Xiaomi is going from strength to strength, with the Chinese company recently passing Apple to take the number two spot for worldwide smartphone shipments in Q2 2021, close on the heels of Samsung - so all eyes are turning to the brand's next flagship, the Xiaomi Mi 12 - or, rather, the Xiaomi 12, according to the company's new naming system.
The success isn't too surprising, as Xiaomi has an impressive range of products, not least at the premium end of the market where it has been making huge strides in recent years. This looks set to continue now with the anticipated release of the Xiaomi 12, recently rumoured to be the first phone in the world to use an entirely new type of RAM.
Here’s all we know so far about the upcoming flagship phone.
When is the release date for the Xiaomi 12?
We’ve yet to receive a firm date on when we’ll see the Xiaomi 12. But we can use its predecessors as an indication of when it might appear. Here’s when they all made their debuts:
- Xiaomi Mi 11 – December 2020 (China), March 2021 (Global)
- Xiaomi Mi 10 – February 2020 (China), March 2020 (Global)
- Xiaomi Mi 9 – March 2019 (China), April 2019 (Global)
- Xiaomi Mi 8 – May 2018 (China), November 2018 (Global)
As you can see there is something of a pattern that’s been established, with the global version of the new Xiaomi flagships generally arriving in March or April. With this as our guide, it seems likely that Xiaomi will continue with this schedule and release the 12 in December 2021 with a global release following a few months later in 2022.
However, one site predicts an earlier Chinese debut, in November. MyDrivers reports that this is when the Xiaomi 12 will debut, though doesn't name its source. One reason to take this with a pinch of salt is that the site also says the phone will feature the Snapdragon 898, the rumoured name of Qualcomm's next flagship chip - but these chips are traditionally launched every December, so an early Xiaomi 12 launch would also necessitate an unusually early Snapdragon reveal.
Either way, you’re sure to be offered a range of options when the launch arrives, as Xiaomi has bolstered its line-up in recent year to include Pro, Lite, SE, T and Ultra models that all hit different price points and include specs to match. They spread the releases out across the year though, so they may not line up side-by-side when the Xiaomi 12 is unveiled - and in fact it's already been rumoured that the 12 Ultra will arrive in June 2022.
Remember that for the moment Xiaomi doesn't tend to launch its phones officially in the US, so while we're expecting a global launch, it's unlikely that this will include North America.
How much will the Xiaomi 12 cost?
Again, there’s no official price for the Xiaomi 12, as it’s still a while before we expect it to be launched. So, once more, we turn to the previous models.
- Xiaomi Mi 11 – £749/€749 (around $910)
- Xiaomi Mi 10 – £799/€799 (around $1,095)
- Xiaomi Mi 9 – £499/€449 (around $685)
- Xiaomi Mi 8 – £459/€459 (around $630)
Over time the range has risen in price. The main jump was between the Mi 9 and the Mi 10, with the Mi 11 staying around the same price point. As a 12 Ultra is also rumoured to follow on from the Mi 11 Ultra, which cost £1,199/€1,199, we hope that Xiaomi can keep the price tag the same when the new model arrives.
Why isn't it called the Mi 12?
While 2021's flagship Xiaomi phone was the Mi 11, its follow-up is no longer expected to be called the Mi 12.
Xiaomi has confirmed, following a report by XDA Developers, that it is retiring the Mi branding - itself only used outside of China - to simplify its brand. As a result, the new flagship is expected to simply be the Xiaomi 12.
"Starting in 2021 Q3, Xiaomi’s product series 'Mi' will be renamed to 'Xiaomi'," the company said in a statement. "This change will unify our global brand presence and close the perception gap between the brand and its products. This change may take some time to take effect in all regions."
What are the specs for the Xiaomi 12?
We’ve seen a few rumours already circulating that could give us some pointers on the intentions of Xiaomi.
One potential first could be that the Xiaomi 12 launches with the brand-new Qualcomm Snapdragon 898 processor that’s expected to arrive by the end of 2021, superseding the current king of the hill the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+.
The processor will use a 4nm manufacturing process and is expected to bring improvements both in terms of performance and energy efficiency. These margins can make a big difference in the fiercely contested area of the market that the Xiaomi 12 will be entering, although it won’t hold the advantage for long as all the premium handsets will no doubt come equipped with the new silicon.
It's subsequently been reported that the Xiaomi 12 will also be one of the first phones to support the new, faster LPDDR5X RAM standard - and thus that the Snapdragon 898 will also support the format. This new RAM type has a max data rate of 8,533 Mbps - a substantial increase from the 6,400 Mbps cap in LPDDR5.
MyDrivers also reports that the 12 could feature an LTPO panel, which enables variable refresh rates, although the top will remain 120Hz. There are also rumours on Spanish site XiaomiAdictos that the display could boast a 2K resolution.
Chinese tech site MyDrivers reports that the 12 series - most likely the Ultra specifically - could come with the world’s first 200Mp main camera, which would be a jump up from the 108Mp shooter in the Mi 11. We’ve already seen similar rumours for the Samsung S22 Ultra, although this is in flux as there are counter-rumours that the Korean company has decided not to use the sensor on its next generation devices.
If that’s the case, then it leaves the door open for Xiaomi to steal in and claim the 200Mp crown - though it would almost certainly do so with Samsung hardware, ironically enough. Samsung's ISOCELL HP1 is so far the only 200Mp sensor on the market, and since Xiaomi has a history of using high-end camera hardware from the Korean company this is almost certainly what we'll see in the 12 Ultra.
Of course, larger amounts of pixels don’t necessarily equate to better images, but this sensor has a few tricks up its sleeve. It can shoot 200Mp images with 0.64μm pixels, or use quad-pixel binning to produce 50Mp images with 1.28μm pixels - which is also how it achieves 8K video. Most impressively, in low light it uses 16-in-1 pixel binning technology to shoot at 12.5Mp with large 2.56μm pixels, theoretically getting the same benefits as much larger sensors.
Other possible camera features from the sensor include a Smart ISO mode that combines low and high ISO shots into one, staggered HDR, multisampling, and 'Double Super PD' autofocus. You can find out more about all of those in this short intro video from Samsung:
Reliable leaker Digital Chat Station has added more camera details on Chinese social media site Weibo. He's repeated the 200Mp claim, but specifically in regard to the 12 Ultra. He later added that Xiaomi is testing a 10x optical zoom periscope lens, presumably for that phone, but that it's still considering a more "practical" 5x zoom option.
As for the regular Xiaomi 12 and possible 12 Pro, he says Xiaomi is currently testing a triple 50Mp setup, with 50Mp sensors used for each of the main lens, ultrawide, and periscope.
Battery and charging
As for battery, MyDrivers also reports that the Xiaomi 12 will come equipped with 120W fast charging and possibly 100W wireless charging. The Ultra is set to be even more impressive, and the site claims it will be the first mass production phone to feature Xiaomi's 200W wired HyperCharge tech, capable of fully charging a 4000mAh battery in just eight minutes.
No rumours on other specs yet but do check back regularly as we’ll be updating this feature when more details become available. In the meantime, try reading our guide to the best Xiaomi phones and best new phones coming soon to see what else could be tugging at your credit card.