Back in the megapixel race

Back in the megapixel race

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Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority

Ultra-high-res camera sensors are back in focus. Hot on the heels of the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra, Xiaomi has announced today its first phone equipped with a 200MP camera. The Xiaomi 12T Pro is a powerful flagship that offers more than just a superlative sensor. Other highlights include the latest processor from Qualcomm, a huge battery, and a crisp display, but this phone is not without flaws.

First, let’s place the Xiaomi 12T Pro in the bigger picture. We need to do this because, confusingly, Xiaomi has already released over half a dozen phones in the 12 series this year. If you want a list, it’s the Xiaomi 12X, 12, 12 Pro, 12 Lite, 12S, 12S Pro, and 12S Ultra (the 12S series is China-only).

Also read: Xiaomi brings the Smart Band 7 Pro to Europe

The Xiaomi 12T Pro is a refined variant of the Xiaomi 12 Pro, at least if you judge it by its chipset. It features the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, the mid-year refresh to Qualcomm’s flagship chip for 2022. The new chip brings substantively better battery efficiency and the obligatory CPU and GPU speed upgrades.

The 12T Pro will go on sale internationally (though not in the US). Presumably, Xiaomi hopes it will make us forget about the 12S Ultra, the 1-inch-sensor, Leica-branded powerhouse that will remain exclusive to China.

The Xiaomi 12T Pro launches alongside the Xiaomi 12T, which is very similar but swaps the Qualcomm chip with a Mediatek Dimensity 8100 Ultra and drops the primary camera sensor to a more pedestrian 108MP.

Features and specs

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Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority

The Xiaomi 12T Pro is a speed demon, thanks to the aforementioned Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chip and the generous RAM and storage configurations. I used it intensively over the last few days, and everything ran as smoothly as expected.

The 6.67-inch display is a joy to look at, thanks to the 446ppi pixel density and the adaptive refresh rate that goes up to 120Hz. Pushing all those pixels around is bound to take a hit on battery life, so it’s good that the Xiaomi 12T Pro shines in this area. In fact, Xiaomi claims the 12T Pro has the best battery life ever among its flagship phones. Two factors make this performance possible. First, the battery is pretty large, at 5,000mAh, 400mAh more than on the 12 Pro. Second, the Plus-version chipset is about 30% more battery efficient than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.

The Xiaomi 12T Pro’s ability to fill a massive battery in less than 30 minutes is extremely compelling.

The 12T Pro charges incredibly fast with the bundled 120W charging brick. In our testing, the phone needed around 20 minutes to go from an empty battery to 75%. There’s a fair bit of controversy around this sort of high-wattage charging, with critics accurately pointing out that ultra-fast charging comes at the expense of battery longevity. It’s up to you as a user to decide whether you value convenience over durability, but to me, the ability to fill a massive battery in less than 30 minutes is compelling. It’s maybe even fast enough to forgive that there’s no wireless charging on the Xiaomi 12T Pro.

Connectivity features include Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC (in select markets), and 5G, as well as eSIM support. The last feature is set to become a bigger deal soon, as Apple has put its full might behind eSIM-only phones with the iPhone 14 Pro.

Cameras

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Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority

The marquee feature of the Xiaomi 12T Pro is its 200MP main camera. As mentioned in the intro, the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra was first out of the gate with this sensor, which uses a technique called pixel binning to combine information from multiple physical pixels. In this case, it’s either four or 16 pixels that work together, improving light collection in more challenging scenes. The sensor is the Samsung HP1, a rather large 1/1.22-inch model, coupled with an f/1.69 8-piece lens with an 85-degree field of view.

The marquee feature of the Xiaomi 12T Pro is its 200MP main camera.

By default, the Xiaomi 12T Pro takes photos in pixel-binned mode, which makes pics a little “smaller” in exchange for higher quality. You can manually switch to the 200MP mode, called Ultra HD, though you’ll only want to do this with well-lit scenes where detail and image size are essential.

In the sample comparison below, you can see what difference binning makes in low-light scenes:

The other cameras on the Xiaomi 12T Pro are less impressive. The 8MP sensor of the ultrawide camera is downright tiny, while the 2MP macro camera looks like it’s just there to cross a feature off the list. On the front, the 20MP selfie camera performs respectably, but it’s nothing to write about.

Design and software

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Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority

Xiaomi 12T Pro runs Xiaomi’s well-known MIUI interface. It’s the same version we’ve seen on the Xiaomi 12 series, based on Android 12. Xiaomi tends to lag behind Google’s releases, but it does make up for this to some extent with very regular software updates. MIUI is not for everyone, but there are plenty of customization options to make it more to your taste at least.

Finally, it’s worth talking about the industrial design for a bit. Whereas the Xiaomi 12 Pro was a conventional metal-and-glass sandwich, the 12T Pro features a plastic frame combined with a glass back. That’s unusual for a high-end phone in 2022, but I have to say… it works. You don’t feel the thin plastic frame that goes around the phone’s edges, only leaving concerns for durability as a reason you may want to avoid it. Related to that, the back is made of tempered glass, as opposed to a Gorilla Glass variety, while the front is Gorilla Glass 5 — a now six-year-old version of Corning’s glass that’s a far cry from the Victus glass on modern Android flagships.

You don’t feel the thin plastic frame that goes around the 12T Pro’s edges

The Xiaomi 12T Pro looks otherwise very similar to the 12 Pro, with its rectangular camera bump dominated by the large primary lens. The shimmery black version I tested out feels understated, and I appreciated the anti-fingerprint treatment of the glass back, a rarity these days. Like its predecessor, the Xiaomi 12T Pro does not have a water protection rating, which remains disappointing.

Xiaomi 12T Pro: Price, where to buy, and our verdict

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Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority

The Xiaomi 12T Pro will go on sale starting October 13, beginning at €749 (~$740) for the 8GB/128GB version. That’s notably less than the €999 starting price of the Xiaomi 12 Pro, though the base version of the 12 Pro has 256GB of storage.

Similar to the OnePlus 10T, the Xiaomi 10T Pro is positioned as an overall upgrade over the earlier model, but one that sacrifices features to hit a lower price. Like the OnePlus phone, it brings a better processor but skimps on features some would consider table stakes, like a metal frame, wireless charging, a water resistance rating, and more competent secondary cameras.

The Xiaomi 12T Pro offers plenty of value but makes hard sacrifices to hit a lower price point.

Besides the OnePlus 10T, another obvious competitor is the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra, which also has a 200MP main camera and super-fast charging, but better secondary cameras. That will cost you €150 more, though.

Xiaomi’s own 12T, as well as previous Xiaomi 12 series phones, plus the usual suspects from Samsung, remain strong alternatives to the Xiaomi 12T Pro.

Speaking of 200MP sensors, it looks like phone makers are focusing again on high megapixel counts for delivering the next leap in mobile imaging. Samsung is rumored to adopt a 200MP sensor on the Galaxy S23 Ultra. And the supremely influential Apple has finally moved away from 12MP sensors in favor of a 48MP pixel-binned camera on the iPhone 14. As always, higher numbers don’t necessarily result in better pictures, but at least for now, it looks like that’s where the industry is heading.

Xiaomi 12T Pro

Xiaomi 12T Pro

Impressive 200MP camera • Powerful processor • 120W charging

The Xiaomi 12T Pro is a powerful affordable flagship that offers more than just a superlative 200MP camera sensor. With a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chip, 120W charging, and a 120Hz screen, the 12T Pro offers great value and specs.

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