This could be the next big thing for iconic camera maker Leica

Key Points
  • Leica collaborated with Chinese smartphone maker Huawei on a dual-camera system as part of a strategic partnership
  • Andreas Kaufmann, chairman of the company's supervisory board, told CNBC his personal dream was to one day see a "true Leica phone"
Leica's Kaufmann on black and white photography
Leica's Kaufmann on black and white photography

Leica Camera may be known for its cameras, but the iconic brand may have its sights set on something beyond its traditional forte ー phones.

The high-end optics manufacturer co-engineered a dual-camera system with Chinese smartphone maker Huawei last year as part of a strategic partnership, offering its optics expertise to a new demographic of consumers.

That partnership resulted in the launch of the Huawei P9 smartphone, which touted its innovative dual-lens camera as one of its selling points.

When asked about what else could be expected from the partnership between the two companies, the chairman of the German camera maker hinted that when it came to smartphone camera systems, it could be a case of the more the merrier.

"It gets a bit confidential, but you could think of this: Are two camera systems enough for a smartphone? And that could give you a hint into the future," Andreas Kaufmann, chairman of the supervisory board of Leica Camera, told CNBC's "Managing Asia."

Aside from its partnership with Huawei, Leica has adapted its strategies and diversified its offerings as it dealt with what Kaufmann saw as the second leg of the digital revolution in the photography space.

An employee of German camera manufacturer Leica Camera places the iconic logo on a camera at the Leica production site in Solms.
Kai Pfaffenbach | Reuters

Where the first digital revolution saw film being replaced by digital cameras, the second involved the smartphone being adopted as the modern amateur camera, Kaufmann explained.

With that in mind, the next big thing for Leica could be in a sector in which it doesn't traditionally operate.

"I am not sure whether the company can do (this) … (But) one dream would be my personal dream: a true Leica phone," Kaufmann said.

Kaufmann's rationale for his "Leica phone" dream: "Every smartphone is wrong for photography at the moment," he told CNBC, highlighting how smartphones were used vertically, but had to be tilted horizontally for photography.

Smartphones also don't have the right set up for street photography or video, Kaufmann added.

"The phone nowadays is not fit really for photography … It's used as a camera, it's used as a video camera, but it's not built that way and I think there's a long way to go still."