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Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G review: Swimming in a bigger pond

Our Rating :
$278.49 from
£339.00 from
Price when reviewed : 339
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The Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G is still a great mid-ranger, though it’s no longer quite such outstanding value

Pros

  • Solid 50MP main camera
  • Accomplished AMOLED display
  • Decent stamina and charging

Cons

  • MIUI isn’t Android at its best
  • Secondary cameras aren’t very good
  • Consecutive price bumps mean it stands out less

For the last two years, Xiaomi’s budget sub-brand Redmi has hit the mid-range sweet spot with its Note Pro lineup, offering well-balanced specs for a sub-£350 price. And with the Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G, Xiaomi is looking to succeed for a third year.

It’s largely a case of evolution over revolution, but there are signs of genuine progress with this year’s model. Faster performance and a superior main camera represent the brand’s bid for continued mid-range relevance.

Of course, the competition has never been hotter, so the Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G was arguably forced to improve just to keep its edge. The question is, has it improved enough to stay ahead of the pack?

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Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G review: What you need to know

Xiaomi hasn’t rocked the boat too much with the core Note 12 Pro 5G offering. Its design is largely familiar, and it’s fronted by much the same 6.67in 120Hz OLED display.

Other returning elements include a large 5,000mAh battery and speedy 67W wired charging. As the name suggests, 5G connectivity also makes a return.

In terms of improvements, the Note 12 Pro 5G supplies a bump up in power courtesy of a Mediatek Dimensity 1080. Also notable is the switch to a less pixel-dense but ultimately better-specced 50MP main camera, and the removal of a superfluous depth sensor.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G review: Price and competition

At £339, Xiaomi has bumped the price of its lower-mid-ranger for the second year running. Still, this is only £20 more than the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G, which itself was £50 more expensive than the Redmi Note 10 Pro 5G the previous year.

Even so, that creeping price point has pulled the Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G clear of the current £300 crowd, such as the recent OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G, and closer to the likes of the Poco X5 Pro 5G, the Realme GT Neo 3T and the OnePlus Nord 2T – all at £369.

The Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G has its own pricing niche in the market, but it’s a very small one. There are some classy competitors out there for not much more money.

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Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G review: Design and key features

Xiaomi has stuck with a similar boxy, flat-edge design to the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G, with the same Gorilla Glass 5 front, plastic frame and glass rear. The main difference is a shiny, reflective finish to the rear panel rather than a matte one. I prefer the older phone’s more muted look, but that’s likely to come down to personal preference.

My test model came in Midnight Black, which is probably the drabbest of the three colours on offer. There are much glitzier Polar White and Sky Blue options if you prefer.

The other major difference is to the camera module, with the Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G adopting a simpler, more unified unit than its predecessor. In my view, it’s a definite improvement.

Talking of improvements, the Note 12 Pro 5G is fractionally shorter and thinner than before at 163 x 76 x 7.9mm, and it weighs a more reasonable 187g. The series was starting to get a little chunky, so it’s good to see things moving back in the right direction.

Unlike last year’s model, it’s quite different to look at and hold than the more premium Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G. It’s a shame Xiaomi didn’t mix things up a little more for the plain Pro model, but then there’s a much wider £110 price gap between the two this time around.

You get the usual suite of Xiaomi buttons and ports, with a reliable power button/fingerprint sensor on the right-hand edge, USB-C port on the bottom and 3.5mm headphone jack on the top. You also get the signature IR blaster, which lets you use the phone as a remote control using the included Mi Remote app.

One less welcome continuity feature is the inclusion of MIUI 14, which sits on top of Android 13, but is just as overstuffed as always. The menus are less pleasant to navigate than more stock Android UIs, and there’s far too much bloatware. I count three pre-installed web browsers on current Xiaomi phones, which is two too many.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G review: Display

There’s been precious little change on the front of the Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G, even since the days of the Redmi Note 10 Pro 5G.

This is another 6.67in AMOLED with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate and a sharp 2,400 x 1,080 (FHD+) resolution. Interestingly, Xiaomi claims that the Note 12 Pro screen can get to 500cd/m² in typical conditions and 900cd/m² in high brightness mode (HBM), which is a drop of 200 and 300cd/m² respectively.

Sure enough, I recorded a measured peak luminance of 499cd/m² with autobrightness turned off in the default Vivid colour scheme. Switching to Standard dropped that to around 465cd/m². That said, this is more than adequate for a mid-range phone.

Moving to that Standard colour scheme is definitely the way to go if you want accurate colours. In this mode, I recorded an sRGB gamut coverage of 95.8% against a volume of 99%. An average Delta E reading of 1.51 is very reasonable, beating the likes of the OnePlus Nord 2T if not getting close to flagship phone territory (which hovers around 1).

