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Xiaomi 12 Pro review

Lightning-fast charging meets refined style in the Xiaomi 12 Pro

A Xiaomi 12 Pro from the front in someone's hand
(Image: © TechRadar)

TechRadar Verdict

The Xiaomi 12 Pro is one of the most balanced phones around, and the fact that it costs just shy of $1,000 means it undercuts the best from Apple, Oppo, and Samsung. It misses out on a good camera zoom, but that's the only real drawback to an otherwise great package - one that combines a refined design that keeps fingerprints at bay with class-leading fast-charging, a zingy screen, and stacks of power.

Pros

  • +

    Refined, sleek, fingerprint-resistant finish

  • +

    Incredibly fast wired charging

  • +

    Brilliant screen quality

Cons

  • -

    Limited optical zoom

  • -

    No official IP rating

  • -

    MIUI 13 is improved but still feels bloated

Two-minute review

Editor's note [April 1, 2022]: we originally published the Xiaomi 12 Pro review with a rating of 4.5 stars. We were provided with the RRP for the handset in US dollars, which we used to base our judgement on where the device sits in the market and the competition it's up against. However, after publishing we received confirmed pricing for the UK which was more expensive than expected, so we have adjusted our rating to 4 stars to reflect its position in the market.

The Xiaomi 12 Pro is the company's newest top-end phone, coming in April alongside a standard Xiaomi 12.

Xiaomi achieved greatness in 2021. For starters, it played musical chairs with Apple for the number two and three spots in the global smartphone shipments league, most recently ranking third in Q4 2021 according to Counterpoint (opens in new tab). It also tread new turf with its tech - launching the first commercially available smartphone that charges at 120W, the Xiaomi 11T Pro, and a phone with an almost 1-inch camera sensor, the Mi 11 Ultra.

Then there was Xiaomi's budget offering under its Redmi and Poco brands. The Redmi Note 10 Pro was a value champion given its impressive camera specs and screen, and the Poco F3 packed class-leading performance despite a budget price.

That all bodes well for the Xiaomi 12 Pro, a flagship phone with a sub-$1,000 price, and some best-in-class features like its 120W fast charging that powers the phone up fully in under 20 minutes.

The Xiaomi 12 Pro also enjoys the most fingerprint-resistant, velvety frosted finish we’ve stroked on any glass-backed phone to date, and its design is nothing short of luscious, even if it is more slippy than it is grippy. 

Combining a brilliant A+ rated 6.73-inch screen with Samsung’s LTPO AMOLED technology and sharp WQHD+ resolution, visuals shine on the Xiaomi 12 Pro. Matched with quad speakers sporting Harman Kardon tuning and support for Dolby Atmos, the phone also sounds expansive, even if it’s beaten by the speaker champ – Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Internals chew through most games well – unsurprisingly given the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip inside the Xiaomi 12 Pro, and matched with up to 12GB LPDDR5 RAM – you’ll be hard-pressed to get more for less. The phone’s 128GB or 256GB UFS 3.1 storage also impresses, though there’s no SD card slot, just a dual SIM slot.

A Xiaomi 12 Pro from the front in someone's hand

(Image credit: TechRadar)

On paper, the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s camera is one of the weakest of any flagship. With a weak optical zoom and an ultra-wide camera that lacks autofocus – so can’t lock on to close-up objects - photography nuts who love pinching into scenes should look elsewhere. Nevertheless, the main 50MP camera is excellent, and the system actually works great as a whole, with smart software to help it get reliably good results, and consistent color balance. 

Then there’s the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s battery capacity and charging speeds. While the capacity isn’t huge at 4600mAh, it’s optimized to get through a full day with between 10-20 percent power remaining. 

What’s more impressive than the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s battery life is its charging speed. Powering up in just 18 minutes, the 120W charging is the fastest on any phone around right now. That the Xiaomi 12 Pro also has 50W wireless charging is just a sweetener to a very rounded smartphone spec mix. 

So while Xiaomi hasn't made the best camera phone of 2022, or the longest-lasting, by ticking every box most people likely care about and packaging great features up in a sleek, premium body, the Xiaomi 12 Pro is one of the best Android phones, and certainly one of the best Xiaomi phones.

