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Xiaomi 12 Pro and 12 impressions: Stopping short of premium

Has Xiaomi crafted a Galaxy S22 killer?
By
March 15, 2022
Xiaomi 12 series on table
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Update: Check out our full Xiaomi 12 Pro review at the link!


Xiaomi first introduced its Xiaomi 12 family of flagship phones in late 2021 and is just now bringing them to the global stage. The series consists of the Xiaomi 12 Pro, the Xiaomi 12, and the Xiaomi 12x. The three phones share the same basic design language, which has been updated when compared to the Mi 11 series, but target slightly divergent market segments thanks to differences in size and specs, and pricing that ranges from $649 to $999.

The phones have been available in China since earlier this year, but the global launch marks the first opportunity Android Authority has had a chance to spend some time with them. Check out our first impressions in this Xiaomi 12 and Xiaomi 12 Pro preview.

Old-school looks

Xiaomi 12 Pro and Xiaomi 12 front panels
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The first thing that struck me when I pulled the Xiaomi 12 Pro and Xiaomi 12 out of their boxes was how familiar they look. They are almost mirror images of each other, of course, but they’re also oddly similar to the Samsung Galaxy S9. The general shape of the new Xiaomi phones is strikingly similar to Samsung’s 2018 flagship thanks to the tall aspect ratio, curved glass, and noticeable bezels above and below the displays. It’s a passing resemblance, but one all the same.

There’s still plenty of Xiaomi DNA on board. The new Xiaomi 12 series carries over many of the core trademarks of the Mi 11 series, though there are noticeable changes. The family comes in three fresh colorways: Gray, Blue, and Purple. Where the Gray and Blue phones have frames colored to match the rear panel, the Purple model’s frame is more of a clean metal color.

See also: Xiaomi buyer’s guide

Xiaomi 12 series spread out
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Xiaomi 12 series features a basic glass sandwich design. The phones boast a thin metal frame that is placed between steeply curved glass panels. The seams between the metal and glass are perfectly smooth front and back. Together with the curvy shape, the Xiaomi 12 Pro and Xiaomi 12 are comfortable to grip and hold. The sleek sizing (163.6 x 74.6 x 8.16mm and 152.7 x 69.9 x 8.16mm, respectively) helps them practically fall into your pocket.

Xiaomi hasn’t said what metal it is using for the frame, though we suspect aluminum. The front display is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus, while the rear is Gorilla Glass 5, though you’d be forgiven for thinking the textured material could be anything — even plastic — based on how it feels. The phones also don’t have an IP rating, which is a curious omission for a flagship phone in 2022.

Xiaomi 12 stacked right edges
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The most significant design departure compared to the Mi 11 is the revised camera module, which has been enlarged and reshaped to accommodate the new camera sensors and lenses. I like that the Xiaomi 12 devices share the exact same design for the module, which is a significant rectangle perched in the upper left corner of the rear panel. It features one extra-large lens at the top with two much smaller lenses and a two-tone flash cordoned off below. The main lens has a reflective rim to help set it apart, while the smaller lenses are flush with the surface of the module itself. It’s sharp and classy looking, as far as camera modules go.

Xiaomi actually painted the Harmon Kardon logo on the top edge to let you know which company fine-tuned the speakers.

As for ports and buttons, you’ll find the power button on the right edge and the volume toggle above it. These controls are a little bit thin, but have good profiles and excellent feedback across the family. On the top, you’ll note an IR blaster in one corner and a speaker grille in the other. Xiaomi actually painted the Harmon Kardon logo on the top edge to let you know which company fine-tuned the speakers. The speakers sounded about average in a quick test.

Strangely, the Xiaomi 12 Pro has a dual-SIM card tray on the left and the speaker grille on the right, while the vanilla Xiaomi 12 reverses this arrangement. There is no support for expandable storage in that SIM tray, nor is there a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Xiaomi 12 series bottom edges
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

After using the phones for a short time, we can say that the haptics are really nice. They come across as subtle and refined rather than rough or buzzy.

