Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review: AI-Infused With All The Trimmings

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Is A Titanium Titan

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra 8

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Starting at $1,299.99
The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is blazing fast, impeccably designed with great cameras, and pricey.

hot flat
  • Excellent performance
  • OLED screen is flat and beautiful
  • Titanium frame
  • Included S Pen stylus
  • Powerful camera array
  • Android 14 with seven years of updates is great
    not flat
    • High starting price
    • Some AI features require an internet connection
    • Large form factor may be too big for some
    hothardware recommended small

      Ever since expanding the Galaxy S lineup to include an Ultra variant, Samsung has been refining and simplifying its flagship design. And the new Galaxy S24 Ultra we'll be looking at today may have reached the ultimate conclusion of that effort. This phone lacks some of the more prominent features of the S24 and S24+, instead charting its own course with a simple, almost utilitarian design.

      The Galaxy S24 Ultra packs the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 Mobile Platform, ample RAM and storage, a phenomenal flat OLED screen, a titanium frame, and the iconic S Pen stylus. It's got almost everything you could want in a high-end Android device, but you will pay for the privilege of carrying this full form and featured phone. Samsung has boosted the starting price to $1,299.99, a $100 increase over last year's version. It's a lot of money, but still, it might be worth the asking price for the right customers. In fact, you may be hard-pressed to find a more powerful, future-proof smartphone for sale in 2024.

      Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Features and Specs

      Processor Platform Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
      Display  6.8-inch 1440p LPTO OLED @ 120Hz 
      Memory  12GB
      Storage 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
      Rear-Facing Cameras 12MP ultrawide, 200MP primary, 10MP 3x telephoto, 50MP 5x telephoto
      Front-Facing Cameras 12MP
      Video Recording Up to 8K @ 30 fps
      Battery 5000mAh; 45W wired, 15W wireless charging
      OS Android 14, One UI 6.1
      Dimensions 162.3 x 79 x 8.6 mm
      Weight 233g
      Connectivity Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, LTE, 5G (sub-6GHz and mmWave)
      Colors Gray, Black, Violet, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Orange
      Titanium Green, Titanium Blue,
      and Titanium OrangeTitanium Green, Titanium Blue,
      and Titanium Orange
      Pricing Starting at $1,299.99

      Samsung's cheaper Galaxy S24 phones have adopted an iPhone-like flattened frame, but the S24 Ultra doesn't go that far. Its new titanium frame still bows out slightly, which makes this very large device easier to hold. The display itself is now totally flat, which is great from a usability standpoint, as it gives you more room to comfortably use Samsung's S Pen stylus, and you're less likely to get accidental touches on the edge of the display. The S24 Ultra's OLED display takes up almost the entire front of the phone, leaving just a slim, symmetrical bezel around the edge. It's strikingly clean looking. 

      Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra 10

      The titanium frame is a big step up from the aluminum chassis you get on the S24 and S24+. Titanium is heavier metal, but Samsung kept the device weight about the same—the S24 Ultra is actually a gram lighter than its predecessor. The frame feels dense and solid, as you'd expect from one of the strongest known metals. So far, we're not seeing any of the discoloration Apple users have seen on the iPhone 15 Pro. The texture is also more grippy than the company's aluminum frames. So, Samsung's first titanium frame looks like an unqualified success. 

      The 6.8-inch 1440 x 3120 OLED screen is the centerpiece of the S24 Ultra. It's perfectly sharp, even if you eyeball it really closely (505 pixels per inch). It supports a 120Hz refresh rate, which is slower than some devices from Motorola and Asus, but the difference between 120Hz and 144Hz, for example, is basically imperceptible. Higher refresh rates are also more taxing on battery life. Samsung also has its customary ultrasonic fingerprint sensor under the display. Some past incarnations of this technology could be a bit sluggish, but now it's among the fastest and most reliable ways to unlock your phone. Plus, there's no bright flash of light every time you unlock, which you get with optical sensors on devices like the Pixel 8.

      Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra 4

      Most other phones are going to have a hard time competing with the S24 Ultra's display brightness, which tops out at 2,600 nits. It's totally readable under direct sunlight, and not only because of the brightness. More important is the new Gorilla Glass Armor on the S24 Ultra's screen, which has an anti-reflective coating that really works well. Samsung's software is also great at boosting contrast in subtle ways, ensuring you can make everything out even when the display is at minimum brightness. 

      Flip the phone over, and you've got a smooth, unremarkable panel of Gorilla Glass. The only points of interest are the five camera modules (four of which are lenses) sticking up in the corner. It's basically a titanium brick with glass on both sides.

      The power and volume buttons are on the right edge. They're clicky and easy to find by touch, but there's a tiny bit of wobble. It's not enough to make them mushy or awkward to press, but we don't expect to see any button wobble in a phone that costs $1,300. Down on the bottom edge, you've got the lone USB-C port and a slot for the S Pen.

      Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra 7
      The S24 Ultra (left) is almost exactly the same size and weight as the S23 Ultra (right), but it has a flat display.

      The S Pen uses the tried and true push-push mechanism to eject, so it's easy to snatch out of the silo without looking away from the screen. The stylus is light but seems durable, and the low-profile button is surprisingly tactile. The S Pen is very responsive with the S24 Ultra's screen, but the Bluetooth features are almost all useless. We do appreciate the option to use the S Pen button as a remote camera shutter, though.

      Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Software And AI Chops 

      Samsung has shipped the Galaxy S24 Ultra with Android 14, which is running under a thick layer of One UI 6.1. Android 14 itself doesn't have many user-facing improvements, but Samsung is piling on the AI features this year. That's the story Samsung wants us to tell, but there's possibly an even more important aspect of this software. Samsung has boosted its support guarantee this year, promising seven years of OS and security updates. That means a Galaxy S24 Ultra from 2024 will still be updated and safe to use online through 2031. Whether or not you'll still want to use it after that long is unknowable, but it does make the $1,300 price tag a bit easier to swallow if you know you have the option of using this phone into the next decade.

