HMD Global, the Finnish company that licensed the rights to produce Nokia phones, is now rekindling an old partnership with Zeiss camera lenses. Nokia-built phones used Carl Zeiss optics for years, heralding it as a selling point for the popular N95 smartphone a decade ago. HMD is now bringing back the Zeiss branding on Nokia-branded phones in a move designed to position its devices with yet another logo and push the idea of a superior camera on consumers.
While the partnership has been revived today, HMD isn’t committing to a timeframe for new phones with Zeiss lenses. HMD has already unveiled a trio of Nokia-branded Android smartphones, but none of them feature Zeiss optics. HMD’s existing devices are all unremarkable mid-range Android phones, but the company has promised a premium handset for the future.
It’s clear that any future premium handset will include Zeiss optics, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a superior camera from what’s already on the market. While Zeiss has featured on many Nokia devices, including its famous 808 and PureView handsets, it’s Nokia’s own image sampling technologies that gave it an advantage over the competition rather than the lenses alone.
Any new Nokia-branded premium phones won’t be made by the same engineers that pioneered PureView. Apple hired Nokia’s Lumia photography expert, and the majority of the talent behind Nokia’s camera work left the company when Microsoft acquired Nokia’s phone business. HMD will have to prove that its premium handset with Zeiss optics isn’t just an average Android phone with a couple of respected stickers on it.