- Incremental Upgrades over the S23 Ultra
- Samsung Software is the main star of the show
- 7 years of update on an Android, finally
- Galaxy AI features are pretty impressive but has a long way to go
- Flat display for the Win
- It's still one pricey smartphone to exist (despite all the discounts)
- The Titanium frame is unnecessary
If there’s one thing I’d say about the pandemic, it accelerated the tech development for a good few years to come. The Samsung Galaxy S22 proved that and since then we have gotten incremental upgrades. The S24 series is no different – however, we have finally reached the phase where it’s the time for software to shine over hardware and this new series does exactly that. Here’s our Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review.
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review
Display: The Gorilla Glass Armor is the Real MVP
For the first time in a long time, we finally got a flat display on the Ultra. The last time we had a flat display in this note-like profile was the Note20. Truth be told, the curved display offered no functionality and it was just purely for aesthetics. That said, going for a flat display with the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is pretty great.
The 6.8” QHD+ Display is going to satisfy many users – especially if you are looking for that nice crisp and vivid display. The thin bezels do give the phone the illusion of holding more of the display and less of the edges – but worry not, the metal rails are still there to hold the phone with some level of ease.
The biggest game changer isn’t the display Samsung is equipped with but the glass they have used – the Corning Gorilla Glass Armor, which brings a stark difference in experience. If you put the S24 Ultra beside the S23 Ultra, you’ll immediately point out that the reflections on the S24 Ultra’s glass are significantly low.
Corning promises that this glass reduces reflectance by up to 75% – and it sure as heck works very well under broad daylight and so on. This doesn’t affect the colours by any chance, but hey, now we finally get a capable display under any condition.
Specs and Performance: Incremental over the S23 Ultra
The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra gets the usual incremental upgrades: of course, it rocks the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 with 12GB RAM and storage options ranging from 256GB all the way up to a Terabyte (which is overkill). But that said, you do see an improved performance in many aspects – such as battery management, in-game experiences and so on.
It performs just like how a flagship would. But this time, there is one big change and that’s in the thermal department – where the brand has equipped the phone with a bigger Vapor Chamber cooling system.
That means better thermal dissipation and management under heavy loads – although you will feel the warmth after prolong gaming, especially on the top right area. For the most part, daily tasks were easy to use and it felt like a breeze. The gaming experience, so far was quite alright as we tried Grid Motorsport, Genshin and other titles that allow us to take full advantage of the phone’s power. You are going to have a great time, to put it simply.
But that said, it still is an incremental upgrade over the predecessor. And if you are using the S23 Ultra, you might feel like the performance improvement is just by a hair.
One game we did have hiccup running was Call of Duty: Warzone where it had graphics issue – the character wouldnt render well. We are still trying this out to see if anyone else has this issue as well.
Camera: Great in the Day, Odd in the Night
Again, there aren’t many changes in the camera department: it still houses the 200MP sensor, and you have the Ultrawide and Telephoto – which are 12MP and 10MP. However, one of the telephoto sensors did get an upgrade to 50MP and a proper 5x Optical Zoom. This is pretty much the only change we have here.
Samsung’s positioning of the Galaxy S24 Ultra Camera happens to be more AI-centric – which we will talk about later and, for the first time we do get the granularity, most people would want – especially if you shoot images as a professional. The front-facing 12MP camera is as good as Samsung has made in the past.
Pictures coming out of the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra are just as you’d expect: it’s vibrant and punchy and most consumers who aim to just use these images on their social media would have no qualms with it. However, since the phone is still running the Day 0 software and we have not seen any updates yet – or patches, the night performance is weirdly odd. To put it more specifically, it’s a hit and miss – now once again we will cover this in a separate camera review which I believe this camera deserves. So, stay tuned to us for that. In the meantime, check out the sample shots we have taken with this phone.
