Smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi has partnered with German camera maker Leica for their smartphone camera development. The first product out of the Xiaomi - Leica partnership, the Xiaomi 12S Ultra was the first smartphone in the world to come with a 1-inch sensor, followed by the Xiaomi Mix Fold 2, which was launched only in China. Going forward, the two companies aim to bring “extreme technological breakthroughs in the smartphone camera department.” Now, while the Xiaomi 12S Ultra did not come to India, the OEM has decided to keep India in its plans going forward. Last month, Xiaomi and Leica held a press briefing in New Delhi where the two brands told us about what they have in store for the smartphone camera department.
The strategic partnership between the two brands has already led to some of their best camera tech like the 8P Aspheric lens used in the Xiaomi 12S Ultra’s camera, the photography styles on the Xiaomi 12S Ultra that Leica has helped create, and of course, the Xiaomi-Leica concept phone which has a physical detachable lens. During the briefing, Leica told us that the partnership between the two brands has four main focus areas. These include Optical design, Lens and Camera module, image quality tuning, and image approval. Leica went into detail about how the company, over its 154-year-long experience, has mastered these four areas.
The company also explained how it plans to implement these technologies in Xiaomi smartphones, in order to further “blur the lines between smartphones and cameras.” One of the main focus areas of the partnership is to bring Leica’s expertise in the camera and lens technology to Xiaomi smartphones, in order to bring smartphone photography to the same levels as cameras. The briefing focused on how clicking good images on a camera requires different elements, while on smartphones, with the help of AI, OEMs can make things much more streamlined and hopefully better in terms of quality. The idea is simple, Xiaomi will bring its expertise in the mobile imaging systems and AI algorithms, while Leica will bring its optical engineering, design, imaging software and consumer experience to smartphone photography to the partnership. This is also an opportunity for Leica to expand its expertise from traditional cameras to now smartphone cameras and imaging technology.
In the briefing held in New Delhi, both Leica and Xiaomi talked about their plans to bring more Xiaomi smartphones with Leica-powered cameras. The company did not give us much details, but from what we could gather, the next Xiaomi flagship (most likely the Xiaomi 13) to launch in India will come with cameras co-engineered with Leica. Given that Xiaomi did not announce any plans to bring smartphones with Leica cameras to India at the start of the partnership, the company has gauged the interest in India, and seeing the success of Vivo’s similar partnership with Zeiss in India, Xiaomi now has India in its plans for Leica-engineered camera tech on smartphones.
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