Camera comparison: Xiaomi 12 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro vs Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Pixel 6 Pro



Over the years, Xiaomi has slowly but steadily crept into the global market with its feature-rich flagships. It’s a brand that’s dominant in China, but thanks to gradually releasing its flagships and some experimental phones on international markets, nowadays there’s barely a smartphone fan that hasn’t heard about Xiaomi.The Xiaomi 12 Pro is the company’s latest flagship — here to take on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy and iPhone, as long as you are looking for a quirky alternative to the mundane.

And since a huge part of the smartphone experience is its camera performance — of course we wanted to test how the Xiaomi 12 Pro does against the iPhone 13 Pro, Galaxy S22 Ultra, and Pixel 6 Pro.

These are all sort of in the same price bracket — the Xiaomi 12 Pro starts at $999, making it more expensive than the $899 Pixel 6 Pro, but cheaper than the $1,199 Galaxy S22 Ultra. Of course, Samsung does continually run trade-in promos, so that price comparison is kind of moot.

In any case — these are the best phones that their respective brands have to offer, so lets pit their cameras against each other, shall we?

Scene 1: Go this way

Two things instantly pop up at us from this scene. The Xiaomi 12 Pro details look a bit smooth and soft compared to any one of the competitor phones. It also favors vibrant colors, vith the saturation dialed slightly up.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra meets the Xiaomi in saturation, but their hues are slightly different. The Xiaomi 12 Pro leans more towards the yellow-ish warmth, while the S22 Ultra is a bit redish.

The iPhone 13 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro retained more grounded, earthy tones. But ultimately, I like the colors and contrast of the Pixel 6 Pro in this photo best.

Scene 2: Fit for graffiti

Very different color performance from each contender here. But first things first — we are starting to notice a trend. Again, the Xiaomi 12 Pro details look less sharp than any of the other cameras. It’s not that they are bad, it’s just that edges look less defined, smoother than the others. Maybe that’s a general style Xiaomi is going for.

As for colors — each of these photos is pleasant in their own way. The Xiaomi 12 Pro colors look very close to the natural colors of the Pixel 6 Pro.

But I like the iPhone 13 Pro’s color reproduction here the best — there is a lot of contrast between the different hues, so different colors and strokes pop out very dramatically. It may look less vibrant than the rest of the photos, but I’d just open the Photos app and dial up Saturation by a couple of percent.

Scene 3: Crosswalk climber

Great contrast control from the Xiaomi 12 Pro here — despite the fact that the picture was on the shaded side of a black object, we don’t get the sense that it’s underexposed. In fact, we can very clearly see and enjoy the whole thing.The iPhone 13 Pro photo is a bit desaturated, so is the Pixel 6 Pro picture on top of being slightly underexposed.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra picture is also great and you can, again, spot a slight difference in color balancing. The Xiaomi 12 Pro picture is warm-yellowish, while the S22 Ultra leans just a bit towards magenta, giving it a very slightly colder feel.

Scene 4: Do a twirl, that’s a good trick

I kind of feel like, in this scene, Xiaomi’s choice to go softer on details is working in its favor. Every other photo looks slightly jagged around the fine details. If you can’t see it in the statue, look at the grass and bushes below.

Otherwise, also notice how exceptionally good all of these phones are at handling dynamics. The sky is clear, the shadows are visible. If I had to grade them, I’d say the Pixel and Xiaomi did best with the dynamics here, as the core of the statue is most visible on their photos.

Scene 5: Which way to the opera?

Great dynamics from all phones once again. Color performance is also close, except for the iPhone, which looks more earthy than the others.

The Pixel 6 Pro, however, really takes the cake in this scene thanks to its great details — on the statue and on the building’s exterior there.

Scene 6: Smile for the camera

The Xiaomi 12 Pro picture here is bright and vibrant. Maybe a smidgen too much. The Pixel 6 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro are the most realistic shots here, but the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s looks the most… “fun”.

Scene 7: A day at the museum

The Xiaomi 12 Pro’s tendency to smoothen details here resulted in something being lost from the photo. That sculpture in the center there is interesting because it has a human figure carved into the stone.

The Pixel 6 Pro managed to grab that figure best and portray it in a way that draws the eyes, with the iPhone 13 Pro being in second place.

Great dynamics from all phones, though.

Scene 8: Times zoom by

We will be zooming in on the clock over there in the distance.

Now, the Xiaomi 12 Pro is pretty thin and light, which is definitely something different among current-day flagships. However, that means it couldn’t fit a mega zoom lens of any sort.

It does have a telephoto camera, but it’s only a 2x optical zoom. For comparison, the iPhone 13 Pro and Galaxy S22 Ultra have 3x telephoto lenses, and the S22 Ultra even has another 10x lens on top of that. The Pixel 6 Pro has a 4x telephoto camera.

So, moving to the zoom test, let’s start with 5x from all phones:

Instantly, you can see the Xiaomi 12 Pro is struggling with exposure and its details already look blurry. The iPhone 13 Pro is also a bit underexposed, but its details look fine. The Galaxy S22 Ultra and Pixel 6 Pro did exceptionally well — like it’s a walk in the park for them.

