Xiaomi as a company that, while not well known in North America, is an absolute behemoth in Europe and Asia. They have made a name for themselves by delivering premium level devices at a price much cheaper than competitors. While ramping up in price compared to previous years, the Xiaomi 12 Pro continues this trend, delivering a quality smartphone experience that feels compromise free, even with its cheaper price of entry.
The Xiaomi 12 Pro feels like a flagship device throughout the unboxing experience, but unlike competing brands, Xiaomi feels like they did not skimp on value even as other companies remove things from the box. Inside you will find the phone, a 120W charging brick (more on this later), a USB-C cable, and, if that were not enough, a simple case to keep your new phone safe.
At the base price of $999 / £1,049, this is a lot in the box, and still cheaper than the iPhone 13, and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, both of which cost well over $1,000. With the base model offering 128 GB storage/8 GB RAM, the Xiaomi 12 Pro feels like a tremendous value on the surface, especially compared with the comparable Samsung Galaxy S22+.
Xiaomi 12 Pro Design
Once unboxed, the Xiaomi 12 Pro feels like a very refined smartphone worthy of its flagship branding. The phone maintains the styling Xiaomi is known for, but manages to improve on the overall look and feel to make a device that feels premium throughout.
The back of the device features a frosted glass style finish that manages to be almost completely fingerprint resistant. The silky smooth finish is great to hold and elevates the overall experience of using the Xiaomi 12 Pro. I have to give it to Xiaomi, they managed to offer a range of colours (Blue, Gray, and Purple), each feeling luxurious and modern without falling into the trap of being overly flashy just to get attention.
The curved edges of the 12 Pro feel great in the hands, and is durable thanks to the Gorilla Glass Victus that protects your phone from scratches while in use. The frame is a matte, blasted metal that matches the overall look of the phone and gives the phone a truly premium feel through the 8.2 mm thick construction. You would be hard-pressed to find a phone this well-designed and well priced at under $1,000, but somehow Xiaomi has managed it.
While the Xiaomi 12 Pro lacks an IP rating, meaning it would not be safe to drop in water or to be used on a construction site, the phone feels well-built for everyday use. Even when getting caught in a minor spot of rain while out taking pictures with the phone, I did not find the raindrops impede the use of the phone, with the screen being as responsive as ever, even when wet.
You will find all the rest of the ports and buttons in the usual places, with the speaker grills located at the bottom and top of the device, with the volume rocker and power button located on the right side of the phone. The sim tray can be found at the bottom, with the Xiaomi 12 Pro ready to be used with two sim cards, should you want to travel or simply use your work and home mobile numbers all on one device.
Xiaomi 12 Pro Display
Much like most modern flagship phones, the Xiaomi 12 Pro features a stunning large screen, made for consuming and making media. The 12 Pro boasts a 6.73 in Samsung LTPO AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The screen refresh rate is said to be adjusted based on needs from 1-120Hz, making it ideal to keep things fast, while not draining the battery when not required. Using the phone, this refresh rate gives the 12 Pro a truly buttery smooth feeling. Scrolling through menus or browsing the web felt incredibly responsive, and in fact, managed to go toe-to-toe with many of the other devices in the CGM offices.
With a WQHD+ resolution, the Xiaomi 12 Pro screen is also incredibly sharp and clear, with a pixel density of 521PPI. The phone also manages to beat out many comparable smartphones in screen quality with its 1500 nits, HDR10+ screen looking amazing in any environment, even outdoors in direct sunlight.
Watching media on the 12 Pro was a real test of the screen, with blacks looking truly black and action and colour looking vibrant, clear and stunning to look at. The Xiaomi 12 Pro also offers a selection of display modes and settings to deliver the most out of any media experience, something I hope more phones take up going forward.
Xiaomi 12 Pro Camera & Photography
I did not know what to expect when I first tested the Xiaomi 12 Pro. While I have loved past Xiaomi offerings, the camera was always an area I felt could be improved. Thankfully, the triple 50MP camera array more than delivered, boasting some vibrant shots both in daylight and night, and software that compliments what the cameras can deliver.
Powered by a Sony IMX707 sensor, the primary 50MP camera is fantastic at delivering the sort of shots most people use their smartphones for. From life at home, to nature, the Xiaomi 12 Pro manages to deliver some vibrant and fantastic images. Granted, Xiaomi does a bit more processing to the images when compared to the Google Pixel 6, so images don’t look 100% true to life, but the end result are for the most part fantastic, especially when viewed through the Xiaomi 12 Pro screen.
The large sensor used on the main camera ensures images are full of detail, and even at night, you can still snag some eye-popping images that will be sure to wow on your social media of choice. I found the shots a bit cleaner than we found on the Samsung S22+, and more than comparable to what you would find on the iPhone 13, making sure you won’t be sacrificing quality when you jump on the Xiaomi bandwagon.
