Xiaomi launched the 12S Pro in China in early July. The phone is the mid-range offering in Xiaomi’s new 12S lineup (including the 12S, 12S Pro, and 12S Ultra), which updates annually and targets a broad range of mid-end to high-end users. The series is also the first Xiaomi phones to use Leica lenses. TechNode got a hold of the 12S Pro and spent a week using and testing it. Below are our thoughts on the phone. 

The phone can be a solid choice as a primary daily device. The Leica-branded cameras can lure photography lovers, and the 12S Pro’s specs offer a quality entertainment experience. We would also recommend it to avid gamers and video watchers.

Pleasant holding experience

Xiaomi 12S Pro has curved edges from the back case to the front display, with a metal frame in the middle. The model has a higher width-to-height ratio, narrow enough to hold with one hand. The curved edges help reduce discomfort.

The back case is made of delicately frosted glasses, which, in combination with the white color, will be free from fingerprints. 

A close-up of Xiaomi 12S Pro’s round edges and speakers. Credit: TechNode/Argo Zhang

Gaming and video experience

The phone runs on Qualcomm’s latest flagship processor, Snapdragon 8 Gen 1+, and its power excels. 

We played Genshin Impact, a detailed sandbox mobile game known for demanding high device specs, and it ran quite smoothly on the device under the highest graphic preset. After almost two hours of gameplay, it rarely dropped frames, and the phone temperature remained relatively consistent, with the back case feeling a little heated. Antutu, a popular Chinese benchmark app, reads around 36 degrees Celsius of CPU without workload and up to 50 degrees Celsius after two hours of Genshin Impact gameplay. The metal frame lets out more heat than the back case. We would describe it as “warm” rather than “burning.” 

A picture of Xiaomi 12S Pro running a demanding game. Credit: TechNode/Argo Zhang

The phone has a 6.73-inch punch-hole display with 3200 x 1440 pixels. It also comes with a high 120 Hz refresh rate. A highlight we enjoy is the phone’s 20:9 display ratio. The phone offers a better experience for watching videos, considering most popular films display at around a 21:9 ratio.

The display can also achieve a 1,500-nit peak and a 1,000-nit general maximum brightness. A benefit lies in the outdoors experience with this phone, especially in bright, sunny environments. We tested it in such bright lighting conditions, and it offers decent display quality – the color looks normal, and the phone didn’t overheat when operating with the display set to maximum brightness.

The phone can also handle 4K HDR videos quite well in high-contrast scenes, showing details in both shadows and highlights. The dual speaker with Dolby Atom enhances the entertainment experience even further.

Built-in Leica profiles for the camera

A key highlight of the phone is its Leica lens and software. The phone comes with various Leica color profiles. In Photo mode, there are two default options: Leica Authentic and Leica Vibrant. Both modes offer a sharp, vivid look. The colors are punchy yet not too overwhelming, keeping much of the detail in the dark and highlighted areas.

A picture shot with Leica profile on the 12S Pro. Credit: TechNode/WardZhou

There are two additional monochromatic Leica profiles listed in the filters tab. The high contrast one – Leica HC – provides the distinctive black and white look that Leica is known for. If you are a fan of black and white photography and perhaps a fan of Japanese street photographer Daido Moriyama’s work, this would be a fun filter to explore. 

A shot with Leica monochromatic profile on 12S Pro. Credit: TechNode/WardZhou

When it comes to the portrait mode on the rear camera, however, Xiaomi 12S Pro’s algorithm-driven bokeh falls short. It couldn’t always recognize the edge of many subjects, including human hair and other complex scenes. Therefore, we recommend shooting at a lower aperture to improve this issue.

Ultra-wide angle (left) and wide angle shot (right). Credit: TechNode/WardZhou

The phone has three rear cameras, offering a range from teleport to ultrawide with five times optical and 20 times digital zoom capacity. We shot in different zoom ranges from a single perspective to demo how it works.

Camera zooming-in ability test using Xiaomi 12S Pro. Credit: TechNode/WardZhou

We use the main rear camera to do a standard test of its optical performance in a 16:9 frame to put some extra pressure on the lenses. A notable takeaway is the slight chromatic aberration that appears in high contrast areas. But overall, the image is quite sharp from the center to the corners. 

The front camera takes good quality shots most of the time and comes with a built-in beautification feature to offer choices, making you look better in pictures. However, the phone’s algorithm tends to overexpose when using the front camera, losing details in the highlights. After upgrading the system, the issue improved a little so it could be more of a preset preference issue rather than a bug. 

Long battery life, ultra-fast charging, and multi-tasking 

The phone is equipped with a 4600 mAh large battery, with 120 W speed charge support. Battery life is not a concern for daily use, and we were surprised by the efficiency of the fast charging feature. 

Furthermore, the phone’s battery holds up in demanding situations. For example, after two and a half hours of demanding gaming in the highest image quality, with 75% display brightness and Wi-Fi on, the battery went down 34%. Streaming a movie for two and a half hours using the same settings consumed 25% battery life.

Under these conditions,  the phone should theoretically give you over seven hours of demanding gameplay and 10 hours of streaming video playback.

When it comes to charging, the 12S Pro took only 4 minutes to charge from 20% to 40%. From 20% to full, it only took 23 minutes using the 120 W charger that comes in the box, if you close all apps. The phone lets out surprisingly little heat during the charging process, which is impressive because such a high wattage charging speed will generally lead to overheating. 

The phone’s large 12 GB RAM is a plus to the processor. We opened 20 apps, including news apps, social apps, and Chrome, and all work seamlessly in the background.

The phone system will automatically kill some inactive apps to save battery when you open power-intensive apps or games or lock the phone. But you can easily resume any previously opened app without much delay, thanks to its powerful processing and high-speed storage chips.  

Conclusion 

As a premium Android phone, Xiaomi 12S Pro has a low-key design and feels good in the hands. The performance, battery life, and charging capacity are more than enough for daily usage. You can play popular game titles like Diablo Immortal and Genshin Impact in the best image quality without experiencing frame drops. The new Leica camera system also performs well most of the time. 

It should be a phone that fits the bill for most Android users for daily use. Below, TechNode summarized the main advantages and drawbacks of the Xiaomi 12S Pro. 

Pros 

  • Curved body design, feels good in the hand
  • Brillant performance when gaming. Impressive heat control
  • Large battery and 120 W fast charging
  • Vivid photos with Lecia profiles
  • A relatively competitive price

Cons

  • Algorithm-driven bokeh does not always work as expected
  • Charging when playing games can cause overheating issues
  • Less promising image quality when shooting with the telephoto lens

Ward Zhou

Ward Zhou is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. He covers stories about industry of digital content, hardware, and anything geek. Reach him via ward.zhou[a]technode.com or Twitter @zhounanyu.