OPINION: Xiaomi revealed the Redmi Note 12 range in Paris this week, offering a new generation of budget-friendly smartphones starting at just £219. However, for me, it’s the £449 Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G — and its 200MP camera in particular — that stands out not just in Xiaomi’s range, but the mid-range market at large.
I’ve always said that there’s much more to camera quality than the megapixel count, and while that’s still very true, the new breed of 200MP sensors from the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and now the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G have surprised me. I’m starting to see the appeal of high-res cameras — particularly when used in conjunction with 16-in-1 pixel-binning tech.
That’s further improved by the inclusion of a fairly large 1/1.4in sensor, OIS and an impressive f/1.65 aperture that allow the phone to slurp in as much light as possible.
With all that tech onboard, Xiaomi claims that the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus boasts a significant 159% boost to low-light performance compared to the Note 11 Pro Plus 5G. That’s hard to quantify, but as I strolled around the streets of Paris snapping away, I was pretty impressed by the results on offer.
Take the above shot as an example; it captures plenty of light without passing the border of being unnaturally well-lit while providing plenty of detail, even when zooming in. The sky is a slightly lighter shade than it was in real life, but overall, the results were fairly true to life.
It’s not just a one-off either; the above shot was taken about 11pm on a quiet Parisian street. As you can see, there’s plenty of light captured but again, not to an unnatural level like some alternatives. Colours are true to life (Paris is fond of an orange streetlight) and there’s plenty of detail to be found. It’s pretty impressive stuff, especially when you consider the price tag.
Of course, it’s not just low-light photography that benefits from pixel-binning tech. Shots taken during the day are exquisitely detailed with vibrant colour without being too saturated. Colours still pop, but there’s still a realistic look to images.
It’s at this point I should mention that the 200MP camera isn’t the exact same as that of the top-end S23 Ultra — though that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering the Note 12 Pro Plus’ £449 price tag, compared to the S23 Ultra’s £1249 asking price. However, both use Samsung’s ISOCELL camera sensors, with the Note 12 Pro Plus sporting an ISOCELL HPX compared to the higher-performing HP2 of the S23 Ultra.
Crucially, the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G isn’t just focused on photography. It’s also sporting a 6.67-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, a 5000mAh battery and rapid 120W HyperCharge tech that Xiaomi claims can go from flat to full in just 90 minutes. The Dimensity 1080 lags behind the similarly priced competition, with the 1080 found in Samsung’s budget-focused Galaxy A34 that costs £100 less than Xiaomi’s phone, but sacrifices have to be made at the cheaper end of the market.
Still, with solid features and that 200MP camera, I think you might struggle to find something that takes better photos at a similar price.