The Note 12 Pro — with no “Plus” tailing on the name — is one of the latest Redmi flagships. But does this £339 priced phone deliver sub-par performance just as Redmi is a sub-brand of Xiaomi? Read on to find out how it surprised me in unexpected ways.
As of the time of writing, the Redmi Note 12 family is quite big and consists of:
And we can double that, given that all of them have 5G variants too. Even though the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ is on the far right of the spectrum, the 12 Pro isn't actually that far off.
Note 12 Pro Unboxing
The 12 Pro comes in a typical white box, which doesn't surprise with its weight, like the one of the 12 Pro Plus. Inside, you get pretty much the same set of contents though:
- A white USB to USB-C cable with orange tints
- A lightweight 67W
- A SIM-ejector tool
- A snug, soft silicone case
- A bunch of paper inserts
- And a bonus in the form of the Note 12 Pro phone from Redmi! Wow!
It's 2023, Big Tech calls 18W and 21W “fast” charging, yet here's little Redmi saying “hi~” with its 67W charger. Sure, it's not an insanely-fast speed that impresses with the bare thought of it alone, but it's still… pretty darn fast! The silicone case is also a nice little touch. It isn't a 100% perfect fit, as the side-mounted buttons are ever so slightly off-center. But it is in a very visible way and personally, it is driving me nuts.
That being said: it's free, so you can't really complain about it too much. Especially given the fact that it does its job very well. It lifts both the cameras and the screen just enough so that neither touches the surface that the phone is placed on. Kudos!
Note 12 Pro Specs
So, after reviewing the spec sheet of the Redmi Note 12 Pro, you will most likely be absolutely unimpressed. And I can't really blame you: there's not a single standout feature, with the 50MP main sensor being the closest to such, though we'll talk about that later.
But you know what is surprising? What Redmi has managed to pull out of these specs. The raw power — in numbers — is not there, yet the phone itself walks the walk, which is way more important than talking the talk.
Note 12 Pro Design & Colors
The only category in which the Note 12 Pro feels significantly less premium than its bigger brother is, without a doubt, the lack of the matte finish on the back panel. It really adds a lot to the overall experience of holding the phone. Hear me out: paying extra to not have your phone's back be a fingerprint magnet shouldn't be a thing. Yet, here we are with the Note 12 Pro and its glossy glass back, which provides a solid grip, but at the cost of nasty, oily prints. The oleophobic coating helps you remove them quickly when need be, but I'd rather not have them at all.
It's far less weighty than its Pro+ sibling by Redmi, which kind of adds to the way you perceive the phone. But ultimately, this is a good thing: your hands get less tired while holding it, which is especially impactful when combined with the ever-so-slightly smaller size of the phone.
The front is also glass — no shock there — and covered in Gorilla Glass 5. The phone is also rated at IP53, which means that it can only survive minor splashes and rain and offers limited protection against fine dust particles. So it's not truly water resistant in the same way as more expensive phones. Be careful at summer parties with this one!
Oh, and it is always a bummer to see a good phone's frame be made of plastic. Metallic frames just feel different in the hand and their cool touch certainly helps to build a form of trust between the phone and consumer.
In terms of color options, this time there's some extras. Redmi went all out with the Stardust Purple, which is an absolute stunner. The Blue variant seems close to the one available for the 12 Pro+, and then we have the conventional White and Black.
Note 12 Pro Display
“Having a phone screen that can go up to 120Hz and then the option to tone that down is blasphemy!” says Redmi. After which it goes and adds that option to the 12 Pro+. And all of that was my creative way of telling you that the 12 Pro is 120Hz all the time, with no option to manually switch to a lower refresh rate. And I love it. It didn't lead to any battery drain or warmth — just like on the Pro+ for that matter — but it still felt awesome. I'm typically not a stickler for high refresh rates, but I give credit where credit is due: on this display, it feels so, so good.
The resolution is FHD+, which is certainly enough for the 6,67” size of the OLED panel. It was also capable enough to be just as bright, dark and saturated as I needed it to be, which was impressive, even if it's not the brightest screen out there.
