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Samsung Galaxy S4 edges out iPhone 5 in camera test

The new leader of the Android pack nosed ahead of Apple's flagship smartphone in DxO Labs' photo and video tests.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a 13-megapixel camera.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a 13-megapixel camera. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

DxO Labs has named Samsung's Galaxy S4 a new winner in its mobile-phone camera tests.

The French firm, which specializes in camera optics and image sensor analysis, gave the new Android phone a score of 75 this week, edging out the iPhone 5 at 72. The top scorer is the Nokia 808 Pureview at 77, but that model is hobbled by its Symbian operating system, a commercial failure compared to Apple's iOS in the iPhone and Google's Android in the Galaxy S4.

Perhaps Nokia will have better commercial success with its rumored "Eos" phone, which could incorporate the relatively large image sensor and high-end Zeiss lens of the 808 Pureview into a Windows Phone model. And of course the iPhone 5 isn't the last word from Apple.

Cameras have become a crucial part of smartphone performance as people shift away from dedicated cameras to a device that they're likely to have at all times and that comes equipped with a network connection for immediate sharing.

The Samsung flagship phone outdid its iPhone rival in most categories for still photos and videos, DxO concluded, but it wasn't a clean sweep. The iPhone 5 suffered fewer image-processing artifacts and its video stabilization worked better.

The Galaxy S4 showed "impressive detail preservation in bright light conditions," DxO said. "The 13-megapixel sensor shows a significant improvement compared to the best 8-megapixel smartphone cameras."

In low light, though, the Galaxy S4 suffered from noise, and in general the camera oversharpened images so that edges suffered from halos.

DxO Labs breaks down the photo and video scores for the Samsung Galaxy S4.
DxO Labs breaks down the photo and video scores for the Samsung Galaxy S4. DxO Labs