At 10x, things are not getting any better for the Xiaomi, but at least it managed to capture some nice colors. The iPhone 13 Pro looks more detailed in comparison, but as soon as you move on to the S22 Ultra and Pixel 6 Pro shots, they absolutely crush the competition. The S22 Ultra looks incredibly sharp, thanks to having an actual 10x camera to work with, while the Pixel captured the most realistic colors here.

At 20x, the iPhone has already tapped out since it can only go up to 15x. The Xiaomi’s picture doesn’t look like anything you’d be looking to share, the Pixel 6 Pro looks pretty fine, and the Galaxy S22 Ultra absolutely crushed it.

Scene 9: Epic

All of these phones have ultra-wide cameras, so let’s check them out!

The Xiaomi 12 Pro gave us a very vibrant and bright picture, certainly a bit more interesting to look at than the iPhone 13 Pro and Galaxy S22 Ultra. However, the Pixel 6 Pro also has some vibrancy here, plus it handled dynamics better.

Scene 10: Why don’t you take a seat?

Another ultrawide test.

Great colorful photos from all sides here. Again, the iPhone 13 Pro stays a bit more neutral, a bit more grounded, while the others aren’t afraid of dialing that vibrancy up a little.

The Xiaomi 12 Pro looks close to the Pixel 6 Pro photo, but with a bit more exposure. Not bad, but the S22 Ultra also manages to look pleasing by striking a balance between saturation and realism.

Scene 11: I hear you talk to fish

A bit of a challenge here, as I turned the ultrawide cameras up towards the blazing sun. The Xiaomi 12 Pro handled the scorching dynamics perfectly, but its representation of details didn’t do the statue service. Plus, the sky looks a bit too blue.

The statue actually kind of looks best in the iPhone 13 Pro photo, but that’s also the phone that burned out the sun the most. The Pixel 6 Pro tried way too hard to over-correct with HDR and the statue looks unnatural. The Galaxy S22 Ultra is also very solid here with great dynamics and great, natural colors.

Scene 12: Sit still for a treat

Let’s try out Portrait Mode. The Galaxy S22 Ultra here made a very enticing, detailed, colorful portrait with very good background separation. The iPhone 13 Pro is a close second and the Pixel 6 Pro isn’t bad at all but went too hard with oversharpening. The Xiaomi 12 Pro… I don’t think Portrait Mode is its strong suit.

Scene 13: Selfie time!

OK, time to see how these selfie cameras are performing. The Xiaomi 12 Pro defaults to a beautify mode, which you have to turn off manually. And even then, the details of my face look a bit washed out and there’s an almost bloom-like effect over my skin. That aside, the details in my beard and my hat look pretty fine.

The iPhone 13 Pro and S22 Ultra look more honest in their representation, but I look a bit yellowish in them. The Pixel 6 Pro did grab a more accurate, if oversaturated, skintone.

Scene 14: Selfie portrait

The Xiaomi seems great with dynamics when taking a normal photo, but doesn’t do so well in portrait mode, as you can see from the absolute burnout here. Again, details look fine in the photo with the exception that my skin seems to have some slight smoothening applied, despite the fact that I keep beautify off.

The Pixel 6 Pro absolutely nailed dynamics, details, and skin tone here, but looks ever so slightly underexposed. The iPhone 13 Pro is close to it in all aspects, but burnt out the highlights more. The Galaxy S22 Ultra is fine, but so so yellow.

Night time

Worth noting, the Xiaomi 12 Pro does have a Night Mode, which will kick in automatically if the phone detects that it’s too dark for a normal photo — much like how all other competitors here will react. However, in none of these photos — not one — did the Xiaomi 12 Pro switch to Night Mode by itself, while the other phones did.Still, the shutter speed was quite slow — about 0.07 seconds for most photos. Apparently, Xiaomi will only consider that you are in night mode if it needs to set the shutter speed to 1 second or slower.

I am making a point of this because the other phones in this comparison were capable of hitting shutter speeds of up to 0.048 seconds with Night Mode off. In other words — I felt the Xiaomi 12 Pro didn’t give me an easy control over shutter speed. Yes, there is “Pro Mode”, but by the time I set that up, the moment could be gone.

Since I am nitpicking — the Pixel 6 Pro’s Night Mode is so-o-o slo-o-ow! And it was very apparent as I was juggling the 4 different phones.

All that said…

Scene 15: The sun’s down

Night Mode is off here and phones have similar shutter speeds. Great job in lighting and dynamics from all phones, it’s really hard to pick a favorite. But the iPhone 13 Pro photo certainly looks least enticing with its yellow-ish colors and soft details.

Scene 16: The park is empty

Great work on the colors and lighting from the Xiaomi here. Sadly, the soft details make the photo look a bit… well, soft. The iPhone 13 Pro did a great job here for overall balance between colors, dynamics, and details. The S22 Ultra follows it closely.

