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Samsung Galaxy A55 review: mid tier has never looked so high end
10:43 am | May 28, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Phones Samsung Galaxy Phones Samsung Phones | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Samsung Galaxy A55 5G: Two-minute review

If you’re shopping for a mid-range phone in 2024, there’s a lot of box-ticking happening in this category. Thankfully, Samsung is a pretty sure-fire bet in this space and its latest release, the Galaxy A55, is another strong contender to become one of the best cheap phones you can get. Like its predecessor, it’s a mid-tier phone with a design that arguably looks and feels as good as its flagship counterpart.

It might not possess all the high-end components and cutting-edge features of the Galaxy S range, but straight out of the box, the Galaxy A55 looks and feels like a premium smartphone – all while costing less than half the handsets that sit atop our list of the best Samsung phones. And while it might be slightly sacrilegious, I think it's even more attractive than the Samsung Galaxy S24. 

The A55 has kept the elegantly smooth and clean design of its predecessor, including the shiny back glass that was a major improvement over the Samsung Galaxy A53. However, what sets the A55 apart from both the Galaxy A54 and other mid-tier phones, and what makes it feel like a premium device, is that it’s completely ditched plastic in favor of a new and strikingly classy metal build. 

Samsung Galaxy A55 on desk

(Image credit: TechRadar/ Max Delaney)

Upgrading the already impressive 6.4-inch display in the A54 to 6.6-inches, you could assume the size increase would make the A55 harder to hold than its predecessor. Don't immediately rule out the A55, however: while I admittedly have big hands and had no issue using the Galaxy A54, I found the A55’s aluminum frame even easier to grip. As a happy side effect, this ensures its bigger Super AMOLED display isn't tarnished by having to put your grubby fingerprints all over it to comfortably hold it.

That's about where the big talking points end. The Galaxy A55 won't leave you disappointed in the photography department, keeping the same 50MP main, 12MP ultra-wide and 5MP macro camera trio that we loved in our Samsung Galaxy A54 review. The photos and videos are detailed, the app is snappy, the autofocus is quick and it does indeed perform well in low-light areas, even if it takes a bit of a learning curve to get the best results. The only real flaw I found was that the photos taken in bright sunshine tended to be overexposed, resulting in a hazy, unsaturated image. 

Despite retaining the same 5,000mAH battery as its predecessor, the Galaxy A55 easily saw me through more than seven hours of screen time during my testing – that’s regular use like social media, YouTube, some light gaming and sitting on the home screen while I stare into the abyss – and that’s thanks to its new Exynos 1480 chipset. It's unlikely to see you through the two-day battery life that Samsung boasts about, but it will last long enough for most users. While I loved the battery life, it's charging was slower than I'd have liked, and it didn't have the convenience of wireless charging to make up for it.

Samsung Galaxy A55 rear glass on natural background

(Image credit: Future/ Max Delaney)

This also isn't the phone for the more intense or passionate mobile gamer, but it can still handle relatively demanding titles (like 3D online shooters) with medium graphics settings. 

These few sacrifices, though, are what make the Galaxy A55 a great budget smartphone – a speedier chipset than before, a bigger display and a premium design at an affordable price tag that matches the launch price of the A54 in some markets.

Samsung Galaxy A55 review: Price and availability

  • Launch price from £439 / AU$699
  • Released March 20 in the UK and March 25 in Australia; unavailable in the US at the time of writing
  • Available in two storage options and four colorways

While it was released across the globe in March 2024, the Galaxy A55 is unavailable in the United States as Samsung places a larger focus on the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE and the even more budget-friendly Samsung Galaxy A35 5G in that market.

In other markets like the UK and Australia, the A55 is available in two storage options –  128GB and 256GB – both with only 8GB of RAM (there is a model with 12GB RAM that seems to be listed only for availability in India). However, the Samsung Galaxy A55 5G provides the rare feature of up to 1TB of additional storage via a microSD card.

In a change to what we see across a span of products, Aussies actually get quite the deal in comparison to their UK brethren, as £439 directly converts to over AU$800. So while we think the Australian price is very fair, UK customers aren't getting the same deal. It's not all bad, though, as the UK price is actually cheaper than the launch price of the Galaxy A54's two £449 and £499 models last year, and the 6GB RAM option is no more.

  • Value Score: 4/5

Samsung Galaxy A55 review: Specs

Samsung Galaxy A55 on desk

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)

There's a few considerable changes from the Galaxy A54, including improved glass durability, a larger display and greater size generally. Here's a quick breakdown of the Samsung Galaxy A55's specs.

Samsung Galaxy A55 review: Design

Samsung Galaxy A55

(Image credit: TechRadar/Max Delaney)
  • Aluminum build
  • IP67 rating means it can handle a splash
  • Fingerprint sensitive
  • Bigger and heavier than it predecessor

With no plastic in its build, Samsung has continued its lean towards sustainability by opting to use aluminum for the Galaxy A55’s chassis, giving it a premium-looking, exceptionally classy and functional metal build. When combined with its stylish back glass, it amounts to a supremely elegant design that brings the handset physically more in line with Samsung's Galaxy S series. 

It's not beauty over function, though, as the upgraded Corning Gorilla Glass Victus Plus – the toughest yet – adds even more durability to its front and back than what we saw in the A54, and the pretty aluminum build increases sturdiness while making it easier to grip. During my testing period, it's strong build and IP67 rating had no problems handling the trials of everyday life – in and out of bags, a few small drops onto a carpeted floor and some water-laden situations when listening to podcasts while in the shower – the A55 is almost as durable as it is beautiful.

Samsung Galaxy A55 showcasing fingerprint smudges on its rear glass

(Image credit: TechRadar/Max Delaney)

Unfortunately, that big sleek, glossy back glass isn’t without drawbacks, as I found out as soon as I picked up my Navy Galaxy A55, which was anything but ‘Awesome’ in this respect. It picks up smudges as easily as my niece picks up germs from preschool. Even leaving some room for the possibility that I have an above-average knack for smudges, the phone is extremely smudge sensitive. However, it's safe to assume fingerprint marks on the lilac, lemon and ice blue models will be less visible.

It's also probably worth mentioning that the A55 doesn't lie evenly on its back due to its floating camera design – and placing it face down just put the abundance of fingerprint smudges on display. This little niggle is not exclusive to the Galaxy A55, but I did find it bothersome.

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Samsung Galaxy A55's rear outdoors

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
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Samsung Galaxy A55

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
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Samsung Galaxy A55

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)

While UK customers will have access to the full gamut of colorways, a design factor that the Galaxy A55 5G has retained from its predecessor, Australian customers only get two colors. Last year it was Awesome Violet and Awesome Graphite, and now in 2024 it's Awesome Lilac and Awesome Navy. Apparently Aussies only like near-black shades and variants of purple. The UK has a little more room for taste, with Awesome IceBlue and Awesome Lemon added into the fold.

  • Design Score: 4.5/5

Samsung Galaxy A55 review: Display

Samsung Galaxy A55 display

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
  • Bigger display than the Galaxy A54 (6.6-inches)
  • 1000-nit peak brightness
  • 120Hz variable refresh rate
  • Protected with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+

It would be unreasonable to expect immense display upgrades with such heavy improvements to the A55's design, but there are a few slight improvements from the A54 that make a definitive difference. Most notably being a slight increase in size, moving up to 6.6 inches from the A54's 6.4 inches. Otherwise, you'll get the same 1080 x 2340 resolution Super AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, HDR 10 support and the same 19:5.9 aspect ratio. 

While Samsung makes a clear point of saying the A55 peaks at 1000 nits, and did not say that the A54 did, our time with both shows that the difference, if any at all, is negligible. In comparison to the Google Pixel 8a's 2000-nit maximum, let alone something like the OnePlus 12 that boasts an insane 4500 nits, the A55's output can't be considered much more than a pass mark.

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Galaxy A55 display reflecting the sky

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
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Galaxy A55 display

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
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Samsung Galaxy A55 display playing PUBG Mobile

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)

The Samsung Galaxy A55 5G has a wonderful display that makes swiping through socials, watching videos and playing games an absolute blast. Heck, I could almost taste LeBron James' wine while watching the Mind the Game podcast. With a passable peak brightness you'll be able to enjoy its beauty even in direct sunlight and its minimum brightness is more than comfortable laying in bed. The A55's display is vibrant, detailed and strong, so while there might be better displays on more expensive phones, I have very few complaints.

One thing I did like about the A55's display was the built-in fingerprint sensor. While it's not the snappiest I've experienced, it was accurate and faster than typing in a passcode or pattern. Even if it's a bit slow for your taste, the payoff of the A55's flawlessly clean design – with no fingerprint sensor or button below the screen or on the back glass – is well worth it. However, I was unimpressed with the A55's facial recognition, too often finding myself swiping to unlock before it was ready, despite my face being unobstructed. 

  • Display Score: 4/5

Samsung Galaxy A55 review: Software

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Samsung Galaxy A55 software

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
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Galaxy A55 homepage, app library and control panel

Galaxy A55 homepage, app library and control panel (Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
  • Android 14 w/ One UI 6.1
  • Four years of OS updates
  • Knox Vault and Seamless Updates

If you were expecting the Galaxy A55’s software to mimic that of the Galaxy S24, you've set yourself up for disappointment. This is a mid-tier phone that costs a lot less than the S24, so expecting mass upgrades from the A54's output would be unfair. That said, the OS is far from bad, it's just a minimal update to that of the A54, running on the Android 14-based One UI 6.1.

Despite reported issues for older phones and rumored impact on charging speed from the One UI 6.1 update, the Galaxy A55 runs very smoothly, and will be familiar to those with some Samsung experience. While it doesn't have the Galaxy AI functionality of the S line, and only four major upcoming OS updates to the latter’s seven, One UI 6.1 is a perfectly fine operating system that works seamlessly within the A55.

