200 megapixels on a high-performance mid-range

Even though the Xiaomi brand is the one that shows up on the sales charts, one series in particular brings in the biggest sales year after year: the Redmi. And of all the Redmi devices, the Note range is the one that appeals most to tech enthusiasts with more limited budgets. While last year’s Redmi Note 11 models came with cameras up to 108 megapixels and high-performance OLED screens, this year the 12 series ups the resolution to the maximum available on the market: 200 megapixels, on a phone that costs just over 2,000 lei with the new Redmi Note 12 Pro+.

The Redmi Note 12 Pro+ has a pleasing design, even more appealing than the company’s flagship models

At times, Xiaomi seems like it’s not trying too hard to sell us its €1,000+ phones. That’s because its lower-end devices usually come with pretty good specs and top-end capabilities. I wouldn’t say that the new Redmi Note 12 Pro+ is any weaker than the company’s premium models in the design department either. For example, compared to the “standard” Xiaomi 13, this model doesn’t have too many drawbacks in terms of construction. We’re talking about a device with straight metal edges, a perfectly flat screen and a back rounded a bit at the edges for comfort in use. Sure, the cover is plastic, but you’ll most likely cover it with a pouch anyway.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro+ front handheld

The Redmi Note 12 Pro+ comes bundled with a clear silicone case and a 120W charger, the same charger they offer on the top models. And the camera module promises something we don’t see very often on average devices: a 200-megapixel sensor, the same one that just debuted last year on devices like the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra. The camera module, however, is metallic and sticks out quite a bit, suggesting that extra space is needed to accommodate the three cameras.

But there are also clear advantages over the company’s top devices, or even other similarly priced mid-range models: the Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro+ comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack located at the top, as well as an infrared port for controlling home appliances. Basically, it offers one of the most comprehensive selections of connectivity on the market.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro+ accessories

Display is good, close to high-end ones

I have to admit that I’m quite surprised that now for around 2,000 lei you can buy a phone with a large 6.67″ OLED display, as large as most flagships offer, with Full HD+ resolution and 120 Hz refresh rate, with high brightness of over 1,000 nits in sunlight, the phone automatically going into an ultra-bright mode called Sunlight Mode.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro+ screen bottom

And on top of that, the screen also supports the latest HDR standards, such as Dolby Vision and HDR10+, for the highest quality playback from streaming services. The only thing it lacks is variable refresh rate. The automatic mode drops between 120, 90, 60 and 30 Hz, depending on the content being displayed, and cannot take intermediate values. However, models with LTPO screens are usually the ones over 900 euros, and this one costs somewhere around 400.

The processor is average, but powerful enough for most users

Although it looks like it has flagship specs, or at least an attempt to break into the flagship killer zone, the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ makes a compromise on the processor. Thus, this will be the main limitation and the reason why Xiaomi manages to offer this model at a lower price. With a Dimensity 1080 from MediaTek inside, this phone will only offer average performance that doesn’t tend towards the high-end area at all. So games and pretty much anything you download from the Play Store will work just fine, but on rather average settings, not high or “ultra”.

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The good news is that performance stability is very good, with the phone managing to maintain full performance even in 3DMark’s Wild Life stress test. I’d say that, being equipped with a high-performance camera as well, along with an average processor, this could be a phone for an entry-level content creator, being able to shoot in 4K resolution. Just don’t expect miracles when you want to quickly create a complex long-form video. Exporting will take longer than on a flagship, for sure. Performance is somewhere in the middle of a flagship from the last 2 years.

Benchmark

  • AnTuTu – 431.539
  • GeekBench – Single-Core: 950 / Multi-Core: 2,357
  • 3DMark Wild Life – 2.251
  • 3DMark Wild Life Stress Test – Best loop: 2.275 / Lowest loop: 2.263 / Stability: 99.5%
  • PCMark – 11.531

Redmi Note 12 Pro+ has great battery life and one of the fastest charging systems

Something we don’t see very often on phones around €400 is ultra-fast charging. Xiaomi has put the same charging system on its flagships and mid-range models, with the Pro+ charging its 5,000 mAh battery to 120W in less than 20 minutes. This is made possible thanks to the proprietary charging system and the Surge P1 charging chip. The only downside is that we’re not talking about a USB-C charger, which could power other devices via power delivery. The plug is a Type-A one.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro+ charger

But the phone doesn’t need charging too often. Power consumption is at a very good level, especially in standby, where it seems to only consume a few percent overnight. In normal use, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro+ should be a two-day phone, with the caveat that a gamer is sure to burn through it in a day. Fortunately, a short break of a few minutes can charge your phone back up to over half capacity.

