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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review: The Ultimate Smartphone

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra redefines the essence of being ‘Ultra,’ transcending the conventional smartphone boundaries. It surpasses its predecessor in every aspect, offering enhanced battery life, faster performance, and superior cameras. However, these advancements come at a slightly higher cost. The new AI features contribute to the phone’s slowdown, compounded by Samsung’s dated and cumbersome software, burying exciting features under layers of settings.

Despite the hefty price tag, witnessing the Ultra in action justifies the expense. Certain features feel downright magical, yet there’s ample room for improvement at the zenith.

Pros:

Cons:

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review: The Ultimate Smartphone Experience

Galaxy S24 Ultra: Quick Overview

If you’re seeking the ultimate phone, the Galaxy S24 Ultra tops the charts, pleasing fans and tech enthusiasts. Surprisingly, it is the best phone across various aspects, offering an unparalleled experience.

Need exceptional battery life? The S24 Ultra outlasts iPhones and previous Galaxy models, easily enduring a day of intense use.

The S24 Ultra surpasses its predecessor for top-notch photography, making it the most versatile camera phone for various shots.

Gaming enthusiasts will appreciate its stellar performance, outshining even the fastest Android gaming phones and competing with the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Work-related tasks? The S24 Ultra boasts professional features, including Samsung DeX software, transforming your phone into a laptop with Windows and an application dock.

While Samsung pushes the boundaries, the phone lacks elegance and simplicity. It excels in crucial aspects but embodies Samsung’s software complexities.

Samsung’s software is a chaotic mix of settings, hidden features, and outdated options, overshadowing the innovative additions.

Despite new AI features, navigating through settings is cumbersome, with some features buried deep in the Settings app.

Some AI features are gimmicky, causing delays and offering little practicality. However, the phone’s overall performance remains exceptional.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra shines with a remarkable battery, reliable cameras, and the versatile S Pen, making it a powerful alternative to laptops and tablets.

Despite its excellence, usability concerns and software intricacies may push users toward more user-friendly alternatives, like the iPhone 15 Pro.

Samsung should prioritize user experience alongside hardware enhancements for sustained customer satisfaction.

Galaxy S24 Ultra: Pricing and Value Insights

The Galaxy S24 Ultra comes with a heftier price tag, $100 more than its predecessor, making it a costlier upfront investment. Launch offers and trade-in deals, however, aren’t as enticing as last year.

While the S23 Ultra was already feature-packed, the S24 brings incremental improvements without a groundbreaking leap.

The potential value lies in Samsung’s commitment to providing seven years of Android and security updates, surpassing Apple’s five-year support. Yet, skepticism arises until proven over the seven-year timeline.

Samsung’s latest terms hint at AI features’ potential limited free access, raising questions about long-term commitments. Time will unveil Samsung’s stance.

For those eyeing an upgrade from the S23 Ultra, the trade-in deals and launch discounts are less appealing this year. Despite the higher cost, upgrading might be worthwhile for the evolving AI features.

However, as updates progress, older models may miss out on newer AI functionalities, impacting their resale values. The uncertainty arises when Samsung decides to discontinue features for older models.

Is the high price justified? If you’re contemplating, consider the Galaxy S24 Plus. The Ultra, an extreme and unparalleled device, goes beyond standard pricing; it’s an investment in exceptional capabilities that defy normal valuation.

Galaxy S24 Ultra Launch Prices

StorageUS PriceUK PriceAU Price
256GB$1,299.99£1,249AU$2,199
512GB$1,419.99£1,349AU$2,399
1TB$1,659.99£1,549AU$2,799

Choose wisely based on your storage needs and budget preferences.

Galaxy S24 Ultra: Performance Unveiled
Image Credit: Samsung

Galaxy S24 Ultra: Performance Unveiled

In our rigorous Future Labs benchmark tests, the Galaxy S24 Ultra achieved a remarkable feat – surpassing the iPhone 15 Pro, the reigning iPhone champion. Across various benchmarks, from multi-core tests to graphics rendering, the S24 Ultra outperformed both the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max.