The Pixel 6 Pro looks a bit darker and weirdly greenish. Digging through the EXIF data reveals that the Pixel chose a super-fast shutter speed here — 0.04 seconds. The other phones shot at 0.058 for the iPhone and Galaxy and 0.07 for the Xiaomi.

Scene 17: Shutter speed playground

OK, here’s a good example of how these phones handle Night Mode and shutter speeds. With Night Mode OFF, the Xiaomi took a photo at 0.07 seconds. When I turned it ON… 0.07 seconds again.

The iPhone 13 Pro kept the shutter open for 0.059 seconds and went down to 0.1 seconds for Night Mode On.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra defaulted to 0.077 seconds, but with Night Mode On, it slowed down to 0.1 seconds.

The Pixel 6 was slowest in all modes here — 0.12 exposure time with Night Mode Off, 0.45 with it on.

Scene 18: Getting the zoomies at night

Let’s zoom in on that statue there. During daytime, we noticed that zoom is not the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s strong suit.

And at 5x zoom we can see that the same happens here. We lose details and everything quickly becomes soft and bloomy.

Interestingly enough, the Galaxy S22 Ultra also did pretty bad here. Smartphones with telephoto cameras will usually decide to use a digital crop from the main camera during night time, instead of using the optical zoom of the telephoto camera. Why? Because the telephoto lens has a smaller aperture and can’t collect enough light for a well-exposed photo during the night.

All that said, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro did pretty great. The iPhone 13 Pro actually switched to its telephoto camera, whereas the Pixel 6 Pro did an entirely digital zoom with its main sensor.

At 10x zoom, the Xiaomi 12 Pro doesn’t do any better. The iPhone 13 Pro still holds it together — we can make out the figure, some details, and the colors (though they are far from accurate). The Galaxy S22 Ultra switched to its 10x telephoto camera here, but the lack of light really killed it — that’s a fuzzy watercolor mess.

The Pixel 6 Pro also finally switched to its telephoto lens and, even though the photo is underexposed, at least it looks most accurate and most natural here.

At 20x zoom, the iPhone is out of the competition, the Xiaomi 12 Pro looks like it’s falling apart. The Galaxy S22 Ultra and Pixel 6 Pro are matched in exposure and you can see the different philosophies here — the S22 Ultra cranked the noise reduction to 11 to smooth out the image as much as possible, while the Pixel 6 Pro proudly left the noise sit there.

Scene 19: Going ultra… wide

OK, let’s see how the ultra-wide cameras do. Night Mode is ON for this one.

Great colors and a pretty-well exposed photo from the Xiaomi here. Only complaint is that some details were lost on the horsie in the front. The Galaxy S22 Ultra absolutely nailed this shot — colors, details, dynamics. The iPhone and Pixel photos are not bad, just a bit bland.

Scene 20: Neigh, sir

Another ultra-wide sample. The Xiaomi 12 Pro’s details and dynamics look great here, only the colors are a bit oversaturated and alien-ish. The iPhone 13 Pro photo is slightly underexposed but looks quite realistic and grounded, plus that darkness adds some drama. The S22 Ultra picture also looks great, if a bit cold. The Pixel 6 Pro kind of went a bit off on the colors like the Xiaomi.

Scene 21: They don’t call them blurry dogs for nothing

Great portraits from the Galaxy S22 Ultra and Pixel 6 Pro here, though they were clearly challenged by all the fur, and it’s possible the doggo wasn’t perfectly still. The Xiaomi 12 Pro also did pretty well here — good background separation, good colors. The iPhone 13 Pro is, as you can see, in a film noir of its own.

Scene 22: Selfie time again

Night Mode is On.

So, the Xiaomi 12 Pro did the same smoothing effect over the face there. Colors look pretty good and the photo is well-lit. But the iPhone 13 Pro held it together much better — the photo looks much more realistic and honest. The Galaxy S22 Ultra and Pixel 6 Pro are not bad here, save for one being pink-ish and the other one being yellow-ish, respectively.

Scene 23: Push it to the limit

I found the darkest possible spot to challenge these selfie cameras in the dark. With Night Mode Off, pretty much all phones were equally challenged. It’s impressive that they produced any imagery at all.

Curiously, turning Night Mode On didn’t do much for the Xiaomi 12 Pro. So that one tapped out fast. The iPhone 13 Pro did well, but skintone got washed out and facial features aren’t really there.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra helped itself by lighting up the screen while doing this (even though flash was off), so it got the most accurate photo here.

The Pixel 6 Pro is middle of the road — not as detailed as the S22 Ultra, not as washed out as the iPhone 13 Pro.

Conclusion

So, there you have it — a nice camera battle. Can the Xiaomi 12 Pro stand up to the competition? I’d say it can. It falls behind in some of the more niche features, like zoom or more fleshed-out nighttime photography. And its details are a bit soft-ish.

That aside, it was consistently able to give me bright, colorful photos, that are instantly ready to share. In general, if you are looking to squeeze out the best photos from your phone — the S22 Ultra and the Pixel 6 Pro kind of dominated it in this test. But if you want a flagship phone and are fine with a camera that falls in the “above average” category — sure.





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