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Xiaomi 12 Review - Strongest Android compact 5G smartphone yet

OPPO
Huawei
We recently received the Xiaomi 12 for review, and here are our thoughts on how it performed as our daily driver for several weeks.
Xiaomi 12 Review  - Strongest Android compact 5G smartphone yet
Introducing Xiaomi 12 

About a month ago, the tech giant unleashed the Xiaomi 12 and its Pro variant here in our country. The phone features a  glass back design in Gray, Purple, and Blue colorways. Meanwhile, the compact 6.28-inch Gorilla Glass Victus protected AMOLED screen in front has a 20Hz refresh rate, AdaptiveSync, fingerprint reader, and more. 

Under the hood, this premium device runs by the 3.0GHz 4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 octa-core processor with a new-gen Adreno GPU, 8GB LPDDR5 RAM, 256GB UFS 3.1 internal storage.  Its  4,500mAh battery comes with  67W fast charging, 50W wireless charging, and 10W reverse wireless charging.

For cameras, the Xiaomi 12 sports a robust 50MP triple camera set-up on its rear and a 32MP shooter for selfies.

In the Philippines, the Xiaomi starts is priced at PHP 39,990.

Is it worth your money? Let's dive in!

Unboxing/Accessories

Box inclusions

The unit arrives in a solid white Xiaomi box with rose gold lettering. Instead of seeing a product render in front, it just has the number 12, so it's minimalist. I like this clean packaging since it adds an element of surprise.

Peeking inside, we find the device, 67W power brick, USB-A to USB-C charging cable, silicone case, SIM ejector tool, and paper manuals. Xiaomi did not include wired earphones, and you might need an adaptor for the power brick.

Build Quality/Design

Xiaomi 12 in Purple
Xiaomi 12 in Purple

The flagship-like device has a glass back panel and metal frame that tapers down to a thin strip on the sides to accommodate its curved display. Aside from its lean appearance, this is definitely one of the most compact phones for 2022.

We noticed no gap between the matte aluminum frame and back cover as it transitions to the curved display. This gives a high-quality feel and appearance throughout. 

While the build quality is excellent, we wish the company equipped this phone with an IP rating for dust and waterproofing. We somehow expect that devices within this price range, like the Samsung S22, already have it.

The Xiaomi 12 arrives in three muted but pretty colors Blue, Gray, and Purple. These shades might not be striking at first sight, but they give a classy vibe.

The company has loaned us a unit in the Purple variant, and this one is sort of between light lavender and subtle pink. We find it quite feminine, so it might be the crowd favorite of female buyers.

The backplate of the handset has a smooth and frosted matte finish with a "Xiaomi 5G" branding embossed on the lower left and a sizeable camera hump on the upper right. Honestly, the frosted texture of the glass panel is excellent at repelling fingerprints and dirt smudges.

Sophisticated yet low maintenance design

I rarely had the need to wipe it with a microfiber cloth. But for your peace of mind, you may use the clear silicone casing for protection against scratches or bumps.
Top view
Top view

One of the stereo speakers, a microphone, and an IR blaster is located on top of the Xiaomi 12, with a small Harman/Kardon inscription.
Bottom view
Bottom view

Meanwhile, the bottom contains the USB-C charging port, another speaker grille, and a secondary microphone.
Dual-SIM capacity
Dual-SIM capacity

You can also find the SIM tray holding two nano-SIM cards. We saw that the tray comes with a rubber gasket, so this device may have a form of water and dust resistance.

There's no headphone jack, so you’ll need to use either an adaptor or Bluetooth headphones with this.
Left side
Left side
 
The left side is just a smooth surface with no buttons or ports.
Right side
Right side

Meanwhile, the right side houses the volume rocker and the power button. Both are within the thumb's reach.

Refreshingly light for a premium phone, the Xiaomi 12 weighs just 180g and has dimensions of 152.7 x 69.9 x 8.1 mm. 

Multimedia Experience

AMOLED display with thin bezels
AMOLED display with thin bezels

One might say that a 6.28-inch screen is relatively small, but Xiaomi thankfully did not cut corners on quality. 

This handset has an FHD+ AMOLED curved display and thin bezels all around. The top and bottom bezels appear somewhat symmetrical, whereas the side curvatures make the bezels look slimmer.

Based on my experience, the curved screen takes time to get used to. There are many times that I accidentally touch the sides, even just by holding the device.

But then, I like how they light up for notifications, making it more prominent when the phone is face down. 

A hole-punch notch at the center of the screen holds the front-facing camera. The handset is also covered with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, so it should survive in case of accidental drops.

