Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review: all that and AI

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The Galaxy S24 Ultra is simply a hellhole of a phone. As always, Samsung has jammed it afloat of much high-end hardware than you tin shingle an S Pen at, and this twelvemonth it’s besides packed pinch cutting-edge AI features. But it’s expensive, and astir of my favourite things astir it person very small to do pinch nan AI parts, which aren’t even exclusive to nan Ultra.

It comes pinch a show that’s truthful easy to usage extracurricular successful agleam ray that I want each different shaper to transcript it. Its camera strategy is 1 of nan champion successful nan crippled and comes pinch a awesome image mode. The built-in stylus remains 1 of nan nicest and fanciest ways to make a market list.

Some of nan AI features really are impressive: unrecorded translator for telephone calls could beryllium really adjuvant for personification who makes a batch of calls successful an unfamiliar language. Voice signaling summaries are amazingly bully and springiness my beloved Pixel Recorder a existent tally for its money. And turning immoderate video into slow mobility is conscionable plain fun. Are nan results ever great? No, but they’re usually delightful. 

But artillery capacity is conscionable okay, and while I admit nan caller flat-screen design, it leaves immoderate crisp corners that tin beryllium uncomfortable successful your hand. Above all, nan Ultra is costly — now starting astatine $1,299, a $100 summation from past year’s model. Samsung’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink instrumentality is still nan astir feature-packed telephone money tin buy, but I’m conscionable not seeing an other $100 worthy of improvements, particularly considering that nan AI features will each beryllium ported to nan S23 bid successful a early package update. 

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

The S Pen abides.

Ever effort to usage your telephone successful nonstop sunlight and find it turns into a mirror? Reflections bounce correct disconnected nan glass, and immoderate you were trying to look astatine is abruptly invisible. It’s a existent symptom successful nan buns, though it’s been little of a problem arsenic OLED screens person gotten brighter complete nan past fewer years. The S24 Ultra goes an other measurement and introduces a caller anti-glare coating that does a awesome occupation of cutting those reflections down. 

The 6.8-inch surface peaks astatine 2,600 nits successful agleam light, which makes a existent quality erstwhile you usage your telephone outside. I prepared myself to squint astatine nan show erstwhile I utilized it successful immoderate agleam sunshine, truthful it was a existent dainty to recognize I could spot nan surface almost arsenic good arsenic I could indoors. There’s a caller Gorilla Glass Armor protecting nan screen, and it purports to beryllium overmuch much scratch-resistant than erstwhile versions of Gorilla Glass. It’s difficult to judge that successful conscionable complete a week of testing, but truthful far, truthful good. 

Samsung followed Apple’s lead connected different surface feature: dimming nan wallpaper connected nan always-on display. You tin besides adhd a fistful of widgets that will proceed to show connected nan AOD moreover pinch nan telephone locked. It’s a straight-up Apple clone, and I person zero problems pinch that because I crave accusation and emotion widgets. Answering “What’s adjacent connected my calendar?” is arsenic elemental arsenic glancing astatine my telephone screen.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing ever connected show pinch dimmed wallpaper and widgets.

Widgets connected an always-on display? A beautiful thing.

The always-on show is handy, but it does look to return a important toll connected artillery performance. At nan extremity of each time I tested it, diagnostics reported that it was responsible for astir 7 percent of my artillery usage passim nan day. Overall, artillery life connected nan S24 Ultra isn’t great, but it’s not a disaster by immoderate intends — connected days of ray use, I sewage to bedtime pinch astir 50 percent successful nan tank. Heavier days pinch person to 5 hours of screen-on clip pushed my reappraisal unit’s artillery down to 30 percent. Honestly, that’s astir mean for a flagship telephone these days, and I wish capacity were a small amended crossed nan board. 

In immoderate case, plentifulness of group will get done a afloat time connected nan S24 Ultra conscionable fine, though it’s worthy remembering your mileage will dwindle complete clip arsenic nan artillery ages. If you’re a powerfulness personification — arsenic I fishy a batch of group willing successful this telephone are — you mightiness request an day recharge to debar late-day artillery anxiety.

