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Xiaomi 12T Pro Review

Xiaomi's Latest Flagship Smartphone

Christopher Coke Updated: Posted:
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Hardware Reviews 0

Today, Xiaomi unveiled its latest flagship smartphone: the Xiaomi Note 12T Pro. Designed for power users, content creators, and gamers, this phone features a top of the line Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, up to 12GB of memory and 256GB of DRAM

Specifications

Current Price: 

  • Xiaomi 12T Pro: 8GB+128GB, 8GB+256GB, and 12GB+256GB: Starting at $749 EUR
  • Xiaomi 12T: 8GB+128GB and 8GB+256GB: Starting at $599

Click to enlarge

Xiaomi 12T Pro- What Is It? (Overview)

The Xiaomi 12T Pro is the latest flagship smartphone from Xiaomi, an internationally leading technology brand. Xiaomi is a major player across multiple industries, but smartphones are one of its key business arms, making it the number two smartphone manufacturer in the world last year and currently owning 14% of the global market share, putting it just behind Apple internationally. When Xiaomi releases a new device, it’s big news, and that’s certainly the case with the 12T Pro.

Xiaomi is dubbing it their new flagship, and there’s no question that it’s a performer. It features all of the premium features, specs, and build quality you would expect from a top-tier mobile device in 2022, though comes in a little closer to earth than the incredible Mi 12S Ultra. Still, a beautiful screen, outstanding camera, and excellent performance are the hallmarks of this new camera.

The 12T Pro is a large smartphone, in keeping with its premium design. It features a big 6.67-inch AMOLED display with a 2712x1220 resolution. Colors are rich and vibrant, but also quite accurate with a Delta E rating of 0.38. As an AMOLED, blacks are deep and pitch, but the peak brightness of 900 nits — while not the top of the brightness scale compared to Samsung — allows it to be easily used in daylight and still look good. The screen also supports Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and has adaptive HDR and reading modes. 

The 12T Pro’s screen is also exceptionally responsive. It supports an adaptive refresh rate from 1-120Hz. Depending on what you’re looking at on the screen, it’s able to intelligently ramp its refresh rate up or down to balance battery savings with smooth motion. The touch sampling rate is also incredible at 480Hz. This is a device that begs for a stylus like Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra but so far goes without. If you do purchase one separately, that sampling rate allows the 12T Pro to deliver pencil-like responsiveness that’s truly impressive.

If you’ve seen other Xiaomi phones, you’ll gave a good idea of what to expect here from the external design. We have a Gorilla Glass 5 screen (with a pre-applied screen protector) and a punchhole camera on the upper rim. The rear is colored in a metallic grey, black, or white finish, and there’s a fairly large camera bump (though nothing like the giant circle of the 12S Ultra). The fingerprint reader is built into the screen and works quite well. Volume and power buttons both live on the right-hand side while the SIM card tray and power connectors are on the bottom of the phone. There is no headphone jack or microSD port for expandable storage. 

Under the hood, the 12T Pro offers some impressive specs. It uses the latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC to make it competitive with other leading smartphones. It’s available in configurations with either 8GB or 12GB of LPDDR5 memory, with the latter available with 128GB or 256GB storage versions. 

Storage options are limited to just though two capacities, which is surprisingly limited compared to competing devices and which makes the lack of microSD slot especially surprising. Perhaps Xiaomi plans on users utilizing cloud storage? That’s not going to be an option for everyone and can get expensive quickly if you’re capturing lots of 4K and 8K video. More on the phone’s excellent camera system in the next section. 

Despite limiting overall storage, Xiaomi has equipped the 12T Pro with a large and very capable battery and a ridiculously fast charger. The battery is 5000mAh and rated for 13.5 hours of screen on time. In actual use, you can push it farther than that with intermittent off time. This will depend on how you’re using the device, of course. Gaming and capturing video will run the battery down more quickly, but even power users should find that the battery life is exceptional. It’s bigger than the iPhone 14 Pro Max (4323mAh) and equal to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. Though, anecdotally, I don’t ever recall my S22 Ultra lasting quite as long, even fresh out of the box.

