Leica’s “Leitz Phone 2” has a giant 1-inch camera sensor and a magnetic lens cover

Meet the Leica Leitz 2, a phone from the famous German camera manufacturer exclusively for … Japan? If smartphones are eating 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 Sharp! Now the Japanese exclusivity makes sense. If you have to base your branded smartphone on someone else’s hardware, it’s hard to go wrong with the Sharp Aquos R7, an incredibly unique Android phone that ditches many of the dumb phone trends that other manufacturers mindlessly cling to. The R7 walked out the door with Leica-branded optics, so that appears to be the other half of that deal.

Sharp is no stranger to unique smartphone designs, and the Leica phone and its sibling, the R7, make some very good decisions. Instead of a set of questionably useful little cameras on the back, you get one giant camera: a 1-inch Sony IMX989 sensor. This is the largest size currently available on a smartphone. Normally, the IMX989 is 50MP, but Leica cuts that a bit short, listing an “effective pixel count of 47.2MP.” The screen is flat, which is a big change from the old, distorted, curved screens that companies typically put on Android flagship phones. The curved screen gimmick is from Samsung, the supplier of screens for most smartphones in the world, but here the screen is made by Sharp, a 6.6-inch 2730 x 1260 OLED with a very excessive 240Hz refresh rate.

The other unique feature that Sharp offers is that it seems to be the only company interested in Qualcomm’s giant 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 reading. The Qualcomm Sonic Max 3D sensor is big, though it’s big enough to fit on two fingers, so you won’t miss it. This sensor was released in 2019, but no one uses it because it is too expensive.

Zoom in / The corners of the screen don’t match the corners of the body, resulting in the two-tone ring appearance.

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As for Leica’s actual contributions to this phone, it has a redesigned aluminum frame with 90-degree angles and a jagged texture running down the side of the frame. Screen design could be better. The 90-degree angles make the front a bit awkward, as the screen is still pulled from the Aquos R7 with rounded corners, so the phone now has a screen that doesn’t match the body’s angles. You get rounded viewing angles with a matching black bezel, then 90-degree aluminum, giving the front an exotic double-edged look. Some phones, like the Galaxy S22 Ultra, have 90-degree corners, but they fare better in the looks department thanks to identical displays.

Of course, Leica took care of the design of the rear camera. The 1-inch camera sensor required a large rear camera bump, but not the size of the camera Leica decided to use, and the circular camera bump now extends to include an LED flash and to include an unphotographed 2-megapixel rangefinder sensor. To replicate the “real camera” feel, the Leica Leitz Phone 2 has a large magnetic camera lens cover that cuts off the top of the entire rear camera bump. There’s even a black casing on it, which kind of looks like it’s trying to replicate the camera’s traditional black and silver design, but it just doesn’t look textured.

Zoom in / The lens cap and black housing give a true “real camera” look.

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Leica is not the camera manufacturer here, but has made 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 the effect of bokeh and different focal points. There’s a “golden hour widget” that supposedly tells you when it’s sunset by an hour, as well as a widget that shows photos from the Leica Photography International Show.

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 on top of that red dot (and storage bump). Prices in Japan are 225,360 yen (about $1,580), while the regular R7 is priced at 189,360 yen or $1,365.

Leica photo list

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