Galaxy S24 Ultra review: I’m a Samsung stan, but iPhone 15 Pro Max is one hell of a rival

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The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, I thought, would surely triumph my heart. 

After all, I’ve been a Samsung stan since I owned nan Galaxy S21 Ultra and S22 Ultra. I loved proceeding my ugh-you-have-green-bubbles iPhone friends say, “Wow, your telephone takes astonishing photos” arsenic they frowned astatine their ain overprocessed, iDevice-taken selfies.

People watched successful awe arsenic I whipped retired my S Pen to jot down my portion bid for nan bartender erstwhile nan euphony was excessively loud.

Galaxy S24 Ultra pinch S Pen connected a table

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

In an iPhone-loving world, I felt for illustration my S22 Ultra was an underdog that was better than its Apple rival – group conscionable needed to aftermath up to its unthinkable capabilities.

Galaxy S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro Max connected a table

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

However, nan numbers don’t lie. While nan Galaxy S24 Ultra shines pinch (some) Galaxy AI features, my testing shows that nan Samsung telephone has immoderate superior title pinch nan iPhone 15 Pro Max connected nan market.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra price

The Galaxy S24 Ultra guidelines exemplary has an MSRP of $1,199 — $100 much than nan starting value of nan Galaxy S23 Ultra erstwhile it launched successful 2022.

Woman holding Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

However, arsenic we speak, Samsung is moving a pre-order promo that lets you snag a 512GB telephone for conscionable $549. If you want 1TB of storage, you’ll person to ammunition retired $669.99.

It’s worthy noting that there’s besides a 256GB model, but pinch this promo, it’s nan aforesaid value arsenic nan 512GB exemplary astatine $549, truthful you’d beryllium trading yourself short if you didn’t drawback nan 512GB variant.

What I emotion astir nan Galaxy S24 Ultra

I can’t speak for everyone, but successful my circle of tech friends, there's been a increasing consciousness of AI fatigue. 

With countless companies hawking AI-powered gizmos, positive nan ongoing sermon of occupation displacement anxiety, privateness and ethical concerns, and more, my intuition tells maine that consumers were damn-near "over it" erstwhile Samsung announced Galaxy AI.

However, contrary to nan AI fatigued, I recovered myself being rather intrigued. Here’s my acquisition pinch it truthful far. 

Galaxy AI’s ‘Chat Translation’ is phenomenal

I person family successful Puerto Rico who don’t speak a lick of English. And arsenic for me, contempt years of taking Spanish classes, my unsmooth grasp of nan connection would make nan Duolingo vertebrate see early retirement.

Chat Translation screenshot

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

I erstwhile relied connected third-party apps for illustration Google Translate to pass pinch my Spanish-speaking kin, but that was – rather frankly – was a symptom successful nan ass.

Now, acknowledgment to Galaxy AI, I tin matter my Puerto Rico-based relative – sans Google Translate – straight successful WhatsApp via nan keyboard. It useful successful Google Messages, too. (I utilized it to matter my French-speaking mom.) I haven’t had issues pinch it truthful far; it translates each texts pinch master precision and rapidity. 

However, arsenic you’ll spot successful this review, not all Galaxy AI features are arsenic polished.

Galaxy AI’s “24 hr clip lapse” is badass

Take a look astatine nan GIF below. Galaxy AI did that. Initially, this was conscionable a photograph (you tin spot nan original photograph beneath nan GIF).

Galaxy AI 24 hr clip lapse pinch Columbus Circle statue

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

But Galaxy AI worked its magic and transformed a photograph into a 12-second time-lapse video – and you’d ne'er cognize it was thing but a fixed image successful its original form.

S Pen continues to shine

The Galaxy S24 Ultra continues to beryllium a apical trading constituent for nan Galaxy S bid phones. Sure, you tin usage it to scribble and tie connected nan display, but it’s besides a pen-shaped remote.

