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Android 12 is still in beta, but will your phone be compatible?

The latest Android update is coming soon. Here's how to tell if your phone can handle Google's newest mobile OS.

Recent Google Pixel phones like the Pixel 5 will enjoy an update to Android 12.

Juan Garzon/CNET

Android 12, which entered a fourth version of its beta last week, could be a big overhaul to Google's mobile operating system. It's expected to be filled with helpful features such as Quick Tap, Scrollable Screenshots, improved privacy dashboards and more. (Here's a collection of all the new Android 12 features we're expecting.)

So when can you officially get your hands on that Android 12 goodness? Right now, it's in the late stages of beta development. (Here's how to download the Android 12 beta now.) Although Google has not announced a release date, we're expecting Android 12 to be released in either August or September based on release times of previous versions. 

Read more: We're loving these Android 12 hidden features. You can use them, too

The big question is whether your phone will actually receive the massive update. At launch, only a select few models will. And to qualify for an upgrade at a later date, each handset must meet the hardware requirements. So if you're eager to enjoy Android 12 on your own phone, you've come to the right place. Here's everything we know about how that will likely play out.

The power to perform

According to Google, to get the most out of Android 12 a device must qualify as "performance class." Specifically, for Android 12 a handset needs a "performance class 12" minimum qualification. According to Google, a performance class "defines a set of device capabilities that goes beyond Android's baseline requirements."

Performance class 12 won't necessarily exclude "performance class 11" devices for running Android 12, however. Performance class 11 Android phone owners can, in theory, install Android 12: They just won't see all the OS bells and whistles available. Google has also said it will publish the requirements for performance class 11 when it releases Android 12.

Google Pixel 3 phones and later will get Android 12 when it launches.

Angela Lang/CNET

Google will put Pixels first

Perhaps the biggest perk of buying a Google Pixel phone is the promise of timely updates. Google has pledged to provide three years of Android OS updates for each Pixel handset. The clock starts ticking from the moment each device goes up for sale in the Google Store.

That means the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, unveiled in 2018, are the oldest Pixel phones able to get Android 12. All newer Google handsets also qualify, including the Pixel 3A, Pixel 3A XL, Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, Pixel 4A (5G) and Pixel 5.

The flagship Samsung Galaxy S21 will certainly receive an eventual Android 12 update.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung phones

Details for an Android 12 rollout on Samsung handsets aren't as clear. Android 11 made its way to Samsung phones in December as part of the UI 3 update. The Samsung products currently capable of running UI 3 include the Galaxy S21 line, the Galaxy S20 line, the Galaxy Note 20 line, the Z Fold 2, the Z Flip, and the Note10, Fold and S10 series.

Using this timing and precedent as a guide, it's fair to say that we can expect UI 4 (along with Android 12) to hit the same premium Galaxy and Note phones in December.

Other high-end phones like the OnePlus 9 Pro will likely get updated to Android 12 too.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Other high-end phones

Similar to the beta release of Android 12, we expect a slew of high-performance handsets to receive Android 12 updates besides Samsung. According to the website GetDroidTips, the tentative list includes devices from LG, Motorola, Nokia, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Xiaomi, Vivo, Sony and Asus.

The Android 12 beta program is available to a group of premium phones such as the OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro, Asus Zenfone 8, Oppo Find X3 Pro and TCL 20 Pro 5G -- just to name a few.

Read more: Best Android phones to buy in 2021