Review: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

A close call, but the potential for AI is huge

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra both impresses and disappoints, but we're already looking forward to the Galaxy S25 Ultra because AI is here to stay.

Published 2024-03-06 - 8:00 am
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Peter Gotschalk

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra isn’t the phone that most people buy, but we’ve chosen to take a closer look at it as it’s the absolute flagship of the series.

Like last – and the previous – year’s Ultra model, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is still a Samsung Galaxy Note in disguise. Ergo, it comes with an integrated S-Pen again this year, just as the expensive mobile phone – with its flat and angular design – at first glance does not differ much from its predecessors.

Last year was the first time Samsung launched its Galaxy S models on the European market with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor. This year, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra comes with the latest and fastest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, while Samsung’s own Exynos processor is back in the two cheaper models in the range.

But the most important news that the Galaxy S24 Ultra has in common with the S24 and S24+, as the middle model of the series is called, is that the mobiles are packed with artificial intelligence!

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Samsung has abandoned the curved so-called Edge screen, so this year the 6.8″ OLED screen is completely flat. (Photo: Peter Gotschalk)

The new features are based on Samsung’s own AI software, Galaxy AI, and in some cases run on the user’s smartphone and will therefore work even when the mobile phone is not connected to the internet, while in other cases the features run in Samsung’s cloud.

We have already tested several of the Galaxy AI functions when we reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S24, while this time we take a closer look at what Galaxy AI means for the camera in the Galaxy S24 Ultra. We’ll come back to that later.

Appearance and construction

As mentioned, the new Galaxy S24 Ultra with its flat and angular design has more in common with previous Note models such as the Galaxy Note 10+ and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra than it does with the first two Galaxy S Ultra models, the Galaxy S20 Ultra and Galaxy S21 Ultra.

New this year is that the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is made of titanium – just like Apple’s latest iPhone 15 Pro models. A really nice design choice.

Samsung has also abandoned the curved so-called Edge screen, so this year the 6.8″ OLED screen is completely flat.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
All the familiar S-Pen functions are supported – for example, it can be used as a remote shutter release for the camera or as a remote control to manage presentations (Photo: Peter Gotschalk)

As mentioned, the Galaxy S24 Ultra comes with the S-Pen integrated. More specifically, there is a slot for the small digital stylus in the mobile phone itself, where it is hidden away via a small hole in the bottom.

Our test sample is grey and the back is matte with the camera lenses directly integrated into the phone, with no camera body to stick out and make the phone rock when placed on a table. The Galaxy S24 Ultra is also available in black, violet, yellow, blue, green and orange, the last three of which are only available from Samsung directly.

Both the front and back of the phone are protected by Gorilla Glass Armor, while the narrow metal frame around the screen is made of hardened aluminium. The Galaxy S24 Ultra is also IP68-certified, so there’s nothing to quibble with in terms of build quality.

Screen and sound

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is equipped with a Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with adaptive 120 Hz refresh rate, HDR10+ certification and a maximum brightness of up to an insane 2,600 nits, which at least on paper is a significant improvement over its predecessor! This is more than enough for you to use your mobile phone outdoors while the sun is shining from a clear sky.

The screen is razor-sharp and very bright, the colours are extremely vivid and it’s a real pleasure to watch high-quality content (e.g. from Netflix) on the HDR10+ certified screen. There is great depth in the image and the contrast level is excellent. And the user experience when moving around menus, web pages and the home screen is extremely fluid and fast.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
The screen can light up to an insane 2,600 nits, so the Galaxy S24 Ultra can be used anywhere when the sun is shining. (Photo: Peter Gotschalk)

The Galaxy S24 Ultra also delivers when it comes to the audio experience. The mobile phone offers high-resolution audio using the built-in 32-bit DAC and supports Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus and, of course, aptX.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
The camera module is perfectly integrated with the rest of the mobile phone. (Photo: Peter Gotschalk)

The camera

Ever since the first version saw the light of day in early 2020, the camera in the Galaxy S Ultra series has always been something special. This year, the camera in the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra has received a lot of attention.

Basically, the camera system is similar to its predecessor, but with a new 50 Mp telephoto lens with 5x optical zoom, which together with a 10 Mp telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom and with the help of AI – in connection with the camera called ProVisual Engine – should be able to deliver optical zoom quality up to 10x and up to 100x so-called Space Zoom – Samsung claims.

The camera module also consists of a wide-angle camera with 200 Mp sensor and OIS as well as a 12 Mp 120° ultra-wide-angle camera. The front camera is also 12 Mp.

The overall image quality is, of course, excellent. As you can see for yourself by looking at the examples in the article, all images are sharp and have vibrant colours. The contrast is also high, and whether we’re talking about portrait mode, ultra-wide angle or macro, there’s absolutely no compromise on the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s level.

SamsungGalaxyS24Ultra_galleri1 SamsungGalaxyS24Ultra_galleri2 SamsungGalaxyS24Ultra_galleri3 SamsungGalaxyS24Ultra_galleri4 SamsungGalaxyS24Ultra_galleri5
All lenses in the comprehensive camera system deliver sharp images with vibrant colours and high contrast. Here, ultra wide angle, wide angle, 3x optical zoom, 5x optical zoom and 10x hybrid zoom are used. (Photo: Peter Gotschalk)

However, there is a single hair in the soup, and unfortunately it is due to the AI function, ProVisual Engine, which according to Samsung should be able to improve image quality, for example in connection with digital zoom.

We have compared images taken with 30x digital zoom with the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and Galaxy S23 Ultra on several occasions, and the results are unmistakable. Last year’s model takes better and sharper zoom images than the latest AI-enhanced smartphone!