Note 12 Pro Camera
The Note 12 Pro has a triple camera setup. Its main is a 50MP, which can shoot in 4K and which the phone refers to as a “wide”, then you have an 8MP ultra-wide and a 2MP macro camera. The selfie-snapper is a 16MP unit with HDR that caps at 1080p.
In all honesty, I did go into this as someone who already experienced a similar camera system through the Redmi Note 12 Pro+. In both cases, and again — my guess is that this is valid for the entire series — the feature set was heavily influenced by Pixel phones.
But in a way that neither works as well, nor as cleverly. The phone's attempt to color correct on the fly resulted in over-saturation that made the photos feel off. The portrait mode's attempt at a bokeh was jagged and unrealistic, when compared to the real thing. And as for the auto-enhancements… They felt unfinished at best.
So after ensuring that the situation is pretty much the same, I switched AI mode off, evaded all the extra features like the plague and found that this phone is great as a point-and-shoot.
With one major caveat: the auto-focus is really spotty.
Now, don't get me wrong: when the subject is static and really obvious, the results can be downright miraculous. But when it's something jittery like a pet or kid or simply something that doesn't contrast well against the background, the mark is way more likely to be missed by a mile. Or five.
The one oddity that I couldn't help but notice with the Note 12 Pro was that the Ultra-Wide sensor produced photos, which are noticeably warmer than the ones captured through the main lens.
Then you also have the option to shoot at the maximum 50MP that the phone is capable of. While the photos were rich in detail, which remained notable even when viewed on a bigger screen, there wasn't that much a difference between this and the standard camera mode. As such, I just forgot about it with time.
The macro mode, though, seems to be one of the cut corners when compared to the Plus variant. There, it was a complete joy to use, while on the Note 12 Pro, the difference between using the Macro mode and a 2x zoom made me go “meh”.
That being said, I must praise the included cinema-crop, which worked just as well. And that sparked my creativity, which in turn pointed me to the direction of the camera's Pro mode. And what a joy it was to use!
It absolutely proves that you don't need a 200MP sensor in order to produce breathtaking shots. In all honesty, the weather in my area prevented me from getting the results I was looking for, but still: you can certainly see what I mean.
The one odd caveat I found regarding Pro mode was that on numerous occasions, the final photo came out just a tad darker than what I was seeing on screen. And while I am accustomed to expecting the opposite result, this one was weird. Still, nothing that a bit of post can't fix.
The selfie snapper performed admirably too. It has its own version of Portrait mode, which you can probably tell isn't worth your time. But as soon as you opt out of it, you are likely to get pretty good results, even if you are hiding in the shade.
Taking video with the Note 12 Pro is as easy as ever. The phone can even take 4K clips at 30FPS, which is always awesome to see. Stabilization and zoom feel buttery smooth and the captured sound comes out as if pre-mixed: really good!
I did happen to notice a weird one too: until the phone's first full recharge, the camera snapped at a different time than when I pressed the button, and the resulting — naturally — didn't match my creative vision. Luckily, this bug squashed itself somehow.
And in closing, a PSA: be careful when switching to ultra-wide while pointing at a bright subject. For some reason, the phone's immediate reaction is to present you with a screen of pure, blinding light which gradually fades into the image you are trying to capture. Unpleasant at best, socket-burning at worst.
I couldn't figure out why or when this happens, so I'm just dusting it off to the “Random Bugs” corner. Still, I hope that this gets fixed, as it did happen while I was shooting a well-lit subject at home, in the evening and it was very, very unexpected. And blinding.
Note 12 Pro Performance & Benchmarks
I love pushing the limits of the devices I use. As soon as I got my hands on the Note 12 Pro, I wanted to see just how much I can get this thing to do for me. My logic is simple: if I know how far I can push it, I know how to use it in order to get the most out of it.
