Leica phone announced by SoftBank in Japan

SoftBank has announced a Leica-branded phone for the Japanese market. Leica has lent its name to phone camera systems before, but this Leitz Phone 1 is the first time the Leica brand and iconic red dot has taken precedence on a smartphone.

The camera system is of course going to be paramount for a device like this, and the hardware here is certainly unusual. There’s a single 20-megapixel 1-inch sensor — the biggest in any phone — with a 19mm-equivalent f/1.9 ultrawide lens, meaning other focal lengths need to use digital zoom.

If that sounds familiar, well, Sharp announced the exact same thing a month ago. The Aquos R6 has the same Leica-branded camera system — though the Leitz Phone 1 makes it look a lot bigger — and other specs like its 120Hz Pro IGZO OLED screen are also a match.

On the other hand, the Aquos R6 doesn’t come with a lens cap and matching case.

SoftBank is also selling the Aquos R6 alongside the Leitz Phone 1, and isn’t attempting to hide the similarities behind the two phones. Instead, it’s positioning the R6 as a model for someone who just wants the Leica camera, and the Leitz Phone 1 for those who value Leica’s hardware design. And besides, what could be more in keeping with Leica tradition than tweaking existing products with a red dot?

Preorders for the Leitz Phone 1 start tomorrow in Japan. It’ll cost 187,920 yen, or about $1,700.

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