One positive feature worth noting – a very happy introduction that comes years after Google launched a similar function with the first Google Pixel – is the introduction of a new era of update functionality for Samsung devices. 'Seamless Updates' adds the ability to download system updates in the background, and the A55 is the first Samsung phone to feature it as part of the brand's March 2024 security patch.

Shutting your phone down for 20 minutes while it updates is, or should be, a thing of the past, and this patch means only a speedy 3-minute restart is needed to complete updates. Along with seamless updates, the A55 also sees the addition of Knox Vault – a new addition passed down from the S24 – that secures important data like passwords and biometrics.

Now, while those two little features aren't much, when put together with the design and display developments we've already looked at, it makes for quite the enhancement. Combined with smooth performance and everything Samsung fans already enjoy about the Galaxy software – squircles and all – there's a lot to like about the software of the A55.  With guaranteed four years of software updates coming, you can rest easy knowing your phone will remain up to date, at least for a while.

  • Software score: 4/5

Samsung Galaxy A55 review: Cameras

Galaxy A55 camera trio

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
  • 50MP f/1.8 main camera w/ OIS
  • 12MP ultra-wide + 5MP macro camera
  • 32MP f/2.2 front-facing camera
  • Improved low-light photography

Photography is a crucial part of the modern handset, and a phone's camera can make or break it in the eyes of the user. In the best way possible, the Galaxy A55's camera does neither. 

Providing a rear trio of cameras that can take wonderful photos in various ways, and a front camera that you'll have no problem taking flattering selfies with, the camera is a huge upgrade… over the Samsung Galaxy A53's 64MP main camera. But, a lack of massive change from the A54 isn't what disappointed me about it.

Whether it's selfies, ultra-wide shots, high-detail pics or snaps of your morning coffee, the Galaxy A55 has an objectively good camera system that will be more than serviceable, even for the most photo-obsessed. My biggest problem was that it just didn't capture the reality of what I was looking at when I most expected it to – aka in bright sunlight. Whether it was photos of my sun-baking dog, the book I was reading or a cat-holding selfie out in the garden, the results were a toned-down, dull version of what my eyes were seeing due to overexposure. They were still clear, beautiful images, but a touch too hazy for my liking.

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Photos of my sun-loving doggo

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
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Some flicks of a morning coffee and some very handsome limes

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
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Galaxy A55 excels at pet photos

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
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Galaxy A55 Camera

(Image credit: TechRadar)
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Night photography

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
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Samsung Galaxy A55 camera

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
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Samsung Galaxy A55 camera

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
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Samsung Galaxy A55 camera

(Image credit: TechRadar/ Max Delaney)

Combine that issue with a macro camera that was near-impossible to hit the sweet spot with – as you can see by my best results below – and you have a camera that is little more than good. There is just too much high-quality competition, even within this price range, to give it any further praise.

Samsung does make up for that slightly, though, with an abundance of options to help you take the best photo possible, even before you get to the pool of editing tools waiting for one to be taken. Within the four main photo-type options in the camera app (Fun, Portrait, Photo and Video) are tools to help you smooth out the image, get the right framing, activate a timer, turn the flash on and enter the camera settings to ensure you're ready to click away.

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Samsung Galaxy A55 macro camera

macro camera results (Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
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Galaxy A55 macro camera

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)

While the modes within More, like macro, slow-mo and Pro, will undoubtedly be put to good use by some users, they remain mostly unused by me. However, the one mode hidden here that I do think is worth a special mention, is night mode. I wasn't blown away by the A55's ability to take photos in low-light areas at first. However, when I put it to the test in a pitch-black room its performance was truly impressive.

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Galaxy A55 night-mode photography

Testing the night mode on the Samsung Galaxy A55 (Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
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Galaxy A55 low-light photography

The before: the books are invisible in normal, standard photo mode (Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
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Samsung Galaxy A55 low-light photography

The after. The same lighting but with night mode turned on (Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)

While it might not be a breathtaking photo of the night sky, I think the night mode better portrays how well the Galaxy A55's camera performs in low light. As you can see from my sample images, it works pretty darn well. From freezing cherished moments at dimly-lit restaurants, taking selfies under the hazy ambiance of street lights and snapping pics of your puppy snoozing under the TV’s silver glow,  the A55's nighttime performance will be there for a really good shot.

  • Camera score: 4/5

Samsung Galaxy A55 review: Performance and Audio

Samsung Galaxy A55's rear glass shining in the midday sun

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
  • New Exynos 1480 Chipset
  • 8GB RAM (12GB in select locations) with no more 6GB model
  • Stereo speakers
  • Up to 256GB of storage with up to 1TB additional storage

With a new chipset, I had high hopes for a noticeable performance improvement over the Galaxy A54, but I was prepared for the more-than-likely event that it would be hardly noticeable. Thankfully, the Exynos 1480 chipset provided much more of the former than the latter. 

With scores of 1155 and 3468 in the two single-core and multi-core Geekbench tests, and solid results in the 3D Mark: Wildlife, Wildlife Extreme and Sling Shot Extreme stress tests of 3996, 939 and 6216, the Galaxy A55 won't be getting any awards on the test front. However, its results were consistent. For reference, the Google Pixel 7a and Samsung Galaxy S24 results can be seen below.

Despite what the numbers might say and how they compare, the A55 felt excellent during my time with it. From Spotify, Instagram, Reddit, YouTube, Netflix to the camera, the A55 ran each one of them perfectly, even when I switched haphazardly between them to try and force some lag – it didn't break a sweat.

Galaxy A55 rear glass reflecting the sky while resting on a red hat

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)

One area the Galaxy A55 did slow down slightly was within high-performance apps like the Camera after considerable use. With a day’s worth of apps open and some considerable time spent within the camera app, load times started to get noticeable when switching between camera modes. Though it was little more than slight stutters, the lag did stand out compared to its otherwise smooth performance.

Perhaps due to its upgraded cooling system and adaptive refresh rate that better uses its battery, the A55 will be more than adequate for even a heavy casual mobile gamer. I had no problems earning 20 eliminations and a win in my first game of PUBG Mobile, even if it was against a bot, and was happy to see PUBG automatically set the graphics and framerate to their mid-range settings, with the A55 remaining smooth even when turned up to Ultra HD and the highest framerate. However, some rendering issues did start to occur at those high settings, but didn't impact gameplay. Whether it's PUBG Mobile, Apex Legends or hours of Candy Crush interspersed with regular phone use, the Galaxy A55 will handle it all, with battery to spare.

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PUBG Mobile on the Samsung Galaxy A55

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
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PUBG Mobile on Galaxy A55

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
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PUBG Mobile on Galaxy A55

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
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PUBG Mobile on the Samsung Galaxy A55

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)
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PUBG Mobile on the Samsung Galaxy A55

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)

As for audio, whether you like to listen to podcasts through the phone's stereo speakers or blast music through a pair of the best wireless headphones, the days of muffled speakers from the A-series handsets are gone. You'll find little problems in how the A55 handles its audio. 

The phone's earpiece and down-firing speakers combine to offer clear, balanced sound, providing easy listening when you don't feel like using headphones – and you won't unless you need to. While audiophiles might want to stick with their high-powered stereo units, the A55 does more than well enough for the average person, retaining some clarity even at high volume. And, in regards to connecting wireless devices via Bluetooth, I had absolutely no issues – even when pairing Apple AirPods 3, which don't always easily connect to Android devices.

  • Performance and Audio score: 4/5

Samsung Galaxy A55 review: Battery

  • 5000mAh battery
  • 25W wired charging
  • Advertised two-day battery life

Simultaneously great and disappointing might sound strange, but the Samsung Galaxy A55's fantastic battery life was slightly tarnished by its disappointing charge speed.

The surprisingly good battery life of the Galaxy A55, improving on the A54, more than offsets the slight disappointment I felt when my handset went from only 18% to 48% after 30 minutes of charging. That's far from terrible, and fully charging in around 90 minutes to reach 100% isn't the worst thing in the world, but it took longer than I had hoped. Unfortunately, Samsung's claims that the A55 has “super fast charging”, burying in the fine print that the fast-charging wall adapter is sold separately, sets the phone up for some disappointment.

Samsung Galaxy A55 on-screen battery and charging information

(Image credit: TechRadar / Max Delaney)

Retaining its predecessor's 5,000mAh battery, Samsung created high expectations once again, and fell short once again. While you won't get two days of use unless you leave your phone untouched and unopened, I was still impressed by the A55's battery life. Whether it was the seven hours of continuous Stranger Things – after which it still had more than 15% battery left – or hours of Candy Crush, plus everyday actions like social media, video calling, browsing and audio playing – the battery life of the A55 more than held up. I racked up around seven hours of screen time from a full charge, far more than my personal average of just over five, and there was still ample battery at the end of the day.

While the A54 charges slightly faster than the A55 in my experience, the Exynos 1480 chip the Galaxy A55 uses helps it to outlast its predecessor – if by a miniscule amount – leaving enough charge left that could be the difference between ordering an Uber and being left stranded. In short, the Samsung Galaxy A55 5G has more than enough battery life to get you through work, fun and be there when you need it. Just don't expect it to charge to 50% in 15 minutes before you head out.

  • Battery score: 4/5

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy A55?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider...

If this review of the Samsung Galaxy A55 has left you wondering about other mid-tier alternatives, take a look at a few listed below. I’ve also compiled a specs comparison between them and the A55 for a clearer snapshot.