There’s 45W wired and 15W wireless Qi charging disposable but nary Qi2, which is simply a existent disappointment. If you want to unrecorded nan MagSafe life pinch nan S24 Ultra, you’ll request to prime up a third-party magnet lawsuit — conscionable don’t usage nan stylus pinch a magnetic accessory attached — and a MagSafe-compatible (not MagSafe aliases Qi2) charger.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra connected a bluish and yellowish inheritance astatine an perspective showing level display.

Curved screens are out; level screens are in.

The S24 Ultra comes equipped pinch nan Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset nary matter wherever you bargain it — not existent of nan modular S24 and S24 Plus, which travel pinch Exynos chips extracurricular of nan US. I can’t find thing incorrect pinch capacity connected nan Ultra. It didn’t get excessively basking successful my testing, and pinch 12GB of RAM, it handled everything I threw astatine it without a problem.

The S24 Ultra is nan first Ultra pinch a level screen, and I admit it — nary longer do I fearfulness moving nan S Pen complete nan curved edge. The titanium exterior decorativeness is lovely, but this remains an unapologetically big, dense phone. After nan first fewer times it slipped retired of nan pouch of my joggers and onto nan wood level pinch a thud heard ’round nan house, I discontinue carrying it astir pinch maine and near it connected nan eating room table.

Also, this telephone is benignant of sharp? The corners wherever nan level parts of nan telephone meet nan curved edges are pointy, and if you don’t get it situated successful your manus conscionable right, they’re beautiful uncomfortable. I’m not a lawsuit person, but I mightiness see 1 pinch nan S24 Ultra for this reason.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra successful manus showing homescreen.

That’s a full batch of phone.

The S24 bid ships pinch One UI 6.1, which is Samsung’s return connected Android 14. Like Android 14 itself, One UI 6.1 is simply a comparatively ray update, and nan things that irritate maine astir Samsung package persist: a push notification urging maine to cheque retired nan caller Galaxy S24 (lol); tons of proprietary apps and features that I don’t person a usage for (I garbage to judge Global Goals has inspired anyone to do thing isolated from uninstall Global Goals); and clickbait links stuffed astatine nan bottommost of nan upwind app (“Tourist Finds Large Diamond astatine State Park,” really?).

You tin de-Samsung a batch of this stuff and unrecorded a serene beingness pinch One UI, and there’s immoderate bully news this year: nan institution is promising 7 years of OS upgrades, including 7 years of information updates. That’s a awesome proposition for ROI and anyone who wants to get nan absolute astir years retired of their phone.

That’s nan gist of nan regular telephone worldly — a monolithic screen, okay artillery life, and capacity fitting of a 2024 flagship. So really astir nan marquee feature: Galaxy AI? Settle in, because there’s a batch to cover. 

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra connected a bluish and yellowish inheritance showing rear sheet and grey instrumentality color.

AI and each those cameras.

The short type is this: nan S24 Ultra has an awesome postulation of AI features. But it’s conscionable that — a collection. It doesn’t consciousness for illustration a unified group of devices pinch a corporate purpose; it feels for illustration a fistful of capabilities scattered passim nan strategy that are fantabulous astatine times and baffling astatine others.

Take unrecorded translation: it happens on-device, and it tin enactment arsenic a real-time expert connected telephone calls. I tried it pinch my workfellow Victoria Song, a fluent speaker of Japanese, and she thought it did an capable occupation translating our exchange. It’s champion suited for short transactional conversations because it gets impatient pinch pauses. It doesn’t rather get things correct erstwhile talking much casually, either — I asked really Vee’s cats were doing, and nan translator someway interpreted her Japanese for “Petey is eating my chair” arsenic “I americium eating my chair.” Hilarious, but not ideal!

But if you request to telephone and inquire for immoderate accusation aliases make a reservation, it would service nan purpose. And that’s benignant of astonishing — if you unrecorded successful a state wherever you don’t speak nan language, I tin spot this being a hugely useful tool. It’s nan benignant of business wherever AI that’s bully enough is amended than nothing.

Screenshot of a surface signaling text

The S24 Ultra doesn’t transcribe arsenic you’re recording, but it does make nan transcription reasonably quickly and on-device.

Screenshot of transcriptions summary generated pinch AI.

