This Xiaomi 12 Pro review has plenty of good to say. In fact, this is one of the best phones on the market right now if you have the money to spend on it.
It follows on from last year’s Xiaomi Mi 11 series which was a hit with us, having featured as some of the best Android phones you could buy at the time.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 was a great alternative to the priciest flagship smartphones while the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra was an expensive and luxurious piece of kit with a tiny screen tucked into the camera module, but the Pro version of the phone never made it to the UK so I'm very pleased to see it make an appearance in 2022.
This time around, Xiaomi has dropped the Mi branding and renamed its flagship devices the Xiaomi 12 series.
I recently tested out the Xiaomi 12 and was impressed at how many top-tier specs they managed to pack into such a compact device, if you want something smaller and cheaper than this, that will be the phone for you.
Set on an all-singing, all-dancing flagship? This Xiaomi 12 Pro review is exactly where you need to be.
Xiaomi 12 Pro review: price and availability
Available to pre-order right now, the Xiaomi 12 Pro will be released on the 15th of April 2022. You will be able to buy it in two variants: 8GB/128GB or 12GB/256GB.
The top-end model will cost $999 which is £1,049 in the UK, a pretty standard price for a Pro-level flagship. Unfortunately, this phone won’t officially be launched in the US and we haven’t heard anything about availability in Australia.
Xiaomi 12 Pro review: features and what’s new
We never saw the Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro here in the UK, but the Xiaomi 12 Pro takes its foundations from that handset and builds on them. The design has had a refresh with sharper edges and a new screen that has shrunk slightly from 6.81 inches down to 6.73 inches, and it’s ever so slightly lighter and slimmer as well.
You get a similar triple-lens 50MP camera system although it should be better at capturing light than before, and the selfie snapper has been boosted to 32MP. The updated camera software also bodes well for the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s photographic capabilities, and you can film Ultra Night video when you’re in poorly lit scenarios.
Powering the handset is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset which is new for this year and should guarantee fast speeds and reliable performance. You’ll also get a 4,600mAh battery but it’s the charging that will make the biggest difference, it’s equipped with Smart 120W Xiaomi HyperCharge which Xiaomi claims can give you 100% battery in as little as 18 minutes.
Xiaomi 12 Pro review: design and display
Sleek and sophisticated, the Xiaomi 12 Pro is a good-looking device. I tested out the ‘gray’ model (which is actually more like black) but you’ll also be able to buy it in purple or blue if you wanted something a bit more fun.
On the back, the glass has a frosted matte finish and a very discreet Xiaomi logo. A metal camera module sits at the top with three lenses tightly packed into it, the edges are sharp and angular which suits the phone well. When you turn it over, the look of the phone becomes softer thanks to a slightly curved screen that stretches to every corner of the handset.
One of the best parts about this design is that you feel comfortable using it without a case, it’s not made from glossy glass that will easily scratch and it’s able to resist dirty fingerprint marks as well. It’s a shame Xiaomi hasn’t got an official IP water and dust resistance rating for this phone because that’s the only reason I can’t call it ‘durable’ and I also can’t tell you whether it’ll survive being dropped in the bath or not.
The Xiaomi 12 Pro does rock slightly when you use it flat on a table but it’s not quite as dramatic as with some even more protruding camera notches.
You won’t find much around the metal frame, there’s a volume rocker, a power button and the USB-C port to charge it. If you still use wired headphones then now is definitely the time to upgrade because you don’t get a 3.5mm headphone jack here, nor will you find one on any other recent flagships.
Weighing 205g and measuring 163.6 x 74.6 x 8.16mm, this is a pretty typical size for a flagship device. A big-screened, big-body phone won’t be for everyone especially if you have small hands like me, but this one is undoubtedly more manageable than some others.
To unlock the display, you get the usual choice of a fingerprint scanner or facial recognition. When I was testing out the phone, I decided on using my fingerprint and it worked well but you do need to hold your thumb there for slightly longer than on some other phones.
The screen is one of the crowning glories of the Xiaomi 12 Pro. It has a WQHD+ 6.73-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 3200 x 1440p and 20:9 aspect ratio with up to 1,500 nits peak brightness which is a lot more than elsewhere.
Clear, radiant and colourful - it’s a fantastic screen that you can use for just about any task be that photo editing, scrolling through social media or just browsing the web. You’ll even get a good view of it on a particularly sunny day!
All of the benefits of HDR10+ support come with that as well, so TV shows and movies will look fantastic with excellent contrast and tonnes of vibrancy. I watched an episode of Peaky Blinders on it, a famously dark TV show, and even in the dimmest corners of the scene, I could still make out details.
What’s more, is that it’s an LPTO display so it can adjust itself from as little as 1Hz right up to 120Hz as and when you need it. Games like PUBG Mobile felt incredibly smooth to play while the always-on display wasn’t too heavy on the battery.