How I tested the Samsung Galaxy A55

  • Review period: Three weeks
  • Testing included: everyday use including web browsing, social media, photography, video calling, gaming, streaming video, music playback
  • Tools used: 3D Mark: Original, 3D Mark:Extreme, 3D Mark: Slingshot Extreme (unlimited), Geekbench 6.2.2, Geekbench, native Android stats

Once I received the Samsung Galaxy A55, I put it to the test immediately by running it through some benchmarking tools. I then used it as my main phone through the first week and this included playing games, taking photos and watching content.

Across the final two weeks of my testing time, I put it under the stresses, both technical and physical, of everyday life. From scrolling sessions at home to podcasts on the bus to being pulled in and out of my bag and accidentally walking into the doorway of my bedroom. These activities allowed me to see how the battery holds up over the course of time with normal use, not just how it handles high-impact stress tests.

With a heavy coverage focus on phones here at TechRadar, I'm knowledgeable of the phone market, what it has to offer and how different phones aimed at different budgets fit into it – making me the perfect candidate to test a mid-tier phone like the Samsung Galaxy A55 5G. 

Read more about how we test

[First reviewed May 2024]

Samsung Galaxy A35 review: a Samsung Galaxy S24 for the rest of us
7:00 pm | May 19, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Phones Samsung Galaxy Phones | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Samsung Galaxy A35 two-minute review

The Samsung Galaxy A35 is a smartphone designed for people who want the finest tech from South Korea’s favorite phone company, but can’t stomach the hefty price tag often demanded by the best Samsung phones.

By ‘finest tech’ I of course refer to the Samsung Galaxy S24 series, Sammy’s recent line of flagship phones, which come with a cost that's north of my monthly rent. Thankfully, people who prefer their cheap phones can still enjoy some of the best Galaxy tech thanks to the A35.

If you’re new to the Galaxy A range, it’s Samsung’s step-down line compared to the flagship Galaxy S range (though not as far down as the M or J series, available in some countries). The ‘3’ in the title refers to the phone’s place in the sliding scale of premiumness – ‘0’ is super-cheap, and higher numbers get incrementally better – while the ‘5’ tells you that this is part of the fifth generation of Galaxy A mobiles (well, at least since Samsung started this numbering system).

These handsets all borrow specific bits of Samsung tech from the company's top-end mobiles, while otherwise presenting an affordable package with corners cut to keep the price low. And the Galaxy A35 is another great example of that strategy.

Samsung’s fantastic display tech is shining brightly on the Galaxy A35: the screen is big, bold, bright, vibrant, and other synonyms for ‘nice to look at’. If you consider your phone to be a glorified Netflix, Prime Video or Disney Plus-streaming device, then the Galaxy A35 will tick your box.

The Samsung Galaxy A35 leaning against a bench.

(Image credit: Future)

You’re getting all of Samsung’s popular OneUI software here, with its customization tools, programmable routines and the colorful, fun user interface. You’re also getting its bloatware, as it’s not just stuffed with Samsung and Google apps, but also some choice third-party ones, too.

The chipset is a surprising feature: on paper, it’s just a bog-standard, low-end Samsung chip, but it absolutely cracks through long gaming bouts or intensive tasks; mobile gamers won’t find anything to turn their nose up at here.

It’s not a perfect phone, though, even by Galaxy A standards. The cameras are a prime example, as they just don’t hold a candle to those on other models I’ve tested. Low-light snaps were vibrant enough, but odd scene optimization AI edits and questionable ultra-wide performance marred the results.

The trappings of low-end mobiles are here in some respects, too: charging is slow, the design is a bit utilitarian and the fingerprint sensor is just awful. Stick to facial unlocking or a PIN/password if you buy this device.

Still, there’s nothing on this phone that’s outright disappointing when you consider its price, and a fair few features are actually better than you’d expect. All told, then, you’re not going to be left feeling mugged off if you buy the Galaxy A35.

Samsung Galaxy A35 review: price and availability

  • Released in March 2024
  • On sale in the US, UK and Australia, among other regions
  •  $399.99 / £339.99 / AU$549.99, only one variant

The Samsung Galaxy A35 was announced in March 2024 and released shortly thereafter, as part of the company’s 2024 line of budget smartphones.

You can pick up the device for $399.99 / £339.99 / AU$549.99 in its sole 128GB configuration, though you can pick between a few color options if you want some amount of customization.

At that price, this is a worthy budget alternative to the $799 / £799 / AU$1,399 Samsung Galaxy S24, getting you a few specs and features pinched from the premium mobiles, but at a much lower price.

It’s not Samsung’s cheapest phone, with the Galaxy A0X, A1X and A2X lines all offering cheaper options, though almost all of those devices have specs weak enough to make them not worth considering (with the exception of the Samsung Galaxy A25).

Samsung Galaxy A35 review: specs

The Samsung Galaxy A35 has specs that run the gamut from low-end to top-end, which you can see below:

Samsung Galaxy A35 review: design

The Samsung Galaxy A35's USB-C port.

(Image credit: Future)
  • Standard-looking chocolate bar Android phone
  • Color options vary by region
  • Fingerprint scanner is unreliable

Samsung hasn’t exactly been changing things between its Galaxy A-series mobiles of late, and the Galaxy A35 is certainly no exception. It’s your standard chocolate bar smartphone with a fairly large body and a flat edge.

The handset weighs 209g, so it’s roughly average as mobiles go, and it measures 161.7 x 78 x 8.2mm, which is a little on the hefty side but not as big as Samsung’s ‘Ultra’ phones. It’s noticeably bigger than the S24, though.

The Galaxy A35 has a glass front and back, making it feel more premium in the hand than many other mid-range phones. It ships in a range of color options, too, but those options depend on region: US buyers can pick between navy and lilac, Australian customers can choose navy or pale blue, and UK buyers get all three of those options, as well as the fetching pale yellow that you see in the images accompanying this review. All these colors are relatively restrained given the vibrancy of some of Samsung’s previous Galaxy A color options.

Unlike some of its cheaper A-series siblings, the Galaxy A35 doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack. Instead, its only port is the USB-C one on the bottom edge of the device.

Both the volume rocker and power button are on the right edge of the device, and you may find yourself stretching to reach them unless you have big mitts.

Samsung uses an under-display fingerprint sensor for the phone, but you’d be forgiven for not noticing — that is to say, it failed to find my finger more often than it succeeded, and I ended up having to type my password in far more often than on most other mobiles.

The phone is certified with an IP67 rating, which means it’s totally protected from small particles (sand, dust, flour and the like) and will also survive being submersed in liquid at a depth of up to 1 meter for a limited time – don’t take it swimming, then, but it should still work if you accidentally drop it in your beer.

  • Design score: 3 / 5

Samsung Galaxy A35 review: display

The Samsung Galaxy A35 leaning against a bench.

(Image credit: Future)
  • 6.6-inches with 1080 x 2340 resolution
  • Super AMOLED results in punchy visuals
  • 120Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling

If any part of the Samsung Galaxy A35 will make you forget that you’re using a budget mobile, it’s the display.

The phone boasts a big 6.6-inch display, which is bigger than most Galaxy A-series mobiles and also the Galaxy S24. It has a 1080 x 2340 resolution, which is the same as most mobiles on the market, and a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. 

Anyone who’s used a Samsung phone will know that the company’s tech is strongest in the display department; this mobile uses a Super AMOLED panel with a fairly high max brightness of 1000 nits. The screen is bright and colors pop, enhancing that Netflix stream or gaming session.

Even your average scrolling experience is better on the Galaxy A35 thanks to its 120Hz refresh rate, which makes motion look smoother and is far from a given on phones in this price range (heck, even the iPhone 15 doesn't have a 120Hz refresh rate).

  • Display score: 4 / 5

Samsung Galaxy A35 review: software

The Samsung Galaxy A35's quick settings menu.

(Image credit: Future)
  • Android 14 with One UI 6.1 over the top
  • Customization and routines good, bloatware bad
  • Four years of OS updates, five of security

A major similarity between the Samsung Galaxy A35 and its Galaxy S24 brethren is in the software department: both come with Android 14 pre-installed, with Samsung’s One UI 6.1 slathered over the top.

Samsung has promised four years of software updates, taking you up to Android 18 (unless Google decides to get funky with numerical orders) and you get an extra year of security updates on top of that.

Visually speaking, One UI is one of the more distinctive Android forks, offering pebble-shaped icons, colorful menus and easy-to-parse icons in the quick settings menu. However, between the Samsung apps, Google apps and a fair few third-party apps, the Galaxy A35 is also chock-full of bloatware, which is something you’d think a massive company like Samsung would be above.

One UI brings plenty of customization options with widgets for your installed apps, a wide range of pre-installed wallpapers, the ability to pick a system-wide color palette, and more. The options here aren’t quite as extensive as on, say, Motorola or stock Android phones, but it’s something.

Like on iPhones, Samsung offers a handy ‘Modes and Routines’ feature so you can jump between, say, sleep, driving or workout modes at the tap of a button, which lets you completely change the way your phone works if you need different settings for a temporary amount of time. These options do require some set-up, though, so carve 15 minutes out of your schedule when you first buy the phone to set them up.

  • Software score: 3.5 / 5

Samsung Galaxy A35 review: cameras

The Samsung Galaxy A35's camera app.

(Image credit: Future)
  • 50MP main, 8MP ultra-wide and 5MP macro cameras
  • 13MP selfie camera on front
  • Range of extra photography and video modes

You’re looking at three rear cameras on the Samsung Galaxy A35. They create a package that’s par for the course for a mid-range phone at this budget, but won’t hold a candle to the Galaxy S24 range or even higher-priced Galaxy A mobiles.

