Over the past few years, Xiaomi sub-brand Redmi has built a strong reputation for providing capable budget phones at really good prices. And they continue to do so as well with their recent update to their popular Note line — the Redmi Note 12 Series.
Interestingly, the company also released another budget device, the Redmi 12C, around the same time as the Note 12 series phones.
Is the Redmi 12C worth considering as your next budget phone? More importantly, should you consider it over Redmi’s main Note 12 series devices?
Let’s find out in our full review of the Redmi 12C!
Table of Contents
Redmi 12C Review
Design and Construction
In terms of build, the Redmi 12C is made up entirely of plastic. I actually prefer this for budget devices because plastic is a lot more durable compared to glass. While it doesn’t feel premium, the plastic construction makes the phone feel incredibly light with a rated weight of 192 grams.
The 12C’s back has a striped pattern design that gives it a nice texture on the hand and prevents fingerprint smudges from building up. You have a prominent section for the Redmi 12C’s cameras, as well as a fingerprint sensor and a Redmi label right next to it.
On the right, you have a power button and a volume rocker.
On the left, we have a SIM slot (dual SIM) that also has a deducated microSD card slot that’s expandable to up to 1TB.
On top, we have a 3.5mm headphone jack.
And lastly, and most unfortunately, we have a micro-USB port for power and data at the bottom alongside a downward-firing speaker grill and a microphone. We’ll get more into the USB situation later on.
Overall, the Redmi 12C is not a remarkable device in terms of looks and it doesn’t have to be. It’s light, comfortable to handle, and has no glaring issues when it comes to its build and construction.
The 12C’s plastic build gave me a lot of confidence that it could take the wear and tear of daily use and that’s what a budget phone should aim to achieve.
Display, Biometrics, and Multimedia
For the display, the Redmi 12C has a 6.71-inch HD+ (1650 x 720) IPS LCD display. No high refresh rate here.
The 12C’s display is good, for a phone at this price. Colors are decent and content was still viewable despite the low-resolution display. However, this is provided if you’re looking at the phone head-on. Viewing angles on the 12C are pretty bad, with colors starting to shift once you tilt the phone at around 30 degrees. But for regular viewing, it’s serviceable.
It has good brightness indoors but you may have a tougher time than usual using the screen under direct sunlight, even with brightness at max.
Surprisingly, the speaker on the Redmi 12C performed well. At high volumes, the 12C’s single downward-firing speaker remained clear and got plenty loud. You could easily use the phone as a makeshift speaker if you needed to.
For biometrics, the Redmi 12C has a fingerprint sensor mounted next to the camera bump. It’s fast and snappy, and it’s placed pretty conveniently as your index finger can easily reach for it when you hold the phone with one hand.
Overall, the Redmi 12C isn’t going to provide you with that perfect multimedia entertainment experience. While it has surprisingly good speakers, the display leaves a lot to be desired.
For cameras, the Redmi 12C has dual rear cameras led by a 50-megapixel lens at f/1.8 aperture with an additional auxiliary QVGA lens.
Photos from the Redmi 12C are unspectacular. They’re usable at best but most of the time, they come out grainy and out of focus.
The colors from the 12C’s photos are also on the flatter side. As you can see from our sample shots, most of the plants are not properly focused and their colors were a bit duller than what they are in real life.
Photo quality is of course one of the main things sacrificed in budget devices and the Redmi 12C is no different here.
Night shots are the same story with the 12C churning out grainy photos that are mostly out of focus.
Selfies on the other hand are handled by a 5-megapixel f/2.2 front-facing camera. In our testing, the selfies we got were also blurry and tended to overexpose subjects. It also had a hard time replicating skin tones and tended to make faces lighter than usual.
On the video side, the footage we got from the Redmi 12C was shaky, and we found that the phone had a hard time maintaining or adjusting the lighting within a shot.
With all that said, we didn’t expect the Redmi 12C’s camera to blow us away. At this price, you shouldn’t expect it to. While photos and videos are grainy, they are, at the very least, useable.
We don’t recommend it to people who want to take high-quality photos for social media or even as their primary family camera. But for those who don’t really take photos and just want a camera for when they might need it, the Redmi 12C’s camera is serviceable.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the Redmi 12C is a MediaTek Helio G85 chipset. 3GB, 4GB, or 6GB of LPDDR4X RRAM, and either 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB storage of eMMC 5.1 2.2 storage. Our unit here is the 4GB RAM, 128GB internal storage variant.
Performance on the 12C is average. It doesn’t feel fast or zippy but it doesn’t feel particularly slow either. Opening apps does take a second but it’s not that jarring. Browsing Facebook or TikTok didn’t feel too slow as well.
Where you will feel the performance buckle is with the RAM. The Redmi 12C will periodically kill apps in the background, even after you just used them. This is where more RAM would have probably helped a ton.
For benchmarks, here are the results we got for the Redmi 12C:
- 3D Mark Wild Life Test – 726
- Antutu V9.5.6 – 205185
- Geekbench ML 5 – 132
- Geekbench 6 – 404 (single-core); 1150 (multi-core)
For gaming, the Redmi 12C can only really handle more casual titles like Call of Duty Mobile and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and that’s with graphic settings down to Medium or Low. They are completely playable in these settings, though, meaning the phone was able to hold a consistent frame rate.
