Leica to Announce a New... Smartphone?

From a Manager Magazine article called "Leica Enters Smartphone Market" (in German) it seems that Leica Camera AG might be introducing a new... Smartphone. With the name P9, it seems likely it will be based on the Huawei P9 and run at a price around €600. The announcement could happen as soon as this week at the Mobile World Congress currently underway in Barcelona, Spain.

Of course, depending on how you read it, and the more likely explanation is that Leica might just be "providing technology" to Huawei; likely in the form of a camera/lens. They've done this in the past with the likes of the Panasonic CM1.

The article, translated to English (via Google):

The camera manufacturer Leica is entering the market for smartphones. Given the historic company from Wetzlar has entered into a far-reaching cooperation with emerging Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. presented the first product of this alliance the Chinese for information from manager-magazin.de last Tuesday representatives of international telephone companies at the Mobile World Congress. It should carry the product name P 9 and also carry the famous bright red logo Leica next to the Signet of Huawei, says. Planned the sale had already this spring, should cost it about as much as the iPhone 6, or about 600 euros.

The cooperation enables Leica's entry into the fastest growing market for photo applications, especially in younger clients. The taking their pictures today mainly with their smartphones, many of the most popular and rapidly growing social networks like Instagram or Pinterest are based on communication via pictures. Although Leica had a year ago already given a cooperation with Panasonic known - but here it was more a compact camera, with which one could also call. In addition, Huawei's market power in the telecommunications market is considerably stronger.

Leica provides for the P 9 Camera technology, Huawei the know-how to the phone. The cooperation that Leica joint owner Andreas Kaufmann and Huawei CEO Richard Yu had agreed last year in the Pacific is to run over several years, according to information from manager-magazin.de, the Germans will it receive royalties.

The collaboration is the next chapter of an amazing comeback. Even years ago was around ten Leica verge of bankruptcy, the company now operates profitably on a turnover of around EUR 300 million. The rescue managed to become rich through inheritance former Waldorf teacher Andreas Kaufmann, who stuck to the takeover of the company a lot of money in the development and the company's 2010 resulted in the black again. In 2012, he sold 45 percent to the financial investor Blackstone, but kept still the majority, also continues to lead the Supervisory Board and is the first ambassador of the company.

Huawei wants to attack with the Leica cooperation in Apple and Samsung premium segment. Already, the Chinese are the world's number three, but lead Apple and Samsung in the top segment. By 2020, the challenge of Huawei CEO Richard Yu, one wants to be the leader himself.

According to an article over on Venture Beat, "Huawei plans to launch four P9 smartphones, including a dual-camera variant" it seems that MWC will not be the venue for its announcement...

According to the information we were given, Huawei will not launch these models during the Mobile World Congress late-February timeframe as many of its rivals plan to do with their own flagships. Instead, they will be given a dedicated unveiling several weeks post-MWC.

Update (02/25/16):

Looks kind of catchy in this mockup, doesn't it?

Leica/Huawei P9 smartphone camera mockup

Check out this press release from Huawei:

Huawei and Leica Camera Announce Long-term Technology Partnership for the Reinvention of Smartphone Photography

LONDON, February 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --

Leaders in the smartphone and photographic worlds come together to create a premium visual world renaissance

Today Huawei Consumer Business Group (BG) and Leica Camera AG are delighted to announce the start of a strategic partnership, a co-operation with shared premium ambitions and spirit, which will see both technology and photography brands combining their shared ethos in a long-term commitment to the art of craftsmanship, meticulous engineering and the spirit of winning collaboration, to create a powerhouse in the reinvention of smartphone photography.

In 2012, Huawei became the world's third-largest smartphone manufacturer and was the first Chinese company to sell more than 100 million mobile phones in one year in 2015. The first Chinese brand to appear on the prestigious Interbrand Best Global Brands list in 2014, Huawei soared to number 88 in 2015 whilst launching the globally critically acclaimed Huawei Watch and Huawei P8. In 2016, Huawei looks to build on its success with Leica Camera: a mutually beneficial collaboration with the most iconic name in the photographic world to bring joint superior excellence to consumers.

For over 100 years, premium iconic camera manufacturer Leica Camera has been creating lightweight cameras favoured by street photographer pioneers and world-class optical lenses, fulfilling the passions of its community. With ingenious optical engineering and formidable craftsmanship, Leica cameras, recognisable by their 'red dot' branding, are German engineering at its best, and continue to attract new generations of consumers who aspire to achieve "the Leica look" and own these masterpieces of design. In addition to making precision-crafted masterpieces, Leica supports prominent photographers and emerging new talent around the world.

Richard Yu, CEO of the Huawei Consumer BG said: "We choose our partners carefully, and with this extraordinary collaboration we are offering our wide customer base and consumers the best elements of two expert brands in harmony: combining innovation and design, enhancing the user experience and continuing to inspire amazing advancement in human technology through exceptional premium imaging quality. Leica is a legend in the world of photography; we believe no other manufacturer has revolutionised the industry as much as them. We, Huawei, take the utmost pride in exceptional quality and Leica is in a class of its own in its sector."

