Review: why the Xiaomi 12T is better than the iPhone 14 Pro Max (this time, it’s for real)

You’re probably reading this right now and might say: “Vince, you silly.” But no, this time, the Xiaomi 12T aces Apple’s top offerings in so many ways…

The Xiaomi 12T model, to put it simply, is better referred to as a flagship killer, and for a great reason: it aces flagship devices such as the iPhone 14 Pro Max in many aspects. 

So let’s welcome the Xiaomi 12T, a phone that you might want to consider purchasing instead of the front-runners. Imagine, you’ll get the same great specs for an unbelievable price point.

Meet the flagship killer

When discussing a Xiaomi T model, three things immediately spring to mind: a premium display, a very high-res camera, and blazing fast charging. These also perfectly apply to the brand-new Xiaomi 12T.

The 12T improves upon the 11T by adding a higher resolution AMOLED screen with native 12-bit color support, which supports much more colors. Instead of the Dimensity 1200 chip found in the 11T, it has the more recent Dimensity 8100-Ultra chipset.

Furthermore, the charging power has increased from 67W to a whopping 120W! Talk about the measly iPhone 14 Pro Max’s 18W – 27W charger.

An improved 108MP Samsung HM6 sensor with OIS lens is now part of the 12T’s camera with a twin  8MP shooters for ultrawide as well as macro are persistent. But sadly, the downgraded  2MP macro is a letdown considering that both the 12 and the 11T have 5MP telemacro cameras with AF.

The big 5,000mAh battery and the lightning-quick 120W rapid charging are also great features. And as part of the retail package, the phone does come with a 120W power adaptor.

The Xiaomi 12T also includes two speakers that support Dolby Atmos. The Xiaomi 11T’s side-mounted fingerprint scanner has been replaced by an under-display fingerprint sensor.

For the specs overview, just click this link: https://unboxdiaries.com/phones/xiaomi-12t/

For the unboxing, read all about here: https://unboxdiaries.com/xiaomi-12t-unboxing-and-first-impressions/

Now that the specs and unboxing are out of our way, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty with this charmer, and along the way, we will prove you why the iPhone 14 Pro Max has a formidable competition in the form of the humble Xiaomi 12T.

Design and build quality

There is no denying that the Xiaomi 12T is a chonk boi. It includes a massive 5,000mAh battery inside, a 6.67-inch AMOLED screen, and a protruding 108MP OIS camera. The Xiaomi 12T has a robust and dependable build – it’s a dual-glass smartphone with a flat Gorilla Glass 5 at the front and a curved matte glass over at the back.

It is somewhat larger than the Xiaomi 12, but it is almost identical to the preceding Xiaomi 11T. Like before, the curved glass causes the frame to be slimmer on the extended sides. It’s still composed of strong plastic and is rather flat, with a matte finish that matches the rear panel.

When compared to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, the 12T’s ergonomic design is much more nicer to hold when your using it for gaming or pretty much anything– compared to the iPhone which has a lot of heft and its boxy design, despite being more aesthetically pleasing, can cause straining to your hands in longer usage sessions.

Similar in size and construction to earlier models in the line, but with aluminum frames that made them feel more upscale in the hand. Xiaomi chose plastic for its 12T version because hey, they need to cut corner somehow. Additionally, the screen protector, which was Gorilla Glass Victus on earlier phones, has been downgraded to the more outdated Gorilla Glass 5 by the manufacturer. We think it’s still a welcome decision to use that kind of material.

The recognizable camera island from the Xiaomi 12 series is another feature that followers of the company would recognize right away on the 12T. All global Xiaomi 12 phones have the same rectangular shape with a large glass covering the main camera, which instantly distinguishes them from other smartphones.

It’s surprisingly modular-looking than of the iPhone 14 Pro Max which kinda looking goofy ahh with those big lenses that kinda looks cumbersome.

The Xiaomi 12T has an IP53 rating for protection to minor splashes and dust. It doesn’t get any worse in terms of IP ratings, but it’s still better than nothing and can at least provide you with security when you’re using the phone in damp environments.

We do, though, wish that far more phone manufacturers would level up their game and enhance water resistance to reach the IP67 standard, so the 14 Pro Max gets the cake for this for the first time.

