Redmi Note 12 Review: New Budget King!

Redmi Note 12 Review
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In this review, I will go over my experience with the Redmi Note 12. So Xiaomi announced the Redmi Note 12 alongside the Note 12 Pro series a while ago in China. While I was really impressed with all the strides Xiaomi had made on the Pro models, I am always more excited about the budget-friendly option in the Note lineup. Because of the incredible value, they offer for the price.

Redmi Note 12 Specifications:

  • Body: 165.9 x 76.2 x 8mm, 188 grams, IP53 dust/water resistant
  • Display: 6.67″ Samsung AMOLED, 120Hz refresh rate, 1200 nits
  • Resolution: FHD+ (2400 x 1080 pixels), 20:9 aspect ratio, 395 PPI
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 (6nm)
  • CPU: Octa-core (2×2.0 GHz Cortex-A78 & 6×1.8 GHz Cortex-A55)
  • GPU: Adreno 619
  • Memory: Up to 8GB LPDDR4x RAM, Up to 256GB UFS 2.2
  • Software & UI: Android 12 with MIUI 13 on top
  • Rear Camera: Dual-camera;
    – 48MP primary
    – 2MP depth
  • Front Camera: 8MP
  • Audio: 3.5mm headphone jack, mono speaker
  • Security: Face-unlock, Fingerprint sensor (side-mounted)
  • Connectivity: Dual-SIM (Nano), WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS L1 / Glonass G1 / Beidou B1 / Galielo E1, USB Type-C, 5G
  • Sensors: Proximity, Compass, Accelerometer, Gyro, IR Blaster
  • Battery: 5000mAh with 33W charging
  • Colors: Black, White, Blue
  • Price in Nepal: N/A

Redmi Note 12 Review:

For me, the entry-level phones in the Redmi Note series are like a team that consistently qualifies for Champions League. I mean, just take the Redmi Note 10 and Note 11 from the past couple of years. Both of them were massive hits. So naturally, I had high hopes for the new Redmi Note 12 as well!

Redmi Note 12 - Design

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And based on my experience with the phone, I can say that Redmi has once again managed to make it to the qualifying round, if not win the game altogether. Don’t just take our word for it—I’ll be sharing all the goods and the bads of the phone in this review.

But first, let’s talk about the pricing. I ordered Redmi Note 12 from China, by the way. And it cost me around USD 200 for the 6/128GB variant. But you will not have to do all this hustle since Xiaomi is officially launching the Note 12 series globally on January 2023. Anyway, for the price, there’s a lot to love about this phone.

Design

  • 165.9 x 76.2 x 8mm, 188 grams
  • Glass front, Plastic back, Plastic frames
  • IP53 rating

First things first, I really like how minimal and clean it looks. I have the white color variant here with me which has a silver finish on the frames. And I think it looks quite attractive. Plus, the back panel has a matte finish to it as well, so you don’t have to worry about getting fingerprints or smudges on it easily.

One thing you must have noticed by now is that Note 12 looks incredibly similar to its expensive Pro sibling. So since I already loved the design of the 12 Pro+, I feel the same way about this guy as well.

Redmi Note 12 vs Note 12 Pro+ Design
Note 12 (Left) | Note 12 Pro+ (Right)

But given that this is a budget phone, it is obvious to expect plastic back here. While a glass sandwich build would’ve been great, I think this actually works in the phone’s favor as it weighs only 188 grams and measures 8mm thick. And you know how much I like slim and lightweight phones, right?

By the way, it also enjoys an official IP53 rating which means that splashes of water won’t be hurting the phone all that much. And how can I miss the IR blaster and the 3.5mm headphone jack that Xiaomi still doesn’t forget in its phones?

Display

  • 6.67″ Samsung AMOLED, FHD
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • 1200nits brightness

Design-aside, the Redmi Note 12 brings some quality-of-life improvements on the display side of things as well. For instance, compared to the 90Hz screen on last year’s Note 11, it has a higher 120Hz refresh rate instead. As a result, I’ve been really enjoying that extra smoothness when scrolling through all sorts of apps and UI/UX here. Xiaomi has also upped the peak brightness to 1200 nits this time, so I’ve had no problems reading messages or watching movies when I’m outdoors on the Redmi Note 12 either.

Redmi Note 12 - Display

Now, this is an AMOLED screen—a Samsung-made AMOLED screen to be precise—so you know exactly what to expect here. Just pitch black contrast and good color saturation for a great display experience.

But something that I’ve noticed about the Note 12’s display (as well as the 12 Pro+) is that they don’t tend to boost the colors by default to make it look extra pleasing to the eyes. I actually like this kind of calibration, although you can always change that inside the display settings if things look a bit muted to you.

But what’s weird here is that our unit of the Redmi Note 12 misses out on Widevine L1 certification for high-res streaming. From what I can tell, this is a Chinese MIUI ROM thing and the global variant of the phone should carry Widevine L1 verification.

