Leica set to blur the lines between professional cameras and smartphones

Xiaomi 12s Ultra Concept phone
(Image credit: Xiaomi)

Leica and Xiaomi are taking the industry of smartphone photography to new heights by attempting to create a pocket-sized mobile device that can capture images as high-quality as that of a DSLR.

This innovation would be an absolute game changer for those who prefer shooting images on a smartphone, but desire the same results as when using a "proper" camera with a much larger sensor.

These are the best Xiaomi Phones in 2023

Leica has said that it intends to revolutionize smartphone photography through its latest collaboration with Xiaomi – the eagerly anticipated Xiaomi 13 Pro. Many photographers would jump at the chance to experience the power and professionalism of the best Leica cameras with the portability and affordability of one of the best camera phones – and now it might just be possible.

This strategic partnership between the two tech companies, first announced in May 2022, resulted in the creation of the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, released in July 2022 and featuring a triple Leica camera module. Another outcome of the partnership saw the development of a Xiaomi 12S Ultra concept phone that can use interchangeable Leica M-series lenses.

As the Indian Express reports, Marius Eschweiler, vice president of Business Unit Mobile at Leica Camera AG, believes that Leica and Xiaomi’s collaboration may change the idea of mobile photography as we know it today. 

"With smartphones having that restriction on the form factor, you have to look for different solutions. One aspect is using multiple lenses but computational imaging and algorithms are helping us a lot to get the best out of the physically restricted smartphones."

See our Xiaomi 12s Ultra review (Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

We've recently posited that 200MP smartphones aren't necessary. These devices aren't really what they seem, and output and produce results at much lower image qualities due to pixel-binning processes. The smaller sensors fitted into smartphones restrict them in comparison to larger format cameras, but this may be about to change. 

"We take into account all the different aspects of the camera system of the smartphone, from the physical components, the lenses to the sensors and the focusing system, it’s a core engineering by Leica and Xiaomi," noted Pablo A Noda, head of development and Engineering Mobile at Leica Camera AG. 

The partnership aims to "achieve results that are more similar to our professional cameras, thanks to software and hardware tailored for high-end smartphones." 

Multiple Indian news outlets have reported that the anticipated Xiaomi 13 Pro featuring Leica lenses will be launching this month in India – as early as February 26. Not much is known yet about this upcoming flagship, but the 12S Ultra was equipped with a 1-inch-type sensor, much larger than those traditionally found in smartphones – which, combined with the new engineering developments, will likely be key to achieving superior image quality in the 13 Pro. 

• You may also be interested in the best Leica M lenses, plus the best L-mount lenses, and if you're on a budget check out the best Leica camera alternatives, as well as the cheapest Leica cameras you can buy

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.