Xiaomi 12 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro Camera comparison: Which one is better?


At the launch of Xiaomi 12 series, Lei Jun compared the Xiaomi 12 series with the iPhone 13 series many times. Although we’ve seen a lot of brands compare with the iPhones for references, it’s actually the first time that Xiaomi developed a complete phone line against Apple. The Xiaomi 12 Pro is undoubtedly the most striking model in the series, while its rival, the iPhone 13 Pro also happens to be the most popular iPhone of the year.

So today we’ve brought them together for a camera comparison, and let’s find out why is Xiaomi so proud to take on a rival that costs nearly twice as much as it does. 

Well, let’s start with their camera setups. 

The iPhone 13 Pro is equipped with a triple-lens rear camera system, including a 26mm equivalent f/1.5 primary lens, an 13mm f/1.8 ultra-wide-angle lens, and another 77mm f/2.8 3x telephoto lens. All three cameras feature 12MP resolution. On the other hand, the Xiaomi 12 Pro seems to have a more capable camera setup on paper. It also features a similar triple-lens combination, and all three lenses feature 50MP high resolution, including its main camera, a 2x telephoto camera, and another ultra-wide lens. 

Xiaomi 12 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro – Main Cameras

Now let’s start with their main cameras. It’s quite surprising that the Xiaomi 12 Pro applies a more aggressive color tuning, leading to samples having a more vivid color compared to what we see in real life. While the iPhone 13 Pro is good at presenting true colors along with a good white balance that reflects the actual environment. But on the other hand, the Xiaomi 12 Pro is much easier to present brighter colors with high saturation, which at first glance, is more eye-catching. 

Under most conditions, the Xiaomi phone’s samples seem to have higher contrast, but if we look closely, they actually have a little gap over dark areas. Especially for high-contrast shooting, both of them didn’t really have good noise control for dark scenes.

Though the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s main camera supports a 50MP original resolution, it didn’t bring much benefit in terms of image clarity with sharper detail when compared to the iPhone’s samples. 

Another common detail shared by these two models is the random lens flares. When shooting towards a light source, we experienced a similar bright reflection on these two phones. To avoid that, you can adjust the camera angle when shooting or use an editing app like Snapseed to remove it. But we also heard that the latest iOS can automatically remove lens flare from photos in certain conditions. Well, obviously, it’s not available yet.

Xiaomi 12 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro – Ultra-Wide Cameras

As for their ultra-wide lenses, we have to say both of them have very good picture detail and the image is clear and sharp. Although we can tell that the Xiaomi model is slightly better than the iPhone 13 Pro, the difference is really hard to notice without careful comparison. 

The color preference of the two models’ wide-angle lenses is almost the same as what we found on their main cameras. The Xiaomi model’s color is still bright and high-saturated, while the iPhone’s is still more realistic. 

And both of them didn’t show much fringing, which is better than most phones’ wide-angle lenses. 

Xiaomi 12 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro – Telephoto (2X,3X,5X)

As for their telephoto cameras, since they didn’t feature the same optical focal length. For Xiaomi 12 Pro, it supports 2x optical zoom, while the iPhone 13 Pro offers a 3x optical zoom. So for 2x shooting, the Xiaomi model with a 50MP sensor no doubt presents a purer and sharper image with better noise control. Similarly, the iPhone model offers a better color presentation with richer detail over 3x shooting. But personally, I prefer the iPhone’s telephoto solution. Because it’s not really far behind over the 2x shooting, but meanwhile, the 3x optical zooming supports better telephotography at 3x and above. For example, if we shot at 5x zoom on both models, the iPhone 13 Pro could provide a cropped picture with less image loss and better detail as well. But on the other hand, if you do a lot of portrait shooting, I would say that the optical 2x of the Xiaomi model is an excellent option, even better than the iPhone’s 3x.  