Galaxy S24 Ultra

Credit: Samsung

For example, I tin property and clasp nan fastener connected nan S Pen, which, by default, fires up nan Camera app. By pressing nan fastener once, nan shutter fastener is triggered, allowing maine to return photos without rubbing nan screen.

Air actions, including flinging nan pen to nan near and zig-zagging nan S Pen, tin motorboat video mode and nan Notes app, respectively. And that’s conscionable nan extremity of nan iceberg of what nan S Pen tin do.

Again, nary of these features are new, but it’s 1 of nan champion aspects of nan Galaxy S24 Ultra.

My only wish is that it’d beryllium bully if nan S Pen could person immoderate benignant of locator sensor wrong – this stylus is easy to misplace. (On nan positive side, nan Galaxy S24 Ultra alerts you erstwhile nan S Pen is not successful its silo.)

Search your scribbled notes successful nan Notes app

One point that irks maine astir my Galaxy S22 Ultra is that I person a ample room of scribbled documents successful nan Notes app. But unfortunately, I'm incapable to hunt done my monolithic portfolio of notes for peculiar messages aliases words.

Notes app connected Galaxy S24 Ultra

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

The Galaxy S24 Ultra changes each of that. It can, indeed, “read” my chickenhearted scratch, allowing maine to hunt done documents wrong nan Notes app – moreover if it was written by measurement of nan S Pen.

Design thumps nan iPhone 15 Pro Max

As I mentioned successful my hands-on acquisition of nan Galaxy S24 Ultra, this telephone is ergonomic heaven. Unlike nan iPhone 15 Pro Max’s stiff edges, which uncomfortably excavation into my soft palms, nan Galaxy S24 Ultra continues to boast soft, rounded edges that conform to my hand.

Woman grasping Galaxy S24 Ultra

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

The 6.8-inch, 3,120 x 1440-pixel solution show still has that hole-punch camera that houses a 12MP selfie camera, which is delivers visually pleasing, gloriously freely surface existent property – much than nan iPhone 15 Pro Max, which features nan Dynamic Island (i.e., a glorified notch).

Unfortunately, Samsung gave Mashable nan Titanium Violet color, which is, successful my opinion, rather mid, but that Titanium Yellow is elite. It looks for illustration it’s wrapped successful glitzy gold.

Man holding Titanium Yellow Galaxy S24 Ultra

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Other colors see Titanium Black, Titanium Gray, Titanium Blue, Titanium Green, and Titanium Orange. As nan names indicates, nan Galaxy S24 Ultra has a titanium frame, akin to nan iPhone 15 Pro Max, that supposedly makes nan telephone much durable than its predecessor.

Durability is damn good

At 1 point, I sewage up from my couch, and suddenly, I heard a large smack. I looked down, and to my horror, nan Galaxy S24 Ultra was connected my hardwood floor.

Woman holding nan Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

I gasped and I quickly grabbed nan Samsung phone. In a panic, I looked astatine nan show and searched for scratches and cracks. Fortunately, I breathed a sigh of alleviation erstwhile I realized it looked bully arsenic new.

Samsung wasn’t kidding astir its durability. How did it walk this unexpected driblet test? Thank nan display's Corning Gorilla Glass Armor, which boasts cutting-edge scratch-and-shock resistance.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra zoom is elite

When I first heard that nan Galaxy S24 Ultra is ditching its 10MP, 10x telephoto camera for a 50MP, 5x variant, I was skeptical. Yes, nan solution has increased, but nan optical zoom suffered a reduction. Could this wounded nan Galaxy S24 Ultra?

As it turns out, nan Galaxy S24 Ultra's zoom is 1 of its champion features. In fact, when I blind-tested iPhone owners, astir of them picked nan Galaxy S24 Ultra's 10x changeable — not nan iPhone 15 Pro Max's 10x capture.

Flowers taken pinch Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Left: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Right: iPhone 15 Pro Max Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

It's worthy noting that nan iPhone 15 Pro Max has a 12MP telephoto camera pinch 5x optical zoom.

