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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review: The complete package

Published Jan 26th, 2024 6:30PM EST
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Front With S Pen
Christian de Looper for BGR

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Galaxy S24 Ultra

Rating: 4.5 Stars

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is arguably the best Android phone you can get right now.

Pros

  • Great build
  • Excellent camera
  • Top-tier performance
  • Stunning display
  • AI features are cool

Cons

  • Expensive
Buy FromList PriceSale Price
Samsung$1,299.99$1,299.99See It
$1,299.99$1,299.99See It

The Galaxy S Ultra has long been considered one of — if not the single — best Android devices, boasting top-tier specs, cutting-edge camera tech, and stunning displays. At first glance, the latest iteration — the Galaxy S24 Ultra — looks more or less the same as the Galaxy S23 Ultra. But look a little closer, and you’ll see a phone that offers a huge range of new features, the headline of which is the new Galaxy AI.

But AI alone can’t make a great phone. The device has to get the basics right too. Thankfully, there’s little chance of a Galaxy S Ultra device not hitting those points. But as a whole package, how does the Galaxy S24 Ultra perform? I’ve been using it for a few weeks to find out.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra specs

Dimensions162.3 x 79 x 8.6 mm
IP ratingIP68
Display resolution1440 x 3120 pixels
Display size6.8 inches
Display typeLTPO AMOLED
Display refresh rate120Hz
Display brightness2600 nits (peak)
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
Memory12GB
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Rear camerasWide: 48MP, f/1.8, sensor-shift OIS
Ultrawide: 12MP, f/2.2, 120-degrees
Telephoto: 12MP, f/2.8 periscope, 5x zoom
Video8K at 30fps, 1080p at 960fps
Front camera12MP, f/2.2
PortsUSB-C 3.2
Battery size5,000mAh
Charging45W wired, 15W wireless, 4.5W reverse wireless
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 7, 5G
ColorsTitanium Black, Titanium Gray, Titanium Violet, Titanium Yellow, Titanium Blue, Titanium Green, Titanium Orange
Price$1,299.99

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra design

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra doesn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to design. Like in previous years, the Ultra device looks a little different than the standard Galaxy S24 and the Galaxy S24+, with a blockier look that looks more like a continuation of the Note series than something related to the S series. It’s a good look — and while the fact that the device looks so similar to the S23 Ultra may put off some, I’m glad they stuck with the overall design.

The device has slightly rounded sides, with a flat top and bottom. On the right side can be found a power button and volume rocker, while on the bottom are the USB-C port and the slot for the S Pen.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra FrameImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The back of the Galaxy S24 Ultra is pretty similar too. The device has no raised camera module, like the iPhone 15 Pro Max, instead offering five distinct cameras that protrude from the back of the phone. It’s not a bad look by any means, and very Samsung.

The design of the phone may be more or less the same as the Galaxy S23 Ultra, but the build isn’t. Samsung has moved to a matte titanium frame on the sides, and it looks and feels great. Who cares if Apple did it first — the end result is still a phone with a great build. The device also comes in a range of colors — and I’m reviewing the Titanium Black model.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra With S PenImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Generally, I like the look and feel of the Galaxy S24 Ultra. Sure, it might be nice to get a more substantial design refresh at some point in the next year or two, but for now, it’s still one of the most premium feeling Android phones.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra display

Samsung has always offered incredibly high-end displays on its phones, and the S24 Ultra is no exception to that rule. The phone has a 6.8-inch panel with a 1440 x 3120 resolution. As you would expect from Samsung in 2024, it’s a Dynamic LTPO AMOLED 2X display, and it can range from 1Hz to 120Hz to save on battery. It has a 2600-nit brightness, which is pretty huge.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra DisplayImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

All of this adds up to one of the best displays in any phone, ever. It’s stunning. Text is crisp and colors are bright and vibrant. Animations feel smooth thanks to the high refresh rate, and looking at any content on the screen is a dream. The only issue I could possibly take with it is the fact that, like other Samsung products, it doesn’t support Dolby Vision — but it does support HDR10+.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra performance

The Galaxy S24 Ultra doesn’t just look pretty — it’s a top performer, too. The device is one of the first to offer the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, coupled with 12GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage. Like previous generations, in certain regions, you’ll get a Samsung Exynos chip instead of a Snapdragon chip — but our review model has the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra BackImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

That basically means that it’s among the best-performing Android phones out there right now. In day-to-day testing, it was able to handle everything I could throw at it, including loading games like Genshin Impact quickly, and multitasking with ease. Below can be found the benchmark results we achieved with the phone.

