[REVIEW] : Xiaomi and Leica: a partnership between the two brands could see the light of day

Leica, the photo specialist, has multiplied partnerships with major smartphone brands in recent years. These collaborations have a double interest: they allow manufacturers to benefit from expertise with high added value, but it is also (and above all) an effective marketing strategy to attract new users by relying on the worldwide reputation of this business.

A first clue?

The Polish journalist Kacper Skrzypek explains in an article published on March 28 that he discovered in the source code of the Gallery Editor application the mention of the Leica brand. This is about filters for editing photos and videos. Difficult however to know if it is a simple software implementation or if it hides a deeper partnership with hardware.

Leica, Xiaomi’s next partner?

The idea has something to seduce. Leica, Huawei’s “historic” partner in the field of mobile photography, has distinguished itself with the Chinese firm since the launch of its P9 series in 2016, and is still on the back of the most recent P50 Pro. And if we are to believe the elements unearthed by Kacper Skrzypek, contributor to the MiUI Polska site and regular tester of the MiUI interface, it is a new partnership in the world of smartphones that is looming for the German firm, this time with Xiaomi, world No. 3 in smartphones.

Skrzypek thus indicates having discovered, within the Chinese version of the Gallery Editor application (version 0.7.5) integrated into MiUI, elements evoking photo filters associated with Leica: Leica Monochrom, Leica Natural, Leica Vivid and Leica Monochrom HC. In their light, we can therefore assume that Xiaomi is working on the integration of the first software elements of a partnership with the German brand.

Waiting for the Xiaomi 12 Ultra?

For the time being, however, neither Xiaomi nor Leica have mentioned such an association, which therefore remains to be confirmed. It should be remembered, however, that the rumor has been circulating since the end of 2021, evoking the release of a Xiaomi 12 Ultra formalizing the first this partnership. But while the Xiaomi 12 and 12 Pro are already official, the latter is still waiting…

Smartphone manufacturers’ partnerships with big names in photography are nothing new. Leica has mastered its subject for six years, while Hasselblad joined the trend in 2017 with an accessory designed for Motorola, then in 2021 with a partnership concluded with OnePlus.

Xiaomi 12 Ultra: the manufacturer would partner with Leica to offer you better quality photos

For several years, partnerships between smartphone manufacturers and manufacturers of cameras or lenses have multiplied. If the beginnings were timid with Carl Zeiss partner of Nokia, the trend has accelerated over the past three years. From now on, we are entitled to OnePlus and Oppo photo modules stamped Hasseleblad, to Vivo smartphones benefiting from a Zeiss logo or to partnerships, since 2016, between Huawei and Leica.

Refusing to be left behind, Xiaomi could in turn enter the dance of photo partnerships. As spotted by the XDA Developers site, the Chinese manufacturer could also join forces with the German manufacturer Leica. The site discovered, within the MIUI editing application, a few lines of code suggesting modes offered directly by Leica. We can thus discover three distinct filters: Leica Monochrom, Leica Monochrom HC (High Contrast), Leica Natural and Leica Vivid. These three filters could be integrated soon, via an update or on a new smartphone, in the editing of shots captured by a Xiaomi phone.

According to XDA Developers, these new filters could be reserved for a future premium smartphone from Xiaomi. We are thinking in particular of the Xiaomi 12 Ultra which could succeed the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra from last year and was not unveiled at the same time as the Xiaomi 11 and Xiaomi 11 Pro. As a reminder, the Xiaomi 11 Ultra of 2021 set the bar particularly high for the quality of its photos and its particularly large sensor.

A TIMELY PARTNERSHIP

In addition, the specialized site indicates that a new partnership between Xiaomi and Leica would be timely for the German camera manufacturer. It must be said that its current partnership with Huawei has taken a turn for the worse for three years with the American embargo on the Chinese brand. Sales of the firm’s smartphones have particularly dried up in Europe and Leica may need a new, more successful partner. That’s good, sales of Xiaomi smartphones have soared in recent years, the manufacturer having reached third place in the best sales of smartphones in recent years.

