Samsung’s Galaxy S series is perhaps one of the most awaited smartphones every year. This year’s release has a little bit of a twist, with Galaxy AI taking center stage with the line-up. Just like in previous years, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra takes the most attention.
So, what do we think of this year’s iteration of the Galaxy S24 Ultra? Find out in our full review below.
Table of Contents
Design and Construction
One of the first things you will notice when you hold the S24 Ultra is the grip. It feels more chunky or boxy compared to the Galaxy S23 Ultra. A number of people in our team immediately noticed this difference the very first time they held the device. So yes, I would say that’s a significantly noticeable change.
You can’t actually feel the weight difference between the two (232 grams vs. 234 grams) despite the S24 Ultra having a lighter titanium chassis compared to the aluminum material of its predecessor. Titanium is stronger than the two but also weighs heavier (around 66% more), which means the device can be thinner but still equally or more durable than the aluminum counterpart.
Perhaps the biggest change that Samsung introduced to the S24 Ultra is the use of Titanium material for the chassis. Whether that is a coincidence after Apple announced the iPhone 15 Pro series, which also used Titanium, or a last-minute engineering move is something we can only guess.
Aside from that, theres not much that has changed to the S24 Ultra from an exterior standpoint. The case of the S23 Ultra would not fit the S24 Ultra so that one other indication. Otherwise, it would be hard to spot the difference unless you hold them both at the same time.
The volume rocker and power button are found on the right side; USB Type-C charging port at the bottom end along with the primary mic, speaker grill, SIM slot and stylus; left side is clear except for an antenna band and up top, you have the secondary mic and what appears to be an air vent hole beside it (used ot be at the bottom on the S23 Ultra).
The Galaxy S24 Ultra continues to have the same IP68 Rating for dust and water resistance for up to 1.5 meters in under 30 minutes. Just don’t push your luck and bring it swimming in the pool or the ocean since that could prove fatal.
The S24 Ultra comes in different colorways — Titanium Gray, Titanium Black, Titanium Violet, Titanium Yellow, Titanium Green, Titanium Blue and Titanium Orange — and among them, we liked the black and violet colors more. Color availability will vary per region.
Display, Audio and Biometrics
The Galaxy S4 Ultra has one of the largest displays in the smartphone marketplace (excluding the foldable phones) so you will really see how formidable this 6.8-inch AMOLED 2X Display. The quad HD+ resolution goes up to 3120 x 1440 pixels but you can manually set it to HD+ or FHD+ to get better battery performance in exchange for a lower resolution display quality.
Nevertheless, you get a very bright (2400 nits peak brightness) and a adaptive refresh rate that goes from 1Hz to 120Hz depending on the usage (or how smooth the animations and scrolling you want to see). You can also set to to Standard refresh rate of 60Hz if you want to save up on battery.
The S24 Ultra has a rather flatter glass display compared to the S23 Ultra that has a somewhat curvy edge. This added to the blocky look of the device.
The Always On display supports multiple widgets when you tap it — Music, Weather, Today’s schedule, Next alarm, Voice recorder, Digital Wellbeing, Routines and SmartThings — each of which you can choose to enable and re-order in any way you want.
Likewise, Samsung worked with Corning to create a new glass material they called Gorilla Glass Armor and claims 4x more scratch resistant. We reckon this is stronger than the Gorilla Glass Victus 2 from previous generations.
While you can clearly identify the primary speaker grill at the bottom, the secondary one up top is hidden, except perhaps for that air vent hole beside the 2nd mic that drives muuch of the sound from that area.
Nevertheless, sound quality of the S24 Ultra is above average — crisp, clean, not too loud but good enough for playing music or watching movies straight from the device. When running a Dolby Atmos test, the bottom speakers are obviously more loud while the top speaker is more dedicated to the bass sounds.
The usual biometric functions are still here on top of the normal PIN or password security — fingerprint and/or facial recognition. Despite the large size of the device, using fingerprint unlock is quick easy and fast but facial recognition is much faster so we opt for the latter.