The S Pen: It’s there and it’s the Same
If there’s one thing that we all know that it matured, that has to be the S Pen because, for the first time, Samsung has not spoken anything about the S Pen. If you have used it previously, it works just as great as that and all the features we expect the S Pen to offer – it’s all there. So, for previous stylus users, this experience wouldn’t be such an alien one and for newcomers, get ready to taste – quite possibly the best Stylus experience you could get on an Android device.
The Biggest Improvement: The Software
This year’s biggest game changer with the entire Samsung Galaxy S24 Series and that includes the Ultra of course, it’s the software. With the help of the dedicated NPU in their processors, Samsung has elevated the experience in the software by offering features under the category “Advanced Intelligence” which is what “AI” stands for.
Pair that with One UI 6 – you get features that are just straight-up beneficial for your daily use. You can summarize a site, get the quick TL;DR, chat in different languages natively, use it as an interpreter, have an on-the-fly call translation and the list just goes on.
By teaming up with Google, they have even made features that are exclusive to the Samsung device – like the Circle to Search. Just press and hold the home button or tap and hold the bar (if you are on the gesture control), circle whatever you see on the screen and voila. But again if you are coming from the S23 Ultra, don’t upgrade yet as Samsung promised that most if not all features will be making their way to the predecessor as it has an NPU.
And for the first time, we finally see a phone with 7 years of major updates which has never happened before in the Android realm. We finally have an almost true contender to the likes of Apple.
The Most Expensive Ultra, to Date
Yep, to see the Samsung Galaxy Ultra go up in price leaves an odd distaste, even for me. In Malaysia, it starts at RM 6299 for the 256GB and goes all the way up to RM 7799 for the 1TB. This is pretty crazy if you ask me. But that said, Samsung is giving certain discounts – to make your purchase more worth every penny, along with some freebies of course. But if you want a much better discount then you will have to play the waiting game after all.
The Titanium: Form over Function
The other factor why the price must have gone up is solely because of the use of Titanium in their Ultra. Both the normal S24 and Plus use Armor Aluminium which is – in my opinion, more than enough. But the Titanium doesn’t offer any better function it doesn’t even reduce the weight at all. Compared to the S23 Ultra, the S24 Ultra only has about 1-2 grams difference which isn’t as significant as the Apple iPhone 15 Pro for instance (187g vs 204g on the 14 Pro).
So, honestly, Titanium on the S24 Ultra feels unnecessary and we still don’t know what grade Titanium Samsung is using here.
Battery Life and Charging
The 5000mAh battery with 45W fast charging wired and 15W fast charging wirelessly is still here. Now the battery life does differ based on the display resolution you use. In QHD+ mode, we got about 5 hours 40 minutes of battery life and it only lasted about a day with unplugging the phone around 8 am and the battery lasting till 11 pm. In FHD+, you do get a little over a day and the screen on time does exceed 7 hours with about 20-25% battery left for us to use for a few moments.
Under light use cases, we could even end the day with about 40% and use about 5 hours of screen time, which is pretty good. I do kind of wish that they had put in a bigger battery this time around but it’s alright. And for the first time, it’s safe to say that 5G doesn’t drain your phone as we used U Mobile 5G throughout.
I will admit that the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is a little pricey this time around. This is the most expensive Ultras to date and I believe this trend will continue next year. But for the first time, we finally have an Android smartphone that could last as long as an iPhone – which has been the biggest game changer in Android history. It even puts the other Android smartphones (Except Google’s very own Pixel) to shame.
For the first time, I cannot believe I am saying this – spending a whopping RM 6299 or maybe a little more (depending on the storage option you are opting for) has got to be the best money spent, only if you desperately need the Ultra.
Let’s say you get the 256GB variant for RM 6299 – and plan to use it for over 7 years. That’s RM 899.89 per year for 7 years. This is girl math.
However, given that the entire S24 Series gets 7 years of update, you are, after all, better off purchasing the S24 and the S24 Plus over the Ultra. I just might get the S24 for myself.