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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

More than meets the eye - Samsung's approach to AI is actually useful.

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Samsung's Ultra series, formerly known as Note, hasn't changed
much. In fact, it's hard to tell the difference for the average person, but
but the insides have actually changed quite a bit. It's an ultra-conservative range of mobile phones, and this is clearly the latest model. It's for those who don't need to show off gold chains, but have them in the bank with diamonds on them.

And diamonds are needed, despite some pretty good introductory offers, e.g. the top model with 1TB of space costs around £1350. However, as usual, it's not really a big price difference compared to last year, and regardless of models, you get a minimum of 12GB RAM.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

In return, you get what is perhaps the best high-end phone on the market right now. With one exception, no matter what feature or hardware you're looking at, Samsung has it and better. So with that in mind, the price might not be that steep after all.

That said, you also get a mobile phone that is built exceptionally well. The specimen we tried was the Titanium, but there are also black, purple, pale yellow, green and orange versions. It's the same design, a little sharper, and on the big picture it looks hugely similar to last year's S23 Ultra model, but there are small differences, and some of them mean that the phone has actually been significantly upgraded, but it's mainly the internals. However, the screen is now completely flat, and for someone who is constantly paranoid about damage to the screen, it's quite nice. However, the bezel is so small that I have to admit I didn't notice it until I got my hands on last year's S23 edition and was able to make a direct comparison.

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Before we continue, however, a small disclaimer is in order. I haven't had every Samsung Note/Ultra model, but I've had a number of them and have always been a big fan, and still think the world's best mobile phone is the Note 20, with the Note 10 a close second.

Inside is a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. It's an insanely bright 6.8" 120Hz AMOLED 2X display in 3120x1440 that can deliver 2600 nits and pretty much turn down to 0 if needed, combined with a really good anti-glare coating. An evaporation chamber is still used for cooling, and it works brilliantly.

The insane camera array consists of 200MP wide-angle with 2x optical zoom, 50MP with 5X optical zoom, 12MP ultra wide angle and 10MP with 3x optical zoom. It can record up to 8K/30FPS. It looks amazing - but also takes up an awful lot of space. It's a real upgrade over last year, and year, and if you use your phone for a lot of photography, you will clearly see the difference, especially in low-light shots, which are now aided by AI.

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The S-Pen and Galaxy AI is a pretty cool combination. This applies to image editing, translation in SMS and messaging services, pure transcription of conversations and the built-in interpreter function, and not least how you can google search for objects in an image. It's just a shame that it's really poorly explained. The interpreter app is not an app, but a function that needs to be swiped down, a bit like switching off Wifi, and I may have missed it, but I had to google how to use the S-pen to search images, and the explanation of how to use it for image editing wasn't very good either.

On the other hand, because the AI part is running on the phone, Samsung has extra privacy and image protection options, and then they have something extraordinary - watermarks on images made with generative AI. It took me less than five seconds to figure out how to edit them out, and Gamereactor's graphic artist was able to easily identify what was manipulated and what wasn't, but maybe your grandma isn't quite as clever, especially now that she's really suffering from cataracts. AI is scary in many ways if you don't take precautions, but kudos to Samsung for having such watermarks built in.

The translation features work fine for writing and speaking. It doesn't support a lot of languages, but we've been promised that there will be a lot of ongoing updates. For the most part it works fine, it failed a couple of times on very touristy expressions and sentences in Spanish, and it certainly can't figure out my Japanese pronunciation, which otherwise works fine when I've been to Tokyo, or Samsung just doesn't like certain Japanese words and numbers - it needs a little work and I'm looking forward to seeing the phone struggle with Finnish and Welsh. So, the starting point is fine, but I'd probably still take a handheld with me on holiday.

In addition, some of the AI functionality is hidden in invisible optimisations such as battery life and camera quality, especially the digital zoom has improved noticeably, but having said that, I only use optical zoom when it's available, like here. However, I would still advocate using the inbuilt Knox Vault system to secure your apps with personal data as one of the most important pieces of software on a Samsung phone.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Samsung puts a lot of effort into being green, recycled metals, packaging that is made sustainably, and it's all so nice - but that's why I'm surprised that they choose to move the lenses that sit outside the mobile phone by two or three millimetres, just enough so that the cover from an S23 Ultra does not fit and you have to buy a new one. This does, however, provide an opportunity to advocate buying certified cases, because if you talk to people in the industry, it's apparently a problem that the many cases of dubious quality are so poor that it causes antenna and connection problems. It's not exactly like an original Samsung case or one from a certified partner breaks the budget - but it's a little scary that a bad case can affect the phone's performance so much that Samsung actually keeps statistics about it.

But in return, Samsung now provides seven, yes, seven years of guaranteed security and operating system updates. This goes a long way towards their narrative that mobile phones are not good for the environment, so the trick is to make them last longer - and the best way to do that is with a Samsung.

There's also the argument that they're not too keen on ultra-mega-monster fast charging, either wireless (they're still running Qi gen. 1, aka 15 Watt) or by cable, flanked by an argument that the battery is still big enough to last a whole day (5000 mAh for at least the third year in a row), even with heavy use, and that's true enough, but it doesn't change the fact that you're a bit on your arse if you've forgotten to charge, because there's a reason why Samsung has "forgotten" to state the charging times on their website. There's no charger included in the box, but after finding a charger that was compatible with Samsung's "fast charge" - and it's quite fussy about that - it still took over an hour for a full charge, which is a bit paltry when other cheaper mobiles can do it in about 25 minutes. For me personally, it doesn't make a big difference, I have a charging plate that my mobile phone is permanently placed on in the evening, and then it is fully charged by bedtime, but for others it will be an annoyance.

Should you buy an S24 Ultra? Well, with a 6.8" screen and a cover, it takes up a lot of space and there's no such thing as true ultra-fast charging, but in all other respects it's perhaps the best phone on the market right now. Even the speakers are good, and if you're still willing to spend more than £1000 on a mobile phone, you can show that you're a class act and opulent attitude to others, while the discerning connoisseurs will know that with a phone in Titanium finish and the huge camera system, you probably have one of the best mobile phones money can buy.

09 Gamereactor UK
9 / 10
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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