Samsung’s quadruple camera setup on the Galaxy S24 Ultra (and previous generations) are among the compeling features that many users always look for with every new generation.
The primary camera seemed unchanged as before — the 200MP sensor has a size of 1/1.3″ with a 24mm wide focal length, f/1.7 aperture, multi-directional PDAF, Laser AF and OIS.
The second camera got a significant change — a 50MP with 111mm focal length (periscope telephoto), f/3.4 aperture, PDAF, OIS and 5x optical zoom. This replaces the 10MP periscope camera with 10X optical zoom on the S23 Ultra in favor of a bigger-sized sensor (1/2.55-inch vs. 1/3.52-inch). This means you can still do 100x digital zoom but with greater detail.
We’re curious what this update means to the 100x optical zoom of both device so we tried shooting a few samples.
In this first image, we’re zooming into the printed text on that box of Magic: The Gathering and see how the 100x zoom perform between the two.
You will notice that the 100x zoomed image on the S23 Ultra is less saturated and there’s a lot of bleeding around the edges of the letters. There’s also better contrast with the S24 Ultra’s photo.
In this second photo, we shot a small Bumblebee toy from about a meter and a half away. We zoomed in on the head and took a photo of the eyes.
It’s curious that the 100x zoom on the S23 Ultra looks a bit closer compared to the zoom on the S24 Ultra.
You will notice that the zoom on the S23 Ultra has more sharpening while the S24 Ultra looks brighter. Take note that the aperture on the S24 Ultra is larger at f/3.4 vs. f/4.9 so it’s able to shoot at shorter exposure times of 1/50s vs. 1/30s on the latter.
There’s also another telephoto camera, somewhat similar to the old model — 10MP, f/2.4, 67mm (telephoto), Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS and 3x optical zoom.
The 4th one is an ultrawide camera, similar to before — a 12MP, f/2.2, 13mm focal length, 120˚ (ultrawide), Dual Pixel PDAF and Super Steady video.
The Galaxy S Ultra line has one of the most powerful optical zooms and the S24 Ultra continues to match that capability with a 5x optical zoom (augmented with AI technology). Combine that with optical image stabilization and low-light capabilities, you can take really clean and vivid shots from afar — just like this one we got from the match between the Houston Rockets and the Utah Jazz at the Toyota Center in Houston City.
You can record videos up to UHD 8K (7680 x 4320) @ 30fps or go slow motion with 240fps @ 1080p or 120fps @ 4K.
Here’s another example of the 1x and 5x zoom capabilities of the S24 Ultra.
Even in low-light scenarios, takign the 10x zoom still gave pretty decent shots just like the one we got here in the Toyota Stadium.
OS, Apps and UI
One UI 6.1 comes pre-installed on the Galaxy S24 Ultra. Basically, One UI 6.1 is just One Ui 6.0 with Galaxy AI incorporated in it. You can learn about One UI 6 in this video we made below:
This update was recently announced to be available soon on older Samsung Galaxy devices (see list here 56).
Samsung’s suite of native apps are pre-installed here — Samsung Store, News, Gaming Hub, Members, Global Goals, Galaxy Shop, SmartThings, Samsung Health, Wearable, Samsung Wallet, PENUP, Find and TV. The only bloatware we found in during booth-up is the Microsoft Suite trial of services and the LinkedIn app.
Not much attention was given to Bixby during the global launch, but the new Galaxy AI took much of the spotlight of the show. Galaxy AI is a collection of AI-assisted services, both in-device and cloud AI, powered by Google’s Gemini. Suffice it to say, these are mostly unique search-related features that allow better user interaction.
Take, for example, Circle to Search. When activated, the user can simply draw a circle around any object in an image or photo, and Galaxy AI will provide almost instantaneous relevant and actionable results.
What’s new to One UI 6.1 is the addition of AI-generated wallpapers which is a nice touch in customizing your own wallpapers with assistance from AI. There’s also Generative Edit which allows you to alter photos by relocating subject/objects around or completely remove them from the photo itself.
