Samsung Galaxy S24 Review: Compact powerhouse with a sprinkle of AI

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Hands-on Review: Compact powerhouse with a sprinkle of AI

Samsung Galaxy S24 Intro


Looking for a good compact phone? Samsung is one of the few companies that make a compact phone, and not just any compact phone: a flagship grade one.

Enter the Galaxy S24! It combines a compact size with an improved design, it has faster performance, improved cameras, and a sprinkle of magical "Galaxy AI" all around.

"Compact" here is a relative term: at 6.2 inches, the Galaxy S24 is not quite as small as mini phones of the recent past, but in 2024 when most phones come with giant 6.7-inch+ screens, it fits the bill.

So let's take a look at all the new features and see why the Galaxy S24 could well be the best compact phone of the year.

Get a Galaxy S24 or S24+ at Samsung.com at up to $540 off

You can now order either a Galaxy S24 or a Galaxy S24+ model at the official store. The pre-order campaign is over, but you can still claim up to $540 in savings on either model with a suitable trade-in.
$899 98
$1979 98
Buy at Samsung

Galaxy S24: get at Best Buy and receive a gift card!

You can also order your new Galaxy S24 at Best Buy. Right now, the phone sells alongside a sweet $50 Gift card, and extra savings are available with a trade-in.

Get a Galaxy S24+ at Best Buy and receive a $100 gift card

Best Buy has a tempting offer on the Jumbo version of the Galaxy S24 as well. You can now order a new Galaxy S24+ at the merchant, and you'll receive an awesome $100 Gift card. Extra savings can be unlocked with a trade-in.

What’s new about the Galaxy S24

  • Evolved design with flat sides
  • Slimmer screen borders, uniform bezel
  • Compact 6.2" size
  • Fast Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor (in the US)
  • But still only 8GB of RAM
  • New "Galaxy AI" features
  • Same triple camera hardware, but new camera processing
  • Slightly bigger, 4000mAh battery
  • Unchanged charging speeds
  • $800 starting price

Table of Contents:

Galaxy S24 Specs

Same price, lots of smaller refinements

First, let's take a look at the Galaxy S24 specs:


Galaxy S24 Design & Colors

Flat sides and thinner, perfectly uniform bezels!


The Galaxy S24 keeps the look that Samsung phones are known for, with the three separate camera lenses on the back, but there are some improvements.

First of all, the sides of the phone are now flat, just like on recent iPhones. Phones with flat sides are becoming the new norm and among some of their advantages is that it's just easier to grab the device from a table.

The Galaxy S24 size is extremely similar to the previous model, so still quite small, even if not "mini" sized. 

As for materials, you have a tougher new Armor Aluminum frame and we like that the sides have a matte finish now, so they don't attract fingerprints. Look closer and you'd also notice how the connection between the rear panel and the frame is practically seamless, which is nice.

Up front, borders around the screen are a bit smaller for a more immersive look.

The rest is the same as before: IP68 rating, USB-C port on the bottom, and power and volume keys on the right hand side. The phone feels pretty durable with this new design, but in case you are looking we have a round-up of the best Galaxy S24 cases.

Here are the official Galaxy S24 colors:
  • Marble Gray
  • Cobalt Violet
  • Onyx Black
  • Amber Yellow

Which one is your favorite?

Galaxy S24 Display

A bright and beautiful screen, but unfortunately it does not get the reflection-killing technology of the S24 Ultra


The Galaxy S24 is also getting a slightly bigger 6.17-inch screen this year, and this screen can get super bright too. It can reach 2,600 nits of peak brightness, a big improvement from the 1,750 nits of the previous model, and this makes using the phone outdoors much easier.

Also, for the first time on the vanilla model you now have 1Hz-120Hz refresh rate, a feature previously exclusive to the Ultra model. With a 1Hz refresh rate for static content, the phone is more frugal and its battery can last a bit longer.

Display Measurements:


 
Borders around the screen have gotten slimmer too for a more immersive look.

The resolution remains 1080p, but we don't really mind. That is already sharp enough for the vast majority of people.

As for biometrics, you have an ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint reader, and this time Samsung uses a newer and faster sensor. It's not a massive change, but it is noticeable and considering that you unlock your phone dozens of times each day, we found this one of the more profound improvements in the Galaxy S24.