The leader of the pack is a 50MP f/1.8 main camera, which is joined by a 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide snapper, with a 5MP f/2.4 macro rounding out the trio.

In well-lit conditions, the main camera takes bright and colorful pictures, which made pictures of close items like flowers or food look bold. That's likely due to Samsung’s scene optimization AI processing, which is a staple of Galaxy phones. This feature adds some pep and pizazz to your snaps; and by that I mean it ratchets up the contrast and saturation, and also drizzles in some sharpening and HDR. 

Seasoned photographers might find this tweakery unwanted, but seasoned photographers probably aren’t using this kind of phone. The optimization is most welcomed for snappy social media posts and selfies.

Why did I specify ‘close items’ before? Well, for wider shots, pixel binning seems to result in a noticeable lack of quality, which you can see in the picture of a tree in the camera samples section below.

The Samsung Galaxy A35 taking a selfie.

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy A35 also struggled in lower-lighting conditions, with details lost and contrast handled about as well as you’d expect. Sometimes scene optimization decided to cast an odd blue pall over snaps – a picture of some ducks below was taken in overcast conditions, yet looks like a cheap TV-movie day-for-night.

The camera will suit you better if you usually take pictures of close-up subjects (including people) in decently-lit environments, rather than wider landscapes at darker times of day.

The Achilles’ heel of the phone’s camera array is the ultra-wide snapper, because photos taken on it looked dull and lifeless compared to their counterparts. It’s as though the AI scene optimization forgot to step in!

Rounding out the trio is the macro camera, which is a lot more situational in use than its siblings; it’s used for those close-up photos that the main camera will struggle to keep in focus. It’s up to the task, but you probably won’t be using this camera too much if you can help it.

On the front of the phone is a 13MP f/2.2 selfie camera, and everything I said about the rear camera’s optimization is out here in force, with the added distinction that the subject of a selfie is generally going to be close to the camera, so no landscape-shot woes here. There’s nothing wrong with nice bright selfies though, and in Portrait mode the device was fab at blurring the background and balancing the elements of the picture to create a great-looking shot.

Video recording goes up to 4K at 30fps or FHD at 60fps, or goes very low with several slow-mo modes. Most of the modes here are par for the course for a modern-day smartphone, with night, time-lapse and Portrait modes present and correct. Samsung stalwart modes Food (which ramps the saturation up for a very limited focus area) and Fun (which adds AR effects on human subjects) are back here, too.

Samsung Galaxy A35 camera samples

Image 1 of 8

A selfie taken on the Samsung Galaxy A35

A selfie taken in 'standard' mode. (Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 8

A selfie taken on the Samsung Galaxy A35

A selfie taken in Portrait mode. (Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 8

A bright flower taken on the Samsung Galaxy A35

A flower taken on the standard camera. (Image credit: Future)
Image 4 of 8

A field with a church taken on the Samsung Galaxy A35

An ultra-wide picture of a field. (Image credit: Future)
Image 5 of 8

A field with a church taken on the Samsung Galaxy A35

A 1x zoom picture of a field with a church. (Image credit: Future)
Image 6 of 8

A field with a church taken on the Samsung Galaxy A35

A 2x zoom picture of a field with a church. (Image credit: Future)
Image 7 of 8

A well-lit tree taken on the Samsung Galaxy A35

A well-lit willow tree with detail lost on the leaves and grass. (Image credit: Future)
Image 8 of 8

A picture of ducks taken on the Samsung Galaxy A35

An oddly-blue picture of ducks on the Galaxy A35. (Image credit: Future)
  • Camera score: 3 / 5

Samsung Galaxy A35: performance and audio

  • Snapdragon 695 is fit for purpose
  • 128GB storage can be expanded up to 1TB, plus 4GB RAM
  • 3.5mm headphone jack for wired audio

The ‘brains’ of the Samsung Galaxy A35’s operation is Samsung’s own Exynos 1380 chipset, which Samsung previously used in the pricier Galaxy A54 from last year.

In a Geekbench 5 benchmark test, the Exynos 1380 returned an average multi-core score of 2,868; the warmer the phone was, the lower the result, with scores ranging from the low 2,900s when cool to the mid 2,700s when warm. I’ve seen phones with much more dramatic ranges than that, I just say this to contextualize the average score.

The high 2,000s is nothing to phone home about, but it’s more than enough for most everyday use cases, and the A35 performed admirably in real-world testing. It blitzed through many games of Call of Duty Mobile or PUBG Mobile without breaking a sweat (though it did warm up if I was pushing it), and it did so without significant lagging, bugging or any crashing. Mobile gamers on a budget won’t find anything to dislike here.

Similarly, the phone felt snappy and fast to navigate, which is something you hope for but can never guarantee with phones around this price.

There’s 6GB RAM and board and 128GB storage; if you want more space you’ll need to rely on cloud storage, as there’s no expandable memory.

With no 3.5mm headphone jack, you’ve got one less option for audio on the Galaxy A35. The stereo speakers are serviceable: I found them perfectly fine for CoD:M, but even cheap headphones are better for music. The Bluetooth is 5.3, which is a decent standard for reliable and power-economic connection. You can also use a USB-C to 3.5mm adaptor if you absolutely need wired music.

  • Performance score: 3.5 / 5

Samsung Galaxy A35 review: battery life

  • Chunky 5,000mAh battery
  • Phone lasts a day of use, sometimes more
  • 25W wired charging is slow

The Samsung Galaxy A35 leaning against a bench.

(Image credit: Future)

You’re looking at a 5,000mAh battery on the Samsung Galaxy A35, which is the same battery you'll find in the vast majority of other budget and mid-range mobiles (and some high-end ones, too).

In testing, that saw the phone comfortably last for a full day of use, despite the big bright screen and 5G connectivity. It limped until lunchtime on a second day before charging really became necessary, so I’d recommend charging daily.

Charging is done using the USB-C port, and it’s 25W, which isn’t exactly fast. At that speed, you’ll have to be tethered to the wall for over two hours, which nudges into ‘overnight charging’ territory.

There’s no wireless charging, but that’s no surprise when it comes to a mid-range mobile like the A35.

  • Battery score: 3.5 / 5

Samsung Galaxy A35 review: value

The Samsung Galaxy A35's camera bump.

(Image credit: Future)

In many ways, the Samsung Galaxy A35 gives you exactly what you pay for, but you’re getting great value for money in a few distinct areas. I wasn’t kidding when I called this a budget Galaxy S24.

The display, software and performance all reach above the trappings of the A35’s low-mid-range price tier, giving you an experience that’s not quite ‘premium’, but is still more than you’d usually get for this price.

Plus, there’s no real department in which the Galaxy A35 falls below expectations: value all around.

  • Value score: 4 / 5

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy A35?

Buy it if...

You watch lots of videos
The good-looking display on the Galaxy A35 makes it a dream for Netflix fans on a budget.

You're a gamer on a budget
The A35 is decently powerful for its price, but the big and attractive display ticks even more boxes.

You want One UI, without the price
You don't need to pay Galaxy S24 prices to use all of One UI's handy features, like routines and its customization options.

Don't buy it if...

You're a photography fan
The Galaxy A35's three cameras aren't going to impress amateur photographers much, especially with its overactive AI optimizations.

You need quick charging
You can buy budget phones with 120W charging, so the Samsung Galaxy A35's paltry 25W is slower than its rivals.

Your budget goes a little higher
Only a small fee will let you upgrade from the Galaxy A35 to the Galaxy A55, or another Samsung phone with improved features.

Samsung Galaxy A35 review: Also consider

If you're not certain on the Samsung Galaxy A35, here are some alternatives you might want to consider:

How I tested the Samsung Galaxy A35

The Samsung Galaxy A35's Samsung logo.

(Image credit: Future)
  • Review test period = 2 week
  • Testing included = Everyday usage, including web browsing, social media, photography, video calling, gaming, streaming video, music playback
  • Tools used = Geekbench 6, Geekbench ML, GFXBench, native Android stats

I tested the yellow – sorry, 'Awesome Lemon' – version of the Samsung Galaxy A35 for two weeks for this review. Product photography was conducted right at the beginning of testing, hence why I've only got a few apps in-shot.

Testing was done by using the phone as my normal smartphone for the two-week duration: texting, photography, music streaming, Netflix, and so on. 

I have over five years' experience of reviewing tech gadgets for TechRadar, having previously been an editor for the phones team and currently freelancing for several verticals. I've used plenty of Samsung phones (and other gadgets by the company) including previous Galaxy A devices.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed May 2024

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus review – finally, the Plus has a reason to exist
9:00 pm | January 17, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Phones Samsung Galaxy Phones | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus: Two-minute preview

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus was rumored to be the last Plus-branded entry in Samsung’s long-running flagship Galaxy S series, and had a successor – the Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus – not been unveiled at Galaxy Unpacked 2024, it would’ve been easy to forgive the company for calling time on its awkwardly-positioned middle-child devices.

Despite offering Galaxy Ultra sizing at a more accessible price, Samsung’s Galaxy Plus phones have seldom, if ever, proven better value for money than its all-singing, all-dancing Ultra devices. This year, though, the Galaxy S24 Plus is a much more enticing proposition: its display is objectively better than the one you'll find on the standard-sized Samsung Galaxy S24, and it doesn’t lose out on the impressive AI features that Samsung is touting as the key selling point of the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Specifically, the Galaxy S24 Plus benefits from QHD+ display technology – a feature previously reserved for the Galaxy S23 Ultra – and a bespoke Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset (or Samsung’s own Exynos 2400, depending on your region) that places AI at the forefront of the mobile experience. The former upgrade is far from game-changing – it essentially means the Plus’s 6.7-inch screen is sharper and more detailed than the S24’s FHD+ equivalent – but it’s enough to better differentiate the Plus from its cheaper sibling. The latter, by contrast, brings a parity to the Galaxy S24 range that we haven’t seen, well, ever.

