Flagship phones have generally gotten bigger and bolder over the years, but the Xiaomi 12 and Samsung Galaxy S22 embody a new emerging trend.
These handsets continue to pack in flagship features and components, but they do so in surprisingly compact form factors and with slightly lower price tags to boot.
The only question that really matters here is which pint-sized flagship phone is the best? For a full verdict on each phone, check out our detailed reviews linked above, but below we can take a deep dive into their relative specs.
Xiaomi 12 vs Samsung Galaxy S22 price and availability
The Xiaomi 12 hit the Chinese home market on December 31. A global launch was announced on March 15, and we expect the phone to hit the UK sometime in April.
There will be no US launch for the phone, which makes the company’s choice to provide US pricing more than a little confusing. Prices start from $749 (about £570, AU$1,030), for what it’s worth.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 was announced on February 9, 2022. Prices start from $799 / £769 / AU$1,249 for the 128GB model and go up to $849 / £819 / AU$1,349 for 256GB.
As you can see, the Xiaomi 12 will undercut the Samsung Galaxy S22 by about $50, although they are clearly in the same ballpark.
Both phones are among the smallest Android flagships on the market. The Xiaomi 12 measures 152.7 x 69.9 x 8.2 mm, while the Samsung Galaxy S22 measures 146 x 70.6 x 7.6 mm.
The Samsung phone is therefore the smaller of the two. It’s also a lot lighter, at 168g instead of 179g.
We’d probably also give a nod to the Galaxy S22 on the design front. The ‘Contour Cut’ camera module blends beautifully into a slightly square metal frame. It looks pretty distinctive unless it’s next to last year’s Galaxy S21, which pioneered the look.
Anyway, it looks more special than the Xiaomi 12, which has taken a step back from the attractively striking design of the Xiaomi Mi 11. Sure, the matte finish and industrial camera module have a certain minimalist appeal, but the basic shape is all too familiar.
The Xiaomi 12 has a curved screen instead of the flat screen of the Galaxy S22, which will probably divide the opinions. We generally prefer flatter displays as they result in fewer false pressings and visual distortions.
The Xiaomi 12 screen measures 6.28 inches, while the Galaxy S21 has a 6.1-inch display. The Xiaomi 12 screen is then the larger of the two.
Both displays have resolutions of 2400 x 1080 (FHD+), both use OLEDs, and both benefit from slick 120Hz refresh rates.
Samsung’s screen gets a little brighter, with a peak output of 1300 nits. The Xiaomi 12 can push to just 1100 nits, although that’s far from weak.
We won’t know which one is the better screen until we spend more time with both phones. All we want to say for now is that Samsung has an edge in any display competition as it makes the vast majority of mobile OLED panels on the market.
Both phones deliver triple camera systems, and that’s not where the similarities end.
The main Xiaomi 12 camera is a 50-megapixel wide sensor with an aperture of f/1.9. The Galaxy S22 also offers a 50-megapixel main sensor, but with a slightly wider aperture of f/1.8. Both phones use pixel binning to achieve clearer results.
With the ultra-wide angle lens, the Xiaomi 12 gives you a 13-megapixel 123-degree sensor with an f/2.4 aperture, while the Samsung Galaxy S22 gives you a 12-megapixel 120-degree ultra-wide angle with an f/2.2 aperture. Xiaomi’s lens is slightly wider, but Samsung’s sensor is bigger and brighter.
The real difference here is with that third sensor. The Xiaomi 12 includes a 5-megapixel ‘telephoto macro’ for extreme close-ups, while the Galaxy S22 comes with a true 10-megapixel 3x telephoto. Samsung then wins on the zoom front.
The front camera of the Samsung Galaxy S22 is a 10 megapixel sensor, while the Xiaomi 12 rests on a more impressive sounding 32 megapixel sensor. Whether the latter equates to better selfies, however, remains to be seen.
Specifications and Performance
Both phones run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, although that won’t be the case with every Galaxy S22. As usual for Samsung, the global model of its flagship phone runs on the company’s custom Exynos chip.
In this case, it is the Exynos 2200, which represents the first fruits of a collaboration with GPU giant AMD. You would expect superior gaming performance as a result, but our early experience suggests that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is faster all round.
We’re not claiming a huge performance gap here, mind you. These are two fast flagships from 2022 and it will be hard to make both phones sweat.
Elsewhere, the Galaxy S22 is backed by 8 GB of RAM, while the Xiaomi 12 offers two options: 8 or 12 GB of RAM. Both come with 128GB or 256GB of storage.
As you’d expect given the size and weight difference, the Xiaomi 12 has the larger battery of the two handsets. At 4,500 mAh, it’s even significantly more spacious than the Galaxy S22’s 3,700 mAh cell.
How that translates to endurance in the real world remains to be seen, but it’s hard to see how the Galaxy S22 is going to win it. The screen is only slightly smaller, while also getting brighter in direct sunlight.
None of the predecessors to these phones were particularly impressive when it comes to staying power, so the jury is out on both cases.
We can already call a winner when it comes to charging facilities. The Xiaomi 12 is packed in a healthy 67W charger that is said to be able to charge the phone from 0 to 100% in just 39 minutes. The Samsung Galaxy S22, on the other hand, only supports charging up to 25W – and doesn’t deliver a brick in the box.
There is a similar advantage in the deployment of wireless charging, with the Xiaomi 12 supporting 50W and the Galaxy S22 only 15W.
There is little doubt that Xiaomi is adopting Samsung’s approach by shrinking its flagship entry point this year. The Xiaomi 12 is smaller than ever and aims to undercut the Galaxy S22 in price.
Samsung has downsized some of its own, and the Galaxy S22 comes in an even more compact package than its rival. There is that price difference.
It is partly explained by the presence of a special telephoto lens in the Galaxy S22. The Xiaomi 12 sacrifices this fundamental flagship feature, which could be telling.
Other than that, the specs are largely similar and we’ve given each phone a four-star review, so there’s not much in between.