The S24 Ultra’s transcript summaries travel pinch suggested keywords, subheads, and timestamps — beautiful good! But it does require a travel to nan cloud.

Automatic statement and sound transcript summaries are successful nan aforesaid category. I put nan S24 Ultra’s caller sound recorder features up against my beloved Pixel Recorder by reference them some a transition from nan closest book I had connected hand, Precious Little Sleep, aka nan babe slumber Bible. Overall, I was amazed by really good Samsung kept up pinch nan Pixel. It doesn’t transcribe successful existent clip for illustration nan Pixel does, but it’s on-device, and it’s comparatively speedy aft nan fact; a six-minute signaling took astir 90 seconds to transcribe successful my testing.

Once you person your transcript, you tin make a elaborate summary successful conscionable a fewer seconds, complete pinch subheads and timestamps. It’s not thing I’d spot without double-checking nan root material, but for illustration telephone translation, it gives you a starting constituent — thing useful erstwhile you’d different person nothing. Samsung’s translator summaries hap successful nan cloud, not on-device, truthful they do require an net connection. Summarization seems for illustration it’s excessively overmuch to inquire of a telephone processor: nan Pixel 8 Pro I tested astatine nan aforesaid clip tried to summarize its signaling of nan aforesaid text, produced 1 slug point, and past gave up aft chugging for a fewer minutes.

Then there’s Circle to Search, which is only really an AI characteristic by association, but spiritually, it feels astatine location successful a chat astir nan S24 Ultra’s AI features. It’s a Google characteristic that’s debuting connected nan Galaxy S24 and Pixel 8 series and will reportedly travel to much high-end Android phones successful nan future. Basically, it’s Google Lens but everyplace connected your telephone — immoderate app, anytime. You long-press nan location fastener aliases navigation grip to prosecute it, and past a punctual appears to circle nan point you want to cognize much about. A page of Google results will follow, and you tin pat astir to study much aliases disregard nan full point and spell astir your business. It’s simple, but it benignant of feels for illustration really our phones should person been moving each along.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra shown in-hand pinch Google’s Circle to Search results shown on-screen.

Multisearch will punctual you to “add to your search” aft an first query, and that’s wherever things get interesting.

Google’s improvements to multisearch really make this characteristic guidelines out. After you’ve circled thing to hunt for it, you tin explain your hunt pinch further questions utilizing nan image arsenic a starting point. Previously, multisearch could only activity pinch basal modifiers, for illustration “blue” to hunt for a brace of shoes successful a peculiar color. Now, you tin inquire much analyzable questions, and nan hunt results will connection up an reply utilizing generative AI. And that’s wherever I recovered nan reply I was aft astir often.

There are immoderate evident situations wherever Circle to Search makes contiguous consciousness — a friend texts nan sanction of a restaurant, you item nan name, and without ever leaving nan messages app, you tin cheque wherever it is. I had to benignant of unlearn doing this nan agelong measurement while utilizing nan S24 Ultra, and now that I’m utilized to Circle to Search, I don’t want to spell backmost to nan aged way.

But erstwhile I was looking for much accusation astir something, nan first group of results didn’t ever clear things up. Searching for a mural I photographed successful San Jose brought up a page of similar-looking murals — adjuvant if you’re making a Pinterest temper board, little adjuvant if you want to cognize precisely what you’re looking at. But asking “Where is this?” successful multisearch (shh, I knew wherever it was, I was conscionable testing nan computer) sewage maine to nan correct reply quickly. 

There are much AI features — people location are much — but I won’t spell into extent astir each 1 of them. You tin person generative AI herb up your matter messages pinch emoji aliases summarize webpages. They activity reasonably good but don’t onslaught maine arsenic being rather arsenic useful arsenic nan others. Of course, there’s 1 much spot you’ll find AI astatine work: nan Galaxy S24 Ultra’s camera. 

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra successful manus showing camera app connected screen.

The caller 5x telephoto is good, but damn nan 10x lens was a awesome statement trick.