So I used it a bit as is and I didn't get any issues. 6GB of RAM feels fine for this phone. Well, 8GB would've been better, but at least the aggressive flushing that we've come to know from Xiaomi phones felt subdued here, which was a relief.
Navigation was smooth like butter, to the point where I found myself just going through the menus for fun.
And while I was a tad disappointed that there were games that I couldn't set to the absolute max on the 12 Pro+, I was pleasantly surprised that the 12 Pro (no plus) kept up with very, very few exceptions. Everything ran, smoothly and without any issue. So the only question left was: can I get it to run better?
Memory Extension is a really funny setting to me. On the one hand, it's a bit archaic, but at the same time it's on a phone, so it feels like it is from the future. It's basically a pagefile, which allows you to run more apps in the background. Theoretically, this can lead to your storage wearing down more quickly, but that would take tons of time.
Naturally, I picked the biggest option and expanded my virtual RAM by 5GB. Did I need to? Honestly, no, but the option was there. And here's the result: I never felt like I needed more RAM. Performance didn't change, but multitasking, in turn, was a breeze.
So what else could I do? Turn off battery optimizations for the apps that I plan to use the most — primarily games, for testing — and then amp things up with Performance Mode. And performance did improve quite a bit, allowing me to push things like game graphics even further.
But the weird thing is that I felt like the phone was losing an equal amount of juice, regardless if I was playing a game on Max Settings with Performance Mode on or on Medium to Low settings with Performance Mode off.
And you know what? After a few quick tests, each including play sessions of about 30 minutes, I can confirm that this is the case indeed. As such, you should definitely put Performance Mode as a quick toggle up top and take advantage of it every time!
The phone is equipped with the Mediatek Dimensity 1080. And sure — that's not a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. In fact, it's not even close to Gen 1. But still, I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a capable chip that handled things well. And with no signs of heating either!
Note 12 Pro Android
I love MIUI. I love how it has its own sleek visual style, I love all the extra features it has and I love how it goes out of its way to try and predict the exact ways in which I will be stupid, so it can resolve those issues ahead of time for me.
At the same time, though, I just can't get it to believe in me enough and trust me that I know what is best for me. So you can kind of see where there might be some issues in such a relationship, right?
And, unfortunately, that definition is accompanied by a further list of… Issues:
Bloatware apps are her; the phone has a feature to remove them, but it doesn't let you do so, so you are basically stuck with them
There are pop-up ads here and there, not too many, but still: ads
Tons of customization options, most free, but you'll have to do some digging for the more quality stuff
Pre-installed extra tools, most of which you'll never have to use and others, like the Cleaner, that do next to nothing
MIUI's dropdown looks great but expects way more input that it ever should
But also, I'd like to give credit where it is due, because this Android ROM has:
- Fan-favorite features such as letting you turn off your screen with YouTube playing
- Reading mode is pure bliss and I'm starting a petition to have it on every Android phone ever made, because even though it just adjusts the colors and adds a paper texture to the screen, it helps reduce eye strain significantly
- The option to just disregard some of the more odd MIUI stylings in favor of a conventional Android experience
- An app drawer that is designed in a similar way to the one on the Google Launcher, but the major difference is that you can create subsections for easier navigation
- Android 12 out of the box, which isn't that big of a deal as it works perfectly fine, but there isn't any good reason to not have 13 on there instead
- Three years of software updates and four years of security updates
During the time I spent with the Note 12 Pro, I didn't encounter any major issues. Sure, there were minor hiccups before the phone's first full recharge, but then they disappeared entirely. This was a breath of fresh air after all the random bugs that I encountered on the 12 Pro+. Sure, MIUI is not the cleanest, most user-friendly Android ROM. Some settings are tucked away, as if the phone expects you to explore the Settings menu for hours on end, but then when you get to know it, it's not an unbearable experience to live with.
Note 12 Pro Battery
It is very difficult for me to imagine a scenario where a phone's battery can surprise me anymore. Budget phones last longer, flagships want daily feeding and there's just a tiny bit of wiggle room for the weird phones out there (and God bless them all!).
