Xiaomi 12 Pro Review: Luxurious pampering for smartphone lovers
Convincing yourself to spend upwards of Rs. 20,000 on a Xiaomi smartphone is tough — after all, you seek the brand value and the associated quality expectations. Hence, since 2020, Xiaomi has had to rely on its aggressive pricing strategy to draw crowds towards its highest-end offerings. The Mi 10 was, therefore, a superb deal for a Snapdragon 865-powered flagship that year but did not find many takers. The game changed last year with the Mi 11X series and the limited Mi 11 Ultra, wherein people now wanted to try out an expensive Xiaomi. With the Xiaomi 11T Pro in early 2022, we knew Xiaomi was setting up the stage for its ultimate high-end flagships. We only got one though; the best one in the lineup — the Xiaomi 12 Pro.
Carrying a starting price tag of Rs. 62,999, the Xiaomi 12 Pro is right now among the most loaded and well-rounded luxury Android phones we can think of. There are no compromises here unlike some of Xiaomi’s last outings, which makes the phone a worthy consideration over the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S22, iQOO 9 Pro, and the crowd favourite — the Apple iPhone 13. But all that’s on paper and in the real world, the Xiaomi 12 Pro has a tremendous task of justifying all the hype surrounding it. Is it any good?
Xiaomi 12 Pro Design
Unlike the lavish design on the Mi 11 Ultra last year, the Xiaomi 12 Pro looks simple yet sophisticated. Most of the rear is drama-free and the camera hump keeps things minimal. The massive main camera lens does add character to the otherwise simple design, and Xiaomi’s choice of colours makes the Xiaomi 12 Pro elegant.
The attention to detail is immaculate — just look at the loudspeaker grille, the antenna lines, the “harman pardon” branding, and the keys. It does feel like a phone worth its cost. The same sort of simple yet elegant look continues over to the front, where the curved edges of the display look spectacular. The bezels are nowhere as slim as the ones on the Samsung Galaxy S22 but the Xiaomi 12 Pro masks them well. Overall, the Xiaomi 12 Pro is one of the prettiest phones around in 2022; I prefer it over the iPhone 13 and even the Galaxy S22 as far as show-off duties are concerned.
Oh, there is something else — the packaging box is fat on this one. That is because you get the 120W charger in the box! And the plastic case! And the USB-C to 3.5mm headphone dongle! Am I dreaming or what? Samsung and Apple, are you looking at this?
Xiaomi 12 Pro Display
Hiding underneath those curved edges is a beautiful 6.7-inch AMOLED display with a Quad HD+ resolution with an aspect ratio of 20:9. The variable refresh rate technology goes from 1Hz to 120Hz, depending on the kind of content you are viewing. Plus, there are all the bits thrown in for good measure — a 10-bit panel, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, 1500 nits of peak brightness, and Gorilla Glass Victus protection. Phew! Even the iPhone 13’s display does not pack as much tech as this one.
Specs aside, this is a gorgeous display to look at. Whether I am looking at the colourful MIUI interface or YouTube videos, it all looks the best. Colours are eye-popping and brightness levels are, well… very good. The variable refresh rate keeps scrolling and animations smooth. Simply put, this is one of the best displays to do anything that involves watching.
Xiaomi 12 Pro Performance
It is often easy to assume that stuffing the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, or any cutting-edge chipset in a phone will take care of all the performance needs. Optimisation, however, matters a lot and Xiaomi usually struggles here. We saw the Snapdragon 888 on the Xiaomi 11T Pro suffering from throttling and overheating issues, and the same replicates on the Xiaomi 12 Pro and its Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip.
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is not a power efficient chip but it can be tamed better, just like we saw on the Samsung Galaxy S22. On the Xiaomi 12 Pro, playing some high end games and using the camera for 15 minutes makes the phone toasty, with lags or performance drops appearing eventually. Games such as Call of Duty: Mobile and Shadow Fight 4: Legends run fine for 10-15 minutes at their highest graphics, post which frame drops are visible, and the phone too uncomfortable to hold. I assume this has something to do with software optimisation considering there is a large cooling solution in place to keep things cool.
When not pushing the Xiaomi 12 Pro through its paces, this is an eager phone that does not disappoint. MIUI 13 on Android 12 is the best of Xiaomi’s software experiences. It is fast and behaves in a way that is expected of flagship luxury smartphones. The UI is devoid of adware, although GetApps and Mi Glance throw in notifications to persuade you at all costs to use them. There are some pre-loaded third-party apps but they can be deleted. MIUI 13 otherwise is aesthetically pleasing and a pleasant iteration of Android to use. Compared to the lethargic One UI 4.1 on the Galaxy S22, the MIUI 13 skin is on its feet to serve. Xiaomi has finally figured out how to serve luxury smartphone buyers better compared to its cheaper phones.
And then there’s its audio performance, which is easily among the best, if not the best, in its category. Xiaomi’s new “quad speaker” arrangement produces sound that has depth with discernible highs, mids, lows and some bass. The output is almost as good as the iPhone 13 Pro Max, although it falls behind in terms of loudness. In its segment though, the audio output is simply unbeatable!
