Xiaomi 12 Pro Review: Hit Hardware, So-So Software
Forget the name: the Xiaomi 12 Pro is really the direct successor to last year’s Xiaomi Mi 11.
A re-shuffle in Xiaomi’s flagship line-up has introduced the smaller Xiaomi 12, now giving the Chinese company a pair of high-end phones in different sizes to directly rival Samsung’s Galaxy S22 and S22+ – with a 12 Ultra rumoured to arrive later this year to take on Samsung’s own Ultra handset.
Being pitted directly against the S22+ (not to mention the likes of the Oppo Find X5 Pro and OnePlus 10 Pro) gives the Xiaomi 12 Pro a lot to live up to. For the most part the hardware here is clearly up to the task, matching its rivals in most of the places it counts, though the battery life lets the side down.
Software issues hinder the experience further, with both bugs and awkward interfaces, and the result is a phone that impresses a lot but still feels like it’s lagging behind the pack.
Design & build
- Sleek, simple design
- Large screen
- No IP rating
If there’s a design philosophy to the Xiaomi 12 Pro, it seems to be ‘attractive but conservative’.
In a year where Oppo is further exploring moulded glass camera modules, OnePlus shifted to a wrap-around design, and Samsung offered two separate designs within the same S22 series, Xiaomi has played it relatively safe.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. Available in grey, purple, or blue (China’s green leather model doesn’t seem to have made it to the international launch, sadly), the 12 Pro is sleek and simple, with only a slight glitter to the finish that helps catch the eye.
The camera module is especially restrained by modern standards, but I love it. The over-sized main lens naturally draws the attention, but subtler touches appeal more: the fact that the other two lens are flush with the module, the offset weighting, the just-barely-there dividing lines that carve the whole thing up into a grid.
It’s not just how the phone looks – Xiaomi has nailed how the 12 Pro feels. Curved edges to both the body and display keep the phone comfortable to hold despite the relatively large 6.73in display (look to the Xiaomi 12 for a smaller alternative) and at 205g it isn’t too heavy either. Throw in an almost satiny finish to the glass and the phone is a joy to fidget with.
Durability is a bit of a concern though. The 12 Pro has no official IP rating guaranteeing protection from water or dust, and while it uses tough Gorilla Glass Victus on the display, it’s the weaker Gorilla Glass 5 found on the rear. After only a couple of weeks, the grey finish of my review unit has already picked up a few micro-scratches that seem to be removing the paint.
Display & audio
- High resolution AMOLED display
- 1-120Hz dynamic refresh rate
- Quad speakers
The Xiaomi 12 Pro has an excellent display, up there with the best you’ll find in a phone right now.
The 6.73in AMOLED panel boasts a high WQHD+ resolution, excellent peak brightness of 1500 nits (which helps drive Dolby Vision and HDR 10+ content), and uses LTPO tech so that it can scale the refresh rate from 1-120Hz – giving you benefits to the battery on static screens, and smooth scrolling and animations when appropriate.
As display quality improves it’s become harder and harder to pull phones apart from it – the equivalent Oppo and OnePlus flagships both feature panels that are just as good, though this does have the S22+ beat – that phone sticks to a lower FHD+ resolution and can’t drop its refresh rate as low when needed.
Audio is a little harder to call. On paper the 12 Pro should impress thanks to quad speakers tuned by Harman Kardon, though in practice I was a little disappointed. There’s a muddiness to the sound profile, especially at higher volumes, that sees instruments run together in the mix. It’s actually most noticeable in regular speech, with a lack of crispness to podcasts or audio language lessons in Duolingo.
Specs & performance
- Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset
- 8 or 12GB RAM
- 256GB non-expandable storage
It’s certainly difficult to fault the 12 Pro’s specs or performance. Powered by the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, the phone also offers either 8 or 12GB of RAM and a fixed 256GB of non-expandable storage.
The phone is fast and smooth in daily use and will be more than capable of any standard phone tasks up to and including serious mobile gaming. Unlike some similarly specced phones, I haven’t found it liable to overheat during demanding work, which can be a performance limiter in other devices.
That performance is reflected in the benchmarks, which show that the 12 Pro is clearly on a par with its rivals – though as we’ve seen with other phones this year, on the CPU-focussed Geekbench 5 test it’s actually slipped behind last year’s Mi 11, while showing clear year-on-year improvement in the graphics-based GFXBench tests.
