The Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus is a smartphone kitted out for a fight, with a list of specifications that exceed much of what the competition offers. With a great screen, good cameras and super fast charging, it delivers on at least some of its initial promise. But with divisive software, no stated long-term software support and an uninspiring design, it doesn’t do enough to make it into the record books.
- Super-speedy charging
- Brilliant camera system for the price
- Detailed, bright display
- Boring design
- Bloated MIUI software
- Lack of long-term software support
- Long battery lifeThe large 5,000mAh battery is more than sufficient to provide all-day usage, and 120W HyperCharge gets you topped up quickly
- 200MP rear cameraThe 200MP rear camera delivers great shots even in low-light conditions, thanks to the use of 16-in-1 pixel binning tech to improve detail and light
- 120Hz AMOLED displayIt’s nice to see AMOLED at less than £400, and the 120Hz refresh rate makes things look smooth
It happens with every kind of product and in every market – where sales start to stagnate, marketers invent new product categories.
The mid-range smartphone market is seriously overloaded, with options from every manufacturer at a slew of different prices, but it hasn’t seen any real innovation for years. And on the surface, it seems that devices like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus may be part of the problem, fulfilling a new and nebulous niche invented by marketers, but without doing anything really different.
It is a handful of a name that makes a promise to be for ‘Pros’ with an indeterminate reason for the Plus moniker, which may refer to either its size, power or both. It is positioned as being a bit more premium than the more bog-standard mid-tier smartphone, but without the price point of the flagship category, a difficult spot to hit and one without a proven demographic behind it.
Being from Xiaomi, key to its attempts to claim this spot is a list of hardware specifications that at least match the competition in every way. Front and centre are its 200MP camera and 120W fast charging, both of which are more than can easily be found elsewhere.
A phone is more than a laundry list of specifications however, does the Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus have what it takes to deliver a good experience too?
Read on for our full review.
Design and screen
- Has a flat 120Hz HDR OLED screen with 1080p resolution
- Rear is encased in coloured glass
- Has a 3.5mm headphone jack
Design for mid-range smartphones is rarely a primary concern, a device that looks great over everything else is merely a nice extra – price is what matters.
The 12 Pro Plus does nothing to challenge this assumption. If we can say that the average modern smartphone is a large glass and metal rectangle, then the 12 Pro Plus is every inch a modern smartphone.
On the rear, there is a pronounced camera hump which houses the trio of sensors, along with an understated ‘Redmi’ logo, and an unnecessary ‘5G’ added. The back is slightly curved, which helps with usability, and is coloured – with our review unit coming in a subdued white.
As might be expected, the glass rear makes for spectacular dives from almost any surface, the included TPU case is an absolute necessity if you want to take this device beyond the front door. The frame is made from matt plastic and hosts a useful and quick fingerprint reader. Waterproofing isn’t available, but the device is splash-proof.
If all of this sounds negative, in isolation it isn’t. The Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus may look generic, but it feels well-constructed. One-handed use is almost out of the question given the size of the screen (6.67 inches) and the weight (204g), except of course those with gargantuan mitts. This isn’t a phone that you can use to hammer out a text in a hurry while balancing a fussy toddler in one arm.
The size of the screen may not make for easy one-handed use, but it does mean a great viewing experience, with enough acreage to feel a little immersive. With a 120Hz refresh rate, panning through the interface feels smooth and pleasant, and with a resolution of 1080p it doesn’t push the boat out, but keeps content sharp for the most part.
As it has a panel with OLED tech, blacks on the 12 Pro Plus are pleasantly inky and colours are nicely saturated, and its HDR capability means that supported content really pops. What’s more, this is a display that can get seriously bright, even in strong sunlight it remained easy to see, and at night it became sufficiently dim for easy bedtime reading.
An essential pillar for the success of any smartphone is its display, and here the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus succeeds with aplomb, even if its design fails to make an impression.
- Rear main camera has 200MP and OIS, flanked by a 8MP ultra-wide and 2MP macro
- Front facing camera is 16MP
The camera system today is where manufacturers make their true statements of intent to the competition – and there are few stronger statements than a 200MP sensor in a mid-range smartphone.
In a world where the competition has coalesced around 50MP, 64MP and 48MP sensors, the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus offers a theoretical advantage of up to four times the resolution. These are of course numbers that only work on paper, with shooting conditions being a bigger influence on total quality, and as is standard, the 200MP images bin down to 12.5MP.
This said, the sensor on the 12 Pro Plus is large at 1/1.4” which should mean improved low-light capabilities as well as better detail capture. Flanking the main sensor are a less impressive 8MP wide-angle shooter and a why-did-they-bother-adding-it 2MP macro cam. Pulling central duty on the front is a 16MP selfie snapper.
