You might not be ready to put the Huawei P9 in the same arena as, say, the Samsung Galaxy S7 or the iPhone 6s, but the Chinese-made smartphone definitely grabbed a lot of headlines when it debuted early this month. While the smartphone’s specs do speak for it, much of the interest was focused on its main camera, a dual 12 megapixel color and monochrome duo. From the beginning, Huawei has been associating Leica with it, claiming it to be co-engineered with the famed camera maker. Recent reports reveal, however, that the branding might actually be quite a stretch.
To be fair, Huawei did only say that its dual cameras were “co-engineered” by Leica, not exactly made by it. But even that might actually already be a bit too much. According to reports, the cameras on the Huawei P9 were, in fact, made by Sunny Optical. MyDrivers claims that it is the largest mobile phone camera module supplier in the world. But don’t fret if you haven’t heard of it before, as those company’s names aren’t usually put on marketing materials anyway.
As for Leica’s involvement, apparently it was only to provide the certification for the cameras and even then it was supposedly very hands-off in terms of the engineering of the module. Perhaps Leica was content that the camera passes its quality standards, enough to lend its name as well.
Perhaps “Leica-certified” or even “approved” is a more accurate way to describe the Huawei P9’s cameras. Huawei insists on the “significant technological collaboration” between Huawei and Leica that goes beyond mere certification. See the PR statement below.
Huawei didn’t necessarily lie about Leica’s participation in the making of the Huawei P9, though some would perhaps already mark it as subtle deception. It does seem to be over marketing that particular aspect of the smartphone. The dual cameras are already interesting by themselves but the Leica mark definitely adds some air of superiority, if not validation.
Leica’s involvement, however remote, is also interesting. For one, the renowned German company would probably be up in arms at the use of its brand if the Sunny Optical camera modules weren’t up to its standards in the first place. It is also the first time Leica got involved in any way with a Chinese smartphone maker, which could hint at more collaboration, perhaps with more Chinese companies, in the near future.
UPDATE: Here is a statement from Huawei regarding the matter:
“The P9 and P9 Plus were co-engineered between Huawei and Leica. This is the first collaboration between the two companies following a long-term partnership that was announced in February. From the very beginning, Leica has been deeply involved in the development of these devices. There has been significant technological collaboration between Huawei and Leica around many aspects of the camera, including optical design, imaging quality, image data processing, optimization, and the mechanical construction of the camera module to the graphic user interface. The devices meet Leica’s highest imaging quality standards.”
VIA: DP Review