You’ve seen the Leica logo on their phones but is Huawei really using Leica lenses or is it just good marketing?
For a few of their flagship phones, Huawei has the Leica logo near the phone’s lens, begging the question, is Huawei really using Leica lenses or is it just a marketing gimmick?
Huawei is not the only one, other phone makers have partnerships with Zeiss and even Hasselblad in order to legitimize their phone’s camera. So let’s explore this question…
What is the nature of the partnership?
First things first, nobody outside of those privy to it really know the extent of the partnership because the press release only states something along the lines of “We are partnering, yay!”. So everything is pretty much speculation but there are a few clues to find out is Huawei really using Leica lenses.
A clue from Panasonic
Huawei is not the only partner Leica has had. The basic deal they have with Panasonic is that Panasonic takes care of the manufacturing but everything has to be approved by Leica and they design the lens. That’s how you have the Leica Lumix line of lenses.
Leica doesn’t compromise its brand
Leica simply doesn’t have the capacity to mass produce lenses like it would be required, on the other hand, Leica almost never compromises it’s brand. So the likely outcome is that Leica had some say in lens design and the final approval is on Leica.
The chances of Huawei just paying Leica to use their brand name and them accepting without quality control are quite slim. One Panasonic representative once let slip that the partnership almost got dissolved when Leica’s quality demands proved to be too much.
What makes a Leica lens a Leica anyways?
Imagine you are a chef named Leica. You trained a disciple in how to make a dish and right before the food goes to your table, he tests it to find out if it is exactly what he would do.
So if the food has been made following the exact recipe, and at the end the chef made sure that it tastes exactly how it is supposed to…Is it a Leica?
That is basically the parallels here. Most likely Leica told Huawei how to make the lens and made sure it is up to their high standards. Is it really a Leica lens when they didn’t do he actual grunt work is up to you.
For many purists if it is not made in Germany it is not a Leica. But for a lot of people because it is a Leica design and at their expected quality level, it is a Leica.
This is kind of the same thing with iPhone, it is an American brand but it was made in China at Apple’s request and at their quality level.
In any case, the lenses on the Leica Huawei phones are quite sharp and also have (per press release) an attempt to emulate the Leica film look.
A real Leica phone?
There is one phone that has been designed by Leica that has more of their DNA: The Leitz phone 1. Leica again doesn’t have the manufacturing capacity so this is made by Sharp but they went all in on it even designing the phone itself and the camera app.
So is Huawei really using Leica lenses? It is all speculation but looking at previous partnerships with Panasonic, Huawei is likely manufacturing their lenses with designs by Leica and they have the final approval. Is that REALLY a Leica lens is a matter of asking what the Leica brand really means. While they didn’t actually manufacture the lens, it is likely their design and their seal of approval and they are very brand conscious so they would only accept the highest quality.