Samsung’s lead in the global smartphone race came to a halt recently when it fell to the second spot after well over a decade, a lot of that because of the company’s flagship Galaxy S series performing and giving way in to the newest technology for its other smartphones, too.
The new Galaxy S24 series, just like previous times, has three different models, with the S24 Ultra being the biggest and most beefed up model of the three. It’s priced at Rs. 1,29,999 for the base model and goes to Rs. 1,59,999, though there’s a good chance you get a decent deal to get it for significantly less online or from a physical store. Let’s try and see what Samsung brought to the table with the S24 Ultra.
Design: The biggest difference between the S24 Ultra and the S23 Ultra is that the new one carries a titanium frame now (instead of aluminium). Plus, you get the Corning Gorilla Armor on top of the flat 6.8-inch display for not only improved protection but also getting a less reflective screen. The back has the Corning Gorilla Victus with a matte finish that doesn’t catch too many fingerprints and smudges. The back carries the four-camera system plus laser focus that are all directly attached to the back with no separate rectangular cutouts in between.
The right side holds the volume buttons and the power/lock key near the middle; while the left side is plain. The top houses the secondary mic and one outlet for loudspeakers; the bottom has the S Pen slot, second outlet for the loudspeakers, USB type C port as well as the primary mic and dual SIM card tray.
This phone is big, wide and not light by any means, weighing a little over 230 grams, and its edges could have been made out to be a little curved instead of the somewhat sharp corners.
Display: The S24 features a 6.8-inch QHD+ (3120×1440) AMOLED display with support for 120Hz variable refresh rates. You can change the display resolution setting, which is set at FHD+ (2340×1080) by default. The display here is brighter than before and again usable under direct sunlight without much problem. Colour calibration and contrast are in line with what you would usually expect from a Samsung device, and that new Gorilla Armor does make it less reflective to use, a useful addition.
You can expect to watch HDR content over YouTube or Netflix on it with good details and get a balanced output, including in dark scenes and with good skin tones in general.
Software, AI and performance: The phone is equipped with the slightly customised Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset (up to 3.4Ghz octa core processor, Adreno 750 GPU and X75 5G modem) along with a 12GB LPDDR5X RAM and 256GB UFS 4.0 internal storage (also comes in 512GB or 1TB storage). It runs on One UI 6.1 based on Android 14 with the January security patches installed.
The headlines features here include new Galaxy AI features announced by Samsung. The one I found the most useful so far is Circle to search – long press the Home button and simply circle (doesn’t have to be precise) the part of what’s on your screen that you want to know more about. Saves 2-3 steps from reverse Google Image search or Google Lens by taking a screenshot and then searching for it.
Samsung has also introduced an AI feature where you can summarise or translate a webpage in its Internet browser. It seems to be in the testing stage, as it sometimes just doesn’t work so far. There’s also Live Translate where you can have a call with somebody speaking another language to yours and have it translated instantly, but it’s still not very accurate, though somewhat usable.
There’s an editing feature for photos where you can remove shadows, edit the main subject’s position or size, and so on; something we have seen on Pixels and iPhones, too. You can also make AI generated wallpapers as per your instructions for the phone. All the AI stuff can be made to be done on device only (can be selected inside Settings) and is all based on Google’s Gemini AI, supposedly available for free on the device till next year.
General performance and gaming performance of the S24 ultra is top notch here. Switching between apps, using two apps side by side, taking a call while downloading a heavy file – all work without any stuttering troubles. You can play heavy games such as Genshin Impact at near 60FPS and BGMI at near 90FPS without frames dropped.
Cameras: There’s a four-camera system on the back – a 200MP (f/1.7) main camera, a 12MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide camera, a new 50MP (f/3.4) telephoto camera, and a 10MP (f/2.4) telephoto camera. The camera performance seems to be very near to its predecessor with slightly better portrait shots in both daylight and low light conditions. The camera app is feature rich and is quite straightforward to use. There’s very little shutter lag to take shots of your kids and pets. The overall shots appear to have punchy colours, well detailed with over exposure at times.
You can edit a photo from a regular to a portrait shot when the Gallery app detects the subject fine enough. The front-facing 12MP (f/2.2) camera is quick to take shots and is reliable for taking sharp selfies and video calling purposes most of the time. The AI generated photos have a watermark at the bottom and some added metadata to confirm that it’s AI generated, though the watermark can be removed using the default editor itself.
Battery: Sporting a 5,000 mAh battery unit, the phone lasted me a day more often than not while the display settings were set at FHD+ and 2-3 hours less with QHD+ resolution, all at adaptive refresh rate selected. There’s no charger in the box, but only a USB type C to C cable, but it supports up to 45 watt charging and charges from 1% to full in about 80 minutes without any heating issues.
Other bits: I didn’t see any noticeable issues regarding WiFi, GPS, call quality and Bluetooth performance, though in-ear speaker volume could have been a little louder. Loudspeakers are crisp and loud enough for playing videos and games.
Verdict: The S24 Ultra is among Samsung’s first devices that’s aimed with the AI all over it. The device has some nice new AI tricks up its sleeves, which are quite useful but definitely not completely developed to be called a finished product for now. The phone has top notch internal hardware, smooth software and great but not much improved camera in place. There would be some nice deals going on for the S23 series now (which is expected to get AI features with an update in a few months), but if you want the bleeding edge in smartphones, you can probably still get a decent deal on Samsung’s latest flagship device that has some refinements over the predecessor.