As for basic phone functions, the Xiaomi 12 Pro does them all just fine. Connectivity was never an issue — it latched on to the Jio network reliably. Call performance was good and the earpiece is fairly loud for conversations in busy marketplaces.
Xiaomi 12 Pro Cameras
Xiaomi talked a great deal about the cameras and in reality… it seems they are overselling. Despite having three 50MP camera sensors at the back, the output is still a tad behind those from the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus, and much behind the iPhone 13. Head down for a brief explanation.
Xiaomi has gone for a cooler colour tone overall across the three cameras, which looks good under daylight but not so much in any other condition. A Galaxy S22 or an iPhone 13 can take natural photos with better white balance and authentic skin tones — the Xiaomi 12 Pro just can’t get the colours right. Human portraits in almost all lighting conditions show softer skin and mixed up hair details; something that the iPhone 13 does greatly. If you aren’t comparing though, the camera output via all three sensors is flagship quality. Especially at night, the main camera does a great job with details, colours, and exposures. The ultra-wide camera cannot quite match the impressive colour science of the main camera and messes up with the exposures at times. The 2X portrait camera goes much softer on details and is best left unused at night or in low light. Compared to the photos from the iQOO 9 Pro, the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s rear camera impresses better with still photos.
Video recording performance is great, both on 4K at 30 fps and 1080p at 30 fps. The stability is decent and the audio recording is on par with the iPhone 13. You can shoot 8K videos too but there is still a dearth of displays that can take advantage of that resolution. Additionally, the camera app lets you play with several special camera modes to make the most out of it. I tried the Supermoon mode in anticipation that it can take moon shots like the S22 Ultra but the result was not near as good.
The front camera performs great with selfies, keeping oodles of facial details, brightened up skin and clothes, and good exposure management in the background.
Xiaomi 12 Pro Battery Life
This is where the Xiaomi 12 Pro falls flat. After using the Galaxy S22 Plus with a similar chip and battery combo, I was expecting a comfortable cruise to the end of the day on a single charge. Sadly, if you put the Xiaomi 12 Pro through 2-3 hours of voice calls, an hour or two of social media, some basic productivity stuff, and brief moments of gaming, the phone runs out of juice before the evening. On most of my working weekdays, I had to charge the phone once in the morning, and once in the evening. Idle battery drain is high and Xiaomi needs to release an update to improve the battery stamina.
Thankfully, the waiting period at the charging station is low. The 120W charging in its Boost charging mode can do a 5 percent to 100 percent charge in 25 minutes. As we saw with the Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge, the charging speeds vary greatly with the ambient temperature, and with Noida reaching 42 degrees Celsius these days, I had to leave it for half an hour for a refill. The phone also gets support for 50W wireless charging via Xiaomi’s proprietary wireless charger, regular Qi standard wireless charging, and reverse wireless charging too.
I used to own the Xiaomi Mi 5 back in 2016 and I loved the phone, despite all its flaws. It was good where it mattered for a flagship, and did everything else just fine. The Xiaomi 12 Pro in 2022 reminds me of that phone. It is good where it matters to a luxury phone buyer — splendid display, a sexy design, a luxurious build, effortless performance, superb set of speakers, and super fast charging. You also get the charger, case and headphones dongle in the box! — credit where deserved.
For everything else, it is almost as good as the competition, but certainly not better — the camera output in still photos is a teeny bit below the iPhone 13 and the Galaxy S22. The performance optimisation has room for improvement, and the battery life is sub-par at the moment; it requires charging twice in a day. Plus, you miss out on IP rating for water and dust protection.
When you are spending Rs. 63,000 or more on a smartphone, nitpicking is your right. The Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus are phones where this nitpicking is at its least. The iPhone 13 comes a close second with its stellar battery life, superb cameras, and a rock solid software experience. The Xiaomi 12 Pro fights the iPhone 13 for this second spot, wherein it one-ups the Apple phone with a much superior display, more versatile cameras, faster charging, and a desirable design. Let's say the Galaxy S22 and Xiaomi 12 Pro are the top two premium smartphones we recommend right now. Yeah, the iPhone 13 doesn’t seem as good in comparison now.
What would we recommend? Buy it or skip? I say go for it. The Xiaomi 12 Pro is an enjoyable phone that behaves like a true luxurious flagship. Don’t go by the spec sheet, the user experience is where this Xiaomi phone delivers highly. As a package, it is the most satisfactory smartphone to choose right now, the one that pampers the most.
- Fantastic Display
- Beautiful Design
- Superfast charging
- Heats up quickly
- Sub-par battery life
- Cameras need improvement
Display6.7-inch Quad HD+ AMOLED 120Hz
ChipsetSnapdragon 8 Gen 1
OSMIUI 13 on Android 12
Rear Cameras50MP + 50MP + 50MP
Charging120W wired, 50W wireless