Xiaomi cranks all the numbers up in its latest top mid-range model
- Wonderful 200MP main camera
- Excellent, colour-accurate display
- Rapid 120W charging
- It's had quite a price hike
- MIUI continues to frustrate
- You can get faster performance for the money
It’s tough to be a cheap phone maker right now, for the simple fact that phones are getting pricier more than they’re getting better. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus, however, has received a bump in both the specs and the price compared to last year’s Redmi Note 11 Pro Plus.
This mid-range contender features an attention-grabbing 200MP main camera, a faster processor, a larger battery and a slightly classier design than before. Clear progress has been made, but it comes accompanied by a price hike that bursts well past the £400 mark and dives into shark-filled waters.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus review: What you need to know
The headline feature of the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus is its new 200MP main camera, which appears to have been flown in from a much more expensive phone. You also get a bump in processing power courtesy of a MediaTek Dimensity 1080 chip, allied with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage.
Xiaomi has given the phone a larger 5,000mAh battery, too, and that can be charged up in less than half an hour with the 120W wired charger that’s been included in the box. The 120Hz 1080p 6.67in OLED display remains, though it now supports HDR10+ and Dolby Vision playback.
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Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus review: Price and competition
Xiaomi would like the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus’ 200MP main camera to attract all the attention, but its £449 price tag is just as noteworthy.
Last year’s Redmi Note 11 Pro Plus cost just £369. It might not be fair to say that this represents a straight £80 price hike given that the Note 12 Pro Plus provides more RAM and double the storage, but then only one model of the Note 12 Pro Plus is being offered here, so it’s not like you have any alternative to choose from.
At this price, the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus suddenly finds itself in a much more competitive league. The Pixel 6a with its killer camera and refined software costs £399, while the Nothing Phone (1) also comes in cheaper (£399) than the Redmi and has a distinctively premium design and classy UI.
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Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus review: Design and key features
The Redmi Note 11 Pro Plus wasn’t the most premium-looking mid-range handset on the market, so we’re glad to see that Xiaomi has made some effort to freshen things up. Out goes the flat frosted glass rear and ugly stepped camera module and in comes a curved 3D glass panel that’s more comfortable to hold, as well as an altogether classier metal camera module.
Such glossy glass backs are more prone to fingerprints, of course, but at least the Polar White shade of my test unit works to hide that. You can also specify the phone in Midnight Black or Sky Blue.
The basic makeup of the phone is similar to the previous model, with a flat-edge plastic frame sandwiched between glass and a dead-flat display that’s covered by Gorilla Glass 5. It’s good to see IP53 water resistance making a return, too, though the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G manages to hit IP67 for the same money.
At 163 x 76 x 8.98mm there’s a similar footprint to last year’s model, but the 12 Pro Plus is quite a bit thicker. At 211g versus 204g it’s also a little weightier than its predecessor, edging ever closer to “uncomfortably heavy” territory.
You get the usual volume and power buttons on the right edge of the phone, with the latter containing a responsive fingerprint sensor. On the bottom you have a standard USB-C port, while the top edge gives you a 3.5mm port. Right alongside that is Xiaomi’s customary IR blaster. Using this in conjunction with the Mi Remote app, you can use the phone to control your TV or stereo. It’s a cool feature rather than an essential one, but it does help such Xiaomi-branded phones to stand out.
It’s not all positive on the software front, however. MIUI 14 continues to be a busy, bloated UI with too many duplicate apps and convoluted menus. I wish Xiaomi would just let a little more Android 13 shine through – yes, it’s very customisable, but the baseline would benefit from being much cleaner.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus review: Display
Much like last year’s model, the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus is fronted by a 6.67in OLED display with a 2,400 x 1,080 (FHD+) resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate.
There’s a somewhat surprising difference to the Redmi Note 11 Pro Plus in the form of a lower claimed peak brightness in high brightness mode (HBM) of 900cd/m², rather than the 1,200cd/m² of the Note 11 Pro Plus.
With autobrightness switched off I measured a top brightness of 483cd/m² in the Standard screen colour mode, which is pretty competitive. As always, I found this slightly more muted colour scheme to be preferable to the default Vivid mode, with more accurate colours.
Talking of accuracy, I recorded an sRGB gamut coverage of 99.6% against a gamut volume of 103.9%, with an average Delta E score of 1.36. This is a strong result for a mid-ranger, handily beating the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G. And, unlike Samsung’s brilliant effort, you also get HDR10+ and Dolby Vision support.
Sticking with Dolby, the Note 12 Pro Plus also features stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support. The audio output is nice and precise, and it gets plenty loud enough, though there’s a distinct lack of low-end grunt.
Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus review: Performance and battery life
Xiaomi has bumped up the performance for its latest mid-ranger, which is good to see when certain other phones (both affordable and otherwise) have been treading water. This year you get a MediaTek Dimensity 1080 rather than the Dimensity 920 of the previous model.
In my experience this is a slight upgrade on the Snapdragon 695 5G used in other more affordable models, with faster benchmark scores across the CPU and GPU tests. It also feels slightly snappier in the hand than a contemporary Snapdragon 695 device such as the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G.
Remember what I said about that raised price placing the Redmi into elevated competition, however. Compared to the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G and the Google Pixel 6a, those performance figures don’t fare so well.
Processor aside, you’re getting a healthy 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage as standard. It’s always good to see plenty of each, of course, but I do wonder if Xiaomi could have kept the price at the magic £399 mark if it had given us 6GB and 128GB respectively. One possible explanation for the decision to go big on storage could be that Xiaomi has taken away the microSD slot from the Redmi Note 11 Pro Plus.
Xiaomi has been similarly generous in the battery stakes, increasing the capacity from 4,500mAh to 5,000mAh. It always felt a bit weird that last year’s Pro model had a bigger battery than the pricier Pro Plus, so in many ways the natural order of things has been restored rather than this being a major new feature.
In practical use, long 15- or 16-hour days would routinely leave me with around 40% left on moderate to intensive days, and well above 50% on lighter days. That’s good going.
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In our video test, which plays a looped video at a standard 170cd/m² brightness with areoplane mode on, the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus didn’t perform quite so impressively. It fell behind the Google Pixel 6a by several hours, and way behind the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G by almost ten hours.
I’ve observed similarly disappointing results in this test with Xiaomi’s flagship phones, including the range-topping Xiaomi 13 Pro, so it seems to be a quirk of the brand’s approach to power management.
Reassuringly, however, you get a 120W wired charger in the box. Xiaomi claims that you can charge the Note 12 Pro Plus to 100% in 19 minutes. I didn’t find it to be that rapid, at least not from totally empty, but a 29-minute zero to 100% time is still excellent.
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Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus review: Cameras
Without doubt, Xiaomi is selling the Plus model on its main camera. Out goes the 108MP 1/1.52in sensor from last year’s model, and in comes a whopping 200MP 1/1.4in replacement, producing 12.5MP shots through a 16-in-1 pixel binning technique.
The combination of a large 200MP main image sensor with OIS, large f/1.65 aperture and a 7P lens makes a compelling statement. Of course, with the Pixel 6a camera wrecking most phones for even less money, it could be argued that Xiaomi is simply throwing a bunch of hardware at the problem in a bid to keep up.
Whatever the reason, the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus takes some very sharp shots during daylight and moderately lit indoors situations, with punchy colours and lots of natural-looking bokeh. Interestingly, I found that activating the AI mode didn’t tend to ramp the colours up too drastically as with other cheaper Xiaomi models, either.
Slightly less convincing is the phone’s low-light performance. It’s still capable of taking very competent shots using the Night mode, especially for a mid-range phone. But I did pick up noticeable amounts of grain in those dark skies, as well as a few weird visual artefacts and ugly glare on light sources, and a general lagginess to the experience. It’s perhaps an indicator that the Dimensity 1080 chip isn’t quite up to the task of extracting everything from that impressive camera hardware.
Xiaomi has clearly put all of its photographic eggs in this one 200MP basket, because the rest of the camera offering is pretty meagre. You get an 8MP (f/2.2) 120-degree ultrawide that can’t get within spitting distance of the main camera for sharpness, tone or dynamic range, while the 2MP macro camera is as useless as any other.
Thankfully, that pixel-packed main sensor does a decent job covering for the lack of a dedicated telephoto, cropping in for convincing – if far from flawless – 2x zoom shots.
The 16MP (f/2.5) selfie camera isn’t any great shakes. Detail is reasonable, but it really struggles in high dynamic range situations. It’s also maddening to see Xiaomi continuing to leave its horrible Beautify effects on by default, which turns human skin into something hauntingly artificial.
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Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus review: Verdict
Like its mid-range rival, the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus has had to justify a price bump over its predecessor. It has managed to do so, but perhaps not quite so comprehensively.
The new 200MP camera is capable of taking excellent pictures, and the bump in battery capacity rectifies a curious mistake from the Redmi Note 11 Pro Plus. The design, too, looks and feels classier than before, with Xiaomi also providing another excellent AMOLED display.
In putting that price up beyond £400, however, Xiaomi is now swimming in even deadlier waters. It’s still very good, but it isn’t quite the paragon of value that it used to be.