Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review by MightyGadget

Any links to online stores should be assumed to be affiliates. The company or PR agency provides all or most review samples. They have no control over my content, and I provide my honest opinion.

The Samsung Galaxy S24 series was announced in the middle of January, and like most established flagship phones, it is mostly an iterative upgrade of the previous generations.

The two main improvements this year are the new 50MP 5x optical zoom lens and the range of AI features Samsung has introduced with One UI, which are possible due to the significantly improved AI processing of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3.

I have been using the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra for over two weeks now and have previously covered the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 benchmarks, an in-depth look at the AI features and a review of the S24 AI features.

PreviewProductRatingPrice
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, AI Android Smartphone, 12GB RAM,... Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, AI Android Smartphone, 12GB RAM,... No ratings yet £1,349.00Amazon Prime

Specification

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review Display 2
SpecificationSamsung Galaxy S24 UltraSamsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
BuildGlass front (Gorilla Glass Victus 3), glass back (Gorilla Glass Victus 3), titanium frameGlass front (Gorilla Glass Victus 2), glass back (Gorilla Glass Victus 2), aluminium frame
Dimensions163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9 mm163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9 mm
Weight234 g234 g
Display6.8 inches Dynamic AMOLED 36.8 inches Dynamic AMOLED 2X
Resolution1440 x 3088 pixels1440 x 3088 pixels
Pixel Density500 ppi500 ppi
Refresh Rate1~144 Hz adaptive1~120 Hz adaptive
Peak Brightness2600 nits (peak)1750 nits (peak)
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
CPUOcta-coreOcta-core
GPUAdreno 740Adreno 740
RAM12GB/16GB LPDDR5X8GB/12GB LPDDR5X
Storage256GB/512GB/1TB UFS 4.0256GB/512GB/1TB UFS 4.0
microSD SlotNoNo
Front Camera12 MP, f/2.2, 26mm12 MP, f/2.2, 26mm
Rear Camera200 MP, f/1.7, 24mm (wide), 1/1.3″, 0.6µm, multi-directional PDAF, Laser AF, OIS200 MP, f/1.7, 24mm (wide), 1/1.3″, 0.6µm, multi-directional PDAF, Laser AF, OIS
50 MP, (periscope telephoto), PDAF, OIS, 5x optical zoom10 MP, f/4.9, 230mm (periscope telephoto), 1/3.52″, 1.12µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS, 10x optical zoom
10 MP, f/2.4, 70mm (telephoto), 1/3.52″, 1.12µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom10 MP, f/2.4, 70mm (telephoto), 1/3.52″, 1.12µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom
12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm, 120˚ (ultrawide), 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, Super Steady video12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm, 120˚ (ultrawide), 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, Super Steady video
Connectivity5G, LTE, Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.35G, LTE, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3
Battery5000 mAh5000 mAh
Charging45W wired, PD3.0, 65% in 30 min, 15W wireless, 4.5W reverse wireless45W wired, 15W wireless, 4.5W reverse wireless
Android VersionAndroid 14, One UI 6Android 13, One UI 5

Design

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review Angled photo

The S24 Ultra retains a design that is very similar to the S23 Ultra. The dimensions are almost identical at 163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9mm. The S24 Ultra is a little lighter at 232g vs 234g.

Samsung has switched from an aluminium frame to titanium, which should make it more durable and lighter, but Samsung has been coy about what benefits this brings; it seems to be more of a marketing gimmick than anything.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review camera bumps

The phone now has a flat display with a more angular design, but apart from that, it looks almost identical to the previous model with the same camera arrangement, even though one of the zoom lenses has been upgraded.

The phone still comes with an S-Pen, which is stored in the base of the phone. It is a unique feature that no other brand has.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review Bottom of phone with S pen

As for colours, you have four standard colours: Grey, Black, Violet, and Yellow. The Samsung store has three exclusive colours: Blue, Green, and Orange. I swore I ordered Green, so I am a little disappointed to get Grey. It still looks nice, and it’s less boring than Black.

