Last week, we had Samsung's new flagship, the Galaxy S24 Ultra, to test.
With 6.8 inches, it is a beast of a mobile phone. Add in perhaps the best mobile display on the market, raw performance, excellent cameras, and a built-in stylus, and we're dealing with a true beast of a mobile phone.
The price is probably a bit steep too: it will cost you 17,990 NOK. Is it worth it? However, you won't get many other better cell phones for the money.
Is there anything new, eh?
The DinSide colleagues I asked didn't see any difference between the S24 Ultra and S23 Ultra. Well, they look fairly similar, but Samsung has made some welcome changes.
Perhaps most importantly, the screen is now flat, instead of being curved down on each side. It may give a less distinctive character than before, but its advantages outweigh its disadvantages. Among other things, it is easier to use the stylus attached to the edges, and not least because it is easier to apply a screen protector.
The actual frame around the phone is now made of titanium, just like Apple's latest iPhone 15 Pro. Both are straighter and duller. We think it holds up better, and doesn't slip out of our hands as easily as its predecessor.
The rudest ever
Samsung has always been a leader in display technology. This year's flagship continues the path from before. Here you get nothing less than a great, fast screen for surfing the internet, watching TV, and gaming. This year, the brightness has increased even more, which is useful on sunny days.
The screen is also covered with a new type of glass called “Gorilla Armor”, which should withstand more than before and produce less reflection. Where we can reflect ourselves in the S23 Ultra, we are almost done with the S24 Ultra.
Inside the S24 Ultra is Qualcomm's latest and fastest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor. Combined with the ultra-fast 120Hz display, performance was never an issue during our testing period. A heavy battery can last for days if you don't push it too hard.
But here Samsung has to step up
Samsung offers two biometric locking methods. You can use your face or your finger — we don't like either. Often we find that neither our faces nor our fingerprints are read.
The fact that both parts are used is also a bit confusing. Facial recognition is not secure enough to be used to verify your identity for payment services and the like. Here the South Koreans simply have to “step up their game.”
Galaxy AI – Gimmick or Revolution?
Artificial Intelligence is the hottest thing on the technology front these days. Samsung does not want to be worse than its competitors, and is marketing the new S24 series as an “artificial intelligence phone.” Here, AI is integrated directly into the operating system, with the help of Google, among others.
Samsung gave us a rundown of the new AI features before we were handed the test model, and it looked promising. We were excited to see if we would get the same amount of benefit from it in practice.
Right now, we don't think there's any reason to report any revolution, but it's not necessarily just a gimmick either.
Some jobs are language related, and Norway is rarely first in the queue there. The promising new live translation function, which can translate phone conversations in real time, does not currently support Norwegian. The same applies to the function that transcribes voice messages. But it works with 13 other languages if you want to try.
Chat help is a novelty that works with Norwegian. This feature is built into the Samsung keyboard and can help you with spelling or change the tone of text based on the recipient. We liked the idea, but didn't actually use it as much as we would have liked. It's easier to write your own.
On the other hand, we love Google's new search function, “Circle to Search.” For all of you who love Google Lens, this version is practically better. Instead of having to go through a separate app, simply circle anything on your screen and your phone will search for it online.
It's both cool and useful! Finally, I also found something with which I can use Samsung's included S-Pen. Below you can see how the function correctly searches for Romsåstårnet/Røverkollen in Oslo:
Although the Galaxy AI features worked largely as promised, we still suspect that most people – creatures of habit like us – won't use this to the extent Samsung might hope. So far, none of the jobs have stood out as “game-changers.”
It is also worth noting that Samsung said that the AI functions will be free until 2025. What will happen after that is unknown.
Of course, AI creeps into the camera as well. Some are done automatically, others you can also do manually.
When you take a photo, you can use new editing features to remove reflections in windows or remove people from the background. It is also possible to mark, move or resize an object in the image. If you correct a crooked image, you can fill in the parts that are empty.
The result isn't always perfect, but it's nice to have the option – and then you don't have to download an additional app to make it happen.
Samsung already has one of the best mobile cameras in the S23 Ultra. So, many people were surprised when they chose to 'downgrade' the S24 Ultra's telephoto camera from 10x optical zoom to 5x.
True, they increased the resolution from 10 to 50 megapixels. You can still take photos at up to 10x zoom, but then Samsung calls it “optical quality.”
But is it a discount? We don't think so. We rarely take photos with a mobile phone that are too enlarged. Maybe Samsung figured out that there were many others who didn't as well? Both Google and Apple have opted for 5x optical zoom in their telephoto cameras, likely for a reason.
We also don't think the S24 Ultra takes away from its 'optical quality' – would you agree?
Samsung doesn't bring the biggest upgrades to the table, but the small changes that have been made are for the better. The Galaxy S24 Ultra is without a doubt the best Android phone you can buy, and that's entirely to be expected. But this will also be missing at this price.
We're not entirely convinced by Samsung's investments in AI. During our week of testing, we didn't find much benefit. It's a start, but don't buy these phones just for the AI.
Furthermore, Samsung has promised seven years of software and security updates with the S24 series, so these handsets will be safe to use until 2030. Android users are not well accustomed to this front, so it's really about time.
+ Very good and flexible camera
+ Very good screen quality with high brightness – the screen is now also flat
+ A functional S Pen is included and can be stored in the phone when not in use
+Sturdy titanium construction
+ Promised a good update from Samsung
– very expensive
-There is no charger in the box
– Biometric unlocking should have worked better
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