A 6.67-inch AMOLED display is present in the 12T. Xiaomi refers to it as CrystalRes AMOLED, and it delivers a higher 1220p resolution. Which the iPhone in return, has a 1290p panel which isn’t far too off. The screen is quite quick, with a dynamic 120Hz refresh rate and up to 480Hz touch response.

Due to chipset restrictions, Dolby Vision is not supported, however it has HDR10+ or TLDR: that’s still a win. The iPhone 14 has support for it, but to the naked eye, it’s not that really noticeable.

The display is flat, and the 20MP selfie camera from Xiaomi exists as a punch hole cutout.  This 20MP front camera is found on several Xiaomi phones, but none of them utilise it to its full potential due to the tiny sensor and the Quad-Bayer filter. Remind you, this is a ₱27k phone. 

We believe Xiaomi has been utilizing it to make these punch holes so small, but many people pay a price for it in the form of decreased photo and video quality. Actually, a notch similar to the 13 Pro Max or the LG V50 might be a welcome necessity and a fair trade for its aesthetics.

But most people preferred looks over function, so there’s that.  Two stereo speakers are built into the Xiaomi 12T, one at the top and one at the bottom of the device, both hidden beneath perforated grilles. Additionally, the top one features a second front-facing outlet for an earphone and better sound mixing that is located immediately above the display.

The Xiaomi 12T’s rear is gently curved and entirely semi – glossed. The 108MP primary camera, the 8MP ultrawide, the 2MP macro, and the LED flash are all located on the camera bump. Though it protrudes quite a little from the back, the shape itself gives a modular look.

The majority of the phone’s polycarbonate frame is flat and provides ample grip. Around the top and bottom, it is wider. One of the speakers, the IR blaster, and one of the microphones are located on the top. The SIM tray, secondary speaker, USB-C connector, and primary microphone are all located at the below.

More display performance

According to Xiaomi’s marketing materials, the so-called 6.67-inch 120Hz CrystalRes AMOLED display is a feature of the Xiaomi 12T. Since the Xiaomi 11T, it has been improved with a better panel that has a sharpness of 446ppi and a larger resolution of 2712 x 1220 pixels.

Dynamic refresh rates of up to 120Hz and touch response rates of up to 480Hz are also supported. The panel is shielded by a flat sheet of Gorilla Glass 5 and features a tiny perforation for the selfie camera. The 12-bit color depth for more than 68 billion colors, HDR10+ support, and True Display characteristics that adjust color temperature depending on the situation, and both the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Xiaomi 12T are a tie this time.

As with any other Xiaomi product, the 12T display’s characteristics fulfilled their promises. When using the slider, it has roughly around 550 nits but the solar boost produced a maximum brightness of 954 nits. A far cry from iPhone 14 Pro Max’s ultra bright 2000 nits. The 12T however, display a very dark and dim display when slided down to its dimmest possible light.

Side by side comparison of Xiaomi 12T (top) and iPhone 14 Pro Max (down)

As with color accuracy, we are excited to say that the Xiaomi 12T is very bright, vivid and saturated by a stretch compared to the 14 Pro Max. It shows punchy colors with color-accurate and even with Dolby Vision support, it kicks so much vividness to it compared to the 14 Pro Max’s display that’s kind of paler in comparison.

Refresh Rate choices on the Xiaomi 12T includes the standard mode and custom.  Two fixed steps are available under the Custom button: 60Hz and 120Hz. The 120Hz and Default modes both operate dynamically. While the UI and all system apps always display 120 frames per second, while the image is static, the screen switches to 60 frames per second in order to conserve battery life.

Additionally, apps that cannot support screens running at a frequency higher than 60Hz use 60Hz for video playback and streaming. When comparing to the 14 Pro Max, both have 120Hz but can go down as low as 1Hz (always-on-display) when enabled.

Apps for hardware screening identify the screen’s set refresh rate stages as 30Hz, 60Hz, 90Hz, and 120Hz. We only observed MIUI using 30Hz once, and that was for the Always-on Display. For video games that can top out at 90Hz, 90Hz is also a possibility.

