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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review: Finally, A Magical Flagship

by Warren
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One of the reasons why people keep looking forward to a new iPhone every year is because of the ‘magical’ things that Apple announce on stage, but this time, I think Samsung finally has the better magic.

Let’s face it, the past two Samsung Ultra flagships do feel a little settled, aside from camera and performance improvements and having the S Pen from the Note series, they look the same and the upgrades don’t justify for many to upgrade from the S21 Ultra.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra may look the same as before, but it’s a whole new breed that comes with many exciting improvements a modern flagship really needs.

Galaxy S24 Ultra Video Review

New Titanium Build with Better Aesthetics

Starting off with the build and design, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is still a big device to handle but all thanks to the use of a Titanium frame, it no longer strains my hand that much when I’m using for doom scrolling and watching movies.

On the other hand, it finally dismisses the dual curved edge display that we have been seeing for several years, which some might not be happy with, but I definitely welcome the change, not just because of better durability but it also makes apps show properly as they should, and boy, this screen is even brighter than before that peak at 2600 nits.

The most powerful and efficient Galaxy flagship ever

Having used the Galaxy S24 Ultra for a week, the performance of this phone has been nothing short of impressive, it is powered by a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy chipset, paired with 12GB RAM and 256GB of storage, it is already an overkill for the basic stuff that I do but during a busy day, I’m just so happy that it no longer heats up like before all thanks to a larger vapor chamber that Samsung has equipped internally, it also games like a champ with no signs of throttling even after long durations.

Let’s not forget to mention about power efficiency, the Galaxy S24 Ultra can easily last two days on a single charge with an average 2 hour screen on time with 5G turned on, this is despite just having a 5000mAh battery that is common on midrange phones and some flagships, but such kind of power efficiency is usually only found on gaming phones, not even my iPhone 15 Pro Max comes close to this.

Galaxy AI – The Real ‘Magic’ on the Galaxy S24 Ultra

One of the biggest hypes that Samsung made on the Galaxy S24 series is Galaxy AI, which is a suite of Generative AI features that makes using the phones more enjoyable, these features are expected to arrive at older Galaxy devices with the One UI 6.1 update, but Samsung hasn’t mentioned specifically which phones will come with them or only certain features will come to older devices.

While I hadn’t took advantage of the full suite of Galaxy AI, I find the interpreter and chat translation feature to be particularly impressive as these two doesn’t require any Internet connection to work, the translation accuracy from English to Chinese and vice versa is quite on point too.

Chat Translation is integrated directly into Samsung Keyboard, which you will find a new ‘three magic star’ button that gives you three options which one of them is the feature, it works on WhatsApp and Instagram, and what’s so impressive is Samsung’s deep integration on these apps that’s got the translation shown within the chat bubble, instead of having another separate dialog popping up to show the translated text.

The Interpreter is a fun feature to use, especially if you are stranded in a foreign country without Internet connection, it can easily interpret your native language to 17 languages in a jiffy, though you will need to download the language packs when using for the first time, I tried using Singlish and Malaysian-style Chinese and it is able to understand what I want to say 90% of the time, so if you speak proper language to it, it should work really well.

Aside from that, you can also have Samsung Keyboard check your spelling and grammar whether you are in a document or e-mail, or rephrase your text into different styles, but these features will depend on Samsung’s cloud based LLM to process which you will need an active Internet connection.

Galaxy S24 Ultra Camera – The New Telephoto Camera is Exciting!

The Galaxy S24 Ultra continues to feature quad cameras on the back, the 200MP main camera from last year continues to be present but the real upgrade this time is the second telephoto camera, which now takes up to 50MP stills and 8K 30 fps videos, although its optical zoom range has been slashed to 5x from 10x.

Galaxy S24 Ultra 5x Optical Zoom vs iPhone 15 Pro Max 5x Optical Zoom

Despite the shorter optical zoom range, you really shouldn’t write off the Galaxy S24 Ultra just yet as the telephoto champ, if you look at the camera samples above that we took and compare it to the iPhone 15 Pro Max at a similar zoom range, the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s new telephoto periscope sensor blows the latter out of the water with better dynamic range and sharpness.

Galaxy S24 Ultra 10x in-sensor Zoom vs iPhone 15 Pro Max 10x Digital Zoom

Due to its higher resolution sensor, the Galaxy S24 Ultra achieves its 10x zoom by cropping into its sensor, which is the reason why that there isn’t any visible loss of detail on the shots above. In contrast, the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s telephoto camera shows visible noise and grain at 10x due to its lower 12MP sensor.

Galaxy S24 Ultra 5x Optical Zoom 8K Video

Though I doubt anyone would actually shoot 8K videos when owning the Galaxy S24 Ultra, there’s every reason to do so now that the new 50MP telephoto periscope camera can do 8K videos at 30 fps, though the bummer here is that you will have to switch to the camera before tapping the shutter button.

Here’s a snapshot I extracted from my 8K footage, which you can see how impressive it is when I used it in low lighting conditions, this is something that can only be achieved on an expensive lens on a proper mirrorless camera.

Galaxy S24 Ultra Camera Samples

Other than that, the rest of the cameras on the Galaxy S24 Ultra continues to be impressive all-round shooters that delivers superb dynamic range and details, and I’ll leave it to you guys to be the judge and let me know what you think about them in the comments below.

With Galaxy AI, the excellent performance and power efficiency, and versatile camera system, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is easily the ultimate flagship phone of the year that anyone should just buy if money is no object.

Yes, it is rather expensive with a starting retail price of RM6299, but with Samsung giving trade in rebates and discounts during the preorder and first round of sales, and considering that it will ultimately get 7 years of Android OS and security upgrades, I really don’t see how this flagship isn’t a value buy compared to the rest, all of these things are what makes the Galaxy S24 Ultra a better magical device than its competition and what we have wanted to see for a long time.

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