You can see two examples in the gallery below. The first example is taken indoors, zoomed in on a security guard, while the second example is taken in a park on a sunny day. Here we zoomed in on the top of an old stone oven. In both cases, the images taken with the Galaxy S23 Ultra are significantly sharper, and in addition, the images from the Galaxy S24 Ultra even have more image noise.

SamsungGalaxyS24Ultra_30x_zoom_out SamsungGalaxyS23Ultra_30xzoom_out SamsungGalaxyS23_S24Ultra_30xzoom_indoor
This image of the two Galaxy S Ultra models (S24 Ultra top, S23 Ultra bottom) was taken at the launch of the S24 series in San Francisco. It's obvious that of the two zoom images (both 30x zoom), the bottom one is the sharpest. (Photo: Peter Gotschalk)

That’s a big drawback, considering that AI features are supposed to be the advantage that sets the Galaxy S24 series apart from the competition.

Galaxy AI

Unfortunately, this is not only true when AI is used in the actual photography process, but also when it comes to the parts of the Galaxy AI software that can help with editing once the photo has been taken.

generativeedit1 generativeedit2 generativeedit3 generativeedit4
Generative Edit has a hard time distinguishing the objects from the background in detail, and when a new background is created where the moved or deleted object was, the result is not impressive either. See how there's a big hole in the sail of the sailboat after we've moved it. Or how the fountain is replaced by a column of water in this gallery. (Photo: Peter Gotschalk)

Google was first with seemingly ‘magical’ editing tools that, for example, let users remove or move people and objects around in an image – something we first tried when we tested the Google Pixel 7 Pro – and with Generative Edit, part of Galaxy AI, Samsung wants to follow Google’s lead.

It worked brilliantly when we saw it demonstrated in San Francisco for the launch of the Galaxy S24 series, but when we try it with our own test images, the results aren’t nearly as impressive. Generative Edit struggles to distinguish objects from the background in detail, and when it comes to creating a new background where the moved or deleted object was, the results aren’t impressive either.

The best image-based AI feature is actually Circle to Search, developed by Google. In simple terms, the feature works by pressing the home button for a few seconds and then you are given the option to draw a circle around anything you see on the screen, typically an image, regardless of which app you are in. Google will then perform the search and present the results in a comprehensive overview that you see at the bottom of the screen.

We tried it a few times with different images and it works every time!

Another AI trick that really impresses is Instant Slow-mo. This Samsung proprietary feature lets you click on any video to watch it in slow motion, even if it wasn’t recorded in slow motion to begin with! The artificial intelligence simply generates the frames that are missing from the video, and the action in the video is then shown smoothly and slowly, with no visible evidence of Galaxy AI having a hand in it.

Screenshot_20240212_153454_Google Screenshot_20240212_153516_Google
The best image-based AI feature is actually Circle to Search, developed by Google.


The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is only the third smartphone we’ve tested that comes with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 from Qualcomm. The first two were the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro and the OnePlus 12, and overall, Samsung gets almost as much out of the Qualcomm processor as Asus. In other words, the Galaxy S24 Ultra performs brilliantly in almost all benchmark tests – and in some respects significantly better than the OnePlus 12.

However, the most remarkable thing is that the Galaxy S24 Ultra is not significantly faster than the cheaper S24 model, which, as mentioned, is equipped with Samsung’s own Exynos 2400 processor. On most parameters, the two models are equally good, although the Galaxy S24 Ultra performs significantly better than the S24 in AITuTu, which specifically measures AI performance. This is particularly relevant given that the Galaxy S24 series is largely marketed as AI mobiles, and there are indications that the S24 Ultra is the one to get if you want to take full advantage of Galaxy AI.

The battery life is also significantly better than its predecessor, even though the battery size has not changed. Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 seems to have significantly better power management than last year’s processor generation.


The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra belongs in the price range where you have to pay the price to be in the absolute top. There are few other smartphones on the market that cost as much – including the iPhone 15 Pro Max, OnePlus Open and Samsung’s own Galaxy Z Fold 5 – and if you’re not into foldable mobiles, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the only real alternative where you get to pay this much.

The big difference between the two products is, of course, AI features, where Samsung has taken a quantum leap forward with Galaxy AI. And we’re duly impressed. Many of the new features work well, some not so well, but Samsung shows with the Galaxy S24 series that the future holds many more AI-based smartphones, because the potential is huge.

Instant Slow-mo doesn’t just let you watch any video in slow motion, even if it wasn’t shot in slow motion to begin with. You can also edit the video and save the slow-motion effect, as we’ve done here with the video of the Samsung Galaxy Ring shown in San Francisco during Galaxy Unpacked. (Video: Peter Gotschalk)

If we don’t give the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra top marks, it’s mainly because much of its potential is still unrealised. In the case of the camera, the AI-based ProVisual Engine actually means that zoom images are worse than images taken with the last-generation Galaxy S Ultra, and Samsung’s image editing is not yet on par with what Google can achieve with its Pixel phones.

In general, we miss better AI integration with apps other than Samsung’s own, and Danish language support would also be nice.

We reckon those things will be in place this year, and then the next Galaxy S Ultra might just be the best smartphone the world has ever seen. We are looking forward to it!

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
High End

We think

7 years of updates, many innovative and well-functioning AI features, new flat and extremely bright screen. And the phone is still a Galaxy Note in disguise, including the S-Pen and productivity features. AI actually makes the camera worse than last year - not better. The AI-based image editing options don't live up to expectations. Overall, the Galaxy AI doesn't quite live up to its own potential yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Supermobile on a budget

AIn’t beginnings hard, Samsung?

It goes to 12!

Just as strong as the bigger brother

Xiaomi has listened to the criticism

Watch out, Apple and Samsung!

Scroll to Top