Xiaomi has announced the latest update to its budget-focused Redmi line, the Redmi Note 12 series, comprised of the Redmi Note 12 5G, 12 Pro 5G and 12 Pro Plus 5G.
While the Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 is a tempting budget-focused smartphone, what’s the difference between the two more slightly premium variants? The two look near-identical with the same general design, same colour options, same display and even the same processor, but there are key differences between the two that could push you towards one or the other.
The price is one of the biggest key differences between the two smartphones. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G comes in at £339/€399, while the Plus edition is more expensive at £449/€499
Design & screen
You might struggle to find a difference not only between the Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G and its Pro Plus variant but the phones’ predecessors too. That’s to say that the phones not only look near-identical to each other, but last year’s Note 11 Pro and Pro Plus handsets too.
In fact, one of the only differences is the curvature. While the Pro model is completely flat on the rear, the Pro Plus has a slight curvature to the rear that helps it sit more comfortably in the hand.
That being said, both the Redmi Note 12 Pro and Pro Plus both look fairly nice, especially at the budget end of the market where things can begin to look and feel really cheap really quickly.
Both sport the same combination of a plastic frame and a plastic rear, none of which is a surprise at the price point. Some may scoff at the use of plastic, and while I do agree that it doesn’t feel as premium as glass-backed alternatives, the trade-off in durability is welcome. You can be confident in the knowledge that the rear panel won’t shatter when you drop it – it shouldn’t, anyway.
Both also offer the same level of protection, sporting Corning’s high-end (but not most recent) Gorilla Glass 5 display protection and IP53 dust and splash resistance. They won’t survive a dunk in the water, then, but you should be fine using them in the rain.
The similarities don’t end there either; both are available in the same Midnight Black, Polar White and Sky Blue colour options, and both sport the same 6.67-inch AMOLED display too.
It’s nice to see AMOLED at such a cheap price point, especially a panel that can go as high as 120Hz. The high refresh rate will no doubt make things feel smoother and more responsive, a plus when paired with a distinctly mid-range chipset. Both also sport Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support, so you really aren’t losing out on much in the display department if you opt for the cheaper Pro model.
The only notable differences between the two are the weight and dimensions. Despite the similarities on offer, the Note 12 Pro is both lighter and thinner than its Pro Plus variant, measuring in at 187g and 7.9mm compared to 211g and 8.9mm.
The two phones may be very similar in terms of design and screen tech, but things begin to differ when it comes to the camera department.
The Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G sports a 50MP wide camera with fairly decent specs including OIS, a fairly wide f/1.88 aperture and 2um pixel size when using the built-in pixel binning tech.
It may seem like a downgrade on paper compared to last year’s 108MP snapper in the Note 11 Pro, but the IMX766 sensor used in the newer model is said to perform better. It was the camera of choice among flagships like the OnePlus 10T in 2022, so there’s certainly promise there.
That’s coupled with an 8MP ultra-wide and a 2MP macro camera, the latter of which will likely be disappointing like with just about every other 2MP fixed-focus macro lens on budget and mid-range options.
While that’s good enough, the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus kicks things up a notch with the inclusion of an upgraded 200MP main sensor, complete with OIS, a wider f/1.65 aperture and 2.24um pixel size when using the built-in 16-in-1 pixel binning tech. It also uses ALD (atomic layer deposition) tech that Xiaomi says allows for better image performance in complex lighting conditions.
Don’t expect the same kind of results as you’ll get from the top-end Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra as there’s more to camera performance than a megapixel count, but it does look fairly capable – especially at such a cheap price point.
Like the Pro model, the Pro Plus is flanked by an 8MP ultra-wide and a 2MP macro lens, with both models sporting a 16MP front-facing camera.
When it comes to performance, both smartphones should be fairly evenly matched with the inclusion of the same MediaTek Dimensity 1080, though the Pro Plus model could eke out slightly better benchmark scores with 8GB as standard, compared to the 6- or 8GB from the Note 12 depending on the storage variant you go for.
That said, the 6nm chipset isn’t exactly the latest and greatest, even by MediaTek’s standards. The chipset first came out in late 2022, and while performance is likely to be fine, it may struggle against newer, more efficient chips like Samsung’s 5nm Exynos 1380 found within its £449 Samsung Galaxy A54.
In fact, it’s the same chipset found in Samsung’s slightly lower-specced £349 Galaxy A34 – though considering the cheap price of Xiaomi’s options, that’s not really a bad thing.
That’s paired with either 128GB or 256GB of storage from the Note 12, while the Plus model comes with 256GB as standard. Both also benefit from dual 5G, Wi-Fi 6, NFC, an IR blaster and even a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Software is a little more disappointing, shipping with the older Android 12 in place on Android 13 found on many mid-rangers, and to make matters worse, it uses Xiaomi’s MIUI 14 skin. It’s a skin that’s more marmite-like than most others, with some features that are painfully iOS-like, including the split notification shade and quick controls.
Both models sport the same 5,000mAh battery that should comfortably provide all-day usage, especially when only powering an FHD+ display, but charge times differ between the two – and rather dramatically, at that.
You see, while the two are generally similarly specced, charging is another key area where the top-end Note 12 Pro Plus has the edge.
The Redmi Note 12 Pro boasts impressive 67W fast charging tech that Xiaomi claims can get enough juice for a full day’s usage in just 15 minutes, though that’s not a full charge. I’d imagine it’d take closer to an hour for a full charge, but I’ll have to put that to the test in the coming days.
The Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus, on the other hand, boasts the same rapid 120W HyperCharge tech as the flagship Xiaomi 13 Pro. Having used the Xiaomi 13 Pro recently, I can attest to the impressive charge times of that smartphone, and it should be no different here.
Xiaomi claims a full charge in just 19 minutes, and that sounds about right given my experience, though I’ll verify it with benchmarks in the coming days.
Both the Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G and 12 Pro Plus 5G are tempting budget-focused phones with plenty of similarities, not only in terms of general design but display, processor and battery life, with the Note 12 Pro Plus only boasting a better camera and faster charging than the Pro model.
That said, if you’re focused on mobile photography and love the idea of a full charge in 19 minutes, you may well appreciate the features of the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G. If, however, you just want a good all-rounder that’ll let you do the basics like text, browse the web and play basic games, you can save yourself a bit of cash and opt for the Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G.