Xiaomi 12 Pro is a new contender at the top of the smartphone food chain. And make no mistake, it deserves to have flagship royalty, including the iPhone 13 Pro.
Having spent most of the past year ditching Apple as the number two smartphone maker, Xiaomi appears poised to step up the fight in 2022.
So how do the two high-end phones compare? Which stylish smartphone is worth four numbers? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
iPhone 13 Pro and Xiaomi 12 Pro price and availability
The Xiaomi 12 Pro will go on sale on April 15, 2022. Pricing starts at $999 for 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, although note that this phone doesn’t actually ship in the US. In the UK there will only be one model available, with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage for £1,049 (about £1,385).
The iPhone 13 Pro arrived on September 24, 2021, with prices starting at $999 / £949 / AU$1,699 for 128GB, $1099 / £1,049 / AU$1,869 for 256GB, and $1,299/£1,249 / AU$2,219 for 512GB. There’s also a 1TB model available for $1,499 / £1449 / AU$2,569.
These two phones are priced very similarly, then. However, the iPhone 13 Pro wins with its pure availability and pricing options.
They may be priced similarly, but in physical terms, the Xiaomi 12 Pro is the bigger phone.
At 163.6 x 74.6 x 8.2mm, it dwarfs the iPhone 13 Pro, which measures just 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65mm. Interestingly, however, the two phones share the same weight of 204g.
This is likely due to the iPhone 13 Pro’s use of more premium materials, at least when it comes to the stainless steel chassis. Xiaomi uses low-grade aluminum.
Regardless of the weight, there is precious little common ground about the designs of these two phones. The iPhone 13 Pro is a square-shaped device, while the Xiaomi 12 Pro sports curves on the front and back edges.
We are very impressed with the silky and velvety texture of the back surface of the Xiaomi 12 Pro. There’s a frosted, speckled luster even for the gray model (also available in mauve and blue), while the iPhone 13 Pro opts for a soft, smooth finish (in a larger selection of graphite, gold, silver, Sierra blue, and alpine green).
Both phones are remarkably fingerprint-resistant, and both are adults looking in two different ways.
One area where the iPhone 13 Pro is a clear win is its water and dust resistance. While the iPhone 13 Pro is IP68 certified, the Xiaomi 12 Pro lacks an IP rating, which is almost inexcusable in such a premium smartphone.
The two phones take very different approaches to biometric authentication. The iPhone 13 Pro has a rather ugly Face ID notch which enables facial recognition. The Xiaomi phone has a fast under-display fingerprint sensor and a more accurate aperture.
The crucial point of being larger is that the Xiaomi 12 Pro has a much larger screen than the iPhone 13 Pro. The Xiaomi phone measures 6.73 inches, while the iPhone 13 Pro’s 6.1 inches is relatively small.
Both are LTPO AMOLED displays with refresh rates of 120Hz, although the iPhone can drop to 10Hz depending on the task, Xiaomi can drop to 1Hz. Not that it makes much of a difference when it comes to battery performance, as we’ll continue the discussion.
The Xiaomi display is truly a treat, reaching a peak brightness of 1,500 nits in sunny conditions. The iPhone 13 Pro screen reaches 1200 nits lower.
The screen of the Xiaomi 12 Pro is also sharper, going up to 3200 x 1440. The Apple main screen can only go up to 2532 x 1170, although in practice we challenge anyone to spot the difference – especially with such a difference in size.
In addition, the iPhone 13 Pro screen wins by flatness. The screen of the Xiaomi 12 Pro bends at the edges, which can lead to strange errant input, and it also creates an imperfect panel when watching landscape content in full screen.
Overall, the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s screen is simply bigger, brighter and sharper than the iPhone 13 Pro’s.
The only thing the two camera systems have in common is their extraordinary balance. The iPhone 13 Pro has a triple 12MP setup, while the Xiaomi 12 Pro has a 50MP triple setup.
This is quite unusual, even among flagship phones, where one of the telephoto sensors, ultrawide sensors, or both have a different resolution than the main sensor.
The Xiaomi 12 Pro is the first phone to use Sony’s IMX707 1/1.28 sensor for a wide camera, which captures 1.22µm and 2.44µm pixels (Xiaomi’s term for pixel binning), has an f/1.9 aperture, and is powered by OIS.
The iPhone 13 Pro’s main sensor is smaller at 1/1.65 inches, but it’s still the largest so far in an iPhone. It also captures the largest 1.9-micron pixels without the need for pixel binning, and is accompanied by a wider f/1.5 aperture. The phone has a more advanced 5-axis stabilization system, which keeps night photos and videos supernaturally stable.