See also: The best Xiaomi phones you can buy

Xiaomi took a conservative path when designing these phones. They further the Xiaomi lineage just a bit without pushing too far into new territory. The Xiaomi 12 Pro and Xiaomi 12 are slim, attractive, and well made with a core set of hardware features expected from modern flagships.

Worrying variability

Xiaomi 12 Pro display profile
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Xiaomi 12 Pro and Xiaomi 12 share most features when it comes to their displays, though there are of course differences due to the size of panels. Let’s start with the basics.

The Xiaomi 12 Pro has a 6.73-inch screen with 3,200 x 1,440 pixels while the Xiaomi 12 has a 6.28-inch display with 2,400 x 1,080 pixels. You get a 20:9 aspect ratio on each panel and clarity on both screens is excellent. Everything on the screens looked perfectly sharp and easily legible.

The two displays differ in size, resolution, brightness, and contrast.

The panels share the same LTPO AMOLED lighting tech, but have different contrast and brightness figures. Xiaomi says the 12 Pro can reach 1,500 nits peak with 1,000 nits typical and a contrast ratio of eight million to one, while the 12 can allegedly reach 1,100 nit peak with a contrast ratio of five million to one. Both can also delineate between 16,000 levels of brightness. We can’t verify those figures yet, but I can say that the brightness of the screens was very good in my initial testing, especially indoors. Outdoor visibility wasn’t quite perfect, but the high levels of brightness meant I was still able to read the displays when using them under the sun. That said, the Xiaomi 12 Pro was plainly brighter and colors looked a little more punchy.

You get the same 120Hz variable refresh rate on both screens. Xiaomi says the displays can change the refresh rate from 1Hz up to 120Hz to manage power and performance. This means you get smooth animations when doom scrolling through your favorite social media apps. Gamers will be happy to learn that the displays support up to 480Hz touch sampling, which means you’ll get a faster response from your finger presses in-game. There are lots of other buzzwords associated with the two screens. They support True Color, Dolby Vision, HDR 10 Plus, SGS Eye Care certification, and have 360-degree ambient light sensors so the screens can adjust to the light in front of or behind them. Regardless, they looked great when we took them through a quick spin through YouTube and Netflix.

More reading: Display specs and terms explained

In my short time with the phones, however, I noticed something worrying. When set side-by-side, the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s screen skewed a bit red in color and the Xiaomi 12’s screen skewed a bit yellow. The difference wasn’t as noticeable when the phones were held separately, but it was plainly obvious when they were close together. Moreover, the red hue to the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s screen was splotchy and confined to about two-thirds of the screen. We tried to get these differences to appear on camera and couldn’t manage it, but it’s definitely there. Last, the viewing angles of the screens didn’t seem that great. We noticed a significant blue shift when the screens were tilted back and forth.

I am a little nervous about Xiaomi’s quality control. Will other differences pop up between the Xiaomi 12 Pro and Xiaomi 12’s screens? It’s hard to say. We’ll keep our eyes open as we assess the phones more fully.

Everything else

Xiaomi 12 Pro and Xiaomi 12 angled rear panels
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Xiaomi 12 Pro and Xiaomi 12 share plenty under the hood, starting with the processor. The Xiaomi 12 series was among the first to announce support for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, though Samsung and others have since adopted the chipset as well. Xiaomi’s marketing materials talk up a new cooling system to assist with performance. We’ll fully benchmark and assess the phones in the days ahead.

The RAM and storage options differ a bit. The Xiaomi 12 Pro comes with either 8GB or 12GB of RAM, but there’s just a single storage option of 256GB. That’s a bit limiting for a flagship, particularly when some competing models support storage allotments up to 1TB. The Xiaomi 12 has more options, including 8GB/128GB, 8GB/256GB, and 12GB/256GB. Again, this isn’t the most flexible arrangement available — and remember, there’s no expandable storage.

