Continuing the Redmi Note lineup's legacy of going big on one or two features and just going on the rest of them, the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ justifies the Pro+ part of the name without having a comparable price. Which is exactly what we'd expect from a mid-range phone.
Xiaomi’s Redmi Note series has been popular with Stuff for a long time. Seriously, a very long time. It’s had its ups and downs, with the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ 5G representing an upswing for the sub-brand’s lineup. But, in keeping with the fact that Redmi typically doesn’t showcase the very best of smartphone tech, that upswing doesn’t make it all the way to the top.
When you consider its R11,000 price point, that’s hardly surprising. You can get a substantial amount of smartphone for that amount of money but you can’t have the whole thing. Here, there are sacrifices made in the processor and build department, made up for with the massive 200MP main camera sensor and 120W wired charging. More on that in a bit.
The Redmi Note 12 Pro+ isn’t much larger than, say, Samsung’s flagship lineup. But it feels as though it is. It’s hard to explain until you hold it, but the wide metal band and bevelled edges are almost old-fashioned, giving an impression of size where it shouldn’t be. The traditional rectangle has a plastic back (our black review phone is a fingerprint magnet) and is pulled off-balance by a neat, but heavy, camera bulge. A clear cover is included in the box, which will bulk up the package even more.
The edges of the phone are remarkably busy for a 2023 device. The SIM tray, the USB-C charge port, and a speaker vent live on the bottom edge. The upper right side has the power and volume rocker. Along the top? A 3.5mm headphone jack, a speaker vent, and a very small infrared port. We’re not sure what you want to use it for, but it’s an option. You could try that whole ‘phone as TV remote’ experiment again but we’d watch out for malware, in that case.
The whole is fronted by a 6.67in OLED display. It’ll give you a 120Hz refresh rate but brightness caps out at 500 nits (900 nits peak). Usage in bright light suffers as a result but this is South Africa. We’re almost all in the dark most of the time. Light or not, this thing looks good.
It’s fairly speedy on the inside, provided you’re not snobbish about MediaTek processors. The Dimensity 1080 in our review model offered quick enough performance, but it is possible to bog the phone down by opening all the apps and attempting to switch between them. 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage are standards in the South African version of this phone but there’s a 12GB RAM model out there if you’re willing to put in the legwork. That seems like an awful lot of effort, though.
If you’re looking to exploit that OLED screen’s 120Hz refresh rate, the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ will function as intended. It’s a step or two away from excellent performance but it’ll get you online, even if your frame rates take a knock during busier sections.
The biggest performance issues, though? The Redmi Note 12 Pro+ runs an older version of Android under its MIUI 13 skin. Android 12 wasn’t bad, as such, but everyone’s running Android 13 this year. Maybe Redmi didn’t get the memo. And then there’s the bloatware, which isn’t a new problem for the lineup. It’s a shame it hasn’t been corrected. Still, you don’t have to use all of that crap but you do have to get rid of it.
Our star performer
The human body is an advanced container for the soft, squishy grey matter piloting the whole thing, from one point of view. And the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ is a container for the monster 200MP camera sensor the brand has been making noise about since… well, since the phone launched overseas in 2022. Xiaomi’s featured a 200MP sensor before but this is a first for the Redmi lineup. There are two other cameras sharing space at the rear — an 8MP ultrawide and a 2MP macro lens, with no depth sensor to speak of. But it’s really the 200MP camera doing all of the heavy lifting.
It’s best used to capture 50MP images, a feature called Ultra HD mode. It scales four pixels into one for a large, finely detailed image that has more utility than you’ll get from one 200MP monster. There’s no RAW support, so shooting uncompressed doesn’t do much more than take up storage space. Unless you’re a cropping fanatic (and even if you are), it’s a better idea to work with the more detailed 50MP stills. That 200MP is just an impressive number designed to get you to pay attention. And it worked, didn’t it?
That said, decent performance is very possible from the Redmi Note 12 Pro+. It’ll handle itself in areas with less light, though not to the point where you’ll confidently crow about its ‘nightography’ performance. That’s a whole different brand. The 16MP front camera is also fairly well set up. Smoothing is on by default but it doesn’t make you look like someone badly erased all the lines on your face (unless you tell it to, this time).
Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro+ verdict
Will you be salty about paying R11,000 for the Redmi Note 12 Pro+? Only if it goes on special the week after the transaction goes through. The camera isn’t a gimmick, even if its main function is to make you pick the phone up instead of the competition. There’s enough power to make the most of the impressive display and we can look past the Redmi Note 12 Pro+’s thickness since the company saw fit to keep the 3.5mm jack and even threw in an IR sensor at no extra charge. The battery is good, 120W fast-charging is better, and it’ll be hard to beat this one at this price. It’s just a pity about the Android version but then, the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ did first launch in 2022.