Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Peak A(I)ndroid

Betting big on AI makes all the difference in the Galaxy S24 Ultra
The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Samsung’s do-everything flagship – the Galaxy S24 Ultra – lands with an ambitious claim of going all in on generative AI that’s gotten everyone talking since last year. No surprise then that Samsung spent nearly twenty minutes on ‘Galaxy AI’ before it even once brought up the Ultra’s hardware specs.

That’s not to say Samsung has held back on hardware – far from it, the S24 Ultra has several improvements across the board that make it a better phone than the already excellent S23 Ultra that came before it. There’s the switch to the slightly flatter, matte-finish titanium frame, that lends the otherwise large phone a sleek look and slightly better grip – it’s still quite the handful for average sized hands.

Samsung has forsaken the signature curved screen, instead opting for a flat, 1,440X3,120-pixel LTPO (1 Hz-120 Hz) OLED display which, along with Corning’s latest Gorilla Armor glass, should make the phone more durable. While the 2,600 nits of max brightness is excellent for outdoor use and for consuming HDR10/10+ (no Dolby Vision support) content, what’s more impressive is the anti-reflective coating on the screen that does extraordinarily well to reduce reflections on the screen under bright lighting.

Under the hood, the S24 Ultra packs a customized Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 ‘for Galaxy’ chipset with 12 GB of memory and 256 GB, 512 GB or 1 TB of fast UFS4.0 storage – expectedly, this is a fast phone that handles heavy apps and games with aplomb, with the vapor chamber cooling stepping in to rein in temperatures while gaming. The rest – from the battery capacity and charging speeds to the S Pen and its storage – are unchanged from the predecessor. Battery life is downright excellent, with six-plus hours of screen usage with all the settings maxed out…but charging speeds are still slow at over an hour from empty.

The smartphone comes with Corning's latest Gorilla Armor glass
The smartphone comes with Corning's latest Gorilla Armor glass

The camera too is largely unchanged, with the 200 MP main shooter, a 10 MP 3x telephoto, a 50 MP 5x telephoto and a 12 MP ultrawide, and what many consider a downgrade from the 10x telephoto from last year isn't as much so, in that it prioritizes portraits shots and close-up shots over say shooting a wild animal on a safari. What’s inconsistent is the primary camera performance, which has its issues in some low light scenarios, but that’s something an update should be able to address.

Yet, it’s not the promised seven-year updates to the Android 14-based OneUI 6.1 that’s making software headlines (which it should) – it’s the liberal sprinkling of Galaxy AI pixie dust across many of Samsung’s first-party apps which makes the S24 Ultra only the second phone after the Pixel to have gen-AI capabilities on device.

For instance, it can do real-time translation and interpretation – you speak Hindi into the phone, and it instantly translates to English (or German, for that matter) – and this works even on live phone calls, albeit with a short 3-5 second delay between speaking for translation. Works for messages and text you read on the phone too if you use Samsung’s keyboard. The ability to summarize chunks of text, whether it’s on an Internet article you’re reading on the browser or a voice-transcribed note you have in your notes, works rather well too, as does ‘Circle to Search’, an always-on Google Lens search that let you circle anything on the screen and bring up search results.

As with the other AI capabilities on the phone, results can be a little raw at times, but it’s incredibly handy (and downright addictive) to be able to see something/someone unfamiliar on a video and just search for it.

And of course, gen AI makes its way into photo editing as well, allowing you to remove or resize objects/subjects inside photos, with the AI recreating missing pixels that land really well at times, and a hit-and-miss at others. Courtesy Galaxy AI, the software experience on the S24 Ultra makes one feel it is a ‘smarter’ smartphone than the rest of the pack. It truly feels like the Swiss Army knife of the current crop of flagships in its ability to do everything rather well.

Rating: 9/10

Price: INR 1,29,999 (12 / 256 GB) onwards

Related Stories

No stories found.