The phones have nearly identical battery sizes, but feature wildly different charging rates. The larger Xiaomi 12 Pro has a 4,600mAh battery that can charge at up to 120W with a proprietary wired charger. The smaller Xiaomi 12 has a 4,500mAh battery that can charge at up to 67W with a wired charger. Both phones support 50W wireless charging and 10W reverse wireless charging. Here’s the total kicker: the Xiaomi 12 Pro ships with a 120W charger in the box and the Xiaomi 12 ships with a 67W charger in the box. With many flagship makers leaving charging bricks out of the box, this is a major point of differentiation. Huzzah, Xiaomi!

Check out: Wired charging power has become meaningless

Then there are the cameras. Disappointingly, Xiaomi didn’t replicate the cameras across the Xiaomi 12 series. The external camera modules may look identical, but the components underneath are anything but.

The Xiaomi 12 Pro has a triple 50MP setup with the wide, ultrawide, and telephoto cameras sharing the same pixel count. The main shooter has a Sony IMX707 sensor underneath that bins down by a factor of four. It can also record video at up to 8K. Meanwhile, the Xiaomi 12 has a 50MP main camera, but steps down to a 13MP ultrawide and 5MP telemacro (which is not a telephoto.) Thankfully, it is still capable of up to 8K video capture. The phones share the same 32MP selfie camera, which is located in a punch hole centered on the top of the display.

Last, the software. The phones ship with Android 12 and MIUI 13. Based on a quick look through the user interface, the experience will be about the same on both phones. We’ll take a deeper look at the software in our full review.

Xiaomi 12 Pro and Xiaomi 12: Specs

SpecsXiaomi 12XXiaomi 12Xiaomi 12 Pro
Specs
Display
Xiaomi 12X
6.28-inch AMOLED display
FHD+, 2,400 x 1,080
120Hz refresh rate
480Hz touch sampling rate
Dolby Vision, HDR 10+ support
Xiaomi 12
6.28-inch AMOLED display
FHD+, 2,400 x 1,080
120Hz refresh rate
480Hz touch sampling rate
Dolby Vision, HDR 10+ support
Xiaomi 12 Pro
6.73-inch AMOLED display
WQHD+, 3,200 x 1,080
120Hz refresh rate
480Hz touch sampling rate
Dolby Vision, HDR 10+ support
Specs
Processor
Xiaomi 12X
Qualcomm Snapdragon 870
Xiaomi 12
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Xiaomi 12 Pro
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Specs
Memory
Xiaomi 12X
8GB
Xiaomi 12
8GB
12GB
Xiaomi 12 Pro
8GB
12GB
Specs
Storage
Xiaomi 12X
256GB
Xiaomi 12
128GB
256GB
Xiaomi 12 Pro
256GB
Specs
Battery
Xiaomi 12X
4,500mAh
67W wired turbo charging
50W wireless turbo charging
10W reverse wireless charging
Xiaomi 12
4,500mAh
67W wired turbo charging
50W wireless turbo charging
10W reverse wireless charging
Xiaomi 12 Pro
4,600mAh
120W wired turbo charging
50W wireless turbo charging
10W reverse wireless charging
Specs
Camera
Xiaomi 12X
Rear:
-50MP main camera f/1.88, 6P lens, 2µm 4-in-1 Super Pixel
-13 MP ultra-wide camera
123˚ FOV, f/2.4
-5MP telemacro camera
50mm equivalent focal length, Auto Focus

Front:
-32MP selfie camera
f/2.45, 1.4µm 4-in-1 Super Pixel
Xiaomi 12
Rear:
-50MP main camera f/1.88, 6P lens, 2µm 4-in-1 Super Pixel
-13 MP ultrawide camera
123˚ FOV, f/2.4
-5MP telemacro camera
50mm equivalent focal length, Auto Focus