The other cameras still manage to impress, even if not quite as staggering as the main 50MP camera. The 50MP ultra-wide offers good colour and vibrancy all with a 115º field of view. Sadly, you are missing out on autofocus, so shots will not be quite as sharp compared to the main sensor.
The 50MP zoom camera is the weakest of the bunch, only offering a two-times zoom and lacking the colour or detail found in the other two sensors. While it works in a pinch, for people that demand the best telephoto lens possible on their smartphone, the Xiaomi 12 Pro lags behind in this area.
Video capture, on the other hand, is fantastic with the Xiaomi 12 Pro. With the great sensor and image stabilization, you should be able to capture some amazing moments of family, friends or just a night on the town all at 8K. You can even switch smoothly between the main-sensor and the Ultra-wide without issue, even while recording, with all the footage looking great, especially considering it is done with a smartphone.
The front facing 32MP selfie camera is much better than expected, with Xiaomi taking time to even include a vlog camera mode. For people who use their smartphone for content creation or selfies, you should have no trouble capturing some amazing photos and videos with the 12 Pro, especially if you know how to properly light a room. It is great to see more phone companies not neglect the front-facing camera, since it is what many of us use daily, even just to talk to family.
Xiaomi 12 Pro Performance and Gaming
Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, the Xiaomi 12 Pro is more than capable for any workload or game you can throw at it. We tested the phone on all the usual benchmarks, including our full games selection and the 12 Pro had no issues on any task we threw at it. From Fortnite to Genshin Impact, I was amazed at how well the phone handled even the most intensive game. Throughout our experience, I did not see any major drops in frame rate or performance, making it one of the most capable phones we have tested to date.
The performance on work-based tasks was just as impressive, with there being no noticeable slowdown even when running a slew of apps, including email, the camera and webpages. Even when running a game alongside all the apps, the phone powered through everything better than many flagship phones that cost significantly more.
Thanks to the quad Harman Kardon tuned speakers on offer in the 12 Pro, media and games sounded fantastic, with a good level of dynamic range, and clarity even at higher volumes. The Xiaomi 12 Pro also features Dolby Atmos, with the sound feeling full and rich, that should cater to most people’s needs, although I did find they fall behind some other flagship offerings in terms of impact and depth of the audio.
Xiaomi 12 Pro Battery
The Xiaomi 12 Pro comes with a sizable 4600mAh, that should get most people through a standard day. In testing, I found the battery managed to last from 7AM until 10PM with around 30% charge remaining. This is with the usual testing, along with the daily use of apps and features.
While not the best we have seen in smartphones—the Google Pixel 6 Pro beats it—it was more than enough for most people’s needs. To further increase (or decrease) this battery use, Xiaomi has included a series of modes, Performance for the extra level of power for games, Battery Saver to help reduce the drain of background apps, and finally, Ultra Battery Saver that disables most features to preserve every percentage of battery life possible.
Perhaps more impressive than the battery is the charging speed. This is where the 120W charger comes into the picture. This staggering charger can fully charge the Xiaomi 12 Pro in only 20 minutes, a staggering speed when compared to even the fastest charging on other phones on the market.
If that were not enough, the 12 Pro also features 50W wireless charging along with 10W reverse wireless charging. Granted, to take advantage of the 50W wireless charging, you will need a charger that supports that, but it is still amazing that Xiaomi managed to gram all that into such a clean and thin package.
Xiaomi 12 Pro UI
The Xiaomi 12 Pro runs on the MIUI 13 skin of Android 12. The UI is vastly improved over past iterations of the OS, giving a smooth, refined experience. But, like any Android skin, if you are a fan of stock Android, there is a lot added on here that does take away from that experience. MIUI 13 has a lot more visual flair and styling that can feel a bit iOS at times, with it even offering the option to have all the apps visual with no app drawer.
Thankfully, Xiaomi has allowed for enough customization to make it feel unique to the user, with it possible to deliver an almost stock glitch free experience provided you take the time to adjust settings.
There are also a fair number of Xiaomi apps preloaded onto the phone that, depending on what you want in a smartphone, could be helpful or just a waste of space when using the device. There is everything from a compass to an IR remote control app (did I not mention it has an IR sensor at the top of the phone), and honestly, this is really fun to play with, and does make it feel like a much more full experience, but for someone that wants a bare phones phone when they first set it up, this can get in the way of that.
The Xiaomi 12 Pro feels like a great balance between performance and price. There is a lot to love about this latest offering, and it, in many ways, feels like a class leading device. It is fast, the camera is fantastic, and the design feels the right level of premium and modern.
There are some corners that should not have been cut, such as with the telephoto camera, but all in all, the 12 Pro feels like a great evolution of the Xiaomi range. From the 120W charging, to the fantastic photography possible, to the excellent fingerprint resistant design, if you are looking for a new smartphone and want the best value for money, few phones compare to the Xiaomi 12 Pro.