Nokia Lumia veteran Ari Partinen has joined Microsoft's Surface imaging team

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In the past decade, the Nokia Lumia brand of smartphones used to be associated with great picture quality, with high-performance Carl Zeiss optics that made some iPhone and Samsung Galaxy users jealous. Handsets like the Lumia 920 were among the first smartphones to have a sensor with optical image stabilization, while the Lumia 1020 shipped with a massive 41 MP sensor had no real competition back in 2013.

The renowned Lumia picture quality was still present in the Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950XL from 2015, but the company’s new Surface Duo released last year is a completely different story. Indeed, the dual-screen device ships with a single 11 MP front-facing sensor that only takes average pictures, and it can’t really compete with the multiple sensors found on most high-end smartphones these days.

Microsoft seems to be aware that the Surface Duo successor needs to do better on the quality front. Yesterday, we reported that a recent job listing hinted that the Surface Duo 2 could use AI and machine learning to improve picture quality. There’s now another sign showing that Microsoft is getting serious about cameras as Ari Partinen, a Finnish imaging professional and former Lumia Photography Lead at Nokia has now joined the Surface imaging team (via All About Windows Phone).

Partinen announced the news on Twitter yesterday where he shared his enthusiasm for “very exciting times ahead”. After leaving Nokia back in 2014, Partinen joined Apple where he worked for four years on camera system architecture and image quality verification. For the past two years, he worked as a Senior Manager, Image Quality and Testing at the Finnish company AAC Technologies.

It remains to be seen if the successor to the Surface Duo will ever live up to the Lumia legacy, but Microsoft hiring imaging experts is definitely an encouraging sign. The Surface Duo 2 likely won’t come with 5 rear sensors like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, and Microsoft may need to make its future dual-screen smartphones a bit thicker so they can fit better sensors. The current Surface Duo actually has just one front-facing camera, as there was apparently no room for a camera on the rear sides of the two screens.

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