Performance is almost identical to the similar Oppo Find X5 Pro, and while the likes of the Realme GT 2 Pro and Exynos-powered Galaxy S22+ outpace the Xiaomi on graphical benchmarks, this is only because their chips are driving lower resolution displays.
Naturally, the 12 Pro also offers 5G connectivity, with dual-SIM support, and this is joined by Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, and Wi-Fi 6 or 6E – though Xiaomi warns that the exact Wi-Fi version varies by region.
Battery life & charging
- Just about one-day battery life
- Extreme 120W wired charging
- 50W wireless charging
When it comes to power management, the 12 Pro is the definition of a mixed bag.
Battery life is, to be blunt, poor – both in our PCMark benchmark test, and in day-to-day use. Even with relatively light use, I found that the phone only barely makes it to bedtime, despite what should be a sufficient 4600mAh cell.
That’s with both refresh rate and resolution set to vary dynamically – which should help conserve power – and the phone’s ‘Balanced’ power profile enabled.
The phone hasn’t yet died on me before the end of the day, but I’d be hesitant about relying on the battery if my routine involved more gaming, GPS navigation, video recording, or other power-intensive tasks.
Strangely, the phone’s battery monitor blames Wi-Fi as the biggest battery drain, which sounds like either a software error or an optimisation problem. With a bit of luck, that means this is an issue that Xiaomi can patch up and improve.
To compensate for the battery problems, the 12 Pro does excel at charging. Xiaomi ships the phone with an astonishing 120W wired charger, which it says can deliver a full charge in 18 minutes, though in my testing it didn’t quite hit those speeds – it reached 70% charge in 15 minutes. The small print is that to get at that full speed you have to manually enable the ‘Boost’ charging mode, which is likely to accelerate battery degradation.
You might then prefer to leave it off. Even without it, in my test the 12 Pro topped up to 66% battery in just 15 minutes, and was at a full charge before the half-hour mark.
The phone also supports wireless charging, and reverse wireless charging for other devices. When charging itself, the phone can charge at up to 50W using Xiaomi’s official wireless charger, though it’ll hit much lower speeds on typical third-party Qi wireless chargers.
Camera & video
- Triple 50Mp rear cameras
- New Sony IMX707 sensor
- 32Mp selfie camera
Xiaomi has proven itself an industry leader in camera stakes over the last few years, and unsurprisingly the 12 Pro impresses here.
That huge main rear camera lens is at the heart of things, powered by Sony’s 50Mp, 1/1.28in IMX707 sensor – in fact, the 12 Pro is the only phone to use the component so far.
In good lighting, detail is excellent from this lens. Colours are punchy and vibrant, though the tones are slightly on the exaggerated side of natural. At times the dynamic range feels a little limited, with details lost in darker spots and some direct light blown out, but not so much as to be a critical failing.
Main lens results impress at night too. Using the dedicated night mode preserves a fraction more detail and dynamic range, but hardly enough to be worth digging through menus for it – the auto mode is perfectly sufficient. This isn’t quite the best low light camera around (the Vivo X70 Pro+ still wears that crown), but it’s quick, reliable, and impressive for the price.
That main lens is joined by two smaller shooters, though don’t write them off. Both the ultrawide and the 2x telephoto zoom lens use 50Mp, though they use smaller Samsung sensors.
Despite that, their strengths and weaknesses are similar, albeit exaggerated. Detail is excellent, but dynamic range can be lacking and they struggle more than most when faced with bright, direct light. Even without optical image stabilisation the telephoto holds its own surprisingly well at night, preserving detail and exposing light almost as well as the main sensor, though the ultrawide has a sharper quality drop in low light.
On the front of the phone, the 32Mp selfie camera produces beautiful results in the right lighting (albeit with the same caveats around dynamic range), though struggles seriously at night, producing soft, murky images that look like they should come from a much cheaper device.
As for video, you can shoot at [email protected] across all three rear lenses, with an [email protected] option restricted to the main camera. The selfie lens caps out at [email protected]
Video recording is supported by some new focus tracking tech, which will help when filming pets, kids, or other fast-moving subjects – though they do have to stay fairly central and large in the frame for the tracking to work.