Last year’s Galaxy S23 Ultra fell short against the Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max, making this Android triumph in cross-platform benchmark testing a noteworthy achievement.

However, it’s important to note that while benchmark scores intrigue me objectively, they don’t influence my final review score. Benchmarks should pique curiosity, not dictate buying decisions.

Key Specifications:

Weight (g)232
Dimension (mm)162.3 x 79.0 x 8.6
Screen6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X
ResolutionQHD+
Refresh Rate1Hz-120Hz variable
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
RAM12GB
Storage256GB / 512GB / 1TB
OS & UpgradesAndroid 14 / One UI 6; 7 years of upgrades
Rear Cameras200MP f/1.7 wide, 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, 50MP f/3.4 periscope (5x), 10MP f/2.4 telephoto (3x)
Front Camera12MP f/2.2
Battery5,000mAh
Charging45W wired, 15W wireless
ColorsTitanium Violet, Titanium Gray, Titanium Black, Titanium Yellow, Titanium Blue, Titanium Green, Titanium Orange

Galaxy S24 Ultra: Design Insights

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is a substantial smartphone, maintaining its hefty form despite the use of titanium. While polished and elegant, the design remains unaltered, resembling its predecessor, the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The changes are minimal, with speaker grills and microphones subtly relocated.

Upon closer examination, the back glass impresses with layers of metallic paint, providing depth, especially in the titanium finish. The violet variant stands out, offering a striking contrast against the polished metal.

Samsung’s meticulous attention to color and finish is evident, with each color option featuring a subtly hued frame that complements the new Gorilla Glass Armor back. The symmetry of Apple’s design is trumped by Samsung’s practical placement of Power and Volume buttons on the same side, preventing accidental screenshots.

Though Samsung adopted titanium for the frame, it doesn’t result in a significant weight reduction compared to the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The Ultra is only marginally lighter.

Exploring the Ultra reveals the intriguing S Pen, featuring a clicky top that adds a satisfying touch. Beyond its playful design, the S Pen proves remarkably capable, serving as a precise drawing tool and a Bluetooth-enabled remote control, even functioning as a camera shutter release.

The S24 Ultra breaks away from curved screens, opting for a flat design this year. While the absence of screen curvature contributes to a sharper appearance, the phone feels notably large, departing from the comfort of gently rounded curves seen in its predecessor.

Galaxy S24 Ultra: Display Brilliance
Image Credit: Samsung

Galaxy S24 Ultra: Display Brilliance

The Galaxy S24 Ultra boasts an exceptional display, meeting premier smartphone expectations. With a vivid color tone option, the screen is both massive and vibrant, shining brightly in outdoor light at an impressive 2,600 nits.

Adaptive features, like brightness adjustments based on ambient lighting, enhance the display’s visual appeal. The Extra Dim option allows the screen to maintain color fidelity even at one nit of brightness, making it suitable for discreet use.

The always-on display mode remains, complemented by Samsung’s unique S-View cases, offering a convenient window for time, weather, and notifications. It’s a cool and enduring case feature.

While the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s display is outstanding, there’s room for improvement. Some phones boast a 144Hz refresh rate, though its necessity may surpass human eye perception.

Samsung could enhance its display by embracing Dolby Vision support, particularly for avid Netflix viewers. Dolby Vision enhances visual quality, making its absence on Samsung devices seem like an oversight, considering the support for Dolby Audio.

Galaxy S24 Ultra: Software Woes

Samsung’s focus on hardware comes at the expense of deteriorating software quality on the Galaxy S24 Ultra. One UI’s complexity and clutter impede user experience, with decisions on the simplest features lacking clarity.

Giving Samsung a year to fix software problems seems optimistic; the worsening issues infect each new addition like a pervasive disease.

Navigating the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s plethora of features proves challenging. Hidden in the 16th setting option, three layers down, are the innovative AI features, revealing a serious organizational flaw.

Despite Samsung’s acknowledgment of the issue, features remain buried in the Settings menu. The feeble attempt to educate users through occasional messages falls short, burdening the phone with an overload of suggestions and advertisements.

