Xiaomi officially confirms Leica partnership, first phone launches in July that’s likely the Xiaomi 12 Ultra

Xiaomi officially confirms Leica partnership, first phone launches in July that’s likely the Xiaomi 12 Ultra

Xiaomi officially confirmed today what had been rumored for a while: the Beijing-headquartered tech giant will begin a “long term strategic cooperation” with German camera maker Leica, and the first Leica-branded Xiaomi smartphone will launch this July.

The news was announced via a press release Monday morning in Asia and comes after rumors of Leica and Huawei’s partnership ending a year ago, before XDA Senior Member kacskrz found concrete evidence of the collaboration in late March. Leica, a century-old company best known for its cameras and lenses, has been a partner of Huawei for the past five years. Last summer, Leica also partnered with Japanese brand Sharp for a Leica-branded phone that was exclusive to the Japanese market.

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promotional image with Xiaomi and Leica branding

A promotional image released as part of the press release.

Not much information was revealed in the announcement: it does not say whether this partnership is an exclusive one (meaning other smartphones won’t be using the Leica branding in near future), and Xiaomi reps declined to comment when reached. The release does include a quote from Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun, who said the cooperation between the two brands brings “unprecedented in-depth collision and fusion in optical design, aesthetic orientations, image preferences, and innovative technologies.”

This is mostly marketing speak, of course — every phone brand that has partnered with a legacy camera/lens maker has said something similar during the announcement; it remains to be seen if Xiaomi’s partnership with Leica will bring meaningful improvements to Xiaomi’s already pretty good flagship camera system.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra in ceramic white

The Xiaomi 11 Ultra

And while the press release also does not name the smartphone launching in July, it’s almost certainly the Xiaomi 12 Ultra, which is all but confirmed to run on the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1.

Chinese smartphone makers teaming with legacy European optics brand is not new: Huawei started the trend back in 2016 with its Leica partnership (that has very likely ended), OPPO/OnePlus have teamed up with Hasselblad, and Vivo is paired with Zeiss. Exactly how much these partnerships are true collaborative efforts or purely an iconic brand licensing its name out for marketing purposes is unknown. But nonetheless, the Xiaomi 12 Ultra at least has a couple of features that will set it aside from the pack of smartphones released in 2022 so far.

About author

Ben Sin
Ben Sin

I'm a senior editor at XDA Developers. I have been a journalist for a decade, the last five years covering the mobile tech scene closely, reviewing just about every phone and attending trade shows and launches. I also run a gadget review channel on YouTube.

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