Galaxy AI is the umbrella term for Samsung’s suite of AI-powered features, which range from real-time text and call translation to generative photo editing. I tried out several of these features during my brief hands-on time with the Galaxy S24 Plus, and while their level of real-world utility remains to be seen, their seamless integration into Samsung’s One UI is seriously impressive.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus hands on front handheld angled home screen

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

On the physical upgrade front, the Galaxy S24 Plus sports marginally narrower bezels and a slightly flatter design than its predecessor, though its (supposedly stronger) Armor Aluminum frame is the most noticeable change. The phone’s 4,900mAh battery is a touch larger, too, though this is unlikely to equate to much (if any) real-world battery life improvement. 

If you’re after the best camera phone around, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is the way to go, but the new Plus model boasts some decent photography hardware nonetheless. The phone retains its predecessor’s 50MP wide lens (f/1.8), 12MP ultra-wide lens (f/2.2), 10MP telephoto lens (f/2.4, 3x optical zoom), and 12MP selfie camera (f/2.2), though the aforementioned addition of Galaxy AI has thrown some neat new AI-powered editing capabilities into the mix.

I haven’t spent enough time with the Galaxy S24 Plus to deliver a full verdict on its value-for-money offering yet, but after some brief hands-on time with the device at Galaxy Unpacked 2024, I can safely say that Samsung’s latest second-tier flagship is an objectively better phone than last year’s S23 Plus – and one that might finally make buyers think twice.

If you're interested in our thoughts on the other new Galaxy phones, check out our hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 review and our hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus review: Price and availability

  • Starts at $999 / £999 / AU$1,699
  • Preorders are open now
  • Shipping from January 31

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus was announced at Samsung’s latest Galaxy Unpacked event on January 17, 2024. Samsung Galaxy S24 preorders are live now, and all three new devices will begin shipping on January 31.

Pricing for the Galaxy S24 Plus starts at $999 / £999 / AU$1,699 for the base configuration (8GB RAM / 256GB storage), and rises to £1,099 / AU$1,899 for the model with 8GB RAM / 512GB storage. I’ll be updating this article with US pricing for the latter configuration as soon as I have it.

For comparison, the Galaxy S23 Plus started at $999.99 / £1,049 / $1,649 for the model with 8GB RAM / 256GB storage, so £999 marks a welcome £50 decrease (in the UK, at least).

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus review: Specs

Here's a look at the Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus' specs and how it compares to its stablemates. 

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus review: Design

  • Slightly flatter edges and narrower bezels
  • New Armor Aluminum frame

Samsung Galaxy S24 S24 Plus S24 Ultra hands on back straight

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

For the second year running, Samsung’s newest Galaxy Plus model places emphasis on meaningful internal upgrades over a dramatic aesthetic redesign. But that’s not to say the Galaxy S24 Plus looks identical to its predecessor.

Measuring 158.5 x 75.9 x 7.7mm and weighing 196g, this year’s Plus phone has slightly narrower bezels, slightly flatter edges (think the iPhone 15 Pro and Galaxy Z Fold 5) and a more durable Armor Aluminum frame versus the Galaxy S23 Plus.

Personally, I’m all for the changes – the S23 Plus’s mirrored frame was a garish fingerprint magnet – although you’d be hard pressed to distinguish the Galaxy S24 Plus from its predecessor when viewing the two phones at a glance.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus review: Display

  • QHD+ display for the first time in a Plus model
  • Enhanced outdoor visibility
  • New 2,600-nit peak brightness

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus hands on front handheld straight lock screen

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

For the first time, the display on Samsung’s latest Galaxy Plus model is objectively superior to the display used by its standard sibling. Specifically, the Galaxy S24 Plus uses a 6.65-inch dynamic AMOLED 2X display, with QHD+ technology that delivers improved sharpness and detail compared to the screen on the smaller Galaxy S24. Previously, QHD+ displays have been reserved for Samsung’s Ultra phones, and although the differences here aren’t all that noticeable, it’s good to see Samsung giving the Galaxy S24 Plus the best screen possible.

The other display upgrades are shared between the Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus. Both phones get a new peak brightness of 2,600 nits, as well as improved outdoor visibility thanks to Samsung’s Vision Booster feature. Their refresh rates have also been improved – you’ll now get 1-120Hz instead of 48-120Hz.

All of these features combine to deliver the biggest, boldest and brightest Galaxy S Plus display yet, and although I’ll need to conduct further testing, I was able to use the phone under the bright lights of Samsung’s hands-on testing space without issue.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus review: Cameras

  • Same triple-lens setup as the Galaxy S23 Plus
  • Up to 8K video at 30fps
  • AI features are impressive but potentially problematic

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus hands on camera closeup

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

If there’s one big disappointment with the Galaxy S24 Plus, it’s the lack of changes in the camera hardware department. The phone retains its predecessor’s 50MP wide lens (f/1.8), 12MP ultra-wide lens (f/2.2), 10MP telephoto lens (f/2.4, 3x optical zoom), and 12MP selfie camera (f/2.2). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – I was impressed with the all-round photography capabilities of the Galaxy S23 Plus – but an S23 Ultra-style 200MP main sensor wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Samsung has instead turned to AI for this year’s camera-related Galaxy upgrades, with a suite of new editing tools on hand to help you re-compose and remaster photos. Edit Suggestion, for instance, uses Galaxy AI to suggest suitable photo tweaks, while Generative Edit can fill in parts of an image background with generative AI. Instant Slow-mo can generate additional frames to add more detail (or the illusion of more detail) to videos, while Super HDR reveals lifelike previews before the shutter is ever pressed.

I’ll need to further test these features before passing judgment on their utility, but the demos given by Samsung staff for each were supremely impressive. Generative AI looks particularly mind-blowing, although it does raise some awkward questions about authenticity, beauty standards, and the value of photography in 2024.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus review: Performance

  • Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset in the US, Exynos 2400 elsewhere
  • Larger vapor chamber and ray tracing support

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus hands on back table angled

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Much to the chagrin of Samsung fans the world over, Samsung has again split the chipset offering for its latest Galaxy phones – though rumors suggest that the situation isn’t as bad as it was for the Galaxy S22 line, where the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 outperformed the Exynos 2200 by some margin).

Specifically, the chipset powering your Galaxy S24 Plus depends on the region in which you buy the phone. Those in the US get a bespoke version of Qualcomm’s newly released Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, while those in Europe and other regions get Samsung’s new Exynos 2400 chipset. Luckily, however, early benchmark results promise similar real-world performance from both chipsets, so I don’t expect the differences to be significant this year, although the Snapdragon may prove slightly more efficient than the Exynos in the long run.

In my brief time with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3-powered Galaxy S24 Plus, the phone was able to juggle gaming, heavy-duty video recording, and multiple apps with ease.

Speaking of gaming, the Galaxy S24 Plus benefits from a vapor chamber that’s 1.9x larger than its predecessor, which Samsung says will deliver improved heat dissipation. All three Galaxy S24 phones offer ray tracing support, too, so the Galaxy S24 Plus might prove to be one of the best gaming phones of 2024.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus review: Software

  • Galaxy AI enables several experience-enhancing features
  • Seven years of OS updates and seven years of security updates

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus hands on on-device AI only mode

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

The ace(s) in the hole for the Galaxy S24 Plus are its new AI capabilities, which Samsung says are “aimed at enhancing every part of life.” Here’s how the company describes the key features of Galaxy AI: 

  • When you need to communicate defying language barriers, Galaxy S24 makes it easier than ever. Chat with a student or colleague from abroad. Book a reservation while on vacation in another country. It’s all possible with Live Translate, two-way, real-time voice and text translations of phone calls within the native app. No third-party apps are required, and on-device AI keeps conversations completely private.
  • With Interpreter, live conversations can be instantly translated on a split-screen view so people standing opposite each other can read a text transcription of what the other person has said. It even works without cellular data or Wi-Fi.
  • For messages and other apps, Chat Assist can help perfect conversational tones to ensure communication sounds as it was intended: like a polite message to a co-worker or a short and catchy phrase for a social media caption. 
  • In the car meanwhile, Android Auto will automatically summarize incoming messages and suggest relevant replies and actions, like sending someone your ETA, so you can stay connected while staying focused on the road. 
  • Organisation also gets a big boost with Note Assist in Samsung Notes, featuring AI-generated summaries, template creation that streamlines notes with pre-made formats, and cover creation to make notes easy to spot with a brief preview. 
  • For voice recordings, even when there are multiple speakers, Transcript Assist uses AI and Speech-to-Text technology to transcribe, summarize and even translate recordings. 
  • Communication isn’t the only way Galaxy S24 takes the fundamental benefits of the phone into the future. Online search has transformed nearly every aspect of life. Galaxy S24 marks a milestone in the history of search as the first phone to debut intuitive, gesture-driven Circle to Search with Google. With a long press on the home button, you can circle, highlight, scribble on, or tap anything on Galaxy S24’s screen to see helpful, high-quality search results.

Naturally, I’ll be taking these AI-powered features for a proper spin as I test the Galaxy S24 Plus for my full review, but the early signs are promising. Circle to Search with Google worked perfectly when I tried to identify a plant, two different watches and even my battered backpack during my hands-on session, while Live Translate worked well, too (though it remains to be seen how effective this feature will be when it comes to interpreting colloquialisms and muffled phrases).

