Home Tech Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review: the Swiss army knife of phones, now with AI

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review: the Swiss army knife of phones, now with AI

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review: the Swiss army knife of phones, now with AI

Samsung’s latest smartphone packs a plethora of the latest flashy AI tools with the aim of improving text, images, video and search – with hits and misses.

The new Galaxy S24 Ultra is equipped with a combination of the latest AI from Samsung and Google layered on top of one of the highest performing phones on the market, packed to the brim with competition-beating specs.

All of these capabilities cost £1,249 (€1,469/$1,299.99/A$2,199), the same price as its predecessor in the UK but more expensive in the US and other regions.

The imposing S24 Ultra feels every bit the premium heavyweight that it is, now with titanium on the exterior. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The overall design differs only iteratively from its predecessors, with a completely flat rather than curved screen and new titanium sides, similar to those of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, giving it a grippy finish and making it feel stronger and more durable theory. The display features the latest from Corning Gorilla Armor Glass It is more scratch resistant and much less reflective, significantly reducing glare which, combined with the ultra-bright screen, makes using it outdoors as easy as indoors, even on the sunniest of days.

The S24 Ultra features Qualcomm’s latest high-end chip, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, delivering a 20% speed increase, 26% faster graphics and greater power efficiency compared to previous generations. It’s a very fast phone that handles games, demanding apps, and multitasking with aplomb, but the extended battery life is more noticeable in everyday use.

The speaker on the bottom of the phone is loud but too easily blocked by a finger when holding it in landscape mode. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The phone lasts up to 60 hours of general use taking photos, browsing, messaging, and using 5G for a few hours, with the rest on wifi, making it one of the longest-lasting phones I’ve ever used. I tested. High-end gaming or more intensive tasks affect battery life – one hour of Diablo Immortal consumed 18% of the battery. But otherwise I only needed to charge it every three days.


  • Main screen: 6.8-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X (500ppi) 120 Hz

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3

  • RAM: 12 GB

  • Storage: 256, 512 GB or 1 TB

  • Operating system: A 6.1 user interface based on Android 14

  • Camera: 200MP + 12MP 0.6x + 10MP 3x + 50MP 5x; 12MP on the front

  • Connectivity: 5G, USB-C, wifi 7, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2, UWB and GNSS

  • Water resistance: IP68 (1.5m for 30 minutes)

  • Dimensions: 162.3 x 79 x 8.6mm

  • Weight: 232g


The phone contains various recycled materials, but the exterior is made of titanium, which should help it survive drops. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Samsung doesn’t provide an expected battery life, but it should last over 500 full charge cycles with at least 80% of its original capacity.

The phone is usually repairable. Screen repairs cost around £270, while the battery is replaceable by authorized service centers. Samsung also offers a self-repair program.

The phone contains recycled aluminum, steel, cobalt, glass, plastic and rare earth elements. Samsung offers an exchange and recycling programs for older devices. The company publishes each year sustainability reports but no impact assessments for individual products.

S Pen, seven years of support and AI everywhere

Samsung’s AI tools can be turned on or off from a central settings page and include (from left to right): writing style, web page summary, and generative photo editing. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The S24 Ultra features Samsung’s fan-favorite S Pen that slides neatly into the bottom. It is excellent for quickly doodling, doodling or editing documents. The One UI 6.1 software, based on Android 14, is packed with customization options and tools across the system and works well. New for 2024 is the promise of software and security updates for seven years from releasebringing Samsung to the level of Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Pixel 8, with only Fairphone offering a longer deal.

The flashiest additions are based on generative AI, of which only a few are hits and many are simply catching up to the competition. The phone has the same AI wallpaper generator as the Pixel 8 Pro. The keyboard integrates various AI tools, including language translation, advanced grammar and spelling, and the ability to rewrite your messages in different styles, such as professional, polite, or casual. This makes you feel a bit generic, but I can see it being useful for those who struggle to write proper emails to their boss.

