The iPhone 14 might not be the most exciting smartphone launch this year

Xiaomi 12
A Xiaomi 12 (Image credit: Future)

You might have thought that the iPhone 14 is the biggest smartphone launch coming this year - after all, the last few months of each year are usually dominated by Apple and its newest line of devices - but you might be wrong.

It sounds like the Xiaomi 13 could launch way ahead of time, and it might end up stealing some of Apple's thunder if it ends up being as exciting as we hope. This comes from top leaker Digital Chat Station, who took to Chinese social media platform Weibo to share the good news.

Apparently, the Xiaomi 13 might launch in November 2022 - this is earlier than we expected, as the Xiaomi 12 debuted in December 2021. The leaker says that progress is a month ahead of last year, which would hint toward an earlier launch.

This is all regarding the China launch of the Xiaomi flagship - if you're wondering why you only saw adverts for the 12 long after December, it's because the global launch was March 2022. We'd expect that pattern to repeat for the Xiaomi 13 phones.

If Digital Chat Station is correct, the Xiaomi 13 might land a month earlier, and as such be a closer rival to Apple's newest iPhones, which likely won't land too long before that, though it'd be a surprisingly early launch. We'd also likely see the global unveiling brought forward, which could put its global launch around the same time as the Samsung Galaxy S23 family.

The leak continues that the new phones - note the plural, with two mentioned, likely meaning a Xiaomi 13 Pro alongside the standard model - will get the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset (a likelihood, given that the 12 models have the 8 Gen 1) and will use Android 13, while one of the phones (likely the larger one) will have a 2K display.

None of those specs are exactly game-changing - they're basically exactly what we expected - but they start to paint a picture regarding this upcoming phone series.

Analysis: what about the real rival arrival?

With the Xiaomi 12 series, the company made a firm move to rival other similar-priced flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S21 and iPhone 13, by reducing the size of its vanilla flagship to create a small-body mobile.

But Xiaomi likely won't be able to launch a full suite of phones to rival Apple's ones, judging by the reference to only two 13 phones coming, and that Xiaomi typically staggers its flagship series launches. 

Since the Xiaomi 13 Ultra will likely only launch in the middle of 2023, a real rival to the iPhone 14 Pro Max likely won't show up, and while the standard and Pro Xiaomi and Apple phones will likely be comparable, it's unlikely that there will be a Xiaomi 13 device to rival the anticipated iPhone 14 Max.

Xiaomi might be able to offer something that Apple can't though: an affordable alternative. The Xiaomi 12T range will likely launch in August or September as a mid-range Android phone with features from the Xiaomi 12 series but a lower price than it (and than the iPhones), and we'll likely see a Xiaomi 13 Lite at some point too.

Apple and Xiaomi aim for different audiences, so it makes sense that while they'll have some devices that compete, they both have devices that stand out. But people who can afford a premium phone and want top camera features may find it hard to choose between the Pro phones each offers - and we'll have to see where the Xiaomi 13 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max both place in our list of the best camera phones.

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.