Xiaomi 12T Pro review: still the flagship phone to beat

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Display, Features, User Interface, Imaging

Justify its price increase

Xiaomi fans may have experienced an aneurysm when their new phone was officially announced last month. Bee € 1099,-the 12GB RAM + 256GB storage variant of the Xiaomi 12T Pro is the most expensive T-series handset from Xiaomi in Singapore to date (and the version we got for review). It’s also a sharp increase over the Xiaomi 11T Pro (review here), which sold for S$799 for the same storage capacity.

Is this the fault of inflation? Not quite. We think it’s probably Xiaomi’s balancing act based on what’s on offer there. Here is a non-exhaustive list of Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 smartphones officially available in Singapore:

While there are other SD8+ G1 phones out there, they haven’t officially sold here yet, making the Xiaomi 12T Pro technically one of the most affordable budget flagship handsets in Singapore. So what if it’s S$300 more than its predecessor’s launch price? It’s still cheaper than the rest; that’s probably what Xiaomi thought.

Now to further differentiate the device from its rivals, Xiaomi has a 200MP primary camera (Samsung ISOCELL HP1 sensor) on the 12T Pro’s triple rear imaging array, which proved to be quite a competent shooter in our early testing. The 200MP camera also has plenty of neat tricks for using the hardware, which we’ll talk about later.

It is also one of the few ‘budget flagships’ with a display resolution higher than Full HD. The 12T Pro has a 2,712 x 1,220 pixels resolution and has a flagship-worthy 120Hz refresh rate. Then there is also being 120W wired fast charging to convince heavy users that it won’t take long to get a full charge.

TLDR version:

Still the cheapest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 phone out there, despite the massive price hike. You won’t go wrong with the Xiaomi 12T Pro.





















Xiaomi 12T Pro


Xiaomi 12T Pro
Start SRP
Network:
Operating system
Processor
built-in memory
Display

  • 6.67-inch, 2,712 x 1,220 pixels, AMOLED DotDisplay, 120Hz refresh rate, 480Hz touch sampling rate, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, DCI-P3
Camera

  • Rear end:
  • 200 MP main, 0.64 m pixel size, 1.28 µm 4-in-1 pixel binning, 2.56 µm 16-in-1 pixel binning, f/1.69
  • 8 MP ultra-wide angle, 120° FOV, f/2.2
  • 2MP macro, f/2.4
  • Front side:
  • 16MP, f/2.45
Video support

  • 8K24FPS, 4K60FPS, 1080p60FPS
Connectivity

  • Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, L1+L5 GPS, G1 GLONASS, E1+E5a GALILEO, Beidou, USB-C, NFC
Storage type

  • 256 GB internal storage (UFS 3.1), no MicroSD slot
Battery

  • 5,000 mAh
  • 120W wired fast charging
Dimensions
Weight

Classic Chinese phone design with a flatter camera body

Chinese flagship tier handsets tend to stick to the same design formulas. It gets hard to tell them apart after a while due to recurring features like block camera bodies, curved sides and rear corners, and a penchant for a semi- or fully polished look.

The Xiaomi 12T Pro does not offer revolutionary design updates, as it needs cues from Xiaomi 12 and 12 Pro. But they’ve managed to streamline the rear camera housing, making it a bit friendlier for everyday use. Instead of the raised bezel around the main camera (which the 12 and 12 Pro had), Xiaomi flattened it against a piece of protective glass. It should help reduce wear and tear or damage when the phone moves back and forth in your pocket or bag.

If you use it without a phone case, the side buttons for volume and power of the Xiaomi 12T Pro can be difficult to distinguish by touch. The buttons are very thin with no tactile embellishments, and the edges of the phone have slightly beveled edges that your fingers can feel, making it even more confusing. Also, refining the camera body doesn’t make it any less wobbly when it’s up on the table, and even the phone case didn’t help much in that regard.

The rest of the phone is average in the hand. It’s a classic form factor with a curved back and flat screen. The sides look and feel durable, and the plastic back is reinforced with glass, giving it a slightly premium feel in the hand.

On the other hand, the 6.67-inch AMOLED display isn’t too shabby – in fact, it’s really sharp with its Full HD+ resolution and high pixel density (2,712 x 1220 pixels at 446 PPI). Rendering content is smooth, thanks to the smooth 120Hz refresh rate.

Viewing the brightness of 900 nits under a cloudy monsoon sky.

The same 900 nits brightness viewed in shadow.

The only gripe we had was that the panel had slightly faded colors when you have the screen on maximum brightness levels (900 nits) or during videos. Otherwise, the panel comes with all the key benefits you’d expect from more expensive handsets, such as support for HDR10+, SGS certification for low visual fatigue and a 480Hz touch sampling rate.

