Xiaomi 12 Pro Review: All-round premium package
Even if you don’t consider the jaw-dropping introductory pricing offers, the Xiaomi 12 Pro not only does well for the price, but it manages to undercut the OnePlus 10 Pro and iQOO 9 Pro
The Mi 11 Ultra from last year was Xiaomi bringing its A-game to the big boys table, and going the Ultra distance, from the 120X periscope-style telephoto to the glanceable touch screen on the rear panel, helped Xiaomi’s Superphone stand out in a crowded premium flagship segment. Fast forward less than a year, and we have the Xiaomi 12 Pro land amongst a crowd of Snapdragon 8 Gen 1-toting smartphones in what seems to be a more refined and mature avatar. With the 12 Pro, Xiaomi has aimed to get the balance and consistency right, but does the phone deliver on those goals? Let’s find out.
The Xiaomi 12 Pro just went on sale in two variants – a base variant with 8GB of RAM priced at Rs. 62,999 and a second 12GB RAM variant priced at Rs. 66,999. Both variants are available in Couture Blue, Noir Black and Opera Mauve colors, and ship with 256GB of internal storage (no microSD card expansion).
Polish and refinement, that’s what characterizes the Xiaomi 12 Pro – gone are the massive camera island and the sheer heft and proportions that made the Mi 11 Ultra less than ideal for average sized hands. The 12 Pro is sleek, weighs 205g and is easy to grip with the frosted matte finish on the rear and the curved rear edges. It is a tall and somewhat slippery phone, so the usual caveats about handling with care apply, but there’s Gorilla Glass Victus on the front and Gorilla Glass 5 on the rear for the odd nicks and falls. Certainly inspires usage without a case, particularly when you have the eye-catching Couture Blue variant. The camera module has been split neatly to highlight the trio of 50MP sensors (which I’ll get to later), and while the effect is less attention-grabbing than the Mi 11 Ultra, it’s a clean look that suits both work and play. Disappointingly, the device doesn’t come with an official IP rating, but this year, it’s par for the course in this price segment.
That screen, though, is such a crowning glory of the 12 Pro, with its 6.73-inch AMOLED display pushing out 3200 x 1440 pixels (WQHD+) with up to 1,500 nits peak brightness. Be it scrolling through Instagram or watching a show on Netflix or playing Genshin Impact, this is a fantastic screen for just about any task. Since this is an LPTO display, the refresh rate can be adjusted from as little as 1Hz right up to 120Hz based on the content on the screen, so games run super smoothly and yet the phone can dial down the refresh rate for the always-on display or static text to not kill your battery. With support for the Dolby Vision HDR format baked in, scenes from Our Planet (Netflix) looked simply stunning on the 12 Pro’s screen, with all the added benefits of the bumped-up vibrancy and exceptional contrast levels. Aiding the display is an incredible Harman Kardon-tuned four-speaker setup with two tweeters and two woofers that not only gets loud but also offers clear and well-separated sound. A side note – but crucial to the overall experience of using the Xiaomi 12 Pro - the in-display fingerprint sensor is snappy, and the haptics are, like the Mi 11 Ultra’s, a joy to use.
When it comes to performance, no surprises – the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is a known quantity by now, having previously featured in the OnePlus 10 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. With UFS 3.1 storage and LPDDR5 memory on board, you get similar performance levels as competing flagships, which includes running your favorite games at max graphics levels, multitasking between heavy apps and the like, although the handset did get occasionally warm under heavy loads. Some of it can be attributed to the warmer weather we’ve been experiencing, some of it the fact that I was playing Genshin Impact while running the traditionally power-hungry Snapdragon 8 Gen 1-phone at the highest resolution and full brightness, a cocktail of heavy tasks which tends to stress any flagship. At such times, battery life took a hit too (with sub-5-hour screen-on-time), and while I could eke out a whole day on the 4600mAh battery with moderate use and auto-resolution, I’d often be reaching out for the 120W fast charging brick to take the phone from nearly empty to full in a little over 25 minutes. 50W wireless charging is a bonus, but you’ll need to spend on the charger separately.
On the software side of things, the Xiaomi 12 Pro ships with MIUI 13 on top of Android 12, which contributes heavily to the snappy and responsive user interface along with packing in an array of useful features, as long as you’re willing to dig into the settings to ferret them out. There is some bloatware, not ideal for a premium device, but stuff that can be dispensed off fairly easily.
The camera is where Xiaomi emphasized it’s paid the most attention, and it starts with the trio of 50MP sensors – a Sony IMX707 50MP main sensor, a Samsung JN1 ultra-wide 50MP sensor and a 50MP telephoto camera, with selfie duties handled by a 32MP shooter. If you’re primarily using the primary camera, you’re going to walk away with images that are detailed and sharp, with somewhat of a bias for slightly oversaturated images but ones that retain detail in the shadows as well. Low-light images are rich in detail as well, with noise levels kept impressively in check.
The portrait mode is among the best I’ve seen on smartphone cameras this side of the Pixel, with creamy bokeh and spot-on edge detection. Xiaomi’s thrown in a bunch of features such as motion-tracking focus and eye tracking focus, both of which help lock in and manage shots you’d otherwise have missed.
Now, while the colors shot across the three cameras are consistent and the images from the ultra-wide and the telephoto are sharp, even in low light, you miss the extra telephoto reach of the S22 Ultra or the extra field of view of the iQOO 9 Pro. And then there’s the missing macro shooter, which is a real pity. Selfies shots/videos are average, but videos shot in 4K on the 12 Pro from the primary camera are well stabilized, with good details, colors, exposure – this is a good, extremely consistent, shooter overall.
Even if you don’t consider the jaw-dropping introductory pricing offers, the Xiaomi 12 Pro not only does well for the price, but it manages to undercut the OnePlus 10 Pro and iQOO 9 Pro. The media experience with its exceptional display and speakers is second to none, it’s fast AF and the camera reliably turns out the most consistent set of images, if you’re okay with skipping some of the frills the competition packs in.
Highlights: Xiaomi 12 Pro
Pros: Clean design, capable performance, consistent trio of cameras, fast wired/wireless charging, excellent haptics
Cons: No IP rating, runs hot, battery life less than ideal, limited reach on telephoto sensor, no macro shooter
Price: Rs. 62,999 (8GB/256GB), Rs. 66,999 (12GB/256GB)
Tushar Kanwar is a tech columnist and commentator, and tweets @2shar