When we heard Huawei and Leica were teaming up to brand the Huawei P9 and Huawei P9 Plus’s dual-rear camera sensors with the legendary camera company’s name, we figured it was just another marketing thing and that there wasn’t much in the way of actual collaboration going on here.
That was until they started saying the cameras were “co-engineered” with Leica. This would seem to suggest Leica and Huawei were in the labs hammering out the best glass they could, and while that’s a nice thought it appears that’s not at all what’s going on.
Instead, the cameras were supposedly engineered by a Chinese company by the name of Sunny Optical, and neither Huawei nor Leica had a hand in their development at all. Leica’s hand came with granting a license to Sunny Optical to make the camera, and granting a license to Huawei for using their name. Leica’s only supposed involvement was helping to create the image profile algorithm that gives the photos that “Leica feel.”
And while that’s all fine and dandy, how do we know how much work Leica actually put into creating that profile? How do we know it wasn’t simply a team of Huawei engineers who got a quick thumbs up from a Leica intern? Other things Leica did to let their “influence” shine through, such as the Leica shutter sound when you snap a photo, are convincing and all — it’s a really nice touch, actually — but that hardly constitutes using the term “co-engineered.”
But the real question is: do you actually care? It’s not actually Leica glass, but if it takes nice photos (which it sure seems able to do) is that all that would matter for you? That’s the question you have to answer for yourself. Try to find the answer to that question before you commit to paying hundreds of dollars for a Huawei P9. In the meantime, we’re going to be talking to Huawei to see if we can’t get some clarification on this whole thing.