Realme 12 Pro Review: Great Design, Good Hardware
January 2024 has been Jan-packed with new smartphone launches and one of them was the new Realme 12 Pro
January 2024 has been Jan-packed with new smartphone launches and one of them was the new Realme 12 Pro 5G series. The latest number series from Realme includes the Realme 12 Pro 5G and the Realme 12 Pro+ 5G. While both phones look similar to the Realme 11 Pro lineup from the front, there are some changes internally, and on the rear panel. I’ve been using the Realme 12 Pro 5G for more than a week testing out various aspects of the Realme 12 Pro. Here’s what I think of the phone.
Realme 12 Pro price in India
The Realme 12 Pro is available in India at a starting price of Rs. 25,999 for the base 8GB RAM + 128GB variant. There’s also an 8GB RAM + 256GB storage variant, which is priced at Rs. 26,999. Realme offers the new phone in two colour options or finishes. There’s the Navigator Beige option, and there’s the Submarine Blue. We received the 256GB variant in Submarine Blue for review.
You get a 67W fast charger in-the-box
The unboxing experience of the Realme 12 Pro 5G is similar to other phones in the price segment. You get all the things that you’d expect. There’s a 67W charging brick, a USB Type-A to Type-C cable, a case to protect the phone, SIM ejector tool, and the usual paperwork.
Realme 12 Pro Review: Design
There are only a few smartphones out there that make people go, ‘What phone is that?’. The Realme 12 Pro 5G is sure to get similar comments. Almost every other smartphone, apart from foldable, is a slab these days, but Realme has tried and succeeded in making its slab look different and stylish.
I received the Submarine Blue variant, and it looks brilliant. The rear panel on the Realme 12 Pro has a vegan leather finish and a camera module that looks similar to a luxury watch dial. Realme has partnered with French luxury watchmaker Ollivier Savéo who’s worked with popular brands such as Rolex, Breitling, and more.
The main attraction here is the camera module with gold accents on the outside and a sunburst dial inside. The phone has a good weight to it (196g) and feels good to hold in hand. Both the display and the rear panel are curved, making the phone look and feel slimmer than it is (8.75mm). The Realme 12 Pro feels great in hand, and you won’t have any fingerprints or smudges on the back, thanks to the vegan leather finish.
On the front, the phone has uniform bezels on the opposite sides that are thin. The front looks very similar to the Realme 11 Pro, which also has a curved display of the same size. The Realme 12 Pro 5G comes with an IP65 rating as well.
Realme 12 Pro Review: Specifications and software
The Realme 12 Pro is equipped with a Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 processor coupled with the Adreno 710 GPU, 8GB RAM, and 256GB storage. It comes with a Dynamic RAM feature that can add up to 8GB of additional VRAM borrowed from the internal storage. Talking about storage, it isn’t expandable. The phone comes with a USB Type-C port at the bottom accompanied by a speaker, microphone, and a SIM card tray, which supports dual 5G SIM. The top of the phone houses another speaker grille and a microphone. On the left edge, you’ll find the power and volume buttons.
For connectivity, you get Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6 dual-band, and support for all the major GPS satellites. Realme could’ve included Wi-Fi 6E here and perhaps a newer Bluetooth standard, as other phones in the similar price range do get newer connectivity standards.
Realme has included an in-display fingerprint scanner on the handset. It’s placed at the bottom of the display, and while it would’ve been nicer to have it a little higher, the scanner works well. I had no issues unlocking the phone in the time I’ve been using it.
The Realme 12 Pro comes with a 5,000mAh battery with a 67W fast charger in the box, the same as its predecessor. Nothing new to see here.
Now, let’s talk about software. You’ll get the latest Android 14-based Realme UI 5.0 on the Realme 12 Pro. And during my time with the phone, I received two minor updates to improve the camera performance. Realme UI 5.0 is smooth and also loaded with bloatware. You get the usual Hot Apps and Hot Games folder, Glance lock screen, and several pre-installed apps. While you can disable some, you can’t really get rid of them. The phone gets some useful features with Realme UI 5.0, such as File Dock, Smart image matting, and Phonelink. Realme says that it’ll provide 2 years of software and 3 years of security updates for the phone.
The Smart image matting feature lets you separate a subject from the background on a photo. With File Dock, you can easily share files using drag-and-drop, and Phonelink lets you connect to a Windows computer and share files, messages, notifications, and even screen phone calls.
Realme 12 Pro Review: Performance
Now, let’s talk performance. While the Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 chip is good enough for daily tasks and even gaming, it’s not heavily performance-oriented. Realme has focussed more on the camera and design with the Realme 12 Pro 5G. Benchmark results of the phone are bleak compared to some other offerings in the same price range. In AnTuTu, with performance mode enabled, the phone managed 5,90,047 points. With the mode disabled, it received a score of 5,61,099. With Geekbench 6, the phone received a score of 882 in Single-core and 2693 in Multi-core with performance mode disabled. The scores weren’t very different with the mode turned on. Like I said, not a big performer, but at the same time, I did not face any major lag with day-to-day tasks. Opening/closing apps, opening a background app, launching games, and such things worked quite smoothly. When the 8GB RAM was limiting performance, the phone would quickly use the Dynamic RAM feature to make up for the lack of physical RAM.