Even though I always use a case and screen protector on my phones, this should be a durable phone with its titanium frame and new Gorilla Glass Armor display plus an IP68 waterproof rating.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review S Pen

Display

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review Camera App

While most of the design is the same on the S24 Ultra and S23 Ultra, the display has changed. It is now completely flat compared to the slight curve on the S23 Ultra. This is quite interesting as many brands jumped on the curved display trend in the past few years, but we now seem to be seeing a shift back towards flat displays. Curved displays may look pretty, but they introduced some usability issues, so this design change is welcome. A flat display also makes more sense with the S-Pen.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra retains the same 6.8-inch LTPO OLED display as its predecessor, with a dynamically switching 1-120Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling and motion. While not a huge upgrade over the S23 Ultra, the S24’s screen remains superb.

There has been some criticism online that the colours are less vibrant, and Samsung has stated this is deliberate, to create a more natural tone. I don’t have an S23 Ultra to compare against, but I am happy with the quality of the display.

One key improvement is a significantly boosted peak brightness of 2,600 nits, allowing HDR content to really shine. For the past couple of generations, Samsung’s phones have trailed rivals like Apple and Xiaomi on maximum display luminosity – so it’s good to see them catch up with the S24 Ultra.

Biometrics

For unlocking there is an under-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor and face unlock. Both methods are very fast and reliable in my testing. The fingerprint reader performed well even with wet fingers after washing my hands. Face unlock works quickly, too, but isn’t quite as secure as the fingerprint.

When I first started using the phone, I did get frustrated at the display not waking up when I went to use the phone. It turned out the lift-to-wake function was not enabled under the Advanced Features and Motion and Gestures settings.

Camera

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review Four Lense

The S24 Ultra retains the four-camera design of the previous generations, and the main camera, 3x zoom and ultra-wide, are all the same, but Samsung has switched from a 10x zoom 10MP camera to a 5x zoom 50MP zoom.

 On the rear, this gives you:

  • 200 MP, f/1.7, 24mm (wide), 1/1.3″, 0.6µm, multi-directional PDAF, Laser AF, OIS
  • 50 MP, f/3.4, 111mm (periscope telephoto), PDAF, OIS, 5x optical zoom
  • 10 MP, f/2.4, 67mm (telephoto), 1/3.52″, 1.12µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom
  • 12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm, 120˚ (ultrawide), 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, Super Steady video

Then, on the front, you have:

  • 12 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), Dual Pixel PDAF

The improved sensor for one of the zoom cameras is welcome, but it seems a bit odd to have a 10MP 3x zoom lens, and then switch to 50MP 5x zoom.

Due to the 200 MP 1/1.3″, you’d think that it would be able to have 3x digital zoom that achieves a similar quality as the dedicated 3x zoom lens.

Admittedly, I can’t personally see any inconsistent performance switching between 1x, 3x and 5x zoom.

I have noticed some people criticise the shutter lag on the Samsung S series, and I have experienced it myself, but I can’t say it was significant enough to have a negative effect on my photos. However, I am sure with time, I will have situations where it is a problem. Within the settings, you can possibly tweak this under intelligent optimisation. You can dial down quality optimisation for faster shutter speeds.

I have been very happy with the camera’s performance so far. The phone produces consistently good results across all the sensors. In particular, with the zoom lenses, there is a good degree of stabilisation that avoids blurry shots from the smallest of movements. For zoom performance, I think I prefer the Samsung over my Pixel.

I have found that the portrait mode is excellent and capable of producing some impressive bokeh effects.

I could do with testing the low light performance more, but I’d say it is good to excellent. Not as good as the Pixel 8 Pro.

Performance and Benchmarks

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra benchmarks 3DMark Wildlife Stress test

I have previously written a detailed post covering the benchmarks of the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Similar to last year, Samsung has used the flagship Qualcomm chipset for all S24 Ultra phones rather than different chipsets based on regions.

