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What the Lecia Leitz 1 could learn from the three times camera makers failed with phones

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Available exclusively in Japan and built-in partnership with Sharp, the Leitz 1 mimics the style of the legendary brand’s range of highly desirable cameras.

This also isn’t the first time a big camera brand has tried to transfer its expertise to phones. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out particularly well in the past.

Leica is no stranger to phones and it has partnered with Huawei on multiple occasions before, slapping its branding across many entries in the P and Mate series.

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Will Leica manage to avoid joining these photography heavyweights in smartphone embarrassment? Only time will tell, but history doesn’t bode well.

The much-delayed device had a 3D display and a set of pins on the back that were supposedly there to allow you to connect a range of high-end camera add-ons, like a viewfinder, to the phone. These never materialised.

Hydrogen One
Arguably one of the biggest smartphone failures of all time, the Hydrogen One was massively hyped by cinematography brand Red in the run-up to release in 2018.

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It was wildly expensive at $1300 and clearly disappointed many when it eventually saw a release.

The phone never arrived in the UK and we never managed to get our hands on one. In The Verge’s damning review of the Hydrogen One just about everything was criticised, from the camera performance to the poor display and bulky build.

You won’t be surprised to hear a Hydrogen Two was quickly cancelled. Kodak Ektra
The Ektra was a 2016 phone that was supposed to take inspiration from the Kodak Ektra camera. As you can probably guess, it wasn’t very good.

Built in partnership with Bullit Group (the people behind the Land Rover and JCB phones), the phone had a decent look with a faux leather back that did sort of look like a camera. Shame the photos captured by the Ektra were awful and the performance equally bad.

Hasselblad True Zoom
Hasselblad partnered with OnePlus earlier this year. The OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro carried some branding and a camera app inspired by the Swedish brand. While the results weren’t revolutionary, they were far from bad. So why has Hasselblad found its way into this list?

Well, the partnership with OnePlus wasn’t the first time we’ve seen that name emblazoned on something smartphone-related. The Hasselblad True Zoom was an add-on for the Moto Mod modular phone system, a short-lived line of accessories for Motorola devices. The True Zoom was a camera attachment that added a 12MP camera, 10x optical zoom and a physical shutter button to compatible phones.

While it sounds like a clever idea, the result wasn’t great. In our True Zoom review we said, “While the Hasselblad True Zoom as a concept is great, the execution isn’t quite there. As you likely won’t keep the Hasselblad True Zoom permanently attached to your Moto Z, it’s not going to be vastly more inconvenient to carry a superior-performing compact camera around with you and you won’t also be sacrificing battery life of your phone.

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