In 2016, Leica made a pivotal move into the global smartphone market by partnering with one of the world’s largest device makers, China’s Huawei.
While several Huawei smartphones with Leica optics have been launched since the partnership was announced (including the Mate 10 Pro, reviewed here), the business environment has changed drastically–at least in the U.S.
In February of 2018, the directors of the CIA, FBI, NSA and several other intelligence agencies told Congress that Huawei devices posed a security threat to the United States and that U.S. consumers should stay away from them. Several carriers, including AT&T and Verizon promptly dropped Huawei products. Best Buy followed suit.
While Huawei has spoken out against the U.S. decision, Leica has remained relatively quiet about the issue. We asked the company whether the partnership with Huawei was still in tact now that the lucrative U.S. market was suddenly in jeopardy.
The short answer is that it is.
“In February 2016, Leica Camera AG and the HUAWEI Consumer Business Group announced the beginning of a long-term technology partnership in the field of optical engineering. The objective of this was, and remains, the collaborative development of innovative solutions to achieve best possible imaging results in the smartphone photography segment and to raise this capability to a new quality level,” company spokesperson Michael Röder told us via email.
“As it is essential that a partnership of this nature not only outwardly communicates mutual values, but also upholds such values in its day-to-day business activities, both parties agreed not only on purely business-relevant aspects, but also precisely scrutinized areas such as Corporate Policy and Business Ethics beforehand and set them out in the form of an Honesty and Integrity Agreement. At no point in time during the collaboration with Huawei did any business conduct come to light that could be described as being ‘questionable’ or in any way ‘unethical’. The high degree of transparency and professionalism demonstrated by Huawei in all dealings with its customers is also clearly evident in the collaboration with Leica.”
It’s important to emphasize that while the U.S. government has spoken out against Huawei, they haven’t actually banned them. Consumers who wish to purchase Huawei phones with Leica optics can do so at retailers like Wal-Mart and B&H. At least for now.
Don’t Miss: Hands-on with the Huawei Mate 10 Pro
Update: The headline has been changed to reflect the fact that Leica was responding to a question about Huawei.