Another way the iPhone 13 Pro’s camera outperforms the Xiaomi 12 Pro is through its 3x optical zoom, which gets closer to motion than the Xiaomi’s 2x equivalent. Apple’s ultra-wide devices can also take macro shots, while Xiaomi lacks autofocus.
Regardless of the hardware, the main difference here has to do with color science. Apple’s algorithms lead to popular, natural-looking balanced shots, while Xiaomi strives for a more vibrant and vivid look.
The ace card from Apple here is the A15 Bionic chip, which powers improvements like Smart HDR 4 and Photographic Styles, which let you change the color of your shots.
On the video front, the iPhone continues to dominate. This time around you get support for the advanced ProRes codec, which packs way more information for richer footage. Cinematic mode allows you to change the focus point after production and will even automatically adjust focus accordingly between subjects.
Xiaomi 12 Pro, for its part, can manage 8K video at 24 frames per second. The iPhone can only manage 4K at 60 frames per second, although we still think 8K video is a feature with very limited appeal.
In our review, we said the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s main camera “produces slightly sharper photos than the top-tier iPhone,” although we still gave the iPhone 13 Pro’s camera the overall win for its balance and flexibility.
Specifications and Features
The Xiaomi 12 Pro runs on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (4nm), just like most other flagships running Android 2022. It’s fast, but the iPhone 13 Pro’s A15 Bionic is faster.
In terms of CPU benchmarks, the A15 Bionic is attacking its Android rival, which despite the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 credit, is able to reclaim a few rounds in the GPU stakes.
For daily use, you will not notice these differences. These are simply two of the fastest phones money can buy, and no app or game will make any phones flash.
In terms of memory, the Xiaomi 12 Pro comes with 12GB while the iPhone 13 Pro comes with 6GB. However, due to the different ways iOS and Android handle memory, there’s no advantage to be gleaned from that either way.
When it comes to storage, Xiaomi offers 128GB or 256GB of internal storage, depending on the region. Meanwhile, Apple offers a choice of 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB storage, wherever you are in the world.
Xiaomi has packed its phone with four speakers sporting Harman Kardon tuning and Dolby Atmos support, and they sound reasonably spacious and loud enough. However, our reviewer found that it still “lags behind the iPhone 13 Pro…when it comes to sound rounding and depth in bass tones.”
Choosing between iOS and Android is usually a matter of preference. However, we’re talking about iOS itself just as always, which is exactly what Apple wanted. With Xiaomi 12 Pro, it is for Xiaomi on Android, called MIUI.
MIUI 13 is reasonably fluid, but rather cluttered, packs a lot of bloatware, and doesn’t take advantage of Android 12’s “Material You” home screen customization system.
The Xiaomi 12 Pro comes with a 4,600mAh battery, which is much larger than the iPhone 13 Pro’s 3,095mAh cell. However, it’s not huge from an Android perspective, as Google’s operating system usually uses more system resources.
We described the iPhone 13 Pro as having “significantly better battery life than we’ve seen in the iPhone 12 Pro and other Pro phones before it,” which means it’s “capable of lasting a full day of normal use.”
For the Xiaomi 12 Pro, we found that it “easily moves us from morning to night…although it’s definitely not a two-day smartphone.”
There isn’t much of a difference when it comes to stamina, it seems.
However, Xiaomi is attacking Apple when it comes to recharging. Not only does it support 120W fast charging, but it packs the necessary charger in the box, getting you from 0 to 100% in just 20 minutes or so. This is the fastest charging of any smartphone widely available here in the West.
By contrast, the iPhone 13 Pro supports only 20W wired charging, and you will have to provide this charging unit yourself.
Both phones support wireless charging, but while Xiaomi extends that to an impressive 50W, the iPhone 13 Pro only delivers 15W (with the proper MagSafe charger).
We found the Xiaomi 12 Pro to be “one of the most balanced phones out there,” while the iPhone 13 Pro is “one of the best smartphones of 2021,” and it managed to hold that state in early 2022.
We got the Xiaomi 12 Pro a little higher in our review, but the two phones are different enough that it’s hard to call an outright winner.
Xiaomi wins in terms of its larger, clearer and brighter screen, and the provision of exceptionally fast and generous charging. On the other hand, the iPhone advances with the most flexible and advanced camera system and the more robust IP68 certification.
If these categories don’t decide for you either way, it’s likely down to your outdated design and OS preferences. Either way, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed with your choice.