Xiaomi 12 vs Xiaomi Mi 11: has shrinkage hit Xiaomi’s flagship line?

The Xiaomi 12 was announced at the very end of 2021, setting it on a course to become one of the first flagship phones of 2022.

It could also turn out to be one of the finest. After all, the Xiaomi Mi 11 was one of our favorite smartphones of last year, earning a ringing endorsement in our 4.5-star review.

We haven’t had a chance to go hands-on with Xiaomi 12 just yet, but we do have all the key specifications – and a fair few press shots. Here’s how it’s shaping up to its illustrious predecessor.

Xiaomi 12 vs Xiaomi Mi 11 price and availability 

The Xiaomi 12 was announced on December 28, and rolled out in China on December 31. We’re likely looking at February or March for a global launch, though that remains to be officially confirmed.

It would more or less match the launch schedule of the Xiaomi Mi 11 if so. The Mi 11 was first announced in China on December 28, 2020, and received a global launch in February 2021.

Prices for the Xiaomi 12 start from CNY3,699 in China, which converts to around $580/ £430 /AU$800. The Xiaomi Mi 11 started from £749 / AU$1,099 (around $1,057) for the 128GB model, while the 256GB model launched for £799 (around $1,128).

While price conversions never work out as directly as indicated, the Xiaomi 12 still appears likely to launch for less money than the Mi 11 did. We’ll discuss potential reasons why in the following sections.

Xiaomi 12

A Xiaomi 12 (Image credit: Xiaomi )

Design

The Xiaomi 12 is a much smaller phone than the Xiaomi Mi 11 overall. It measures just 152.7 x 69.9 x 8.2mm, compared to the Mi 11’s 164.3 x 74.6 x 8.1mm.

At 179g, it’s also 17g lighter than its older brother. At this early stage, however, we have to say that we prefer the design of the Xiaomi Mi 11.

From the front, both phones have adopted curved display edges, which look great, and both screens are coated in tough Gorilla Glass Victus. However, the main aesthetic differences can be found on the back.

Xiaomi Mi 11

A Xiaomi Mi 11 (Image credit: Future)

At the time of its launch, the Mi 11’s stepped, curved camera module stood out in an increasingly copycat industry. It’s a little disappointing, then, to note that the Xiaomi 12 has reverted to a rather generic slab-like rectangle of a camera module. It’s a bit 2020.

We’ll have to go hands-on to find out for sure, but we like the look of the Xiaomi Mi 11 better at this early stage.

Display

Related to that size difference, the Xiaomi 12 has a much smaller display than its brother. We’re talking 6.28 inches compared to 6.81 inches.

Both are OLEDs with 120Hz refresh rates, but the older Xiaomi Mi 11 wins on three other counts. It’s much sharper, with a 1440 x 3200 (QHD+) resolution, whereas the Xiaomi 12 display has a mere 1080 x 2400 (FHD+) resolution.

Naturally, that aforementioned size difference means that you’re unlikely to notice a massive deficiency in sharpness. Still, the Xiaomi Mi 11 retains a higher 515ppi pixel density, compared to the Xiaomi 12’s 419ppi.

Xiaomi Mi 11

A Xiaomi Mi 11 (Image credit: Future)

The other way in which the older phone’s display tops its younger brother is brightness. The Xiaomi Mi 11 can hit an impressive 1,500 nits, whereas the Xiaomi 12 can only hit 1,100 nits.

Finally, the Xiaomi Mi 11 packs a 480Hz touch sampling rate. From what we can see, only the Xiaomi 12 Pro makes that mark in the current range.

Camera

Things diverge a little on the camera front.

The Xiaomi 12 packs a 50MP 1/1.56-inch wide sensor with an f/1.9 aperture. By contrast, the Xiaomi Mi 11 is led by a 108MP 1/1.33-inch wide sensor with an f/1.9. Both are supported by OIS.