Above all, Xiaomi was looking for a partnership in the world of photography. In January 2020, Chang Cheng, then vice-president of Xiaomi, asked on the SamaGame social network which photo brand customers of the brand would see Xiaomi associate with. If Nikon and Canon then came in third place, Hasselblad came first. Nevertheless, Oppo and OnePlus’ partnership with Hasselblad seems to have wiped out all hope, while Huawei’s slump in sales could give Xiaomi a boost.

Xiaomi’s partnership with Leica seems to be confirmed by the MIUI app

Some partnerships between phone makers and camera makers appear to be nothing more than marketing ploys. Others, however, have changed mobile photography for the better – and perhaps nothing more than the cooperation between Huawei and Leica. However, with Huawei’s well-documented problems over the past few years resulting from various US government bans, it’s selling far fewer phones than before, and Leica may seek to partner with another smartphone maker.

An enterprising soul went deep into the Gallery Editor app built into Xiaomi’s MIUI Chinese ROM. And what he found there, in the code of this application, are translation strings directly linked to Leica. Chains refer to filters that can be used while editing photos and videos, which means we should expect to see some Leica-branded filters released by Xiaomi alongside the co-branding of the phone. This is of course nothing special, other phone manufacturers have done the same thing before.

The Xiaomi and Leica partnership could be true if the MIUI Gallery Editor code is to be believed

Xiaomi has apparently found a new partner for the branding of its smartphones in the field of photography. After Leica has cooperated with Huawei for a long time, it seems that Xiaomi will soon take over and work with the German partner.

There have been rumors of a Xiaomi and Leica partnership for a long time, but now Kacper Skrzypek has provided compelling evidence in the form of code images containing new channels related to Leica filters on Xiaomi’s MIUI Gallery Editor app.

The channels he discovered were in version 0.7.5 of the MIUI Gallery Editor app, which highlighted the new effects that will be available when editing photographs and videos on the upcoming smartphone. Among them, there are some Leica brand filters.

The strings refer to four filters named after the camera company, as shown in the attached screenshots: Leica Monochrom, Leica Monochrom HC (High Contrast), Leica Natural and Leica Vivid. These filters are not available in the current version MIUI Gallery Editor, but their presence indicates that Xiaomi plans to release a smartphone with Leica-branded cameras in the near future.

Leica, a Germany-based optical lens manufacturer, was well known for its partnership with Chinese smartphone maker Huawei, which ended in May 2021. Thus, the latest Huawei P50 series was the last to use the Leica brand. Now, according to this reliable source, Xiaomi is going to collaborate with Leica, which will be exciting to see.

Xiaomi and Leica could jointly develop a camera system

It’s not the first time that news has emerged that puts Leica to work with Xiaomi on the development of the camera system, but it seems that the rumors are starting to take shape with more and more concrete facts.

Last February, rumors around a Xiaomi 12 Ultra evoked a partnership between Leica and Xiaomi in the development of cameras.

Recall that Leica has been working with Huawei for several years and this partnership has resulted in the best cameras integrated into smartphones with each new version. We also already know that Leica no longer works exclusively with Huawei, so it may even be arm in arm with Xiaomi.

MIUI from Xiaomi with references to Leica

MIUI researcher Kacper Skrzypek will have found the Leica benchmark in the MIUI Gallery Editor app, with those benchmarks related to volg filters, monochrome, natural and vivid options specifically mentioned, according to the Android Authority.

Although such a reference was only discovered in the app indicated, if a work is actually being created between these two companies, it is likely that the camera app itself also has a Leica hand. If so, Xiaomi will be able to take its photographic quality to an even higher level. Who knows, take Huawei out of the podium of the best smartphone cameras.

Xiaomi, when asked about a possible partnership with Leica, said that so far it had no information to share, but did not deny the possibility.