Qualcomm Snapdragon flagship chipsets have been consistently better than the Samsung Exynos equivalent for years, and if I am spending £1200+ on a phone, I’d expect the best chipset available.

My benchmarks showed that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is a significant upgrade from the previous generation. In particular, gaming and AI benchmarks had a massive performance uplift.

The S24 Ultra achieved lower benchmark results than the iQOO 12, which is also equipped with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. Samsung appears to use less battery in the benchmarks, which I think is more useful for most people than the highest possible performance.

As for the actual results:

  • Antutu V10: 1945797 (CPU: 445818, GPU: 817997, MEM: 373210, UX: 308772)
  • Geekbench 6: 2103 / 6640
  • 3DMark Wildlife Stress Testing:
    • High:  17580
    • Low: 9828
    • Stability: 55.9%
    • Battery: 79% to 66%
  • AI Benchmark: 3196

As far as real-world performance goes, there is nothing to criticise in the slightest, which has been true for most flagship phones for the past few years. The Qualcomm chipset is incredibly powerful and efficient, and the 120Hz display provides an ultra-responsive user experience.

Battery

The S24 Ultra is equipped with a 5000 mAh battery, which is the same capacity as the previous two generations. It also has the same charge speeds of 45W wired with 15W wireless.

Chinese brands like Honor and Xiaomi continue to lead the way with battery and charging performance. I’d have liked them to have a bigger battery or faster charging, but it is good enough and one of the main reasons why I have switched from the Pixel 8 Pro.

As much as I like the Pixel 8 Pro, the Tensor G3 is not as efficient as the Qualcomm Snapdragon Gen 2 or Gen 3, so it drains quicker. Taking photos always drains the battery fast, but for the Pixel, it seems worse than normal. You then have a relatively slow charge on the Pixel.

For my normal usage, the Pixel 8 Pro will get to the end of the day with around 20% battery, while the S24 Ultra is closer to 50%. When I had the Honor Magic5 Pro, that would last even longer, but I think that was mostly due to the sometimes over-aggressive power management.

Android 14 & One UI 6.1

The Samsung Galaxy S24 runs Android 14 out of the box with Samsung One UI 6.1. Some people like the Samsung UI, and this is the best Android skin; some think it is bloated and terrible.

I have personally been critical of it in the past, but I have warmed up to it. There is no denying it is bloated, but a lot of the features Samsung adds are useful in comparison to some of the other bloated skins that different brands use. You don’t have dozens of games and apps preinstalled, there are no intrusive adverts.

Samsung promises seven years of software updates for the Galaxy S24 Ultra, making it one of the best supported Android phones around. I think when you are spending this much money on a phone, then this level of support should be expected.

S-Pen

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review Note app and S Pen

The S-Pen is unique to the Ultra models. I am a terrible artist, and I find typing easier than writing, so the S-Pen’s usefulness is somewhat limited for me, but it is nice to have.

I found it useful for doing some basic photo edits as it is more precise than my sausage fingers.

One handy feature is the ability to use the pen as a wireless shutter release for the camera.

AI Features

As Samsung is focusing a lot of its marketing on the AI features of the S24 series, I have written a dedicated article covering the new AI features introduced with One UI 6.1.

Samsung is the first company to take advantage of the SD8 Gen 3’s new AI processing capabilities, and they are impressive.

As a die-hard Switkey user, I was reluctant to use the Samsung keyboard at first, but I have grown to like it. For me, enabling Grammarly support helped a lot, which is not technically one of the AI features. As someone who’s dyslexic with ADHD, I have a habit of typing replies fast and sending a message before I realise how many typos are in it. So, the combination of Grammarly and AI helps a lot. I also found the writing style AI feature to be quite useful when replying to emails, where I want to sound more professional than my casual WhatsApp style of writing.

I am not yet convinced to switch to the Samsung keyboard permanently, but now I am used to it, and it has been working well for me.

I am a little disappointed with the generative edit feature. I think the issue is that I am coming from the Pixel 8 Pro, and the magic erase function performs better.