The new AI features showcase a mix of brilliance and impracticality. While AI translation on phone calls feels like science fiction, other features like AI writing styles lack practicality and over-promised capabilities.

The Samsung Keyboard, incorporating AI features, experiences severe issues with autocorrect and onscreen keyboard functionality, demanding immediate attention.

AI features like Voice Recorder transcripts and image editing disappoint when compared to Google Pixel counterparts, showcasing Samsung’s lag in certain software advancements.

Despite software drawbacks, unique features like Samsung DeX elevate the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s utility, providing a Chromebook-like experience when connected to a monitor.

Samsung’s commitment to seven years of updates raises questions, with terms of service hinting at potential shifts to subscription-based features, introducing uncertainties about long-term promises.

While an asterisk now accompanies Samsung’s seven-year update promise, consumers hope for transparency and a commitment akin to Apple’s, where non-hardware-dependent features reach all eligible phones.

Galaxy S24 Ultra Cameras: A Closer Look

Addressing concerns about a reduced optical zoom, the Galaxy S24 Ultra maintains its photographic prowess. Despite stepping back to a 5x zoom lens, it outshines the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 10x zoom, delivering superior color and dynamic range in high zoom settings.

The trade-off of sacrificing some fine details for overall image quality proves worthwhile, especially when compared to the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s noisy 10x and 100x zoom images.

In a 5x zoom comparison with the iPhone 15 Pro Max, the iPhone initially produces better images, but as digital zoom is applied, the Galaxy S24 Ultra surpasses, retaining more detail and vibrant color.

Samsung’s efforts to improve color accuracy are evident, aligning with iPhone processing techniques and mitigating criticisms of unnatural color. Digital sharpening issues are minimized, resulting in detailed images without the blurriness often found in iPhone photos.

Despite these advancements, low-light performance remains a challenge, with competitors like the Google Pixel 8 Pro excelling in various night scenarios.

Overall, the Galaxy S24 Ultra stands out as the best camera phone in the past year, consistently outperforming competitors across diverse situations, from landscapes to portraits.

Samsung excels in capturing unique shots, particularly in macro photography and food imagery. Selfies and portraits showcase accurate skin tones and sufficient detail.

While Samsung has made strides in photo editing within its Gallery app, third-party software like Adobe Lightroom and SnapSeed remains preferable. The Generative Edit AI feature in the Gallery app allows resizing and moving objects but verges on mixed-media collage rather than conventional photography.

For those missing the Photo Unblur feature from the Google Pixel 8, Samsung offers the Galaxy Enhance-X photo editor, available on the Galaxy App Store. This app provides advanced editing tools, albeit not as effective as Google Photos on the Pixel 8 Pro.

Samsung’s hardware prowess extends to moon photography, with AI features recognizing objects and attempting to identify subjects for optimal shots. However, the performance in astrophotography compared to the Galaxy S23 Ultra remains to be seen.

Galaxy S24 Ultra Performance: A Game-Changer
Image Credit: Samsung

Galaxy S24 Ultra Performance: A Game-Changer

In a notable shift, the Galaxy S24 Ultra becomes the first Android to outperform the iPhone in benchmarks. Surpassing the iPhone 15 Pro Max, it boasts impressive speed, thanks to Qualcomm and Samsung surpassing Apple’s silicon for the first time.

The practical impact? Everyday smartphone tasks are now swifter. Gaming enthusiasts can revel in top-notch performance, playing graphics-intensive games seamlessly. The responsiveness, especially when connected to a Bluetooth controller, elevates the gaming experience, outclassing even specialized gaming phones like the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro.

For those not into gaming, the performance benefits are still tangible. Photo editing, exemplified in Adobe Lightroom, becomes a seamless experience. The Galaxy S24 Ultra effortlessly surpasses its predecessor, the S23 Ultra, in tasks like Adobe’s intelligent masking features.

