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Android 12 beta: can Android 11 tell us when your smartphone will get it?

Android 11 for OnePlus Nord
(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

We’re expecting to hear all about Android 12 at the Google IO keynotes conference on May 18, including its possible features and changes over Android 11. Once that’s done, there will be one big question on everyone’s minds: ‘when can I use Android 12?’

It’s very likely that the final Android 12 build will start rolling out towards the end of the year, with the Pixel 6 likely to be the first phone running it, or possibly a handset from Vivo (as the Vivo X51 5G was the first Android 11 phone), and with other devices slowly getting it over time.

Before then, though, some people will probably be able to test out Google’s new operating system, and that’s through the Android 12 betas that might launch. 

The Android 12 betas are different to the developer previews you might have heard of - those are designed for people developing Android apps, to get a glimpse at the new operating system, but betas are for all users.

Google hasn’t said anything about the Android 12 betas just yet - we’ll likely have to wait until Google IO, or even later, for any official word on a release date or compatible phones. We can make some guesses, though, based on what happened for Android 11.

Android 12 beta: when could it start?

Google IO

Google IO 2019 (Image credit: TechRadar)

Google IO didn’t happen in 2020, but before cancellation it was scheduled for June 3 - the launch of the first Android 11 beta was meant to happen then too, but was postponed. We finally saw the first beta on June 10.

That’s three weeks later than Google IO is happening this year, so will we see the first Android 12 beta kick off on the May 18 date of the event, or perhaps one year on from the first Android 11 beta, in early June?

The former is more likely. Google likely wouldn’t pick these dates for IO if it didn’t have its software ready for debut, and the 2020 dates were later than usual due to Covid-19. In addition, the company’s Android 12 beta timeline suggests the first one will come in May

Google’s timeline says subsequent betas will come in June and July, with a final release in August, which is earlier than Android 11. This dates could get changed nearer the time, though, depending on the results of the first beta.

Android 12 beta: what phones could be compatible?

Google PIxel 5

Google Pixel 5 (Image credit: Future)

While Android betas usually start on Pixel phones, 2020 was a bit different, and quite a few companies got Android 11 betas for their smartphones. We’ll put the full list below for you to see:

If we assumed the same list would apply for the Android 12 beta, but for newer generations of each phone, the compatibility list would look like this:

Obviously this is a very rough list, and many companies may opt to develop the beta for different versions of their phones - There’s no Poco F3 Pro for example, so Xiaomi might pick a different Poco phone or perhaps a Redmi or Mi one instead.

In addition, new companies might get in on the Android 12 beta, or alternatively decide they don’t want any part of the beta program this year. So take that list under advisement, as a very rough guess.

Don’t expect Apple’s iPhones to get involved, as they run iOS, and with Huawei’s own operating system HarmonyOS expected any day now, the chances of that company embracing the beta are almost zero.

Obviously, the Android 12 beta will be an opt-in venture. If you have one of the listed phones, but want to stick with the stable Android 11 build, you’ll definitely be able to. 

Tom Bedford

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.