an edit mode, which is an extra step. However, everything worked flawlessly once set up. Xiaomi, like other manufacturers, has implemented a theme engine which changes the accent colours of the interface, widgets, and keyboard based on the colours of your wallpaper.

Xiaomi 12 Pro performance

The Xiaomi 12 Pro performed as expected in benchmark tests. The phone scored 9,82,727 points in AnTuTu, and 1,237 and 3,654 points in Geekbench’s single and multi-core tests respectively, which are all on par with the competition. Software performance was also smooth and fluid with daily usage.

Xiaomi 12 Pro front software ndtv Xiaomi12Pro  Xiaomi

The Xiaomi 12 Pro’s MIUI 13 interface has few visual changes compared to MIUI 12

 

The display gets quite bright outdoors and produces very accurate colours when using the ‘Original colour’ mode. There’s also an ‘Adaptive colours’ toggle in the Settings app that adjusts the display’s colours based on ambient light. Content looks sharp on the 12 Pro’s display, which is also Dolby Vision and HDR10+ certified. While supported content on Netflix appeared fine, HDR videos streamed through Amazon Prime Video looked a bit dim. Dolby Vision HDR support is not something we see on many Android phones.

The in-display fingerprint reader is quick and reliable for unlocking the phone. During my testing, the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s screen refresh rate changed as expected based on the different content I viewed. It generally stayed locked at 60Hz when playing games, 120Hz when scrolling through feeds in apps or the interface, and 10Hz when I was not interacting with anything. I expected the refresh rate to drop to 1Hz when using the Kindle app, but that did not happen.

My gaming experience on the Xiaomi 12 Pro was quite good. The phone got hot while playing games for long periods, but performance did not dip. I played Call of Duty: Mobile, which ran smoothly at the highest possible settings. Asphalt 9: Legends felt almost console-like, running at 60fps by default, but the phone did get hot after a while. The touch sampling rate was also spot on after tweaking it in the phone’s Game Space app.

Xiaomi has done an excellent job of delivering immersive sound with the new quad-speaker setup of the 12 Pro. The speakers have been tuned by Harman Kardon and you get a tweeter and a woofer on each end of the phone. The audio quality was quite impressive, as the four speakers delivered balanced sound with emphasis on the bass and mid-range. The phone also offers multiple Dolby Atmos audio presets and an equaliser to tweak the sound to your liking.

Xiaomi 12 Pro back design ndtv Xiaomi12Pro  Xiaomi

The Xiaomi 12 Pro has a 4,600mAh battery and supports wireless charging

 

While the speakers are great, I found the placement of the speaker grille on top of the phone quite odd. It’s in the bottom-left corner of the frame which is a problem when playing games as I almost always covered it when holding the phone horizontally. The bottom grille is in the diagonally opposite corner so no matter which way you hold the phone horizontally, you’re bound to block one of them. I experienced the best sound output when holding the phone vertically, or if it was resting on a phone stand.

The battery life of the Xiaomi 12 Pro was quite good, even though it didn’t perform too well in our HD video loop test, lasting just 12 hours and 18 minutes. The phone easily ran for for a day and a half with my regular use, which included an hour of gaming plus some camera usage and video streaming. The 120W charger managed to fully charge the 12 Pro in just 27 minutes, when using boost mode. The phone does get warm when charging in this mode, and also shows a notification on the screen to alert you that this will happen and that it’s normal.

Xiaomi 12 Pro cameras

The Xiaomi 12 Pro has three rear-facing cameras and all of them have 50-megapixel resolutions, which according to Xiaomi, should deliver consistent image quality. The primary camera has OIS, the ultra-wide-angle camera has a 115-degree field of view, and the telephoto camera delivers 2X optical zoom (48mm). Selfies are handled by a front-facing 32-megapixel camera. The primary camera of the 12 Pro is the first to use Sony’s new 1/1.28-inch IMX707 sensor which has 1.22μm pixels. This in theory, should help bring out more detail in all kinds of lighting conditions. It’s noticeably larger than the Sony IMX766 (1/1.56-inch) sensor, which we’ve seen in plenty of 2022 Android flagships.

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The Xiaomi 12 Pro is the first phone in India to feature Sony’s IMX707 sensor

 

The camera app should be familiar to anyone who has used a recent Xiaomi phone. The 12 Pro can record HDR video with its main and telephoto cameras at up to 4K 30fps. HDR10+ videos on the other hand can only be recorded with the main and selfie cameras. The 12 Pro can shoot up to 8K 24fps videos with the main camera.

