Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus review: smart choices

The Galaxy S24 Plus and S24 borrow a number of the greatest concepts from Apple and Google, taking a operating soar with them into the AI period.

The flat-edge design is undeniably iPhone, and the AI tech is essentially Google. The software program, for higher and worse, is all Samsung. But I wouldn’t name both telephone one of the best of all worlds. And though it’s tempting to name them higher Google telephones than the Pixel, I don’t suppose that’s all the way in which true.

The normal Galaxy S24 nonetheless begins at $799 and the Galaxy S24 Plus begins at $999 — it’s solely the Ultra that went up in worth this 12 months, to $1,299. Aside from display screen dimension, the non-Ultra fashions share many of the identical options, so I’ll discuss with them interchangeably all through this evaluation except in any other case specified.

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The hole between the common fashions and the Ultra is wider than earlier than, however the advantages of stepping as much as the Ultra don’t really feel extra compelling. Sure, you get an even bigger, higher display screen, extra zoom, and an S Pen, such as you all the time do. But loads of what makes the Ultra good are options it shares with the cheaper fashions. 

That contains the entire extremely touted Galaxy AI options, like generative photograph modifying, dwell language translation on telephone calls, and automated recording summaries. Like most issues AI proper now, they’re often nice and typically bizarre. But on the entire, they do extra good than hurt, and it’s form of cool realizing my telephone can translate a name with somebody talking Spanish if I want it to. For all of the quirks in Samsung’s software program, that’s one thing that the Pixel 8 Pro — or every other telephone, for that matter — can’t do proper now.

Big display screen or barely much less huge display screen?

Displays and design

Samsung managed to cram some further display screen into the Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus with out making the telephones meaningfully larger — the S24 Plus went from a 6.6-inch to six.7-inch panel, and the S24 has a 6.2-inch versus a 6.1-inch display screen. How did Samsung handle this? Both telephones are barely taller now, and the bezels are only a hair slimmer on the brand new fashions.

They additionally get just a bit brighter in direct daylight, as much as 2600 nits. It’s not an enormous distinction and you don’t get the wonderful glare-reduction on the S24 Ultra’s panel, which actually does make a distinction, but it surely’s one thing. Oh, and the S24 Plus’ panel is now 1440p, and it’s about time Samsung upgraded it from 1080p.

That’s a damned iPhone if I ever noticed one.
Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge

There’s one year-over-year design distinction that I’m significantly grateful for: the slight curve on the sides is gone instead of gloriously flat sides. It’s very a lot giving iPhone vibes, and I believe that’s simply nice. I discover a flat-edge telephone a lot simpler to choose up with out it flying out of my fingers, and I don’t discover it any much less comfy to carry in a single hand. 

That design language isn’t the one cue Samsung’s taking from Apple — One UI 6.1 provides wallpaper dimming for the always-on show, within the method of current Pro iPhones, although just for the S24 telephones. Better but, there are widgets! You can organize a handful of them in a bar under the clock to indicate you your telephone’s battery life or your subsequent calendar occasion at a look, hands-free. We’re in an period of telephones doing extra for you while you’re not actively utilizing them, and I’m right here for it.

The Galaxy S24 is about as small as Android flagships get.

Performance, battery, and software program

If you purchase the Galaxy S24 or S24 Plus within the US, it’ll include a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, similar to the Ultra. But not like the Ultra, fashions offered outdoors the US will hold with certainly one of Samsung’s personal Exynos chips. I examined the Snapdragon variations of the S24 and S24 Plus and actually can’t discover a fault with them, performance-wise. The S24 Plus comes with 12GB of RAM, whereas the bottom mannequin S24 (together with my evaluation unit) comes with 8GB of RAM. I didn’t discover any important variations between the 2 in day-to-day efficiency.

Now that I’ve used all three S24 sequence telephones, battery efficiency appears roughly the identical on all of them — the larger the telephone is, the extra power-hungry it’s, however the distinction is offset by an even bigger battery. On earlier generations, the smaller telephone was noticeably worse, however I believe that downside has been principally solved at this level with extra power-efficient chipsets and barely larger batteries. One factor I do want Samsung had included? Qi2. There’s no assist for the MagSafe-esque normal, and that’s a disgrace.

In this, the 12 months 2024, Samsung nonetheless ships its high-end telephones with three-button navigation because the default. I normally plan to spend a bit of further time untangling a few of Samsung’s weirder default settings each time I exploit a brand new Galaxy telephone, and the S24 units have been no exception. No, I don’t wish to speak to Bixby after I long-press the ability button. No, I don’t need my app drawer organized in a nonsensical order the place I can by no means discover something. As ordinary, placing in a bit of work upfront to de-Samsung your telephone is a fundamental requirement.

Putting in a bit of work up entrance to de-Samsung your telephone is a fundamental requirement

That’s the place I’ve a tough time calling the S24 an outright winner over the Pixel. Once you have got every thing the place you need it, the S24 is a triumph. But Samsung actually makes you’re employed for it, and Pixel telephones simply run higher software program proper out of the field. Case in level: the Pixel 8 Pro doesn’t assist widgets on the always-on show just like the S24 does, however At a Glance will floor helpful info there with out you lifting a finger. It all simply feels a bit of extra turnkey.

