Xiaomi Mi 12 review: the return of the compact TOP of the range

There is one credit that must be given to Xiaomi: the new lineup Xiaomi 12 nothing is missing, but if there is one of the models presented by poco who immediately aroused our curiosity is the youngest of the family. Because, come on, we know that the Xiaomi 12 Pro integrates the maximum of technology currently available for a smartphone, but it is precisely the more compact version that - in a certain sense - introduces a pinch of novelty and bodes well for an answer relating to a desire of many users: a top of the range compact as, until now, they have never been seen.

We have been trying both models for some time, but this time we start with the smallest and cheapest one? Do you prefer a compact 6.28 ″ FHD + flagship or a 6.73 ″ QHD + “giant”? If yours is the first, then you won't be disappointed: with a Snap 8 Gen. 1, a revamped design, and a re-modified camera bump, the Xiaomi 12 could lead the way in a new segment for the Android smartphone market.

A segment made up of compact, comfortable and not at all annoying models in your pocket which, however, at the same time, integrate the maximum of technology currently available. But let's go in order, because of things to say about this Xiaomi 12 they are a lot.

Xiaomi Mi 12 review: the best compact top of the range?

Package Contents

The packaging of the Xiaomi 12 is in line with those seen in all the other models of the brand. Given the size of the smartphone, the shape is much more compact than average, but inside there are all the necessary accessories to be able to take advantage of the smartphone right away, including the charger. Inside we find:

  • Xiaomi Mi 12;
  • TPU cover;
  • 67w charger
  • Manual.

Design and materials

Large 152,7 x 69.9 x 8,16 mm and weighing 180 grams, the first thing that catches the eye is its compactness. There is nothing to do, it is truly a little gem. To be honest it is slightly taller than an iPhone 13 Pro, but it is definitely thinner and less heavy. It must be said then, that as well as in Apple's smartphone, so too Xiaomi 12 it is characterized by a balance of weights that borders on perfection.

ùAvailable in 4 versions, including one featuring a back cover in organic leather, the back cover of the sample we are testing is made with a matte finish that can handle fingerprints very well and two symmetrical speakers have been inserted into the frames in collaboration with Harman Kardon, which reproduce audio with good spatiality.

Clearly the big news lies in the rear bump chamber, which has been redesigned for the hundredth time, and which takes a slightly more traditional style than what Xiaomi has accustomed us to. It is a vertical rectangle divided into three sections: the main camera has been positioned in the upper one, under which the other two cameras and the LED flash will be located.

And without going around it too much: I like it. Of course, the idea of ​​changing the shape of the camera bump every year and opting for a much more conformist style that seems to have been born from a merger between Samsung and OnePlus could make you lose the "recognizability" that the brand had managed to achieve with the lineup. Mi 11, but I must say that this more "elegant" and minimalist aspect has its own reason, especially in a jewel like the Xiaomi 12.

All the keys have been positioned on the right frame, below there is the trolley for the sim and the input for the USB type C cable, while above those of Xiaomi have well thought of continuing to integrate the IR blaster with which to transform the smartphone into a universal remote control. The whole front is occupied by a curved display at the two side edges protected by a Gorilla Glass Victus that integrates the fingerprint sensor.

Display

The screen is one of the major differences between the Xiaomi 12 and the Xiaomi 12 Pro. If Xiaomi Mi 11 used a huge 6.8 "Quad HD + panel, with the little one of the new family the specifications become a little more human: the panel is a 6.28" FullHD + AMOLED with a 120 refresh rate Hz and a touch sampling rate of 480 Hz. But although, on paper, the specifications do not scream a miracle, it must be admitted that the choice made by Xiaomi is more than sensible.

It's a well-balanced, bright panel with vivid colors and deep blacks. In short, it is a full-fledged AMOLED, which among other things is capable of reproducing 10-bit colors and is compatible with HDR10 + and Dolby Vision and, given the size, the choice to focus on a FullHD + in my opinion is right. . The peak brightness is 1100 nits and the pixel-per-inch density is more than enough to ensure a good quality image.

As I see it, however, those of Xiaomi could have made the effort to integrate an LTPO type panel also in the Xiaomi 12 (as they did with the Pro variant) but, unfortunately, this is not the case: and it is a real shame, also because - as we will see later - the consumption of the Snap 8 is not that they are then who knows how much reduced despite the fact that the company has guaranteed an efficiency greater than 25% compared to the previous generation.

In any case, we are still talking about an excellent display, even if the qualitative differences with the one integrated in the larger variant are visible to the naked eye.

Hardware and performance - Xiaomi 12

To animate it Xiaomi 12 the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 takes care of it, which is flanked by 8 or 12 GB of RAM of the LPDDR5 type and 128 or 256 GB of internal memory of the UFS 2.1 type. In short, without turning around too much, we are talking about a very high level hardware configuration, able to guarantee maximum performance in practically any operation that can be performed with a smartphone.

But let's get to the point, because in Telegram group InProof with Giz (where we post the backstage of all our reviews), the main questions about the hardware of this Xiaomi 12 there were practically only two: the "overheating" issue and the proximity sensor.

Let's start with the first. It is true that it is Xiaomi 12 warms up? The answer is, alas, yes. But we must be very careful in analyzing this overheating. Generally, to evaluate the thermal throttling of the SoC in the smartphones that I test, I perform a stress test with AnTuTu which I keep going for about 30 minutes: well, unfortunately I was unable to do this test with the Xiaomi 12, precisely because of overheating.

After turning off the smartphone and turning it on after 15 minutes, and then starting the stress test, the result has always been the same: arrived a few minutes at the end of the test (set to a duration of 15 minutes), the whole operation is blocked because the temperature exceeds the safety threshold of 45 degrees. So yeah, when it's properly squeezed it Xiaomi 12 heats a lot.