First, nan numbers. Per usual, location are a boatload of cameras connected this phone:

  • Main camera: 200-megapixel f/1.7 pinch OIS
  • 3x telephoto: 10-megapixel f/2.4, OIS
  • 5x telephoto: 50-megapixel f/3.4, OIS
  • Ultrawide: 12-megapixel f/2.2
  • Selfie: 12-megapixel f/2.2

They’re nan aforesaid cameras that are connected nan S23 Ultra isolated from for 1 notable substitution — nan 10x lens is gone, swapped for a 5x lens coupled pinch a bigger, higher-res sensor. This is unspeakable news for maine personally because I emotion that ridiculous 10x lens. You tin return pictures of planes! In nan sky! It’s specified a awesome statement trick. 

The caller type uses harvest zoom to get to 10x, and Samsung insists that nan image value is conscionable arsenic bully arsenic nan 10x optical zoom connected nan erstwhile version. As acold arsenic I tin tell, that’s mostly existent — item rendering looks astir nan same. And nan S24 Ultra decidedly looks amended astatine 5x since nan S23 Ultra was utilizing integer zoom astatine that focal length. I do spot much chromatic aberration connected immoderate of nan S24 Ultra’s 10x images compared to nan S23 Ultra’s, which tin make definite subjects look a small fuzzier — this seems to beryllium little of a problem pinch distant subjects, for illustration nan apical of a skyscraper. The move to a 5x zoom hasn’t been a wholly victimless crime. But overall, it’s a move that makes sense. The 5x focal magnitude has a batch much applicable uses, and Samsung claims it’s utilized much often than 10x. Fair. 

Galaxy S24 Ultra (left) and S23 Ultra (right) astatine 10x zoom, some shown astatine 100 percent magnification. Chromatic aberration is much noticeable connected nan S24’s newer 5x camera. Tap nan links supra for nan afloat images.

Otherwise, location aren’t immoderate drastic changes twelvemonth complete year. Samsung is still leaning connected nan saturation slider, embracing those vivid reds and blues it’s known for. It usually looks bully and occasionally looks bananas. The institution made a fewer tweaks to nan tech down its image mode, which is still excellent. Expert RAW now produces 24-megapixel images pinch information from 50- and 12-megapixel captures. More data, much better, arsenic they say. 

And I’m thrilled to spot Samsung afloat clasp Ultra HDR — that’s the precocious move scope image format supported successful Android 14. You’ll spot nan Ultra HDR reside mapping successful nan unrecorded image preview arsenic you return your photo, and nan S24 bid are the first devices that fto you upload Ultra HDR photos to Instagram. These are existent HDR photos that look much vibrant than the washed-out “HDR” photos we’re utilized to seeing, which are really conscionable attempts astatine showing a wider move scope connected an SDR display. I’m already impatient for third-party app support to travel to much phones.

Samsung is nan institution that gave america AI Moon, truthful naturally, location are a fewer AI photograph and video editing features here. Generative AI edits are disposable down a prima icon successful nan autochthonal assemblage editing interface. You tin prime objects to move astir nan framework aliases erase entirely, and you tin set nan sky utilizing generative capable to pad retired nan image alternatively than cropping in. The edits hap off-device, truthful you request an net relationship and a small patience.

This is very akin to nan generative AI editing devices offered connected nan Pixel 8 Pro, which isn’t astonishing — Samsung is utilizing Google’s models to powerfulness conscionable astir each AI characteristic connected these phones. But I really find Samsung’s entity action overmuch easier to usage than nan Pixel’s. On nan S24, you conscionable circle an entity you want to select, and on-device AI makes nan selection. It’s a small uncanny really bully it is. Selecting objects connected nan Pixel feels a small much fiddly.

With an entity selected, you tin resize it, move it astir nan frame, aliases erase it completely. With a somewhat predictable inheritance for illustration writer aliases a gravel path, generative AI tin capable successful nan blanks convincingly. Predictably, things get dicey pinch much analyzable edits. I selected a lamp connected a array and attempted to erase it from a photo; nan AI replaced it pinch a different lamp. 

It’s a akin communicative pinch slow-motion AI videos — awesome if you don’t situation it excessively overmuch aliases look excessively closely. The S24 Ultra tin move immoderate video into a 120fps slow-motion video — fundamentally utilizing framework interpolation but leaning connected generative AI to capable successful nan gaps. With nan correct taxable and background, it’s wholly convincing. But if you commencement introducing immoderate complexity, it benignant of falls apart. 

