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When it comes to the sub-25K INR price segment, we all expect brands to prioritize performance and cut back on areas such as the camera. However, Realme, with its new 12 Pro, has managed to strike a balance like no other brand has until now.
But this might lead you to think, where has Realme cut corners then? For the answer, let’s dive straight into the review of the Realme 12 Pro.
Realme 12 Pro review: Hardware and Design
Sharing the design with its big brother, the Realme 12 Pro features a gorgeous soft-touch vegan leather back panel, available in colors such as Submarine Blue and Navigator Beige. Additionally, the device houses a Rolex-inspired circular camera cutout surrounded by concentric lines, creating different patterns when light falls on them.
Taking a look at the camera housing, you might be fooled into thinking there are four cameras. Instead, the 12 Pro houses three different lenses, along with a fourth cutout for symmetry. However, it’s important to note that due to the size of the camera cutout, it tends to bring along cards and keys when coming out of the pocket.
Moving to the sides, the phone features a shiny plastic frame, which looks premium at first glance. Although looks can be subjective, shiny plastic frames tend to scratch easily.
Vegan leather could also be a problem
Let’s address the elephant in the room: we all know that vegan leather is more fragile than a glass back. In our two weeks of testing, the phone held up surprisingly well, and we didn’t notice any peels or discoloration. However, it’s worth mentioning that this problem was present on the Realme 11 Pro Plus. Therefore, if you buy the phone, be ready to protect it using a case or cover.
Realme 12 Pro review: Display
While flagships like the S24 Ultra have decided to ditch curved displays altogether, brands like Realme have embraced it. This decision stems from the fact that everyday users still associate curved displays with a premium phone. However, before moving further, the Realme 12 Pro features a curved 6.7-inch FHD+ OLED 120Hz display, along with a center punch-hole selfie camera.
When it comes to the experience, the display produces stunning colors coupled with great viewing angles. This makes for a stellar content-watching experience, at least indoors. However, the outdoor viewing experience has left much to be desired since the phone only has a peak brightness of 950 nits. Although the display is visible in direct sunlight, you will need to squint your eyes.
The front also houses the fingerprint scanner. And although it works well, it is positioned slightly below where your thumb naturally rests. Finally, when it comes to durability, the phone did pick up some minor scratches during our testing, but nothing extraordinary.
Inconsistent refresh rate
Similar to the Realme 12 Pro Plus, the refresh rate on the 12 Pro is very inconsistent. For example, while the UI does refresh at 120Hz, making for a smooth experience, many third-party apps never go past 90Hz, and the software has limited YouTube to 60Hz. This creates a janky experience, considering our eyes notice the refresh rate change instantly.
Realme 12 Pro Review: Performance and Battery
Before delving into the benchmarks and performance, the Realme 12 Pro runs on the mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 6 Gen 1, coupled with the Adreno 710 GPU. The phone also comes with up to 12GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. However, it’s important to note that Realme’s 12GB extra dynamic RAM feature is a gimmick since system storage is much slower than RAM.
During our testing, the 12 Pro performed exceptionally well in regular usage, be it scrolling through social media or watching YouTube videos. However, we did notice a stutter when opening the camera app. On the other hand, the gaming performance of the 12 Pro was a pleasant surprise, as the 6 Gen 1 managed to comfortably run both COD Mobile and BGMI at max settings.
Moving to synthetic benchmarks, the phone scored 933 in Geekbench’s single-core test and 2707 in the multi-core test, making it only 4%-5% behind its bigger brother. Additionally, thanks to the new vapor chamber cooling system, the phone was also able to sustain its performance during a 30-minute and 30-thread throttle test.
Great battery life
The 12 Pro comes with a massive 5,000mAh battery, which, when coupled with the mid-range 6 Gen 1, results in exceptional battery life, lasting a full day of gaming and capturing photos. Additionally, the phone includes a 67W Type-A to Type-C charger in the box, allowing it to fully recharge in 47 minutes.
Realme 12 Pro Plus Review: Cameras
Cameras were the biggest talking point in Realme’s event, and we think they were right. However, to put things into perspective, Realme 12 Pro boasts a 50MP Sony IMX882 OIS main camera sensor, along with a 32MP 2x Telephoto lens and an 8MP 112-degree UltraWide camera.
In our testing, we were pleasantly surprised by the cameras since the main 50MP sensor captures stunning daytime photos with ample details, dynamic range, and accurate colors, which aren’t oversaturated. At night, however, the phone does struggle with noise and a purple tint in darker areas. But we should mention that any phone in this price range would struggle the same, if not more, in such conditions.
Portraits and Zoom
While Realme claims to offer long-range zoom capabilities, sadly, it isn’t true. The phone provides 2x optical zoom and 4x lossless zoom by cropping into the 32MP sensor. As a result, do not buy this phone if you plan to take shots of the moon, as realistically, you can get usable photos at 10x zoom.
Portrait photos are one area where the telephoto lens shines. In our testing, the portraits on the 12 Pro seemed even better than the 12 Pro Plus, with natural bokeh, excellent face detection, and great lighting. However, similar to the main camera, the portrait mode introduces a purple tint at night and can also capture blurry faces due to the shutter lag.
UltraWide and Selfies
With an 8MP sensor, we weren’t expecting the best shots. But the phone did manage to capture good-looking photos with minimal distortion and acceptable HDR. However, at night, it does struggle and captures muddy photos.
The Realme 12 Pro includes a 16MP selfie camera, and it’s not that good. In our testing, the selfie photos lacked details and sharpness. Additionally, the selfie shooter can only record 1080p videos.
Video is an area where almost every smartphone struggles and the Realme 12 Pro is no exception. While daytime video looks good with ample dynamic range, nighttime video is just passable, considering there is a significant amount of noise. Additionally, it is important to note that only the main sensor can record 4k 30fps videos.
Realme 12 Pro review: Software and Speakers
The Realme 12 Pro comes with Realme UI running on Android 14. In terms of general usage, the phone glides through the UI, often running close to 120Hz. However, as mentioned earlier, third-party apps are still capped at 90Hz at max. Additionally, the phone includes a lot of bloatware, such as Facebook, Google Pay, Netflix, and Spotify. Thankfully, you can uninstall all these apps.
Lastly, moving over to the speakers, the phone sounds great for dialogues but lacks bass and sounds muddy in the high-end. Moreover, the haptic motors felt a step down from the 12 Pro Plus, but the call quality was decent.
At a starting price of Rs. 25,999, the Realme 12 Pro goes head-to-head with the Redmi Note 13 Pro, which features the better Snapdragon 7s Gen 2. However, the 13 Pro’s camera system has left much to be desired, considering it houses a 200MP main sensor, along with an 8MP UltraWide and 2MP macro sensor. As a result, if you value camera versatility, look no further than the Realme 12 Pro.
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