Moving to the display, the Realme 12 Pro has a curved 6.7-inch AMOLED panel with full-HD+ resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate, and a maximum brightness of 800 nits. The display has good colours and gets plenty bright for indoor use. When using the phone outdoors and under direct sunlight, the display is readable. As for display colour options, you can choose between Vivid, Natural, Cinematic, or Brilliant. You can also manually choose the screen colour temperature. Realme has also included the O1 Video Colour Boost engine that converts SDR to HDR. However, this feature is only supported on certain apps. The viewing angles on the phone are also pretty great, and I did not observe any washing out.
The Realme 12 Pro 5G comes with a dual speaker setup that can get very loud. There’s some bass as well, and good separation thanks to the speakers being placed at the top and bottom. The audio quality is also good during calls, and the earpiece gets pretty loud. No issues here, but nothing exceptional either.
Can you game on the Realme 12 Pro? Yes, you definitely can. You won’t get the highest graphics or frame rates, but you can surely game on the phone. I played COD and BGMI on the phone, and it performed well. The phone did not get too hot either, but I did notice some touch misses at times. I didn’t notice any major frame rate drops or lag in multiplayer games, but my gaming sessions only lasted about 30 minutes max. The rear panel does get warm, but not so much that you’ll have to wait for it to cool down. I also didn’t notice any major heating when using the camera or in day-to-day tasks. The vegan leather finish also helps hide the heat well.
Now, for some battery usage and performance results. The Realme 12 Pro 5G’s 5,000mAh battery can easily last you a day with some heavy gaming, camera usage, watching YouTube and other streaming services, some doom scrolling, and other day-to-day tasks. Remove heavy gaming from the list, and the phone can last over a day. If you don’t consume a lot of content, you could even push the phone to last 2 days without a charge. Talking about charge, you can top up the battery in no time. Realme claims that the provided 67W charger can charge the phone to 100 percent in 48 minutes. In my tests, the phone took 43 minutes to charge from 10 to 100 percent. I’m sure the 48-minute number is attainable even if you charge from 0 percent.
Realme 12 Pro Review: Cameras
Finally, the first major selling point of the Realme 12 Pro is the new cameras. The handset comes with a triple rear camera setup, but you might be fooled into believing that there are four cameras at the back. The fourth one is a dummy, unfortunately. Coming to the real cameras, you get a primary 50-megapixel Sony IMX 882 sensor with OIS, PDAF support, 26mm focal length, and f/1.8 aperture. This is accompanied by a new 32-megapixel Sony IMX 709 telephoto sensor with 2x optical zoom and 4x lossless in-sensor zoom. Lastly, there’s an 8-megapixel ultrawide sensor. This is a big improvement over last year’s dual-camera setup that included a 100-megapixel main sensor and a 2-megapixel depth unit.
The camera interface on the phone is similar to what you’ll find on most Android smartphones. All the modes are placed separately above the shutter button, and you get a More option that hides the Pro mode, Panorama, Hi-Res mode, Timelapse, Long Exposure, dual-view, Starry Mode, and more. The standard modes include Photo, Video, Portrait, Night, and Street.
In Photo mode, you get 0.6x, 1x, 2x, and 4x options. The image quality from the main rear camera is quite good in daylight conditions. The 2x optical zoom also produces good results. However, the colours can be saturated at times and I did notice some artifacting in some images very rarely. The 4x image looks a little washed out and loses out on details. The ultra-wide camera also takes good photos in daylight, but you can notice the difference in colours, details, and HDR between the main and the ultrawide sensor.
When the sun goes down, the cameras say bye to details, but pictures taken in low light using the main sensor are still usable. The main camera can take good pictures with decent details if there’s some lighting around. Taking pictures of the night sky or landscape will result in photos with not a lot of details. The high dynamic range and colours are also off in lowlight scenarios. The 2x zoom isn’t great in low light, and the photos mostly have washed details and noise. It’s the same with the ultrawide camera, which also shoots photos with a lot of noise and washed-out details. Portrait shots in low light have bad edge detection, but you do get some details if there’s some light.
Selfie photos taken from the Realme 12 Pro 5G are good. The phone gets a 16-megapixel front camera that can take 1080p videos at 30fps. You get good enough usable selfies that have good details in daylight, but things get washed out in low light.
Coming to videos, the phone can take 4K resolution videos at 30fps, but you can also take full advantage of the OIS stabilisation in videos shot in 1080p at 60fps. Realme calls the stabilisation mode Ultra Steady and the results are not bad. There is some fringing, but you can totally use the videos on social media. Videos shot in 4K resolution do have plenty of details in daylight, but there’s noticeable noise and weird artefacts in low light.
Realme 12 Pro Review: Verdict
With a starting price of Rs. 25,999, the Realme 12 Pro 5G has plenty of phones to compete with. Some of the recently launched phones that come to mind are the Redmi Note 13 Pro and the Poco X6 Pro (Review).
The Realme 12 Pro 5G is a good-looking smartphone with several things going for it. You get a unique design with a vegan leather finish, a good display with a 120Hz refresh rate, the performance is good enough for daily use and some gaming, the battery lasts long, and you can top it up quickly, and the cameras offer very good results in daylight. There’s not a lot you’re missing out on. It’s a great phone for the price, but the only question is, would I recommend it over phones like the Poco X6 Pro? If cameras and design are more important to you, then you should buy the Realme 12 Pro; if performance is more important, then I’d say go for the Poco.