Xiaomi 12T review: More value than you'd think!

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Xiaomi 12T review: More value than you'd think!
Coming in at about $500, the new Xiaomi 12T smartphone is well worth your consideration if you're looking for long battery life, snappy performance, plus a fantastic display paired with punchy dual stereo speakers. It's a reliable media consumption device that delivers an experience well beyond what its price may suggest, for sure. Let's get into the details!

Xiaomi 12T

Please pay attention to the Amazon description: does not work with all US carriers.


Table of Contents:

Xiaomi 12T Specs




Xiaomi 12T Design & Colors


In my experience, Xiaomi has always been fantastic at designing attractive, minimalist phones. But in recent years – with overly-large, complex and flashy camera modules, which kind of stand out in a bad way (in my opinion).

Starting with the back side of the Xiaomi 12T, we have a very clean-looking plastic back that does actually feel nice and smooth to the touch. The back is technically not glossy, more akin to frosted matte, has curved edges, and a fairly unobtrusive Xiaomi logo on the bottom left.

The aforementioned camera module is vertical, and seemingly needlessly big, which, as a regular Xiaomi user, I'm really not surprised to see at this point. Despite its size, the camera module does look classy, with thin lines separating the two smaller cameras and the flash next to them. On top of all that is a huge 108-megapixel main camera.

The sides of the phone are plastic as well, unfortunately, and even worse – the top and bottom sides are glossy plastic – but I wouldn't say the phone feels cheap at all, despite the fact that it's clearly not rocking an aluminum or glass body.


Speaking of the top and bottom bezels – surprise! Like a previous Xiaomi phone I recently used (the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro+) the Xiaomi 12T has dual stereo speakers! One on each side of the phone, and that's pretty unusual and great to see, still. Actually, this phone reminds me quite a bit of the aforementioned Redmi, even packing the same 120W charger…

In any case, we have a big 6.67-inch display on the front, with only a fairly traditional selfie camera interrupting it a tiny bit. The bezels around the display are small, with rounded corners, and apparently symmetrical, meaning the chin isn't notably bigger, if at all. And the phone comes with a pre-applied screen protector – worth mentioning.


As for the color options, the Xiaomi 12T is available in 3 colors:
  • Blue
  • Silver
  • Black
Obviously we have the blue one here, and it looks quite beautiful.


Xiaomi 12T Display


The Xiaomi 12T's 6.67-inch display is covered with Gorilla Glass 5, features AMOLED technology, and something even the base iPhone 14 doesn't have – smooth 120Hz refresh rate.

This here is a tall screen with a 20:9 aspect ratio, 2712-by-1220 pixel resolution, HDR10+ support, and according to Xiaomi, 900 nits peak brightness.

Technical gobbledygook aside, the Xiaomi 12T's screen looks beautiful and sharp, with vibrant (but not over-saturated) colors and pitch blacks.

High-resolution HDR content looks as beautiful on this screen as on any flagship at twice the cost, if not even more so.

Back on the topic of that refresh rate – the phone is set to dynamic refresh rate by default, meaning it'll try to balance it and only crank it up to 120Hz when it feels necessary, in order to save power. But you can choose to fix the refresh rate to either 60Hz or 120Hz if you want to, in order to save some battery or get a consistent 120Hz respectively.


Speaking of the display, we have an under-display optical fingerprint sensor for securely unlocking the Xiaomi 12T, and it's just as fast as reliable as we've come to expect from Xiaomi phones.

Xiaomi 12T Camera



As is the case with most phones these days, the camera appears to be this one's main focus (no pun intended), and selling point.

We have a triple camera set-up on the back, the main one being a 108MP wide angle with OIS (optical image stabilization). Second, we have an 8MP ultra-wide angle camera (120° FOV), and third is a somewhat pointless 2MP macro camera… But hey, it's there if you ever want to play around with it.

Some of the cool features the Xiaomi 12T's camera has are its long exposure mode, that offers six types of stylish photos you can take – called Moving crowd, Oil painting, Neon trails, Light painting, Starry sky, Star trails.

Interestingly, this seemingly key feature is tucked away in the "More" menu of the Camera app, and you have to tap to download it first, no less. It takes just a few seconds, and if you like playing around with your smartphone camera – it's worth it.

In any case, photos taken with the Xiaomi 12T's main camera do look good (unless you zoom in). It might not seem like it due to the bleak weather we have now, but colors come out natural, so no complaints there. However, the image clarity in general, while fine for social media use, is hit-and-miss once you start looking up close. In brighter areas of an image, you may notice a tiny bit of over-sharpening if you zoom in, but it's barely anything noticeable or worth mentioning. What is noticeable, however, is that darker parts of a scene can come out looking like a muddy mess, especially if we don't have the best lighting conditions.

