The other day it dawned on me: I've had the Xiaomi 12 Pro in my pocket for six whole weeks, as though I've adopted it as my own.
That might not sound like a revelation, but in a role where it's actually my job to review, compare and write about mobile phones, it's very rare that one passes the litmus test and survives so long.
I've not even gone back to the Samsung Galaxy S22. That's how good Xiaomi's 2022 flagship is.
So what is it about this Xiaomi 12 Pro that makes it such a keeper? It might be the phone for me, but should you take the plunge and buy one too?
Xiaomi 12 Pro: Do screens get better than this?
When flicking your eyes over spec sheets it's all too easy to be suckered in by the various high-number temptations. Resolution this, high refresh that, x-amount of colours more than a competitor, blah.
The Xiaomi 12 Pro has all these headline boxes ticked, no doubt, but there's no need for this phone to feel guilty about it, because it's one of the best screens I've seen in a mobile phone.
The 6.73-inch panel is an ideal size for me; the curved edges aren't to excess, and cause no issues with accidental touch (phew, as the Mi 11 Ultra had issues with that); the brightness is intense (in a good way), while dim settings don't cause black crush; 120Hz refresh is smooth without being overkill; while the colour and pop makes looking at and interacting with this screen a real dream.
Does the Xiaomi 12 Pro have the best screen on the market in 2022? Maybe, just maybe. I have scratched it a little, though, which is a surprise given the Corning Gorilla Glass Victus finish. Put this next to the flat panel of the entry Samsung Galaxy S22, though, and I know which I'd rather keep in my pocket.
Xiaomi 12 Pro: The camera crushes it
On its rear the Xiaomi 12 Pro hosts a trio of cameras: a main, a 0.5x wide-angle, and a 2x optical zoom. All of them are 50-megapixels, so there's no scrimping on quality, but the main optic is physically much bigger as it feeds a larger-scale sensor and offers optical stabilisation (OIS).
What I like about this camera setup is two fold: one, it's not so massive that the phone rocks around on a desk (a pet peeve of mine); two, it's not over-reaching with nonsense throwaway lenses - macro, depth sensor, do over! - that you can just use it nice and easily.
It's made me realise that 5x optical zoom lenses aren't something I often use, despite having access to phones that feature them - hiya Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra - and that I'm happier without the pocket bulk, ultimately.
Ok, so a 3x zoom would have been better still, but there's always room for improvement somewhere. Xiaomi 13 anyone?
What about Xiaomi's MIUI software?
It's no secret that I've long maligned Xiaomi's MIUI software. Why? Because you often need to go into settings and dictate on a per-app basis that battery saver isn't active in order to receive timely notifications.
But here's the thing: in MIUI 13 (v13.0.14 at the time of writing) on the Xiaomi 12 Pro this isn't an issue for me anymore. The software, which sits over Google's Android 12 operating system, works like a dream (must be the aligning of the '12's, eh?)
Add to that the settings often are critical of battery settings and it helps the device to last longer.
Oh, and here's the bit where I point out that Xiaomi offers 120W fast-charging technology. I can get a full charge in under 18 minutes, which is ridiculously fast. Even Samsung's Galaxy S22 series is a paltry 45W by comparison.
Should I buy the Xiaomi 12 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S22?
That's the big question, isn't it? In the UK, the Xiaomi 12 Pro's £1,049 asking price doesn't really undercut its nearest competitors to appeal on a price basis. It's not available in the USA.
Sure, it's a couple of hundred less than the Galaxy S22 Ultra, but Samsung's 2022 flagship offers even more cameras, plus a built-in S Pen stylus to show yet more worth.
But is the Xiaomi 12 Pro worth its four-figure headline asking price? I think so. It comes back to my original point: that, six weeks in, I've adopted this phone as my unexpected go-to flagship for 2022 so far. And I don't see that changing in the immediate future either...
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