Imaging startup Light is exiting the smartphone business


Light’s push into smartphones was an inevitability. Sure, the startup turned heads with its pricey L16 camera, but these days mobile photography is almost exclusively the domain of the handset. Early last year, the answer arrived in the form of the trypophobia-inducing Nokia 9 PureView.

In a category where manufacturers raced to add more cameras, the PureView had the most, with a five-hexagonal array. It was new, innovative and for most, it was overkill. At the very least, however, it gave Nokia/HMD some bragging rights and managed to set the handset apart in one of the most hotly contested corners of the smartphone hardware race.

But Light is getting out of the smartphone game. Ultimately, the competition may have just been too stiff for a small startup, especially with many manufacturers working on their own native hardware and software solutions.

Light confirmed the move this week in an email to Android Authority, writing simply that it was “no longer operating in the smartphone industry.” It’s a surprising bit of news, given that mobile partnerships seemed like the most logical way forward for the company, which drummed up a $121 million in a SoftBank-led round back in 2018. That Series D brought the Palo Alto-based company’s total funding up to more than $181 million.

More recently, it also signed deals with Sony and Xiaomi. No word on what such a move means for those partnerships going forward. Nor is it clear what life after smartphones looks like for Light. We’ve reached out to the company for more insight into its plans.

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