As highlighted in my dedicated article about the AI features, I feel like a lot of the current features are achievable with third-party apps, or at least will be sooner or later.

For example, Switkey has Copilot built in, which can change the writing style and has a compose function for more powerful AI generation. Grammarly also has a dedicated keyboard.

Similarly, plenty of apps, such as Snapseed and Adobe Lightroom, have a magic erase function.

There are not many voice recorders that do transcription. Otter is the best bet, but that’s only free for 600 minutes of transcription per month and 30 minutes per conversation.

Overall, I like the AI features, they are genuinely useful, and it will be interesting to see how AI on phones evolves. I would hope Samsung continue to roll out new and improved AI features over the year.

Price and Alternative Options

PreviewProductRatingPrice
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, AI Android Smartphone, 12GB RAM,... Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, AI Android Smartphone, 12GB RAM,... No ratings yet £1,349.00Amazon Prime

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra RRP is:

  • £1249 for 256GB storage
  • £1349 for 512GB storage
  • £1549 for 1TB storage

All models come with 12GB RAM.

They had a good early bird offer where you could get 512GB for the price of 256GB. That appears to have expired now, but you can still claim Galaxy Buds2 Pro and a SmartTag2 for free if you buy it between 31/01/2024 and 27/02/2024.

Samsung also has a moderately good trade-in scheme. If you trade in an S23 Ultra, you could get £520.

In comparison, the Pixel 8 Pro is £999 / £1059 for 128GB / 256GB.

The OnePlus 12 with 16GB RAM and 512GB storage is £899. It has a very impressive specification considering the price.

The Xiaomi 14/14 Pro is due to launch soon, but UK pricing is unknown.

The Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max is £1199 for 256GB but has a steep price hike with storage. The 512Gb model is £1399.

It is disappointing that OPPO has left the Western market as I think the Oppo Find X7 Ultra could have been one of the best flagship options this year due to the incredible camera specs.

Overall

In the past, I have been quite critical of Samsung due to the high price, and I think this was justified. If I am spending over £1200 on a phone, I’d expect it to be spectacular.

Samsung’s launch price is the same as last year, whereas Google and other brands have increased their pricing.

With the price of the Pixel breaking £1k, the price of the S24 Ultra doesn’t seem as bad.

Even though I loved the Pixel 8 Pro, I found the Tensor G3 chipset disappointing and the battery life poor, plus quite slow charging.

For me, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra ends up being a better phone mainly because of the Qualcomm chipset, better battery and faster charging.

I can’t say for sure if I think the Galaxy S24 Ultra is £200 better than the Pixel 8 Pro, though.

I have grown used to the Samsung One UI. It is definitely bloated, and it can be annoying at times, but it does introduce a lot of useful functionality, especially when you compare it to the bloatware on some other brands.

With performance gains between generations becoming increasingly small and the current cost of living, it feels a bit irresponsible to casually recommend phones like the S24 Ultra to everyone.

I think many YouTubers and websites are too eager to class something as the best phone without factoring in the price. This is the most expensive Android on the market, so being anything less than the best Android phone would be quite disappointing.

I think you really need to consider whether you are going to make the most of the features. For me, as I use this for personal and work use and I need a good-quality camera, then I think an ultra-premium-priced phone like this is justifiable.

Overall, I love the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, and I suspect that it will be my favourite phone of the year just because it does everything I want from a phone and does it well. The Honor Magic6 Pro is perhaps the only other flagship phone I am excited about in the near future.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review

Summary

Many people consistently class the Samsung Galaxy S Ultra models as the best flagship phones of the year, and for good reason. The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is an outstanding phone with superb performance, long battery life, excellent camera and useful AI features.

Overall
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  • Overall - 90%
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Pros

  • Superb performacne and battery life
  • Excellent and versatile cameras
  • Durable build quality with titanium and Gorilla Armor glass
  • Good AI features which compete well with the Pixel

Cons

  • High price
  • OS is quite bloated
  • Camera is not quite as good as the Pixel

Last update on 2024-06-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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