Consumers buy budget smartphones for functionality, not flair. While that may have been a popular sentiment a decade ago, manufacturers now are actively working to make sure that’s no longer the case. Redmi 12 is the latest example of a budget pick, that packs in the looks for something more expensive.
At first glance, the smartphone looks elegant in the Sky Blue variant I’ve got. The glass back, rare at this price segment, feels sleek yet firm to hold. There’s a massive 6.79 display — largest on a Redmi smartphone yet — which offers up to 90Hz refresh rates depending on the app or content in use.
The Redmi 12 has a 50-MP primary camera along with an 8-MP ultra-wide camera. While shots taken outdoors in daylight are vivid and crisp, the ones taken after sundown leave a lot of room for improvement. There’s a fair bit of noise in still taken even under streetlights. The 8MP selfie camera manages to deliver passable selfies in any lighting condition that’s less than optimal. The beauty mode erases any semblance of pores or natural skin texture. Sometimes the selfie camera has trouble focusing on the subject with many portraits turning out a bit out of focus or blurry.
The Redmi 12 has the brand new Mediatek Helio G88 processor under the hood. The unit I reviewed had a sizeable 6 GB RAM, which can be extended by another 2 GB by the system and 128 GB storage space. In real-time usage, the experience of scrolling and switching between apps was a mixed bag. Switching between apps would sometimes render with a bit of stutter on-screen. The same goes for when I was caught in a mindless loop of swiping through YouTube Shorts. While the phone wasn’t slow to operate, these hitches made the experience sub-optimal. The system runs on Android 13-based MIUI 14 software out of the box.
The phone also has an IP53 rating which gives it limited protection from dust and water sprays. Many consumers will be happy to see the 3.5 mm headphone jack being retained, along with an added IR blaster which is super handy when you can’t be bothered to look for the TV remote
Despite being a budget phone, the Redmi 12 packs in a massive 5,000 mAh battery which kept me company for almost two days when I was using it — mostly to capture photos and the occasional Spotify usage. With heavier usage, it still went on for a whole working day with 20 per cent to spare. There’s a 22.5W charger shipped with the unit, which unfortunately doesn’t support fast charging. Charging the phone from zero to full, took a couple of hours, which isn’t ideal for most users.
With a design that’s pleasing to the eye and excellent battery life, the Redmi 12 make for a decent budget phone. However, certain drawbacks to do with camera performance, the occasional lag and slow charging speeds and lack of 5G in this variant, might outweigh the advantages.