(This image was created using Samsung Gallery's AI-based Generative Fill feature)
Last year, despite being one of the first flagships to arrive, many chose the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra as the best phone of 2023. This year, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra starts 2024 with a titanium chassis, flat 6.8-inch screen and a whole bunch of AI. Is this enough to cement the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra as the best phone of 2024? Read on for our full review of the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra to find out.
Design - Less flash but more substance
Compared to last year’s Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra with its shiny metal chassis, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is a bit more understated with its matte metal backside and titanium chassis. It still looks classy and despite being 1g lighter than before, the phone is still a rather heavy slate but at least you won’t get many fingerprints on it due to the matte surfacing. What really surprised me was how the 162.3 x 79 x 8.6mm measurements (less wide, taller and thinner) made for a more comfortable grip.
The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra now has a flat 6.8-inch display (finally)
The matte backside doesn't collect fingerprints that easily
The chassis now has titanium
The power button and volume rocker
On the bottom, there's the garaged S Pen, speaker, USB Type-C port and SIM Card tray
Just enough space for 2 nano SIM cards
The S Pen stylus looks the same
The back button is metallic
As rumored, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra finally has a flat 6.8-inch Dynamic LTPO AMOLED 2X display that has a 120Hz refresh rate and up to 2600 nits (peak) brightness. It looks better than before and there’s less slip around the edges if you’re using the S Pen. The display itself also has the latest Corning Gorilla Glass Armor and offers a 1440 x 3120 or 4K pixel resolution. A punch hole at the top center still houses a 12MP wide angle Dual Pixel PDF front camera and the phone is also IP68 water and dust resistant.
Build quality is just as solid as before, while the power button, volume control rocker and USB Type C port are there as well. The SIM tray supports 2 SIM cards and no space for any external memory but the phone can also support eSIMs with ease. On the back, the individual metal rimmed rear cameras also remain the same as the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, but because of this it is a bit lopsided if you lay it flat on its back. While the quad rear camera locations remain the same, this year, there’s a 50MP periscope telephoto camera sensor to replace the previous 12MP periscope telephoto camera sensor.
Features - Still flagship features but with AI icing on top
These are the tech specs and features of the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra:
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset
- 6.8-inch Dynamic LTPO AMOLED 2X QHD+ display (3120 x 1440 pixel resolution, 120Hz Max refresh rate, 2600 nits peak brightness)
- 12GB of LPDDR5X RAM
- Up to 512GB of UFS 4.0 storage
- 200MP main (OIS) + 12MP ultra-wide + 50MP telephoto, 10x periscope zoom + 10MP telephoto, 3X and 5X optical zoom quad-camera setup
- 12MP selfie camera
- Features adaptive Galaxy AI, 240Hz touch sampling rate, in-display fingerprint sensor, stereo speakers, IP68 water and dust resistance, S-Pen, 45W fast charging, 15W wireless charging and reverse wireless charging, Samsung DeX
- Supports 5G, WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, Dual SIM / Dual eSIM, USB Type C (USB 3.2 Gen 1), GPS
- 5000mAh battery
- Measures 162.3 x 79.0 x 8.6mm | 232g
- OneUI 6.1 (Android 14)
- Available in Titanium Gray, Titanium Black, Titanium Violet and Titanium Yellow (Titanium Blue, Titanium Green and Titanium Orange are Samsung.com exclusive only)
Stand-out features for this iteration of the S Ultra series include the faster and more energy efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset and the flat 6.8-inch display. Almost all the other hardware features are identical except for the 50MP periscope lens camera for the quad rear cameras and the obviously brighter 2600 nits display. This isn’t a bad thing mind you, as the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra was and still is one of the better flagship phones around, but it does mean that physical changes are rather incremental this time.
The quad rear cameras now have a 50MP periscope telephoto camera, but still looks the same
The main focus that Samsung has this year has to be Galaxy AI. This includes features like Circle to Search which is similar to Google Lens in that it searches for an image but is available anywhere you can long press the home button including the camera, browser, photo gallery and more. Developed together with Google and currently only available with the Samsung Galaxy S24 series and the Google Pixel series, it is set for release on Galaxy S23 series devices in the near future.
Other Galaxy AI features include the live translation Call Assist (for calls), Chat Assist (for chats), Live Translate (for translation), Text Call, Note Assist (Auto Format, Summarization, Translation and autocorrect for Samsung Notes). There’s alsoTranscript Assist which automatically summarizes your audio (imagine making meeting minutes or lecture notes easily with this) and Browsing Assist (summarizes and translates for Samsung Internet Browser).
One UI 6.1
Just long press the home button or home swipe to activate Circle and Search
However, the biggest AI upgrade aside from Circle to Search has to be Photo Editor in the standard Samsung Gallery. This includes generative Background Fill, for those corners that may end up empty if you need to rotate the image. There’s also Object Re-Composition, Edit Suggestion, Object Eraser and the ability to produce clearer zoomed-in images or better slow motion videos.
Generative Wallpaper lets you create several different images based on 3 different options and various templates to be used for your home and lock screen, which is certainly interesting. To be honest, there's so many Galaxy AI features that there’s not enough time to cover them all in detail, so we'll likely update this review as time goes by or come up with a 3 month review later on as we expect Samsung to add-on more Galaxy AI features and fine-tuning with subsequent updates.
