It’s been eight years since Xiaomi announced its signature Redmi Note lineup in India. What has followed since is an almost cult-like status for the lineup that has not only revolutionised the budget smartphone industry but also spurned off competing OEMs to better accommodate the customer base. As such, the Redmi Note 12 series has officially been unveiled in the country and just like last year, you get three devices.
I have with me the top-end Redmi Note 12 Pro+, a smartphone that may shatter the ceiling of image-taking capabilities on a mid-range device. Backed by a new 200MP Samsung ISOCELL HPX sensor, the handset is one of the first in the Indian market to harbour such a shooter. The phone is also backed by an impressive spec sheet which begs the question if Redmi has again found a winning formula to shepherd the country’s smartphone market. Let’s try and answer this very question through this detailed review of the device.
The Redmi Note 12 Pro+ does its best to not compromise on any aspect of a wholesome smartphone experience. It has the right processing capabilities, a super fast charging solution and an opulent display. Now while I appreciate the 200MP sensor’s daylight photography chops, I really think the low-light capabilities can do with a bit of fine-tuning. Putting that slight niggle aside, you will be hard-pressed to find a better daily driver in the mid-range market than the Note 12 Pro+.
Design and display
As a measure of its weight and thickness, the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ is not the slimmest or lightest of phones. The handset does seem a little heavy but the robust build quality offsets any downsides. There are three colour variants available, each with a different finish on the back. I have the Iceberg Blue Note 12 Pro+ that comes with a matte look fused with a skyblue-like shade that does look really cool.
Apart from that, the exterior of the device is nothing out of the ordinary. There’s Gorilla Glass 5 protection on both sides and the camera module juts out slightly from the back. The usual assortment of a 3.5mm headphone jack and IR blaster makes it to the phone’s top. On the bottom, you can find a USB Type-C port and a speaker grille while on the side the power button is integrated with a fingerprint sensor. It’s not a stretch to call the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ an aesthetically pleasing device with design chops to appease a sizeable portion of its target audience.
The display on the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ has also been tuned for a superlative visual experience. The panel is AMOLED and can refresh at 120Hz while having a resolution of FHD+. A punch-hole, of an unobtrusive nature, is present up top and the bezels that surround the panel are incredibly trim. At 900nits, the screen also gets super bright for usage in sunny outdoor conditions.
The rest of the specs are also pretty remarkable such as the ability to display 1.07 billion colours and a contrast ratio of 5,000,000: 1. For OTT services, the panel can display content in HDR10 and Dolby Vision. For general browsing and watching needs, the Note 12 Pro+ is more than respectable whether it is casual gaming or binging YouTube. I also never saw the display stutter even once in apps that supported a higher refresh rate and some of the credit has to go to the SoC running underneath. Overall, I really enjoyed my time with the device and I recommend it as a top choice for content consumption for smartphones under Rs 30,000.
Okay, let’s now get to the cameras on the Note 12 Pro+, a big talking point for the company when promoting the device. The triple-camera layout consists of a 200MP Samsung ISOCELL HPX sensor supported by an 8MP ultra-wide and 2MP macro shooter. Talking first about daylight shots, I took the Note 12 Pro+ in a variety of lighting conditions and challenging environments. The phone’s image-taking prowess almost always impressed me.
Capturing details and sharpness with every shot remained the camera’s strongest suit coupled with an affinity to play around with the dynamic range. I did however notice a slightly cooler colour temperature when the sensor was directly pointed towards the blue morning sky. This problem vanishes with close-up images and indoor shooting conditions but is still something to keep in mind. Exposure levels are maintained to a varying degree but the final output is always pleasant.
The regular images are snapped at pixel-binned 12.5MP resolution and to access the full might of the 200MP sensor you have to head into the camera settings. Even then, you are first greeted by a 50MP option and only after a tap in the corner is the full resolution enabled. Word to the wise, always have good lighting when taking 200MP snaps as the exposure and dynamic range takes a hit.