On the Xiaomi 12T, high refresh rate gaming is possible, and many games do use the 120Hz refresh rate as native. However, unlike other versions, the Xiaomi 12T display does not support Dolby Vision because the Dimensity 8100 processor does not support HDR10 or HDR10+.

Because of the Widevine L1 DRM on the phone, supported apps like Netflix will stream at the greatest possible quality. Of course, the 14 Pro Max also has all these features with the Dolby Vision as a bonus.

Battery longevity

The Xiaomi 12T has a 5,000mAh battery capacity will last you a whole day for daily driving use and almost six to seven of continuous gaming. And having a low battery isn’t a stressful experience anymore because of its 120W HyperCharge power brick. Compare that with the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s 4,352mAh battery with an undetermined total max charging watt rate. We’ll gamble it around 15W to 27W. But that’s nothing compared to the 12T right here. Good flagship killer boi!

The top and bottom speakers of the Xiaomi 12T are separated by perforated grilles to form a stereo speaker configuration. The upper speaker has another front-facing outlet because it doubles as an earphone. The Xiaomi 12T produces balanced audio output despite the top speaker being quieter and having less bass than the bottom one.

The Dolby Atmos enhancement is supported by the speakers and is turned on by default. We tested it and found that while the Xiaomi 12T produces a much louder sound, the 14 Pro Max produced more clearer and brighter audio quality. But that isn’t a drastic problem after all.

Software experience

You can choose the Always-on display capability to show for 10 seconds after a tap, genuinely always, or only within a predetermined time frame. Some less expensive MIUI-powered smartphones only offer the first choice. Naturally, you have access to a wide variety of AOD themes, some of which can be altered. The Notification effect is also supported by the Xiaomi 12T.

It illuminates the borders of the screen as fresh notifications arrive, but customization options are limited to a few color choices and the ‘Starlight’ setting. The AOD is not necessary for this effect to function. Compared to the 14 Pro Max, its AOD function appears to be just a dimmed version of the lock screen and up to this day, we always mistaken it as the iPhone is lit all the time.

Moreover, MIUI provides a Security app. It can manage your blacklist, monitor or restrict your data consumption, set battery behavior, and free up some RAM in addition to scanning your phone for malware. Additionally, it can control the rights granted to your installed apps, specify how particular programs behave when the battery is low, and impose limitations just on specific apps.

Speaking of RAM, MIUI 13 provides a default-on Memory Extension option (you can disable it if you like). On the device we were testing, 3GB of internal storage space was set aside for RAM expansion. Here, less significant memory blocks ought to go. Compare it to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, Apple’s security is still the topnotch choice.

Game Turbo is both the hub you may use to launch your games and an in-game utility for enhancing your gaming experience. It is also widely accessible on other phones with MIUI. It has traditional features like screen recording and notification restriction.

The Xiaomi 12T utilizes its high refresh rate for gaming, and you can see it on games like Call of Duty: Mobile showing high FPS when performance mode is turned on. 

Overall performance and benchmarks

The MediaTek Dimensity 8100-Ultra, a variant of the base Dimensity 8100 chip that powers the Xiaomi 12T, is one of the customized chipsets that MediaTek has made available to manufacturers this year. It includes “camera processing engine, display processors and audio hardware, hybrid multiprocessing (CPU, GPU, visual processors), artificial intelligence processing, and connectivity (Bluetooth features and profiles).

Compared to Apple’s latest A16 Bionic chipset which is still dominating the benchmark scores and real world usage, the 12T’s Dimensity 8100 Ultra isn’t too far off the charts, and we repeat– for its price point, this is definitely a steal.

Xiaomi has enhanced the power efficiency of the CPU and GPU as well as the onboard ISP and APU’s capabilities. A jump in low-light video capture, better noise reduction for photographs, and increased frame rate stability when gaming are a few of the new enhancements.

The Dimensity 8100-Ultra and its Dimensity 8100 sibling are virtually identical in terms of major hardware features. A Mali-G610 MC6 GPU, a MediaTek Imagiq 780 ISP, a MediaTek APU 580 AI processing unit, as well as an LPDDR5 memory controller are all included in this configuration, which is housed on a 5nm TSMC node. It’s positioned to compete with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 and 888+ and is marginally more powerful than the Dimensity 8000.

