The camera has increasingly become one of the most important elements in a new smartphone, and not just for the top-end flagship devices. We now expect high-quality cameras in all but the very cheapest phones, and showing off a new camera capability or function has become a popular method for phone manufacturers to differentiate their product from the competition. The Huawei P9 and P9 Plus, released in April this year, not only boasted dual-camera setups, but also the credibility of camera manufacturer Leica being involved in the creating of the camera modules. And now Huawei and Leica have announced the opening of a joint research facility to further their collaboration in the development of new optics, as well as for research into the imaging software and virtual reality.
The Huawei P9 and P9 Plus phones received some mixed reviews overall, but were widely praised for the quality of the images coming from the dual camera setup. One camera captures a color image and the other a black and white image. The images are then combined in order to enhance the levels of detail and contrast in the final image. Following their release there were some rumors that Leica had not been involved in the development of the cameras, with it's name only being added as a branding exercise. Huawei though have since reaffirmed that Leica were fully involved and the cameras were engineered jointly between the two companies.
Huawei is the largest manufacturer of telecoms products globally, and Leica is one of the most respected names in the camera industry with a long history of high quality cameras used by some of the most renowned photographers. As with it's partnership with Panasonic in the production of many Panasonic cameras and lenses, Leica's involvement adds significant expertise and credibility to Huawei's camera development.
The new research facility is to be called the 'Max Berek Innovation Lab' and will be based at Leica's headquarters in Wetzlar, Germany. The plan for the lab is also said to include projects involving universities and other research facilities. The announcement of the new facility doesn't confirm whether Leica will be specifically involved directly in future Huawei smartphones, but that does seem to be a strong possibility.