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Leica teams up with Xiaomi in new smartphone imaging deal

May 24, 2022

Leica has teamed up with Xiaomi in a new long-term strategic partnership to create smartphones, the first of which is scheduled to launch in July 2022.

The image to mark the start of the partnership shows an invisible smartphone, with some industry rumours suggesting the first phone to emerge from the tie-up could be the Xiaomi 12 Ultra.

That phone is centred around the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor and is expected to have a 50MP main camera, a 20MP front camera and ultra-wide and periscope zoom lenses.

In a tweet on its official Twitter account @Xiaomi said, ‘Xiaomi and @leica_camera have officially reached a global strategic partnership in mobile imaging. Combining the legendary image and innovative technology, let’s look forward to a new era of mobile photography in July!’

Long-term strategic cooperation

With regards to the new tie-up Leica Camera AG’s CEO, Matthias Harsch, said, ‘It is an honour to announce the long-term strategic cooperation with Xiaomi. We will provide consumers in the field of mobile photography exceptional image quality, classic Leica aesthetics, unrestricted creativity, and will open a new era of mobile imaging.’

As yet, it’s unclear if the Leica/Xiaomi partnership will be Leica loaning its brand name to an existing design, with some software filters and tools, or a hardware development of a smartphone camera that can meet the goals set forth by the partnership.

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun posted this explanation of the Xiaomi/Leica partnership on Twitter

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun posted this explanation of the Xiaomi/Leica partnership on Twitter

Xiaomi CEO, Lei Jun, said the cooperation will involve, ‘optical design as well as tuning aesthetic orientations. Xiaomi and Leica share the same ideas regarding mobile imaging. Xiaomi focuses on creating the ultimate user experience and has always hoped to explore the capabilities of smartphone photography to the extreme.’

If the deal is similar to the one Leica previously made with Huawei, it could be a licensing arrangement for the use of Leica’s brand name and selected Leica filters and effects.

Previous Huawei deal

Leica’s previous smartphone partnerships included a tie-up with Huawei, which began in 2016 with the P9 series.

However, sales of Huawei phones have been difficult in certain markets after the US Government placed a ban on all Huawei phones coming into its market.

On 20 May 2022 it emerged that Canada announced it was banning Huawei (and ZTE) from its 5G networks over cybersecurity fears.

On 23 May 2022 a Huawei spokesperson told the website Android Authority , ‘We can confirm that the cooperation between our two companies ended on 31 March [2022].’

That means that Huawei’s P50 series were the last Leica-branded Huawei phones.


See below for the official press release from Leica Camera AG

Xiaomi and Leica Camera announce long-term strategic cooperation: A new era of mobile imaging begins in July.

Wetzlar, 23 May 2022. Xiaomi, the world’s leading consumer electronics and smart manufacturing company, and Leica Camera, whose legendary reputation is based on a long tradition of excellent quality, innovative technologies and German craftsmanship, officially announce their strategic cooperation in terms of mobile imaging. The first imaging flagship smartphone jointly developed by the two companies will be officially launched in July this year.

Founded in 2010, Xiaomi is currently the world’s third-largest smartphone manufacturer. Since its establishment 12 years ago, Xiaomi has always practiced the mission of ‘relentlessly building amazing products with honest prices to let everyone in the world enjoy a better life through innovative technology’. Its smartphones and other products are sold in more than 100 countries and regions around the world. With strong R&D strength and continuous long-term investment in technology, Xiaomi has become an important leader in technological innovation in the fields of consumer electronics and smart manufacturing. And in the field of imaging, based on its long-term technical accumulation in lens optics, chips, algorithms etc., as well as its deep understanding of mobile photography, Xiaomi provides extraordinary photography experiences including portraits, night scenes and snapshots.

For over 100 years, Leica Camera has been creating lightweight cameras favoured by street photographer pioneers and world-class optical lenses, fulfilling the passions of its community. With ingenious optical engineering and formidable craftsmanship, Leica cameras, recognisable by their ‘red dot’ branding, are German engineering at its best, and continue to attract new generations of consumers who aspire to achieve ‘the Leica image look’ and own these masterpieces of design. In addition to making precision-crafted masterpieces, Leica attracts well-known photographers and emerging new talents around the world.

Xiaomi and Leica Camera staff meet to celebrate the new strategic partnership between the two companies

Xiaomi and Leica Camera staff meet to celebrate the new strategic partnership between the two companies

Xiaomi and Leica share the same ideas regarding mobile imaging. Both companies are eager to continuously explore the optical performance and photographic experience in the mobile imaging era through extreme technological breakthroughs and aesthetic pursuits.

‘Xiaomi focuses on creating the ultimate user experience and has always hoped to explore the capabilities of smartphone photography to the extreme. Xiaomi and Leica agree with each other’s pursuits and ideas and appreciate each other’s advantages and industry. This cooperation will provide a strong boost to Xiaomi’s imaging strategy. During the cooperation, from optical design to tuning aesthetic orientations, the innovative technologies, product philosophies and imaging preferences of both parties have experienced unprecedented in- depth collision and fusion,’ says Lei Jun, founder, chairman and CEO of Xiaomi Group.

‘It is an honour to announce the long-term strategic cooperation with Xiaomi today. Leica and Xiaomi are both global premium brands and during this unprecedented deep cooperation process, both parties have successfully worked on the goal of providing customers a new era of mobile photography. We are convinced that the first jointly developed imaging flagship smartphone makes the pioneering progress of both companies visible. We will provide consumers in the field of mobile photography exceptional image quality, classic Leica aesthetics, unrestricted creativity, and will open a new era of mobile imaging,’ adds Matthias Harsch, CEO of Leica Camera AG.


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