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Realme 12 Pro+ review: Offers a mixed bag performance

The Realme 12 Pro+ is not a massive upgrade on its predecessor, Realme 11 Pro+, but still does well with camera performance and battery backup

The Realme 12 Pro+ starts at  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>29,999 and comes in three colour options; Submarine Blue, Navigator Beige and Explorer Red.
The Realme 12 Pro+ starts at 29,999 and comes in three colour options; Submarine Blue, Navigator Beige and Explorer Red. (Realme)

High on style, great with cameras, and average with performance. Does this make Realme’s latest 12 Pro+ a winner in the mid-range segment?

The Realme 12 Pro+ comes with a vegan leather design (the company collaborated with Ollivier Savéo, an international luxury watch designer for this), brings a periscope telephoto sensor to the mid-range category, and comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7s Gen 2 SoC. The smartphone runs on the latest Realme UI 5.0 (based on Android 14) and comes with a 5,000mAh battery.

The mid-range smartphone market is a crowded and competitive segment with more than 10-15 brands vying for customers’ attention. The Realme 12 Pro+ starts at 29,999. Can it upstage its rivals? Let’s find out.

Vegan leather design

One of the highlights of the smartphone, and one that is sure to catch the attention of the youth in India, is the design. The Realme 12 Pro+ sports a vegan leather finish using premium silicone material. According to the company, this comes with a 30 percent increase in softness as compared to the previous Realme 11 Pro series.

The smartphone comes in three colour options; Submarine Blue, Navigator Beige and Explorer Red. Once you hold the phone in your hand you’ll notice just how ultra-light and thin the form factor is. The smartphone comes in at just 8.75mm in thickness and weighs just 196g. One can safely use the smartphone for hours on end without feeling any bit tired.

The back panel features a large-ish circle that houses all the camera sensors. There’s the 3D Jubilee bracelet (along with diamond patterns) that runs through the centre of the back. There’s a Golden Fluted bezel around the camera module. And, around the camera, is a polished sunburst dial with 500-gradient patterns.

The smartphone, according to the company, is capable of extended use in a variety of extreme temperatures (from -50*C to 200*C). The device is also IP65-rated for dust and splash resistance. One would have preferred an IP68 rating, but that would have cost more money and made the retail price heftier.

Display

The Realme 12 Pro+ comes with a 6.7-inch Full HD+ curved AMOLED display (with 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate and 394 PPI). This is the same display as in the 11 Pro+ and the 10 Pro+. A tad bit disappointing that Realme hasn’t been able to upgrade the display. Still, it is one of the few smartphones in this segment to come with an AMOLED panel. The display supports HDR10+.

The display comes with vivid and punchy colours and is plenty bright for outdoor legibility. The peak brightness is rated at 800 nits (with a local peak brightness of 950 nits). There is a 2160Hz high-frequency dimming technology wherein the smartphone will switch to 2160Hz PWM dimming mode in dark environments to maintain accurate colours and keep it easy on the eye.

Performance and battery life

The Snapdragon 7s Gen 2 is a capable chipset until you try to push it to its limits. It is an upgrade to the Dimensity 7050 chipset in the Realme 11 Pro+, but it isn’t anything to write home about.

The phone isn’t meant for gaming, yet it extracted decent performance while playing games like Call of Duty: Mobile and Asphalt 9. During extended gaming sessions, the phone did get a little too warm

Still, daily performance was above what was expected. During regular usage like taking photos, answering calls, watching YouTube videos while on 5G, streaming music from Spotify, and having dozens of Google Chrome tabs open, the phone proved that no task is too mighty for it, with no signs of lag or stutter.

Realme UI 5.0 is a decent skin of Android but it is cluttered. There is a lot of bloatware that can be deleted, but it is annoying. If you reset the smartphone, they all come back. The smartphone will get 2 years of Android updates and 3 years of security updates, which is not satisfactory.

The UI does come with some interesting features such as File Dock feature and Flash Capsule. The latter provides access to third-party services such as Swiggy and Zomator directly from the device. There’s also a Smart Image feature that caught my eye. It allows you to easily pick and share subjects from a photo. It can also recognise multiple subjects and separate them from similar backgrounds.

Battery life was just about acceptable. The smartphone comes with a 5,000mAh battery, which is more than what the rivals are offering. With smart usage, one can eek out a day and a half of usage, but if you try and push the smartphone, you’ll definitely have to charge it before going to bed. I got about 5 hours of screen on time (SoT), which is borderline acceptable these days.

Charging though isn’t a problem as there is support for 67W SuperDart fast charging. The smartphone can go from zero to full charge in just 45 minutes.

Camera

The camera, along with the design, is an aspect of the smartphone where it stands out from the competition.

The 64MP OV64B sensor (which features a large 1/2-inch size) is hardly seen in this price segment. It boasts of a 3x optical zoom and a 6x in-sensor zoom. It’s one of the largest-in-class periscope telephoto lenses. Offering lossless 3x optical magnification can be a game-changer. It almost is. The resulting zoomed-in shots have a great amount of clarity, and excellent dynamic range and there is a nice sharpness to the photos.

Even in tricky lightning, the noise is kept in check. Night-time photography has been made fun, thanks to Realme. Zoomed-in shots at night-time have never been better in this price range. Thankfully, Realme included optical image stabilisation, which helps reduce shakes and keeps the shots away from any unintentional blur.

The main 50MP (Sony IMX890) sensor outputs 12.5MP pixel-binned shots. They have a great amount of detailing, which isn’t lost, even when you zoom in. Thanks to the large sensor size and OIS support (and an f/1.8 aperture), you can get some excellent photos across a variety of lightning conditions. Only if the sunlight is very harsh, then the photos won’t be so sharp. But whether it is a building or a portrait of a human being, the primary camera produces photos with vibrant and punchy colours, and a hint of sharpness. Portraits come out with great clarity and a not-so-aggressive blur. They are more natural-looking.

It’s the ultra-wide camera where the camera system falters. You can get a wider field-of-view, and there is autofocus support, but the details and dynamic range seem to fall off a cliff. It is nowhere near what the main camera can output.

The selfies from the 32MP front-facing camera are strictly okay. Nothing to write home about, again.

Verdict

The Realme 12 Pro+ is the best smartphone Realme has released in the number series. It’s got a vegan leather design that is eye-catching and a pleasure to hold daily. There’s the game-changing periscope telephoto lens in this segment. And a curved display that has punchy colours.

The smartphone falters when pushed to the limits, and battery life is strictly okay. Still, at an affordable price of 29,999, the Realme 12 Pro+ is a good option in this segment. It’s not much of an upgrade from the Realme 11 Pro+, but if you own any phone older than that, then the Realme 12 Pro+ will feel like a notable upgrade.

Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist. He posts @IMSahilBhalla.

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