to meet Leica Leitz Phone 2, an exclusive phone from the famous German camera maker… Japan? If smartphones are entering the camera market, it makes sense that some camera companies would try to go the other way.
Leica is not a smartphone company, so the company that makes this phone is actually Sharp! Now Japan’s exclusivity makes sense. If you have to base your branded smartphone on someone else’s hardware, it’s hard to go wrong with using it. Sharp Aquos R7, a stunningly unique Android phone that bucks a lot of the dumb phone trends that other manufacturers have mindlessly stuck to. The R7 came out of the gate with Leica branded optics, so that’s probably the other half of that deal.
Sharp is no stranger unique smartphone designs, and the Leica and its R7 sister phone make a lot of good decisions. Instead of questionably useful little rear cameras, you get one giant camera: a 1-inch Sony IMX989 sensor. It’s the biggest available on a smartphone right now. Normally the IMX989 is 50MP, but Leica cuts that a bit and lists “47.2MP effective pixel count”. The screen is flat, a nice change from the pointlessly curved and distorted screens that companies usually put on their flagship Android phones. The curved screen trick is handled by Samsung, the display supplier of most of the world’s smartphones, but the display here is a 6.6-inch 2730×1260 OLED, 240Hz refresh rate made by Sharp.
Another unique feature of Sharp is that it is the only company interested in Qualcomm. huge 3D Sonic Max in-display fingerprint sensor. The biggest problem with in-display fingerprint sensors is that there’s no tactile guidance on where to stick your finger, so it’s easy to miss the sensor a bit and get a bad read. Qualcomm’s 3D Sonic Max sensor is huge—big enough to fit two fingers, so you won’t miss it. This sensor came out in 2019, but nobody uses it because it is expensive.
As for current Leica contributions to this phone, it features a redesigned aluminum frame with 90-degree corners and a grippy, ribbed texture that runs along the side of the frame. The screen design could be better. The 90-degree corners make the front a bit awkward, as the display is still pulled from the rounded-cornered Aquos R7, so the phone now has a screen that doesn’t fit the body corners. You get rounded display corners with a matching black bezel, and then 90-degree aluminum corners, which give the front a weird, double-bezel look. Some phones, e.g Galaxy S22 UltraThere are 90-degree corners, but they do better in the looks department thanks to the matching screens.
Leica naturally paid a lot of attention to the rear camera design. The 1-inch camera sensor needs a large rear camera bump, but it’s not as large as Leica decided, and the circular camera bump now includes an LED flash and a non-photo 2MP distance sensor. To replicate the “real camera” feel, the Leica Leitz Phone 2 has a large, magnetic camera lens cover that cuts off the entire rear camera bump. There’s even a black body for it, which tries to replicate the traditional black and silver camera design, but doesn’t look textured.
Leica isn’t the camera maker here, but it has created a “proprietary software engine” that “brings that typical ‘Leica look’ to smartphone photography.” It has three filters named after Leica lenses that try to replicate bokeh and different focal lengths. There’s a “Golden Hour widget” that tells you an hour before sunset, and a widget that shows images from the Leica Fotografie International Gallery.
The spec sheet is the same as the Aquos R7: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC, 12GB of RAM, 512GB of storage (which is actually double the R7), 5000mAh battery, IP68 dust and water resistance, and Android 12. There’s even. headphone jack.
You’ll pay a premium for that red dot (and storage case). In Japan, the price is 225,360 yen (~$1,580), while the regular R7 is 189,360 yen or ~$1,365.
Listing image by Leica
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