Thursday, July 25, 2024

Xiaomi and Leica Partnership Is Here to Stay: Five Things You Should Know About This Collaboration

Xiaomi and Leica came together to work on smartphone cameras in 2022. It seemed like a perfect marriage where Xiaomi aimed to get some pie from the premium segment while Leica, the legendary camera maker, was getting inroads to work on smartphone cameras. Imagine an iconic camera maker now working with a smartphone manufacturer to fit all the camera prowess into a compact factor, smaller than a point-and-shoot.

They managed it, and Xiaomi 12S Ultra was the first product under this collaboration. They didn’t stop, and the partnership next saw the Xiaomi Mix Fold 2, Xiaomi 13 series, Xiaomi 13 Ultra, Xiaomi Mix Fold 3, and Xiaomi 13T series. Of all the mentioned devices, only the Xiaomi 13 Pro made it to the Indian market. This year, the duo returns with another collaboration – the Xiaomi 14 – which we talked about recently in our first impressions. Stay tuned for our in-depth review of the Xiaomi 14, launching in India on March 7 and will be priced under Rs. 75,000. But in this story, we will talk about five key highlights of this partnership that both brands just touched upon. 

XiaomixLeica: Is this an exclusive partnership? 

Yes and no. The Xiaomi and Leica partnership is exclusive globally except in the Japanese market. Since 2020, Leica has been working with Sharp to co-develop premium smartphones, combining software and hardware expertise under the Leitz brand. The first smartphone launch under the Sharp and Leica partnership happened in 2021 as the Leitz Phone 1 in Japan. Both companies also launched the Leitz Phone 2 in 2022. This is the same year Xiaomi and Leica joined hands to co-develop phones and put the Leica logo on Xiaomi phones. Long thing short, only Xiaomi phones will sport Leica branding on phones globally except the Japanese market until the exclusive partnership with Xiaomi ends. 

leica interview gadgets360 Xiaomi India and Leica executives
Photo: Xiaomi India and Leica executives posing for a photograph in Wetzlar (Germany)

XiaomixLeica: Not just a marketing partnership

A marketing gimmick! Smartphone brands partnering with an expert brand is a great marketing tool, but it only sometimes works. We have seen a Chinese smartphone brand partnering with another legendary camera brand. Still, the products do not show the finesse we expect from devices tuned by such camera expert brands, leaving us thinking, “Is this a marketing deal?” Well, not with Xiaomi and Leica’s partnership. While visiting the Leica facilities in Wetzlar, Germany, both companies stressed that this is not a marketing campaign but can be tested on the ground to see results. 

XiaomixLeica: Hardware selection

Into the third year of collaboration and for the first time, both brands came out with minute details of how closely Xiaomi and Leica work. Kay Plaetke, Strategy & Business Development Manager Mobile at Leica, talked about how the camera brand has the final say on the image quality shot by the new smartphone developed in association with Xiaomi. Additionally, both companies decide on the hardware for a smartphone, which shows how exactly integration is supposed to work. The hardware selection starts from the chipset and goes all the way to the camera sensors. Thus ensuring the highest quality is maintained. 

XiaomixLeica: Dedicated teams

Kay Plaetke and Julian Burczyk, Head of Product Management Mobile at Leica, also talked about dedicated teams working on the collaboration. Leica executives confirmed that there are about 25 employees from their side working closely with the Xiaomi team for these phones. 

XiaomixLeica: Coming to more phones

As expected, the Xiaomi and Leica partnership is here to stay, meaning we will see more phones with Leica branding. Leica executives talked about how this partnership enabled prices to be brought below $1000 (roughly Rs. 83,000), which wasn’t possible earlier. We have used the Xiaomi 13 Pro and the Xiaomi 14 (read our first impressions here), which have excellent cameras, making the entire package seem worthy. 

Disclosure: Xiaomi sponsored flights for the writer for Wetzlar (Germany) and Mobile World Congress 2024.

Is the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 the best foldable phone you can buy in India right now? We discuss the company’s new clamshell-style foldable handset on the latest episode of Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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