The screen looks vibrant with over 68 billion colors, and the details pop. The clarity is impressive and makes it a pleasure to use for messaging or browsing the web. The viewing angle is also good.

Since the Xiaomi 12 also has a 1,100 nits peak brightness hence it's not surprising that it performs well, even in outdoor settings. We did not struggle with reading content, even in direct sunlight. 

Moreover, we found the 360-degree ambient light sensor responsive in all scenarios. The ambient light sensor automatically adjusts the screen to high brightness whenever it's bright around. When the external environment is dark, the display dims.

Another advantage of its screen is the Dolby Vision and the HDR10+ support, resulting in better contrast and color reproduction. I noticed that I could see the images so well even during the dark parts of the Netflix movie.

Solid viewing experience whether for reading emails, binging shows, and even gaming!

The 120Hz refresh rate is an excellent feature since it makes every swipe and scroll seamlessly smooth. In addition to this, it has a low blue light certification for eye protection. 

The Xiaomi 12 offers a 480Hz touch sampling rate for a more responsive gaming experience that players may really enjoy.

There are options to modify the brightness level, color schemes, and text size in the display settings. You can also enable or disable fullscreen mode, choose between Light/Dark mode, toggle Anti-flicker mode and activate the Reading mode.

For audio, the stereo speakers offered a good level of volume and generally outstanding performance. They quickly fill a medium room, and the sounds are still audible even when I played some clips outside.

At 70 percent, the sound is already full, clear, and pleasing. When we turned it to 100 percent, the distortion was hardly noticeable. It does not have a 3.5mm audio jack for earphones.

As for the microphones, they can record clear sounds with respectable noise reduction during calls and recordings. During calls, the persons I'm talking with said that my voice is audible. I can even have conversations in slightly crowded areas like alfresco coffee shops and malls.

Camera

Rear cameras
Rear cameras

The Xiaomi 12 features a triple-camera setup with 50MP f/1.88 1/1.56-inch Sony IMX766 + 13MP f/2.4 123-degree ultra-wide-angle + 5MP f/2.4 telemacro with a single LED flash. The device also sports PDAF for autofocus and OIS for image stabilization.

The stock camera app has the following modes: short video, vlog, time-lapse, panorama, slow-motion, video, photo, 50MP, portrait (bokeh), night mode, movie effects, long exposure, dual video, and clone. 

For ultra-wide angle and zoom, you may toggle on the three dots on the screen to use them.

Rear Camera Samples

Bright daylight photo
Bright daylight photo
Daylight wide
Daylight wide
Daylight zoom 2x
Daylight zoom 2x
Daylight zoom 5x
Daylight zoom 5x
Daylight zoom 10x
Daylight zoom 10x
Daylight photo with 50MP resolution mode
Daylight photo with 50MP resolution mode

Generally, photos taken with the three lenses looked stunning with vibrant colors, impressive contrast, and lots of detail. The 50MP full resolution mode has improved contrast and dynamic range, bringing out more details.

The ultra-wide camera is slightly softer than the other cameras and a little paler on this than similar ones taken on the primary camera. On the other hand, they were bright and not overly distorted.

Meanwhile, photos up to 2x zoom look pleasing. But if you try to travel in at 5x zoom, you'll notice some grain and softness. The noise and distortion become pretty evident at the maximum range of 10x, so we do not suggest using it unless needed.
Macro shot under bright daylight
Macro shot under bright daylight

In daylight, the 5MP telemacro lens of the Xiaomi 12 can shoot good close-up images but nothing noteworthy.
Normal indoor shot
Normal indoor shot
Indoor wide-angle shot
Indoor wide-angle shot
Indoor 2x zoom
Indoor 2x zoom

Speaking of indoor shots, the phone did retain much of the detail and sharpness without almost a bit of grain but hardly noticeable. Everything looks sharp, the dynamic range is wide, and noise is non-existent, even indoors. 

Note that we tested the device in a not properly-lit restaurant with warm yellow lights all over, which may have a saturated effect on the pictures.
Portrait mode without the background blur
Portrait mode without the background blur
Bokeh shot indoors
Bokeh shot indoors

Moreover, the cameras captured lovely and flattering images, as you can see above. They are detailed with minimal noise and well-balanced exposure, while the colors look vivid without being too oversaturated. 

