SoftBank in Japan has announced a Leica-branded phone for the Japanese market, the Leitz Phone 1. This is not Leica's first foray into the smartphone market. The historic German company has previously had a partnership with the Chinese tech company Huawei and lent the Leica name to many of Huawei's high-end smartphones. More recently, Leica partnered with Sharp on its new Aquos R6 smartphone, complete with a Leica-branded camera system. Leica has gone a step further now with its own branded smartphone, which incidentally looks identical to the Sharp Aquos R6 announced last month with a Leica-branded camera system.
It comes as no surprise that a Leica smartphone would place a heavy emphasis on the camera system. Looking at the back of the Leitz Phone 1, the camera system looks quite large, and it is. The smartphone features a single 20MP 1"-type image sensor, which we believe is the largest in a mainstream smartphone (well, alongside the Sharp Aquos R6). The image sensor is not so different from what you find in Sony's RX100 compact camera series.
The sensor is paired with a 19mm-equivalent f/1.9 Summicron lens. The lens has seven elements and includes an aspherical lens. If you want a narrower field of view, you must utilize digital zoom, which is unusual in 2021. Most smartphones, especially high-end devices, include a multi-camera setup. Granted, other phones also include much smaller image sensors.
In terms of camera specs and all other specs, the Leitz Phone 1 is identical to the Sharp Aquos R6. What sets Leica's smartphone apart is its styling. The camera is encased in a large round design, and the phone has Leica's iconic red dot logo.
Inside the phone is a Snapdragon 888 processor, 12GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and a 5,000mAh battery. The front of the device is dominated by a 6.6" display with 2730 x 1260 resolution. The display has a peak brightness of 2,000 nits, which is mighty bright. The OLED display also has a variable refresh rate ranging from 1 to 240Hz. On paper, it's an impressive panel.
The Leitz Phone 1 will be available only in Japan, at least for now. It will be available starting in July. Optional accessories include a premium soft case and a silver Leica-branded lens cap. Preorders start in Japan tomorrow, and the Leitz Phone 1 will retail for 187,920 yen, which is currently just over $1,700 USD.