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Leica launches today Friday, July 23 its first smartphone in Japan. The Leitz Phone 1 is a variation of the AQUOS R6 from Sharp. Both benefit from a 1-inch photo sensor and the expertise of the German firm. But is the Leica model really different?

Announced at the end of June, the Leica Leitz Phone 1 is officially proposed sold since this weekend. A marketing that unfortunately concerns only a handful of buyers, since the smartphone is only available in Japan. A specificity that can be explained by the fact that this Leitz Phone 1 is none other than a Sharp AQUOS R6, model presented in May and only sold in the land of the rising sun.

Named after the founder of Leica, Ernest Leitz (III), the Leitz Phone 1 is the first attempt of the German firm on the smartphone market. However, it is not a debut in the mobile world, as the company has forged close ties with Huawei. The two giants had signed a partnership in 2016 of which the Huawei P9 was the first fruit. A union that will actually end this year with the release of the P50, Huawei’s next flagship. Contrary to what we might think, this alliance is only about the software experience of the smartphone. Leica isn’t providing the Chinese company with a lens, but is offering its expertise to improve the photo component.

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This kind of marriage is not unique in the mobile world; Nokia and Carl Zeiss have sealed the same kind of deal, for example. More recently, OnePlus teamed up with Hasselblad to give its 9 and 9 Pro a photo experience equivalent to that offered on the Swedish manufacturer’s cameras.

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Why the Leitz and not the AQUOS?

The main attraction of the smartphone developed with Sharp is its 1-inch, 20-megapixel camera sensor. With Leica at the helm, one would logically expect an in-house lens dedicated to the brand’s smartphone. And it seems that this is indeed the case with the Leitz 1, whose aspherical lens is stamped Summicron and opens at f/1.9, like the one integrated in the Aquos R6. The layout of its back camera block is quite different, however – there’s even a magnetic cap to protect it, and its price is considerably higher: the red brand is charging for its lens.This is equivalent to about 1400 €.

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Finally, this Leica Leitz Phone 1 remains a smartphone that will appeal above all to fans of the German company. By taking the aesthetic codes of its iconic cameras, integrating its recognizable signature to the photo processing as well as offering an interface mimicking that of its products, its target seems well established.

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