Xiaomi 12 Pro review: camera system
The Xiaomi 12 Pro features a 50MP main camera with a Sony IMX707 sensor, a 50MP ultra-wide camera and a 50MP telephoto camera, with a 32MP selfie camera on the front.
Photos from the rear camera system look good for the most part with plenty of detail and a good amount of contrast, although on a dreary day it didn't do a great job at giving life to colours so the results were a little dull. Take a look at the gallery below to see some sample shots taken on the Xiaomi 12 Pro.
Low light capabilities are pretty weak on the Xiaomi 12 Pro, the shots I took out in my garden at night came out very grainy and unfocused. While it did brighten up the setting, it didn't do the colours justice.
Another area that could use some work is the telephoto lens which couldn't quite compete with other flagships. Offering just a 2x optical zoom and a 20x digital zoom it has no chance up against Samsung's 3x optical and 100x digital zoom, for example.
In saying that, the 50MP ultra-wide camera is able to fit more into the shot without losing out too much on quality so that's definitely a plus point worth knowing about.
Xiaomi 12 Pro review: performance and battery
Lots of flagship phones this year run on the same processor, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 - the Xiaomi 12 Pro is included in that. You’ll also find the Qualcomm Adreno GPU.
It’ll be up to you how much RAM and storage you get but the model I tested has 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Choose wisely though because you won’t be able to expand the storage using a MicroSD card.
Using the phone is an absolute breeze thanks to the hardware under the hood. It didn’t take any time at all to open up apps or click through open windows. It’ll be perfect for mobile gaming as well.
On the Geekbench 5 performance test, the Xiaomi 12 Pro picked up scores of 1,246 in single-core and 3,732 in multi-core, which places it at about the same level as the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra and actually just above other 2022 flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and the OnePlus 10 Pro. The only way you’d get better scores at the time of writing is if you opted for one of the best gaming phones.
Thanks to both 5G and Wi-Fi 6E, you’ll get super speedy internet wherever you go, be that at home or out in public as long as your area and local network support it. If not, then at least this phone is ready when they do finally reach you.
I found the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s 4,600mAh battery lasted me from the morning until the evening. Unlike other similarly priced handsets, I did need to plug it in by the end of each day to be sure that I’d be up and running the next morning.
To be able to compare it more directly to other phones, I ran a local HD video for over 2 hours on full brightness. In that time the battery level dropped by 20% so would have only lasted about 10 hours in total. That’s quite poor in comparison to the 20 hours achieved by the Oppo Find X5 Pro, for example.
Luckily the below-average battery life isn't such a huge issue because of the phone's charging speed. A 120W charger is included in the box and it'll take less than 20 minutes to recharge the phone to 100%. You'll also be able to use it with a 50W wireless charger which, according to Xiaomi, will give you a full battery in only 42 minutes.
MIUI 13 is based on Android 12 so it’s very easy to use and it looks fine, my only problem with it is how many unnecessary apps come pre-loaded including the Mi Browser and Joom. There are more useful ones as well like Facebook, Amazon and TikTok although a lot of people will still spend some time uninstalling those when they first set up the phone.
One perk of this handset over some others is how many options there are to populate the always-on display, including kaleidoscope effects and some really interesting clock layouts. That’s a big tick in my books even if it’s not going to make a huge difference to you day to day.
Xiaomi 12 Pro review: verdict
A well rounded and powerful smartphone, the Xiaomi 12 is one of the best Android devices out there right now. It directly competes with big-name smartphone makers like Apple and OnePlus, as well as the best Samsung phones on the market.
You should buy this phone if you care more about the screen and performance than you do the camera and battery life. In fact, its performance actually outshone some of its biggest rivals, and that’ll be one of the most convincing factors here.
There are some areas where it's not quite up to the same level as other smartphones, but not everyone needs to take professional-grade photographs or have their phone last for two days at a time, especially given the super-fast charging capabilities you get.
I wouldn’t let those things put you off if they’re not be-all-and-end-all features for you because outside of those complaints this is without a shadow of a doubt, a truly fantastic smartphone.
Xiaomi 12 Pro review: also consider
The Apple iPhone 13 is still the best phone for most people because it looks gorgeous, it has a great set of features and it comes at a competitive price.
It is much smaller than this with a 6.1-inch screen so if you do want something a bit bigger then it won’t be quite right and you may need to look more towards the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max which has a 6.7-inch display.
Android fans who want a Pro-level handset without spending upwards of a grand should consider the Google Pixel 6 Pro because it’s a couple of hundred pounds cheaper than the Xiaomi 12 Pro.
While it barely matches up in terms of performance, it does offer just about everything else including an advanced camera system and software as well as a big beautiful display and stock Android which is by far the best OS you can get.