Mobile imaging is about to change next July, according to a joint announcement made by Xiaomi and Leica Camera, confirming the rumors of a long-term strategic cooperation.
The rumors are now confirmed, and Xiaomi, the world’s third-largest smartphone manufacturer 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.
We’ve written about it last December, and it’s happening this July. As we said then, “Leica technology will be coming to Western countries inside Xiaomi smartphones, and it will start with the Xiaomi 12 series, very soon. Leica’s previous partnership with Huawei has ended and Xiaomi is the new partner chosen, so Xiaomi will have Leica’s optics for its cameras. Expect to see the results of the alliance in the soon to be announced Xiaomi 12 Ultra, which will also use the recently announced Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.
While nothing is confirmed by now, the Xiaomi 12 Ultra may well be the first imaging flagship smartphone jointly developed by the two companies, which will be officially launched in July this year. It makes sense for a company that is celebrating its 12th year in the market to introduce a flagship that, as the announcement suggests, starts a new era of mobile imaging.
Will the Xiaomi 12 Ultra feature the newest Qualcomm 8475 Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 mobile chipset, recently announced? And in terms of main sensor, will it go for Samsung’s 200MP ISOCELL HP1 sensor, which will also be introduced by Motorola in its new flagship, next July? One final question remains: how much involvement will Leica have in the development of Xiaomi’s smartphones? Will the company just give the name and some of those LeicaLooks app modifications for Xiaomi to use or will it be involved with R&D?
From the Leitz Phone 1 to Xiaomi
Recent news suggest that we will see Leica Camera more involved. Last December, announcing the Leitz Phone 1, Jane Cui, founder and CEO of Ernst Leitz Labs, confirmed that they will be bringing the LeitzEngine and the LeitzLooks mode to future Snapdragon mobile platforms, fully utilizing the performance of future generation Qualcomm AI Engines and Qualcomm Spectra ISP.
Jane Cui revealed, then, that the LeitzEngine drives a library of unique Software Defined Lenses – the LeitzLooks. Unlike a filter, the LeitzLooks harness real world physics based on heritage Leica lenses in a live 3D environment. The technology was introduced exclusively to the Japanese market for Leitz Phone 1 – Leica Camera AG’s first smartphone, and the company claims that the results are groundbreaking computational bokeh, color correction, edge refinement and realistic noise reduction.
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.
A new era of mobile imaging
According to the announcement now made, 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.