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MUNICH (Pocket-lint) - With the Xiaomi 12T and 12T Pro, the manufacturer is refreshing its flagship phone range for the end of the year. What that means, in broad strokes, is that we get a bit of a spec bump in the internals and a better primary camera on the back. 

In reality it's hardly likely anyone with a Xiaomi 12 or 12 Pro would be seeking to upgrade, but for the phone maker, it keeps it ahead of the pack, delivering market-leading performance. We've had some hands-on time with the Pro to see what it's like. 

Our quick take

On the whole, the first experience of looking at and using the Xiaomi 12T Pro is very much like using a lot of other Android phones. Except when you enable the 200-megapixel camera mode in good daylight and then see the sharpness on offer. 

That extra resolution, and some fancy processing behind the scenes, means you can zoom or crop into your photos to a much higher level than usual and still retain sharpness. It's pretty impressive. 

Pricing also goes in Xiaomi's favour, with a figure that's considerably less that what Samsung, Apple, Sony or Oppo will charge you for their top tier, big smartphones. It's not quite at the point where we'd ever call it cheap, but given that camera, the internals specs and battery charging, it offers more than enough to make that price good value for money. 

Xiaomi 12T Pro initial review: Pixel perfect?

Xiaomi 12T Pro

For
  • Top tier performance
  • Two day battery
  • Super fast charging
  • 200MP camera seems great on first impressions
Against
  • MIUI 13 software is more convoluted than ever
  • Second and third cameras aren't all that impressive

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Design 

  • 163.1mm x 75.9mm x 8.6mm - 205g
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 5 front 
  • Black, Silver or Blue colours

From a design perspective, there's not a massive amount of change compared with the 12 Pro, although we can't help but feel the new finishes aren't quite as nice too look at as the deep grey of the Xiaomi 12 Pro which was actually stunning in person. 

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Compared to that, the standard black of the new 12T Pro looks a little plain and generic. But then the phone is also available in silver and blue. Both also lacking the classy, stylish finish of the previous gen's grey. Despite that, it's quite attractive in its own way. 

Pocket-lint Xiaomi 12T hardware photo 17

Although it is quite a large device, there's an element of practicality about the design. The glass on the back has a frosted, matte finish that makes it less slippery than a glossy back would be, and makes fingerprint smears less obvious. 

That rear glass panel also features curves towards all four edges, making it a softer, more comfortable shape to ensure that - even though it is a big phone - it doesn't have a straight right-angled frame digging into your palm. 

The front screen being completely flat is another example of the desire to make it a practical device. Giving you an even, wide spice to type on, and reducing the risk of accidental or phantom touches on the edges of the display. 

Pocket-lint Xiaomi 12T hardware photo 3

Overall, then, it is a fairly standard affair and features the usual selection of buttons and ports with the volume rocker switch on the right above the wake/sleep key, and the SIM tray, USB-C port and speaker on the bottom edge. 

Display and software

  • 6.67-inch AMOLED display - 2712 x 1220 resolution
  • 120Hz adaptive refresh rates 
  • HDR10+ and Dolby Vision support
  • MIUI 13 based on Android 12 

It's a fairly typical set of specs on the display front, for a flagship phone at least. That means you get up to 120Hz refresh rates from the large 6.67-inch AMOLED display, and refresh rate is adaptive too to some degree. 

Unlike some of the top tier displays, this one doesn't adaptive at a granular level all the way down to 1hz though. Rather, it switches between 30Hz, 60Hz, 90Hz and 120Hz depending on the content being viewed on the screen. 

Still, it's got more than enough about it to perform well. That includes high enough contrast and brightness for HDR content, including certification for both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. 

Pocket-lint Xiaomi 12T hardware photo 12

Resolution is a little unusual though, in that it sits somewhere between fullHD+ and QuadHD+. It's 2712 x 1220, and that means over 420 pixel-per-inch and should mean it delivers nice and crisp visuals. On first impressions at least, it certainly seems sharp enough. 