The bokeh shots did a great job since the subject-to-background separation is excellent without the harsh blur.
Close-up shot indoors with dim light

We used the macro lens to take a quick shot of our food, and given the restaurant's dim lighting, the photo turned out to be soft and lacked punch.
Normal night mode
Normal night mode

In the low-light scenarios, the primary camera struggled in default mode. Thankfully, the Xiaomi comes with an efficient Night mode. This feature enabled us to shoot images with better details, less noise, and more vibrant colors even if the light source was minimal.
Sky editing sample presets
Sky editing sample presets

The company also added a feature that makes our camera testing much more exciting, and it's my personal favorite so far. I'm talking about Sky Editing, which one can use for post-processing photos. 

You can edit pictures to replace the sky with tons of fun presets in the gallery. Some of the edited images can look surprisingly believable and natural.

For selfies, the handset is equipped with a 32MP f/2.5 camera. Have a look at the samples below.

Selfie Camera Samples

Outdoor selfie without filter
Outdoor selfie without filter
Outdoor selfie with bokeh effect
Outdoor selfie with bokeh effect
Outdoor selfie with a beauty filter

The 32MP camera produces sharp and detailed selfies with natural colors and great contrast in daylight. For portrait mode, it offers the same quality with a pleasing background blur. As you can see, the edge detection is spot on and the bokeh does look almost natural.

We are also impressed with the beautification feature of the device. Even though it whitened the subject's complexion a bit, it did not over beautify the image. You can also adjust the filter level according to the facial attributes according to your preference.
Indoor selfie without filter
Indoor selfie without filter
Indoor selfie with bokeh effect
Indoor selfie with bokeh effect

The noise and grain in the photos inside a well-lit restaurant are hardly apparent. As a result, they are still packed with details and vivid colors.
Selfie in a dark environment
Night mode selfie
Night mode selfie
Night mode selfie with flash
Night mode selfie with flash

In this scene, we took sample pictures in near pitch-black lighting. The main camera struggled as noise and distortion appeared. Activating the night mode made the next photo much more presentable, and details were now prominent.

Lastly, combining the night mode and the flash from the device's screen got the most detailed result. Thankfully, the flash did not cast an uneven white cast that was usually the dilemma in many phones. As you can see, the subject's complexion and features did not deviate much from the actual.

Overall, we are truly satisfied with all of the cameras of the Xiaomi 12. Although it got minor flaws, both the rear cameras and the selfie camera performed with versatility.

The Xiaomi 12 allows video recording at 8K and 24fps, or 4K at 60fps with extras like HDR, stabilization, digital bokeh, or simple color filters. There's also slow-mo, which goes to a slow 1920fps if you shoot in 720p. But if you prefer to record at 1080p, you're capped at 960fps.

The device also comes with several extra video shooting modes. For example, a Vlog lets you shoot short video clips and then automatically edit them into a montage. 

Next is the Clone, which lets you shoot a video, then record another one, then layer one over the other. In this way, you can do different things in both shots, hence the term clone.

On the other hand, the Movie Effects adds color grades and lets you digitally recreate some interesting editing tricks like dolly zoom.

Note that you must install these modes in the camera app first, which takes some time. Just make sure to download them using a stable WiFi connection before going on your shoot.

Performance

AnTuTu and GeekBench
AnTuTu and GeekBench

The Xiaomi 12 runs by a 3.0GHz 4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 octa-core processor and a new-gen Adreno GPU. This is coupled with an 8GB LPDDR5 RAM and a 256GB UFS 3.1 internal storage.

These components managed to get a whopping score of 883,018 in AnTuTu, a Single-Core score of 1231, and a Multi-Core score of 3452 in GeekBench. 
PCMark and 3DMark Wildlife
PCMark and 3DMark Wildlife
AI Benchmark and CPDT
AI Benchmark and CPDT

Xiaomi 12 benchmark scores:

1. AnTuTu - 883,018
2. Geekbench -  1,231 (Single-Core), 3,452 (Multi-Core)
3. PCMark Work 3.0 performance - 13,252
4. 3DMark Wild Life -  9,863 and average 59 fps
5. AI Benchmark - 1082K
6. CPDT -  491.71 MB/s (Sequential write speed), 652.37 MB/s (Sequential read speed)

Everything about using the Xiaomi 12 felt easy and fluid. We noticed that it coped well with loading even the most intensive apps. It did not struggle at all when I tried to open 4 or 5 apps simultaneously.

Fast fast performance!

The review unit we have has 256GB of internal memory, which is not expandable since there's no microSD card slot. Personally, this amount of storage is more than enough to store huge files such as videos, games, movies, music files, and others.

The  4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 octa-core processor gave a remarkable performance with little to no hiccups as we played games like Call of Duty and Mobile Legends.