Oliver Kaltner, CEO of Leica Camera AG said: "The strategic alliance between Huawei and Leica Camera demonstrates the desire of two rapidly growing and globally active brands to continuously push the envelope of the technologically possible. In addition to innovative strength and premium standards, our two companies are united by the commitment to uncompromising quality. The technology partnership with Huawei offers Leica Camera an excellent opportunity to introduce its proven optical expertise into a new product segment and to unlock exciting business areas in the field of mobile devices. Smartphones make a very important contribution to the world of photography and open an important door for Leica to new target groups and fields of application."

"The legendary status of the Leica brand is founded on a long tradition of innovation, highest precision and craftsmanship. I'm pleased and convinced that the traditional German medium-sized company Leica Camera will bring its values and comprehensive expertise in optical engineering to the long-term partnership with Huawei in order to achieve the best possible imaging results in the field of smartphone photography - and to take it to the next level of quality", emphasizes Dr Andreas Kaufmann, majority shareholder and chairman of the supervisory board of Leica Camera AG.

More details on the culmination of Huawei and Leica's partnership, which will span research and development, design, co-engineering, user experience, marketing and retail distribution, will be shared as the partnership continues.

About Huawei Consumer Business Group

Huawei's products and services are available in more than 170 countries and are used by a third of the world's population, ranking third in the world in mobile phone shipments in 2014. Sixteen R&D centers have been set up in the United States, Germany, Sweden, Russia, India, and China. Huawei Consumer Business Group is one of Huawei's three business units and covers smartphones, mobile broadband devices, home devices and cloud services. Huawei's global network is built on 20 years of expertise in the telecom industry and is dedicated to delivering the latest technological advances to consumers around the world.

For more information please visit: http://consumer.huawei.com

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About Leica Camera

Leica Camera AG is an internationally operating, premium-segment manufacturer of cameras and sport optics products. The legendary status of the Leica brand is founded on a long tradition of excellence in the construction of lenses. And today, in combination with innovative technologies, Leica products continue to guarantee better pictures in all situations in the worlds of visualisation and perception. Leica Camera AG has its headquarters in Wetzlar, in the state of Hesse in Germany, and a second production site in Vila Nova de Famalicão, Portugal. The company operates branch offices in China, England, France, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, South Korea, Italy, Australia and the USA. New and innovative products have been the driving force behind the company's positive development in recent years.

...And this press release from Leica Camera AG:

HUAWEI and Leica Camera announce long-term technology partnership for the reinvention of smartphone photography

Leaders in the smartphone and photographic worlds come together to create a premium visual world renaissance

[Wetzlar, 25th February, 2016] Today HUAWEI Consumer Business Group (BG) and Leica Camera AG are delighted to announce the start of a strategic partnership, a co-operation with shared premium ambitions and spirit, which will see both technology and photography brands combining their shared ethos in a long-term commitment to the art of craftsmanship, meticulous engineering and the spirit of winning collaboration, to create a powerhouse in the reinvention of smartphone photography. In 2012, HUAWEI became the world’s third-largest smartphone manufacturer and was the first Chinese company to sell more than 100 million mobile phones in one year in 2015. The first Chinese brand to appear on the prestigious Interbrand Best Global Brands list in 2014, HUAWEI soared to number 88 in 2015 whilst launching the globally critically acclaimed HUAWEI Watch and HUAWEI P8. In 2016, HUAWEI looks to build on its success with Leica Camera: a mutually beneficial collaboration with the most iconic name in the photographic world to bring joint superior excellence to consumers.

For over 100 years, premium iconic camera manufacturer Leica Camera has been creating lightweight cameras favoured by street photographer pioneers and world-class optical lenses, fulfilling the passions of its community. With ingenious optical engineering and formidable craftsmanship, Leica cameras, recognisable by their ‘red dot’ branding, are German engineering at its best, and continue to attract new generations of consumers who aspire to achieve “the Leica look” and own these masterpieces of design. In addition to making precision-crafted masterpieces, Leica supports prominent photographers and emerging new talent around the world.

Richard Yu, CEO of the HUAWEI Consumer BG said: “We choose our partners carefully, and with this extraordinary collaboration we are offering our wide customer base and consumers the best elements of two expert brands in harmony: combining innovation and design, enhancing the user experience and continuing to inspire amazing advancement in human technology through exceptional premium imaging quality. Leica is a legend in the world of photography; we believe no other manufacturer has revolutionised the industry as much as them. We, HUAWEI, take the utmost pride in exceptional quality and Leica is in a class of its own in its sector.”

