Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review | Professional power from screen to cameras

by W. Andrew Powell
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is the ultimate phone for professionals. There’s no beating the industry-leading cameras, display, power, and the brand new AI features.

For users who want the best phone experience, the S24 Ultra is a tough phone to top. The only catch is the price. For the premium features of the S24 Ultra, there’s a premium price tag, so is the latest Samsung phone worth it? For many, it will be. Here’s everything to consider with the new phone.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is available in Titanium Green, Orange, and Blue from Samsung, or Black, Violet, Yellow, and Grey. Pricing starts at $1,799 Canadian with 256 GB of storage, $1,959 for 512 GB, and $2,279 for 1 TB.

Impressive display and performance, great battery life

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra 6.8" display

Samsung’s 6.8″ flat dynamic AMOLED 2X display pops with colour and detail, and it brings everything to life. Photos and videos look sharp and bright, and it works well in bright and dark lighting conditions.

Samsung has been the leader in displays for a number of years, and the S24 Ultra easily carries that torch forward. The main change though is that, after years of rounded screen edges, I’m thrilled to see the brand embracing a perfectly flat screen. The flat display feels much more usable and it looks stylish. I’ve had issues using phones where elements are on top of the rounded edges, and they’re difficult to use, so this is a great change.

Booting up the phone, it’s instantly responsive. From pressing the power button to using the phone only took me about 17 seconds, and that included entering my pin on the lock screen.

The phone performance is nearly perfect in every way. Jumping between open apps is quick, and I was especially impressed with gaming and video editing.

Where some phones are sluggish using Adobe Premiere Rush, especially cutting clips and changing clip speeds, the S24 Ultra flies through all these tasks. This is one of my main tests on so many phones because it shows how well a phone performs with complex, power-hungry tasks, and the Galaxy S series Ultra phones generally are one of the few to perform well.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset with 12 GB of RAM work miracles on heavy tasks, and while we’ll talk more about AI in a minute, it does work to boost many things on the phone, including gaming performance.

Using the phone for a day, the battery life was very good, but it really depends on the types of apps you use. Overall, with average use, you can easily get through over 12 hours of use, if you use your phone frequently throughout the day. With light use, it will easily last much longer, and I made it through a full 24 hours.

Samsung suggests you can get up to 30 hours of video playback, 27 hours of internet usage, and much more with light usage. The 5,000 mAh battery charges up to 100% from 0% in just under 2 hours with only the USB cable, and it will charge fully in about 70 minutes using a wall charger.

Five cameras for every subject and scene

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra rear cameras

The cameras for the S24 Ultra are nearly identical to the S23 Ultra, with the 200 MP main rear camera, 12 MP ultra-wide, 50 MP 3x and 5x optical zoom, and then a 12 MP front camera.

While the S23 Ultra had a better optical zoom, Samsung has upped the telephoto camera for the S24 Ultra to a 50 MP sensor, making photos sharper, so you can crop in more, with better detail.

And while the phone offers up to a 100x digital zoom, the best results top out at about 30x zoom, as long as the lighting conditions are good. That’s still impressive, and it’s amazing seeing what you can capture–including fine details on close up objects–with the zoom.

In the best conditions, and using the main rear camera, the results are some of the best that I’ve seen on any phone. The colour depth, contrast, and sharpness are all excellent, with really nice depth of field in portrait mode, and bright results in night mode.

I also really appreciate features like Expert RAW, Pro, Pro Video, and Dual Record, not to mention Night and Panorama modes.

Video is also top-notch, shooting up to 8K/30 fps, and you can also capture at UHD/120 fps in Pro Video mode. Vloggers or anyone who wants amazing looking vacation videos will appreciate the quality of the phone, and being able to zoom in makes a big difference. Even at 10x zoom, the video quality is great, and as before, the stabilization is solid.

Build quality, design, and S Pen

The S24 Ultra has a high quality titanium frame, and combined with the Gorilla Armor glass, that improves the drop and scratch resistance, it feels like a premium device.

With the flat screen, the device does feel slightly more chunky, but I love this design choice, and it’s frankly easier to hold as well, which is a fairly big deal.

The S Pen is identical to the previous Galaxy model, and it’s still a great tool to use as a remote control, to take photos when you’re not holding the phone, and for more complex editing on the phone, like documents, photos, or something I’ll get to next, AI smart tools for images.

Samsung Galaxy AI

One of the biggest changes Samsung introduced with the S24 Ultra are all of the AI features. Many of them are simple, but there are a few big upgrades that will impress many users.

On the simpler side of things, Circle to Search means that you can use the S Pen to circle objects when you’re browsing the web, watching videos, or on social media. The Google-powered feature can help you find products, even if people are wearing them. I tried it on a person wearing a jacket, and Google found the exact jacket and where you can buy it.

A much bigger feature is Generative Edit, that basically gives you advanced tools for editing photos, and that can mean copying something from one photo to put into another photo, shrinking objects, or even removing things from your photos. The powerful tool even lets you turn people or things in photos into stickers that you can use in messages.

And there are lots more features, including how AI improves photos, but I was especially impressed by Live Translate, an offline tool that translates phone calls in real time. It means you could be an English speaker and call a Spanish speaker, and the S24 Ultra will translate for both of you. All you need to do is download the translation pack before your call.

Final thoughts

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra offers a truly impressive number of features, with quality design, power, and battery life, and it’s unmatched among Android phones. That quality comes at a premium price, but if you want the best phone, with the best cameras, that will last you more than 3 years, this is the phone for you.

My review honestly doesn’t even scratch the surface, because Samsung has been bundling a lot of features with their phones for years now, and there really is something for every user. For users who want a large screen, and all that room to watch videos, game, or take photos and edit them, the phone is a big deal.

As a creator, and someone who captures a lot of video for my travel videos on YouTube, and covering events, this is the perfect phone for me, especially with the performance and speed.

For anyone on a budget, looking for features and cameras with a cheaper price tag, it’s a good time to consider last year’s S23 Ultra, or look at some of my favourite Android devices.

All photos by W. Andrew Powell/The GATE.

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