Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review: Peak Galaxy Ultra smartphone

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is a top-notch smartphone, boasting impressive AI features. Read on to know why it's the ultimate choice
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Samsung released the behemoth of a Galaxy S24 Ultra smartphone over a month ago and I can safely say that the smartphone is incredible to use. It may be too large and boxy for some, but it does represent everything you’d want in a smartphone, including those fancy new AI features.

With the Galaxy S24 Ultra, Samsung has crafted the peak Galaxy Ultra smartphone. Without a radical rethinking of the design, there isn’t much Samsung can do with the next iteration to improve upon what they have released in January of 2024. It’s simply peak Android.

Yes, the Galaxy S24 Ultra retains its crown as the flagship of Android flagships. There may be minor upgrades this time around, but that’s not why you’ll be buying this smartphone. Read on to find out why.

The best display ever on an Android flagship

I’ve said this time and time again. Samsung makes the best smartphone displays out there. This time there is a new anti-reflective, anti-scratch display. It’s also much brighter than before. The display is what you interact with most of the time and it must be sharp, colour-accurate and plenty bright for outdoor usage. The Galaxy S24 Ultra’s display passes the test with flying colours. The peak brightness has gone from 1,7500 nits to 2,600 nits, and the display has gotten smoother animations, great colour vibrancy and legibility in the outdoors sunlight isn’t an issue for this goliath of a smartphone.

The display is protected by Corning’s brand-new ‘Gorilla Armor’ which is the new anti-reflective, anti-scratch glass coating atop the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s display.

The camera system gets a boost

One of the best features of the Galaxy S Ultra series has been the 10x optical zoom. I took the Galaxy S23 Ultra with me to London for the World Test Championship final and took some magnificent zoomed-in photos of the crickets. For the Galaxy S24 Ultra, Samsung has removed the 10x optical zoom and inserted a 5x optical zoom. It’s not a downgrade, as you may think so. The 5x camera goes from a 10MP to a 50MP sensor and it still offers 10x zoom by cropping in and using the extra pixels. The 5x sensor can also take in a lot more light than previous iterations.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra’s has a colossal camera system. There’s the main 200MP camera (with 60% larger pixels this time around), a 12MP ultra-wide camera, a 10MP telephoto lens (with 3x optical zoom) and the new 50MP telephoto camera (with the 5x optical zoom as mentioned above).

The main camera on the Galaxy S24 Ultra is a delight to use. The photos are packed with details and the colours are vivid. The HDR performance smoothens out the highlights and shadows.

Since the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s cameras allow for more light, the dim lighting situations provide great results. Go to a restaurant at night with dim lighting, or take the smartphone out for a spin just as the sun is setting, and you’ll see just how many details are preserved. The image is crisp, and the skin tones and colours feel more natural than ever.

The 12MP ultra-wide camera comes with the same 120-degree field of view, but I didn’t notice any difference in the photos as compared to the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

What I liked the most is how the Galaxy S24 Ultra deals with portraits. The portrait shots from the Galaxy S24 Ultra come with warmer skin tones, great colour saturation and a more natural-looking blur than before. Some of the portrait shots have an intense blur, but that can be easily adjusted.

There’s also the macro mode on the Galaxy S24 Ultra. When you get close to the subject, it blurs out the background, and the effects make it look stylish, but it lacks a few details compared to shots from other smartphones.

Last, but not least, one can also zoom in 100x like before, but it isn’t something I’d recommend. This year, the smartphone retains a tiny bit more detail at 100x, but it’s still blurry enough to dissuade consumers from using it. Go up til 30x and you’ll get plenty of usable photos. It’s above that where things get iffy.

Let’s talk about the AI in the room

The Galaxy S24 Ultra introduced the world to the AI capabilities of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip and the results of a collaboration between Samsung and Google. Four main AI features will immediately take away all your attention. There’s Circle to Search, Chat Assist, Live Translate and Samsung Voice Recorder.

A lot of these aren’t exclusive to the Galaxy S24 Ultra and that’s a bummer. My favourite of the lot is Circle to Search and let’s start there.

Circle to Search: Having to switch to Google Chrome just to look up a word's meaning or what type of dog that is, can be quite annoying. Thankfully that’s a thing of the past now. All you need to do is long-press the home button, circle a word or object with your finger, and a search result will pop up. That’s it. It’s that easy to get the information you need without having to switch from the app you’re currently using. It works flawlessly in every app.

Chat Assist: Chat Assist is built into the Samsung keyboard. Chat Assist helps in crafting the right message (along with the right tone). Basically, it tailors your messages according to the

recipient on the other end. If you need to sound professional, it’ll help with that. If you need a casual tone, it’ll also help with that.

