December 9, 2022

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"Leitz Phone 2" from Leica has a giant 1-inch camera sensor, magnetic lens cover

“Leitz Phone 2” from Leica has a giant 1-inch camera sensor, magnetic lens cover

Met Leica Leitz 2 . phone, a phone from the famous German camera manufacturer and exclusive to … Japan? If smartphones are eating into the camera market, it makes sense that some camera companies will try to go the other way.

Leica is not a smartphone company, so the company that makes this phone is Sharp! Now exclusivity in Japan makes sense. If you have to build your branded smartphone on someone else’s hardware, it’s hard to go wrong with Sharp Aquos R7, an amazingly unique Android phone that sheds a lot of the stupid phone trends that other manufacturers are mindlessly sticking with. The R7 came out the door with Leica-branded optics, so it looks like that’s the other half of that deal.

Sharp is no stranger to Unique designs for smartphonesThe Leica and its sibling R7 make a lot of good decisions. Instead of a bunch of dubiously useful little rear cameras, you get one giant camera: a 1-inch Sony IMX989 sensor. This is the largest size currently available on a smartphone. The IMX989 is usually 50 megapixels, but Leica cuts it a bit and lists an “effective pixel count of 47.2 megapixels.” The screen is flat, which is a big change from the stale, distorted, curved screens that companies typically put on Android flagships. The gimmick works on the curved screen from Samsung, the supplier of most smartphone screens in the world, but here the screen is made by Sharp, a 6.6-inch 2730 x 1260 OLED with a very hyper-refresh rate of 240Hz.

Another unique feature that Sharp offers is that it appears to be the only company interested in Qualcomm Giant 3D Sonic Max In-screen 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 reading. Qualcomm’s 3D Sonic Max sensor is huge, although it’s big enough to fit two fingers, so you won’t miss it. This sensor was released in 2019, but no one uses it because it is so expensive.

Zoom / The corners of the screen do not match the corners of the body, which leads to the appearance of the two-tone frame.

Ica

As for Leica’s actual contributions to this phone, it has a redesigned aluminum frame at 90-degree angles and a knurled textured finish that runs down the side of the frame. Screen design could be better. The 90-degree angles make the front a little awkward, since the screen is still pulled from the rounded-corner Aquos R7, so the phone now has a screen that doesn’t match the body angles. You get rounded viewing angles with a matching black frame, then aluminum 90-degree angles, giving the front an exotic double-framed look. Some phones, like Galaxy S22 Ultraat 90-degree angles, but it does better in the appearance department thanks to the mirrored screens.

Leica has naturally taken care of the rear camera design. The 1-inch camera sensor needed a large bumper for the rear camera, but not the size of the camera Leica decided to use, and the circular camera bump now extends to include the LED flash and the non-photographed 2-megapixel telemetry sensor. To replicate the “real camera” feel, the Leica Leitz Phone 2 has a large magnetic camera lens cover that cuts out the entire top of the rear camera bump. There’s even a black case for it, which kind of looks like it’s trying to replicate the traditional black and silver camera design, but it doesn’t look airtight.

The lens hood and black case really give it away
Zoom / The black lens hood and case give the look of a real “real camera”.

Ica

Leica is not the camera manufacturer here, but they have made a “proprietary software engine” that “brings this typical Leica look to smartphone photography.” It contains three filters named after Leica lenses that attempt to replicate the bokeh effect and different focal lengths. There is a “golden hour widget” that supposedly tells you when it’s sunset by an hour as well as a widget that shows images from the international Leica Fotografie.

The spec sheet is the same as the Aquos R7: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC, 12GB of RAM, 512GB of storage (that’s actually double the R7), 5,000mAh battery, IP68 dust and water resistance, and Android 12. There’s also a headphone jack.

You’ll pay a premium for that red dot (and storage bump). The price in Japan is 225,360 yen (about 1,580 US dollars), while the regular R7 is 189,360 yen, or 1,365 US dollars.

leica picture list

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