There’s been growing speculation in corners of the internet that Nokia has been preparing to rekindle an old relationship for future smartphones, and it turns out those hunches were correct. Today HMD Global, which now owns the Nokia brand, and Zeiss, one of the leading brands in the imaging hardware industry, have announced a new long term development partnership aimed at setting new imaging standards in the smartphone industry. In other words, this will almost certainly result in premium camera hardware heading to future Nokia Android smartphones.
The two companies haven’t confirmed exactly how long running this deal will be, but did compare the agreement to Zeiss’ 20 plus year collaboration with Sony on camera optics. Zeiss isn’t just bringing its industry renowned optics to the Nokia deal though, the company is very much viewing this partnership as an opportunity to work on the entire camera package together. Zeiss is also bringing its sensor, processing, and software algorithms into the development partnership.
Zeiss isn't just loaning HMD the brand name, this is a close partnership that covers optics, sensors, and imaging algorithms.
If this arrangement sounds familiar it’s because Nokia and Zeiss have previously worked together on phone cameras. Back in 2004 the two began work on camera technology that would appear inside 2005’s Nokia N series. Zeiss optics were also later used inside the Lumia series of smartphones that boasted the highly rated PureView camera setup, and included the impressive 41 megapixel Lumia 1020.
HMD and Zeiss chose to renew their partnership this year as the two view each other as a good fit for their values. Zeiss is looking for a long term trustworthy partner while HMD continues to collaborate with some of the best expertise in the industry to bolster its development of future Nokia hardware. As this is an exclusive deal, we won’t be seeing any of Zeiss’ technology make its way to smartphones from any other OEM.
Unfortunately, neither HMD nor Zeiss could confirm details about any upcoming products, nor what type of camera technologies the two are working on. So it might be a while yet until we see our first handset developed under this deal and the company. However, during an interview we did learn a little bit about the trends that the two companies are keeping an eye on.
“The collaboration of HMD Global with ZEISS for Nokia smartphones will again enhance consumers’ holistic imaging experience based on excellence and innovation. Our partnership is built on a solid foundation. Together, we look forward to an exciting journey into the future of sophisticated smartphone imaging.” - Dr. Matthias Metz, Member of the Executive Board of ZEISS Group
When asked about the trend toward dual camera and “optical zoom” capabilities, HMD Chief Marketing Officer Pekka Rantala noted that this was a particularly interesting area worthy of exploration and one that is already producing some new promising features for consumers. Zeiss’ Dr. Winfried Scherle seemed even more enthusiastic about growing consumer appetite for video content, specifically short shareable clips. The company is also keeping a close eye on augmented and virtual reality trends, and Zeiss already sells its VR One Plus headset.
With Zeiss onboard, HMD not only has a powerful brand and the nostalgia factor to leverage, but also access to premium camera technologies that could quickly propel the OEM back to the top of mobile camera market. Are you excited to see what this deal has in store for future Nokia smartphones?