Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review : Is AI Enough?

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
With the Galaxy Unpacked unveiling the Korean giant’s latest smartphone at our backs now, it’s time to give our thoughts on what might already be innovation in such a bland industry. The hero of the series, the Galaxy S24 Ultra, is set to shake up the market, with AI in the headlines, on top of the usual hardware refresh and an updated operating system.
Design
9
Display
9
Performance
9
Battery Life
9
Camera (rear)
9
Camera (front)
8
Value
6
Love
Titanium Build Quality is Tough
Consistent Image quality across all sensors
Loads of AI fun to be had
Ultra Long Battery Life
New Generation LTPO display
Loven’t
Hard sell to beat Galaxy S23 Ultra
Price had gone way up
Still an hour to charge
8.4

Out of 10

Key Specs

CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy
Memory12GB LPDDR5 RAM
256GB UFS 4.0 storage
512GB UFS 4.0 storage
1TB UFS 4.0 storage
Display6.8″ QHD 120Hz Dynamic LTPO AMOLED 2X
Camera200 MP, f/1.7, 24mm (wide),
multi-directional PDAF, OIS
50 MP, f/3.4, 111mm (periscope telephoto), PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom
10 MP, f/2.4, 67mm, (telephoto),Dual Pixel AF
12MP, f/2.2 13mm ,120˚ (ultrawide) Dual Pixel PDAF

12 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), Dual Pixel PDAF
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.3, USB Type-C 3.2 OTG, Up to WiFi 7
OSAndroid 14, OneUI 6.1
Battery5000 mAh, 45W Fast Charging
Available ColorsTitanium Gray Titanium Yellow Titanium Violet Titanium Black Online Exclusive (Titanium Blue, Titanium Orange, Titanium Green)
Retail Price12GB+ 256GB : RM 6299
12GB+ 512GB : RM 6799
12GB+ 1TB : RM 7799

All Too Familiar Looks

Of course, when it comes to design language, Samsung isn’t one to really make the jump unless its been at least a few generations. The form factor is pretty much the same as the Galaxy Ultra, with the differentiating factor being a fresh change of material and the more obvious flat screen decision. The Galaxy S24 Ultra switches things up by having a flat screen and a lot less curve on the body compared to the Galaxy S23 which was all about curves, screen and body. Carried forward from the S23 Ultra is its IP rating, the Galaxy S24 Ultra comes with an IP68 water/dustproofing, giving it submersion capabilities of up to 1.5 meters for a maximum of 30 minutes. 

In short, it’s a boxier, flatter version of the Galaxy S23 Ultra, with the same camera module placement. The look and feel however is really night and day. Durability takes the lead point with this release, pushing titanium as the main material of the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s frame. Its very matte-like, and closely resembles a powder coated process, giving it a smooth, cool finish that’s subdued in style, while the usual glass back takes a smoother feel through coated glass. This is where the Galaxy S24 Ultra has a bit more personality, as the back glass is where is the color comes from. Across all colors and variants, all Galaxy S24 Ultra has the same colored titanium frame, while the glass back brings out the style. 

This time around, the colors are a mix of darker and flat-bright profiles. My Titanium Violet unit is probably the deepest violet I’ve ever seen, which makes me describe it as : Cheerful Black.

I find the Galaxy S24 Ultra to be a grippy phone to hold thanks to a less curvy frame, while the smooth glass back provides some level of comfort when held, which is important considering that it’s a phone you’d use to take notes and draw on. While the form factor looks the same, it simply doesn’t feel the same, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a phone that just oozes Galaxy DNA. Sleek, low-profile and futuristic. 

The Works

Available Variants : 

  • 12GB + 256GB
  • 12GB + 512GB
  • 12GB + 1TB

This is a Galaxy flagship, no stops pulled when it comes to hardware. The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy proved itself to be a chipset that delivered in performance and battery efficiency, 2 of the things the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy also needed to deliver in as well, on top of some extra work on the AI front. 

The S24 Ultra boasts a beautiful 6.8-inch LTPO OLED display with a Quad HD+ (3120 x 1440) resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. This was quick the shocker for me, as this is the first time we don’t see the Dynamic AMOLED 2X tech that Samsung’s been all about since forever. This new panel decision makes for sharp, vibrant visuals and smooth scrolling, whether you’re browsing the web, watching videos, or gaming. There’s just something about a flat screen that’s just more likable for me compared to the usual pool of curved screens in today’s market. It’s definitely more screen protector friendly compared to the previous generation. 

Other display qualifications include compatibility for HDR10+ content as well as L1 Widevine for Netflix and other streaming apps with DRM. 

As for memory, you’ll get your usual 12GB RAM and up to 1TB storage. While it’s considered a lot of RAM, it would have been nicer to sweeten the deal for the higher capacity variants by having 16GB of RAM, I can only guess it’s Samsung’s direction to keep everything consistent across all models. 

