Xiaomi today officially confirmed what has been rumored for some time: the Beijing-based tech giant will enter into a “long-term strategic cooperation” with German camera maker Leica, and the first Leica-branded Xiaomi smartphone will be launched in July.
The news was announced via a press release on Monday morning in Asia and comes after rumors that the partnership between Leica and Huawei ended a year ago, before senior XDA member kacskrz found concrete evidence of the collaboration at the end of March. Leica, a century-old company best known for its cameras and lenses, has partnered with Huawei for five years. Last summer, Leica also teamed up with Japanese brand Sharp for a Leica-branded phone exclusive to the Japanese market.
Little information was revealed in the announcement: it does not say if this partnership is exclusive (meaning that other smartphones will not use the Leica brand in the near future), and Xiaomi representatives have refused. to comment when they have been reached. The release includes a quote from Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun, who said the cooperation between the two brands brings “unprecedented collision and in-depth fusion in optical design, aesthetic orientations, image preferences and innovative technology”.
It’s mostly marketing talk, of course – every phone brand that’s partnered with a legacy camera/lens maker has said something similar in the announcement; it remains to be seen if Xiaomi’s partnership with Leica will bring any significant improvements to Xiaomi’s already quite good flagship camera system.
And while the press release also doesn’t name the July launch of the smartphone, it’s almost certainly the Xiaomi 12 Ultra, which is all but confirmed to run on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Plus SoC.
Chinese smartphone makers teaming up with the legacy European optics brand isn’t new: Huawei started the trend in 2016 with its Leica partnership (which most likely ended), OPPO/OnePlus teamed up with Hasselblad and Vivo is associated with Zeiss. It’s unclear to what extent these partnerships are true collaborative efforts or purely an iconic brand licensing its name for marketing purposes. Nonetheless, the Xiaomi 12 Ultra has at least a few features that will set it apart from the pack of smartphones released in 2022 so far.