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HMD deal to bring ZEISS optics back to Nokia phones

With the Microsoft nightmare now long behind it, Nokia is re-establishing its exclusive collaboration with Zeiss, rekindling a “commitment to set new imaging standards for Nokia smartphone consumers".

Holy Moly, Dang! HDM and Zeiss are back, and the virtual selfie they’ve taken can be read in the word-picture below.

HMD and Zeiss have “announced the signing of an exclusive partnership that aims to set new imaging standards within the smartphone industry” in a “long-term agreement” that builds on both companies existing “shared history and expertise between Zeiss and Nokia smartphones".

Although iPhones are the top five “most popular cameras in the Flickr community” at the time of publication, with nary a Nokia in sight until we get to the ranking of Camera Brands, where those hated Windows-powered pre-HMD and post-burning platform Lumias find themselves in 14th spot (to Apple's top spot), HMD’s Nokia and Zeiss have a new joint ambition.

It is to “advance the quality of the total imaging experience on smartphones, spanning the entire ecosystem from software, services, through to screen quality, and optic design”, which will see the partnership of Zeiss and HMD Global “co-develop standard-defining imaging capabilities that will bring the Zeiss brand back to Nokia smartphones".

“Them’s fine photo-quality fightin’ words,” no cowboy from the wild-west would ever have said, but Nokia and Zeiss have “pledged to constantly improve consumers’ imaging experience”, saying it is “a reflection of the values shared by both businesses – a single-minded commitment to quality, true craftsmanship and a desire to improve real life experience".

At this point, consumers who loved and still love the Nokia legacy are probably just hoping Nokia starts making Android smartphones so good that Nokia returns to being a major force in the world of smartphones in general, but a little ambition never went astray, that’s for certain.

Naturally, both companies engage is a bit of a trip down memory lane, referring to their mutual relationship having begun “more than a decade ago”, which even then was “founded on a shared passion for innovation and always delivering the best for the consumer".

After all, I still fondly remember my Nokia N95 – the “multimedia computer” (and the phone preceding it) that came well before the iPhone in 2007 (which helped bring on the beginning of the end for the Nokia of old), which was during the era of Zeiss and Nokia’s past collaboration driving technological innovation.

Those early collaborations “such as the world’s first multi-megapixel mobile phone and many more standard-setting devices, from the Nokia N-series to those featuring Nokia PureView technologies” will now live on as the foundation for the new “long-term commitment to build on that technology innovation over the years to come".

Arto Nummela, chief executive, HMD Global, said: “Collaborating with Zeiss is an important part of our commitment to always deliver the very best experience for our customers.

“Our fans want more than a great smartphone camera, they want a complete imaging experience that doesn’t just set the standard but redefines it. Our fans expect it and, together with Zeiss, we’re delivering it – co-developed imaging excellence for all.”

Dr. Matthias Metz, member of the executive board of Zeiss Group, added: “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.”

HMD Global proudly boasts its exclusive partnership with Zeiss is “further proof of how HMD Global is collaborating with the best and most respected in the industry to drive perfection throughout every aspect of the phone design and build, and committed to delivering the best possible imaging experience on a smartphone to consumers".

With that, this snapshot in time will be analysed well into the future to see whether HMD was able to marry optics, software and hardware to make a truly measurable and technologically redefining difference in the smartphone computing world.

After all, with iPhones at the top of the charts at Flickr, and Samsung smartphones the number three brand, Zeiss’s participation in the higher quality smartphone cameras in the worlds of iOS and Android has, until now, been non-existent, so both Zeiss and HMD had better be releasing spectacular products for consumers to truly care.

Still, it does have the strong pedigree described above, and I always welcome anyone bringing better products to consumers, so I truly hope Zeiss and HMD’s performance is vastly more measurable and dramatically obvious than any mere photo finish.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.