The Nokia Lumia 1020
TL;DR
  • Prominent Nokia and Apple camera bigwig Ari Partinen has joined Microsoft’s Surface camera team.
  • The news suggests that the Surface Duo line could be in for major camera improvements.

A former Nokia PureView and Apple camera bigwig has announced that he has joined Microsoft’s Surface imaging team, and the news gives us hope that future Surface and Surface Duo devices could actually deliver good camera quality.

Ari Partinen took to Twitter to confirm his new role, but it’s unclear whether the new hire will focus on Android-powered Surface devices (i.e. Surface Duo line), traditional Surface products (e.g. Windows-powered), or both.

The hiring also coincides with a Microsoft job listing for a camera system architect focused on Android-powered Surface devices (likely future Surface Duo devices). This listing hints at future Android Surface products packing computational photography smarts. So it stands to reason that the former Nokia and Apple engineer is part of this push.

Partinen was one of several influential camera engineers at Nokia from 2007 to 2014, including the likes of Juha Alakarhu (currently head of imaging at body camera company Axon) and Eero Salmelin (now imaging chief at Huawei).

These engineers and more were responsible for the pioneering Nokia 808 PureView and the similarly innovative Lumia 1020 phones, both using 41MP cameras and oversampling tech to deliver better image quality and zoom. In fact, the new Microsoft hire lists the Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020 white papers as some of his co-published works on LinkedIn. This approach to smartphone photography forms the basis for numerous devices now, using hybrid zoom and high-resolution sensors for better results.

Partinen would go on to leave Nokia in 2014 to join Apple until 2018, shaping the iPhone camera experience and roadmap.

In other words, it certainly sounds like Microsoft’s latest hire could help the company bring an improved imaging experience to the Surface Duo line. Then again, it shouldn’t be hard to actually improve upon the original device, as it delivered barebones camera software and lackluster image quality.