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Redmi 12 5G Review: A budget 5G smartphone that’s a step ahead of the competition

Jul 01, 2023

Xiaomi recently launched two new Redmi smartphones in India. The Redmi 12 5G debuted as the company's most affordable 5G smartphone, while the Redmi 12 arrived as a sub-10K 4G handset. However, our focus today is on the Redmi 12 5G.

With a starting price of Rs 11,999, the Redmi 12 5G aims to deliver maximum value to the consumer. The Redmi 12 5G also comes in 6GB/128GB and 8GB/256GB, which costs Rs 13,499 and Rs 15,499, respectively. However, it also aims to make 5G more accessible in a country of over 1.3 billion people. While Xiaomi has set the bar of expectations high with the Redmi 12 5G, we will attempt to find out if the device lives up to those high expectations.

Straight off the bat, as soon as you pick up the Redmi 12 5G, the phone feels anything but cheap. Despite the budget price tag, the Redmi 12 5G is well-built with a glass back panel, which Xiaomi class the "Crystal Glass Design". Moreover, the screen also features Gorilla Glass protection, although the frame is made of plastic which is expected at this price.

The Redmi 12 5G arrives in Jade Black, Pastel Blue, and Moonstone Silver colour options. The back panel of the Redmi 12 5G features smooth rear back panel that is resistant to fingerprints. The phone features an IP53 rating for resistance to splashes. Another excellent design choice in the Redmi 12 5G is the individual camera modules, which gives the phone a minimalistic look.

The budget phone features a SIM tray on the left and a volume rocker and power button on the right. Additionally, the phone has a speaker grille and USB Type-C port on the bottom and a headphone jack on the top. Overall, the Redmi 12 5G doesn't look and feel like a budget smartphone and is easily the best designed phones in the segment.

For the display, Xiaomi has opted for a 6.79-inch FHD+ IPS LCD screen with slim bezels on either side. The panel boasts a 90Hz refresh rate and a 240Hz touch sampling rate. The display can dynamically switch between 30Hz, 60Hz, and 90Hz depending on the content.

The screen also features a peak brightness of 550 nits and is easily visible in most scenarios, although viewing it under direct sunlight can be difficult at times. Moreover, the handset is Widevine L1 certified to watch content from OTT platforms in HD resolution. The display's large size and excellent viewing angles are perfect for watching content, although it could have been a bit brighter.

The Redmi 12 5G debuts as the first smartphone in India to use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 4 Gen 2 chipset. The chip is paired with up to 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 256GB of UFS 2.2 storage. Additionally, storage can be further expanded up to 1TB via a microSD card. We did put the Redmi 12 5G through its paces in Call of Duty: Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends.

Both titles ran on medium graphics without any lag or slowdowns. We also ran the phone through Geekbench and AnTuTu. In Geekbench, the handset managed a single-core score of 901 points and a multi-core score of 2012 points.

The device also managed an overall AnTuTu score of 442341 points. It is worth noting that our model of the Redmi 12 5G came with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. For a budget smartphone, the Redmi 12 5G performed well-above average.

For optics, the Redmi 12 5G gets a dual-camera setup on the back with only one usable sensor. The primary 50 MP sensor features an f/1.8 aperture and 4-in-1 pixel binning and is accompanied by a 2 MP depth sensor. Up front, there's an 8 MP selfie camera with an f/2.0 aperture. Additionally, video recording on the device is limited to 1080p at 30fps.

The main camera captures shots at 12.5 megapixels by default, although you do have the option to take photos in full 50 MP resolution. In daylight, the camera captures images with good dynamic range and a fair bit of detail. Photos were well exposed, and the sensor did a good job of capturing detail of objects in the foreground and background.

The shots taken on the main camera in daylight were sharp with accurate yet punchy colours. In low light, we'd recommend switching to Night mode to improve detail in shots and reduce noise. The 8 MP selfie camera does a decent job in daylight, capturing a good amount of detail and accurate colours.

However, portrait selfies look good with the background blur on point, although skin tones looked unnatural. Additionally, edge detection was also spot on with some minor struggles with hair. It is worth noting that there's a serious drop off in quality with selfies taken in low light.

1080p video captured on the main camera was reliable for a budget smartphone, while the audio didn't sound distorted. For its price, the main camera on the Redmi 12 5G performed better than expected. However, the selfie camera leaves a bit to be desired. It does take an attempt or two, but you should get decent shots with some patience.

In terms of battery life, the Redmi 12 5G's 5,000 mAh cell was enough to get you through an entire day of moderate usage. We still had 15% of battery life to take into day 2. In PCMark's Battery test, the device scored 15 hours, which was quite impressive for a budget smartphone.

The Redmi 12 5G also comes with fast charging support over a USB Type-C port. While Xiaomi has bundled a 22.5W charger in the box, the phone only supports 18W charging. However, the downside is that it takes around two hours to fully power the device.

On the software side, the Redmi 12 5G runs Android 13 out of the box with MIUI 13 on top. As always MIUI offers a ton of customisations with colourful animations, allowing user to choose from a variety of themes. However, the one downside of MIUI is the number of pre-installed apps that come with the device.

And while some of them can be uninstalled, there are still a few annoying ones that stay on for the ride. However, the overall UI experience is smooth and MIUI does have a proven track record of stability. Xiaomi promises two years of Android OS updates and three years of regular security updates.

The Redmi 12 5G is easily one of the best smartphones in the segment. At just Rs 11,999, Xiaomi is offering the best chip in the segment, a high-refresh rate display, a large battery, fast charging support, and a reliable primary camera. And we haven't even gotten to design and build, where the company has clearly gone the extra mile. Then there's the software support, which also exceeds expectations.

Sure, the phone has a few faults, in the form of bloatware and a sub-par selfie camera. But that's a small price to pay considering what's on offer here. The answer to our initial question is undoubtedly 'Yes'. The Redmi 12 5G managed to exceed the high expectations it set out, giving it an easy recommendation in our books.

Carlsen MartinMore REDMI News