If you’ve been following HUAWEI’s smartphone game over the past few years, you must’ve noticed the Leica branding on the camera hardware. The troubled Chinese smartphone maker has been an exclusive partner of the German camera brand for a while now when it comes to imaging hardware on its phones. However, it appears that Leica is now looking to forge partnerships with more smartphone brands, with some of the names being thrown in the rumor mill including Xiaomi, Honor, and Sharp. The latter has actually launched a phone called AQUOS R6 with a giant 1-inch camera sensor and some Leica expertise.
The collaboration may still continue with Huawei even if Leica includes another brand, for example Zeiss have 3 brands, Sony, Vivo and HMD Nokia
+ Nothing is confirmed about that Xiaomi thing, do don’t hype about it too much, too early. https://t.co/pOzav8MP7O
— Teme (特米)? (@RODENT950) May 16, 2021
As per a fairly reliable leakster who goes by the username @RODENT950, Leica is not severing its ties with HUAWEI. Instead, the company is just looking to expand the scope of its business by partnering with more brands and lending its camera expertise. Xiaomi, poised to end 2021 as the world’s third-largest smartphone brand, appears to be a lucrative business partner – at least on paper. However, the leakster warns that a Xiaomi-Leica partnership is far from being officially agreed upon at the moment.
Leica’s partnership with Huawei will probably end with the upcoming P50. Former Oppo VP @BrianShenYiRen hinted that a certain “orange” company (Xiaomi, duh!) will also be licensing Leica’s tech.
More to come, stay tuned. https://t.co/AsoZSoesxa
— Richard Lai (@richardlai) May 17, 2021
What does it mean for Leica’s long-time partner HUAWEI?
Honestly, not much. Partnering with a camera brand often has to do more with branding and bragging rights than actually making a significant improvement in the camera capabilities of a phone. And it is not a new trend either. Take for example German company ZEISS, whose branding has appeared on Nokia phones for over a decade, dating all the way back to the Symbian and Windows Phone days. BlackBerry phones flaunted the name of German brand Schneider Kreuznach at one point, but the results were far from impressive.
OnePlus got Hasselblad, Sony has ZEISS. Xiaomi might be next with a Leica branding!
At the moment, you can find the ZEISS brand name associated with VIVO and Sony smartphones, while Hasselblad is making waves after partnering with OnePlus. It has been rumored that the upcoming P50 series will mark the end of HUAWEI’s partnership with Leica. Irrespective of whether it turns out to be true or just another rumor, I doubt that HUAWEI is going to lose much when it comes to the actual camera performance of its flagships, a sentiment I share with senior editor at XDA-Developers Ben Sin, who has been testing HUAWEI phones for years.
I’m hoping one day Chinese brands can be confident enough in their own abilities that they don’t feel the need to overpay some legacy Euro brands living off its past glory just to use their logo
Huawei cameras were great because of Periscope & large image sensor, not Leica, IMO https://t.co/bmb59faHT6
— ben (@bencsin) May 17, 2021
The point here is that joining hands with a camera brand doesn’t mean the results are going to make a huge difference. In fact, that is far from being the truth. Apple’s iPhones and Google’s Pixel phones have excelled at photography without any garish camera branding, and so has Samsung with its Galaxy S series flagships. The exact details of Leica’s involvement in the development of HUAWEI’s smartphone cameras are not known, but it is unlikely that Leica is the key reason behind the stellar camera performance of HUAWEI’s flagships.