After months of rumors, it looks like the news was true, and Xiaomi partnered up with the legendary Leica to create a “global strategic partnership in mobile imaging.” The two companies released a press release and a photo on Twitter, confirming their partnership and commitment.
The promotional image reveals that Xiaomi plans to unveil a new device with the Leica branded camera setup. The new device is expected to arrive sometime in July, and it will almost certainly come with Leica branded lens and software. We expect to see the upcoming Xiaomi 12 Ultra, which will be the new flagship from the company.
For those unaware, Leica has partnered with HUAWEI in the past, and most high-end, premium smartphones from the company came with the partnership and branded software and camera lens. The collaboration between the two companies was very successful. The camera was also not just a PR move as it helped HUAWEI become one of the best camera-performing companies on the market.
Smartphone OEMs often partner with well-known and classic camera companies as a marketing move to try and hype up future premium smartphones. We’ve seen OnePlus make the same move with the Hasselblad partnership. Most of the time, it’s just a marketing move, and it doesn’t equal to a better and more reliable camera performance, but Leica is different. Ever since the HUAWEI P9, every single HUAWEI P-series flagship device came with a branded lens and special software. As a result, HUAWEI has become known as the camera flagship brand.
HUAWEI makes some of the best camera smartphones on the market. It has excellent color production, night and low-light capabilities. Its videography features are also on point, competing with some of the best devices from Samsung, Google, Apple, and OPPO. It’s not surprising to see Xiaomi wanting to join that list, and it wants to make it with a bang, as loud as possible.
Ever since the US embargo was introduced on HUAWEI, the company has not been able to produce, use, and purchase a lot of third-party components to create devices, and use software that would allow it to access the Google Play Store and many more. Although the company has been rebuilding its entire ecosystem, mirroring Google, it still has a long way to go, and that cost the company most of its global smartphone market share. HUAWEI is nowhere to be found in North America and Europe – although the manufacturer is still well-known in Europe, their devices are increasingly harder to find as there is less demand for them.
The HUAWEI x Leica branding was a powerful move, and it worked exceptionally well, helping HUAWEI establish itself as the camera king in the smartphone industry. Xiaomi wants to take on that, and it’s why it likely signed up for the partnership. The deal between the two companies suggests that it may be a special one, meaning that Xiaomi may have exclusive rights to the branding for many years to come.
"It is an honor 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 successively 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.”
How is Leica going to help Xiaomi?
Xiaomi has been making excellent high-end and mid-range smartphones in the past, most of which had great cameras. The company has rebranded itself in the past few years and worked on becoming a premium smartphone company in Europe and other parts of the world, and it has significantly increased the prices of its premium lineup of products.
Xiaomi is already the third-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, and it's clear that it wants to play a more prominent role, and take on Apple and Samsung. Xiaomi knows that if it wants to become the next HUAWEI or Samsung, it needs to improve its photography features, and a branding deal with Leica may just be what it needs to sell its smartphones more easily. We can’t wait to get our hands on the next device and take it for a spin!