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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review

The fan favourite flagship now comes with AI smarts...is this what keeps Samsung on top?
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Samsung S24 Ultra review uswitch

Pros

  • Boasts AI features like Circle to Search and Live Translate

  • Robust titanium shell, exuding strength and style

  • Offers flat and bright display for vibrant visuals

  • Best-in-class camera captures images with vivid detail

Cons

  • Comes with a higher price tag

  • Telephoto zoom feature slightly scaled back

  • S Pen welcome, but lacking in significant innovations

Samsung has forged an enviable path in the smartphone space with its Galaxy devices. The manufacturer is noted for often pushing hardware innovation and being the standard-bearer for Android-powered excellence.

Whilst the mobile market veers into new form factors, Samsung's 'Ultra' series remains the pinnacle of the traditional premium smartphone. Does the Galaxy S24 Ultra continue this trend and—more importantly—remain the last word when it comes to photography?

Read our review and find out!

S24 Hero

Design and specifications

First impressions are impactful with Samsung's latest effort. The Galaxy S24 Ultra exudes luxury with its titanium frame—a material choice that speaks volumes about both durability and its premium nature.

It's a design language that continues throughout the device, balancing elegance with resilience. The device features Corning Gorilla Armor across a screen that promises to withstand the rigours of daily use.

Pair that with IP68 water and dust resistance certifications, and you have a phone which does its best to stand up to the elements despite points of ingress like a gap for the pen's stylus (more on that later).

The device's specifications are equally impressive. It boasts a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, up to 1TB of internal storage, and a healthy 12GB of RAM.

Dimensions are fairly imposing, tipping the scales with a 232g frame and proportions of 162.3 x 79 x 8.6mm, certainly another indication that more diminutive devices are on the wane, as the S24 Ultra is a lot of phone!

In summary, Samsung has left no stone unturned in crafting a device that's both aesthetically pleasing and a powerhouse under the bonnet.

S24 Ultra Full Rear

Screen display and audio

The Galaxy S24 Ultra's display is a visual feast, with a 6.8-inch Dynamic LTPO AMOLED screen that offers vivid colours and deep blacks.

Pair that with 2,600 nits of peak brightness to ensure legibility in the most intense daytime conditions, and you've got a phone built for versatility.

The up-to 120Hz refresh rate ensures buttery smooth transitions, making every interaction a delight, as well as a welcome display when it comes to mobile gaming.

HDR support is there for all your engaging content, but it does stop short of Dolby Vision, an important point to note for the aficionados.

The audio experience is equally commendable, with stereo speakers tuned by AKG that deliver rich and immersive sound, whether watching movies or pumping out tunes.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Content

Interface and operating system

Running on Android 14 paired with Samsung's own One UI (now at version 6.1), the Galaxy S24 Ultra provides an intuitive and feature-rich user interface.

Samsung has refined its software experience, offering a seamless and cohesive ecosystem that enhances both productivity and entertainment in equal measure, with a host of apps to support either.

The operating system is polished, providing users with a smooth and responsive experience synonymous with Samsung's flagship offerings.

One massive development that the phone hinges on (in terms of marketing, at least) is the new AI features and functions, which deliver clever innovations throughout the device.

From simply circling an item - a joyous experience using the bundled stylus - to trigger a Google Search from either text or image, live language translation or note summation, the implementation of AI seems gimmicky...until the first time you find it useful in a practical situation - then it quickly becomes indispensable.

While many of these features will indeed be coming to multiple devices in the Samsung lineup over time, the Galaxy S24 Ultra does serve as a delicious flagship experience, painting all of these novel functions in their best light.

S24 Ultra S Pen

The S Pen experience

The Galaxy S24 Ultra comes equipped with an S Pen stylus, a tool that, with practice, transforms the device into a productivity powerhouse.

Housed within the body of the device itself, the improved S Pen is compatible with the standard Air command menu and Air actions, as well as new functions such as cleaning up text and auto-formatting.

Whether you're jotting down notes, creating detailed sketches or joining drawing challenges with PEN UP, the S Pen elevates the user experience to new heights - and in a very natural way.

