REVIEW: The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is a very nice upgrade, but needs even more AI.

    Samsung is now up to the 24th generation of their Galaxy devices. The latest flagship, the S24 Ultra takes what was already a great device and iterates on it to showcase what is possible with the latest hardware innovations. When I think about what I want from a phone in 2024, this has everything you could ask for and some.

    To set expectations, this is an exercise in iteration, rather than revolution, but that’s because revolution isn’t required here. Our modern smartphones, particularly the best in the lineup, aren’t broken, so it’s not surprising that Samsung isn’t throwing out everything and starting over.

    Samsung has tweaked the design of the S24 lineup, upgrading the internals and delivering some new software changes to take advantage of what’s new in the hope that all adds up to a reason to make you upgrade.

    As with previous generations, Samsung’s Galaxy lineup features three devices, the S24, the S24+ and the flagship, the S24 Ultra. The top model (reviewed) comes with an expected premium price tag but can be justified by your level of smartphone addiction.

    While the biggest and best camera gets a lot of airtime, it’s actually far from the most interesting feature of the S24 Ultra, it’s impressive, but the AI is where things get interesting.


    Samsung’s designers have chosen to make the S24 Ultra less curvy, moving to a more angular corner, flatter sides and a squared-off profile which I actually really like. We’re holding slabs of glass in our hands and in almost every other context, the glass in lives is in rectangles, making the surrounding chassis curved just shows that you put in extra work, but to what end.. the apps we run on our phones are.. you guessed it, rectangles.

    This reminds me a lot of the rectangular Windows Phones we had many years ago and coming from a Pixel 7 pro with curved edges, it is a stark contrast, even if we do still star endlessly into a black slate of glass.

    I do find it interesting to contrast what’s happening in hardware design, with what’s happening on the web. I feel like the design trend has swung away from hard, sharp edges on UI elements, back to softer curves. The two don’t have to perfectly align, although it does look a little strange when you visit a website with corner-radius: 20px on a phone where corner-radius:2px;

    Overall, I like the styling changes made on the S24 Ultra, particularly the efficient use of the bottom of the device for all of the ports. The bottom of the phone houses the S-pen, the SIM card slot, a microSD card slot and the USB-C charging port. This means the sides and top are only interrupted by the volume rocker and power button.


    Samsung’s AMOLED display technology remains second to none, the 6.8″ screen is stunning, running a resolution of 3120 x 1440 (Quad HD+), boasting incredible brightness, punchy colours, and a buttery-smooth 120Hz refresh rate. This makes for a great experience across every task, reading emails, browsing the web, doomscrolling social media, watching videos or playing games.

    Powering those experiences is Qualcomm’s best mobile processor, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy powers the S24 Ultra, offering snappy performance even during demanding tasks. From gaming to video editing, I always found the phone snappy and that feeling of performance can be one of the biggest motivators to upgrade if your phone is 2,3 or 4 years old.

    Gone are days of needing to choose from the best smartphone or the one with a stylus (Note), instead, Samsung integrates the S Pen integrated into the body and it now can go in either way, so won’t get stuck. While I never thought I’d like using the stylus, the new circle to search feature works great when using the stylus.

    While it is possible to use this feature with just your finger, the stylus allows so much more precision and when you move past the demos, the reality is, that your photos contain multiple objects and you’ll likely only want search results for one.

    What was first delivered as a feature to the S24 Ultra, is now rolling out to other Android devices and this week, I got it on the Pixel 7 Pro. This doesn’t change the feature, it’s still great, but its not something unique to the S24 Ultra anymore.


    Samsung upgraded the cameras, as they do every year and with the S24 Ultra, you get no less than a 200MP wide-angle camera, flanked by a 50MP/10MP Quad Telephoto camera and 12MP Ultrawide. The front offers a 12MP camera for great selfie quality.

    The flagship offers up to 5x Optical, but as much as 100x digital zoom. When using the phone, you can zoom in a very long way, but to be honest, anything over 30x is a real compromise in visual quality and you’re unlikely to want to use it often for that reason.

    Overall, the updated camera array on the Galaxy S24 Ultra is fantastic, with resulting images and video appearing gorgeous in resolution (avoid digital zoom), colour and more. I will encourage you to spend time considering if you really do need the 200MP quality because that generates massive file sizes. If you do, then consider the largest storage option – 1TB as you’ll be likely to fill the 256GB in no time.