Galaxy S24 Camera

Same camera hardware, but big changes to the way images look


With three lenses on the back, the Galaxy S24 camera looks pretty much unchanged.

And the hardware is indeed the same. Samsung is using the same main camera sensor for a third year in a row, and there are no changes to the ultra-wide and 3X zoom cameras either.

Yet still, photos and videos from the S24 camera look noticeably different. It all starts with the viewfinder which now gets HDR preview, so you can see exactly how the photo will look when you take it (that was not the case on the S23 series).


Samsung is also bringing a new look to images. Photos get rid of the horrific oversharpening we had on previous generations and colors are a bit more toned down and more balanced. The tonality is still a bit on the warmer side, but it's a massive improvement.

And this is true for all cameras: the wide, the ultra-wide and even zoomed in photos benefit. Photos now have a much more natural look and we have got to say we love that. This might just be the biggest upgrade for the Samsung camera in years, despite the phone not having new camera hardware.

You also have a few new AI photo editing features (hiding behind the blue icon with the three stars):
  • erase shadows and reflections
  • erase a whole object
  • move and resize an object in a photo.


In the above example, you can see that the phone does a good job for reliatively simple edits, but if you have busier backgrounds or a more complex selection, it struggles.
 
The move and resize feature in particular I found to be both impressive and also the one I was least likely to use, because of the hit-or-miss results (reality is tough to change!).

Video Quality


Video Thumbnail

Video is also improved. One cool new feature is Instant Slow-mo. Just long press a video and that particular moment will slow down and AI will generate the missing frames, so you can replay that one special moment in smooth slow motion.

And if you are worried about all of this trickery, it's good to know that a label is added to the metadata to all AI-augmented images and videos.

Galaxy S24 Performance & Benchmarks

First phone to take AI seriously


The Galaxy S24 runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset in the United States, but other markets get a version powered by a Samsung Exynos 2400 chipset.

Performance indeed gets a nice boost with these new chips, but Samsung seems to be focusing just as much the "Galaxy AI" element of performance rather than raw speed.

Performance Benchmarks:


Geekbench 6 SingleHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy S242119
Samsung Galaxy S232023
Apple iPhone 15 Pro2920
Google Pixel 81630
Geekbench 6 MultiHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy S246820
Samsung Galaxy S235180
Apple iPhone 15 Pro7447
Google Pixel 84302
3DMark Extreme(High)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S244246
Samsung Galaxy S233807
Apple iPhone 15 Pro3628
Google Pixel 82417
3DMark Extreme(Low)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S242588
Samsung Galaxy S232079
Apple iPhone 15 Pro2801
Google Pixel 81669

We have the Exynos version for this review and while running the GeekBench 6 CPU-focused benchmark, we saw a big improvement in multi-core speeds.

Gaming performance is improved even more falling only very slightly short of the industry leading iPhone 15 Pro.

In pure specs, the Galaxy S24 comes with 8GB of RAM on board, less than the 12GB in the larger models. That is a bit of a letdown as less RAM means apps in the background will have to reload more often and multitasking might not be as smooth for power users.

You have two available configurations:
  • 8/128GB base model for $800
  • 8/256GB option for $900

Those who order early would benefit from a free storage upgrade, so that's nice.

Galaxy S24 Software



The Galaxy S24 arrives with Android 14 and Samsung's latest One UI 6.1 on top of that.

The new One UI 6.1 has the same visuals as the 6.0 version, but adds a few new AI-powered features.

The native Phone app now supports real-time translation of phone calls within, supporting 13 languages at start. It uses on-device AI, so that your privacy is protected, and you also get voice and text translation built in.

The Samsung keyboard also gets augmented with a feature called Chat Assist where with a press of a button, you can translate messages. You will also see suggestions for tweaking the tone of your messages, and the Galaxy will suggest emojis to enhance the tone of your message.

When using Android Auto, Galaxy AI summarizes your messages so you can know what's up with just a glance, and it will suggest quick replies too.

For meetings with multiple people or when just recording your thoughts via voice, Transcript Assist will give you a summary and even translations if needed.