Xiaomi does not specify whether the in-screen fingerprint sensor is optical or ultrasonic (we suspect it is optical because it blinks white on contact). That said, the response time is blazingly fast – faster than the Pixel 7 Pro sensor. If you like, the AI ​​Face Unlock is also fairly fast.

It doesn’t have the kind of IP68 rating that top phones have, but 12T Pros IP53 should be sufficient for everyday use and exposure to the usual Singapore weather. Do not immerse this phone in the pool!

Our Xiaomi 12T Pro was wrapped in Xiaomi’s MIUI 13 skin, which is based on Android 12. It’s a lot more consistent than previous MIUI reskins. For example, the shortcut icons in the drop-down menu are evenly spaced, as are the alert tabs on the notification screen. You can also adjust the font and size to make words easier to read on the interface (we used an unofficial font that mimics Google’s font so that small text is easier to read at a glance).

Do we really need 200MP for a phone’s camera?

It’s pretty hard to ignore the 200MP claim on the sensor, and there’s actually something more than numbers behind it. Here are the specifications for reference.

200MP main camera

  • Samsung ISOCELL HP1 with 1/1.22-inch sensor size (0.64 µm pixels)
    • 4-in-1 pixel binning technique (1.28 µm pixel size)
    • 16-in-1 pixel binning technique (2.56 µm pixel size)

  • f/1.69 aperture, 8P lens, 85° FOV
  • OIS, 200MP Xiaomi ProCut, 2x in-sensor zoom, 8K video recording, HDR10+ video

8MP ultra wide angle camera

  • 1/4-inch sensor size (1.12 µm pixels)
  • f/2.2 aperture, 120° FOV

2MP macro camera

  • 1/5-inch sensor size (1.75 µm pixels)
  • f/2.4 aperture

In general, Xiaomi’s camera combination covers enough shooting scenarios (such as ultra-wide angle and macro), but it is the 200 MP that has more than meets the eye.

Main camera with 16-in-1 pixel binning.

4-in-1 pixel binning, same camera.

No pixel binning, 200MP recording, same camera.

8MP ultra wide angle.  Has obvious fish-eye effect.​​​​​​

To maximize the usefulness of the 200MP sensor, Xiaomi 12T Pro uses pixel binning, a technique that combines adjacent pixels on the sensor to form a larger pixel that can provide brighter resulting images. You can opt for extremely high-resolution 200MP images (which can be up to 70MB per image), or rely on the standard 16-in-1 binning technique for 12MP photos of normal size and reasonably lit.

Of course, a full 200MP is only practical if you plan to print poster-sized versions of these photos. The standard 16-in-1 technique is more practical and offers better management of color dynamics and detail preservation.

Also, it’s not intuitive to find the 200MP photo capture feature. It’s hidden in the default Camera app, under the “More” tab, which basically activates 50 MP recordings first. You need to proceed to tap on “200MP” in the top left corner of your viewfinder. This is just one of the few examples of mind-boggling UI choices, causing Xiaomi to lose points (again) on usability.

2x zoom in the sensor that uses the middle 50% of the 200MP sensor.

Another advantage of the 12T Pro is “2x in-sensor zoom”. It takes images from the middle 50% of the high megapixel sensor to create a “zoomed in” photo without conventional digital zoom manipulation or corrective software. This method is becoming increasingly popular with new phones in the same style as the iPhone 14’s 2x telephoto zoom.

The advantage is that there are no typical detail and noise problems generated by traditional digital zoom. The downside, of course, is that you don’t use the full sensor to capture your image. From our samples, the 12T Pro takes fairly clear and well-colored photos, but it doesn’t quite have the same color dynamics or contrast management usually provided by the phone’s software.

Main camera, 16-in-1 pixel binning.

4-in-1 pixel binning.

200 MP no pixel binning.

8MP ultra wide angle.

2x in sensor zoom.

10x (max.) digital zoom.

The 16-in-1 pixel-binned shooting from the 12T Pro’s main camera is excellent for casual use. It doesn’t win when creating lifelike images, but they are ready to upload to social media directly from the Gallery app. The overall image processing package also caters to common shooting needs, making the Xiaomi 12T Pro an easy choice for an average photographer who needs practical features over professional-level accuracy. If you want to make poster-sized prints through your photography chops and have the skills to post-process these images, Xiaomi’s 200MP camera is also an affordable way to go. Impressive marketing figures aside, there are niche but practical uses for the 12T Pro’s main camera.