Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review: A Pricey Way to Join the AI Craze

With the press of a button, all the text messages sent between myself and my husband over the past couple of days were translated into French. I didn’t have to highlight specific words or message bubbles, nor did I have to copy and paste text between apps. Once I hit the “Chat translation” button on the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s screen, the words were translated instantly as I scrolled through our message history.

It’s one of several new features on the Galaxy S24 lineup that are part of Galaxy AI, a collection of productivity, communication and content creation tools powered by generative artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence has been the buzzword du jour in the tech world ever since ChatGPT became an overnight hit in late 2022, and it’s tempting to write off Galaxy AI as another attempt to cash in on the hype. And that may be true to some degree.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra’s new Generative Edit feature lets you move and erase objects in photos.

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Of all the Galaxy AI features, there are two that impressed me the most: language translation and Circle to Search. While apps like Google Translate have existed for years, having translation built into the keyboard and phone app makes the whole process feel more natural. 

In addition to the French example I mentioned earlier, I used Samsung’s translation features to text with a coworker who speaks Korean. As soon as she sent me a text in Korean, a prompt to translate the message to English appeared in the Messages app. I typed my response in English in a separate text box below the messaging field, and within seconds my words, translated into Korean, appeared in the message box.

Features like these could be extremely useful for anyone who travels a lot, has family members who speak a different language or that frequently work with colleagues or clients in different parts of the world. 

Circle to Search could be really useful, but it’s not yet consistently helpful.

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Another favorite feature of mine is Instant Slow-mo, which lets me preview any video in my gallery in slow motion just by pressing and holding the clip. It’s not a game-changer, but it’s fun to play around with nonetheless. My only complaint is that it’s not always easy to see how to save the clip in slow motion. You can do so by tapping the pencil icon below the video clip, but I wish there was a way to just save it directly from the preview mode. 

However, not all Galaxy AI features feel as valuable, and the writing style tool in the Messages app falls into that bucket. It essentially feels like a Samsung-customized version of Google’s Magic Compose, and it’s based on Google’s technology. The tool can rewrite text messages in a different tone, with options including professional, casual, social, polite and emojify. 

When I chose the casual option, which sounds the most like my usual tone, my husband thought the message sounded strange and unlike me. I could possibly see the polite or professional option being helpful if you’re sending a message to a work colleague, but other options like emojify and social just pepper your words with hashtags and emojis. 

The summarize option in Samsung’s Notes app has a cap at 8,000 characters, meaning it couldn’t sum up the entire 1,475-word script (which was around 8,400 characters) I had written for my Galaxy S24 Ultra video review. While I understand that most people aren’t jotting down lengthy notes on their phones, long documents like these are the ones that need summarizing the most. 

Overall, Galaxy AI seems to be off to a promising start, although its long-term usefulness will depend on where Samsung and Google take it, and whether the existing features actually resonate with people. The fine print on Samsung’s product page for the Galaxy S24 Ultra hints that it could eventually charge for such features after 2025, although the company hasn’t said how much. While I’m glad Samsung isn’t making you pay for the most expensive model to get Galaxy AI, I wish it offered a few extra Galaxy AI features specifically for the Ultra. Doing so could have made the Ultra’s high price a little easier to swallow, especially given Samsung’s emphasis on productivity and creative tools with Galaxy AI. 

The Galaxy S24’s camera has a crisper 5x zoom

Houseplants at 5x zoom.

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The Galaxy S24 Ultra also captured more detail at 5x zoom than the iPhone 15 Pro, although Apple’s photo is brighter. An image taken on Google’s Pixel 8 Pro, however, was crisper at 5x zoom than both Samsung and Apple’s.

iPhone 15 Pro Max

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Pixel 8 Pro

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The Galaxy S24 Ultra’s camera specifications are otherwise largely the same as the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s, though Samsung increased the size of the pixels, which should mean the S24 Ultra’s sensor can absorb more light.

As a result, I found that the Galaxy S24 Ultra is good at handling mixed and dim lighting environments, such as a cocktail bar or a friend’s living room. Even if the S24 Ultra’s photo wasn’t always the brightest of the bunch when compared to the S23 Ultra, iPhone 15 Pro and Google Pixel 8 Pro, it preserved a good amount of detail in these dark settings. When it comes to general image quality, the Galaxy S24 Ultra did a better job of making skin tones and colors look more natural compared to the S23 Ultra.

It’s hard to say whether the S24 Ultra is the best camera phone overall, since image quality can be subject to interpretation and depends on your preference. In my experience, each phone succeeded in their own way. 

Check out the gallery below for more photos taken on the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

My Favorite Shots From the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s Camera

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Galaxy S24 Ultra design, performance and battery life

The Galaxy S24 Ultra has a flatter screen.

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The Galaxy S24 lineup runs on a version of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor optimized for Samsung’s devices, and it felt as snappy and smooth as you’d expect of a phone at this price. Language translations, which are processed on-device rather than in the cloud, happen quickly; games like Diablo Immortal and Devil May Cry: Peak of Combat run smoothly; and scrolling around the interface feels responsive and speedy. 

Samsung is also making a big deal about the Galaxy S24’s ray-tracing capabilities, which should make shadows and reflections in games look more lifelike. Samsung cited Diablo Immortal, Racing Master, Arena Breakout and Night Crows as early examples of ray-tracing-optimized games. I didn’t see much of a difference when playing Arena Breakout on the Galaxy S24 Ultra alongside the Google Pixel 8 Pro, which does not support ray tracing. I’m not sure if Diablo Immortal has been updated to take advantage of the S24 Ultra’s ray tracing yet, but I noticed a difference regardless. Shadowy areas had more definition and contrast on the S24 Ultra compared to the Pixel 8 Pro, which made the game look a bit hazy by comparison.

Samsung’s Galaxy S24 Ultra Now Has a Titanium Design

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The Galaxy S24 Ultra beat last year’s Galaxy S23 Ultra and Pixel 8 Pro, the latter of which runs on Google Tensor G3 processor, in benchmarks I ran that measure general computing and graphics performance. But the OnePlus 12 surpassed the S24 Ultra on 3DMark Wild Life Extreme, the graphics-oriented benchmark, while the iPhone 15 Pro Max beat Samsung’s new phone in general computing benchmarks (but not 3DMark).

Galaxy S24 Ultra Geekbench 6

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