Starting with the camera app, Xiaomi pulls its usual trick and offers an iPhone-like experience, while also complicating things and adding a suite of modes that most people will likely never touch. The ‘Ultra HD’ mode can be activated by up to three separate toggles, which doesn’t speak of a fluent design language.
That aside, the app works well and quickly, and ought not to be an impediment to getting a quick image where needed.
Overall picture quality is great, detail is plenty in good light, sharpening is mostly kept to a relative minimum and colours show enough pop and saturation. With the included HD mode, with the right conditions, detail capture can be quite impressive.
Things of course fall down, as this is a Xiaomi smartphone, with its built-in scene detector that hates the colour green. It considers anything less than the most nuclear astroturf hue as an insult, and promptly does what it can to boost any grass or greenery in-scene to something similar. This can happen with reds and yellows too – it is best to shoot with the scene detector off. Luckily the HDR mode is more successful, boosting dynamic range without removing too much contrast.
At night things remain mostly positive. As the sensor has optical image stabilisation it can go for long shutter speeds, and the built-in night mode is mostly successful at removing noise and restoring colour. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of the more premium competition in this regard, but the 12 Pro Plus is a capable performer nonetheless.
The wide-angle camera exhibits performance expected for the price, which is to say it has decent colours but lacks enough detail. As was hinted, the macro camera is difficult to use and produces poor results.
Selfies are decent, though lacking in dynamic range, and the included ‘beauty’ software can be used to transform your face into something worthy of ET. Video quality on the whole isn’t great, with audio generally being choppy, and details looking a bit ‘crunchy’.
- Runs a MediaTek Dimensity 1080 processor
- Comes with 8/12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage by default
- Runs MIUI
Xiaomi is known for several things: budget smartphones, sometimes confusing naming conventions and MIUI, its homegrown Android skin that comes with every device it sells.
MIUI has been polarising since its inception, some enjoying the added features, others decrying the bloat. Whatever your position may be, what is for sure is that this isn’t your granny’s Android. Simple things such as the notification shade have been altered beyond recognition, apps have duplicates and ads are present in the interface.
Within the context of the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus, MIUI presents an interface that mostly allows you to get the job done. By default apps install on the homescreen, going right into infinity. A swipe from the top right brings down a number of settings toggles, and a swipe on the left brings down the notification shade. Swiping from the left brings the Google Now screen, and a judicious RAM manager zealously kills background processes in an attempt to preserve battery life.
A cause for concern beyond something more prosaic such as feature bloat is the lack of stated support for long-term software updates. The usual two years of feature updates seems likely, but if you are planning to make a long-term purchase out of this device it may not remain secure into the future, especially when Samsung promises 4 years by default.
When it comes to everyday performance, the 8GB of RAM and Dimensity 1080 chipset kept things chugging along nicely on my review unit. Swiping through the interface, switching between apps and more never proved to be an issue, though slight delays could be found in changing between heavier apps.
Gaming was mostly a strong point, titles such as PUBG ran on high detail settings at an enhanced frame rate without issue, meaning that this might be a decent handset for a budding mobile gamer. These were born out by the Geekbench scores of 973 for single-core and 2348 for multi-core.
- Has a 5000mAh battery
- Offers 120W fast charging
- Charges over USB-C
With a 5,000mAh battery, even with the large screen and powerful processor in the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus, I was expecting good runtimes all-round. In practice, this mostly proved to be the case.
Starting the day at 7am, listening to music, using an hour of GPS, messaging throughout the day before then doing another hour of GPS on return we found we had 45% by 6pm, which is a decent showing. With a bit of coaxing, this is a device that will make it through to a second day, but for most this will make it through a full day – as can be expected of many devices these days.
What is a little more unusual is the speed at which the Note 12 Pro Plus can recharge. At 120W it offers a little under twice as much theoretical speed as some of the competition, and in use it proves to be a delight. After 16 minutes of charging we saw around 75% reached from flat, with another 8 minutes bringing that to 100%. This is a kind of speed that can make a real difference in a difficult situation, and can be a lifesaver.
Making a successful mid-range smartphone is no simple task, there’s more competition than ever and standing out from the sea is easier said than done.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus is a device that is very successful on its own merits. It has a brilliant display, a great main camera system, super-fast charging and enough performance to meet everyday needs – this is a phone that will make most buyers very happy.
Quibbles such as a boring design and bloated software are drawbacks, but not so glaring that they should define the phone. It is the lack of long-term software support that is a real killer, with rivals from Samsung, Google and Apple offering longer and at lower price points.
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With an IP53 rating, the Note 12 Pro Plus should be able to survive a splash of water but it can’t be submerged.
Yes, and a 120W charger at that.
Yes, it does have a headphone jack.
No, it doesn’t offer wireless charging.