Leica launches its first smartphone, the Leitz Phone 1
Back in May, Japanese consumer electronics brand Sharp announced the Japan-only release of a new smartphone named the Aquos R6, with a single camera that rocked a 1-inch CMOS sensor developed with German imaging veteran Leica. Now Leica has essentially rebadged and slightly repackaged that device for its first smartphone, the Leitz Phone 1.
"Since its invention, photography has been transformed many times and in many ways, and the end of this process is by no means in sight," said Leica CEO, Matthias Harsch. "Images captured with a smartphone have become a method for instantaneous communication, a visual language without limitations. Our customers combine smartphones and Leica cameras to meet the needs of any particular situation, that moment in time and their desired result. Considering our leading expertise in optical engineering, design, imaging software and our experience with consumers, our own smartphone is a logical consequence that further underlines Leica’s powers of innovation."
Launched as a tribute to the company's founder Ernst Leitz, and only available in Japan, the Leitz Phone 1 carries over the core specs from the Aquos R6. That means an octa-core Snapdragon 888 processor with 5G and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, 12 GB of RAM but 256 GB of storage, a 6.6-inch 1,260 x 2,730-pixel OLED display, and Android 11 running the show.
The main camera gets that impressive 1-inch 20.2-megapixel CMOS image sensor and f/1.9 aperture combination, with electronic image stabilization and low-light time-of-flight autofocus with 6x digital zoom. The selfie camera out front has a 12.6-MP count, with a f/2.3 aperture and 78 degree angle of view.
But the Leitz Phone 1 wears a skin direct from Leica's design studio in Germany, with a signature minimalist aesthetic that features an aluminum case in anodized silver, knurled edges and Corning Gorilla glass. The company has also cooked in a widget that offers a selection of photos from the Leica Fotografie International gallery to gawp at. And naturally, that all-important Leica red dot is present too.
The main camera module is now circular like a camera lens, and even comes with a protective cap that's held in place with magnets. The camera can produce both RAW and JPEG file formats, and Leica has included its own proprietary Leitz imaging engine for the promise of "state-of-the-art computational bokeh, color correction, edge refinement and realistic noise reduction." A "Leitz Looks" feature currently offers black-and-white imagery based on the company's flagship M Monochrom, and will add more modes via subsequent firmware upgrades.
The Leitz Phone 1 has been produced exclusively for the Japanese market, and is priced at JPY 187,920 (about US$1,700).
Product page: Leitz Phone 1