(Image credit: Future)
Despite radio silence until November, the Xiaomi 12 has started leaking regularly, so we’re starting to get a clearer picture as to how this upcoming Xiaomi phone could look.
The Xiaomi 12 is set to be the company’s next flagship Android phone, and it’s set to debut in China on December 28. A global launch will likely fall in early 2022.
This upcoming Android phone could end up being one of the top smartphones of the year, unless any Lite, Pro or Ultra version launched alongside is even better – it’s one of the most anticipated mobiles of 2022 too.
We gave 2021’s Xiaomi Mi 11 a very good score, but there’s always something a brand can do to improve, especially when you look at the Mi 11 Lite 5G and Mi 11 Ultra which also had their issues (though were good overall).
Xiaomi 12 leaks were quiet for a good long while, but they’ve started dropping faster and faster, and we’ve collected all the ones worth knowing about below. Read on to find out everything you need to know.
Xiaomi 12: cut to the chase
- What is it? Xiaomi’s 2022 flagship phone
- When is it out? December 28 in China, 2022 rest of world
- How much will it cost? Expect a premium price
Xiaomi 12 release date and price
The Xiaomi 12 series will make its debut in China on December 28. That much has been confirmed, although we don’t know what time of the day the event will be or what handsets we’ll be hearing about.
If Xiaomi follows previous years, you can expect the handsets to debut in other markets in the next few months. For the Xiaomi Mi 11 series, the company debuted them in China in December 2020 and brought them to markets like the UK in February 2021.
We wouldn’t expect the US or Australia to get these handsets, but we do expect them to arrive in the UK.
Regarding a Xiaomi 12 price, one sketchy leak points to a starting price of CNY 3,699 (around $580 / £435 / AU$800). However, the source wasn’t convinced this was accurate, and in any case conversions never will be.
For reference, the Xiaomi Mi 11 launched at £749 / AU$1,099 (around $1,040), which put it roughly in line with the Samsung Galaxy S21 and OnePlus 9 in terms of price – we’d expect a similar competition again in 2022.
Xiaomi 12 design and display
We’ve now had an official look at the Xiaomi 12, which you can see in the image below. This was accompanied by text saying ‘two flagships’, suggesting that only two phones will land at the December 28 launch – presumably the Xiaomi 12 and the Xiaomi 12 Pro, as the latter has since been mentioned by the company.
There’s not much to see in the image though, other than seemingly flat screens and punch-hole selfie cameras.
Xiaomi has also confirmed that the standard Xiaomi 12 has a fairly compact 6.28-inch screen, and said that the Xiaomi 12 Pro has a 2K AMOLED screen with a refresh rate that can vary from 1Hz to 120Hz.
Beyond that, a leak has suggested that the standard Xiaomi 12 has a 1080 x 2400 screen with a 120Hz refresh rate, and we’ve seen some fan-made renders of the Xiaomi 12. While they’re not official, they’re supposedly based on real leaks about the phone.
The screen and design looks roughly the same as on the Mi 11, but there’s an extra rear camera, and no front-facing camera. This doesn’t mean selfies are forbidden, but that the phone could have an under-display snapper, like the ZTE Axon 20 5G. That’s at odds with the official image we’ve seen above though, so it’s either inaccurate, or it’s showing a premium model.
It’s also directly contradicted by one leak, with a top leaker suggesting the Mi 12 will still have a punch-hole cut-out for the main camera like its predecessors.
A second leak has contradicted the fan-made renders too, as apparently the Xiaomi 12 will have the same rear camera layout as the Mi 10T Pro, with one big snapper joined with loads of smaller ones.
But another leak has shown a very similar, but also slightly different, bump layout, making this Cyclops-style camera bump design seem pretty likely for at least one model of the phone.
We’ve also seen case leaks of the entire series, and while the normal and Pro phones have fairly standard looks, the Ultra’s rear camera block looks wild, with spaces for eight different lenses or sensors.
Looks like that Xiaom’s design team has been on a research trip again, if this case is legit. #Xiaomi12Ultra pic.twitter.com/oet0UXUOlODecember 9, 2021
Finally, we’ve also heard that there could be a Xiaomi 12X with a 6.28-inch 1080 x 2400 AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate.
Xiaomi 12 camera and battery
One big leak suggests the Xiaomi 12 will have a 192MP or 200MP main camera, either of which would be the highest-res camera we’ve seen on a smartphone.
A separate leak backs up this high-res camera rumor. The rumor also says the vanilla and Pro models could have similar cameras to the Mi 11 Ultra – so a 50MP main, 5x periscope and ultra-wide combo. We’ve also heard that the Xiaomi 12X will have a 50MP main snapper.
So it’s a bit unclear what the main camera sensor will be, with rumors all over the shop from 50MP to 200MP.
Elsewhere, we’ve heard that the Xiaomi 12 Ultra will have cameras tuned by Leica, a camera company that also works with Huawei and Nokia.