Software & updates
- Android 12
- MIUI 13
- Three Android version updates
The Xiaomi 12 Pro ships with Android 12, running Xiaomi’s MIUI 13 on top.
I’ve long said that Xiaomi phones have been let down by the company’s take on Android, and unfortunately, nothing’s changed in that respect.
MIUI is unintuitive and frustrating by modern Android standards. The settings menu is cluttered and complex, with controls laid out in sections you’d never expect to find them. Some UI choices – like a split control centre and notification tray, each accessed by swiping from a different side of the screen – are shamelessly cribbed from Apple, but ill-suited to Android.
To top it all off, the phone comes pre-installed with apps like Facebook, TikTok, and Joom, with ads included for more.
While Xiaomi has included all of the key privacy and security features of Android 12 into its latest MIUI version, it’s omitted one of the OS update’s most appealing features, Material You. There’s no sign of this option to tweak the phone’s colour palette based on your chosen wallpaper, even though it’s perhaps the main user-facing feature of Android 12.
It doesn’t help that I’ve encountered a few bugs in my time with the 12 Pro, too. Dark Mode occasionally generates visual artifacting in the settings menu; once the alarm went off but was impossible to find to deactivate; and some interaction with the Android 12 privacy features prevents the microphone from activating at all for speech lessons in Duolingo. I’ve had none of these issues on other Android 12 devices.
Xiaomi’s current policy is to issue its flagships with three years of Android updates and a fourth of security patches, which should see this phone get Android 13, 14, and 15. That’s roughly typical for high-end Android phones, though lags behind Samsung’s promise of four years of updates for its phones, or Apple’s market-leading approach to long-term support.
Price & availability
While the Xiaomi 12 Pro has now officially launched worldwide, we don’t yet know exactly when it will go on sale everywhere, with launch dates likely to vary by market – though the UK will get it some time in April. And despite the ‘global’ launch, you shouldn’t expect to see the phone officially go on sale in North America.
Despite that, Xiaomi has announced pricing in US dollars for now, with other currencies to follow. The 12 Pro will start from $999 for the 8+256GB model, with the 12+256GB version to cost more – though the company hasn’t yet said how much.
For comparison, the regular Xiaomi 12 starts from $749. Head to our guide to where to buy the Xiaomi 12 series for the latest info on pricing, availability, and deals.
It’s probably no coincidence that this is the exact starting price of the Galaxy S22+ in the US, though for that price the Samsung phone ships with half the storage. It’s a little cheaper than the £1,049/€1,299 Oppo Find X5 Pro, and will likely also cost slightly less than the OnePlus 10 Pro when that launches later this month.
Check out our pick of all the best Android flagships for more options (or the best phones in general, if you’re not against an iPhone), or just take a look at our ranking of the best Xiaomi phones to see how the rest of the company’s line-up stacks up.
The Xiaomi 12 Pro has an awful lot going for it, but that’s coupled with a pair of major flaws.
I love the sleek, understated design. I love the beautiful display and the impressive performance. And I (mostly) love the camera, which is a solid performer, if not quite best-in-class.
Unfortunately, the battery life is a clear failing, and the software suffers too – both from accidental bugs and intentional design choices. Some of these failings could well be fixed with updates, but for the moment they frustrate.
That’s not enough to stop me from recommending the Xiaomi 12 Pro, but it is enough to make me encourage you to take a close look at the phone’s rivals before you commit.
Xiaomi 12 Pro: Specs
- Android 12 w/ MIUI 13
- 6.73in WQHD+ LTPO AMOLED 120Hz curved display, 20:9, 480Hz touch sampling, HDR10+, Dolby Vision
- In-display fingerprint sensor
- Gorilla Glass Victus
- 4nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
- 8/12GB RAM LPDDR5
- 256GB UFS 3.1 non-expandable storage
- 50Mp, f/1.9 main camera with OIS
- 50Mp, f/2.2 ultrawide camera
- 50Mp, f/1.9 2x zoom telephoto camera
- 32Mp, f/2.45 front-facing camera
- Quad speakers with Dolby Atmos
- WiFi 6/6E (market-dependent)
- Bluetooth 5.2
- 4600mAh battery
- 120W wired charging
- 50W wireless charging
- 10W reverse wireless charging
- 163.6 x 74.6 x 8.16mm
- Launch colours: Grey, Purple, Blue