The software is MIUI 13, Xiaomi's latest Android skin that is currently still based on Android 12. We're still waiting for an Android 13 based version. Looking at it briefly, it appears the software hasn't improved from the versions we've seen on other phones this year. 

That means some things still feel more convoluted than they need to be. Just simple things like trying to change your wallpaper now takes you to an online themes store, rather than the wallpaper picker, which is frustrating. 

As is the insistence that the default swipe down on the Home Screen isn't a notifications and quick settings view. Instead, you get control centre for switches on the right, and notifications separate on the left. 

Pocket-lint Xiaomi 12T hardware photo 4

That's without mentioning the default navigation method being the old-style Android buttons, rather than gestures. Most of this can be changed, but it means a lot of tweaking to make it resemble a more intuitive user interface. 

Hardware and performance 

  • Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor
  • 8GB RAM - 256GB storage on UK variant
  • 5000mAh battery 
  • 120W HyperCharge - Full charge in 19 minutes

Like most 'T' upgrades from smartphone manufacturers, that 'T' usually signifies one thing: the phone has the mid-year spec bumped flagship processor from Qualcomm. That means instead of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 from the 12 Pro, we have the 8+ Gen 1. 

It's one of those upgrades that means the Xiaomi can say its phone is the most powerful phone on the market. In reality though, if you have a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 phone, the perception of speed and fluidity won't be too much different on the 12T Pro, but it is a little more battery efficient and doesn't seem to run quite as warm under load. At least in our experience with the platform so far. We need to test it further on the Xiaomi 12T Pro to see if that carries over to this latest phone.

Pocket-lint Xiaomi 12T hardware photo 5

That's backed up by a healthy amount of RAM and storage. In the UK variant, that's 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. However, there will be a higher 12GB/256GB variant in other markets. 

As for battery life, Xiaomi's equipped it with a hefty 5000mAh capacity cell which is designed to support the company's speedy 120W charging speeds (with a compatible charger in the box). As we found out on other Poco and Redmi phones this year, that kind of speed is genuinely brilliant. It means you can have a full charge from empty in about 20 minutes. 

Even if you only have 5-10 minutes to spare to quickly give your phone some juice, it'll give you enough to last almost an entire day. Perhaps even more, because Xiaomi is promising a two day battery for those who use about 6 hours of screen time per day, which should mean even the heaviest of users who spend time in really demanding apps and functions still have battery left at the end of the day. 

Cameras - 200MP beast 

  • 200MP primary 1/1.22" sensor w/OIS
  • 8MP ultrawite - 2MP macro 
  • 20MP selfie camera 

The camera department is one area it's difficult to get a proper sense of what it's like from a brief hands-on session, so we'll reserve full judgement on this until we've had proper testing time with it. 

However, Xiaomi has adopted Samsung's huge 200-megapixel sensor in the primary camera and we're really keen to see how well it performs. As impressive as that number seems on paper, it's often the case that cramming more pixels in makes images worse. 

Pocket-lint Xiaomi 12T hardware photo 1

With that said, by default in automatic mode, Xiaomi's phone pixel bins 16 pixels into one (essentially merging them to create one, big pixel). This is quite a familiar approach in the Android phone market, and should mean decent low light performance and fast focussing. 

If you do opt to use all 200 million pixels, it means being able to crop into an image without losing much in the way of sharpness. We've taken a few test shots with this mode enabled and - in daylight - it is impressive how much you can zoom into an image before the detail starts to fall away and look a bit rough. 

The other two cameras aren't quite as impressive. There's a pretty standard 8-megapixel ultrawide and a low resolution macro lens. The camera setup is very clearly all about the main camera on this phone. 

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To recap

On the whole, the first experience of looking at and using the Xiaomi 12T is very much like using a lot of other Android phones. Except when you enable the 200-megapixel camera mode in good daylight and then see the sharpness on offer.

Writing by Cam Bunton.
Sections Phones Xiaomi