Also on the software front, Samsung is committing to seven years of OS updates and seven years of security updates for the Galaxy S24 Plus and its siblings, which is a welcome improvement on the five years we’ve come to expect from the company (and brings the S24 range in line with the Google Pixel 8 and Apple’s latest iPhones). In other words, you’ll be able to use the Galaxy S24 Plus without fear of being left behind until at least 2031. Yikes.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus review: Battery

  • 4,900mAh battery is a slight upgrade

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus hands on bottom handheld angled

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

The Galaxy S24 Plus has a 4,900mAh battery, which is a 200mAh increase over the S23 Plus’s 4,700mAh power pack. That said, I’m not expecting the new phone to offer significantly better real-world battery life than its predecessor. I found that the Galaxy S23 Plus could comfortably last for almost two days when testing that phone, so I’m anticipating something similar from the Galaxy S24 Plus. I’ll confirm as much in my upcoming review of the phone.

Samsung Galaxy S24 review – the Galaxy’s pocket powerhouse
9:00 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Phones Samsung Galaxy Phones | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Samsung Galaxy S24: One-minute review

If you think the Samsung Galaxy S24 is basic compared to the mighty Galaxy S24 Ultra, think again. The smaller Galaxy S24 is a super-powered marvel, with all the processing power of Samsung’s best phone, packed into a much smaller design that is easier to fit into a fashionable pocket. 

What can you do with this much power in such a small phone? You can use the new AI tools from Samsung and Google, including the cool Circle to Search that easily answers the question “hey, what’s that?!” whether you’re looking at a web page, a YouTube video, or even a photo you just took. You also get the Samsung Galaxy AI translation that work like magic, changing your words into a foreign tongue and letting you understand somebody across the language barrier.

You can also play games, obviously, and the Galaxy S24 is a gaming powerhouse, made better by its take-anywhere size. This phone easily beats the iPhone 15 in side-by-side gaming tests, and it approaches Pro power in terms of processing and productivity. It can even run Samsung DeX, the desktop environment that makes your phone work like a real computer when you plug in a keyboard, monitor, and mouse. 

While Apple scrimps on the CPU in its iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, giving those phones last year’s processor, Samsung endows every Galaxy S24 phone with the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, at least in the US. Elsewhere, this phone and the Galaxy S24 Plus might use the Samsung Semiconductor Exynos 2400 chipset, and we’ll be testing that model shortly, but we expect performance will be similar no matter where you buy the S24 and S24 Plus.

Samsung Galaxy S24 battery settings

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The result is a phone that not only runs fast, but also runs a long time, as we’ve seen great battery performance from phones with the latest Snapdragon on board. In battery life, the Galaxy S24 easily beats competitors at this size and price, lasting hours longer than the iPhone 15 or Pixel 8

The Galaxy S24 has a display that can crank out terrific brightness, though it isn’t the brightest or the sharpest display you’ll find. I had no complaints, even though I need to wear my reading glasses to read fine print at the highest resolution setting on the Galaxy S24. The display looks brilliant, no matter how bright or dim it was set. 

For cameras, the Galaxy S24 can’t compete with the Galaxy S24 Ultra, a phone that costs $500 more in the US, but it has the specs and features to take on the latest  Pixel, and iPhone 15 fans should be jealous of the real 3X zoom lens that the Galaxy offers. There’s no optical zoom on the iPhone 15, and once again Samsung wins with versatility, if not pure image quality. 

It’s not all good news, though. Samsung’s software lags far behind. It’s a lustrous garden grown wild. Features never seem to die, they just snarl the home screen and make the Settings menu a thicket of thorns.

Samsung Galaxy S24 from the side showing camera lenses and back violet color

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Samsung needs to prune its features and simplify, especially if it wants to win over iPhone fans some day. The iPhone 15 doesn’t make you dig through three layers of Settings to find the coolest new features. It just works. Samsung needs to just work a lot more on its software, because the Galaxy gets harder to use every year. Soon, it will be too far gone.

If you want more battery life, more versatility, and some seriously powerful productivity features, the Samsung Galaxy S24 is the right choice. If you don’t care about all the extras and just want a phone that nails the basics, there are simpler and more elegant options available from Apple and Google, but Samsung gives you a sense of the possibilities that are coming in the future. You just have to drag the phone out of the past to find it. 

Galaxy S24 review: Price and availability

Samsung Galaxy S24 in violet from back

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Starts at $799 / £799 / AU$1,399, and Aussies get more storage to start
  • Nobody pays full price for a Samsung phone
  • It’s worth spending more for the 256GB of storage (at least)

The Galaxy S24 is priced as expected, and it’s a bit less expensive in the UK than last year’s phone. You still get the same 128GB of storage, except in Australia where Samsung starts this phone at 256GB and offers a higher-capacity 512GB model. The extra storage is worth buying, since the cameras on the S24 are good enough that you could fill it up with photos and videos. 

Samsung always seems to have deals available for Galaxy S phones, whether that’s doubling the storage for free or offering a bonus on your trade. In the US, Samsung will give you at least $100 for any phone you trade, which effectively knocks the price to $699 for almost everybody. At that price, the Galaxy S24 is a bit cheaper than Apple’s iPhone 15 (and Apple is NOT generous with trade in values), and closer to the Google Pixel 8 or OnePlus 12, with a similar trade offer.

Unless you are a serious camera hound, or you want a much bigger display, there’s no reason to spring for the Galaxy S24 Ultra instead. It’s a massive price jump that doesn’t equate to a big performance boost. Sure, the Ultra is a bigger phone with a bigger battery inside, so it lasts a bit longer, but otherwise performance is very similar when you are playing games or running intense apps, like Adobe Lightroom for photo editing.

The Galaxy S24 is a great value compared to the competition at this price. It’s far more powerful than the Google Pixel 8, and though both phones come with a promise of seven years of Android updates, it’s easier to envision the Galaxy S24 lasting until 2031, while I can’t imagine a Pixel 8 that’s capable of anything in seven years.

Compared to the iPhone 15, you certainly get a lot more with the Galaxy S24, including a real zoom lens and a much bigger battery, but the experience is entirely different. Apple phones work best when you know more people with Apple phones, so if all of your friends are on iPhone, it may be worth getting a phone with iOS 17 so you can NameDrop and blue-bubble all you like. Apple phones also tend to hold their value better than Android phones, though that gap is closing every year.

  • Value score:  4 / 5

Galaxy S24 review: Specs

Samsung Galaxy S24 home screen

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The Galaxy S24 may be the ‘base model’ of the family, but it’s no slouch in terms of specs. It has the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor that makes the Galaxy S24 Ultra blazing fast, and it has more camera options and a bigger battery than a comparable iPhone 15. The display is also better than other phones this size — it’s brighter than even the Pixel 8, with better color accuracy as well.

Galaxy S24 review: Design

Samsung Galaxy S24 violet from the side

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Looks a lot like an iPhone 15
  • Lots of unique color options at launch
  • No titanium or Gorilla Armor, that’s Ultra-only

The Samsung pendulum sways back and forth between copying Apple and striking out on its own. This year the Galaxy S24 is much closer to the iPhone 15 design than it has been in many years, while the S24 Ultra looks just a bit more unique. It’s the curve at the corners of the display that really bring home the similarity. The Galaxy S24, like an iPhone, is well-rounded at the corners, while the S24 Ultra is all right angles.

This isn’t a terrible thing, it just isn’t very unique. At least Samsung has some nice colors this year. My review unit came in the Cobalt Violet color, which is very pretty but a little sad, like the stormy purple Apple once used on its iPhone. More vibrant are the Sandstone Orange and Amber Yellow options. I wish they were a bit more saturated and prime, but they do look natural, with a nice matte finish and texture to the back glass. 

The glass is unfortunately Gorilla Glass Victus 2, which was the best of the best last year, but now we’ve seen Gorilla Armor on the Galaxy S24 Ultra and it’s hard to settle for less. My Galaxy S24 review unit already has a scratch on the back glass, and I don’t have a case for this phone yet. Gorilla Armor is more scratch resistant, and Samsung has done a great job reducing reflections and glare, but only on the Ultra model. 

Samsung still does a great job keeping its phones thin and light. This is no Ultra, and if you want a phone you can use with one hand, the Galaxy S24 is a great option. It’s thinner than the iPhone or Google Pixel, and it’s also the lightest of the bunch. Usually a lighter phone means less battery inside, but the Galaxy S24 beats all competitors for battery life, so it’s not a concern. 

  • Design score:  4 / 5

Galaxy S24 review: Display

Samsung Galaxy S24 generative AI home screen wallpaper

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Excellent display is colorful and bright
  • Not as sharp as some competitors, but still looks great
  • Maybe too small for all the features Samsung crams in

Samsung is a perennial favorite when it comes to smartphone displays, and the Galaxy S24 is no disappointment, but it also isn’t the clear winner in any aspect. I enjoyed reading web pages, playing games, and editing photos on the smaller screen, and even small text was legible and sharp (with proper eyewear). The screen was also plenty bright, even in outdoor sunlight taking photos with the camera. 

Samsung isn’t giving us the sharpest display with the Galaxy S24, and it’s odd for the company to fall behind a bit. The Google Pixel 8 and iPhone 15 both have a higher pixel density, making them technically sharper, though you might not notice the difference. The Galaxy S24 can get brighter than both of those phones, but OnePlus is pulling some 4,500 nit magic out of its hat with the similarly-priced OnePlus 12, so Samsung isn’t the resounding brightness winner.

Overall I had no complaints about the display unless I’m truly nitpicking. In our Future Labs tests, the Galaxy S24 had a wider color gamut than any competitor. Samsung is still sticky about Dolby Vision HDR support, which is what Netflix favors, but HDR10+ content looks great, and you can find that on every other major streamer. 

