Xiaomi 12 Pro proves Americans need more Android options

Photo of a person holding the Xiaomi 12 Pro

Xiaomi 12 Pro is an impressive Android smartphone that you won’t find in the US
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Android has always been concerned with offering its users options. But with more companies failing to produce a flagship worthy of getting rid of Samsung and Google, the options seem to be becoming more uniform with each new smartphone launch cycle.

Xiaomi is the 3rd best-selling smartphone brand in the world, but it is not sold in the US States. Its hardware tends to be well reviewed, and in my time reviewing smartphones, I remember having liked Xiaomi’s camera samples more than once. That’s why I was curious to get the Xiaomi 12 Pro, the company’s latest flagship device, even if I couldn’t buy it. Xiaomi is the equivalent of Apple in China, and I want to know what I’m missing out on and what Google and Samsung aren’t competing with in the US.

Xiaomi phones are not available in the US for several reasons. The simplified answer to why is that it is complicated to do business between the United States and China. It’s still a huge problem for Android users like myself, who are saddened by the lack of diversity after the exit of former heavyweights like LG and HTC.

Well designed device

Picture of the back of the Xiaomi 12 Pro

The back of the Xiaomi 12 Pro might look a little different than what you’re used to seeing on a smartphone.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

I spent several days with Xiaomi 12 Pro – compared to my last experience with Google Pixel 6 Pro And the Samsung Galaxy S22 series– And I really like what he does.

I’m not usually a big fan of the huge camera lens on the back of the device, but the Xiaomi 12 Pro manages to pull it off without looking too busy – which is how the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s camera array appears from afar. The matte back is smooth to the touch and does not slip or slide like the Pixel 6 family of smartphones. The 12 Pro comes in black and purple colors, and although I wish Xiaomi would send me the latter, I liked what I saw with the former.

The slim design of the Xiaomi 12 Pro looks slimmer than Samsung’s Galaxy S22+, but it’s actually a bit bigger if you compare the raw dimensions. It’s technically thicker too, although the difference is too slight to measure. Anyway, I prefer the bare-bones Xiaomi 12 Pro over the bare Galaxy S22 +. The screen’s waterfall effect on the sides makes it easier to manipulate the chassis the way my little hands cradled a smartphone.

Photo of Xiaomi 12 Pro and Galaxy S22 + side by side

Size comparison between Xiaomi 12 Pro (left) and Samsung Galaxy S22+ (right).
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

The screen of the Xiaomi 12 Pro is really amazing. It’s a 6.73-inch AMOLED display with an aspect ratio of 20:9 and a maximum resolution of 3200 x 1440. It displays at a resolution of 2400 x 1080 with a variable refresh rate of 120Hz by default. I didn’t use the phone at a higher resolution because I didn’t want to kill battery life, and I didn’t ask for that particular use.

If you want to enjoy watching on your smartphone, as I do after hours under the covers, just me and my snacks, you’ll enjoy the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s quad speakers, powered by Harman Kardon – a affair that goes back to HTC’s glory days, Sniff. The speakers are great for playing music too, if a Bluetooth speaker isn’t within range.

There is a small caveat to note on the design. The Xiaomi 12 Pro isn’t as waterproof as the current crop of flagships, which is a problem for anyone who likes to read in the shower (I do).

Nice Smartphone

Picture of the Xiaomi 12 Pro

The Xiaomi 12 Pro is just as standard as Android phones, but some people like that kind of thing!
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

The Xiaomi 12 Pro offers similar specifications to those of the latest Samsung phones. There’s a first-generation Snapdragon 8 processor inside, and you can choose between 8GB and 12GB of RAM — Xiaomi sent me the last processor, along with 256GB of storage. There is no higher storage option, which is curious given the lack of an expansion slot.

Synthetic benchmarks are not the most reliable way to measure processor performance in everyday use. Look what happens to Samsung’s flagship now that it’s been spotted stuffy Numbers. But I ran Geekbench anyway, at least to see where the Xiaomi 12 Pro stands. It’s more powerful than Google’s Pixel 6 Tensor chip, but it still has some runway before catching up with the iPhone 13’s A15 Bionic chip. As we’ve seen in the devices we’ve tested so far, this is par for this particular Snapdragon chip cycle.

The battery capabilities of the Xiaomi 12 Pro are also impressive. The phone’s 4600mAh battery was able to keep working for as long as the Galaxy s22 Ultra 5000mAh. It stayed up for about 16 hours and five minutes before fading out during YouTube’s damaged battery test.

Xiaomi 12 Pro provides access to all major global 5G bands. Xiaomi 12 Pro also supports Wi-Fi 6E Bluetooth 5.2. I tested the phone with a Mint SIM, although I live where 5G is scarce, so I wasn’t able to test its effectiveness. At least, if you find a way to import the device, you can use it with a US MVNO.

Fantastic cameras

Photo samples of Xiaomi 12 Pro

Three samples of landscape photos from Xiaomi 12 Pro. Left to Right: 1x, 2x, and 20x shots.
picture: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Xiaomi 12 Pro is full of cameras. It has three 50-megapixel cameras, although they differ slightly in the apertures and field of view. The 50MP primary camera has an f/1.9 aperture with 1.22 µm pixels and OIS; The secondary camera of 50 MP is a wide-angle lens with a field of view of 110 degrees and aperture of f / 2.2; The third 50-megapixel camera is a zoom lens with f/1.9 aperture and 2x optical zoom. Like Samsung’s camera system, you can switch to 50MP mode when you want to take advantage of it everyone those pixels.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s camera output, but I was impressed with the way it captured my daughter in all kinds of lighting. In most cases, images displayed well throughout the entire frame, although the 12 Pro sometimes struggled to keep up if I moved too fast. The 12 Pro camera system works best if you pre-install your subject. Nor was I too keen on the 12 Pro’s zoom function, considering I could barely read the text on the medicine bottle from across the room. Anything beyond 3x gets a bit suspicious in terms of clarity.

Another version of Android

Image of the Xiaomi 12 Pro phone, focusing on the app drawer

It took me a while to figure out how to simplify the MIUI App Drawer.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Sincerely, one of the annoying parts of being an Android user is that every smartphone tends to offer a different experience. The interface often varies between manufacturers.

In the case of Xiaomi, the 12 Pro runs MIUI 13 on top of Android 12. It offers many of the same features as the Pixel set, including a scheduled dark mode, gesture control, and digital wellbeing. This version of its interface is supposed to be more bloat-free than previous versions, but the bloated iconography definitely leads you to think otherwise. You can change icons directly through the MIUI launcher, which is good considering that Google’s Pixel launcher doesn’t give you that kind of customization, even with Material You.

MIUI has many of the same features hidden in Google’s Android, including privacy controls, security advisor, and Google Play Protection. However, you will have to deal with Xiaomi’s version of an app checking service similar to Play Protect, moreover, which is what it uses for its Chinese devices. Xiaomi doesn’t have the best track record for software updates, although my review unit is in the same November security patch as my OnePlus 9.

There are other parts of MIUI that I hesitate to adopt. The quick settings drawer, for example, lives separately from the notification panel. It’s tricky at times and I prefer the bloated way Android 12 has always gone because that’s what I trained my brain to solve. MIUI also offers features that aren’t as fun or branded as those that Samsung offers on its One UI.

Anyway, none of that matters. Unless they Bypass the hassle and expense of importing a 12 Pro, most people reading this will never touch anyone. This is a great shame because I’m ready to use Any thing This is not so Made by Samsung or Google.