A sketchy leak meanwhile points to a 50MP main snapper, a 13MP ultra-wide, and a 3x zoom telephoto for the standard Xiaomi 12 – but even the source seemed unconvinced by this.
Xiaomi itself has confirmed the selfie camera on the front will have a 32MP resolution.
On the battery front, before we heard anything specifically about the Xiaomi 12, Xiaomi unveiled a new tech called Xiaomi HyperCharge, which offers 200W wired charging and 120W wireless charging. That’s supposedly enough to fully charge a 4,000mAh battery in just 8 minutes with wired charging, or in 15 minutes wireless.
The company hasn’t said this will be used in the Xiaomi 12, but we’d think it’s likely to arrive in a phone before too long, so the Xiaomi 12 (or one of its siblings) is a likely candidate.
We have heard a rumor that the Xiaomi 12 will get 67W charging though. A second leak (taking the form of the image below) has also pointed to 67W charging, along with 30W wireless charging and a 4,500mAh battery. So 67W is looking likely, but perhaps the Pro or Ultra model will sport 200W charging.
Xiaomi 12 specs and features
Xiaomi has confirmed this will be the first phone from the brand to sport the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset. That’s a top-end processor which will provide plentiful processing power.
That said, this chipset might not come to every model, with the Xiaomi 12X rumored to have a lower end Snapdragon 870 chipset. So this would likely sit at or near the bottom of the Xiaomi 12 range.
A leak meanwhile has pointed to a choice of 8GB or 12GB of RAM in the standard Xiaomi 12, along with 128GB or 256GB of storage.
What Xiaomi 12 phones are we expecting?
We’ve heard about quite a few different Xiaomi 12 phones in the family including two Lite models (one of which might be called the Xiaomi 12X), the standard edition, a Pro and an Ultra model.
Most recently we heard about the Xiaomi 12 Ultra Enhanced, an even more premium version of the top-end phone, though we don’t know what distinguishes this from the other model.
Plus, there are also rumors of a Xiaomi 12 Mini handset as well so it may be we see an extra handset debut in a smaller form factor.
What we want to see
This wish list of features for the Xiaomi 12 is based on the Mi 11 series (including the Ultra) as well as other Xiaomi phones, and what the company’s competitors are doing.
1. Lower prices
When it burst onto the Western phone markets, Xiaomi made a name for itself with its ‘flagship killer’ phones, that had similar specs to top offerings from Samsung and OnePlus (itself the original flagship killer), but with much lower prices.
With the Mi 11 that’s no longer the case – the vanilla phone and Ultra model both match rivals in terms of prices. The Mi 11 wasn’t too expensive as such, but the competitive edge that put Xiaomi ahead has gone.
We’d like to see the Mi 12 undercut its contemporaries, so it can put itself ahead of them in a more palpable way. If there’s another Ultra model, we’d like to see that much more affordable, as the Mi 11 Ultra arguably wasn’t worth its cost.
2. A cleaner user interface
MIUI, the Android fork Xiaomi uses on its phones, has some really great features and some absolutely horrible ones. The company needs to sort it out.
It’s true that MIUI presents loads of customization options, more so than some other Android forks, and the interface has solid security.
But on the other hand MIUI comes with loads of bloatware, has an annoying security scan pop-up every time you install an app, and is really, really buggy. These issues need fixing before we can wholeheartedly love Xiaomi phones.
3. New photography modes
We’re listing something here that we almost definitely will see – but this is a list of what we want to see, and Xiaomi’s new camera modes are often a treat to play with.
For photography and videography in the camera app, Xiaomi often brings new modes that rivals don’t have. There are loads of effects-heavy video modes called Movie Effects, automatic color editing for photography (more in-depth than just filters), and the sky editing mode that lets you completely change the skyline and weather effects for photos.
We’re already excited to see what the Mi 12 brings, as the fun modes will likely make using the camera a treat.
4. Better battery life
The Xiaomi Mi 11 series was plagued by a consistent problem, in that the phones just didn’t have very good battery lives.
While each phone had a huge battery, it doesn’t seem like the software or features were optimized very well, causing the power to drain quickly. In particular the Mi 11 Ultra had an overheating problem which caused the charge to plummet.
Clearly bigger isn’t better in this case – we’d like Xiaomi to roll out more battery optimizations that save the phones from dying so quickly.
5. Improved fingerprint scanner
Not all Xiaomi phones have in-screen fingerprint scanners, but the ones that do often mess up this feature a little bit.
Some in-screen scanners can be temperamental, meaning your finger sometimes gets rejected even if it should work. This can sometimes be a software issue, other times just an issue with the sensor being too small.
Xiaomi needs to figure out a fix for these fingerprint sensors, because they’re pretty annoying to use otherwise.
Staff Writer, Phones
Tom’s role in the TechRadar team is as a staff writer specializing in phones and tablets, but he also takes on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness trackers and more.