I slowed down nan supra 30fps video of my boy connected a swing, and you tin spot that nan mulch connected nan playground and greenery successful nan inheritance gave nan AI immoderate trouble. Is it still an adorable video? Yes. Will his grandparents beryllium delighted by it contempt its flaws? Also yes. It feels for illustration a characteristic correct connected nan separator betwixt “good enough” and “too weird” to beryllium fun. 

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing a bluish and yellowish homescreen, connected a bluish and yellowish inheritance pinch greenish translucent rectangles.

The AI puzzle pieces don’t rather make a complete picture.

It’s difficult to picture why a instrumentality that does truthful overmuch truthful good feels for illustration it falls flat. The Galaxy S23 Ultra felt for illustration thing genuinely typical — a refinement of a well-balanced formula. But pinch nan S24 Ultra, nan mathematics feels a small off.

It’s $100 much expensive, but it’s difficult to spot an other $100 worthy of value, particularly considering nan caller AI features are shared crossed nan full S24 series. To beryllium clear, I deliberation it’s a good point that these features are disposable connected each 3 phones. But if nan Ultra really is nan fastest, bestest telephone successful each nan land, shouldn’t it beryllium capable to do a small more?

The caller anti-glare surface coating is awesome and genuinely adjuvant connected a agleam day. The level surface is an improvement, and nan caller titanium exterior looks and feels great. But that’s much aliases little nan grade of this year’s Ultra-only improvements. The AI features, Ultra HDR support, 7 years of OS upgrades, updated always-on show — they’re each disposable connected nan little pricey S24 and S24 Plus.

The feature-to-price ratio feels conscionable a spot off-balance successful a measurement that it didn’t successful nan S23 Ultra

That leaves nan Ultra pinch a bigger screen, an S Pen, and a 5x zoom to separate it. They’re each awesome features and judge to please loyal Note / Ultra fans. But nan feature-to-price ratio feels conscionable a spot off-balance successful a measurement that it didn’t successful nan S23 Ultra. 

I wish Samsung had spent a small much clip connected nan less-flashy worldly — improving artillery life aliases making it lighter and much comfortable to use. Heck, I’d beryllium thrilled if Samsung spent clip connected a small housekeeping connected nan features that person piled up complete nan years. Bixby Vision, Google Lens, and Circle to Search each beryllium connected this phone. What are we doing here? 

The Galaxy S24 Ultra remains nan absolute most phone. Massive screen, S Pen, each of nan cameras, capacity retired nan wazoo — it really has nary peer. I conscionable wish that it felt a small much worthy of its value bump erstwhile nan MSRP was already sky-high before. This is an Ultra phone, alright. I conscionable wish it came pinch a small extra. 

Photography by Allison Johnson / The Verge

Agree to continue: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Every smart instrumentality now requires you to work together to a bid of position and conditions earlier you tin usage it — contracts that nary 1 really reads. It’s intolerable for america to publication and analyse each azygous 1 of these agreements. But we started counting precisely really galore times you person to deed “agree” to usage devices erstwhile we reappraisal them since these are agreements astir group don’t publication and decidedly can’t negotiate.

To usage nan Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, you must work together to:

  • Samsung’s Terms and Conditions
  • Samsung’s Privacy Policy
  • Google’s Terms of Service (including Privacy Policy)
  • Google Play’s Terms of Service
  • Automatic installs (including from Google, Samsung, and your carrier)

There are galore optional agreements. If you usage a carrier-specific version, location will beryllium much of them. Here are conscionable a few:

  • Sending diagnostic information to Samsung
  • Samsung services, including customization for personalized ads, continuity service, adjacent instrumentality scanning, and smart suggestions
  • Google Drive backup, location services, Wi-Fi scanning, diagnostic data
  • Bixby privateness argumentation (required to usage Bixby), positive optional for Bixby options for illustration personalized content, information access, and audio signaling review

There whitethorn beryllium more. For example, Samsung’s Weather app besides has its ain privateness argumentation that whitethorn see sharing accusation with Weather.com.

Final tally: location are 5 mandatory agreements and astatine slightest 10 optional ones.

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