As a leftie, I did sometimes find the device a little cumbersome to hold whilst using the stylus, but it quickly became second nature.

With Air actions, you can wave the pen to adjust volume, browse through photos, and more, making it a versatile tool for both productivity and leisure.

The S Pen also allows for capturing screenshots with ease and taking quick photos with the Camera app, adding a layer of convenience to your daily interactions.

The novelty of it - both for consumers and within the smartphone space at present - does mean that it's an entirely optional, although welcome, addition to the S24 Ultra.

I'd urge that you at least give it a go, and you might be pleasantly surprised at how much a new input method breathes life into how you use a premium smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Side

Camera

The camera system is a marvel of modern photography, encapsulating the pinnacle of Samsung's imaging technology.

With a versatile array of lenses and cutting-edge software, it stands as a testament to Samsung's commitment to pushing the boundaries of what a smartphone camera can achieve.

At the heart of the camera setup is the 200MP main sensor, a behemoth that captures minute details with astonishing clarity.

The sensor's size allows for excellent low-light performance, capturing bright and clear images even in challenging lighting conditions.

Complementing the main sensor is a 12MP ultra-wide camera that provides a broader perspective, perfect for expansive landscapes or architectural photography.

The telephoto lenses - a 10MP with 3x zoom and a 50MP periscope with 5x optical zoom and 10x 'optical quality' zoom - offer crisp, focused shots with minimal loss of detail, an impressive technical achievement.

Samsung S24 Ultra Photography

The Galaxy S24 Ultra doesn't just excel in still photography; its video capabilities are equally impressive.

The device supports video recording up to 8K at 30 frames and 4K at 120 frames per second, catering to casual users and enthusiasts alike.

The video quality is exceptional, with excellent dynamic range and contrast, ensuring that your recordings are as vivid as your memories.

The camera software is intuitive and user-friendly, offering a seamless experience from capture to post-processing.

Storage, processors and performance

Storage options are abundant, with the Galaxy S24 Ultra offering variants up to 1TB, ensuring that space is rarely a concern for users.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor ensures top-notch performance, handling even the most demanding tasks without breaking a sweat.

Whether gaming, multitasking, or navigating through complex applications, the Galaxy S24 Ultra performs with grace and agility.

S24 Ultra In Situ

Battery life

Battery life is a critical aspect of any smartphone, and the Galaxy S24 Ultra certainly doesn't disappoint.

With a 5000 mAh battery—no change from previous installments—the device easily lasts a day of heavy usage and more than three with simple management. Given the phone's heft, we'd have been surprised if they squeezed anything bigger in there!

The 45W wired (via a dedicated charger) and 15W wireless charging capabilities mean that you're never far from a quick top-up, ensuring that your phone is always ready when you need it.

UK pricing and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra has arrived in the UK with a price tag that reflects its advanced nature.

The 256GB storage model is currently £1,099, while the 512GB variant costs £1,199. The largest 1TB model is priced at £1,399 - and these are all at a £150 discount on their standard RRPs at the time of writing.

Opt to buy the device through Samsung's website and it's also available in exclusive hues of Titanium Blue, Green and Orange.

Lucky early buyers can get a free Tab S6 Lite, and the cost can be spread over monthly installments either direct on SIM-free, or through sites like Uswitch on traditional 24-month contracts.

S24 Ultra Front

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is a remarkable device that sets a new standard for what a flagship smartphone can be.

It's a gadget that not only meets the high expectations of tech enthusiasts but also pushes the boundaries of what's possible in mobile technology and photography.

With its stunning design, exceptional performance, cutting-edge camera system, and innovative S Pen, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is a phone that deserves the attention of anyone who demands the best from their technology.

It's a device that offers a glimpse into the future, showcasing what's possible when innovation meets consumer needs, with the power of AI proving more than a marketing bullet point—and when price is not a barrier.

If you're in the market for a new smartphone and want the absolute best, the Galaxy S24 Ultra should be at the top of your list.

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