THE Samsung Notes app can summarize documents, but only those under 8,000 characters (around 1,500 words), which seems to be a failure. THE Samsung Internet Browser can also summarize even very long articles with at least superficially impressive results.

The voice recorder app can transcribe text, but not in real time like Google’s version. The phone app can do real-time voice translation, so you can attempt to hold a conversation in multiple languages. It works well enough for more formal things such as making a reservation, but, as you might expect, it struggles with more informal language and slang.

I wouldn’t completely trust any of these features without thoroughly checking the result, but they are useful in a pinch.

Google’s “search circle” is a great example of a useful AI tool that enhances an existing experience. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Generative Edit in Photo Gallery app is Samsung’s version of Google Magic Editor on Pixel phones. It is capable of resizing, cropping, erasing or moving objects and other modifications, using AI on a server to regenerate the image each time. It’s great for quick adjustments that would require launching Photoshop to work properly, but can also create a real mess. All AI-edited images are watermarked with a small symbol in the bottom left corner so people can know they’re not entirely authentic.

A unique feature is the ability to convert any video to slow motion, using AI to generate additional frames with pretty excellent results, provided you’re not looking for too many artifacts.

Lately, Circle to search is a new feature from Google on the Google S24 and Pixel 8 series. Hold down the home button or gesture bar, circle what you’re looking for on your screen with your finger or stylus, and Google does the rest, showing you information about an actor, searching for a piece of clothing, or highlighted text. It’s fast, efficient and has quickly become second nature. Technically Google Lens was able to do something similar, but never as intuitively and quickly.


Few phones can match the quality and capability of the S24 Ultra’s extended zoom cameras, which dramatically reduce the distance to objects. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

There are four cameras on the back of the phone and a good 12-megapixel selfie camera at the top of the screen. Four of the cameras are identical to those on the S23 Ultra, with the 200 MP main camera, the 12 MP ultra-wide, and the 10 MP 3x telephoto lens producing equally impressive results.

New to the S24 Ultra is a 50MP 5x telephoto lens, replacing the 10MP 10x of its predecessor, which can also zoom in-sensor for 10x magnification. The 5x magnification adds yet another tool to the S24 Ultra’s arsenal, and in side-by-side comparison, it’s very difficult to tell the difference at 10x zoom compared to its predecessor’s photos.

Overall, the S24 Ultra has the best and most adaptable camera system of any smartphone.


The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra costs from £1,249 (€1,469/$1,299.99/AU$2,199) with 256 GB of storage.

For comparison, the Galaxy S24 costs £799the S24+ costs £999the Z Fold 5 costs £1,749the Google Pixel 8 Pro costs £999 and the iPhone 15 Pro Max costs £1,199.


The Galaxy S24 Ultra is the Swiss army knife of phones. It’s a monolithic slab of premium titanium and glass that can do just about anything.

Between the powerful software, stylus, superior chip, long battery life, terrific screen, and super adaptable camera that zooms out on the competition, there’s little the S24 doesn’t can’t manage. It can even become a full Android desktop plugged into a monitor and keyboard if you want. And with seven full years of software support, you can use the phone safely for longer.

The AI ​​features are a bit hit and miss. Some are certainly useful, but none of them are a reason to buy this particular phone over a Pixel or another, because Google’s Circle to Search will soon be available on other Androids. Also note that the fine print says all are free to use until at least the end of 2025, but some may incur additional fees after that.

It may just be an iterative update of its predecessors and other phones may do some things better, but few can do all that and more. But you pay a very high price, both in terms of wallet and size, for this capacity. The S24 Ultra is a huge phone and in a world full of foldable devices, it seems increasingly boring regardless of its stellar performance.

Benefits: fantastic display, best performing camera with 3x, 5x and 10x optical zoom, new AI tools, good software with seven years of support, S Pen, top performance, very long battery life, contains materials recycled.

The inconvenients: massive, heavy, extremely expensive, the S Pen may be a superfluous feature for many, the AI ​​features are not a reason to buy.

You need large pockets or a bag to comfortably carry the S24 Ultra, which is definitely a two-handed phone. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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