It seems to be all equal on the ultra-wide front, with both phones packing a 13MP 1/3.06-inch f/2.4 123-degree sensor.

Both seem to share the same 5MP telemacro camera, too, which is capable of taking some impressive extreme close-up shots without having to put your phone right up to the subject. Our reviewer called it “the star of the show,” so we have no qualms with its return in the Xiaomi 12.

Xiaomi 12

A Xiaomi 12 (Image credit: Xiaomi )

What we do have a bit of an issue with is the continued lack of a telephoto lens. There was no optical zoom in the Xiaomi Mi 11, and there won’t be one in the Xiaomi 12 either.

Still, if the Xiaomi 12 does hit a significantly lower price, it will be much easier to overlook.

In terms of shot quality, we found that the Xiaomi Mi 11 took pretty decent, if not class-leading shots thanks to Xiaomi’s AI image processing smarts and pixel-binning techniques.

We’d hope that the Xiaomi 12 doesn’t roll back the quality too much, despite the change in main sensor. After all, it’s set to pack a superior SoC (see the next section), which brings with it enhanced image processing.

One area in which the Xiaomi 12 seems to surpass its predecessor with its selfie cam: a higher megapixel 32MP front camera. The Xiaomi Mi 11 only has a 20MP equivalent, though of course, you should never judge a camera by its pixel count.

Specs and performance

The Xiaomi 12 hasn’t massively impressed in spec terms so far, but it’s quite clearly faster than the Xiaomi Mi 11.

This is the first phone to use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, which will be the go-to flagship choice for 2022. We haven’t had a chance to put it through its paces as yet, but expect it to top the Snapdragon 888 in all respects.

That’s the same Snapdragon 888 that powers the Xiaomi Mi 11, of course. We’ll let you know once we’ve had the opportunity to test the Xiaomi 12’s relative performance, and will report back here.

Both phones offer 8GB or 12GB of RAM, and both also offer 128 and 256GB storage variants. There’s no real difference in the memory capacity stakes, then.

In terms of media playback, both phones pack stereo speakers tuned by audio specialist Harman Kardon.

Xiaomi 12 phone

The Xiaomi 12 (Image credit: Xiaomi)

Battery

There isn’t an awful lot of difference when it comes to battery capacity. The Xiaomi 12 features a 4,500mAh cell, which is only fractionally smaller than the Xiaomi Mi 11’s 4,600mAh cell.

Given that the newer phone has a smaller, less sharp and less bright display, this could give it a boost in terms of stamina. Especially when you also factor in that more efficient Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip.

This would be most welcome, since our reviewer found the Xiaomi Mi 11’s battery life to be underwhelming. They would typically only manage to last a full day if they kept their usage to the minimum.

The Xiaomi 12 also promises to improve matters when it comes to charging speeds. It comes with a 67W charger in the box, whereas the Xiaomi Mi 11 only had a 55W plug. This was still enough to get you from 0% to 100% in around 45 minutes, but the Xiaomi 12 will do so in a claimed 39 minutes.

Both phones support 50W wireless charging, which remains nice and swift by 2022 standards.

Xiaomi Mi 11

A Xiaomi Mi 11 (Image credit: Future)

Takeaway

We haven’t had a chance to go hands-on with the Xiaomi 12 yet, but it might just feel like a rather disappointing roll back from the Xiaomi Mi 11 in certain respects.

That’s because Xiaomi appears to be pursuing a slightly different market with the Xiaomi 12. It isn’t a straight replacement for the Xiaomi Mi 11 at all.

The Xiaomi Mi 11 walked and talked like a fully fledged flagship, but with one or two smart compromises enabling a slightly lower price. The Xiaomi 12, by comparison, is a much more compact phone with a scaled back screen and (possibly) camera, and we’re expecting a lower price as a result.

If that’s the case, then the Xiaomi 12 will present an intriguingly attainable flagship option. The only question is, will we love it as much as the Xiaomi Mi 11? Will it balance price and performance just right?

Watch this space.

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