For those who assume the Galaxy S24 Ultra is just another flagship with a minor refresh, you’re sorely mistaken.
While other smartphone manufacturers are going wild with radical camera bump designs, Samsung appears to be focusing on what matters to users. Besides the expected performance upgrades and design refinements, Samsung is betting on the recent rise of generative AI to take its mobile experience to the next level.
Titanium Frame and Flat Display
With prices of flagship phones going beyond the RM6,000 mark, Samsung is finally upping the ante by using titanium for the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s frame. Samsung claims its switch to titanium offers greater durability without incurring significant weight changes from its previous aluminium construction. But that’s not even the best part of the exterior design.
After years of popularising curved displays, the Korean smartphone maker has finally moved on and is now going completely flat for its latest and greatest flagship. We could already see this coming in the past few iterations and even the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s display is barely curved at the edges.
I think this is a good move as I tend to get false “touches” while cropping images. Having a flat screen not only offers a wider usable area for the S Pen but it offers a more immersive viewing experience without distortion at the edges. Those who like to apply screen protectors on their phones will certainly appreciate a flat screen.
If you have OCD, you’ll be happy to see that the rectangular Galaxy S24 Ultra now has thinner and symmetrical bezels on all sides.
Brightest Display on a Galaxy
The Galaxy S24 Ultra gets a 6.8” Quad HD+ (3120×1440 pixels) AMOLED screen which does have slightly more pixels than the curved 6.8” panel on its predecessor. Outdoor visibility under direct sunlight should be better on paper as it boasts a peak brightness of 2,600 nits versus 1,750 nits on last year’s model.
During the media preview, Samsung had set up a demo booth with a bright spotlight directed at the Galaxy S24 Ultra and S23 Ultra. From our eyes, the screens of both devices performed well under the set lighting conditions and that shows 1,750 nits peak brightness is more than enough for most situations. The Galaxy S24 Ultra’s display still offers an adaptive refresh rate that dynamically switches between 1 to 120Hz for better energy efficiency.
For better durability against scratches and impact, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is one of the first devices to use Corning’s latest Gorilla Armor. According to Samsung, the new glass also reduces reflection by up to 75% for an improved viewing experience.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
Under the hood, the Galaxy S24 Ultra runs on Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor that’s focused on generative AI. This is the crucial component to bringing Galaxy AI’s key features to life and it’s powerful enough to handle them on the device instead of going through the cloud.
To keep things cool for sustained peak performance, Samsung boasts a larger vapour chamber of up to 1.9x for improved cooling. Hopefully, this means no overheating issues that seems to be affecting Apple’s top-of-the-line iPhone 15 Pro lineup.
Unlike last year’s Galaxy S23 series, the S24 Ultra is the only device in the local lineup that uses a Qualcomm chip. Samsung has opted for Exynos on the Galaxy S24 and S24+, with both models running on 4nm Exynos 2400, at least for our local market.
For Malaysia, the Galaxy S24 Ultra comes with 12GB of RAM and a choice of 256GB, 512GB and 1TB of storage. The 1TB version is currently offered exclusively through the online store.
New 50MP telephoto
In the camera department, the Galaxy S24 still retains a pretty similar quad-camera setup as last year’s Galaxy S23 Ultra and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It still features a capable 200MP f/1.7 main camera but the main telephoto unit is now a 50MP sensor with 5x optical zoom instead of a 10MP sensor with 10x optical zoom.
Despite the lower zoom multiplier, Samsung is promising optical quality photos in any zoom level up to 10x. This is made possible with its Adaptive Pixel Sensor and it can still do 100x digital zoom if you want to push it to its limits.
During our short hands-on, the zoom capability remains as impressive as its predecessor. If you zoom all the way in, you still get that sticky hovering sensation when your subject is locked. This ensures your photo is taken with reduced motion blur. As you would expect, photos taken with digital zoom beyond 50x are mostly non-usable.
Speaking of stabilisation, the new 50MP telephoto sensor offers an upgraded “Nightography” experience. The Galaxy S24 Ultra supposedly allows you to record clearer nighttime video even with up to 5x zoom. It also boasts 2x wider OIS which is better in compensating for handshake and noise reduction. It sounds promising and I’m looking forward to testing this out on a review unit.
Other interesting additions include the ability to preview SuperHDR before you take a shot and you can also playback your recorded videos in slow-mo by simply long tapping in gallery.
Samsung is betting big on AI
Over the past decade, the term AI for smartphones has been used to death but Galaxy AI is not your average AI and it is certainly less gimmicky than what we’ve seen before. 2023 was a huge year for the generative artificial intelligence with the rise of OpenAI ChatGPT, Google Bard and Microsoft Copilot, and it is this sort of AI that Samsung wants to bring to your everyday smartphone.
Some of the key Galaxy AI features include live two-way translation for voice calls and instant messaging. This is great when you want to book a restaurant or a taxi overseas but you can’t speak a single word of the local language. What’s remarkable is these translation features are handled on-device with no internet required.
If you use your Galaxy device for taking notes and creating a list, Galaxy AI can help to make your life a little bit easier. Besides the typical scribble-to-text and auto-spelling correction, you can now use Galaxy AI to rephrase sentences or generate an entirely new message based on the intended tone and manner.
For example, you can just type Lunch 2pm KLCC, and let Galaxy AI compose a full message for a professional setting, or send it as a casual text or even an emojified message which you can send to your friends.
However, this feature only works with the Galaxy Keyboard and it does go through the cloud.
There are even more Galaxy AI features for imaging and the eraser tool is quite mindblowing yet creepy at the same time. It is so easy to remove objects and Galaxy AI can seamlessly fill up the background for you based on elements in the scene. To indicate if an image is AI generated, Galaxy AI will add a “3-star” watermark at the corner.
No changes in charging speed
The rest of the Galaxy S24 Ultra still retains the same flagship features including IP68-rated dust and water resistance, and its productive S Pen. It supports WiFi 7 (varies by market), Bluetooth 5.3 as well as 5G.
The battery capacity remains unchanged at 5,000mAh capacity and it still supports 45W for wired and 15W for wireless. 0-65% charge takes 30 minutes with a 45W power adapter, that’s sold separately.
OS and security updates beyond 2030
Out of the box, the Galaxy S24 Ultra and its smaller siblings are running on Android 14 with Samsung’s latest One UI 6.1. What’s remarkable is Samsung’s new commitment to longevity which is now on par with the likes of the Google Pixel 8.
Samsung is promising an impressive seven generations of OS upgrades and seven years of security updates to extend the product’s lifecycle. As long as your device is still functioning in good order, this means you can hold on to your Galaxy S24 Ultra beyond 2030 with confidence that you’re still getting the latest Android updates and security patches.
If you look beyond the familiar design, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is set to remain a benchmark for flagship smartphones this year. It packs new innovative and useful features powered by AI and it is comforting to know that the phone will continue to stay fresh and up to date with its extended software support.
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Malaysia Pricing and availability
The Galaxy S24 Ultra is officially priced from RM6,299 in Malaysia for the base 256GB storage model. It’s also offered with 512GB storage at RM6,799 and 1TB of storage at RM7,799. The device is offered in Titanium Grey, Titanium Yellow, Titanium Violet and Titanium Black. Samsung Malaysia is also offering three online exclusive options – Titanium Blue, Titanium Orange and Titanium Green.