Audio

  • Mono speaker
  • 3.5mm headphone jack

Redmi Note 12 - Ports

While I’m quite fond of this display, the Redmi Note 12 has slightly disappointed me in terms of audio since it only has a single loudspeaker instead of a stereo setup. It gets loud enough just fine but coming from the stereo speaker setup on the Redmi Note 11, it’s certainly disappointing to see Xiaomi take an unnecessary step back.

Performance

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 (6nm)
  • Up to 8GB LPDDR4x RAM, Up to 256GB UFS 2.2
  • Android 12-based MIUI 13

On a positive note, possibly the most notable upgrade I’ve found on Redmi Note 12 has to be on the performance front. It’s powered by the new Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 chip, which outclasses the Snapdragon 680 on the Redmi Note 11 by a big margin. You can tell the difference just by the real-life usage, and it’s also clearly evident in benchmark scores, as you can see!

Benchmark

Redmi Note 12 Redmi Note 11
AnTuTu v9 Total 372305 (56.84%) 237386
CPU 113131 94596
GPU 93317 41655
Memory 64022 50848
UX 101835 50287
Geekbench 5 CPU (Single Core) 627 (66.76%) 376
CPU (Multi-Core) 1803 (8.47%) 1662

So my usage of the phone has been plenty fluid so far. Apps open quick enough, and I haven’t faced any problems regarding memory management either. Likewise, the improved performance of the SoC also means that the Note 12 is capable of handling light to medium games pretty easily.

For instance, Apex Legends runs at its full potential in Normal graphics and Very High settings where the gameplay is extremely stable. Whereas, in the case of PUBG Mobile, the game maxes out at HD graphics and High frame rate where I found the gameplay to be a bit stuttery. So, for the best possible experience, I would recommend dialing it down to Smooth graphics and High frame rate.

Likewise, the thermal performance of the phone is fairly commendable too. Even with non-stop sessions of a few graphics-intensive games like PUBG Mobile or Apex Legends, I didn’t notice the phone getting that warm or anything. So to further check the sustained performance of the Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 chip, I also ran a CPU throttling test for up to 30 minutes, and the phone never throttled below 95% even in one instance. Great!

Furthermore, software-wise I feel like the Chinese version of MIUI has better fluidity and animations compared to the global MIUI ROM. It has been quite an experience, to be honest. On the other hand, there’s always… something with the global version that keeps it from being this reliable. So here’s to hoping that Xiaomi will change things around this time.

Cameras

  • Dual rear cameras
  • (48MP primary, 2MP depth)
  • 8MP selfie

Let’s talk about the cameras now. And sadly, Xiaomi has skipped the ultrawide sensor on the Redmi Note 12 and there are only two sensors this time around; a 48MP main sensor paired with a 2MP depth lens.

Normal Images

But thankfully, its main camera can actually take decent photos in ample lighting conditions. Part of this might be due to Snapdragon 4 Gen 1’s new ISP too. The photos turn out a bit contrasty overall and it does struggle with dynamic range sometimes, but the detail and sharpness levels are pretty good.

Nighttime Images

Likewise, nighttime images also look good with decent exposure, especially when you have Night mode turned on.

Portrait Images

The Redmi Note 12 does a pretty good job with the portraits as well. Unlike your typical budget phones from Xiaomi that mess up the subject’s skin tone to a weird reddish tint, the Note 12 tries to avoid that as much as possible.

Selfie Images

But the photos from its 8MP selfie camera are not the greatest. They’re not that sharp and people’s skin tone also looks somewhat pinkish.

Videos

Getting to the videos, the phone can only record 1080p 30fps videos from both the front and back. And, yes the stabilization isn’t that great here, but the rear camera can shoot decent videos with balanced colors overall.

Battery

  • 5000mAh battery
  • 33W fast charging

Redmi Note 12 - Battery

Finally, the battery life on the Redmi Note 12 has been superb. Even with heavy usage consisting of hours of gaming, photo/video shooting, and casual web browsing all through the review period, I managed to net out around 8 hours of screen on time on Note 12. And for charging, you get a 33W adapter inside the box which takes around 1 hour to fully juice up the cell.

Redmi Note 12 Review: Conclusion

So wrapping up this review, I feel like the Redmi Note 12 is a pretty great budget phone—one that will be a strong contender against other budget phones to come out in 2023. Obviously, there are areas where Xiaomi has made some sacrifices, such as the lack of an ultrawide sensor and stereo speakers.

But budget phones always make compromises in one way or the other. And thankfully, the compromise is not on aspects like performance which would have ruined the overall smartphone experience. So if you can look past all this, I think the Redmi Note 12 still offers great value.

Redmi Note 12 Review: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Slim and lightweight design
  • 120Hz AMOLED screen
  • Reliable performance
  • Decent primary camera
  • Exceptional battery life

Cons:

  • Mono speaker
  • No ultrawide sensor
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Build
8
Display
8.5
Performance
8
Back Camera
7
Front Camera
6.5
Software & UI
7.5
Battery
9
Value for Money
9
redmi-note-12-reviewThe Redmi Note 12 is an excellent choice for those looking for a budget phone that does not cut corners on features or quality. From its reliable performance to its good AMOLED screen to its sleek design, it offers a smartphone experience comparable to a mid-range phone.