It must be said, however, that this is not always the case. Ok, generally speaking the smartphone always overheats in the upper section of the back cover, but in reality the temperature management in less complex operations than a stress test is not so bad: I tried to carry on a session of about one 'time of gaming with Call Of Duty Mobile and even if the temperature has risen a lot, it has never exceeded that threshold of "annoyance" while holding the smartphone.

And things get even more complicated if we want to talk about the proximity sensor of the Xiaomi 12. Because yes, it is true that the new lineup of Xiaomi 12 uses a new Goodix proximity sensor, but the sad reality is that even if things have improved, the problem has not been completely solved.

The Goodix sensor is generally used to determine the temperature of the ambient light, to better manage the color balance when taking selfies (eliminating problems related to the brightness of the display) and for other features of this type, and is then also used as a sensor proximity. The problem though, is that even with Xiaomi 12 some annoying limitations of this technology continue to be present.

First of all ok, the proximity sensor is activated only when the smartphone is positioned in a vertical position or slightly inclined: which means that yes, when you call while standing or sitting the system is activated, but if for example you is in bed with one ear resting on the pillow, the first problems would begin.

I must admit, however, that I have never encountered the usual annoyances when I tried to call with him Xiaomi 12 even if, and this is an equally annoying thing, going to listen to voice messages on Telegram or WhatsApp, several times I found myself with the notification curtain down, or in some particular screen of the operating system.

So, well but not very well, and honestly I am also tired of wondering why those of Xiaomi continue to carry on this "philosophy" relating to the proximity sensor, when there are so many much more functional alternatives in the market.

In any case, the audio is excellent, which is stereo and uses two speaker products in collaboration with Harman Kardon which are able to guarantee balanced reproduction in all shades and with a good spatial effect, and equally high quality the audio in capsule and cellular network reception, as well as WiFi antennas also compatible with the standard 6 WiFi.

Camera

In the camera sector, the Chinese brand has made an excellent choice even on the smallest of the series: it has focused on Sony's excellent IMX766, a 50 megapixel sensor used in the main camera, which we have more than appreciated in other smartphones on the market. The main camera has a 1.9mm equivalent f / 26 lens, is optically stabilized and is flanked by a 13mm equivalent 2.4 MP f / 12 ultra wide angle lens and 123 degrees of field of view, and a 5 MP telemacro with autofocus for close-up photos (macro) up to 3mm and 2x optical zoom (50mm equivalent).

Among the photographic innovations we find the system Xiaomi ImageBrain, with which the company has actually improved the speed of the camera in both starting and shooting, along with the technology CyberFocus, with which the autofocus in the recognition of the framed persons has been optimized. 

In short, the photos taken with the main camera of the Xiaomi 12 are definitely noteworthy, it is not for nothing that they are made with one of the best sensors of 2021. The details are clearly visible, the sharpness is marked, the color management is all in all good and there is well poco to say. However, things change a little when you go to shoot with the other two cameras that yes, they manage to guarantee more than enjoyable shots, but with a rather marked qualitative gap compared to those taken with the main camera.

It must be said, however, that the camera's AI software of the Xiaomi 12 it could make the photos perhaps too saturated, but it is able to manage more than well even the photographs in night mode: even in this case, however, my advice is to use in this mode mostly the main camera, which is qualitatively better than to the other two.

Good 32 megapixel front camera capable of taking more than decent selfies, excellent videos that can be recorded in 8K is 24fps, or in 4K at 60 FPS: even here, however, the difference between the main camera (which is optically stabilized) and the other two is very marked, especially in terms of HDR management and stabilization.

Software

At the time of writing, it Xiaomi 12 that we have in test is animated by Android 12 customized with MIUI 13. I will not dwell too much on the software of our sample for the simple reason that it is the Chinese version of the device: when we will have the opportunity to install the official Italian ROM, we will publish a dedicated study.

Battery

La battery on Xiaomi 12 it loses 100 mAh compared to the past, and reaches 4500 mAh. However, it earns faster wired fast charging (67 watts) and maintains fast wireless charging at 50 watts, with the possibility of reverse charging at 10 W. To ensure handling of this level, Xiaomi has used a cobalt lithium accumulator which boasts a higher energy density: the capacity has remained (almost) unchanged while the external dimensions have been reduced.

All in all, however, in terms of autonomy, the differences with the previous generation are few. The Snap 8 Gen 1 is certainly not among the less energy-intensive SoCs, but it still boasts an optimized consumption management compared to an 888. The battery, however, is smaller which, in a nutshell, led me to reach (almost) 6 hours of display on with average use, but with the display set at fixed 120 Hz.

Price and conclusions

To date, the date of sale of the Xiaomi 12 and Xiaomi 12 Pro in Italy is still unknown, but there are rumors that would see them arrive in the beautiful country around March 2022. However, it is already possible to buy them on Trading Shenzen, with shipping without customs duties but animated by the same software as the sample we received in the test: that is, with Chinese Rom, in English but with GMS and PlayStore installed.

The price starts from 647 euros for the 8/128 version, and reaches 697 euros for the 8/256 version and 747 euros for the 12/256 version. Which model to buy? In my opinion the most interesting is the one with 8 GB of RAM memory because - let's face it - given the super first-class hardware characteristics, it guarantees more than enough performance for the vast majority of people.

And, without going around it, the gist of the matter is this: at this price, Xiaomi 12 it is probably the first best-buy of 2022, because it is powerful, it is fast, it has an excellent camera compartment and it is a small (very compact) gem. Ok, the temperature issue could have been handled better and yes, with the proximity sensor things have improved but the problems have not been completely solved yet.

But there is no doubt that we are talking about a top of the range that is very comfortable to use and with an almost unbeatable quality / price ratio for now.



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