Nokia and ZEISS are no longer brand partners

Return of the Zeiss

If there are two brands that pioneered and helped propelled next-level mobile imaging to what it is today, it was Nokia and ZEISS. The two brands initially partnered to develop an improved imaging experience on the Nokia N90. For years to come, the two companies are inseparable and have been a combo to beat in the mobile industry. At its peak, not even an expensive Apple iPhone can rival a flagship Nokia phone with a Carl Zeiss lens. The two companies are always just miles ahead of the competition.

Pekka Rantala, CMO, HMD Global and Winfried Scherle, EVP and Head of Consumer Optics, ZEISS (PRNewsfoto/HMD Global and ZEISS)

When Nokia Corporation decided to license the Nokia brand to HMD Global, came with it is a rekindled relationship with ZEISS. The beginning was a little rough with Nokia 8 having less stellar imaging performance than the previous ZEISS-bearing Nokia phones. But things gets a little more exciting when the Nokia 9 PureView was announced. Not only does it mark the return of the PureView brand, but also the excitement of what these two brands can pull off together in the generation to come. Years later, nothing.

The last Nokia phone with the ZEISS branding was the Nokia XR20, while the last phone to feature PureView was the Nokia 8.3 5G. Both didn’t quite reached the level of engineering all the other ZEISS-bearing Android phones from Sony to Vivo have achieved. I am not saying these are terrible devices (because they’re not). But when you lose an important brand exclusivity with competition, it is expected that you do better than what these other brands are doing. Sadly, they’re not.

Now, we just discovered that Nokia Mobile is no longer included on ZEISS’ Brand Partnerships page. Currently, only Sony and Vivo are listed as partners with videos detailing what each partnership has accomplished so far. For Nokia fans, it can be a hard pill to swallow. But on the other hand, we kinda saw this coming.

Unfortunately, the Nokia brand name is a very heavy burden with a rich history and passion behind it and given HMD’s scale, they haven’t been able to utilise the imaging reputation Nokia built up over the years. They had a couple of interesting devices, but none were industry leading like their predecessors.

Nokia corporation could have intervened here since the connection with Zeiss wasn’t just a business opportunity but a strong bond with a lot of shared history between their brands. We reached Zeiss and they said that the partnership ended back in 2021. Here is their official statement:

After long and successful collaboration, in 2021 ZEISS and HMD Global have mutually agreed not to prolong their non-exclusive partnership which included collaboration for imaging technologies of “Nokia” branded smartphones with ZEISS as consulting and development partner.

Things are going to be hard for the Nokia Mobile and Nokia smartphone brand. New phones are coming and better camera performance is expected, but with Zeiss solutions and lenses, the 8.3 5G photo quality will be gone. It seems that Nokia Mobile reached its peak with the Nokia brand and IFA will show if the story is coming to an end or if there are some new surprises left to keep the flame burning.