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I spent 5 minutes with the Galaxy S24 Ultra and found 2 big issues

Published Feb 4th, 2024 10:34AM EST
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Front With S Pen
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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If you read our Galaxy S24 Ultra review, you know it’s the complete package. There’s no better Android phone on the market, and the Galaxy S24 Ultra just set the rules of engagement for the entire year. No wonder the Galaxy S24 launched in January, giving Samsung plenty of lead time on competitors. 

It’s not just the flat screen, the titanium frame, the high-end cameras, and the Galaxy AI. It’s all of those features together. The Galaxy S24 Ultra might be the phone to buy for many people, especially while Samsung is running several exciting preorder deals.

But the Galaxy S24 Ultra isn’t perfect. No phone is, for that matter. I only needed to spend 5 minutes with the handset in a retail store to realize that the Galaxy S24 Ultra has two big issues that Samsung needs to fix.

I’m a 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro owner, which means I’m used to operating a device that weighs about 206 grams and measures 147.5 x 71.5 x 7.85 mm. I wish the phone were even lighter than that, and I envy the iPhone 15 Pro’s slimmed-down size. You probably already know where I’m going with this: the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s is really, really big.

When I saw the three devices side by side, I was immediately drawn to the familiar-looking 6.2-inch Galaxy S24, which measures in at 147.0 x 70.6 x 7.6 mm and 167g.

Yes, it’s true; the Galaxy S24 and 6.7-inch S24 Plus are so incredibly similar to the iPhone you’d think we’re back in the old days of the Galaxy S and Galaxy S2. I will say that the Galaxy S24 phones have a different curvature at the corners than the iPhone, however.

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

Meanwhile, the S24 Ultra features a 6.8-inch display with symmetrical bezels like the smaller models. It’s also a flat display, which I think is a big upgrade for the Ultra. But, unlike its siblings, the Galaxy S24 Ultra has rectangular corners. It can’t get rounded corners because of the S Pen stylus tucked inside the phone so close to the edge.

I tested Circle to Search on the Galaxy S24, but I played with the Galaxy S24 Ultra the most. And that’s when the flat edge hit me. In the palm of my hand, to be precise. Now, this isn’t a problem for longtime Android users who have used Ultra devices. But it certainly is for me. I’ve been taking rounded corners for granted for years that I don’t even think about it. I did when I held the Ultra. 

Samsung could fix this in two ways. The first involves giving the Ultra a makeover so it looks more like the Galaxy S and S Plus. Round those corners and make it more comfortable to hold. 

That’s a problem if you want to keep the S Pen in the same location. I’d suggest Samsung dropped the S Pen for good, something it tested with the first Ultra model years ago. But I know there must be diehard fans of the stylus that would like none of that.

Think about it, however. The removal of the S Pen doesn’t just fix the corners. It also lets Samsung boost the battery size. 

The other fix involves placing the S Pen towards the middle of the phone, but that only works in theory. It would probably cause unnecessary hassles for the phone’s internal design. It’s not just the battery that Samsung would have to split into two. It might impact the camera and motherboard. 

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Software
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Software. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The size

The Galaxy S24 Ultra has an incredible screen, which now supports even higher brightness, at 2,600 nits. On top of that, the Ultra features a more durable Corning Gorilla Armor panel that reduces glare and prevents scratches. 

Also, the Galaxy S24 Ultra features Samsung’s best camera module of the three phones. 

But I started with the size, and I’ll return to it. The Galaxy S24 Ultra is just too big. Add the sharp corners, and I can see how the phone would tire me, how I’d probably keep repositioning it in hand, and how I’d try to use it with one hand and fail. This could, in turn, lead to me accidentally dropping the Galaxy S24 Ultra, breaking the glass in the process.

The Galaxy S24 Plus might be a better fit if you don’t want to compromise too much. You get the same high-end display, but it doesn’t have the same Corning Glass. Speaking of durability, the phone doesn’t have a titanium frame either. It’s back to aluminum. 

You get a great high-end camera, but it doesn’t have the same hardware as the Galaxy S24 Ultra, including the enhanced zoom. There’s also no S Pen, but the battery size is comparable to the Ultra. 

I think Samsung could turn the Plus into everything the Ultra is without the S Pen. The Galaxy S Plus could be the equivalent of the iPhone Pro that Samsung doesn’t really have. At least not when you compare the Plus to the Ultra. 

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Cameras
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Cameras Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

A fix on the way?

Interstingly, rumors say that Samsung is already considering making a smaller Galaxy S Ultra. That could be a huge win. A smaller Ultra would be easier to handle, even if it keeps those sharper corners. Add titanium, and it would be lighter. 

You might have to wait for that to happen. Rumors say a smaller Galaxy S Ultra design might drop in the coming years.

Meanwhile, Apple is about to launch larger iPhone 16 Pro and 16 Pro Max models. And it all boils down to making the two Pros offer more similar features. Specifically, the iPhone 16 Pro should get a tetraprism camera, too, and that zoom lens will need more internal space.

Back to the Galaxy S24 series, you wouldn’t be wrong to get a Galaxy S24 or S24 Plus, especially if you can score the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 versions. It’s just that you won’t get the best possible Galaxy S experience there is. 

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.