If you do happen to run it dry, Xiaomi packs an absolutely gargantuan 120W HyperCharge charger in the box. It’s remarkable that while Samsung and Apple are both dropping chargers entirely from their boxes, and then limiting the total charging speed to 45 watts and 27 watts respectively. Meanwhile, we have this absolute brick of a charger that’s able to restore the phone from completely dead to full capacity in only 19 minutes. Charging speed does slow down as you crest 70% but if you’re running short, you can plug the phone in for 15 minutes and be at or near a full charge. Do note, however, that the current model ships with an international charger, so US users will need to purchase an adapter for US plugs. It can also be used with slower PD chargers that you may have.

All of that combined makes for a phone that’s exceptionally good for media creation and consumption. We’ll touch on the camera system  in the next section, but watching movies and playing games on the 12T Pro is a pleasure. The vibrancy and brightness of the screen do a great job at delivering HDR content. The speakers are also quite good. Tuned by Harman Kardon, they’re rather full and loud. Distortion does set in above 80%, but Xiaomi has done a great job here. 

Xiaomi 12T Pro- Camera and Samples 

Though the Note 12T doesn’t include the new 1-inch sensor of the Ultra, it’s no slouch in picture quality. As you’ll see in the examples to follow, it offers excellent colors, crisp details, and excellent clarity. The system also supports software enhancements for things like built-in beautify effects, a great portrait mode, and a very good Night mode. 

Xiaomi also makes a number of vlog-based creation tools available to creators when recording. You can quickly and easily create animated introductions to your vlogs by recordings samples into a template and letting the phone edit them together for you. There are also a number of interesting visual templates to quickly cut together introductions and add interesting visual effects like cloning, slow motion, time-lapse, long exposure, and activating both cameras for dual video recording. 

The camera system is made up of three cameras. The main shooter is 200MP (1/1.22”, f/1.69, 16-in-1 superpixels) so you can zoom in and maintain decent detail. There’s a 1/1.22” 2x zoom to this lens that’s great for portraits and pulls very good separation from the background. For ultrawide shooting, it features an 8MP camera with an f/1.4 aperture. A little low, but the detail isn’t bad. There’s also a 2MP macro lens which, while lower resolution, still manages to look quite good. The front camera is 20MP with an f/2.24 aperture and a 78-degree field of view. 

A killer feature of this release is the addition of motion tracking. Like premium mirrorless cameras, the 12T Pro is able to track subjects in motion to maintain focus. This is excellent for taking pictures of sports, children, or pets. The camera first needs to identify the subject (which you can assist with by tapping) but there are times when it cannot, such as with plants. For the most part, it works very well and really helps to nail focus.  

On the video front, the 12T Pro supports up to 8K video recording. 8K is limited to 24 FPS. 4K and 1080p shooting extend that to 30FPS and 60FPS, while 720p is limited to 30 frames. The front camera can shoot up to 1080p60. Video also supports Xiaomi SuperCut and features a great Ultra Night mode for exceptional low-light performance. 

Without further ado, let’s look at some of the shots, courtesy of a photo tour of my recently updated Lowes.

First off, let’s look at some portrait shots. The camera system does a good job of picking out the subject, even with inanimate objects such as these, but the bokeh effect can be a little overaggressive, as you can see with some of the “floating” straw on the scarecrow. In general, though, I find the portraits to be quite appealing. The bokeh in the background is smooth and makes the subject pop out well. 

Here is another portrait, this time of a flower in the garden center. I love the rich colors. The background blur is pretty seamless on this one and has a very natural depth of field. The camera works quite well photo for this kind of shot.

The three pictures above were selected because they really showcase the excellent quality you can expect from a “normal” picture. Colors are vibrant, pictures are crisp and rich, and they’re generally quite pleasing to look at, all without entering the Pro mode and changing advanced options. 

In this gallery, you can see the benefits of having such a high-resolution camera when zooming in. It’s important to note, however, that the camera also has an “Ultra HD” 50MP mode which delivers very similar results with much smaller file sizes. 200MP is nice but each pictures hovers around or well exceeds 50MB, and with limited storage options, could take up a lot of space rather quickly. Ultra HD photos, on the other hand, tend to hover between 20-30MB and will be much easier on your storage space.

