Every Xiaomi 12 leak brings it further from what made Xiaomi phones great

Xiaomi Mi 11
Xiaomi Mi 11 (Image credit: Future)

The Xiaomi 12 is leaking thick and fast - one day we'll hear about a super-high-res camera, the next a report will peg it with a rumored uber-fast Android chipset. It's shaping up to be a really premium Xiaomi phone.

Case in point: a new report from popular leaker Digital Chat Station suggests the phone will have three 50MP rear sensors paired with main, ultra-wide and periscope (for 5x optical zoom) lenses. That compares to the Mi 11's 108MP main, 8MP ultra-wide and 5MP telemacro very favorably, both thanks to the high-res sensors across the board, and the presence of a periscope zoom lens.

That's much more in line with the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, which had a 50MP main, 48MP ultra-wide and 48MP 5x zoom periscope lens, so it sounds like the Mi 12 could be a lot like the Mi 11 Ultra.

That Ultra phone cost a princely sum, setting you back £1,199 / AU$1,799 (roughly $1,600) to get it. It would follow, then, that the Xiaomi 12 could have a similar price, or will at least be more expensive than the £749 / AU$1,099 (about $1,040) Mi 11 - specs like this don't come cheap.

Some might find that okay, with the justification 'Xiaomi is a premium phone maker, after all' but the company actually paid its dues doing something much different.

Analysis: away from the mid-range

The Xiaomi Mi 9 in 2019 wasn't the company's first phone in the west, but it was the first to launch in Europe and Asia at roughly the same time, and it really helped to put the company on the map.

The Mi 9 was a solid mid-range Android phone with commendable specs and a low price, and it certainly impressed us. But it wasn't until later that year that the Mi Note 10 came along to really blow us away.

The Xiaomi Mi Note 10 had five rear cameras including a 108MP main snapper, a 2x telephoto camera dedicated to portrait pictures, a 5x zoom camera and more. It really wowed us with its photography power and svelte design, and the super-low price was an added bonus.

These two medium-cost phones were arguably more interesting than anything Xiaomi has come up with since, at least from a consumer perspective (the Mi 11 Ultra's second screen was interesting, but more in a 'why are they doing that' kind of way).

We haven't seen anything similar since though, with the Xiaomi Mi 10 and Mi 11 lines consisting of premium devices, and with the Mi Note 11 never materializing.

Sure, Xiaomi still makes mid-range phones - its Poco line is fairly popular, and even its top-end devices get lower-price siblings in the form of the T line, with the Xiaomi 11T expected soon.

The difference with these devices, though, is that they're lower-cost responses to pre-existing phones, not brand-new devices with unique specs and designs of their own. So while they're still worthwhile for consumers, they're not as exciting or novel for tech fans.

All these new Xiaomi 12 rumors suggest it'll be a super-premium smartphone, and we look forward to seeing what new tech the company brings. But for phone fans who can't afford top-end devices, or for people who loved Xiaomi's innovative streak, we can't help but wish for a return to the 'flagship features, mid-range price' devices that put the company on the map.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.