One exciting feature is Live Translate which allows your voice calls to be translated into other languages in almost real-time. Great thing about it is that the other party does not need to have a Samsung phone or Android phone so even a feature phone or landline call can benefit from Live Translate. Everything is handled by your Galaxy phone itself, even without an internet connection.
And there’s more — Note Assist, Chat Assist, Transcript Assist Lock Screen Widgets, and Quick Share.
One of the most surprising, and a historic move for Samsung, is the announcement of up to 7 years of security updates and OS upgrade for the new devices.
Perhaps unique to the Galaxy S24 Ultra is the built-in stylus (S-Pen). This is a nod to the decades-old Galaxy Note, which has been unceremoniously discontinued since February 2022. The S24 Ultra holds that distinction of being the only smartphone to continue offering this accessory along with the device and it’s perfect for note-taking, scribbling or even drawing. A number of people still find the stylus an essential tool for productivity, and true enough, it brings a ton of features.
As a regular stylus, you can use the S-Pen for annotation and sketching with its 4,096 pressure levels. The S-Pen is also connected to the phone via Bluetooth so it can be used as a remote trigger for the camera. Regular features such as Air View, Screen Off Memo, Direct Writing Input, and Visible Pointer are all present along with all the items in the Air Command menu.
With the Galaxy AI, additional features for the S-Pen include Circle to Search, Summarization and Note Assist although bear in mid that Circle to Search requires internet connectivity to work.
Benchmark and Performance
Powering the Galaxy S24 Ultra is the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, instead of the homegrown Exynos 2400 that Samsung is using for the Galaxy S24 and S24+ in the Philippines.
Announced last October 24, 2023, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 uses a 4nm process with a single-core Cortex-X4 running at 3.3GHz, 3 cores of Cortex-A720 clocked at 3.15GHz, 2 cores of Cortex-A720 at 2.96GHz, and 2 cores of Cortex-A520 running at 2.26 MHz.
This is paired by Adreno 750 GPU and with 12GB of LPDDR5X RAM plus 512GB UFS 4.0 storage, we get a very powerful device.
While normal usage are smooth and snappy, the performance can really be noticed in more intensive tasks such as video encoding, gaming and multi-tasking.
Our synthetic benchmark scores below shows how powerful this device is, although not quite where it should be based on 3rd-party references. Perhaps the next firmware update might address this.
Antutu Benchmark v10: 1,765,487
Antutu Storage: 4,069MB/s (read), 3,061MB/s (write), 1,512MB/s (Random Read) & 1,041MB/s (Random Write)
PCMark Work 3.0 Performance Score: 18,261
GeekBench 6 CPU: 2,311 (Single-core), 7,136 (Multi-core)
GeekBench 6 GPU: 13,821 (Vulkan), 12,371 (OpenCL)
3DMark Wild Life Extreme: 4,910
3DMark Solar Bay: 8,414
Playing games such as Mobile Legends (High Frame Rate, Ultra Graphics) and Genshin Impact showed no signs of lagging, stuttering or frame drops. The device tends to heat up a little bit though it is nothing to worry about as the temperatures jumps are small and manageable.
Connectivity and Battery Life
Leave it to Samsung to offer you the widest connectivity options available in a smartphone. You get dual 5G support, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, GPS and WiFi 7 support. And, because of the close partnership between Samsung in Google with the Galaxy AI efforts, the Samsung Quick Share is now integrated with Google’s Nearby Share. That means compatibility with other Android devices from here-on.
SIM card configuration can either set to SIM 1 + SIM 2, SIM 1 + eSIM or Dual eSIM.
The battery department can be a bit of a struggle for Samsung as it remains un-improved since the Galaxy S20 Ultra. As such, Samsung got stuck to 5,000mAh of battery capacity for the S23 Ultra. The battery charging also remains to be the same at 45W (PD3.0) since the S22 Ultra, along with a 15W wireless (Qi/PMA) charging capability and 4.5W reverse wireless charging.