Performance isn’t lacking here one bit. The Galaxy S24 Ultra will breeze through anything you throw at it, be it long game sessions, tens of concurrent running apps and heavy camera usage. The combination of top-shelf hardware and matured software made my overall experience zippy and light, without much compromise. One UI 6.1 introduced a lot of refinement and design philosophy changes that made it sleeker and simply nicer to look at. 

You will not have any trouble running the latest games on highest settings over a long period of time, as the Galaxy S24 Ultra keeps itself cool thanks to a bigger cooling system and a robust Game Booster feature that constantly monitors performance and adjusts settings accordingly to give your phone enough available resources to keep the game running smoothly. 

Battery

The Galaxy S24 Ultra has a 5000 mAh battery, which is the industry standard. However, I am very pleased to say that it’s the longest lasting Galaxy phone I’ve ever owned since the Galaxy S23 Ultra. No matter what I was doing, be it constant gaming, replying texts or even shooting video, I still managed to bag nearly 7 hours of screen-on time which is downright impressive. This is a lot to accept because of a few things : 

  • Many brands are also using the same chipset, while the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is a custom version made for the phone
  • OneUI isn’t exactly one of the most lightweight Android based systems around
  • Most flagships share the same 5,000 mAh capacity battery size 
  • Galaxy S24 Ultra also has an S Pen to charge and power

It really bogs down to software optimization, actually useful machine learning and hardware tweaks to make this happen. The Galaxy S24 Ultra will really eat anything up and will still be able to come home with you with 40% left in the tank on average. 

Charging is still standard, with a 25W brick taking about an hour and 10 minutes to fully charge while the bigger 45W takes an hour. I think this is acceptable, but competitively it is still slow in the market. Luckily the Galaxy S24 Ultra really has the legs to last long under heavy use so you won’t really feel the downtime being too long after all. 

Galaxy AI

This is the opening gambit of all marketing materials to promote the Galaxy S24 Ultra, promising a competent AI suite that’s built into both OneUI and Samsung Keyboard. 

Circle Search 

Imagine this: you’re scrolling through social media and spot a rare pair of shoes. With Circle Search, simply draw a circle around the shoes on your screen, and the S24 Ultra instantly pulls up information about them, including price and retailers! This intuitive feature works on anything visual, from identifying landmarks in photos to finding recipes from food pictures.The application is very straightforward, you simply draw a circle around an object you wish to know more about using the S Pen or your fingers and all searchable information will pop-up in a window about it. 

Live Translation: Whispers Across the Globe

Live Translation turns your S24 Ultra into a real-time interpreter, effortlessly bridging the gap between you and foreign speakers. Whether it’s ordering food in a local restaurant or having a conversation with a business colleague abroad, Live Translation handles both phone calls and in-person exchanges with impressive accuracy. Simply tap the “Call Assist” button during a call or launch the dedicated Translation app, choose your languages, and let the AI handle the rest. It seamlessly translates both sides of the conversation, making cross-cultural communication smoother than ever.

2. Interpreter: Two-Way Street with Confidence:

Need an on-the-go interpreter for a face-to-face chat? Interpreter mode takes Live Translation to the next level, facilitating a seamless back-and-forth conversation between two languages. This “Conversation” mode feels akin to a friendly ping-pong match, where each person speaks in their language, and the S24 Ultra acts as the lightning-fast translator in between. It’s perfect for navigating markets, conducting interviews, or simply making new friends around the world.

3. Chat Assist: Tone, Text, and Translation, All in One:

Forget sending awkward texts that don’t quite capture what you mean. Chat Assist takes your messaging game to a whole new level. It analyzes your texts, suggesting edits to refine your tone, correct grammar, or rephrase sentences for clarity. Feeling unsure about your English skills? Chat Assist can even translate your messages to another language before sending them, ensuring your meaning shines through without the worry of misunderstandings.

4. Generative Edit: Unleash Your Inner Artist:

The S24 Ultra’s AI isn’t just for communication; it’s a creative partner too. Generative Edit lets you transform your photos and videos with a tap. Want to remove unwanted objects from a scene? Change the sky from cloudy to sunny? No problem. Generative Edit uses its deep learning magic to seamlessly fill in the missing parts, creating edits that look natural and stunning. And it doesn’t stop with photos. Generative Edit can even add music, adjust the duration, or even change the video style to match a specific genre, unleashing a world of creative possibilities at your fingertips. I am covering more on this topic in a dedicated guide, which will be available soon. 

Note Assist: Think Smart, Write Smarter:

Note-taking just got a whole lot smarter. Note Assist analyzes your handwritten notes and automatically converts them to typed text, complete with headings and bullet points. It even recognizes hand-drawn diagrams and shapes, transforming them into digital versions. This AI-powered assistant saves you time and effort, ensuring your ideas are captured clearly and efficiently, without the need for messy transcription later.