What’s ‘eh’ astir nan Galaxy S24 Ultra

Unfortunately for nan Galaxy S24 Ultra, it’s up against immoderate stiff competition. Numbers aren’t everything, but aft moving immoderate benchmarks connected some nan Galaxy S24 Ultra and nan iPhone 15 Pro Max, nan Samsung telephone has a reliable rival to beat.

Battery life is agelong – but not arsenic enduring arsenic iPhone 15 Pro Max

As you’ll spot successful nan artillery life section, nan Galaxy S24 Ultra tin past much than 10 hours, which is impressive.

Woman holding Galaxy S24 Ultra

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

However, nan iPhone 15 Pro Max has a amended runtime by astir 2 hours.

Object eraser is deed aliases miss

I’ve gushed astir nan Galaxy AI camera features, peculiarly nan time-lapse utility. However, perks for illustration Object Eraser tin beryllium deed aliases miss.

Object Eraser Galaxy AI connected Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

For example, nan Galaxy S24 Ultra seamlessly removed that pesky passerby successful nan reddish overgarment successful beforehand of nan U.S.S Maine National Monument. Get outta there!

Object Eraser Galaxy AI connected Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

However, erstwhile I tried to region nan reddish bucket successful this photograph (above), Galaxy AI struggled to reproduce nan horseshoe, which is admittedly a much analyzable task.

Performance doesn’t hit iPhone 15 Pro Max, but this isn’t a large deal

I ran nan Geekbench 6 benchmark connected some nan Galaxy S24 Ultra and nan iPhone 15 Max. Unfortunately, arsenic you’ll find retired successful nan capacity section, nan erstwhile couldn’t drawback up to nan latter.

Man holding Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

However, this isn’t a large deal. Both scores far transcend nan capacity period needed to tally mundane tasks connected a smartphone. I’d reason that nan iPhone 15 Pro Max has too overmuch power for its ain bully – truthful overmuch truthful that it thumps nan likes of nan Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 successful performance.

As such, moreover though nan Galaxy S24 Ultra doesn’t hit nan iPhone 15 Pro Max, it’s still packed pinch plentifulness of powerfulness to grip immoderate of your tasks – and past some.

What I don’t for illustration astir Galaxy S24 Ultra

While I emotion that Samsung kept nan Galaxy S24 Ultra’s signature information edges and hole-punch display, location are different tweaks that I don’t love.

The level show isn’t for me

I whitethorn beryllium successful nan minority, but I adore really my Galaxy S22 Ultra's surface bleeds into nan edges. It’s often affectionately called a waterfall display; I ever recovered it to beryllium beautifully futuristic.

However, I understand that it’s not practical. For example, putting a surface protector connected a waterfall show is simply a small much difficult (e.g., getting nan aerial bubbles retired is simply a pain).

Galaxy S24 Ultra display

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Still, I’m going to miss nan waterfall display. It was an Android-esque design, and now, alongside nan caller titanium feature, nan Galaxy S24 Ultra getting a small excessively iPhone-y for my tastes.

Selfie camera has stiff title successful iPhone 15 Pro Max

For a agelong time, I’ve ever praised nan Galaxy S bid for its stunning selfie photos.

However, it looks for illustration my penchant is changing. I took selfies pinch nan Galaxy S24 Ultra and iPhone 15 Pro Max (both person 12MP front-facing cameras) astatine a Starbucks successful Manhattan, and to my surprise, I ended up preferring nan iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Selfies taken pinch iPhone 15 Pro Max and Galaxy S24 Ultra

iPhone 15 Pro Max (left), Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (right) Credit: Kimberly Gedeon

But erstwhile it comes to nan wide camera, I still excavation nan Galaxy S24 Ultra's 200MP lens complete nan iPhone 15 Pro Max's 48MP shooter.