So, imagine my shock when I found out that I was actually surprised by the Note 12 Pro's battery life. Here's how I kept the phone tuned since day one:
- A constant 120Hz refresh rate (as that can't be toned down here)
- Location services non-stop
- Bluetooth enabled 24/7
- WiFi/Mobile services enabled all the time
- Performance mode working about 40% of the time
And even after days where I played games for about 3 hours, the phone lasted through the rest of the day. Then there were the days when I spent hours shooting photos, exporting them, snapping some more and again, then the phone still survived the day.
And keep in mind: my 6a can't do the Diablos and the Star Rails in High Settings, 60FPS, nor would it let me play around with the camera setup in manual mode. And then have enough battery left for me to confidently walk out the door for my evening walk.
I even expected to encounter some issues with notifications or connectivity, as was caused by the Battery optimization on the Note 12 Pro+, but that simply didn't happen.
Note 12 Pro Audio Quality & Haptics
Earlier in this review, I mentioned that the Note 12 Pro feels like the definitive model in the series. And the audio kind of backs me up. The dynamic range felt as good as can be for this price, without any clashing mids or unpleasant noises.
There was one major caveat in the audio department, which bugged me though: the lower speaker feels louder than the upper one. This pretty much ruins any creative mixing and any attempts that Dolby Atmos makes in creating a proper soundscape.
While there are workarounds to this, they require you to go out of your way and tinker with third-party apps, which shouldn't be a thing. An option to fine tune the sound in Settings would've been appreciated, especially given how good initial impressions for this speaker setup were.
So what about haptics? The Note 12 Pro+ had a rubbery feel to its haptics, which I now realize was due to the motors not being able to compensate for the phone's larger body.
But on the Note 12 Pro (no plus), that feeling is gone. Haptics feel sharp and poppy, just how most people would want them. Gone are also my issues with typing haptics that randomly change, as this time they stayed the same.
Note 12 Pro Price & Rivals
The Note 12 Pro — along with its siblings — isn't officially available in the US. That means that you'll have more luck finding it at smaller online stores than with big box retailers or carriers.
That being said, the Note 12 Pro is officially sold in the UK, so we can give you an estimated price point. One would cost you £339, which equates to about $420 when directly converted, for a phone with 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM.
For the record, that is about $150 more than the Note 12 Pro+, which runs for £449. But it's bigger form factor led to issues and it felt way less optimized than the Note 12 Pro (no plus). So, in total, the question is: would you pay $150 extra for a 200MP sensor?
If you ask me, you don't need it. The 50MP sensor on the Note 12 Pro impressed me just as much.
But what are your non-Redmi options? Well, then you can go for a:
- An ever faithful Galaxy A34 5G
- Pixel 6a, which is my personal daily driver (for a reason)
The 6a is one of the best camera phones of 2022 and I can wholeheartedly back that claim up. On the other hand, the Pixel 7a offers more features and has the Tensor G2 inside, which means that it's almost twice as fast as the 6a.
Samsung has had tons of more experience as a manufacturer, though. The Galaxy A34 knows just what you'd want out of a smartphone and delivers just that. And it still has its own bonus features, thanks to One UI. And a long lasting OS support lifecycle too!
Truth be told, the Note 12 Pro is one of those phones that feels better than it sounds. It's unlikely to impress you through its spec sheet, but if you have the chance to actually try it out: do so. You are likely going to be pleasantly surprised.
Note 12 Pro Summary and Final Verdict
The Note 12 Pro, despite its naming conventions, is certainly a budget phone. Despite that label, however, it is capable of pleasantly surprising you with its solid performance and camera results.
This phone feels like the benchmark that Redmi has set for itself. It just works: no software issues, no random glitches, no obviously cut corners. And it is prepared to let you push it to the limit, if you so choose.
That being said, you'll have to learn to live with MIUI and put in the extra work in order to get everything set up as you'd want it. It's pretty much smooth sailing from there on out, but you should carefully consider if you are willing to put up with that first.