Xiaomis Redmi Note 12 Phones Bring The Best Value Proposition In Smartphones
Xiaomi started life as a premium smartphone maker, but in recent years the brand has set its sights higher, starting to produce modern flagships with hardware that is arguably superior to even the best phones from Apple and Samsung. But with premium hardware comes premium price, and the retail price of Xiaomi's latest flagship, the 13 Pro, has left some fans disappointed.
But Xiaomi hasn't abandoned its previous approach of offering devices well above the asking price. The company only sells these products to a sub-brand called Redmi.
Over the years, the Redmi Note series has gained immense popularity in markets like India due to its undeniably best price/spec ratio in the industry. And this year is no different. Redmi launched four Note 12 devices for the European and Asian markets this month, and I took a look at the best Note 12 Pro Plus and Note 12 5G, the third among the four phones.
Let's start with the top model, the Note 12 Pro Plus. Despite being top of the line, the phone is relatively affordable, selling for the equivalent of around $500 in Europe and even less in Asia at around $440 (these US prices are converted from regional prices). For that price, you get a 6.7-inch OLED screen wrapped in slim bezels with up to a 120Hz refresh rate. The screen is bright and the colors are vivid. It also supports Dolby Vision, so it's a display panel that seems to be on a more expensive phone.
The body of the phone is made of aluminum and Gorilla Glass and looks like a high-end premium flagship phone. The only downside is that the corner where the screen meets the bezel is a bit stiffer/rougher than typical flagship phones.
The main selling point of this phone is its 200-megapixel camera, which can put 16 pixels in 1 to produce very sharp, well-lit images. Yes, the same main selling point as the $1,200 Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is in this $500 Xiaomi device, though to be fair, Samsung's 200-megapixel sensor is a newer version of the same sensor.
Even so, the performance of the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus's main camera is good, offering a shallow depth of field with natural bokeh, and the ability to shoot at 200-megapixels produces large photos that you can zoom in on. and see more details than usual. In the collage below, you can see that the 200-megapixel photo allowed me to zoom in and still read the words on the screen.
The rest of the cameras, including the 8-megapixel ultraline, are sadly a bit weak. But the main camera is almost flagship territory in a $500 phone. The internal processor isn't bad either, the Dimension 1080, which is a mid-range chip that can handle modern apps just fine. The phone has a 5000 mAh battery that can be charged at 120 W with the included charger.
If you don't know where to look, this phone may lead most people to think it's on par with $1,000 flagship phones from Samsung, Google, and Xiaomi.
At the other end of the spectrum is the Redmi Note 12 5G, which costs around $250. The shape of the phone is definitely a step back, with a plastic body and a prominent chin below the display, which is still surprisingly one panel. OLED at 120hz.
The screen's maximum brightness isn't quite as high as its big brother, but it's still good enough for outdoor use. Inside the phone is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 4 Gen 1, a 6nm chip optimized for entry-level devices. Both devices have headphone jacks and an IR blaster, but the standard Note 12 has noticeably less tactile sensation.
Moving on to optics, the standard Note 12 5G is fine, with a 48MP main camera that can still produce vibrant images in daylight, but suffers from noise and soft detail in low light.
However, the phone packs a massive 5000mAh battery that can charge 33W, and overall performance is still fast. The software on both devices is the Xiaomi version of Android and everything worked smoothly.
Personally, I find the standard Redmi Note 12 5G too compromised, but it should also be remembered that I am a spoiled reviewer who usually buys $1,000 phones. For those on a budget, I think the Redmi Note 12 5G handles all the basics well, as long as you don't take night photos with your phone.
However, the $500 Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus is very good. This is a phone that sometimes looks and performs like a $1,000 phone. Like I said before, you really need to know your smartphone and know where to look to see how Xiaomi has managed to bring the price down to this level. This is probably the best option in smartphones today.