The Photo Editor can move objects in the photo and then auto-generate the space that it cut from
You can also generate appropriate imagery in the empty spaces when you rotate using Generative Fill
This zoomed-in image would normally look broken up but thanks to the AI, you can no increase the resolution so it still looks sharp
You can now generate your own Wallpapers
Just change up the options in the prompt and choose from the generated images
You can access most of the AI features in the Settings > Advanced > Advanced intelligence menu
Photo options for the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
The built-in video editor is almost fully featured, the only thing it's missing is green screen and generative AI
The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra can function like normal even without these Galaxy AI features as you can pick and choose which to activate in the Advanced intelligence menu under Settings > Advanced. It may change how you do things though, making it difficult to use other phones or devices afterwards but it's definitely an impressive advance in software-based improvements. An overall tutorial covering everything is actually available in the Tips app, but we have to say that trying out everything in one go can feel overwhelming.
Performance - Another powerhouse with better battery-life
Performance-wise, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra delivers 2310 single-core and 7216 multi-core GeekBench 6 and Maxed Out 3DMark scores and 7524 in 3DMark’s ray tracing benchmark, clearly heads and shoulders above the previous generation of devices. Like before, it can run Genshin Impact on maximum 60fps settings without overheating (but it does get a bit warm). You can check out the games in the video below which was fully edited using Samsung’s own video editor.
GeekBench 6 and 3DMark scores for the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra can handle Genshin Impact on Max settings at 60fps
After several Note series and S series phones with dual curved edge screens, I have to say that I’m really liking the flat screen. No more stretched movies or games and basically all the display you could want. It also helps that it’s such a nice looking screen as well, as the 120Hz refresh rate ensures everything is super smooth when scrolling. Samsung has also somehow made the speakers on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra louder and clearer than before, so much so that we were afraid to turn it on max volume for fear of bothering the neighbors.
Trying out the Galaxy AI features, we found that the new Photo Gallery works exceptionally well and is also fairly easy to use. The voice recording transcribe doesn't work for Bahasa Melayu yet and doesn't get very good transcripts if the speakers don't speak very good English themselves but just run it through Summary and most of the time the AI will clean it up for you. To be honest, we're rather new at using Samsung Notes for word processing but the new Galaxy AI features are surprisingly competent.
I wish I had this Interpreter feature when I went to Japan
Transcribing doesn't work for Bahasa Melayu yet but at least Summary nicely sums up the conversation
You can also summarize websites and do a number of other things in Samsung Notes like Auto Format and much more
You can easily get 2 days of battery life now with the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
In addition, while the battery is the same 5000 mAh capacity, the improved energy efficiency gives the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra a few hours more of battery life over its predecessor, so you can easily get 2 days worth of use even on heavy usage. Fast charging took about 1 hour or so to get back to 100% but that's because we only have the 25W fast charger on hand. Those with the 45W fast charger should expect even less time to charge. The S Pen is still very good but perhaps adding circle to search direct to the S Pen might have been a good addition.
Camera-wise, the photos and videos are now slightly clearer with more details than before. Our moon shot had more details but was still easier to shoot handheld rather than with a tripod. The 50MP periscope camera does add a few more details for far off shots. However, while it still doesn't do much for macro it does improve upon the already stellar camera performance of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Check out our photo samples below.
The Moon shot is slightly more detailed than before at 100x Space Zoom on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Auto ~ Clear Nightography shot, even from the reflections
Auto ~ Another clear night reflection shot
Auto ~ the 12MP front camera still works great for night selfies, even with bright backlights
Auto, 0.6x widescreen
Auto ~ 50MP on 10X zoom
Details still remain sharp even when cropped with the 50MP 10X zoom
Conclusion - Minimal hardware changes, overwhelming Galaxy AI
Images that use generative AI get a watermark showing that it has been created using Samsung Galaxy AI
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is an exceptional smartphone more powerful and more comfortable to use than its predecessor. Even though there’s just too much Galaxy AI to take in at once, I’m thankful that Samsung has listened to us and created better AI-assisted photo and video editing apps along with a whole bunch of other AI-assisted apps. To answer the earliest question, with all these features the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is definitely a contender for the title of best smartphone of 2024 as well, especially if Samsung continues to add more AI features and fine-tune existing features.
However, I do have to say that in terms of raw power or photography capability, while the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is significantly more powerful, for the apps and games currently available in the market the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is already more than enough. If you already own the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, it’s hard for us to recommend an upgrade, especially since the aforementioned AI features are also coming to the Samsung Galaxy S23 series as well. On the other hand, if you’re a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra or Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra user, you now have 2 options to upgrade with either the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra or the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
As before, due to the garaged S Pen, the only equal contender for the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is its predecessor; the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra which has not only received a price cut down to RM5299 but will also receive Galaxy AI eventually as well. If you want to future-proof yourself, we’d recommend the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, but from RM6299 to RM7799 it is a pretty steep price to pay. However, once you actually use Samsung Galaxy AI you may be spoilt completely to go to any other phone unless you’re looking for a cameraphone that specializes in macro photography.
What do you think? Which Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra or Galaxy AI feature are you looking forward to the most? Share your thoughts in the comments below and stay tuned to TechNave.com for more tech reviews, news and articles.