After 3 months since its official debut in China, the Xiaomi 12 and the Xiaomi 12 Pro are finally available in other countries – including here in Malaysia. These two are Xiaomi’s latest flagship smartphones and I’ve spent about 2 weeks with these two phones.
Instead of doing a one-by-one review, I’m combining and comparing them as I think these two phones do have a lot of similarities, and a lot of the same comments and criticisms apply to both.
For this review and comparison, we’ll still be using our usual 6 points when it comes to a smartphone – and we’ll start off by talking about the design.
These two phones come in a very similar shape. I don’t know how to say this, so I’ll just be blunt with my words. These two phones look like they have a sandstone finish like the OnePlus One, but it’s smooth to the touch.
The phone looks and feels absolutely fantastic to touch and hold, and I love to just caress the phone – particularly the Xiaomi 12. The curvatures are just fantastic.
So, as you can see here, the two phones are quite tiny in today’s standard of a “flagship” smartphone. The Xiaomi 12 comes with a tiny 6.28-inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 2400×1080 at a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz.
The Xiaomi 12 Pro on the other hand, is larger in size – hence it has a larger 6.73-inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 3200×1440 and up to 120Hz refresh rate too. However, the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s larger display doesn’t feel like a larger display since it made the phone feel lanky as it is tall but rather narrow at the same time.
Now, Xiaomi claims that these two phones are certified A+ by DisplayMate. I have no idea how DisplayMate do their tests, but I took out our colorimeter to find out that both these phones are nearly identical. I found out that the whitepoint – as in the output of the individual red, green, and blue light intensity – is very inconsistent and jumpy. Nonetheless, both these phones can also go up to about 500 nits of average brightness at maximum.
In terms of color accuracy, we tuned it back down to 100 nits of brightness and we found out it covers nearly 100% of the sRGB color gamut and about 95% of DCI-P3 color gamut. I’d say overall, the displays are actually really good, but not the best.
One more thing I want to highlight – I have a bad habit of stacking phones in my pocket with the screens facing each other. I do tihs because I usually carry a few phones with me to take pictures with – and I realized the pre-installed film screen protector on these two phones are not exactly the best in terms of quality.
This is the first time I’m seeing that stacked phones in my pocket will result in such badly damaged screen protectors. In any case, I’m going to yank them out.
One more thing to highlight – the fingerprint scanner position is also inconsistent. The Xiaomi 12 Pro has an ergonomic position – somewhere in the middle of the screen. But the Xiaomi 12 is placed at the very bottom of the screen and that is really difficult to reach.
As for the performance, these two phones come with the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset. Honestly speaking, this new chipset is less hot compared to the Snapdragon 888, but still hot nonetheless. We did dedicated gaming tests for each of these phones here.
However, there are a few things that I want to reiterate the highlights again.
The Xiaomi 12 is tiny, hence it has less mass and less surface area to dissipate heat, that is why it reached the same reported temperature of 48°C but only manages to push out about 35fps on average while playing Genshin Impact at the highest graphical settings at 60fps.
For the Xiaomi 12 Pro, it’s heavier and has more surface area to dissipate heat – and we’re getting the same reported temperature of 48°C while pushing out about 45fps on average while playing Genshin Impact at the highest graphical settings at 60fps. That’s an extra 10fps on top of the smaller Xiaomi 12, just because it can kick out heat faster.
The surface temperature on these phones isn’t that much different but they definitely did roast my fingers when I tried to grab the phone after leaving it on Genshin Impact for 5 minutes.
How about the battery life then? Well, here is where things get interesting. I calibrated both these phones to use 1080p resolution at 120Hz refresh rate and locked at 100 nits of brightness. I left it to do the PCMark 10 battery life test and to my surprise, the smaller Xiaomi 12 with a smaller battery managed to last a lot longer than the bigger Xiaomi 12 Pro!
I don’t know why this happened but I can predict that is because of the system-wide power and thermal limit. Like what we saw in the gaming test, the smaller Xiaomi 12 has a lower limit compared to the Xiaomi 12 Pro, and I think that is why the Xiaomi 12 managed to last so much longer.
Let’s talk about the charging time now. Starting with the Xiaomi 12, this tiny phone comes with a 67W charger in the box and it can charge from 15% to 100% in about 45 minutes – that’s actually quite good.
As for the Xiaomi 12 Pro, we did way too many charging tests for this phone, honestly. You see, this phone comes with a 120W charger but the phone uses a single-cell battery. In my mind, this means that the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s charging speed won’t be as fast as other 120W smartphones with a dual-cell battery, like the Black Shark 4 Pro.
The first test I did was by default – just leave all the settings as it is when I unboxed the phone and did the charging test. The result was disappointing as it took about 30 minutes to charge from 15% to 100% – and that is really slow for a 120W charger.
Then, I dug around – nested inside the settings menu, there is an option to the alleged true 120W fast charging. So I drained everything and redid the test again – and our wattmeter reported that it did charge at a very high wattage of about 110W, but not for a long time because the phone was already heating up. But the charging time didn’t improve much as it still about half an hour to reach 100%.
As a comparison, the Black Shark 4 Pro has a dual-cell battery and has a 120W charger. Our wattmeter reported sustained 120W power draw for a longer period of time, and the Black Shark 4 Pro can charge from 15% to 100% in only about 15 minutes! Better yet, the Black Shark 4 Pro has a larger battery capacity compared to both the Xiaomi 12 and Xiaomi 12 Pro!
Anyway, back to these two phones at hand – the software. They both come equipped with Android 12 with MIUI 13 and I have already talked about the bugs and the supremely messy settings menu, the annoying timers while trying to enable some settings, all of those stuffs. Check out our previous reviews where we talk about the shortcomings of MIUI 13 because they’re exactly the same with these two phones.
Xiaomi also promised 3 years of Android version upgrades and 4 years of security patches for the Xiaomi 12 series – which I think is good that they are doing such commitments. It’s just that Xiaomi needs to improve MIUI.
As for the cameras – these two phones come with rather different sets of cameras. Starting with the Xiaomi 12, we have a total of 3 cameras – and I’m surprised to see a telephoto-macro camera but it cannot be used as a telephoto camera.
As for the Xiaomi 12 Pro – this is where things get… a little interesting. It still has a triple camera setup but it has a true telephoto camera instead – so it cannot take macro shots like the Xiaomi 12. Quite a bummer, actually.
To have a look at all the pictures taken with the Xiaomi 12 and Xiaomi 12 Pro, watch our video at the top of this review.
Some other things to mention
I still have a few more things to quickly go through regarding both the Xiaomi 12 and Xiaomi 12 Pro. These two phones, even though they are “premium flagships” from Xiaomi, they are both still using USB 2.0. Transfer speeds are atrociously slow, and there is also no HDMI output over Type-C. Come on, Xiaomi. These phones aren’t cheap.
Oh – these two phones also do not have micro SD card slot, and they’re also not IP-rated.
Should you buy the Xiaomi 12 or the Xiaomi 12 Pro?
So, we’re at the end of this comparison review and I really think we need to look at the price. Here in Malaysia, the prices are as below:
I personally think that the Xiaomi 12 – the tiny one – is a good choice. At the price of RM2,999 (don’t buy the 128GB version please), I think it’s expensive, yes – but it’s a good compact phone. I should say – it’s also a phone that I’ll consider carrying in my pocket too.
As for the Xiaomi 12 Pro, at RM3,899, the price is high – but it does give you some of the best camera controls that you can get out of a smartphone. Having 50MP for all the camera sensors is just fantastic as we can film 4K 60fps videos on all cameras, and also take 50MP pictures on all cameras too.