While I like carrying a smaller phone, the six-inch display on the Galaxy S24 isn’t quite big enough to hold all of Samsung’s features. The Edge Panel is turned on by default, and it takes up so much room on the side of the phone that it was easy to swipe it open accidentally when I just wanted to use a back swipe gesture. 

The Quick Panel also became more complex, and this makes it harder to read and use on the smaller Galaxy S24 display than it was on larger Samsung screens. Overall, more software simplicity would help show off that screen, instead of bogging it down with icons and menu clutter.

  • Display score:  4 / 5

Galaxy S24 review: Software

Samsung Galaxy S24 showing edge panels and home screen clutter

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Needs a lot of work to simplify and improve
  • Too many features are buried in Settings menu
  • Too many features, period

The good news about software on the Galaxy S24 is that it can do just about everything the Galaxy S24 Ultra can do, short of using the S Pen. The bad news is that it can do everything the Galaxy S24 Ultra can do, and no less. Every bit of complexity, often designed for the largest smartphone display possible, is still present in the Galaxy S24. It’s a mess. 

The Galaxy S24 is super-powered, there is no doubt. There are big software features, like Samsung DeX, which gives you a Chromebook-like interface when you plug your phone into an external monitor. There are also fine, granular controls over everything, from battery and power management to Wi-Fi and networking to screen response and menus to … well, everything. There is no end to what you can do with the Galaxy S24, and it is easy to get very lost.

Samsung needs to simplify. There are too many features that are impossible to find, like wireless power sharing, which should let me charge my earbuds by setting the case on top of my Galaxy S24. Unfortunately, I can’t find the button to make this happen, not without a treasure map and a pickaxe (it’s under Battery, that’s my only hint to you). 

The software problems are starting to feel like laziness. In setting up my Galaxy S24, I was excited when my older Samsung phone found the new S24 quickly and offered to transfer all of my stuff. This process quickly failed without warning, and I had to repeat it. After it failed the second time, I was asked on another screen to use Samsung Smart Switch, which somehow worked. Why not just start there?

The first time I turned on the Galaxy S24, I needed to update a ton of apps in the Google Play Store, and the updates failed, then disappeared. I opened the Galaxy App Store and found a slew of updates there, as well, even though there was no notification. My Galaxy was suddenly downloading strange Samsung software, including a blockchain manager? I don’t use anything blockchain at all.Then there are all the apps. There are too many apps from Samsung, too many apps from Google, and somehow even Microsoft gets its own folder?! On a Samsung phone, running a Google operating system? Good job, Microsoft. I hope it got what it paid for. 

All of this just feels lazy, or cynical, or both. It doesn’t feel like Samsung has my best interest at heart, from the moment I start using the Galaxy S24. It feels like the software is pushing me to do more, to buy more, and use more. I just want simplicity. I just want it to work. 

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Samsung Galaxy S24 apps screen showing all preloaded apps from Samsung, Google, and Microsoft

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

All the apps preloaded on the Galaxy S24

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Samsung Galaxy S24 apps screen showing all preloaded apps from Samsung, Google, and Microsoft

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

All the apps preloaded on the Galaxy S24

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Samsung Galaxy S24 apps screen showing all preloaded apps from Samsung, Google, and Microsoft

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

All the apps preloaded on the Galaxy S24

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Samsung Galaxy S24 apps screen showing all preloaded apps from Samsung, Google, and Microsoft

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

All the apps preloaded on the Galaxy S24

Then there are all the apps. There are too many apps from Samsung, too many apps from Google, and somehow even Microsoft gets its own folder?! On a Samsung phone, running a Google operating system? Good job, Microsoft. I hope it got what it paid for. 

All of this just feels lazy, or cynical, or both. It doesn’t feel like Samsung has my best interest at heart, from the moment I start using the Galaxy S24. It feels like the software is pushing me to do more, to buy more, and use more. I just want simplicity. I just want it to work. 

  • Software score:  2 / 5

Galaxy S24 review: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy S24 camera app with my dog Beesly

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Most versatile cameras on a phone this price
  • Great image quality with better color and dynamic range
  • Cool new AI photo editing tools are fun to try

Sure, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is our top camera phone, but that doesn’t mean the Galaxy S24 is a slouch. Most of the great work Samsung has done improving its image processing carries through here. Photos I shot with the Galaxy S24 look better, more natural, than photos taken with either the Galaxy S23 or my iPhone 15.

You also get a real zoom lens with the Galaxy S24, and it helps a great deal. Having a real 3X zoom brings you closer to the field, or the stage, even if the zoom lens is paired to a woefully small sensor that produces images with more noise and blur than I’d like. No matter, neither the Pixel 8 nor the iPhone 15 has optical zoom around back, and real zoom is always better than digital zoom, all things being equal. 

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Samsung Galaxy S24 camera lenses up close macro photos

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S24 camera lenses up close macro photos

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

You might occasionally get better shots from the main camera on the iPhone 15, and the Google Pixel 8 does a better job with low light images, but the Galaxy S24 is much more versatile. I actually find Samsung’s different camera modes, like the Food mode or the dual-camera video recording mode, to be fun and useful. My baked goods look delectable when I shoot them with the Galaxy, and the dual-camera video is great for reaction shots with my kiddo.

Samsung also brings a bunch of AI tricks into the camera, both in the Camera app and Samsung’s image Gallery. I wish there weren’t two photo apps, including Google Photos, but here we are. Unlike the Pixel, which gives you AI editing in Google Photos, Samsung keeps its Magic Editor software in the Gallery. 

With Magic Editor, you can resize an object in your photo and move it around. You can erase the background entirely and replace it with something new. The phone will use AI to figure out what’s happening in the foreground and match the new background appropriately. There is also a tool that adds more background to an image if you rotate it and end up with blank space.

In practice, these are surprisingly useful. I like erasing spectators in the way when I’m trying to see my kid on the field. The generative AI did a nice job without a heavy hand, and the results usually looked natural enough. I hope Samsung doesn’t go too much further into creating fake imagery, but the Galaxy S24 will affix a watermark to images that have been edited using AI. 

Galaxy S24 camera samples

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Samsung Galaxy S24 image samples from cameras

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S24 image samples from cameras

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S24 image samples from cameras

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S24 image samples from cameras

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S24 image samples from cameras

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S24 image samples from cameras

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Camera score:  4 / 5

Galaxy S24 review: Performance

Samsung Galaxy S24 quick settings panel

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Excellent performance, close to the Galaxy S24 Ultra
  • More RAM would help, but isn’t necessary
  • Only hiccups were new AI features

Don’t let the smaller size of the Galaxy S24 fool you, Samsung has given this phone the same powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy processor found in the Galaxy S24 Ultra. It’s even overclocked a bit compared to the same processor in competitors' phones, like the OnePlus 12, so it will outperform any other Android you’ll find, and any iPhone 15 that isn’t a Pro model.

What can you do with that performance? You can play games like Call of Duty Mobile at the highest settings and still hit 60fps. You can run Adobe Lightroom and watch your photo edits happen in real-time as you move the sliders. You can run Samsung DeX and open multiple windows on your monitor simultaneously. There’s a ton of power packed into this phone. 

The only time I saw a real delay was when I used the new Google and Galaxy AI features. Holding down the home button to activate Google’s circle to search took a few moments. In fact, I wasn’t sure the feature was actually working at first because I wasn’t patient enough waiting for it to start.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Advanced Intelligence settings

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Using Samsung’s Galaxy AI features caused a similar delay. When I asked the keyboard to rewrite my text messages, there was a long pause. When I recorded a speech using the Voice Recorder, it could not transcribe on the fly, like my Pixel 8 can, and there was a longer delay when I asked for a summary. 

It’s too bad that Samsung has a performance leader that can beat a comparable iPhone, but the new AI features are the only thing that slows it down. It’s unclear if this will get any faster with software updates, as the AI features are a mix of cloud services and on-device processing. There are bottlenecks with both. 

The Galaxy S24 Ultra technically outperformed the Galaxy S24, likely due to the extra RAM on board. The Galaxy S24 only ships with 8GB of RAM installed, while the S24 Ultra comes with 12GB. In practice, it was hard to see a difference unless I held the phones side-by-side, and then I noticed the S24 Ultra finishing some tasks just a bit faster. The Galaxy S24 was still able to open multiple apps at once and handle gaming at the highest graphics levels, so I had no complaints about its performance.

  • Performance score:  4 / 5

Galaxy S24 review: Battery life

Samsung Galaxy S24 USB C charging port

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Excellent battery life, even though the battery didn’t grow much
  • Charging speeds could be faster
  • Plenty of power management, hidden under software menus

The Galaxy S24 has a battery that is only slightly larger than last year’s Galaxy S23, but battery life has seen a significant improvement, giving me hours more active screen time and lasting a full day with little trouble. On a normal day of use, the Galaxy S24 lasted until bed time with no trouble. On a day of heavy gaming and photography, I still lasted into the evening with a quick top up while I was making dinner. 

I wish the Galaxy S24 would charge faster, as things haven’t improved since last year. I was able to get the battery to just over 50% in 30 minutes, just like with my iPhone 15. The Pixel 8 charges a bit faster, but cool phones like the OnePlus 12 (which costs the same) can charge at extreme speeds and fill the battery completely in a half hour. 

There are plenty of adaptive modes to help you save battery life, but good luck finding them in Samsung’s terrible Settings menu. You can just trust that the phone will do a good job, like I did, and occasionally turn on Power Saving from the Quick Settings panel, which will work nicely. 

  • Battery score:  5 / 5

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy S24?

Samsung Galaxy S24 home screen options

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Buy it if...

You want a pocketable powerhouse phone
The Galaxy S24 is the most powerful phone you’ll find at this size and this price. Samsung didn’t skimp on its smaller model’s power like Apple does.