For example, zoom in on the third and fourth sample images below, and look at the grass in particular... The third image is one taken with the wide camera, and the grass looks horrid, while the fourth is taken with the main camera, and while the grass came out better from that one, it's still kind of like a mess of muddy pixels.



To be fair, with bright lighting (say, during a sunny day) photos are going to come out nice and clear, but again, as long as you don't start zooming in and looking closely.

Speaking of zooming in, for photos you have up to 2X optical zoom, and up to 10X digital zoom, so – nothing over-the-top here. While digital zoom does come at the cost of image quality, it's always nice to have it as an option, and in this case, it definitely gets the job done if you just wish to inspect something, say a sign, from afar.



As for the front selfie camera, it's 20MP, and like most phones out of China, it has a bunch of facial skin-smoothing effects enabled by default, so tap that little wand icon on the bottom right if you want more realistic selfies.

Or tap it if you're looking to go even wilder with all the fun selfie features you have on board – which can give you big eyes, make your face more slender, your nose smaller, and so on. We have all the tools to escape from reality, built-in and ready for Instagram! Neato.

But in all seriousness, selfies come out pretty great, and portrait mode selfies are quite impressive in particular; good at blurring only the background and not the subject. Which is a task some smartphones still fail at, but not the Xiaomi 12T. Although it did smoothen my face a bit too, and parts of my hat, so – not flawless just yet, but close to it. If selfies are your thing – you won't be disappointed.



In terms of video recording, the rear camera of the Xiaomi 12T can shoot at up to 4K, 30FPS, while the selfie camera can capture footage at up to 1080p at 60FPS. So no 60FPS 4K footage here, but to be fair, do most people really need this (yet)?

One thing that might be an issue for some is that you can't start shooting video with one camera and seamlessly switch to the other. If you start recording with the main camera – you're stuck with that one until you stop filming, and same goes for the ultra-wide. If you're used to iPhones, or one of the many other phones that allow for seamless camera switching while filming, this could feel like an unfortunate limitation. It sure did to me.



Xiaomi 12T Performance & Benchmarks


The Xiaomi 12T is powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 8100-Ultra processor, which supposedly offers a "near-flagship smartphone streaming and gaming experience." So it's not the usual Snapdragon, but let me tell you – that's not an issue. The phone feels responsive, snappy and smooth, as any flagship Snapdragon phone does, and pushing it with more demanding 3D games doesn't really make it sweat.

For example, the graphically-intensive Asphalt Legends not only loads quickly and runs perfectly, but looks gorgeous and sounds huge too, thanks to the high-end screen and dual speakers we have on this phone.

We also get welcome power user features like split-screen multitasking on the Xiaomi 12T, and that doesn't slow it down one bit either, so worry not about the performance here – it's looking nearly-flagship-tier. And our performance benchmark tests, which you can see below, confirm that.

Geekbench 5 Single Higher is better
Xiaomi 12T 908
Apple iPhone 14 1733
Google Pixel 7 1051
Samsung Galaxy S22 1152
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G 739
Apple iPhone SE (2022) 1738
Geekbench 5 Multi Higher is better
Xiaomi 12T 3714
Apple iPhone 14 4648
Google Pixel 7 3241
Samsung Galaxy S22 3352
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G 1861
Apple iPhone SE (2022) 4749
Jetstream 2 Higher is better
Xiaomi 12T 62.611
Apple iPhone 14 248.802
Google Pixel 7 107.742
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G 40.632
Apple iPhone SE (2022) 185.658


Note that we couldn't do our usual 3D Mark and GFX benchmarks, due to some odd server issues these apps exhibit when running on this particular phone, but we do have the Geekbench and Jetstream results above.

Xiaomi 12T Android version




At the time of writing this review (December 9, 2022), the Xiaomi 12T is running MIUI 13.0.10 on top of Android 12, with the November 2022 security patch. The December one started rolling out just a few days ago, so we can expect that one soon too.

As for how long this phone will be kept up to date – Xiaomi has previously promised 4 years of security patches, plus major OS updates up to Android 15, which sounds pretty good and reasonable.

However, there's a caveat I've noticed as a regular Xiaomi-phone user, and it's called ads. Ads in Xiaomi's built-in MIUI apps (like the file manager), which you may not see right now, but do start to pop up as a MIUI phone gets older. So do keep this in mind – Xiaomi's phones are more affordable than your average iPhone for good reason. Think a more toned-down version of Amazon offering cheaper Kindle tablets with built-in ads.

In any case, MIUI 13 looks beautiful, very iOS-like, which I'm sure every Xiaomi user is already aware of, since it's not a new MIUI 13-only thing. MIUI has been "borrowing" from Apple's iOS design language for years now, and as questionable as this is, at least the results are actually quite beautiful.