Xiaomi 12 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro – Night Samples

Then we moved on to night shooting. After comparing night shots, this is our conclusion: the improved night performance of the iPhone 13 Pro still doesn’t compare to the Xiaomi 12 Pro. 

We all know that in the past few years, some Android phones have been ahead of iPhones in terms of night imaging. Although we can see that on the iPhone 13 Pro, the gap keeps narrowing, the Xiaomi 12 Pro still leading the round of night shooting. 

Even though we shot under the auto mode, these two models both could boost the imaging once the AI recognized the night scenes. Apart from the auto mode, they also provide a more aggressive night mode. To access the better night effect, you need to adjust the iPhone’s night effect to the max option, while for the Xiaomi 12 Pro, you have to shift to the night mode.

But this time, I have to admit that the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s camera also provides a more user-friendly experience for night shooting. Thanks to the optimized MIUI software, its night shooting experience has never been this fast and smooth. It only requires us to wait up to 3-second processing under extremely low light conditions. While on the right side is the sample shot on the iPhone, taking 10 seconds for processing, but as you can see, Xiaomi’s sample taking shorter processing is even brighter with sharper detail.

For the main camera, the Xiaomi 12 Pro’s night mode has a better color presentation with a purer image. While it seems that the iPhone’s sample got blurry for less noise, which resulted in a bit more loss of darkness detail. In most night scenes, the Xiaomi model’s auto mode already performed very well, and with night mode on, the photos tend to get a relatively balanced exposure, while also slightly improving image purity. 

As for their ultra-wide lenses, the gap is even wider and the iPhone’s performance is hardly satisfactory in night scenes. Its brightness could be over-exposed and the darkness could be a bit noisy.

And both of their telephoto cameras can also apply the night mode.

When using auto mode at extremely low-light conditions, even though we zoom in to 2x on the Xiaomi 12 Pro, or 3x on the iPhone 13 Pro, the working lens would still be the main one instead of the telephoto camera. In this case, we could only have photos that cropped from the main lens, which could be blurry and noisy, no matter for the iPhone or the Xiaomi model. To have nice night zoom photos on these two phones, you need to shift to the night mode on the Xiaomi model, or adjust the night effect to the max level for the iPhone. The photos would look much better. 

So please remember to do what we suggested above if you want to shoot nice photos with their telephoto lenses. 

And no doubt the Xiaomi 12 Pro is better at 2x night shooting and the iPhone 13 Pro offers better 3x night photos since they each use a separate telephoto lens. But for the Xiaomi 12 Pro, due to the lack of OIS anti-shaking support, you may feel a bit difficult to hold the phone firmly and get a clear image. 

Xiaomi 12 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro – Video shooting

As for video shooting, the cinematic mode on the iPhone is the most impressive feature that we’ve seen for mobile filming. And it did work pretty well with excellent subject portrait focus and blurring effect. But it’s not perfect now. Like the sample, we have shown in our video review, added at the start. It by far only supports 1080P resolution with the main lens and telephoto lens, and the edge recognition wasn’t accurate enough when shooting in complicated scenarios. While for the Xiaomi Phone, the new focusing feature, Cyber-focus, also works well and offers fast focusing in video shooting. It supports up to 4k resolution but is only available on the main lens and 2x telephoto lens. And note that the Xiaomi phone’s wide-angle lens doesn’t support focus tracking in shooting photos or videos. As for video colors, as you can see, the iPhone probably is still the best among all the smartphones. And it seems that the iPhone has slightly better stabilization when filming. 

So that’s all about the cameras on the two phones that we want to share with you. The Xiaomi 12 Pro is pretty impressive in taking photos. Especially for night shooting, the phone is much smarter than its predecessors and the whole camera software brings a really smooth and stable experience. There weren’t any crashes either, like we saw on the Xiaomi 11.

On the other hand, the iPhone 13 Pro is still one of the best mobile filming machines. For software, it has a clean and intuitive interface that allows most users to enjoy taking videos with their phones.