MIUI software remains a drawback for Xiaomi devices

Xiaomi seems to be a company proud of its achievements, and rightly so. It’s a relatively young company that has made it into the top 3 phone manufacturers worldwide. This performance was certainly due to the quality of the hardware and lower prices, and not because of the MIUI software.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro+ apps

Those of you who have been using Xiaomi for a while probably got used to the more “quirky” menus and iOS-inspired interface, but for someone who uses Android phones of all kinds, I’ve come to shy away from MIUI the most. The interface doesn’t seem to have evolved much in recent years, and copying iOS features like the settings drawer at the top doesn’t make much sense on Android. Fortunately, that one can be turned off. Being a mid-range phone, it’s to be expected that we’ll also find some bloatware in the form of pre-installed apps like Amazon, Facebook, Booking, Netflix, Spotify, TikTok or Snapchat. Also, shortcuts to a few games are in a folder in the menu. They can be deleted, but I prefer not to do that manually.

Xiaomi launched the Redmi Note 12 models in China with Android 12, then released Android 13 in March, around the same time as the European launch. So already one of the major Android updates has already shipped, so the phone will only get one more, to Android 14, after which it will be left with security updates only. This is one area where the new Pro+ is at a disadvantage in the market, even compared to variants like Samsung’s Galaxy A34 and A54, which receive 4 major updates and 5 years of security updates, having launched from the factory with Android 13.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro+ MIUI

Xiaomi has made some compromises on less important aspects

Xiaomi is again showing its mastery of economy in build and by not integrating an optical fingerprint sensor into the display, which would increase costs. The Redmi Note 12 Pro+ integrates a cheaper sensor into the power button, which despite having a small footprint, performs better than other models we’ve tested recently, with very few unlock refusals. Personally, I really prefer this positioning over the on-screen fingerprint. Probably because of the average processor, unlocking isn’t exactly instant, but it’s quick enough that the small delay isn’t annoying.

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In the sound department I didn’t have high expectations, as even the flagship Xiaomi 13 Pro failed to impress me. I can say that I’m surprised that we’re dealing with a stereo system, which also has a dedicated grille on top, but we encounter pretty much the same problems as on the top model: poor frequency separation, especially at high volume and a reliance on the Dolby Atmos codec. On the Music profile, the results are actually decent, but on the others, including the one that’s supposed to automatically adjust playback according to content, the quality is average. Without Dolby enabled, audio playback is disappointing, so there’s little reason to ever turn it off.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro+ jack

200 megapixel camera is the highlight of the Redmi Note 12 Pro+

I think Xiaomi has made as much economy as possible in building the Redmi Note 12 Pro+ to be able to add a truly capable camera for the mid-range. Well, in order to add one really high-performance camera, the 200 megapixel one with wide lens, since the other two are only OK for the mid-range. We’re talking about an 8 megapixel ultrawide and a 2 megapixel macro, in completely different classes from the main camera.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro+ camera

In daytime, in some situations, the ultrawide camera looks quite decent, but the lack of detail and limited dynamic range is obvious, which often leads to “burning out” of bright areas. It’s a camera to use situationally, not very often. The main one, however, is very good for an average phone and manages to capture detailed images, with colours very close to reality. That’s without AI mode.

Photo Day

I noticed that the AI was greatly exaggerating the colors and overdoing it, so I chose to disable it completely. Also on the main camera is the 2x zoom, via crop. This by itself brings a detail penalty, which we don’t usually find on more expensive phones. It’s possibly a consequence of using a mid-range image processor. However, at 2X the quality degradation is not so great as to be unusable.

200 MP

50 MP

However, I’ve noticed that 50 or 200 megapixel photos, achievable via the Ultra HD option in the camera app, give better detail if you crop than the standard zom mode, so if you need to zoom in, you’re better off taking a higher resolution shot and cropping afterwards. Of course, these files are much larger. A 200-megapixel photo can take up 50MB, while a 50-megapixel photo takes about 17-20.

Photo night

Night mode is over what we usually see on mid-range phones, but only on the main camera. The ultrawide camera doesn’t focus and produces very noisy images, and the zoom is over-processed. Xiaomi made the right decision and made sure to offer optical stabilization, which helps capture high-quality images.

I was pleased though that the portrait mode performs very well, even without depth cameras on both the front and rear camera, including the hair is very well cropped. In fact sometimes even better than on the iPhone, where although it has LiDAR sensor on the back and TrueDepth on the front, it still fails to separate the hairs very well from the background. Samsung continues to offer the best portrait mode, but Xiaomi seems to be getting closer, including on cheaper phones.

Stabilisation on video isn’t great, with very obvious footsteps when shooting something in motion, but at least it doesn’t produce annoying artefacts, as we’ve encountered recently on more expensive phones. The video quality is decent for this price range, and as I said, it might be enough for budding content creators who post on social media like Instagram or TikTok anyway, where the video quality isn’t great anyway.

Conclusions

If you can get past the MIUI software and probably the not very long software support, you may find Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 12 Pro+ a very good mid-range phone in its price class. It comes with a very capable screen, good battery life, very fast charging and a main camera that outperforms the mid-range in some respects.

In this price range, there are no phones that don’t compromise in certain categories, but Xiaomi seems to have made the right decisions when it tried to bring this model to market at a price of around 2,000 lei.

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