Xiaomi 12 Pro release date and price

Starting at $999 / £1,049 for the 8GB RAM 128GB storage option, the Xiaomi 12 Pro undercuts phones like the iPhone 13 Pro Max, Oppo Find X5 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra – all of which cost more than $1,000. 

In its base 128GB storage / 8GB RAM model, Xiaomi’s flagship is as expensive as the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus and iPhone 13 Pro. Also available with 256GB storage / 12GB RAM, at the time of writing, pricing of this higher-capacity model is yet to be confirmed. 

The Xiaomi 12 releases on April 15, with pre-orders starting April 1.

A Xiaomi 12 Pro from the back in someone's hand

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Xiaomi 12 Pro design

We enjoyed the Xiaomi Mi 11’s design when we reviewed it. It was fun, with confident but refined color options; most importantly, the phone looked good. A year on, Xiaomi’s brought back a frosted finish, but it’s taken the 12 series in an altogether more premium direction.

The squircle camera surround is now a more mature rounded rectangle; the frosted back is now a rich, silken finish that’s lustrous, still velvety to the touch, and supremely fingerprint resistant; and the color options are downplayed.

Available in Blue, Gray, and Purple, none are eye-popping or bright, with each color being slightly muted. This might sound bland, but it actually looks refined and ultimately grown up - even in the most ‘out there’ color, Purple. 

Whichever color you go for, the Xiaomi 12 Pro is a curved glass and metal phone. The display is Gorilla Glass Victus, while the frame is a matte, blasted metal that’s loosely color-matched with the back panel of the phone. 

Weighing 205g, the Xiaomi 12 Pro is the same weight as an iPhone 13 Pro, and significantly lighter than the 240g Pro Max. It’s relatively slim at 8.2mm, though its tapered sides make it feel very elegant.

A Xiaomi 12 Pro's top edge

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The fact that Xiaomi doesn’t have an IP rating for the 12 Pro, meaning it isn’t certified for dust and water resistance, is curious. It was likely, a cost-saving decision; still, the SIM tray features a rubber seal customarily found on IP68-rated phones. We got the phone very wet thanks to a British spring shower and found with no issues; nevertheless, don’t dunk or douse your phone based on our experience. 

Also worth noting, the screen’s touch sensitivity works great even when being pelted by water droplets or handled with wet fingers. 

Ports and buttons are in predictable locations, and speaker grilles bookend the screen at the top and bottom: power and volume buttons are on the right, and a dual-SIM slot is at the base. On the front, it’s just curved glass and screen, while around the back is a stepped camera surround.

Xiaomi 12 Pro display

Xiaomi has dialed back the screen sizes for its entire 12 series. Last year’s Mi 11 has a 6.81-inch screen, while the Xiaomi 12 Pro clocks in at 6.73 inches. Smaller still, the Xiaomi 12 screen is just 6.28 inches. Less size doesn’t mean lower quality though. 

The 12 Pro uses a Samsung LTPO AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. Xiaomi claims the variable refresh rate ranges from 1-120Hz, which should result in power saving benefits over phones like the Galaxy S22 Plus, whose screen drops down to 48Hz at the lower end. Indeed, swiping through the UI and scrolling through Twitter are smooth endeavors that match up to the best of the rest in side-by-side comparisons.

It’s also handy you can set the refresh rate to 90Hz, and the resolution to 1080p (at a software level), so you can save battery if need be.

A close up of the Xiaomi 12 Pro's screen

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The Xiaomi 12 Pro’s screen is also sharp with its WQHD+ resolution, giving it a pixel density of 521PPI – higher than an iPhone 13 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus; and with a superior peak brightness to most phones at 1500 nits, HDR10+ video looks fantastic, and outdoor viewability is no problem. 

Side-by-side with some of the best phones around, the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s brightness comes into its own during video playback, with bright elements shining brilliantly. Colors are displayed accurately, and the phone has a range of display modes, with more granular control over color and white balance than most competitors.

Xiaomi 12 Pro cameras

On paper, the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s camera is one of the weakest of any flagship. It has less reach with its optical zoom than the lower-cost Pixel 6 Pro, and the phone’s ultra-wide camera lacks autofocus, which the Oppo Find X3 Pro and Find X5 Pro feature. That means the Xiaomi 12 Pro can’t lock on to close-up objects with its widest field of view. 

In reality, the phone’s triple 50MP camera mix still works great, with smart software helping it capture reliably good results, even if it isn’t class-leading. 

Starting with specs, the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s primary 50MP camera is powered by an IMX707 Sony sensor. Measuring 1/1.28 inches, while it isn’t as large as the 1/1.12 sensor in the Mi 11 Ultra, it’s still one of the biggest camera sensors on the market, out-sizing that of the Galaxy S22 Ultra and Sony Xperia Pro-I.

A Xiaomi 12 Pro's rear cameras

(Image credit: TechRadar)

This explains why photos taken on the Xiaomi 12 Pro pack pleasing depth, which, matched with excellent autofocus helps subjects pop. This shallow depth of field is helped by the primary camera’s f/1.9 aperture and seven-element lens. 

In terms of clarity, the main camera produces slightly sharper photos than a top-tier iPhone, while still capturing accurate colors that tend to extend to the wide and ultra-wide camera well. 

While all the cameras are 50MP in resolution, only the main camera benefits from such a large sensor, so the telephoto and ultra-wide additions, which feature Samsung Isocell JN1 sensors, fall behind on quality. The ultra-wide camera has great color accuracy and a 115º field of view, though, misses out on autofocus just like the Galaxy S22 series.

Meanwhile, the two-times zoom camera is weak on detail owing to a limited optical reach, so if you’re a big pinching zoomer, you might want to give the Xiaomi 12 Pro a miss. It’s out-performed by the iPhone 13 Pro and OnePlus 9 Pro, two cameras not known for their great zoom range. Nevertheless, phones like the Realme GT 2 Pro and Pixel 6 lack any optical zoom, so Xiaomi’s camera is far from a write-off.

Video capture on the Xiaomi 12 Pro is excellent in bright environments, with image stabilization working well even in 8K resolution, or 4K at 60 frames per second. Switching between the ultra-wide and main camera is smooth mid-record, though video capture appears to bypass the telephoto camera unless you start the recording zoomed-in.

In dim environments, the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s video quality loses out to the OPPO Find X5 Pro with its dedicated nighttime video ISP, and the Galaxy S22 Ultra, matching the S22 and S22 Plus more closely.

The 32MP selfie camera uses an OmniVision sensor, and while we haven’t had great results from the brand in the past, Xiaomi ekes out impressive photos from it, especially in well-lit scenes.

Xiaomi 12 Pro camera samples

Xiaomi 12 Pro performance and specs

With top-tier power, the Xiaomi 12 Pro is a capable gaming phone, and also tears through day-to-day tasks without getting too hot. 

Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, it’s unsurprising that performance across almost all apps we used was so impressive. The version we tested also features an ample 12GB LPDDR5 RAM, so we didn’t expect any slowdown when switching between a bunch of apps. 

Benchmarks match up to other Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 phones, with the 12 Pro scoring on average, around 3600 in GeekBench 5.1 (multi-core), and between 8,000 and 9,899 in 3DMark Wild Life. While this falls behind gaming phones like the ZTE Nubia Red Magic 7, it’s about as good as it gets for an Android that doesn’t sport gaming phone styling.

The Xiaomi 12 Pro’s 128GB or 256GB UFS 3.1 storage also gives you plenty of optional space for files and apps, though there’s no SD card slot, just a dual SIM slot, so file hoarders might want to opt for the higher-capacity model.

A game being played on a Xiaomi 12 Pro

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Matched with quad speakers sporting Harman Kardon tuning and support for Dolby Atmos, the phone also sounds expansive and loud, though falls behind the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max when it comes to rounded audio and depth in the bass notes.

In the past, we’ve had issues with in-display fingerprint scanners on Xiaomi phones, but found the 12 Pro’s to be responsive, getting us into our phone quickly – especially when matched with face unlocking. 

Running Android 12 with Xiaomi’s MIUI interface over the top, there’s no doubt this is the best version of MIUI we’ve seen to date. Niggles experienced in the past – dark mode preventing interactive notifications from appearing clearly, the Control Center firing up glitches, and poor localization, amongst others, were all taken care of in the latest update. 

MIUI still feels a bit bloated, with AliExpress and a host of Xiaomi apps pre-installed, but the fact it at least looks consistent and runs glitch-free is a huge step in the right direction.

The Xiaomi 12 Pro's 'About phone' screen

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Xiaomi 12 Pro battery life

The Xiaomi 12 Pro’s battery capacity isn’t huge at 4600mAh, with most flagships clocking in at around 5000mAh these days. Nevertheless, the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s battery is still larger than that of the S22 Plus and the iPhone 13 Pro Max, two phones that make it through a day pretty comfortably.

In turn, we weren’t shocked that the Xiaomi 12 Pro easily got us from morning to night in our month with it, though it definitely isn’t a two-day smartphone.

There are a host of power settings to help eke out a bit more longevity out of a single charge, or indeed, drain the phone quicker. Performance mode enhances gaming oomph while using more power, while Battery Saver shuts off background processes, and Ultra Battery Saver disables all but the most basic features of the phone.

A Xiaomi 12 Pro from the front in someone's hand

(Image credit: TechRadar)

What’s more impressive than the battery life of the Xiaomi 12 Pro is its charging speed, which climbs up to 120W for a full charge in under 20 minutes. This is the fastest charging of any widely available smartphone in the West, alongside the Xiaomi 11T Pro.

While phones have historically given wireless charging a miss if they’ve packed class-leading wired speeds, Xiaomi crams fast 50W wireless charging in too and 10W reverse wireless charging. This means it can wirelessly charge at around double the rate an iPhone 13 Pro charges with a wire – very impressive. 

When you’re not in a rush, Xiaomi’s AdaptiveCharge slows things right down, so you can scale your charging speed to match your needs either manually or automatically. 

Should you buy the Xiaomi 12 Pro?

A close up of the Xiaomi 12 Pro's screen

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Buy it if...

You want the fastest-charging flagship phone around
The Xiaomi 12 Pro’s nippy 120W charging can power it up fully in 20 minutes, which is incredibly handy. Perfect for anyone as forgetful as us when it comes to a nightly charge, even the phone’s wireless charging speeds are fast at 50W (when using a Xiaomi wireless turbo charger). 

You hate fingerprints but don’t want to use a case
The Xiaomi 12 Pro is one of the most fingerprint-repellant glass-backed mobiles we’ve ever used. It looks box fresh even after a day of gaming, photo taking, and messaging, so even if you don’t want to use a case, you’ll still have a smudge-free smartphone.

You want an all-around great flagship phone
The Xiaomi 12 Pro doesn’t really drop the ball in any major area. Its weakest features – the ultra-wide and telephoto cameras are still good enough, even if they aren’t great, and everything from its design to its screen, performance, and battery tech impress.

Don't buy it if...

You need excellent camera zoom
While the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s main camera is great, its telephoto camera isn’t. With an equivalent two-times zoom, it pales in comparison to the 10-times zoom of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, and even the four-times zoom of the Google Pixel 6 Pro, or three-times zoom iPhone 13 Pro.

You want a stock Android interface
There’s no doubt the Xiaomi 12 Pro and its MIUI 13 interface are much better than any version of MIUI we’ve used before it. That said, MIUI is far from stock Android, with Xiaomi’s iOS style control panel, smart home integration and third-party and Xiaomi apps loaded up. If you fancy a stock experience, opt for a Pixel. 

You prefer flat screens
The Xiaomi 12 Pro’s curved AMOLED screen looks glorious, but we know some people prefer flat screens, and we get it. Luckily, Realme’s just launched an excellent alternative, the Realme GT 2 Pro, with comparable power, specs, and a zingy, LTPO 2 AMOLED display.

First reviewed: March 2022

Basil Kronfli is the Head of content at Make Honey and freelance technology journalist. He is an experienced writer and producer and skilled in video production, digital marketing and brand development.