      The Samsung "Advanced Intelligence" features run the gamut from translating languages to altering your photos with generative AI. Samsung's Chat Assist feature is more than able to jazz up your messages—rewriting text is one of the core features of generative AI chatbots. However, Chat Assist requires an internet connection. Samsung Notes was already a surprisingly capable application, particularly if you use the S Pen, and the AI-powered summarization and formatting features are helpful. Again, these features send your data to the cloud.

      Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra software
      Left to right: Multitasking, Chat Assist, and AI photo editor

      Generative photo editing can let you move or remove objects, but it's not perfect. The process is also surprisingly slow, probably in part because it uses cloud computing resources for all the heavy lifting. While you can't make any mind-bending generative edits, Samsung does watermark images (visually and in the metadata) to indicate they were altered by AI. Samsung's AI translation feature is fast enough to carry on a conversation, and it can process the data on your device. That said, you can get the same experience downloading an offline language pack in Google Translate.

      Are you noticing a pattern? Yep, many Galaxy AI features require an internet connection. There's a toggle tucked away in the settings to use only local processing, but without the cloud, some features won't work at all and others will be much slower and lower quality. Samsung promises it won't store any of your data when running it through AI models, but this rather defeats the point of having a powerful NPU inside your phone. Many of these features are powered by Google's new Gemini model, which we expect to see running on more phones soon. In fact, Google added several features eerily similar to elements of Galaxy AI in the latest Pixel Feature Drop. 

      Samsung's multitasking capabilities are most useful on tablets and foldables, but the Galaxy S24 Ultra is large enough that you can still benefit from split-screen view. Samsung makes it easy to open multiple apps, and you can save frequent app pairs for faster launching. Samsung also allows floating apps, but one or two of those is all you can realistically manage on the S24 Ultra's 6.8-inch screen. The S24 Ultra is more than powerful enough to run multiple apps, but it's not as spacious as a tablet or foldable. 

      Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra 5

      The S Pen doesn't have any truly new tricks, but you can now write directly in any text box to input text. This feature has come to the Galaxy S24 Ultra from Samsung's tablets and foldables, but it's similarly useful here. You might have to zoom in to write legibly, but it's still a quick way to enter text if you've already got the S Pen out. There are plenty of reasons you might grab the pen, too. You can jot down notes while the phone is asleep just by removing the S Pen, and it's great for Circle to Search, another of the new Galaxy AI features. It's essentially a faster way to access Google image search, but it works well, even if it's not a marvel of artificial intelligence.

      Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Cameras

      Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra 3

      Samsung again has four cameras on the back of its flagship smartphone. Three of the sensors are unchanged from last year: the 200MP primary, 10MP 3x zoom, and a 12MP ultrawide. The periscope camera, however, has changed from 10x zoom to just 5x zoom. The phone uses pixel binning to improve brightness, so the cameras output 12-megapixel images even from the 200MP sensor

      Samsung's camera tuning has long emphasized bright, vibrant colors at the expense of capturing motion. In our testing, the S24 Ultra still takes somewhat longer exposures than other phones, but it's faster than the S23 Ultra. It's not as frustrating to use in moderate indoor light, but it may take a few tries to get a sharp picture of a wiggly toddler or pet. We like the Pixel 8 (and surprisingly) the OnePlus 12 more for low-light photography, but as you can see below, it the Galaxy S24 Ultra still captures delightfully vibrant, crisp shots.

      Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra main1

      In general, the photos we've taken with the Galaxy S24 Ultra turned out great. The aforementioned bright colors and crisp lines give S24 Ultra's photos a distinctive look that really pops when you see it in a social media feed. The S24 Ultra has excellent dynamic range, too, but the processing can sometimes look a little unrealistically colorful. Zooming in, you may notice that Samsung's photo processing sometimes smudges fine details. Even with 200MP to work with, some may prefer the images from Google's lower-resolution Pixel cameras. And switching to 200MP mode won't help. Some of these images look flat and less detailed—this sensor was designed with pixel binning in mind. 

      Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra main3

      However, if you like to experiment with mobile photography, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is hard to pass up. Each camera lens has a different focal length, giving you more shooting options. Samsung also has a powerful pro camera mode, RAW photos, timelapse video, and portrait mode with configurable blur. If you are fond of video more than photos, the Galaxy S24 Ultra has you covered with its impressive 8K 30 fps option. While the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra won't take the very best photos in every situation, its video chops are unmatched on Android.

      Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra night

      On the surface, it seems like dropping the periscope camera magnification seems like a downgrade, but the resolution of that sensor increased from 10MP to 50MP. With that extra resolution, the sensor can crop to 10x and still have more resolution than last year's phone. The shorter focal length also means the lens aperture is much wider, going from f/4.9 in the S23 Ultra to f/3.4 in the S24 Ultra. As a result, the Galaxy S24 Ultra produces brighter images with shorter exposures—indeed, the 10x camera from the S23 Ultra is sometimes not very useful indoors because it just can't collect enough light due to the aperture.

      Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra UW
      Ultrawide (0.6x)

      Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra primary
      Primary (1x)

      Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra 3x
      Telephoto (3x)

      Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra 5x
      Periscope (5x)

      Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra 10x
      Periscope (10x digital)

      Taking shots between 3x and 5x should look much better on the S24 Ultra, and even pushing the 5x lens to 10x produces satisfying results. 

      Let's fire up some performance benchmarks, next...

      Related content