January’s Samsung Unpacked 2024 event saw the latest generation of Galaxy smartphones revealed. As always, the Ultra is the productivity-minded and photography-focused flagship, and this year’s model has seen some substantial updates on the materials front. But what about where spec sheets are concerned? Is there anything meaningfully new when it comes to the Galaxy S24 Ultra vs S23 Ultra?
After getting an early look at the new handset ahead of the event, I’ve listed exactly what’s the same as last year – and what has changed for the better. If you’re thinking about an upgrade (or a swap from another brand), read on:
Design & display: Round, flat, and clad in titanium
The Galaxy S24 Ultra hasn’t massively shifted from the design of its predecessor, but there are a few notable differences. For starters, it distinguishes itself from its Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus siblings by retaining its rounded edges, and it’s moved on from the S23 Ultra with a flat rear and front, along with a slightly thinner build overall.
It’s also rocking a more premium, durable titanium frame for an added touch of luxury, along with Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on the rear. It further edges out ahead from the rest of the Galaxy S24 range with Gorilla Armor glass on the front, for additional longevity and higher resistance to drops and scratches. In terms of finishes, the Galaxy S24 Ultra will be available in Titanium Gray, Black, Violet, and Yellow.
On the business end, it’s rocking a 6.8in QHD+ AMOLED display, which is now perfectly flat (compared to the rounded screen of the S23 Ultra), with a 3200 x 1440 resolution. It’s got LTPO tech too, which means adaptive refresh rates ranging from 1-120Hz, for improved efficiency and power saving shenanigans. 2600 nits of brightness should be a noticeable improvement over the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 1750 nits peak brightness.
Performance & battery: Oh Snap(dragon)
Unlike the Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus, the Galaxy S24 Ultra will be launching globally with a special ‘For Galaxy’ variant of Qualcomm’s formidable Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, which is around 30% faster than the Gen 2 variant found in the Galaxy S23 Ultra. I’ll have to wait for my full review to pass judgement on the S24 Ultra’s performance, but something will have had to go seriously wrong for it not to outperform last year’s model.
Qualcomm’s snappy silicon is paired with 12GB RAM and 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of storage. Those capacities capacities match that of the S23 Ultra, but this time round there’s no 8GB option, all in the name of progress.
On the software front, Samsung has introduced various AI features which I’ve yet to properly put through their paces. They include things like Circle to Search, which is a feature that lets you circle any onscreen object to fire up a web search for it, along with AI-accelerated speech recognition for impressive transcription accuracy.
The battery capacity remains the same at 5000mAh, which remains a respectable figure. I’m a little disappointed, however, at the 45W/15W wired/wireless charging, which hasn’t evolved. Those aren’t shoddy charging speeds, but with plenty of other manufacturers blazing ahead with 65W-100W+ speeds, I’d have liked to have seen more of an evolution on this front.
Cameras: Zoom zoom
If you’ve read my Galaxy S24 vs Galaxy S23 comparison, you’ll have noticed that the camera hardware for the S24 and S24 Plus haven’t changed since the S22 era. When it comes to the Galaxy S24 Ultra, the story is almost the same, except there’s an improvement in the zoom department, which I’ll cover in a sec. But first, the main overview:
The Galaxy S24 Ultra, like the S23 Ultra, has a quad-cam setup, consisting of a 200MP main snapper, 10MP telephoto, and 12MP ultrawide. The bit that’s changed, is that there’s now a 50MP periscope telephoto lens, as opposed to last year’s 10MP offering. This unlocks 5x optical zoom, which Samsung states is good for 10x lossless zoom thanks to the wonders of cropping and algorithms. There’s also better low-light optical image stabilisation on the cards, along with a smattering of AI-powered tricks.
The latter seems to revolve mostly around generative fill, which is a trick I’ve seen on the latest Google Pixel phones. One example of this is object removal, and you can even replace things too. If there’s a coffee cup ruining a shot, for example, you can remove it entirely or replace it with a more attractive candle — all directly on the handset itself.
I can’t dish out a final verdict until I’ve thoroughly tested out the Galaxy S24 Ultra, but on paper, it seems to offer a few improvements. Some are more impactful than others.
The more minimalist design change won’t blow you away, but it’s no bad thing. I’m more impressed by the titanium materials and reportedly tougher screen, along with the improvements in the peak brightness and periscope telephoto zoom lens. The AI extras sound interesting, but I’ll have to reserve judgement until after further testing.
For now, I’d say that there’s no massively compelling reason to force an upgrade if you’re an existing Galaxy S23 Ultra owner, but you’ll have to wait till a review for the final word. Stay tuned.