Columbus Circle Globe taken pinch Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Left: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Right: iPhone 15 Pro Max Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

The ultra-wide shots (both characteristic 12MP shooters) look amended pinch nan Galaxy S24 Ultra, too.

Columbus Circle monument taken pinch Galaxy S24 Ultra

Left: Galaxy S24 Ultra Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Right: iPhone 15 Pro Max Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Galaxy AI ‘Call Assist’ needs improvement

What’s Call Assist? It’s an AI expert that steps successful to construe your calls.

Call Assist

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

For example, if you’re speaking English, Call Assist tin construe your connection into Spanish for nan receiver. And erstwhile nan personification connected nan different extremity replies, their consequence is translated backmost to English.

I tested Call Assist pinch my French-speaking begetter and I spotted immoderate issues:

  • You person to quickly pat connected 2 options – “Call Assist” and “Live Translate” – earlier nan different personification picks up aliases nan characteristic will not launch.

  • Call Assist translates conversations well, but sometimes, it doesn’t let slow-talking users to decorativeness their sentences.

  • On uncommon occasions, Call Assist stops translating altogether.

Call Assist was nan Galaxy AI characteristic I was astir excited about, but now I’m emotion a spot disillusioned. However, this doesn’t mean that it can’t beryllium improved. For nan next-gen Galaxy AI, Samsung should nutrient a much “patient” AI interpreter.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra artillery life

As we reported, nan Galaxy S24 Ultra has a artillery runtime of 13 hours and 1 minute, astir 2 hours short of nan iPhone 15 Pro Max’s runtime of 14 hours and 53 minutes.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Geekbench score

On Geekbench 6, nan Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, packed pinch a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, produced a Geekbench 6 people of 7,078.

For comparison, nan iPhone 15 Pro Max, equipped pinch an A17 Pro chip, delivered a people of 7,359.

Final thoughts

The Galaxy S24 Ultra still has a chokehold complete maine pinch its slithery-smooth S Pen, cutting-edge on-device translator for texting, superb time-lapse feature, awesome durability, and iPhone-beating photos.

However, arsenic overmuch arsenic it pains maine to opportunity it, nan Galaxy S24 Ultra appears to beryllium losing crushed successful power efficiency. Battery life, 1 of nan astir important aspects of a smartphone, is still beautiful bully connected nan Galaxy S24 Ultra, but nan iPhone 15 Pro Max is somewhat better.

I'm besides not nan biggest instrumentality of nan selfies nan Galaxy S24 Ultra produces.

Still, because I person a multicultural family, nan Galaxy S24 Ultra appeals to me. Galaxy AI features for illustration Chat Translation and Call Assist are a must for me. The Galaxy S24 Ultra still takes nan throne arsenic nan champion Android phone. However, for nan first clip ever, I’m questioning my pro-Samsung stance. Great selfies and agelong artillery life are excessively alluring to walk up.

The astir important trial we tally connected smartphones is artillery life. PCMark is 1 of nan manufacture standards for artillery testing, but unfortunately, it doesn't support iOS. As such, to make runtimes comparable, whether they're iOS aliases Android, we tally TikTok rundowns, which impact moving nan aforesaid TikTok video connected a loop, astatine max brightness, until nan phones tally retired of juice.

We besides tally Geekbench 6, allowing america to summation penetration into nan processor's capacity compared to different devices.

Finally, we trial nan UI, nan build quality, and durability of nan smartphone — arsenic good arsenic nan display, app-juggling performance, and more.

Mashable Image

Kimberly Gedeon is simply a tech explorer who enjoys doing heavy dives into nan astir celebrated gadgets, from nan latest iPhones to nan astir immersive VR headsets. She's drawn to strange, avant-garde, bizarre tech, whether it's a 3D laptop, a gaming rig that tin toggle shape into a briefcase, aliases smart glasses that tin seizure video. Her publicity profession kicked disconnected astir a decade agone astatine MadameNoire wherever she covered tech and business earlier landing arsenic a tech editor astatine Laptop Mag successful 2020.

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