The Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G is now a solid midrange phone that doesn’t compromise on specs. Should you buy it though?
A Redmi Note device is never the perfect phone and yet, a simple comparison with its competition crowns it the segment’s king. Over the years, the Redmi Note phones have shown what most budget smartphone buyers truly seek and how Xiaomi manages to serve them just right. Countless attempts from Realme, Samsung, Motorola and Oppo have gone in vain – the Redmi Note continues to be the spec and value king. In 2023 though, the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus changes this.
Xiaomi is calling the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus the Super Note. Tall claims but the spec sheet and the inflated price tag suggest there are lots of upgrades under the hood. The phone brings a 200MP camera sensor to this sub-Rs. 30000 segment, all while not compromising on the basics. There is a solid midrange chipset, a large capacity battery, a superfast charging solution, and a superb display. Sounds great, but the competition has splendid phones to offer for similar prices.
Is this most expensive Redmi Note worth buying? I used it for a few days to find out.
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The last few iterations of the Redmi Note have looked splendid (the most memorable one being the Redmi Note 7 Pro). In 2023 though, the most loaded Redmi Note looks too generic. Strip it off the Redmi badge and this phone looks almost identical to the slew of Realme, Oppo and Vivo phones from the last few months. Even the colour gradient is lacking and most of you would need a good looking protective case to make a style statement. That’s not good for a phone that costs Rs. 30000; have you looked at the Nothing Phone (1), Google Pixel 6a, and iQOO Neo 6?
While the design is generic, the build quality is good. Plastic frame holding glass panels on the front and back is what Redmi does best. I am glad to see a screen protector pre-installed, and also a plastic TPU case for added protection from accidental drops. Xiaomi is even providing a 120W charger in the box, which is now becoming a rare feature on affordable smartphones.
The display is where the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G shines. You are getting a 6.7-inch FHD+ AMOLED display with a refresh rate of 120Hz and a 10-bit panel. For those who love watching web shows or movies on their smartphones, this display is a good one to do so. It makes everything look vivid, bright and punchy. There is support for Dolby Vision but you need a compatible Netflix subscription to get the best experience. The 120Hz refresh rate keeps it all smooth and under the Sun, the display is easily legible. Sadly, no in-display fingerprint sensor present here.
With a new MediaTek Dimensity 1080 chip, the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus guarantees solid and reliable performance. The Dimensity 1080 is an improved version of the Dimensity 920 chip, and on the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G, it shows what it promises. Running Xiaomi’s MIUI 13 based on Android 12, this is a fast phone that can manage most tasks with ease. Whether I was scrolling through the Instagram app, or playing a quick match of Call of Duty Mobile, this phone can manage it all well. Mind you, those resource intensive games require a maximum settings combo of high to medium slots for running the games smoothly.
As for MIUI 13, it is the same old story – a vastly customisable user interface that is riddled with bloatware and a few pre-loaded 3rd party apps. Xiaomi’s MIUI is desperate to make you enable the Mi Wallpaper Carousel, and update/download apps via its GetApps store. You can disable most of these and be happy with the slick performance this nicely optimised Android skin has to offer, but the presence of Android 12 is irksome, especially for a Rs. 30000 phone launching in 2023. Xiaomi promises two Android OS updates and 4 years of security patches, which sounds good enough of longevity. However, we all know the snail’s pace of OS updates on Xiaomi devices. Hence, tread with risk if you value OS updates.
The Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G makes up for that annoyance with its loud and meaty dual speaker setup. You also get a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is a blessing for wired headphone loyalists.
Connectivity performance is great too. I tried the phone on Airtel’s 5G network and I was able to get 400-500Mbps download speeds in my area; similar to what I get on an iPhone 14 Pro Max. Network reception on 4G is solid too and I did not face call drops.
Xiaomi loves to tune its cameras for saturated colours and brightly lit night photos, all while managing the exposures well. The same theme continues on the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G. As is the norm, the main camera is the only one useable and with a new 200MP sensor, it does raise a few eyebrows. You can use the full 200MP mode for getting a 200MP photo, which in ample lighting captures a crazy amount of details.
Sadly, the photos lack the dynamic range and look mostly washed out, especially in low and challenging lighting. Human figures appear oil painted in low light and the portrait mode has room for improvement. The OIS helps to eliminate shaky photos to some extent, and it comes handy in video recording too. Bright exposures are another area of concern. Sadly, the 8MP ultrawide is sub-par at best with fledgling colours whereas the 2MP macro camera is simply garbage. Unlike the Google Pixel 6a, the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus loves to brighten the shadows, thereby reducing authenticity.
The 16MP front camera is good for a phone of this class, offering bright and over-sharpened selfies. However, the phone tends to crush shadows in favour of brightened exposures and fair skin tones.
A 4980mAh battery assures the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G an all-day’s battery life with ease. Mind you, the phone struggles to make it past an entire day with just 4G enabled and 120Hz refresh rate turned on. Thankfully, the 120W wired charging is a blessing for those wanting a quick top up. While the 0-100 percent charge in 19 minutes is a myth, I was able to do a full top-up in under 30 minutes (with the Boost Charging enabled). The fun lies when you quickly need a top-up from somewhere around 30 percent to 80 percent, which happens in 11-12 minutes. What’s even great is that you get the fast charger in the box.
The Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G is a pricey affair for a Redmi Note device, despite Xiaomi trying to convince everyone that the price hike is due to inflation and several other reasons. On top of that, a quick look at the competition and the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G doesn’t seem like an easy pick; the Nothing Phone (1) has so much more to offer in terms of value. A super polished user experience packaged in a cool design that is also built exceptionally well – this is not what the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus delivers.
There are several redeeming aspects for this Redmi “Super Note”. The 200MP camera works nicely as a replacement of a zoom camera, provided the lighting is good. The 120W fast charging is another benefit and the same can be said for its impressive display. The Dimensity 1080 chip is good enough for most consumers and the 5G performance has been good on Airtel’s 5G NSA network.
That said, at a starting price of Rs. 29999, the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus is tough to recommend. Either wait for the company to drop the prices, or go for the Nothing Phone (1), which is still our top pick under Rs. 30000. You can also check out the Google Pixel 6a if you value a great still photography experience. The iQOO Neo 6 is another great deal for those who value high performance.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G
200MP great for zooming
120W Charger in the box
Still on Android 12