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Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro hands-on review: The champ is back

With more powerful hardware and a handful of new features, the Redmi Note 12 Pro is on track to be one of the best mid-range phones of 2023

The upcoming Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro has quite the legacy to step into. Its predecessor, the 11 Pro, was one of our favourite mid-range phones of last year, as was the 10 Pro before it.

However, the previous model was more of a subtle enhancement, rather than a dramatic step forwards. And while this kind of victory lap is fine every now and then, too many times in a row it becomes a pattern of diminishing returns.

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It’s too early to tell whether the 12 Pro follows or bucks this trend – the final verdict will be coming in our full review – but early impressions show several steps in the right direction. Performance looks to have had a fairly prominent boost, and despite some nips and tucks in the camera department, 4K video is now finally supported.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro hands-on review: Key specifications

  • 6.67in, 120Hz, 2,400 x 1,080 AMOLED display
  • Octa-core 2.6GHz MediaTek Dimensity 1080
  • 128GB or 256GB of storage
  • Rear cameras: 50MP (f/1.88), 8MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 2MP (f/2.4) macro
  • Selfie camera: 16MP (f/2.45)
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • 67W fast charging
  • Dimensions: 163 x 76 x 7.9mm
  • Weight: 187g
  • UK Release date: TBC
  • Price: £339 (6GB/128GB)

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro hands-on review: Design, key features and first impressions

As we saw with the Note 12 Pro Plus, the 12 Pro has had a bit of a redesign and I’m not sure that it’s for the better. The general build is pretty much unchanged, with flat edges and slightly rounded corners that offset some of the boxiness, but the rear glass has swapped the sleek frosted finish for a mirrored effect, similar to last year’s Xiaomi Poco F4. The glass looks attractive enough when you get it out of the box, but it’s a nightmare for fingerprints, so either you clean it constantly, or it looks perpetually dirty.

The 12 Pro will be available in the same three colours as the 12 Pro Plus – Midnight Black, Polar White and Sky Blue – but where the latter’s edges and camera module are made with smartly contrasting metal, the 12 Pro has plastic edges and a glass camera module. However, it does feel solid in the hand, and is lighter than its predecessor at 187g.

Most of the phone’s physical features carry over directly from the 11 Pro, with the volume rocker and fingerprint/power button sitting on the right edge. The nano-SIM tray, USB-C port and one of the dual speakers can be found on the bottom. Its matching number is sensibly placed on top, alongside two rare features – a 3.5mm headphone jack and an IR blaster that allows you to use the phone as a universal remote. One thing that is missing, however, is a microSD slot, so you won’t be able to expand the storage here.

The 6.67in display is once again an AMOLED number, so black and contrast levels are effectively perfect, and the 2,400 x 1,080 resolution and 120Hz refresh rate keep general use looking crisp and smooth.

Software tends to be a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to Xiaomi’s phones, and things are no different here. The latest MIUI 14 UI is plastered over Android 12, which isn’t great considering that Android 13 has been out for a while now. It’s intuitive enough to navigate, so should be fine for most users, though some may find the icons to be a bit gaudy. It’s worth noting that my hands-on with the 12 Pro Plus encountered some minor issues with the OS, but the 12 Pro managed to get through my initial findings without any problems.

Here’s where things get really interesting. While the 11 Pro used inferior hardware to the 11 Pro Plus, the Redmi Note 12 Pro comes loaded with the same processor as its bigger sibling. The octa-core 2.6GHz MediaTek Dimensity 1080 chipset can be paired with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of onboard storage – it’s unclear at this point if all of these variations will be on sale in the UK, but if we get the 8GB/256GB model, that should be a direct competitor to the 12 Pro Plus, in terms of internal componentry.

The battery doesn’t see any upgrade from the 11 Pro, but it’s still a large 5,000mAh unit. Also bundled in the box is a 67W fast charger, which can apparently fill the battery from empty in under 40 minutes. This is the first of two major areas in which the 12 Pro Plus really flexes its advantage, as it comes with a beefy 120W charger that can go from zero to 100% in just 19 minutes.

The other major drawback is that the 12 Pro lacks the 12 Pro Plus’ 200MP camera. The gulf between the pair is further widened by some fairly significant cutbacks, with this year’s model dropping the total available pixel count to 50MP, as opposed to the 11 Pro’s 108MP. That might sound like a death sentence, but I think it’s going to be a closer race than it looks.

The key detail here is that pixel size on the 12 Pro Plus is 0.56μm, while pixel-binning is used to combine four into one 1.12μm super-pixel, or 16 into one massive 2.24μm pixel. The 12 Pro’s pixels, meanwhile, are 1μm in size, with pixel-binning jacking them up to 2μm. The difference between 2μm and 2.24μm is a lot smaller than the gap between 50MP and 200MP, and that’s where we’ll see the true quality of these cameras. We’ll have to wait for the full reviews to be sure, but I wouldn’t count the 12 Pro out based solely on the megapixel count.

The rest of the camera suite is a lot easier to summarise, in that it’s basically the same as we got on the 11 Pro. The only real difference is that the 8MP ultrawide camera has a slightly expanded 120-degree field of view, and the 2MP macro camera and 16MP under-display selfie camera remain unchanged. Video gets one of the biggest updates, now offering all the same features as the Plus, including 4K recording at 30fps and a 960fps slow-motion mode.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro hands-on review: Early verdict

All told, that’s a lot of similarities between the 12 Pro and the Plus: the display, processor, battery capacity and camera suite (excluding the main lens) are all identical, and I’m not particularly thrilled with the redesign for either one, so that’s a draw too. The Plus does have the edge with fast charging and that 200MP main camera, but the Pro shows enough promise in both areas to keep it in the fight.

A release date hasn’t been set at the time of writing, but you’ll be able to pick your side when the Note 12 Pro and Pro Plus eventually hit shelves. The 12 Pro will start at £339, which gets you the 6GB/128GB model, though there’s no word yet on how much the 8GB/256GB model will be, or if it’s coming to the UK at all. We’ll have reviews of both the Xiaomi Redmi 12 Pro and the 12 Pro Plus in the near future, so check back in soon to see our final verdicts.

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