Front:
-32MP selfie camera
f/2.45, 1.4µm 4-in-1 Super Pixel
Xiaomi 12 Pro
Rear:
-50MP main camera
f/1.9
1/1.28-inch 7P lens
2.44 μm 4-in-1 Super Pixel
-50MP ultrawide camera
115° FOV, f/2.2
-50MP telephoto camera
48mm equivalent focal length, f/1.9

Front:
-32MP selfie camera
f/2.45, 1.4µm 4-in-1 Super Pixel
Specs
Video
Xiaomi 12X
4K recording
8K recording
Xiaomi 12
4K HDR 10+ recording
8K recording
Xiaomi 12 Pro
4K HDR 10+ recording
8K recording
Specs
Connectivity
Xiaomi 12X
Dual SIM
Dual 5G standby
NFC
Bluetooth 5.1
Wi-Fi 6
Xiaomi 12
Dual SIM
Dual 5G standby
NFC
Bluetooth 5.2
Wi-Fi 6/Wi-Fi 6E (Based on regions)
Xiaomi 12 Pro
Dual SIM
Dual 5G standby
NFC
Bluetooth 5.2
Wi-Fi 6/Wi-Fi 6E (Based on regions)
Specs
Ports
Xiaomi 12X
USB-C
Xiaomi 12
USB-C
Xiaomi 12 Pro
USB-C
Specs
Durability
Xiaomi 12X
Gorilla Glass Victus
Xiaomi 12
Gorilla Glass Victus
Xiaomi 12 Pro
Gorilla Glass Victus
Specs
Operating system
Xiaomi 12X
MIUI 13 with Android 11
Xiaomi 12
MIUI 13 with Android 12
Xiaomi 12 Pro
MIUI 13 with Android 12
Specs
Dimensions
Xiaomi 12X
152.70mm x 69.90mm x 8.16mm
Xiaomi 12
152.70mm x 69.90mm x 8.16mm
Xiaomi 12 Pro
163.60mm x 74.60mm x 8.16mm
Specs
Weight
Xiaomi 12X
176g
Xiaomi 12
180g
Xiaomi 12 Pro
205g
Specs
Colors
Xiaomi 12X
Gray
Purple
Blue
Xiaomi 12
Gray
Purple
Blue
Xiaomi 12 Pro
Gray
Purple
Blue

Xiaomi 12 Pro and Xiaomi 12 preview: More to assess

Xiaomi 12 series on table spread
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Xiaomi put together a rather simple set of phones in the Xiaomi 12 series. You’ve got a larger Pro model to appeal to power users and a smaller vanilla model to entice those who are perhaps more budget-minded. We’re still waiting on final pricing at the time of this writing, but Xiaomi has hinted that the phones’ base models will range from $649 to $999. Those are reasonable starting points, but the phones may struggle to compete against other high-end devices in the market.

The Xiaomi 12 and 12 Pro have packed specs sheets, but are heading up against tough competition.

Chiefly, I wish the Xiaomi 12 Pro had much more of a premium feel to it. The Samsung Galaxy 22 Plus ($999) features a classier design and more appealing materials. It also has a killer camera. It’s a similar situation for the Xiaomi 12. The smaller Xiaomi competes with the Samsung Galaxy S22 ($799) and will find it hard to outshine Samsung’s solid offering. There’s also the Google Pixel 6 Pro ($899) and Pixel 6 ($599) to consider, both of which are excellent starting points, particularly if you prioritize the camera experience.

Of course, Xiaomi still has plenty of an opportunity to stand on its own here. The phones pack solid spec sheets and we’ve yet to assess their full powers. We’ll be putting the Xiaomi 12 Pro through its paces over the days ahead. Please be sure to check back soon for the full Android Authority Xiaomi 12 Pro review.

Xiaomi 12 Pro: Hot or not?

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