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Xiaomi 12 potential release date, specs, price and more

Xiaomi Mi 11 review
The Xiaomi Mi 11. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Xiaomi 12 should be the Chinese company's next major flagship phone, and one that will provide an alternative for users tired of Apple and Samsung devices. It probably won't be any less expensive, but it should still offer excellent value and a few tricks that the new Galaxy S-series or the new iPhone lineup won't be able to manage.

While you can't buy Xiaomi phones in the U.S., U.K. buyers would be foolish to sleep on the next Xiaomi's likely excellent hardware. We're anticipating enormous cameras, the latest chipset and some of the fastest charging ever seen on phones, according to the latest rumors.

Read on for the rumored details on Xiaomi's next phone, and the reason why the name's slightly different from last year's model.

Xiaomi 12 vs Xiaomi Mi 12

If you've followed Xiaomi's phones for a while, you might be wondering why this phone is the Xiaomi 12, and not the Xiaomi Mi 12. That's due to a spot of rebranding by the company, which was announced in August (via XDA Developers). The company's flagship line of phones, as well as other products that used the "Mi" name, will do so no longer. That's why we're just calling this next Xiaomi phone the 12 or 12 series.

Xiaomi 12 potential release date 

The Xiaomi 12 should be arriving by the end of the year. Its predecessor, the Xiaomi Mi 11, emerged at the end of December 2020, so we should expect similar timing for the 12 this year. However, it may not go on sale outside of China until March 2022, since Xiaomi did this with the Mi 11. The company has a habit of launching its phones for its home market first, then globally quite a bit later.

One rumor (via MyDrivers) claims there's going to be an even earlier launch in China in November. That could mean we'll see a January 2022 launch as a result, which would mean Xiaomi could probably end up competing for attention with the Samsung Galaxy S22; a bold move if that's proves to be the case.

Xiaomi 12 price

We don't anticipate the Xiaomi 12 being much of a bargain. The Xiaomi Mi 11 sells for £749, which while a little cheaper than a Samsung Galaxy S21 or iPhone 12, doesn't make much of a difference when paid for monthly as part of a phone contract. 

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra on the other hand sells for £1,199, which is a little more expensive than the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra or iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Xiaomi 12 rumored specs

One of the most notable potential changes to the Xiaomi 12 is that it could use an under-display selfie camera. This is still a rare feature found on only a couple of phones, but it's not unreasonable to believe this is about to hit mainstream flagship phones.

However, we've also had other leaks say there's going to be a punch-hole notch like the Mi 11 had. If Xiaomi wants to focus on overall photo quality, keeping the punch-hole is a good decision. 

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra review

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We'd expect the display to stay large — the Mi 11 series all used 6.8-inch AMOLED panels. However, what could be new is the introduction of an LTPO display (via MyDrivers), which would give the 12 series a fully variable 120Hz refresh rate like the Galaxy S21 Ultra or OnePlus 9 Pro, rather than the adaptive pre-set refresh rates the Mi 11 series used.

On the back of the phone, there's the possibility of Xiaomi fitting the 12, with a huge 200MP camera, at least according to Weibo leaker Digital Chat Station. This sensor may even be the Samsung ISOCELL HP1 that was recently announced. This could end up reserved just for the 12 Ultra (as DCS later claimed), or for the basic or Pro models while the Ultra gets something entirely different.

The reason we're expecting a two-tier system is because another rumor from the same source claims there could be a 12 series model with three 50MP sensors, one of which will be a periscope telephoto camera. This roughly matches the camera specs of the Mi 11 Ultra, so we might expect this model to be the 12 Ultra. 

We'd expect Xiaomi to use the latest Snapdragon chip in the 12 series, even without the leaks supporting it. The Mi 11 series used the Snapdragon 888, so it's expected (as well as tipped by Digital Chat Station) that the successor to this chip, perhaps called the Snapdragon 895, will used in the 12 series.

Joining that chip could be the latest in smartphone memory: LPDDR5X RAM. A report from MyDrivers claims this faster memory will be fitted in the 12 series, which could give the phone a performance edge over other phones using the rumored Snapdragon 895 chip.

We should expect rapid charging of some kind for the Xiaomi 12, although exactly how fast remains to be seen. The current Mi 11 line charges at 55W wired and 50W wireless, while the Mi 11 Ultra charges at 67W wired and wirelessly. This is already pretty fast, but it could get faster.

Xiaomi's Mix 4, currently only sold in China, charges at an impressive 120W, which fills the phone's 4,500 mAh battery in just 15 minutes. This is much quicker than any of our fastest charging phones picks current manage. So if this appeared on the 12 series, it would be quite a selling point.

That's of course assuming that Xiaomi doesn't try to go even faster. Xiaomi HyperCharge is the company's latest charging tech which powers up phones with a 200W wired adapter or a 120W wireless charging pad. This probably won't be production-ready by the time the 12 series is expected to launch, but it would cement Xiaomi's status when it came to fast charging. 

Xiaomi 12 outlook

Going by the tidbits of information so far the Xiaomi 12 could be a rather impressive piece of phone hardware. The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra impressed up, so we'd expect it's successor to do the same. 

And it'll have to. As we've seen with the likes of the Galaxy S21 and iPhone 12, some flagship phones are back to below the $1,000 mark, meaning those that want to compete with the tow big brands will need to offer some serious hardware or smart features. But so far it looks like the Xiaomi 12 has a lot of potential. 

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Richard Priday

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. He's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.