The 8MP ultra-wide does better in terms of maintaining parity with colour temperatures and grabbing substantial details away from the frame’s centre. The 2MP macro shooter lacks the resolution to take detailed shots but it compensates for that by replicating colour accuracy. The overall impression I gathered, at least in daylight conditions, is that the Note 12 Pro+ is a highly capable image-capturing device. With some additional fine-tuning it may just rival offering in the flagship category.
This brings me to the low-light capabilities on offer and my opinion is slightly divided. On the one hand, with assisted lighting being provided, the sensor does not have to resort to the dedicated Night mode. Tinkering with the manual exposure slider allows you to take excellent shots with very little overprocessing, good details in the shadows and an overall correctly exposed shot.
However, the AI-based Night mode goes overboard with the exposure and ISO levels that can brighten up a normal low-light shot to appear as if it had been taken during the day. Also, the details are highly sharpened and the images often look unrealistic. The 16MP selfie camera outputs slightly smoothened-out shots but with accurate skin tones.
Performance and software
With the MediaTek Dimensity 1080 SoC running things on the Redmi Note 12 Pro+, performance is not going to be an issue. I mean the device isn’t the fastest in the segment but it will get the job done just fine. You could throw just about any processor intrinsic task at the device, be it some heavy-duty game or some social media app or just general Chrome browsing, and the handset goes through it like a hot knife in butter.
The benchmark numbers back up this claim and even on the CPU Throttle test, the Note 12 Pro+ maintains an impressive 88 percent of its peak performance. On some more intense tasks, like CoD Mobile, the phone locks up the graphic quality at low to deliver maximum fps for a lasting and smooth gaming experience. Storage-wise the phone has up to 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 256GB of UFS 2.2 internal memory.
5G is a part of the Note 12 Pro+’s operational capabilities and Xiaomi says that the device supports up to 10 bands. These include the widely used n28 and n78 sub-6GHz channels, although the higher bandwidth mmWave n258 band is not present. Apart from that standard 4G operability is great on the smartphone with my tests utilising Jio’s network infrastructure.
For audio purposes you a get Dolby Atmos-supported dual speaker setup that sounds really good when played in closed spaces. However, there’s also a Hi-Res enabled 3.5mm headphone jack for the rare breed of wired audio aficionados. There’s a side-mounted fingerprint sensor which works as advertised and unlocks the phone in a single tap.
For the software on the device, Xiaomi is using its proprietary MIUI 13 skin which is based on Android 12. In a time when every major OEM has mostly transitioned to Android 13, Xiaomi’s reluctance to provide this out-of-the-box on its most popular lineup is baffling, to say the least.
Even so, the update is mostly around the corner so users of the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ will not be missing out for long. The UI itself has undergone some renovations, so to speak, over the years. There’s still some bloatware here and there and looking for settings within the interface isn’t that easy. However, as an overall software skin, the MIUI is still your best bet for customisability.
You get a large 5,000mAh battery at the helm of the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ which, in my usage, lasted easily over a day with the screen on time in the range of 6 to 7 hours. The phone has another ace-in-the-hole with its super-fast 120W charging capability. Xiaomi was nice enough to include this charger inside the box and it juice up your phone from 0 to 100 in less than 20 minutes.
My impression of the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ has been really positive and for good reason. The device checkmarks all aspects of a compelling sub-Rs 30,000 phone without having to compromise on a single aspect. It can be considered the definition of a wholesome experience with some wiggle room present as far as the device’s low-light photography is considered.
I would question if the 200MP sensor was a real necessity as casual users are likely not to make the effort to dig around the camera settings to access the feature. Regardless the daylight point-and-shoot photography on the device is pretty much on point. Coupled with fast charging, reasonably good performance and robust build quality, the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ can truly set a benchmark for future mid-range phones.
Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5
- Gorgeous display
- Minimalistic yet stylish design
- Good daylight photography
- Blazing fast charging
- Night mode not up to the mark
- Comes with Android 12
|Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G||vs||realme 10 Pro Plus 5G|
|Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G||vs||iQOO Z6 Pro|