The company also placed a cooling technology containing an extra-large VC LiquidCool board in Xiaomi 12. This is to dissipate heat and reduce the temperature if the phone is put under prolonged stress.

This feature is nice, considering the handset is super slim. In our experience, it is cool most of the time. It won't heat up to disturbing levels even on games like Call of Duty and Mobile Legends.

Connectivity-wise, the Xiaomi 12 uses the new WiFi 6 standard. It also has 5G, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, GPS (L1 + L5), GLONASS, and dual SIM slots. There's also an IR Blaster, which lets you use it as a remote for your TV or smart home features, but this requires compatible devices.

The optical in-display fingerprint scanner is easy to set up, and it detects and scans the fingerprint quickly. The only downside is that the placement is slightly too far down the screen to where your thumb naturally sits.

The face unlock using the selfie camera is also quite responsive, and it is faster to set up. The device detects our faces split second and unlocks the phone in well-lit and poorly lit environments. The screen lights up when in a dimmer environment too. 
PCMark Battery test score
PCMark Battery test score

The Xiaomi 12 packs a 4,500mAh battery to go alongside the speedy performance. In our PCMark battery test, we were able to get 11 hours and 19 minutes. 

In real life, it lasted us an entire day without needing before we needed to reach for the charger. Note that we used the phone as a daily driver for answering some calls and messages. We also read some articles online, flicked through social media and TikTok videos, and took a few photos on the camera. 

Charging the device again took around 50 minutes to an hour using the 67W fast charging included in the box. So far, we are satisfied with this rate.
Android 12 w/ MIUI 13 user interface

The Xiaomi 12 runs with MIUI 13 based on Android 12, and it is smooth, fast, stable, and pretty much customizable. The software arrives with a few bloatware like Netflix, Spotify, TikTok, Twitter, Amazon Shopping, and some of Xiaomi’s apps.

The MIUI 13 contains an array of pretty wallpapers, tons of widgets, optimization features, and others. It even sports special features such as the heart rate monitor, sidebar, front camera assistant, and second space.

Personally, I find the heart rate monitor handy and convenient to use. You just have to tap the function and place your thumb on the heart shape icon as instructed. 

The second space is pretty standard now in Android devices. It allows you to have two different accounts using one phone, either personal or work.

Pros - classy design, compact form, FHD+ AMOLED display, great battery life with fast charging, several video modes, Sky Editor, versatile cameras, powerful specs
Cons - no IP rating indicated, no expandable memory, no telephoto lens

Xiaomi 12 Specs

Display: 6.28-inch Gorilla Glass Victus protected AMOLED screen w/ 120Hz refresh rate, AdaptiveSync, 480Hz touch sampling rate, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, FHD+ 2400 x 1080 resolution at 419 PPI
CPU: 3.0GHz 4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 octa-core processor
GPU: Adreno
RAM: 8GB LPDDR5
ROM: 256GB UFS 3.1
Back Camera: 50MP f/1.88 1/1.56-inch Sony IMX766 w/ PDAF, OIS + 13MP f/2.4 123-degree ultra-wide-angle + 5MP f/2.4 telemacro + LED flash
Selfie Camera: 32MP f/2.45
Battery: 4,500mAh w/ 67W fast charging, 50W wireless charging, 10W reverse wireless charging
OS: Android 12 w/ MIUI 13
Connectivity: WiFi 6, 5G, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, GPS (L1 + L5), dual SIM
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic
Others: In-Display fingerprint sensor, face unlock, IR Blaster, Harman Kardon audio, Dolby Atmos, Hi-Res Audio, cooling system, X-axis linear vibration motor, USB-C, Colors: Gray, Purple, Blue
Dimensions: 152.7 x 69.9 x 8.16 mm
Weight: 176 g
Price: PHP 39,999

Verdict

Our thoughts on the Xiaomi 12
Our thoughts on the Xiaomi 12

The Xiaomi 12's size is a breath of fresh air among the newly-released premium phones in the market. This just proves that the quality of entertainment and functionality does not depend on the size only. 

There's no doubt the tech giant equipped this with premium materials so it still looks sturdy even though there's a sense of fragileness because of the curved display. The stunning design is complemented with a 4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 octa-core processor inside that results in a satisfying performance and long battery life.

Moreover, we are generally impressed with the output of the rear cameras and the 32MP selfie camera. 

We highly suggest the Xiaomi 12 for those who are geared into content creation and at the same time want to enjoy a 5G flagship-worthy experience without spending beyond the 40K price range.

Do you guys agree?

Build/Design - 4
Multimedia Experience - 4.5
Cameras - 4
Performance - 4.25
Average - 4.19/5
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