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  • Fitri Aiyub

Xiaomi 12 Review : Evolution Done Right

Evolution in its entirety is a process that takes years to mould into something new, and even though "perfection" doesn't really exist in the real world, perfecting what didn't work in versions before says a lot about what Xiaomi's been planning behind the scenes.

With the likes of Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 inside, to a stunning new 50MP pro-grade camera and impressive computational photography, to a design that's evolved in the right direction but not exactly new from other flagships that came out last year. So can this flagship earn its place in a fast paced market? Or does growth matter most over everything else? Let's dive deep into the Xiaomi 12.

Keeping in mind that 2021 held some really great releases, the ones Xiaomi launched played their own hand in creating some decent looking but not fully premium feeling phones.

This Xiaomi 12 on the other hand weighing 180g and 69.9mm wide, feels like it has a solid build with high-grade aluminium chassis and glass back covered with a material that rejects any form of material from sticking to the backplate. So no fingerprints here, and it's also nice to see the speaker cutouts designed in an oval shape compared to normal grills - not to mention a Sound by Harmon Kardon badge at the top to remind us of how good the audio experience can get. It's the small details that deserve an applause here, from textures that promote durability and elegance at the same time.

But while all that seems great, the overall design of the Xiaomi 12 reminds us of previous renditions in 2021, which was coincidentally released officially pretty late in the year, it sort of explains the familiarity coming from Chinese made Androids.This also has us speculating that there's more to come in 2022 from Xiaomi in their flagship department. While signs of a Xiaomi 12 "Ultra / Pro Plus" is still unclear, the Xiaomi 12 Pro is yet another flagship that's worth its own voice in another video.

Another big improvement in the Xiaomi 12 is the 6.28 inch AMOLED HDR10+ display with Dolby Vision and AdaptiveSync refresh rates up 120Hz. It has DCI P3 colours that promotes a wider range of colours - up to 68 billion colours to be exact - and excels at rendering colour rich images from edge to edge of the screen. Under daylight usage, the 1,100 peak brightness is plenty for your average user, and truly helps in compositions

Viewing experience in itself can be enhanced even further via Xiaomi's AI image engine that supports upscaling resolution for videos online. This feature though may slightly increase power consumption if left enabled.

It also has an image enhancement toggle to identify objects which can dynamically adjust display effects.

The constant variable in this evolution is the sound experience brought by Harmon Kardon with its dedicated dual speakers - in our humble opinion, these are the best speakers we've heard from this far, firing from both ends and not the cheat chit versions by utilising the earpiece as a second output.

Our sound impressions from the Xiaomi 11T pro were impressive enough but takes it a step further in this Xiaomi 12. Even bluetooth audio experiences sound much richer and is tuned so well that it allows a higher peak volume threshold to support high-end bluetooth over-ear headphones such as Sony's WH-1000XM4, which also promotes lower latency in the latest Bluetooth 5.2 for gaming.

Equipped with Android 12, 8GB RAM alongside the Snapdragon 8 Gen-1 and Adreno 730, our Geekbench tests score relatively high marks of 1186 for Single-core and 3565 for Multi-core. This outperforms Samsung's S21 Ultra and sits close to the latest S22 Ultra.

Even the gaming experience feels as smooth as it gets, rendering high graphics showing great results scoring 97% better than all devices in our 3D Mark Wild Life tests but it does intensively raise operating temperatures close to 80 degrees celsius.

But where things get interesting is the downscale from Xiaomi's 108MP camera to a 50MP alongside a 13MP ultra-wide and 5MP Tele-macro camera.

A noticeable improvement in its computational results but still the Xiaomi overall look at a glance. The bigger sensor inside has helped in better dynamic range, natural depth of field, and manages exposures more consistently throughout different focal lengths. But still has a little lack in sharpness and colour desaturation in the 13MP ultra-wide.

Probably something to look forward to in the Pro variant which boasts a triple 50MP camera construction, so do hit subscribe if you'd like to see our thoughts on the Xiaomi 12 Pro.

Video quality takes a leap forward with 8K resolutions and 4K up to 60fps. While 8K wasn't exactly usable in the previous versions, with operating temperatures being quite an issue till holding the phone in your hands would be uncomfortable to say the least.Thankfully these issues were addressed as it's now equipped with an extra-large VC Liquid Cooling board that incorporates Xiaomi's thinnest 0.3mm VC LiquidCool Material, accelerating heat flow and effectively reducing core temperatures.

Image quality in broad daylight on the other hand is impressive, though aside from a better natural depth of field, it’s not obvious if there are other significant improvements upon when we last reviewed the 11T. It’s when situations get dark that the jump from 108MP to 50MP makes the downscaling decision a wise one, as noise and grain are unnoticeable in the Xiaomi 12.

Paired with a low aperture of f/1.88, 2 micron 4-in-1 SuperPixel sensor and clever computations help in achieving this technical feat. Quite the applause we'd like to give for Xiaomi as low light performance has been focused highly in photo outputs from other manufacturers but not so much in video quality, so we're very glad to see evolution where it counts.

Power consumption takes a step forward with its 4500mAh, giving us about 2 days standby time and about a day and a half of casual gaming and watching videos online. It also comes with a 67W wired turbo charger included in the box which takes 39 minutes to 100% and a wireless 50W charger option that will get it up to 100% in 53 minutes.

The Xiaomi 12 comes with Android 12 and storage options of 256GB/512GB and has a starting price of RM2,899 or S$999

While slow growth is ideally the way to go for longevity, Xiaomi has truly taken the step in the right direction. It leaves behind a good impression and reinforces the perspective of how Chinese phones have levelled up their game and earned its keep amongst other world-class flagships. As to how consistent they may deliver in the future, only time will tell. Just like evolution itself, there's no rush here - Just growth.


Written by Fitri Aiyub

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