Live Translate: Live Translate is an exciting feature and one that consumers will be using a lot. The Galaxy S24 Ultra turns into a live translator during phone calls. It supports 13 different languages for now, with support for many more coming soon. Translations are being done in real-time with minimal delay. There might be a slight latency in your conversation and it is advised that you don’t talk super fast. The translated conversation is also displayed on the S24 Ultra’s screen.

It isn’t perfect but it is a step in the right direction toward making real-time translations more practical.

One bonus is that Live Translate works in third-party apps such as WhatsApp.

Samsung Voice Recorder: With Samsung Voice Recorder (similar to the Recorder app on the Pixel line of smartphones from Google), one can transcribe recordings, summarise the entire conversion (in a bullet list), and even label individual speakers.

Performance and battery life

The Galaxy S24 Ultra, as a regular phone, performs without a blip. Without a stutter. Without a lag. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is a very capable chip and it shows in the Galaxy S24 Ultra. Whether I was gaming, using the generative AI features, doomscrolling through social media, snapping hundreds of photos, or even just watching YouTube videos, I never noticed any throttling or lag. In fact, the smartphone didn’t heat up, like previous Galaxy S Ultra versions.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is fitted with a 5,000mAh battery, and with mixed usage, I easily got a day and a half (unless I was pushing it to its limits) before having to plug it into the charger. Even when I pushed the smartphone, I never went to bed with less than 5 percent of the charge left in the smartphone. I routinely got over 8 hours of screen-on-time (SoT) and that’s just a testament to how efficient the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset is, and how well-tuned the OneUI software is.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra supports 45W wired (with a USB PD PPS charger) and 15W wireless speeds. With a compatible charger, you need just under 70 minutes to juice up the smartphone from an empty battery to a full charge.

Boring design

Yes, it’s time to get to the negatives. As much as I’ve praised the Galaxy S24 Ultra, there is one area that needs an overhaul. I don’t see how the Galaxy S25 Ultra can be any better than the Galaxy S24 Ultra without getting a complete overhaul in its design. The Galaxy S23 Ultra and the Galaxy S24 Ultra look almost identical. Just as the Galaxy S23 Ultra and Galaxy S22 Ultra do. They’ve got the boxy corners, the camera rings, and the S-Pen on the bottom edge of the smartphone

The Galaxy S24 Ultra has forgone the Armor Aluminium for titanium for the sake of durability. The textured finish also means that the smartphone is devoid of fingerprints. The Galaxy S24 Ultra is flat, unlike the Galaxy S23 Ultra. It’s dropped the curved edges. No more accidental touches. There are a few more side bezels on the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

That’s it. That’s the change. Both phones are almost identical. For some, the design of the Galaxy S Ultra smartphone is becoming boring, and I tend to agree. Samsung needs to take a chance and needs to make a radical overhaul of the smartphone.

The R&D team must be devising a new design for the smartphone, and it’s only a matter of time before it is released. Here’s hoping the Galaxy S25 Ultra (coming to stores in early 2025) is blessed with a new and exciting design to get consumers talking about the smartphone unlike any other.

Pricey Android flagship Yes, the Galaxy S24 Ultra doesn’t come in cheap. But it was never cheap to begin with. All Galaxy S Ultra smartphones have been overpriced and that’s just how it is. You’ve got to deal with it. The starting price is Rs 1,29,999, and that’s in the iPhone 15 Pro territory.

With the OnePlus 12 (a flagship killer) costing nearly half of that, the pricing is something to consider before purchasing this smartphone.

Verdict: Peak Android flagship

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is the pinnacle of an Android flagship. With a superb display, blazing-fast performance, an efficient chipset, and over a day’s worth of battery life, the Galaxy S24 Ultra retains its crown as the flagship of all Android flagships. Couple that with the new Galaxy AI features (sadly, they aren’t exclusive to the Galaxy S24 Ultra) and you get a more useful and capable smartphone than ever before. There’s also the versatile camera system that many consumers have taken a liking to.

Last but not least, is the S-Pen. Yes, I didn’t talk about it at all above, but there is a dedicated fanbase of the S-Pen out there.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is simply the most refined flagship to date. It’s a power user's dream smartphone.

If you’ve got a Galaxy S23 Ultra or a flagship from 2023, then there is little reason to upgrade. If you’ve got a smartphone from 2022, then you’re going to fall in love with the Galaxy S24 Ultra at first sight.

There may be other options out there, but Samsung has done just enough to keep them at bay. If pricing isn’t an issue, then the Galaxy S24 Ultra is the smartphone to get. One just hopes that the Galaxy S25 Ultra will get a design overhaul when it is released in early 2025. That’ll be truly game-changing.

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