Like the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G, you also get a decent set of stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support. They’re nice and loud and reasonably crisp, if lacking in bass.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G review: Performance and battery life

The Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G runs on the same Mediatek Dimensity 1080 processor as the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G, which is quite a turn up for the books given the difference in price. It’s also an upgrade on the Snapdragon 695 used in the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G.

Paired with 6GB of RAM, this leads to decent performance, and uniformly stronger benchmark results than last year’s model – especially when it comes to the GPU. On the other hand, the OnePlus Nord 2T performs better with its Dimensity 1300 chip, especially when it comes to graphical performance, while the Poco X5 Pro 5G performs better in the CPU stakes.

It feels pretty smooth in the hand, though if you’ve spent any amount of time with a flagship phone, or even a snappier mid-ranger such as the Pixel 6a or the Realme GT Neo 3T, you’ll be able to tell the difference. There are more tiny pauses here and there, while apps take a little longer to load up and switch between.

The sole model available in the UK gives you 128GB of internal storage as standard, which is a decent amount. It’s a slight shame to see that there’s no expansion potential, however, given the lack of higher-capacity storage options.

Xiaomi has stuck with the same 5,000mAh battery from last year’s model, which is a smart move. Just like the similarly specced Note 12 Pro Plus 5G, you can expect to sail through a long day with around 30 to 40% left.

Interestingly, in our usual looping video test, which plays a looped video at a standard 170cd/m² brightness with Flight mode on, the Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G performed better than its Plus brother, lasting an hour longer.

Not that it’s any great shakes. Xiaomi phones tend to struggle with this looping video test, and the Note 12 Pro 5G drops a whopping five hours short of the OnePlus Nord 2T with its smaller battery. Even the Poco X5 Pro 5G, which is a fellow Xiaomi product, lasted an hour longer.

Xiaomi has packed a 67W charger into the box, which is very capable despite falling short of the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G’s 120W brick. It’s sufficient to get the phone from empty to 41% in 15 minutes, and on to 79% in 30 minutes. Expect a full charge within 50 minutes.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G review: Cameras

Xiaomi has mixed things up on the photographic front, installing a large 50MP Sony IMX766 image sensor in place of last year’s 108MP Samsung ISOCELL HM2. No, it’s not as attention-grabbing as the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G’s 200MP sensor, but it’s a smart, quietly accomplished choice on Xiaomi’s part.

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The Sony IMX766 has been in a number of our favourite flagship and mid-range phones of the past few years, starting with the classy Oppo Find X3 Pro in 2021. More recently, it’s found its way into the Nothing Phone (1) and the OnePlus Nord 2T. Crucially, Xiaomi has paired that ageing but capable image sensor with OIS, keeping it nice and stable when the light starts to drop.

This main sensor yields decent results in a variety of shooting situations. In good light, the exposure, detail, contrast and colour accuracy are on point for a sub-£400 phone. And when the light drops, that stabilisation and the relatively large sensor can still produce usable results. It’s good to see 4K video recording finally joining the party, too.

Weaker image processing and optics means that the Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G’s main camera still doesn’t approach flagship levels of clarity, especially when the light drops, and the Pixel 6a is a much better all-round camera system for just a little more money. But I enjoyed my time shooting with the Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G nonetheless.

Or at least, I did with that main sensor. The 8MP ultrawide is just as weak as before, failing to match the detail, tone and contrast of the main sensor. Ditto the 2MP macro, which is utterly pointless.

Similarly, the 16MP selfie camera struggles with exposure and tends to wash colours out somewhat, but it does an adequate job.

2x shots crop in on the main sensor, as there’s no dedicated telephoto lens. They lack a little in terms of detail, but the strength of that main sensor means that tone and exposure are generally decent.

There’s an optional AI mode for all of these cameras, but I found that it tended to make landscape shots look a little false, with punched up colours and brightness. I generally left it off.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G review: Verdict

The Redmi Note 12 Pro 5G isn’t quite the bargain that the line used to be known for, with a price bump carrying it within range of some mid-range big-hitters. However, it remains a strong choice if your budget doesn’t extend beyond the £350 mark.

It’s faster than before, its camera is capable of decent results in a variety of conditions, the phone’s 6.67in AMOLED display is as good as ever, battery life is dependable, and charging is nice and fast. Despite that, we have some familiar gripes about MIUI and the phone’s secondary cameras.

With yet another year-on-year price bump over last year’s model, we feel we have to point out that the Note Pro line doesn’t quite stand out as loudly and proudly as it used to. However, the latest model remains a very strong contender for the money.

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