Xiaomi 12T utilizing above 90 FPS while on Mobile Legends: Bang Bang

When it comes to gaming, you can get these graphics settings in Call of Duty: Mobile, Genshin Impact, and Mobile Legends. in CoD: Mobile, Ultra FPS is available only in Multiplayer but you can’t go higher than Low in graphics so that’s the trade off.

AnTuTu 9.4 scores

Xiaomi 12TiPhone 14 Pro Max
Dimensity 8100-UltraSoCApple A16 Bionic
197694CPU245965
313620GPU418004
155511MEM156147
159068UX147167
825890Total967283
Side-by-side comparison of gaming display on Mobile Legends on Xiaomi 12T (top) and iPhone 14 Pro Max (down)

As you can see, from the table above, the iPhone 14 Pro Max aces the Xiaomi 12T in every possible way, but in real world performance, they’re not too far away from each other usage wise.

Camera performance — can it go toe to toe with the best?

A 108MP primary, an 8MP ultrawide, and a 2MP macro camera are all present in the Xiaomi 12T’s triple-camera configuration on the back, which is comparable to that of the Xiaomi 11T. While the primary and ultrawide cameras’ resolutions were kept, the 11T’s 5MP telemacro was lowered to a basic 2MP camera.

Well, if that’s the case, we can quickly assess that the iPhone 14 Pro Max is still the king. But we’re kidding ourselves if we’ll said that this 12T camera setup is subpar, because it isn’t.

Similar to the 11T, the main camera has a 108MP sensor, however it is now the newer (and smaller) Samsung ISOCELL HM6, as opposed to the HM2 on the 11T. The 24mm f/1.7 lens is mounted behind a 1/1.67″ sensor with 0.64 m pixels, and the sensor has Dual Native ISO.

Both photos (up/down) are from portrait mode

The ultrawide camera uses an 8MP Samsung S5K4H7 ISOCELL Slim 1/4″ sensor with 1.12 m pixels and a f/2.2 lens. The color filter is Nonapixel, meaning 9 sensor pixels are combined into a large 1.92 m one. PDAF is available, and there is optical image stabilization. Infinity is the fixed focal point. The ultrawide cam is capable of using night mode as well.

A 20MP Quad Bayer Sony IMX596 sensor is used in the front camera. It has a 26mm f/2.2 lens attached, and the focus is fixed. Though it has additional functionality, the camera app is a rather easy implementation.

First, the highly sensitive bezel edges are used for the basic mode-changing action. You may also tap on the visible modes to quickly switch to them. Only the toggle next to the shutter release may be used to swap between the front and rear cameras; up and down swipes do not operate in this regard.

There is a Pro mode that is very competent and allows you to change the shooting settings on your own. Here, you can make advantage of your primary, ultrawide, and even macro cameras. Depending on the camera you’re using, you may choose from four different white balance settings or adjust the light temperature using a slider.

There’s also a manual focusing slider, a shutter speed slider (1/4000s to 30s/0.8s for main/ultrawide), and an ISO control with a range. There is a menu item for zebras and a tiny live histogram that is accessible. There are a ton of additional modes, including Long Exposure, which has its own selection of presets for star trails, neon trails, starry skies, oil paintings, and light paintings.

The main camera’s 12MP images are reliable to say the least. All samples have plenty of resolved detail, correct white balance, and vibrant colors that are yet within a reasonable range of accuracy. The photographs show strong contrast, and the dynamic range is appropriate and not excessive. We were able to take beautiful pictures with excellent color reproduction that are on par with those from the 14 Pro Max.

Macro shot
Macro shot

Despite lacking a telephoto camera, the Xiaomi 12T nevertheless includes a separate 2x zoom setting. The center of the standard 12MP output is simply cropped and upscaled to provide a digitally zoomed image. These are the actual stuff, and you can shoot in 108MP as well.

They are vivid, have great contrast and dynamic range, but have average sharpness and clarity. And if you reduce this 108MP to 12MP, you’ll receive less-processed photographs rather than ones that are more detailed than the default ones. The Xiaomi 12T can definitely rock with the big boys.

