Xiaomi had a stellar year for its phone business. The flagship Mi 11 and Mi 11 Ultra are among the best Android phones of the year, and the budget-focused Redmi Note 10 series solidified Xiaomi's position as the leading manufacturer in this category. In fact, strong showing in the budget segment has allowed Xiaomi to overtake Samsung, with the Chinese manufacturer now the world's largest phone manufacturer.
With such a strong portfolio in 2021, it will be interesting to see how Xiaomi builds on its flagship series next year. We already know there will be a few changes; for starters, the phones will be sold under the Xiaomi 11 moniker, with the brand getting rid of its Mi label.
If last year is any indication, Xiaomi is likely to announce the Xiaomi 12 series in China at the end of the year, with official availability kicking off sometime in Q1 2022. A slate of leaks over the last few weeks have unearthed a lot of details about the upcoming phones, so if you're interested in Xiaomi's 2022 flagships, here's what you need to know.
Xiaomi 12 series may include a Mini model
While the Mi 11 and Mi 11 Ultra stole the show for Xiaomi this year, the brand released a lot of devices in the series, including the mid-range Mi 11 Lite, Mi 11 Lite 5G, Mi 11 Pro, Mi 11X, and the Mi 11X Pro. A few devices like the Mi 11X and 11X Pro were rebranded under the POCO label for global markets, with the likes of the Mi 11 Pro limited to China.
For 2022, we're likely to get a similar showing. The standard Xiaomi 12 is set to be joined by the Xiaomi 12 Lite, 12 Pro, and a 12 Ultra model. Interestingly, a few leaks have pointed to a Xiaomi 12 Mini that is powered by the Snapdragon 870 and featuring a 6.3-inch panel.
For the Xiaomi 12, it is likely the manufacturer will go with upgraded 120Hz AMOLED screens with tiny cutouts for the front camera modules, and under the hood, we'll see Qualcomm's 2022 flagship Snapdragon 898 chipset. Xiaomi is one of the first to roll out devices powered by Qualcomm's latest designs, and that won't change next year.
There could also be a Xiaomi 12 Ultra Enhanced
If Xiaomi is doing a smaller version of the Xiaomi 12, it's only fair that we get a larger option that includes the latest camera hardware that the manufacturer has to offer. In 2021, the Mi 11 Ultra was this device, but if a recent leak is any indication, there will be a Xiaomi 12 Ultra Enhanced model launching next year.
It's likely that the Xiaomi 12 Ultra Enhanced could feature Xiaomi's under-screen camera tech and an even larger primary camera than the one we got on the Mi 11 Ultra this year. Details are light on this device at this moment, but we should be hearing more as we get closer to launch.
Xiaomi is likely to team up with Leica
Another leak suggests Xiaomi will partner with German camera powerhouse Leica for the cameras on the Xiaomi 12 portfolio. Leica is well-known in this category for its collaboration with Huawei in the past, leading to outstanding cameras in the likes of the Huawei P30 and P40, and it now looks like the German brand is taking its innovations to Xiaomi.
This should be exciting news if you're interested in Xiaomi's flagships; the manufacturer already made huge strides in the camera front this year with the Mi 11 series, and teaming up with Leica should give it an added edge. As for the hardware itself, the latest we have on the Xiaomi 12 series suggests the brand is using newer 50MP modules for the primary lens, but for now, there's no details on what the Xiaomi 12 Ultra and the 12 Ultra Enhanced will sport.
Xiaomi 12 series pricing could be the same as this year
The Mi 11 started out at $699, with the Mi 11 Ultra going up to the equivalent of $1,299. We'll have to wait a few weeks to know about the Xiaomi 12 pricing, but it should be in line with this year's models. Xiaomi prides itself on value, and one of the reasons the Mi 11 did so well in global markets is because it was positioned slightly lower than the Galaxy S21. In fact, that's true for all models in the Mi 11 series, and Xiaomi would be looking to continue that streak in 2022 against the Galaxy S22.
Xiaomi 12 series is launching in December
Xiaomi announces its flagship series a few weeks after Qualcomm unveils its latest chipsets, so we should be hearing more about the Xiaomi 12 series in the month of December. That was the case with the Mi 11, but it was a few months before the phone was sold globally. We'll have to wait and see if that's the case this time as well, but on the bright side, we don't have to wait too long to find out what the Xiaomi 12 series has to offer.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.