Redmi Note 12 review: Note-worthy as your First Dance?

Good, affordable phone



Good phones are getting cheap. Cheap phones are getting good. It’s a statement that can be true in a number of ways, but let’s take a step back.

A cheaper smartphone will always come with its drawbacks. Even though multiple smartphone manufacturers will try to convince you that their entry-level device is “powerful”, purchasing a phone with a smaller price tag means you’re willing to let certain misses go because the pros can outweigh the cons. That assessment often depends on how much purchasing power you have.

When it comes to entry-level devices, it’s important to set expectations that they’re exactly just that. A device that’s meant to introduce you to how a smartphone can be without breaking the bank. It’s meant to test the waters. It’s there to be your First Dance.

Enter the Redmi Note 12, the brand’s newest offering for the entry-level/mid-range segment. It’s somewhere in between those two categories, but safe to say, it’s an option consumers would consider if they’re looking for a smartphone to get started with. It’s for the high school student who wants a present from their parents; or the fresh graduate who wants to get themselves an affordable smartphone without blowing off their entire month’s salary. 

In a market littered with multiple options within this price range, can this be your First Dance? 

Live in Colour with peace of mind 

Right out of the box, I was greeted with a smartphone that was undoubtedly bright and colorful. I got the Note 12’s vibrant light blue option, assuring that I’d be living in color during my review period with this device. 

It’s a good thing living in color didn’t mean losing my peace of mind; there’s a tendency for phones that prioritize flash to lack much-needed substance or stability. The Redmi Note 12, while being beautiful on the hand, is a sturdy device that can survive one’s daily grind. 

It comes with a matte plastic back, making sure that fingerprints are limited. While plastic has a reputation for feeling cheap, the Note 12’s feel in the hand definitely outperforms the expectations you’d have from a phone within this price range. I’d still recommend using a case, especially if you’re a heavy commuter. There’s no doubt, however, you’ll feel confident bringing this around your daily adventures.  

A performer that goes All Out despite its limitations

Let me repeat: an entry-level device isn’t powerful; that’s a promise that can only be truly fulfilled by its more expensive siblings. Do note, that’s not meant to be a bad thing, it’s just reality. Around the entry-level/mid-range segment, the best you can hope for is a smartphone that is consistently capable. It can perform well-enough as your day-to-day, without it feeling like a drag when you’re using is more than usual. 

The Redmi Note 12 does just that and it goes all out to show you its power as a smartphone. Right out of the box, it comes with a lot of bloatware, which is a negative for many, but it’s also Redmi’s way of telling you, “Go ahead, play with our phone! Let’s see what you’ll find.” 

What we found is a smartphone that has its limitations, but it tries its best to power through them. It’s not entirely smooth, it comes with its hiccups, but the Note 12 makes up for it with consistency when it matters the most. Gaming never felt difficult and the daily social media use wasn’t hampered by heavy use either. It works. It’s capable. That’s a big win, especially within this price point.

An Iron Man that lasts ’till you Go to Sleep

Going all in with performance might mean sacrificing battery life. 

As a passionate casual gamer, the wife used the Redmi Note 12 to play different games while also browsing social media heavily. That can be a lot to handle for phones within this range, especially when it comes to battery life. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case with the Redmi Note 12. This phone can survive heavy days of work. 

Its 5,000mAh battery can be felt with how it performs. Even on heavy use, you’d be confident that you’d still have juice before you go to sleep. It’s a big help as well the Note 12 comes with 33W wired fast charging, a welcome feature with any type of smartphone. In this day and age, fast charging beyond 30W should be a requirement, right? 

This is an Iron Man in every sense of a word. Even if you try to take this down with a wide-variety of hits, it’ll still find a way to stand up and perform as if to tell you that it’s the best in this segment.

A camera that’s either the best or a botch 

In today’s social media-heavy age, camera performance is often what drives consumers’ purchasing decisions. It’s subjective and is heavily dependent on tastes. Given the wide flavor palette that Redmi faces, how does its camera fare? 

At best, its good, even when compared to its more expensive siblings. One thing I appreciated from the Note 12’s processing is how it didn’t oversaturate every single shot. Over saturation tends to overblow details and thankfully that wasn’t the case for this device. During our out-of-town trip, it did well with shots of the sceneries we enjoyed outside the Metro.

Indoor shots taken with ample lighting did well, but there were instances where you would have appreciated a bit more saturation. That’s ultimately up to your tastes as a consumer, but that’s something to take note of nonetheless.

If there were shooting conditions the Note 12 struggled with, it’s night shots and situations with poor lighting conditions. This is rather common across all types of smartphones, but it was especially accentuated with this phone’s camera performance. It loses a lot of detail and color in tougher shooting conditions. It isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s still a weakness. 

Is this your GadgetMatch? 

For its price* is something you’ll almost always find with smartphones priced along this segment. Read the piece above this section; I never mentioned it once because I never felt like I had to limit its performance solely to its price point. The Redmi Note 12 is all of those things I described no matter what price you’d put it in.

