Samsung's next flagship phones could have Olympus-produced cameras that would further improve their already superb photographic skills.
According to multiple leaks from usually reliable sources, first reported on by Tom's Guide France (opens in new tab), the two firms are set to partner on camera tech for forthcoming smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. And while there's nothing official about this partnership yet, the evidence is starting to pile up.
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Industry leaker Yogesh first tweeted about the potential link-up (opens in new tab) yesterday, claiming that "Samsung might be jumping on the latest trend of partnering with a camera brand. We might see this possibly happen on a special edition Fold."
He then followed up by stating that it wouldn't be "Zeiss, Leica or Hasselblad" before announcing that Samsung had held talks with Olympus.
As per the info I got, both Samsung and Olympus held talks about a possible partnership. The current status and extent of this partnership is not exactly clear. They could work on a special edition Fold or we could see this happen on 'H3' (S22 Ultra)https://t.co/y4ykWKIIR7April 7, 2021
That claim was lent further weight by Ice Universe on Chinese social media platform Weibo (reported by Gizmochina (opens in new tab)), who posted in response that "My source told me that this is reliable news Samsung x Olympus."
According to Yogesh, the first fruits of the partnership could be seen on either a special-edition version of the Z Fold 3 that we're expecting to launch this year, or the S22 Ultra — which will almost certainly arrive in early 2022.
If true, it would make Samsung the latest in a growing line of smartphone makers who turn to photographic giants for extra help in producing their camera modules.
Last month, the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro arrived with Hasselblad-tuned cameras that lifted them from average performers in photographic terms to genuine contenders for the best camera phones list. Huawei, meanwhile, has been working for several years with Leica.
A partnership would certainly make sense for Olympus. In February, it announced its intention to collaborate with other companies, with its chief technology officer stating "Instead of just doing things on our own, we will work with other partners when necessary."
That said, there's still the possibility that these rumors stem from no more than a misunderstanding. Samsung is said to be working on a new Exynos processor codenamed 'Olympus' (opens in new tab), and that could have led leakers to jump to the wrong conclusion based on details they've spotted somewhere.
It's also questionable whether Samsung needs a lot of help with its cameras. In our Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review, for instance, we were impressed by its overall quality and ability to zoom in close to the action and promptly placed it second in our our best camera phones list. However, Samsung does remain a step behind the iPhone 12 Pro in terms of computational photography and image processing.
Recent Z Fold 3 camera rumors have pointed to it being the first Samsung phone with an under-display camera on the front, but we've not yet heard anything about its rear sensors that would conflict with it possibly using Olympus tech.
Given that Samsung's next flagship foldable is expected to arrive later this year — possibly as soon as next month — we may not have to wait long to find out either way.
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