Here you can see the selfie camera in portrait mode. It delivers good results but is slightly less color-rich than the rear camera. 

Next, we have the macro camera. It’s a much lower resolution at only 2MB but is a fun novelty feature. Details are softer than I would like, and you’ll need good light, but you can still nab some interesting shots. It won’t win any awards but I like having a decent macro camera and this is far from the worst you’ll find on a modern smartphone.

Finally, here’s a look at the three main focal distances the camera provides. First is the ultrawide 0.6x lens, followed by the standard 1x zoom, and the cropped in 2x mode.

Overall, the camera here isn’t the absolute best you’ll find, but it works well and can deliver some excellent shots. The main shooter set to Ultra HD mode delivers the best results in sheer detail but even left on its standard photo mode, I find myself really liking its detail level and color science. They’re just pleasing to the eye, which makes taking pictures on the go and reviewing the camera roll a more fun experience.  

Xiaomi 12T Pro- Performance

Moving into the performance of the phone, the 12T Pro shines. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 does heavy work that’s boosted by an effective cooling system. Even under heavy load, it remains very consistent. It’s a great phone for gaming or heavier work.

Beginning with Geekbench, we see excellent performance numbers here. You can tell that it performs well in excess of the key competitors as identified by the benchmark, but what’s even more remarkable is this:

Here is how it compares with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. It mops the floor with it. Let’s move into gaming benchmarks.

Using the 3DMark suite of mobile benchmarks, the 12T Pro performs exceptionally well. Using the Slingshot 1440p benchmark, it completely maxes out the results. The same is true (expectedly) of the basic Wildlife benchmark. The phone really only broke a sweat when running the 4K rendered Wildlife Extreme test. There, it didn’t maintain 30 FPS, but given the high rendering resolution, I wouldn’t expect it to. Instead, what we’re looking for is consistency.

To dive into that, I ran the phone through the Wildlife Extreme stress test, a 20-minutes burner of a benchmark. Even though the phone became warm to the touch, the results are remarkably consistent. As you can see in the Temperature and Frame Rate graph, thermal throttling wasn’t an issue.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it didn’t have any trouble playing Raid: Shadow Legends or Genshin Impact. It also performed well with game streaming, so if you subscribe to any cloud gaming services, this phone will deliver a very playable, consistent gaming experience. 

Using the phone throughout the day was as snappy as I hoped it would be. The 12T Pro didn’t have any issues with slowdowns or lag, even loading large spreadsheets and web pages, then scrolling through those rapidly. It offered a smooth and consistently satisfying gameplay experience. 

Final Thoughts

The Xiaomi 12T Pro is an interesting device. Smartphones in general are in a place where the biggest evolutions are happening with the camera. That does seem to be the case here, but I think Xiaomi deserves kudos for really pushing all of the performance it could out of its SoC. For gaming and other high-load tasks, it performs exceptionally well and is all the more impressive for it at the price. 

The camera system is overall good, but the star of the show is the main shooter. It delivers color-rich, appealing photos you can be confident in sharing to social media. Video quality is also quite good, and this phone could absolutely be used for content creation without fear of looking amateur. Motion tracking and low light performance make it a versatile, focus-nabbing device that also does good work with its color science. I wish the macro and ultrawide modes were higher resolutions, and that the 200MP mode offered bigger gains in clarity, but the shots are solid nonetheless.

Overall, this is another win for Xiaomi. I would like to see more innovation in its design with the next release — something closer to the 12S Ultra and its beautiful Leica camera perhaps? — but this is unmistakably a great device for the price.  

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. 

8.5Great
Pros
  • Great performance for media consumption (speakers and screen quality)
  • Consistently good gaming performance
  • Good photo quality from main shooter
  • Plentiful options for content creators
  • Good low light performance
Cons
  • Limited storage options with no MicroSD support
  • Screen brightness is good but not class-leading
  • 200MP Mode doesn't add much additional detail


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight