In my book, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra (review) wasn’t just the company’s best foot forward in the premium segment, but the handset was decidedly better than competing devices too. In fact, I remember enjoying my stint with the phone more than the Galaxy S21 Ultra (review), primarily because Xiaomi’s offering was backed by a snappier processor. Well, what a difference a year makes: Samsung, for instance, has ditched its Exynos platform in favour of Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC for the Galaxy S22 range of phones. Furthermore, there are a ton of new entrants in the premium segment, including but not limited to the Realme GT 2 Pro (review) and the iQOO 9 Pro (review). Understandably, Xiaomi has to go at it with hammers and tongs to stand out in 2022. That’s where the Xiaomi 12 Pro comes into play, which is loaded to the brim with incredible features. So, should you grab Xiaomi’s latest or set aside your budget for a different flagship smartphone? Well, let’s find out.
The Xiaomi 12 Pro gets a lot right and from its gorgeous screen to its top-notch SoC, there’s plenty to like about the phone. That said, the handset’s assisting cameras don’t do it any favours and the device runs quite hot too. Regardless, the Xiaomi 12 Pro does more right than wrong and correspondingly, is a decent option in its price segment.
Xiaomi raised a lot of eyebrows with the design of the Mi 11 Ultra, and for good reason. On one hand, the smartphone shipped with a one-of-a-kind OLED screen at the back, which didn’t just double up as a viewfinder to snap selfies with the phone’s main camera, but also displayed the time as well as notifications from various apps. On the other, the smartphone’s sheer heft and its ginormous camera module necessitated two-handed usage at all times. In fact, weighing in at 234 grams and measuring in at 8.34mm, you’d have to throw on a pair of baggy jeans to comfortably accommodate the phone in your pockets.
Now, while the interwebs are ripe with talks of a Xiaomi 12 Ultra which will seemingly be quite bulky too, the company’s current gladiator – the Xiaomi 12 Pro – couldn’t be more different. For one, the device is exquisitely sleek and tips the scales at a modest 205 grams. Correspondingly, you can comfortably use the phone with just one hand. More importantly, unlike the Mi 11 Ultra, the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s design doesn’t scream for your attention. Instead, the handset woos buyers with its sophisticated chassis that is equally befitting of a boardroom setting, as well as a local diner.
The smartphone’s camera module deserves a mention too and I really like the way the camera array has been partitioned to highlight the different sensors. To top it all off, the Xiaomi 12 Pro feels superbly premium to hold, which can be accredited to the handset’s glass-metal build. The back of the phone, in particular, employs a matte finish that feels velvety to the touch. I should also add that the device is layered with Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus on the front, and Gorilla Glass 5 on the back, which should stave off dings and scuffs to a certain degree too. Rest assured, I’ve never wanted to use a phone without a case as much as the Xiaomi 12 Pro.
Be that as it may, saner heads prevailed and I used the bundled TPU case with the device, primarily because the 12 Pro is as slippery as they come. Disappointingly enough, unlike competing devices, the handset doesn’t support any official IP rating either, which will surely hurt the smartphone’s case. On the bright side, I didn’t face any issues with the unit’s in-display fingerprint sensor or facial recognition software. Furthermore, the device offers extremely tight haptics and correspondingly, you’ll revel in typing long paras on the phone.
That’s not all, as the screen refreshes at 120Hz and is backed by LTPO tech too. Correspondingly, the display will automatically drop down the refresh rate to accommodate static or video content, which in turn conserves the device’s battery life as well. Now, I didn’t run into many refresh rate issues during my time with the phone – animations appeared swift, UI transitions felt fluid and the panel adapted to different media-centric apps like Instagram and Twitter rather well too. If anything, I would’ve liked to see lesser colour distortion along the edges of the screen. As things stand, the panel exhibits a noticeable bluish tint when viewing the screen at an angle. On the bright side, the device ships with a fantastic speaker setup that comprises two tweeters and two woofers for each channel. The array gets extremely loud and offers ample stereo separation too. All said and done, the Xiaomi 12 Pro is quite possibly, the best smartphone to watch movies and videos in its price segment.
That said, I noticed that the phone ran a tad warmer than most Snap 8 Gen 1 devices. Now, Xiaomi claims the smartphone ships with a dedicated vapour chamber for cooling, however, the device temps skyrocketed the minute I ran a resource-hungry game like BGMI or used the camera app for a bit. Clearly, the smartphone’s cooling mechanism isn’t working as advertised, which is probably why the Xiaomi 12 Pro throttled by quite some margin in the CPU throttling test too. To wit, the handset throttled to 60 percent of its peak performance, and the device netted 47.7 percent stability in 3D Mark’s Wildlife Extreme test as well. In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra dipped to 68 percent of its peak performance in the throttling test and averaged 60.8 percent stability across 20 loops in 3D Mark’s Wildlife Extreme Stress test. All things considered, the Xiaomi 12 Pro is a capable performer although leveraging the handset’s horsepower for longer periods of time could be iffy.
Now, try as I might, I couldn’t get the Xiaomi 12 Pro to last me a full day off a single charge. Your mileage could vary, especially if you cap the display refresh rate, or opt to use the phone in balanced mode. But, with the display set to refresh at 120Hz and the device operating in performance mode, I was looking for a charging outlet by the evening. Thankfully, the smartphone ships with a 120W brick that can charge the phone in a jiffy. As for software, the Xiaomi 12 Pro boots MIUI 13 on top of Android 12. The custom skin needs no introduction and buyers eyeing the phone will be greeted with a slew of useful features like a secure folder as well as a baked-in screen recorder. That said, the interface doesn’t gel well with third-party launchers and you’ll have to contend with on-screen navigation buttons if you choose to use a custom utility like Nova launcher on the phone. That’s quite disappointing, as the company’s default launcher doesn’t support third-party icon packs either. Furthermore, the handset ships with some bloatware, which might not sit well with buyers looking to invest in a premium smartphone.
Camera-wise, the Xiaomi 12 Pro doesn’t leave much to luck. The device is backed by a trio of 50MP sensors comprising a Sony IMX707 main sensor, a Samsung JN1 UW sensor with 115-degree FoV and a 50MP telephoto camera. For selfies, the device gets a 32MP snapper upfront. Do note that the smartphone’s main camera supports OIS as well.
So, are the cameras on the Xiaomi 12 Pro flagship-grade? Well, if you tend to take a lot of photos with your phone’s main sensor, then you’ll probably feel right at home with the Xiaomi 12 Pro. In fact, I noticed that the 50MP unit on the 12 Pro offered better sensor details than the Galaxy S22 Ultra. Now, I am working on an in-depth comparison between the duo, which should be up shortly but for the time being, allow me to humour you with the slider attached below.
Here, the image on the right has been shot from the Xiaomi 12 Pro, whereas the one on the left was shot with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. Now, you’d be wise to assume that the shot from Samsung’s latest is truer to life. In fact, the colour of the leaves, as well as that of the flower pots appears more saturated in the 12 Pro’s composition.