These high-resolution images showed extremely soft, nearly fuzzy corners. This explains why the corners of the standard photographs have softer edges and is also commendable for Xiaomi’s processing, which makes up for it skillfully, though a little unnaturally. However, the 8MP ultrawide camera on the Xiaomi 12T takes wonderful pictures (when compared to similar shooters, that is).

The photographs have exceptional sharpness, realistic colors, high contrast, and a good dynamic range. They are also highly detailed. Even better, the automatic distortion correction and noise reduction are also excellent. We do like the job done here because the images we took provide a natural and true-to-life rendering, especially when considering the sensor and lenses utilized. However, the telemacro is acceptable in our opinion.

As a result of Xiaomi using one of its 20MP Quad-Bayer cameras for selfies once more, the images don’t have as much information as the resolution would indicate. A lot of fine detail was also lost during the noise reduction. Despite the muted color rendering, the subjects have beautiful skin tones and are well-exposed. The best we can say is that the images do appear okay on the phone’s screen.

The selfies taken in a portrait orientation are decent, with somewhat better exposure but duller colors. The blur and separation are both pleasing. And that’s the time the 14 Pro Max gets to shine, but Xiaomi 12T didn’t go down without a proper fight.

The night mode however, produced high contrast photos with enough detail and commendable light control that can go on par with the 14 Pro Max, but Apple’s top flagship takes these night shots in a breeze compared to the 12T’s 2-3 second intervals.

Video

With its primary camera, the Xiaomi 12T is capable of recording 4K video, 1080p video with its ultrawide and selfie cameras, and 720p video with its macro camera. Only the primary and selfie cameras support 1080p@60fps.

General video mode

The primary and ultrawide cameras always have electronic stabilization active, regardless of resolution or frame rate. The 60fps is a little bit reliable, but it seems to be inaccessible for the 30fps selfie option. If you transition from the primary camera to the ultrawide camera and back, the camera app always reduces the video resolution to 1080p.

Low light mode

The main camera’s 4K videos are excellent. There is adequate sharpening and resolved detail. There is no discernible noise, superb colors and contrast, and a respectable but not excessively wide dynamic range. However, the 50Mbps high video bitrate undoubtedly helped.

There’s that and the optical stabilization is still unequaled, just like with the iPhone 14 Pro Max. In comparison to the Xiaomi 12T’s somewhat hit-and-miss approach, it also easily and clearly records sharper films on both of its front and rear cameras.

Final impressions

With a starting price of ₱26,999 for the entry-level 8GB/128GB variant, the Xiaomi 12T is a really compelling smartphone. It has a large 120Hz OLED display with 12-bit color depth and higher-than-average 1220p resolution. Both gamers and power users (e.g. us) will enjoy the Dimensity 8100-Ultra chipset, which is another delight. The rear cameras operate well both during the day and at night, and the excellent battery life is naturally complemented by lightning-quick 120W charging.

While not overly crowded, the Xiaomi 12T is positioned in what we typically refer to as the “flagship-killer” market and has plenty of competition that you should take into account before making your choice.

Despite Xiaomi’s past shortcomings on their phones with deadboot issues and more, this offering from them proves that they can learn from their mistakes, and deliver a better device that’s better than some if not most flagships of this year, and the Xiaomi 12T is definitely a ‘SUPER SULIT’ phone that you should consider buying if you have the chance to do so.

WHAT WE LOVE ABOUT THE XIAOMI 12T:

✔️ Modular and ergonomic camera design with premium feel and look

✔️ Sharp OLED display that’s better than the iPhone 14 Pro Max in many ways

✔️ Big battery and super fast 120W charging speed

✔️ Above quality audio

✔️ Dimensity 8100-Ultra chipset inside

✔️ Despite some complaints, its camera is really good for the most part

✔️ Very reasonable price-to-specs ratio

WHAT WE DISLIKE ABOUT THE XIAOMI 12T:

❌ Plastic frame despite the all-glass look

❌ Subpar selfie cam

❌ No Dolby Vision support

Whatever you’ll choose between the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Xiaomi 12T, one thing’s for sure, you’re in good hands. And as for Vince’s personal thoughts, he will use the 12T as his Android daily driver.

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