I guess Samsung is just being too careful given the traumatic battery history of the Galaxy Note from many years back.
Nevertheless, expect the Galaxy S24 Ultra to peform very well in the battery department — lasting the entire day if you use it heavily but can last up to the next half day with moderate use.
In our PCMark Battery Test, the device scored 15 hours and 53 minutes on a single full charge at 50% brightness, zero volume and in airplane mode.
This is slightly better than the 14 hours and 33 minutes we got on the Galaxy S23 Ultra when we reviewed it last year.
In our video loop test, the Galaxy S24 Ultra lasted 28 hours and 5 minutes playing a full HD video at 50% brightness, zero volume and in airplane mode. The Galaxy S23 Ultra lasted 21 hours and 8 minutes on the same test last year.
If you’re heavy gamer, we tried playing two rounds of Ranked Game in Mobile Legend which lasted for about 15 minutes each and it took some 4% in battery life each round at 50% brightness, 50% volume and with WiFi turned on. That’s roughly 6 hours and 15 minutes of game time on a single full charge (Settings in High Frame Rate and Ultra Graphics). Not bad!
* Note: All our tests are done with the display resolution set at FHD+.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra continues to be Samsung’s best-in-class flagship smartphone. This has been a steady pace for several generations, offering the latest and most powerful mobile chipset, material design, display technologies, and camera performance.
While some may look at this year’s incremental upgrade as a bit of underwhelming (compared to the Galaxy S23 Ultra), the Galaxy S24 Ultra is leaps better if you are upgrading from the S22 series or earlier. Besides, no other smartphone manufacturer has a contender quite like the S24 Ultra, not even Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Max.
With the starting price of Php 84,990 (for the 12GB + 256GB), it’s indeed a hefty price tag (that’s Php3k more than the S23 Ultra when it came out last year). You still get the best smartphone Samsung can offer.
Given the large, beautiful display, impressive performance, and powerful cameras, that’s money well-spent.
If you’re coming from the S23 Ultra, the odds to upgrade to the S24 Ultra are 50-50% but if you’re using an S21 Ultra or S22 Ultra, there are plenty of reasons to get the S24 Ultra instead.
The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is now available in stores and you can still grab some bundles, freebies and trade-in promos given out during the pre-order period until February 6, 2024 18.
What we liked about it:
* Titanium build
* Great display
* Impressive performance
* Camera and zoom capabilities
* Stylus pen
* IP68 water resistance
* Galaxy AI features need time to get used to
What we did not like:
* Flatter re-design feels chunky
* Battery improvements are so-so
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra specs:
6.8-inch QHD+ AMOLED 2X Display @ 3120 x 1440 pixels
1 to 120Hz refresh rate, Vision Booster, 2400 nits peak brightness
Corning Gorilla Glass Armor
Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy
12B LPDDR5x RAM
256GB, 512GB, 1TB USF 4.0 internal storage
200MP f/1.7, OIS main camera
12MP f/2.2 ultrawide camera
15MP f/3.4 OIS telephoto camera, 5x optical zoom
10MP f/2.4 OIS telephoto camera, 3x optical zoom
12MP f/2.2 front camera
802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax/be 2.4GHz+5GHz+6GHz, EHT320, MIMO, 4096-QAM
GPS (GPS, Glonass, Beidou, Galileo, QZSS)
USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 1
One UI 6.1 based on Android 14
5,000mAh Li-Po battery 45W wired charging, wireless charging, Wireless PowerShare
232 grams (Sub6), 233 grams (mmWave)
79 x 162.3 x 8.6mm (dimensions)
Titanium Gray, Titanium Black, Titanium Violet, Titanium Yellow
The Galaxy S24 Ultra will come in three (3) variants — 256GB, 512GB and an online-exclusive 1TB.
- Php 106,990 (12GB + 1TB)
- Php 92,990 (12GB + 512GB)
- Php 84,990 (12GB + 256GB)