One other cool new feature is Circle to Search with Google, which makes its debut on the Galaxy S24. Just long press the home button at any time and circle anything on any screen (for example a cool landmark) to search for it.

Finally, Samsung promises an impressive SEVEN years of OS upgrades and security patches for the Galaxy S24. This is the first Galaxy to get such long software support (the S23 series only supported 4 years of OS upgrades), which is great news.

Galaxy S24 Battery

Slightly bigger battery size, but no change in charging speeds


The Galaxy S24 battery gets a slightly bigger 4,000mAh battery, up from 3,900mAh on the last year's model. This is just 2.5% bigger, so don't expect big changes to battery life.

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:


Web Browsing(hours)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S2416h 18 min
Samsung Galaxy S2315h 21 min
Apple iPhone 15 Pro14h 54 min
Google Pixel 815h 39 min
Video Streaming(hours)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S248h 20 min
Samsung Galaxy S238h 6 min
Apple iPhone 15 Pro6h 54 min
Google Pixel 89h 36 min
3D Gaming(hours)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S245h 28 min
Samsung Galaxy S236h 7 min
Apple iPhone 15 Pro8h 51 min
Google Pixel 86h 33 min

We perform three separate battery tests here at PhoneArena, and the Galaxy S24 scores a slight improvement on our web browsing test. For this test, we run a script which loads up the same set of webpages and scrolls around.

Next up, we have our YouTube video playback test and the score here has barely changed compared to last year's model. And finally, we have our 3D gaming test where we even scored a tiny bit of a regression. So overall, battery life is for what it's worth roughly the same, compared to last year's version.

Charging speeds have also remained unchanged.

PhoneArena Charging Test Results:


Charge%reached in 15 minsHigher is betterCharge%reached in 30 minsHigher is betterCharging time(hours)Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy S2427
56
1h 12 min
Samsung Galaxy S2328
58
1h 8 min
Apple iPhone 15 Pro30
53
1h 42 min
Google Pixel 830
55
1h 24 min

For years, Galaxy phones have used 25W charging via a wire, and roughly 15W wireless charging speeds, and that's exactly what we have on the S24.

Galaxy S24 Audio Quality and Haptics



Samsung tweaks the speakers on its phones ever so slightly every year, and the Galaxy S24 is not a huge leap forward when it comes to loudspeaker quality.

It gets decently loud (but not nearly as loud as bigger phones) and it does well when you play music with very little bass. The lower frequencies are definitely not handled well here and while that is the case on most phones, you do get a bit more bass on rivals like iPhones. For talking head videos, however, the Galaxy does a great job.

There don't seem to be any changes to the vibration motor. You get a nice and pleasant vibration feedback when typing, but this is not quite as refined a haptic feedback as on devices like the OnePlus 12 and the latest iPhones which seem to be in a different league.

Galaxy S24 Competitors


Good news is the Galaxy S24 price is not going up. The base 8/128GB model costs $800, and there are some great Galaxy S24 deals around too.

If you are looking at the Galaxy S24, chances are you want a compact phone. This means, you basically have only two good alternatives: Google's vanilla Pixel 8 model, and the Apple iPhone 15 Pro.

Here is briefly how these two phones compare to the new Galaxy S24


Learn more here:

Galaxy S24 Summary and Final Verdict



The Galaxy S24 is clearly not a huge upgrade and its most advertized new features - Galaxy AI - is coming to older Galaxy models via a software update soon.

But there are new features to be excited about. We prefer the new design, we like the faster fingerprint scanner, we can appreciate the changes in image quality this year, and the aforementioned AI is really cool. The Galaxy also now has a better screen and we love that it gets both bright and dim at night, so it's easier on the eyes.

If we had one wish, that would be for Samsung to bring the reflection-free screen from the S24 Ultra to this smaller model.

But overall, the improvements made here are welcome. Galaxy S23 owners certainly should not see much of a rush to upgrade, but those coming from older models will appreciate the novelty in the Galaxy S24 and its unchanged $800 price tag.

Pros

  • Refreshed design
  • Faster fingerprint reader
  • Improved image quality
  • Seven years of software updates
  • Some useful AI features

Cons

  • Samsung software still not as smooth as others
  • Charging speeds unchanged
  • Some not so useful AI features

PhoneArena Rating:

7.4

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