The Xiaomi 12 Pro has some useful “Pro” features too. It can record video with the screen off to save power. There’s even a live in-ear monitor feature that you can use to listen to the sound being recorded. Pro Video mode lets you shoot video in Log format (flat colour profile) so it can be colour graded in post-production. Focus peaking and exposure verification can be useful for professionals.

Xiaomi 12 Pro daylight camera samples. Top to bottom: Ultra-wide-angle camera, primary camera, telephoto camera (Tap to see full size)

 

Photos captured in daylight using the primary camera had plenty of detail and good dynamic range. The telephoto camera also managed detailed close-ups of most subjects, and photos looked sharp and loaded with detail when using Auto or Portrait modes. Edge detection in the Portrait mode was very good too. If you get the placement of your subject right, the large sensor of the primary camera produces a soft, natural background blur similar to what you can get with a DSLR. One thing that could have been better was skin tones, which tended to look unnaturally warm, making me appear reddish.

The ultra-wide camera was good for shooting landscapes and managed relatively good detail, although not as good as the primary camera. Software correction for barrel distortion did a fine job of keeping the perspective of the scene intact, but objects still looked a bit stretched towards the edges. Despite Xiaomi’s best efforts to deliver consistent image quality, it’s easy to tell the difference between shots taken with the main and ultra-wide cameras.

Unlike the iQoo 9 Pro (Review), the Xiaomi 12 Pro does not have autofocus on its ultra-wide-angle camera, which means it does not also function as a macro camera. I did manage some nice extreme close-ups using the primary and telephoto cameras, which were a decent substitute for a macro camera or a dedicated macro mode.

Xiaomi 12 Pro low-light camera samples. Top to bottom: Telephoto camera, Auto mode, Night mode (Tap to see full size)

 

The Auto mode in low light tends to take slightly longer exposures, just like on the Xiaomi 11T Pro (Review). Ignoring the on-screen notification to use Night mode will result in basic image quality (minus the waiting) and while the primary camera still managed good photos, the ultra-wide and telephoto ones only delivered okay results. Night mode helped cut down on noise and delivered clearer images.

The primary camera did an excellent job with not just colours but also detail and dynamic range in low light. Night mode wasn’t very useful with the ultra-wide-angle camera since other than a reduction in noise, details were still slightly weak. The telephoto camera had trouble locking focus in low light. Whether I was simply zooming in to a landscape or focusing on people and objects, photos (with or without Night mode) were quite blurry and soft.

The selfie camera did a fine job in daylight but tended to blow out backgrounds in Portrait mode when used in bright environments. In low light, image quality was average at best.

Switching to video, the quality was impressive at all resolutions. Stabilisation was good and the Xiaomi 12 Pro did a fine job with autofocus and exposure when panning. However, I did notice a mild yellowish tone in all videos, and footage shot in daylight was a bit overexposed. Using HDR did help correct the exposure of brighter areas while darkening shadows in a scene, but the output wasn’t very realistic.

HDR10+ videos looked a lot better. Colours looked richer and dynamic range was better when viewed on the 12 Pro’s display. However, keep in mind that such videos won’t look as good if you watch them on a non-HDR10+ capable display or share them via an app that’s unable to process such videos. Motion tracking, eye tracking and motion capture focus worked as expected. The 12 Pro got quite hot while shooting video outdoors, but the camera app never prevented me from recording due to this. In low light, the phone managed to capture good quality videos which were low on noise and had good dynamic range.

Verdict

After the whole Mi 11 Ultra (Review) availability fiasco, it’s nice to see the 12 Pro on open sale right after its launch. Xiaomi’s focus on performance and quality instead of numbers with the 12 Pro has really paid off. This phone still falls a bit short when it comes to consistency with the rear cameras, but I’m hoping these minor issues can be ironed out with software updates. Regardless, the overall image and video quality that you get with these cameras is quite good which makes the Xiaomi 12 Pro a solid contender in the premium smartphone space. It also happens to offer great value with a starting price of Rs. 62,999. The only feature that’s missing is an official IP rating.

Those who don’t like a heavily skinned Android OS can always look at Motorola’s Moto Edge 30 Pro (Review), which is priced lower (at Rs. 49,999). The iQoo 9 Pro (Review) is a good alternative as it has a unique design and a very good gimbal camera system for video recording plus a noteworthy macro mode. Then there’s the OnePlus 10 Pro (Review), which is priced higher but offers capable cameras and a larger battery but slower wired charging. If you don’t need wireless charging, you should have a look at Realme’s GT 2 Pro (Review). Priced from Rs. 49,999, it packs similar core hardware as the Xiaomi 12 Pro along with a unique design and an interesting micro-lens camera.


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