The interface is clean, fairly minimalistic, and we have some great features – not only the split-screen multitasking (which iPhones don't have, actually) but a screen recorder, built-in photo and video editors and so on.

Xiaomi 12T Battery


This here phone is packing a huge 5000mAh, despite the fact that it feels traditionally thin and light. In typical Xiaomi fashion, we get some fantastic battery life – up to 13.5 hours screen-on time, says it.

But as always, we've done our own battery tests, and the Xiaomi 12T does indeed keep up with the flagships, and in some cases – beats them.

Video Streaming (hours) Higher is better
Xiaomi 12T 11h 13 min
Apple iPhone 14 8h 35 min
Google Pixel 7 9h 13 min
Samsung Galaxy S22 7h 26 min
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G 7h 45 min
Apple iPhone SE (2022) 4h 28 min
Web Browsing (hours) Higher is better
Xiaomi 12T 14h 8 min
Apple iPhone 14 15h 23 min
Google Pixel 7 13h 56 min
Samsung Galaxy S22 12h 23 min
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G 15h 45 min
Apple iPhone SE (2022) 11h 53 min
3D Gaming (hours) Higher is better
Xiaomi 12T 8h 45 min
Apple iPhone 14 6h 44 min
Google Pixel 7 4h 43 min
Samsung Galaxy S22 4h 29 min
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G 5h 28 min
Apple iPhone SE (2022) 4h 28 min


Thanks to that big battery, plus what's said to be a power-efficient Dimensity processor, and its variable refresh rate, this phone can last you for a few days between charges comfortably.

There's no wireless charging, though, which is a big bummer for me. But presumably not an issue for many other users who'd likely be more than happy enough with the big battery and fast wired charging. Speaking of which…

Xiaomi 12T Charging Speeds


The Xiaomi 12T supports 120W wired turbo charging, and unlike Apple and Samsung, Xiaomi was kind enough to include a beefy 120W charger in the box!

Xiaomi also says that it takes a mere 19 minutes to charge this phone from 0 to 100%, and while that sounds outlandish, it appears to be true, if not a tad exaggerated with merely a few minutes. The charging really is so fast, that you can just sit there and watch the percentage decimals jumping up in real time.

And because the topic of super fast charging often tends to get people worried about theoretical safety issues, Xiaomi is quick to reassure us that this phone has "42 safety features and 9 thermal sensors" working to keep things within the norms.

Notably we also have a promise of 800 charge cycles, which, however you calculate it, means the phone will be holding a pretty strong charge even 4 or 5 years from now, even after the battery has degraded a bit. Now, battery degradation is normal, and my 1.5-year-old iPhone is already at only 88% max capacity, so rest assured that what Xiaomi is promising here is a way better deal.

I have old Xiaomi phones with 5000mAh batteries that still last nearly a week, so in terms of battery life – I trust Xiaomi from experience, that this phone will remain super reliable for a very long time.

Charging time (minutes) Lower is better
Xiaomi 12T 27
Apple iPhone 14 88
Google Pixel 7 96
Samsung Galaxy S22 65
Apple iPhone SE (2022) 109


Xiaomi 12T Audio Quality


As mentioned earlier, unlike most phones, which only feature a single bottom-firing speaker and occasionally employ the weaker earpiece to create a stereo-ish effect, the Xiaomi 12T actually has two legitimate stereo speakers. If you hold it in landscape while gaming or watching a movie, they're on the left and right side of the device, creating a fantastic, immersive audio experience.

And not just that, but those speakers are quite loud, full-sounding, and even a bit bassy. There's Dolby Atmos on board, which surely helps with all that. So when it comes to the sound quality – we have a winner. And I personally really appreciate what Xiaomi did here, instead of doing what every other brand does and just smack a single speaker, and call it a day.

Needless to say, this 2022 phone does not have a headphone jack, but in typical Xiaomi fashion we do get an IR blaster for some reason. So if that's your thing – go wild, you can control your air conditioners and TV with this baby.

Xiaomi 12T Summary and final verdict


With its big, beautiful AMOLED screen and punchy, dual stereo speakers, this phone is a fantastic gaming and video-watching device. In addition, all of those creative camera options also make it great for everyone looking to up their Instagram game with some creative shots. That long battery life and super fast 120W charging are more than welcome too.

So if you're looking for your next flagship(-ish) phone, but don't wish to spend $1000 or more, the Xiaomi 12T is well worth your consideration. Just check and make sure that it works with your carrier first, especially if you're living in the US.

Pros

  • Gorgeous 120Hz display
  • True dual stereo speakers
  • Long battery life, very fast charging, included 120W charger
  • Competitive price

Cons

  • No wireless charging
  • Plastic back and sides

PhoneArena Rating:

8.5
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