However, a paradox surfaces with the introduction of new AI features. Despite its performance prowess, the Galaxy S24 Ultra encounters delays with these features. Ironically, as Samsung claims a lead over Apple, the AI tools, such as text message composition and photo edits, introduce wait times, detracting from the otherwise swift user experience. The allure of these AI features is dampened by their sluggish response, leaving users yearning for a more seamless integration.

Galaxy S24 Ultra Battery: Exceptional Endurance

The Galaxy S24 Ultra boasts unmatched battery life, eclipsing even the iPhone 15 Pro Max and its predecessor, the S23 Ultra. Lab tests on 5G web browsing yielded an impressive 16 hours and 45 minutes, outclassing competitors and rivaling hardcore gaming phones.

Despite maintaining the previous battery size, Samsung’s refinements in power management contribute to prolonged usage. The adaptive screen settings offer flexibility, allowing adjustments to screen resolution and processor performance for enhanced power savings.

For those seeking extreme power conservation, the device offers a buried gem: “Adaptive Power Saving.” Unfortunately, navigating through layers of menus to access this feature is a frustrating ordeal, revealing a flaw in the user interface.

Charging at 45W, the S24 Ultra exhibits commendable speed, reaching nearly 40% in just 15 minutes and completing a full charge in approximately 45 minutes. While other phones may boast faster charging, the S24 Ultra’s wireless charging capabilities and the option to charge other devices wirelessly add versatility.

Notably, the absence of an included charger echoes industry trends. Choosing a compatible charger becomes crucial for optimal charging speeds. Despite Samsung’s offerings, cost-effective alternatives like the Anker 713 Nano Charger emerge as practical choices, reinforcing the idea that quality charging need not break the bank.

Considerations for Your Purchase Decision:

Buy the Galaxy S24 Ultra if:

  1. Versatility Matters: If you seek a phone that’s more than just a phone—acting as a laptop, tablet, game console, and camera bag all in one—opt for the Galaxy S24 Ultra.
  2. Embrace the Future: For those eager to experience cutting-edge features like Star Trek-like universal translation or AI-driven text message rewriting, the Galaxy S24 Ultra leads the way.
  3. Unparalleled Technology: Despite the complexity, if you desire a device with uncompromising technology and an array of options, the Galaxy S24 Ultra delivers.

Avoid the Galaxy S24 Ultra if:

  1. Simplicity is Key: If you find yourself saying, “I don’t need it,” this phone might overwhelm you. It offers everything, even things you might not use.
  2. One-Handed Use Preference: Weighing in as a substantial device, the Galaxy S24 Ultra may not be suitable if you prioritize a more manageable, one-handed user experience.
  3. Elegance over Complexity: If intuitive design and an elegant software experience are your priorities, exploring Apple’s iOS 17 on the iPhone 15 Pro Max might be more aligned with your preferences.

Comparison with Alternatives:

Galaxy S24 UltraiPhone 15 Pro MaxGalaxy Z Fold 5Pixel 8 Pro
Price (at launch)$1,299 / £1,249 / AU$2,199$1,199 / £1,199 / AU$2,199$1,799.99 / £1,749 / AU$2,599$999 / £999 / AU$1,699
Dimensions162.3 x 79.0 x 8.6mm159.9 x 76.7 x 8.25mm154.9 x 129.9 x 6.1mm (open) 154.9 x 67.1 x 13.4mm (closed)162.6 x 76.5 x 8.8mm
Weight232g221g253g213g
Displays6.8-inch OLED, 2,600-nit peak brightness6.7-inch OLED, 2,000-nit peak brightness7.6-inch OLED (inside) 6.2-inch OLED (cover)6.7-inch OLED, 2,400-nit peak brightness
Cameras200MP f/1.7 wide, 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, 50MP f/3.4 zoom (5x), 10MP f/2.4 zoom (3x)48MP f/1.8 wide, 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, 12MP f/2.8 telephoto (5x)50MP f/1.8 wide, 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, 10MP f/2.4 zoom (3X)50MP f/1.7 wide, 48MP f/2.0 ultra-wide, 48MP f/2.8 zoom (5x)
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for GalaxyApple A17 ProQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2Google Tensor G3

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