Oliver Kaltner, CEO of Leica Camera AG said: “The strategic alliance between HUAWEI and Leica Camera demonstrates the desire of two rapidly growing and globally active brands to continuously push the envelope of the technologically possible. In addition to innovative strength and premium standards, our two companies are united by the commitment to uncompromising quality. The technology partnership with HUAWEI offers Leica Camera an excellent opportunity to introduce its proven optical expertise into a new product segment and to unlock exciting business areas in the field of mobile devices. Smartphones make a very important contribution to the world of photography and open an important door for Leica to new target groups and fields of application.” “The legendary status of the Leica brand is founded on a long tradition of innovation, highest precision and craftsmanship. I’m pleased and convinced that the traditional German medium-sized company Leica Camera will bring its values and comprehensive expertise in optical engineering to the long-term partnership with HUAWEI in order to achieve the best possible imaging results in the field of smartphone photography – and to take it to the next level of quality”, emphasizes Dr Andreas Kaufmann, majority shareholder and chairman of the supervisory board of Leica Camera AG.

More details on the culmination of HUAWEI and Leica’s partnership, which will span research and development, design, co-engineering, user experience, marketing and retail distribution, will be shared as the partnership continues.

About Leica Camera

Leica Camera AG is an internationally operating, premium-segment manufacturer of cameras and sport optics products. The legendary status of the Leica brand is founded on a long tradition of excellence in the construction of lenses. And today, in combination with innovative technologies, Leica products continue to guarantee better pictures in all situations in the worlds of visualisation and perception. Leica Camera AG has its headquarters in Wetzlar, in the state of Hesse in Germany, and a second production site in Vila Nova de Famalicão, Portugal. The company operates branch offices in China, England, France, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, South Korea, Italy, Australia and the USA. New and innovative products have been the driving force behind the company’s positive development in recent years.

About HUAWEI Consumer Business Group

HUAWEIs products and services are available in more than 170 countries and are used by a third of the world’s population, ranking third in the world in mobile phone shipments in 2014. Sixteen R&D centers have been set up in the United States, Germany, Sweden, Russia, India, and China. HUAWEI Consumer Business Group is one of HUAWEIs three business units and covers smartphones, mobile broadband devices, home devices and cloud services. HUAWEIs global network is built on 20 years of expertise in the telecom industry and is dedicated to delivering the latest technological advances to consumers around the world.

Update (03/01/16):

VentureBeat has posted about the Huawei P9 unveiled: first live photos of the dual-camera flagship. There are rumored to be four models forthcoming, with high-end specs - and dual cameras... Closing with:

Huawei first employed a dual-camera, dual lens arrangement in the Honor 6 Plus; in that handset, the additional sensor-lens combo enabled a few neat tricks like post-capture refocus, simulated aperture adjustment, and filter application.

The second generation of that technology will be one of the highlights of this P-series family, we’re told. Its pair of 12-megapixel sensors and Leica-made lenses should enable even more unique capabilities, as the concept is further refined. However, the handset in question was seemingly running non-final firmware.

Launch and release — along with expected pricing — are still up in the air, though they should occur sometime in the second quarter.

Update (03/07/16):

Looks like there will be an announcement on March 8, 2016 at an event in Berlin (sound familiar?) - followed by the launch on April 6, 2015 - according to Geeksnack! The specs and pricing look pretty good, too:

...Under the hood, the base model will apparently sport a HiSilicon Kirin 950 processor, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB internal storage and a massive 3900 mAh camera. The Huawei P9 will settle into the middle of the flagship line-up with a 5.2-inch 1080p FHD display and fingerprint sensor on the rear. The enhanced version is going to bump these specs to a 6.2-inch FHD display, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB internal storage and an even bigger battery. Like the Huawei P8 Lite, the Huawei P9 Lite will be the mid-range option, sporting the same display, but a Snapdragon 650 CPU instead of the Kirin 950. The P9 Max will be the largest of the group, sporting a 6.8-inch display and up to 128 GB internal storage, alongside the Kirin CPU and 4 GB RAM. So all in all, in a couple of days, we should see the Chinese up and comer unveil four different phones, made for four different types of customers.

Apparently, the entire line-up will be relatively budget-friendly. The Huawei P9 price will most likely be around $500 unlocked, the P9 Lite price should be between $300 and $350, the P9 Max will most likely be around $630 while the enhanced version should cost as much as $700 unlocked...

The release date seems to be backed up by Android Authority, The Mobile Indian and International Business Times though it should be noted that these stories all reference the same tweet by Evan Blass (a.k.a. ).

Here are leaked pictures of the phone from Weibo (China):

Leica/Huawei P9 leaked photo

Leica/Huawei P9 leaked photo

Leica/Huawei P9 leaked photo

Leica/Huawei P9 leaked photo

Update (03/09/16):

Utter silence on any "March 8 event in Berlin." However... Huawei has sent out invites to a media event in London on April 6, and while it doesn't explicitly state that it will unveil its new high-end handsets there, that seems to be a pretty safe bet.

The tagline on the invite states "change the way you see the world", along with a rather unusual #OO hashtag. It doesn't take a great leap of imagination to see this as a thinly veiled reference to the dual 12-megapixel cameras - co-developed with German imagine specialists Leica - which will sit on the back of the P9.

Leica/Huawei event invite for London on April 6, 2016

Update (04/04/16):

The latest leaked photos of the Huawei/Leica P9 phone, showing the dual cameras on the back ahead of the launch in two days:

Leica/Huawei P9 leaked smartphone photo

Leica/Huawei P9 leaked smartphone photo