It’s a cheap phone that’s good but it also comes with its drawbacks. Any lower-price smartphone will come with its own set of pros and cons. Yet, despite the sometimes inconsistent camera performance and inevitable bloatware, the Redmi Note 12 still impressed enough. 

It’s a good smartphone, whether you’re trying to save up on a couple of bucks, or you’re just about to purchase your first device. It’s a good First Dance to have; a smartphone you’d be proud to call your GadgetMatch.  

*The Redmi Note 12 comes in three variants with the following pricing:

  • 4+128GB, P8,999 (online only)
  • 6+128GB, P9,999
  • 8+128GB, P10,999

Online purchases are available via Xiaomi’s LazadaShopee, and TikTok Shop (@XiaomiPhilippines).

SEE ALSO: Redmi Note 12 Pro+ 5G Review: Midrange Madness


Apple M2 Max MacBook Pro 16-inch Review: Four months later

Insanely Powerful!



Apple silently revealed the revamped M2 Pro and M2 Max-powered MacBook Pros just last January 2023.

While the design isn’t any different from its predecessors, it promises significant boosts in performance.

However, this isn’t meant for those who already owned the M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pros launched in 2021.

Spoiler alert: This is a huge upgrade from the 16-inch Intel Core i9 MacBook Pro from 2019.

But would you compromise the portability of the 14-inch version over a bigger screen and battery?

Watch our review of the new M2 Max 16-inch MacBook Pro, four months later.

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How well do PlayStation games run on the ROG Ally?

Spoiler: Pretty good



ROG Ally, PlayStation Dual Sense

The ROG Ally has caused quite a buzz in the gaming community at large. Personally, I’m thrilled at the prospect of owning a handheld gaming PC/console to play games I otherwise would not have access to. I mainly play on my PlayStation 5 (PS5). Naturally, I was curious how some of my favorite games will run on the ROG Ally. 

Things are promising on paper. The ROG Ally is built to be able to run AAA titles. Here’s a quick look at the specs of the unit we had for recap:



CPU AMD Ryzen™ Z1 Extreme Processor 

      • 4nm 
      • Zen 4/ 8 core & 16 threads  
      • 24M cache 
      • CPU Clock: up to 5.10 Ghz 
      • TDP: 9 – 30 watts
GPU With AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme Config: 

  • AMD Radeon™ Graphics 
  • RDNA3 & 4G RAM capacity / 8.6 TFlops 
  • 12 CU 
  • GPU Clock: 2.7GHz
Panel Full HD (1920 x 1080), 120 Hz / 7 ms eDP1.4b, 500 nits, IPS-panel, 100%  sRGB, FreeSync™ Premium, Gorilla® Glass Victus™ and Gorilla® Glass DXC,  10-point Touchscreen 

Gyro support

Memory  16GB (LPDDR5 6400Mhz) dual channel LPDDR5 8GBx2 on board  memory
Audio  2 x 1W speakers with smart amp technology, Dolby Atmos®, Hi-Res Audio,  AI Noise Cancellation
Wi-Fi / Bluetooth  WiFi 6E (802.11ax) / Bluetooth® v5.2 
Storage 512GB (for Z1 Extreme config) 

+SD card slot UHS-2

I/O PORT ROG XG Mobile interface (8PCI express lanes) and USB Type-C  combo port (with USB 3.2 Gen2, DP 1.4 support) — (1x)

3.5mm Audio jack — (1x)

Micro SD slot (UHS-II, Micro SD 4.0) — (1x)

Battery  40Wh
Adapter  65W PD adapter, supports pass through charging
Dimensions  280.44 * 111.18 * 21.22 mm


PlayStation Studios on PC 

PlayStation, in the past couple of years, has decided to spread the love and let PC players experience some of the best they have to offer. Currently, there are 12 PlayStation exclusive titles playable on PC. And they’re available on either Steam or the Epic Games Store. 

In case you’re curious the available games are as follows: 

  • Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • God of War (2018)
  • Uncharted: The Legacy of Thieves Collection
  • Destiny 2: Lightfall 
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn
  • Returnal
  • Days Gone
  • Predator Hunting Grounds
  • Sackboy: A big Adventure
  • The Last of Us Part 1

PlayStation Asia was kind enough to give us codes for three of the 12 titles now available on PC. Here’s how they ran on the ROG Ally. 

Quick note: I played on Performance mode with brightness hovering at around 50-55% indoors in an air conditioned room. 

Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered

Marvel’s Spider-Man, along with NBA 2K, is my comfort game. Whenever I feel frustrated or just having a bad day, I fire up either game. On Spider-Man, I just swing aimlessly around the digital Manhattan that Insomniac built. 

It was such a delight to learn that I can do this on the go now too with Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered playing pretty darn well on the ROG Ally

I had the framerate limiter turned on, maxing out at 60. Despite that, I only reached a max of 31 fps with dips to as low as 15. It looks bad on paper, but is much more tolerable during actual gameplay. The dips usually happened during cutscenes. Majority of the gameplay hovered around 25-30 fps. 