    As important moments happen in our lives, we all hope to capture them in great detail to form long-lasting memories of the people and places in our lives. Having great camera in your pocket, wherever you go, is the best technique to ensure your photo gallery of the future is as good as it can be.

    If great photography is at the top of you priority list for a phone, then the S24 Ultra will certainly satisfy that need, delivering the best photos I’ve seen from a device today.


    The S24 Ultra shines when it comes to performance. Whenever you move to a new phone it can feel faster because you haven’t installed a plethora of applications, software updates and more, over several months and years.

    Throughout the review period, I attempted to install and use the phone as a daily driver and never once, did I see any evidence of slowdowns. For every single task I threw at it, the combined, CPU, NPU, RAM and fast storage were easily able to accommodate it. This combination of processing technology, combined with Samsung’s software optimizations, makes for a fluid experience, no matter if you’re browsing, gaming, or switching between apps.

    One of my favourite challenges for a new phone is a side-by-side test with my old phone and the new phone, running the exact same workload. My go-to test for this is not a synthetic benchmark, but rather a real-life example of launching Pokemon Go.

    Compared to my Pixel 7 Pro (last year’s flagship from Google), the Samsung S24 Ultra managed a launch time that was more than 5 seconds faster. I feel this is a great test that showcases how significantly things have changed with the internals. The faster the device is to load applications and games, the more times you’ll use the phone and extract more value from it.

    Battery Life

    Thanks to a 5,000 mAh battery, Samsung says you’ll get around 30 hours of video playback and 90 hours of audio playback. In reality, nobody uses a device like this and our usage patterns change daily.

    Ultimately it boils down to this, a slight bump in battery capacity and the more efficient Snapdragon chip have led to noticeably better battery life. General users should expect to comfortably make it through a full day of heavy use and potentially even stretch into a second day with lighter usage.

    Price and Availability (in Australia)

    Samsung’s S24 Ultra is available now from all your normal electronics and mobile retailers, along with direct online sales.

    It is important to monitor the deals and discounts on offer with this device as there’s been quite a few offers for trade-ins and bonuses with the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.

    • Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra – 256GB | 12GB – A$2,199.00
    • Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra – 512GB | 12GB – A$2,399.00
    • Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra – 1TB model – A$2,799.00.

    While these numbers are high, the trade-in offers can reduce the price by hundreds of dollars, making the upgrade more approachable for many.

    If the Ultra is out of your price range, the good news is you can get the vast majority of these features in the S24+ for A$1,699.00 for the 256GB | 12GB model.

    For those on an even tighter budget, you will need to make some compromises and go for the S24 starting at A$1,399.00 for the 256GB | 8GB model.

    Issues and Opportunities

    The central question potential buyers will grapple with is whether the minimal changes are worth the high cost. Samsung’s updates with the S24 are commendable, but there are still some opportunities to make the S25 even better.

    Samsung should skip the physical SIM slot and lead the move to a dual-eSim future to allow customers looking for separate work and home lives to achieve that.

    Samsung’s dedicated Bixby button could definitely be better applied to the launch of an AI agent in 2024. Users should be able to select from OpenAI ChatGPT, Microsoft CoPilot, Google Gemini or others. Either that or Samsung really need to upgrade Bixby in a big way.


    There’s no doubt the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is a fantastic phone and while it is more refinement than revolution, those who are still using a 2-3-year-old phone will notice a significant upgrade to performance, display camera quality and battery life.

    To continue to win market share from competitors, Samsung should really invest heavily in AI, building on the native Android features delivered by Google. Being productive and creative with generative AI is great when generating wallpapers, but users will rapidly expect their phones to generate much more and automate more of their personal and professional lives.

    If you’re looking for a flagship smartphone and have the budget to match that ambition, you should definitely take a very close look at the S24 Ultra, it’s likely to fulfil your needs and some. Unfortunately, you’ll still likely wrap the design in a case to protect your investment.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021


    1. The slot on the bottom isn’t for a MicroSD card – there is no MicroSD card slot, and that is the speaker. Just found that out the hard way after buying it – disappointing that they don’t let us upgrade the storage space.

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