Samsung goes toe to toe with Google’s new coverage of supporting its flagship telephones with seven years of software program updates — OS upgrades and safety updates included. That feels extra necessary within the S24 and S24 Plus, which I think persons are extra more likely to maintain onto for longer than an Ultra proprietor who desires to chase the most recent tech. 

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus is simply full of AI.

The S24 units have the identical AI options throughout all the sequence, which is not the case on the Pixel 8 sequence — some options are reserved for the larger, pricier Pixel 8 Pro, regardless of it utilizing the exact same processor because the Pixel 8. I lined most of the S24 AI options in depth in my Galaxy S24 Ultra evaluation, so you’ll be able to test that out for an in depth take a look at voice transcription and summaries, telephone name translation, and a number of the generative AI photograph modifying options. 

The brief model is that none of those options really feel indispensable, however lots of them are genuinely useful even once they’re not excellent. Having a real-time translator on a name with somebody who speaks one other language is by no means worse than not having one. Generative AI photograph edits are actually uneven in high quality, however there’s no hurt carried out if you wish to merely dwell your life with out utilizing them. Samsung may begin charging for these options after 2025, so it’s correctly giving itself some runway to get AI off the bottom. Right now, there’s nothing value paying for.

One factor I’ll add now that I’ve been enjoying with AI on the S24 for a few weeks is that Samsung’s generative photograph editor appears far more liable to including bizarre shit into your pictures than the Pixel. I attempted erasing my husband’s arm out of the identical picture on each the Galaxy S24 and the Pixel 8 Pro. The Pixel did its greatest to only replicate the sofa within the background the place his arm was — the S24 as a substitute changed it with a brand new arm made out of pillows. Samsung! Why?

Camera and picture high quality

The modifying software program could also be radically completely different, however the digital camera {hardware} on the S24 and S24 Plus hasn’t modified from the earlier technology. You nonetheless get a 50-megapixel primary digital camera, 12-megapixel ultrawide, and an precise 3x telephoto zoom irrespective of which of those two telephone sizes you select — and that’s darn good of them. 

There are a number of processing updates below the hood, even within the absence of latest {hardware}. Low-light pictures taken at 2x zoom now use a lossless crop from the center of the sensor; on the S23 sequence, the digital camera reverted to digital zoom in dim gentle.

Samsung has additionally added foreground blur in portrait mode, which appears like a small factor, but it surely makes an enormous distinction in your pictures wanting much less like cardboard cutouts. These little tweaks construct on what was already a darn good digital camera system. Samsung’s shade processing leans exhausting into vibrant reds and blues, per ordinary, which isn’t all the time my favourite. But when it’s good, it’s good.

Samsung is definitely one step forward of Google in adopting Ultra HDR, the brand new picture format supported by Android 14. It’s the good HDR, not the dangerous stuff, and it permits your pictures to pop in a method that’s not doable with the usual dynamic vary pictures we’re used to seeing. Samsung not solely helps Ultra HDR picture seize, you can too edit your pictures and share them to Instagram with out dropping the HDR info. The Pixel 8 sequence shoots Ultra HDR, however doesn’t but assist HDR modifying in its personal Photos app or sharing to social media.

Some of one of the best components of the Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus aren’t completely unique to Samsung, and I believe that’s nice. Adopting a popular, purposeful design and leaning on Google for AI is simply smart — why reinvent the little black rectangle?

And not like flat gadget edges, AI options have rather a lot to show. The S24 is a lower-stakes technique to get in on the AI future than the $1,300 Ultra, or another extra radical concepts floating round on the market. 

Most importantly, it’s only a good, dependable telephone. The screens on each units are wonderful, and the smaller Galaxy S24 stays probably the greatest moderately small telephones you should buy proper now. If you’re a small telephone fan like me, then it’s the one to choose. 

The Galaxy S24 Plus strikes me as the final word crowd-pleaser

As far as huge Android telephones go, you actually can’t do higher than the Galaxy S24 Plus proper now when it comes to efficiency and worth. Sure, you’ll be able to go Ultra and get absolutely the most telephone, with an enormous, implausible display screen, higher zoom, and a built-in S Pen. But I believe the Ultra demographic is a bit more self-selecting, and the S24 Plus strikes me as the final word crowd-pleaser for somebody who simply desires an excellent Android telephone.

That stated, there are some good causes to think about the Pixel 8 Pro as a substitute. Its 5x telephoto has only a bit extra attain for these distant topics in comparison with the S24’s 3x zoom, and Pixel software program is much less fussy than One UI. But the Pixel’s Tensor G3 processor can run a bit hotter than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 when you push it, and Google caught with the curved edge design, for now at the least. Sometimes, the neatest transfer is to acknowledge a good suggestion and embrace it — even when another person considered it first.

Photography by Allison Johnson / The Verge

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