Cameras

The Galaxy S24 Ultra boasts a quad-camera setup that’s largely the same on paper as the Galaxy S23 Ultra, with the exception of the 5X periscope telephoto sensor which got a sensibly large upgrade from the S23 Ultra’s 10MP 10x shooter to a 50MP one. 

It however does not shoot the same quality images as its predecessor, as the S24 Ultra packs the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy which promises better AI processing, along with Samsung’s own suite of AI tools and ProVisual Engine. Just how better could it become? 

Wide

The main sensor is still the star of the show, producing images that are sharp, bright and with a slightly flatter color profile (which is more natural, compared to Samsung’s previous approach which is to add more saturation to make things livelier). 

The post processing technique now seems a lot neater, with better noise-reduction as well as processing shadows. Both shadows and highlights are more tame yet pronounced, which really does showcase how much AI plays a vital role in mobile photography today as compared to just constantly shoving newer sensors into phones without optimizing software.

Dynamic range is super wide while contrast is kept reasonably in check. I’m just actually glad that images are no longer as oversharpened because I’d like to take pictures and straightaway upload them rather than softening them up in post. 

Zooms

With a new periscope telephoto sensor in the mix, it’s a wonder why Samsung decided to opt out the S23 Ultra’s 10x 10MP shooter in favor of the 5x 50MP, offering less optical capabilities on a hardware level. It’s because the new 50MP shooter has a wider OIS, and thanks to its larger pixels (1.6x), you’re able to capture way more details in low-light / dark. I put that to the test and feel like it was the better decision. Although Samsung’s all about zooms, they made the decision to focus on more realistic focal lengths that the majority of people would use, which is up to 5x. 

The lossless focal range now will be 3-5x based on the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s available optics. 

3x-5x Shots are packed aplenty with detail and manages lighting well enough to not see a noise-fest, while dynamic contrast remains fantastic with accompanying colors and contrast. Quality is perpetually lossless since it’s optical, and the image quality is good enough to make this sensor as approachable and easy to use as possible, in tandem with a fast locking autofocus and OIS to take shots on the go as easy as possible. 

But What About 10x Since We Lose Out? 

10x

While it’s true, we do lose up to 50% of lossless, hardware zoom image quality, it’s really on paper. You see, Samsung is able to still achieve a near-10x lossless image quality without its optics because of AI and adaptive pixel sensor tech. AI now uses Super-resolution and multi-frame processing to render those images in crop and it turned out really good. Adding to this is the fact that the Galaxy S24 Ultra packs a much bigger sensor, measuring 1/2.6″, which is much bigger than the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 1/3.52″ 10x shooter. In short, you don’t REALLY lose more zoom capabilities, it’s simply going through AI heavy lifting in post. 

Ultrawide

Ultrawide is largely the same as the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s, with its improvements lying in the AI front. The basics, such as distortion correction remains consistent and faithful to Galaxy doctrine, while the more important things like sharpness and detail have mild improvements.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, color profile is a little flatter now and gone is the oversharpening tendency, which is a win for me. This lines up consistency with the main sensor, so you’re able to catch those cool perspectives without compromising on image quality.  

Selfies

When it comes to selfies, you’re not missing out here if you’re on the S23 ultra or even S22 Ultra. The 12MP imager offers decent detail that’s veiled by excellent dynamic range and color, especially in good lighting. Noise is definitely there but very much controlled, while finer details like hair is kept in check and given enough sharpness to not look like a blobbed mess. 

Portrait is reliable as usual, with great subject separation and shows yet again how much AI is put to work to make these sorts of shots turn out the way they do.

Conclusion

As A New User A Galaxy S23/S22 Ultra Owner

I will always be asked the burning question “I’m on the Galaxy S23 Ultra now, is ith worth the upgrade?” The Galaxy S24 Ultra will only look like a yearly upgrade from that point of view, with a sprinkle of AI that will eventually be available on last year’s model. 

You have to really want to let AI handle and automate many things in your life to justify this purchase, although it can’t be the only reason. I appreciate the long battery life, consistent performance and being able to experience the latest OneUI out of the box, but to the average consumer, price is the driving force, and the Galaxy S24 Ultra is price even more premium than ever before. 

It’s a highly versatile productivity phone that does a lot for you, but if you’re on last year’s or even last last year’s model, I’d say you better stay put and wait for the update.The Galaxy S22 Ultra was good, the Galaxy S23 Ultra was even better.

 If you’re however looking for the best Android phone the Malaysian market has to offer, then don’t think twice, this is the one. You’ll love the AI, the performance, and it’s still one of the only Android phones out there that has a camera system where all sensors are consistent in quality, unlike others that make phones, slap one good sensor and the others are just, well, crap in comparison

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