However, graphically intensive titles like Genshin Impact don’t run well on the 12C. Once you load into Genshin Impact’s Mondstadt world and start to pan the camera, you’ll immediately notice frame drops and lag.
The Redmi 12C wasn’t built for good performance and it shows. People who buy the 12C should expect things to take a second slower. While in-app performance and casual gaming are good enough here, the frequent app crashes may be a cause of concern for some.
OS, Apps and UI
For its OS, the Redmi 12C is running MIUI 13 based on Android 12. While the Redmi 12C isn’t the fastest phone in the world, MIUI 13’s animations and transitions are surprisingly smooth. Of course, the 12C’s budget processor won’t rival flagships but we like how MIUI 13 seems to run well on top of the 12C.
I also personally liked how MIUI 13’s notification panel shifts incoming notifications to a lower position than compared to other Android skins, making them easier to access without the need for finger gymnastics. For customization, MIUI does have a theme store that automatically adjusts your wallpaper and icons as well. The only catch is that most of the ones I saw were not free (as seen above).
Unfortunately, while MIUI 13’s animations and other software choices are on point, the bloatware and the number of included apps are not.
MIUI had a mix of both a large amount of built-in extra stock apps like their Cleaner app and Xiaomi Community app as well as a dedicated folder just for app recommendations (such as recommending Tongits Go or Jewel Block Puzzle) that aren’t even on the phone itself. Some of these you can uninstall while others you can only remove from the home screen.
We recommend hiding them in a folder but it will take a while because there is a lot to arrange. Usually in budget phones, this is where phone manufacturers try to sell apps to you to make up the cost.
While MIUI 13 has pretty good animations and a smoother-than-usual navigation experience, it’s bogged down by the sheer number of bloatware it includes with devices that carry it. Unfortunately, I personally think MIUI still has a ways to go in terms of offering that clean software experience.
Connectivity and Battery Life
The Redmi 12C has a dual SIM slot, has Wifi 802.11a, Bluetooth 5.1, and 4G and LTE capable. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack and has GPS, NFC, Glonass, Galileo, Beidou, a Virtual Proximity, and an Accelerometer.
Now it’s time to get to the elephant in the room. Yes, as mentioned earlier, the Redmi 12C still has a Micro-USB port for charging and data transfer. In 2023, even for a budget device, this is simply inexcusable. With most phones making the leap to USB-C years ago, it boggles our mind that Redmi decided to stick with Micro-USB on the 12C.
Even at a budget price, it simply isn’t recommended as there are other phones in the same price range that at least offer you the more modern USB Type C protocol. Redmi definitely dropped the ball here.
For battery, the Redmi 12C has a 5000 mAh cell with a 10W charging rate. In day-to-day use, I had no problem getting through a full day with the Redmi 12C. Social media, light gaming, and a bit of camera can get you around 35% at the end of the day.
On PC Mark’s Work 3.0 Battery Life test, the Redmi 12C got 13 hours and 43 minutes. This is lower than we expected but the actual battery experience thankfully showed that the 12C can last the full day. For our video loop test, with a 1080p video playing at 50% brightness, zero volume, and airplane mode turned on, the Redmi 12C got 22 hours 15 minutes — which is really good.
Overall, while the Redmi 12C offers a smoother-than-expected MIUI 13 experience, a good durable plastic build, and a reliable fingerprint sensor, the fact that it features a borderline-obsolete micro-USB port makes it hard to recommend even at budget prices.
I can only really recommend the 12C to people who are coming from a phone with micro-USB and don’t want to (for some reason) switch to the more convenient and faster USB Type C. Otherwise, options like the Redmi’s own Note 12 or even older Note 11 are honestly worth spending or saving the cash for.
Specs and Pricing:
6.71-inch HD+ (1650 x 720) IPS LCD display
20.6:9 aspect ratio, 500 nits brightness (typical)
MediaTek Helio G85
3GB, 4GB, 6GB RAM LPDDR4X
32GB, 64GB, 128GB storage eMMC 5.1
Up to 1TB microSD expansion
Dual rear cameras:
• 50MP f/1.8 main
• Auxiliary lens (QVGA)
5MP f/2.2 front
3.5mm headphone jack
GPS | Glonass | Galileo | Beidou | Virtual Proximity | Accelerometer
Rear fingerprint sensor, AI face unlock
MIUI 13 (Android 12)
5000mAh battery, 10W charging rate
168.76 x 76.41 x 8.77 mm
Graphite Gray, Ocean Blue, Mint Green, and Lavender Purple
The Redmi 12C is priced at Php 5,499 for the 3GB+32GB version, while the 4GB+64GB and 4GB+128GB versions sell for Php 6,499 and Php 7,499, respectively.
What we liked:
- Smoother-than-expected OS experience
- Durable plastic design
- Reliable fingerprint sensor
What we didn’t like:
- Micro-USB port
- A ton of included bloatware
- Average to below-average cameras