  • GeekBench 6: 2294 single-core, 7108 multi-core
  • 3DMark Wild Life Extreme: 5031

These are excellent scores, and show a device that can easily outperform against almost every other Android phone out there. The iPhone 15 Pro does still perform slightly better, at least in these tests, but that’s long been a trend.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra battery and charging

Powering it all is a 5,000mAh battery, and I found that it was able to easily get me through a full day of use, and in times of lighter use, I could stretch it to two days. In a video playback test with the phone at full brightness, it actually lasted over 28 hours, making it one of the longest-lasting phones I’ve tested in the past year or so. Now, of course, most people won’t simply watch videos on their phone — but even in mixed-use, the device has excellent battery life.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra USB-C PortImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The charging speed is only fine, though. The Galaxy S24 Ultra supports charging at up to 45W with a compatible charger. Even that charging speed is slower than some other devices out there — though it’s also faster than phones like the Pixel 8 and the iPhone 15. The phone also supports 15W wireless charging and 4.5W reverse wireless charging.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera

On the back of the phone can be found a camera array made of four different cameras — and while for the most part, the experience is the same, there is one notable difference between the Galaxy S23 Ultra and the S24 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra CamerasImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

It makes sense that the experience is similar. The main camera (200 megapixels with OIS), ultrawide camera (12 megapixels, 120-degrees), and 3x telephoto camera (10 megapixels) are all the same as before. The only big difference is the second telephoto camera, which has gone from 10x on the Galaxy S23 Ultra to 5x on the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

At first glance, this might seem like a downgrade, but it’s actually a good thing. Before, there was a lot of space between the 3x and 10x cameras, forcing users to leverage lower-quality digital zoom. The 5x telephoto camera on the Galaxy S24 Ultra fixes this — plus, the sensor is a high enough resolution (50 megapixels) to where the device can zoom to 10x with lossless quality anyway. I love how versatile the camera is on this phone — really, it can produce high-quality images in any reasonable scenario.

Even if the camera were exactly the same as the Galaxy S23 Ultra, that wouldn’t be a bad thing. The Galaxy S23 Ultra had an excellent camera, and that carries over to the newer phone. Images are crisp and detailed, with vibrant colors. Zoomed images up to 15x or so look great too, though beyond that, you will start to see the digital zoom.

The camera on the Galaxy S24 Ultra goes beyond simply looking great though. It also happens to offer some interesting new AI-based editing features. Some of these are the same as those previously offered on the Pixel series — like the ability to move or delete objects from the image, and generate fill where those objects used to be. For now, the feature is only fine — sometimes, the content it generates is a little weird-looking. But it’s still fun to play around with.

Cooler than that is the new Instant Slow-mo feature — which can take video shot at 30 frames per second, and generate new frames to make for a smooth slow-mo version of the video. It’s pretty neat, and it works extremely well. This is a feature that I could see becoming much more mainstream — especially as a way to create high frame rate video without taking up much storage.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra software

The new phone offers other AI-based features too, many of which are baked into the software. The device comes with Samsung’s One UI 6, and for the most part, it looks and feels the same as previous iterations of One UI. One UI has never been my favorite take on Android, but if you’re used to it, you’ll appreciate it on the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra SoftwareImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Except for all the Galaxy AI features. I already covered the photography-related Galaxy AI features, but there are others included too. Perhaps the most notable of these is the new “Circle to Search” feature, which allows you to use the S Pen to circle objects on the display to search for them. It actually works very well. It’s great at finding products that you might want to buy or people you want to find more information on, and I found it to be quite accurate. To be clear, it is basically a more convenient implementation of Google Lens, but it still works very well. And there’s a writing assist feature built into the keyboard that can translate text or help you rewrite text before sending it. This is the AI feature I used the least, but I could see it coming in handy, especially when trying to chat with someone who speaks a different language.

To be clear, many of these features will be making their way to the Galaxy S23 series in the future — however, those with a Galaxy S22 device will seemingly be out of luck.

Conclusions

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is yet another killer Android phone in the S series. Arguably, the device is the best Android phone you can get right now — thanks to its excellent camera, top-tier performance, handy S Pen, and stunning display. Of course, you’ll pay for the best Android phone — and it’s not necessarily for everyone. My favorite Android phone right now is still the OnePlus Open, for example. However, if you want a reliable workhorse and like Samsung’s ecosystem of devices and software, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is the best you can get right now.

The competition

There’s plenty of competition in the premium Android phone space, but few offer the complete package of the Galaxy S24 Ultra. Another Snapdragon 8 Gen 3-equipped phone that just launched is the OnePlus 12, which I’ve also been reviewing, and have found to also offer a great experience for those who are willing to sacrifice the S Pen and want a high-end Android experience.

Of course, it’s also worth considering the lower-end Galaxy S24 devices. The standard Galaxy S24 and Galaxy S24+ offer a similar level of performance and camera quality, though without the same camera versatility and the S Pen. If all you want is a reliable and high-performing device, the Galaxy S24 is still a great option.

Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra?

Yes. It’s one of the best Android phones out there right now.

Christian de Looper Senior Reviews Editor

Christian de Looper is based in sunny Santa Cruz, California. He has been expertly reviewing tech products for more than 8 years, and brings experience in deep technical analysis of consumer electronics devices to BGR's reviews channel.

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