UPDATE: After months of speculation, OM Digital Solutions – parent company of the Olympus imaging brand – has stated that Olympus is not working on a camera phone with Samsung.
Rumors began swirling in April that Olympus could bring its computational photography and in-body image stabilization expertise, exemplified by cameras like the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III (opens in new tab), to a potential successor to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (opens in new tab) and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 (opens in new tab).
• Read more: Best Samsung phones (opens in new tab)
However, Dutch website LetsGoDigital spoke to OM Digital Solutions and received a definitive answer on the situation. "The Japanese camera manufacturer has told us that there is no collaboration between Olympus and Samsung," wrote the outlet (opens in new tab).
"It remains unclear to us whether there have been discussions about a possible collaboration in the past. In any case, the camera system of the Samsung S22 series will not be designed in collaboration with Olympus."
As we speculated back in April (below), it looks to be a case of mistaken identity as Samsung codenamed a processor 'Olympus', leading observers to draw a link.
"The confusion may have arisen because the Exynos 2200 chip from Samsung is being designed under code name 'Olympus'. So that both names appeared several times next to each other," continued the site.
"In addition, OM Digital has openly indicated at the beginning of this year that it will enter into a collaboration with non-camera manufacturers, details about this are still unknown. Anyway, it is in any case not about a collaboration with Samsung."
UPDATE (19 Apr 2021): In addition to featuring Olympus cameras, upcoming Samsung phones could be set to feature the camera manufacturer's industry leading image stabilization system.
That's according to a new report, which suggests that the best camera phones (opens in new tab) from Samsung – potentially starting with the Samsung Galaxy S22 and Samsung Galaxy Fold 3 – could benefit from the in-body image stabilization (IBIS) wizardry of the best Olympus cameras (opens in new tab).
This would be a huge step for Samsung, whose phones have thus far only featured optical image stabilization. Other manufacturers – including Apple, with the iPhone 12 Pro Max (opens in new tab) – have started incorporating the same sensor shift technology principles seen in the IBIS systems of the best mirrorless cameras (opens in new tab).
SamMobile speculates (opens in new tab) that Samsung's rumored partnership with Olympus / OM Digital Solutions isn't just to adorn its phones with superior camera and lens tech, but to catch up to its rivals with sensor stabilization from the camera company that is widely regarded to have the best IBIS in the business.
If that proves to be the case, this could be a genuine game changer for camera phone photography…
ORIGINAL STORY (08 April 2021): Olympus is set to partner with Samsung to provide cameras for upcoming phones, potentially including the Samsung Galaxy Fold 3 and Samsung Galaxy S22, according to the latest reports.
The South Korean giant already produces some of the best camera phones (opens in new tab), such as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (opens in new tab) and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 (opens in new tab), so the addition of Olympus' camera expertise and technology could result in smartphone photography unlike anything we've ever seen before.
• Read more: Best Olympus cameras (opens in new tab)
The news comes courtesy of reliable smartphone industry leakers Yogesh and Ice Universe, who each have a solid track record when it comes to these rumors.
"As per the info I got, both Samsung and Olympus held talks about a possible partnership," tweeted Yogesh (opens in new tab). "The current status and extent of this partnership is not exactly clear. They could work on a special edition Fold or we could see this happen on 'H3' (S22 Ultra)."
This was corroborated by Ice Universe on Chinese social media platform Weibo (as reported by Gizmochina (opens in new tab). "My source told me that this is reliable news Samsung x Olympus".
The reports come just months after Olympus (under its new ownership, OM Digital Solutions) announced at CP+ 2021 (opens in new tab) that it would collaborate with other companies.
"I believe we can provide value to the photography activities and culture of our customers in areas other than cameras and lenses," said Setsuya Kataoka (opens in new tab), OM Digital's chief technology officer. "Instead of just doing things on our own, we will work with other partners when necessary."
It has been rumored that Samsung is working on a new processor codenamed 'Olympus', which is either a huge signpost as to the veracity of the reports or could be the root of miscommunication (with leakers potentially spotting the chip's name on a spec sheet and mistakenly thinking it's a brand collaboration).
If this does come to fruition, Olympus would join very prestigious company – including Leica and Hasselblad – in providing camera and lens technology to a smartphone manufacturer. And it could also learn some valuable new tricks from Samsung in the realm of computational photography, which it could bring back to the world of mirrorless cameras…