ROG Ally, Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered

I knew it was never gonna reach the level of detail and smoothness that I get on the PS5 and LG C2 combo that I usually play on. There was plenty of noticeable stuttering especially during the busier sections of the game. But I didn’t think any of it was game breaking. 

Audio wasn’t as loud as I hoped it would be despite me playing in a pretty quiet room. I opted to pair it with Bluetooth earbuds (OnePlus Buds Pro 2) to get the most of the audio. There were no audio delays whatsoever which was a very welcome development. 

My average play time was about one hour and 20 minutes. That’s with the battery going from 100% to 20% each time. 

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Coming from the same Studio and pretty much being essentially the same game, Spider-Man: Miles Morales didn’t run too differently from Spider-Man Remastered.

I played in the exact same conditions: Indoor room, AC on, started at 100%, performance mode, and medium brightness settings. Curiously, the frame dips happened more during open-world swinging and not as much during cutscenes. This could be because of the busier version of New York due to the events of the game being set during the Christmas season. 

But the numbers weren’t too different. I still maxed at 31 fps, with most of the gameplay hovering around 25-30 fps, and the lowest dip coming in at 16fps. 

Again, nothing game breaking and it is much more tolerable during gameplay. Naturally, you have to have your expectations set properly. The ROG Ally is, after all, a handheld gaming PC. 

Average play time is around one hour and 25 minutes with about 75% to 80% of the battery life being consumed. 



Returnal is one of the titles I was most excited to try. I was curious about how the audio and controller rumble would translate to the ROG Ally. On the PS5, Audio and DualSense implementation are two of the game’s many strengths. 

Due to audio cues on enemies’ locations, this game is best played with earbuds/headphones on. The experience on the ROG Ally isn’t quite 3D Audio on PS5 levels, but it’s as close as it gets. 

The same can be said for the controller rumble. It’s not as precise nor finely implemented as the DualSense – that’s a unique feature after all. However, I was still thoroughly impressed with how the ROG Ally implemented rumble in certain sections of the game. The rumble effect is also a testament to how well-built the Ally is. Despite the internals shaking, the Ally never felt brittle nor that it would suddenly come apart. 

Knowing this is a shooter game, I turned the framerate limiter off and reached highs of 115 fps. The framerate did dip to as low as 15 fps which is about the widest variance I got from any game I played using the Ally. This did affect gameplay especially during sections where I had to deal with multiple enemies. 

I did experience plenty of crashes which isn’t ideal for a game like Returnal whose progress relies on you surviving as long as you can on a single run through. But this only happened during the first few minutes. After a while, it seemed like the ROG Ally had adjusted to the performance-demands of the game. 

It took about an hour and 10 minutes before I had to plug-in the Ally to not lose a playthrough. 

Remote Play?

ROG Ally, Dual Sense, Horizon Forbidden West

Since the ROG Ally is essentially a handheld gaming PC, you can certainly install the Remote Play app on it. However, you can’t just immediately use the gamepad. To play Horizon: Forbidden West, and generally just run the app, I had to pair the Ally with my DualSense controller.

You can map the gamepad so that it works but mapping isn’t an activity I enjoy nor did I have the time (I had to return the review unit) to do it. Other reviewers pointed to using a third-party app called Chiaki. But again, I didn’t have time to test it. I did see gameplay of it though so it seems to be working just fine. 

Knowing that you can do all these on the Ally actually makes you question the upcoming PlayStation Q handheld. Sure, the integration will likely be seamless. But its core function can already be replicated on other handhelds and handheld-like devices. I digress.

It’s worth noting that the relatively smooth experience I had with the ROG Ally was also aided by an internet connection that constantly hovers in the 250+ mbps range along with a Wi-Fi 6 router. 

The ROG Ally is PlayStation friendly 

If you want to know what it’s like playing PlayStation 5 games on a handheld device, the ROG Ally is easily one of the best devices to play with. The gameplay isn’t quite as smooth but you shouldn’t expect it to be. And yes, you’ll find yourself reaching for the power adapter after a little over an hour of playthrough. But being able to play AAA titles on a handheld device still feels crazy to me.

Having started gaming on a family computer and covering tech for a living, it’s still mind-blowing to me how far technology has come. The stuff I only dreamed of as a little fat gamer is coming true thanks to the ROG Ally and its contemporaries. 

The ROG Ally Z1 Extreme retails for US$ 699. The ROG Ally Z1 variant retails for US$ 599. Pre-orders begin on May 11. It will be available for sale worldwide on June 13, 2023.

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OnePlus Pad Review: If iPad Ran on Android

Give this Android tablet a chance



First announced during the Cloud 11 Launch Event in India way back in February 2023 together with the OnePlus 11, the newest OnePlus Pad seems to rival the very dominated tablet territory full of iPads.

And by that, even making direct accessory contenders such as the OnePlus Stylo, a Folio Case, and even a Magnetic Keyboard.

But is the experience even close?

Well, if you’re looking for an Android tablet less than what the latest entry-level iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab offers,

it’s a tablet you might want to try out — and our OnePlus Pad review might just entice you to buy one.

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