You use your phone for work a lot
Many of Samsung’s best Galaxy S24 features are made for work users, like Samsung DeX, which lets you run your phone as a full desktop computer to get real work done.  

You want zoom without spending a fortune
Other phones in this price range don’t give you the camera versatility of the Galaxy S24, which includes a real 3X optical zoom that outmatches the Pixel 8 and iPhone 15. 

Don't buy it if...

You want a phone that is simple to use
The Galaxy S24 is powerful and capable, but there is nothing simple about this phone. It is packed with features and many are turned on by default, so there is a steep learning curve.

All your friends have an iPhone
There are a lot of sharing features between iPhone users that make Apple’s phone great, and it’s worth considering if you don’t want to be left out of the next NameDrop. 

You want the best cameras, battery and performance
If you’re considering the S24 instead of the Galaxy S24 Ultra, let’s be clear that the Ultra is the clear winner for cameras, battery life, and the performance, and that’s before we take out the S Pen. 

Galaxy S24 review: Also consider

The Galaxy S24 is a great pick for the price, but there are still reasons to look elsewhere. If you're not sold on Samsung's smaller Galaxy, check out these other options from Apple, Google, and OnePlus. 

Apple iPhone 15
The iPhone 15 is simple, elegant, and loaded with features that work with other iPhone users, like Apple’s new NameDrop and safety Check In. If you’re in an iPhone crowd, it’s worth considering.

Google Pixel 8
The Pixel 8 isn’t as powerful as the Galaxy S24, but Google still adds exclusive AI features and Pixel feature drops that make its phones special. Plus, Google promises seven years of Android updates, just like Samsung.

OnePlus 12
The OnePlus 12 isn’t as durable as the Galaxy S24, it isn’t totally water resistant, but it might be the one competitor that can beat the Galaxy for battery life, camera capabilities, and even performance. You just don’t get everything in the Galaxy with a OnePlus.

How I tested the Samsung Galaxy S24

I tested the Galaxy S24 for one week of intense use, immediately after testing the Galaxy S24 Ultra, which uses the same software version and features. I used the Galaxy S24 to its limits, testing every new feature, especially AI. I used AI for messaging, searching, and note-taking, in addition to testing the translation features with my son, who is taking Chinese in school, and local restaurants. I also tested DeX for work, Bixby for interface control, and many other Samsung features. 

I played games with the Galaxy S24, mostly Call of Duty Mobile and Marvel Snap, in addition to trying others, like the new Warcraft Rumble game that just launched. I play games at the maximum settings, with Bluetooth headphones and a Bluetooth joystick attached where appropriate. 

I also tested the Galaxy S24 with accessories and external devices, including Ray Ban Meta smart glasses, and a variety of wireless earbuds, including Galaxy Buds FE, Pixel Buds Pro, and Nothing Stick 2 earbuds. I used a Dell monitor, Razer Blackwidow keyboard, and Logitech Master MX 2 mouse for DeX.

The Galaxy S24 was benchmarked in Future Labs by our resident benchmarking expert, and results were shared and discussed with review editors. Benchmarks do not affect review scores in any way, and are helpful for comparison but not for real-world review purposes. 

I tested the Galaxy S24 camera in a shootout against the OnePlus 12 and Galaxy S24 Ultra. I took hundreds of photographs under the same lighting conditions for each, with similar settings enabled. Then, I compared the photographs when viewed on a professional Dell monitor at full resolution. 

Read more about how we test

First reviewed February 2024

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review: taken to the extreme
9:00 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Phones Samsung Galaxy Phones | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: January 2024
• Camera updates continue to roll out
• Launch price: $1,299.99 / £1,249 / AU$2,199
• Lowest price on Amazon: $1,149.99 / £1,040 / AU$2,199

Update: April 2024. The Galaxy S24 Ultra is not only our pick for the best smartphone overall, it's also our favorite camera phone, at the top of our best camera phone list. That means that all eyes are on the S24 Ultra and the images it produces. Perhaps that's why Samsung keeps releasing camera updates to improve the image quality and stability of the camera system. We're on our third update since the phone launched, and image quality was always good, but Samsung is going to keep tweaking this phone, probably until we have a Galaxy S25 Ultra to play with. 

Galaxy S24 Ultra: Two-minute review

If you made a list of everything you’d want on the best phone you can buy, your list would point to one phone: the Galaxy S24 Ultra. Samsung is clearly working from the same list, and the S24 Ultra will please fans and tech enthusiasts alike. In many ways, including some I didn’t expect, the Galaxy S24 Ultra proves itself the best phone you can buy at any price. 

Do you want the best battery life? The Galaxy S24 Ultra outlasts the best iPhones and every previous Galaxy phone; it lasts more than a day with intense use. 

Do you want the best cameras around? The Galaxy S24 Ultra takes better photos than its predecessor, no matter what the spec sheet says. It remains the most versatile camera phone for all types of photographs. Your artistic friends may prefer the iPhone 15 Pro, but you’ll take better shots of everything if you have a Galaxy S24 Ultra. 

What else do you need? If you play games, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is one of the best gaming phones ever. It outperforms the best Android gaming phones, and it can even beat the blazing-fast iPhone 15 Pro Max

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra lock screen

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

If you use your phone for work, the S24 Ultra has professional features that even the Pro iPhone can’t top, like Samsung DeX software that turns your phone into a veritable laptop, complete with windows and an application dock. 

Samsung is relentless. In its pursuit to push the Galaxy S24 Ultra further than any phone that came before, it has mostly succeeded. And yet, more than ever, it’s apparent what is missing: elegance and simplicity. 

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is the best phone you can buy in all of the ways that should matter. It’s also the culmination of Samsung’s worst instincts. And while fans won’t mind suffering for Samsung’s advancements, this phone won’t be winning any switchers from the competition. 

Samsung’s software is a mess. It’s a morass of settings, hidden features, and useless options that clutter the interface. It’s a jumble of features that were old five years ago, but which haven’t been either updated or abandoned since. 

For every new feature Samsung adds to excite buyers, it takes two steps back, hiding those features beneath further settings menus and layers of options. If you were expecting to find new AI features on the Galaxy S24 Ultra you won’t be disappointed, as long as you’re willing to look three layers deep in the Settings app.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing tiktok

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Samsung also may have squandered its brief performance lead on fanciful AI features that don’t work very well, or aren’t useful at all. Even if you find the language translation feature magical, you’ll also find a useless AI button that will reformat your Samsung Notes (who uses those?), or offer an inaccurate summarization of the web page you’re reading (gee, thanks). 

Worst of all, these AI features add a delay. While you’re speeding around the new Galaxy at the fastest clip ever, these new AI features are speed bumps on the highway, and the results are just as welcome. I’m hopeful that useful AI advancements are coming, but right now we’re suffering through a lot of proofs of concept, and it’s only slowing down this otherwise lightning-fast phone. 

The bottom line for the Galaxy S24 Ultra is still very high in the sky. This phone is the best you can buy, and all the software frustration and useless AI features won’t keep me from appreciating the weekend-long battery life, the unfailing cameras, and the endlessly-useful S Pen.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra from the back with S Pen mostly withdrawn

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

This is the phone I use instead of my laptop or my tablet, because it’s more powerful and convenient when I need to get work done. This is the phone I show off when I want people to see what technology is coming in the near future. This is the phone I carry when I want to carry next to nothing, but still do everything. 

I wish the Galaxy S24 Ultra was much easier to use, and maybe AI can solve Samsung’s usability problems in the future. I think Samsung needs a reckoning before that happens. The iPhone 15 Pro with iOS 17 is not just simpler, it’s more fun and sociable, with cool features like Name Drop and Check In that make iPhone users proud to share among iPhone friends. 

Samsung doesn’t seem to care about that, but it should. The software problems have gotten bad enough that I won’t stick around much longer. The hardware is already great, and it somehow keeps getting better. Now it’s time for Samsung to focus on using the phones, instead of just building them.

Galaxy S24 Ultra: Price and value

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra from the back in titanium grey

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Costs more than last year’s Galaxy S23 Ultra
  • Seven years of OS updates could improve value
  • Trade in deals and launch offers aren’t as good as last year

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is more expensive at launch than last year's Ultra, and the difference is going to hurt more. The Galaxy S23 Ultra was already packed with features, and there's nothing so big and new in the Galaxy S24 Ultra. It just got a little bit better in a lot of ways. 

The real value could come down the road, thanks to Samsung's promise to deliver seven years of major Android and security updates. That length of long-term support was unheard of only last year, but now we have seven years of support for the best Android phones, with Apple lagging behind offering only five years of support. 

Samsung can promise breathlessly, but until we get to year seven, we won't know if it will truly deliver. Apple has literally delivered on this long-term promise a dozen times already across a wide range of iPhones. Google and Samsung – not once.

There's already reason to be skeptical. Buried in Samsung's latest terms of service is a notice that the current slate of AI features may only remain free for a limited time. Frankly, we have no idea what that means and it's too early to speculate. But it's weird, in a way that seems like Samsung is building legal backdoors to weasel out of expectations. Apple doesn't do that. Only time will tell if Samsung holds up.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra in front of Galaxy S23 Ultra

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

I bought a Galaxy S23 Ultra last year, trading a Galaxy S21 Ultra for it, and I am sad to report that trade in deals and discounts at launch are not as enticing as they were a year ago.

If you are trading up from last year's model, expect to pay hundreds over your trade value. I'd still say it's worth making the leap, just this once. Older phones are going to be left out of the newest AI features more and more with every update. That means values could plummet the first time Samsung delivers bad news and drops the features guillotine on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, or something even newer. 

In the months since I originally published this review, we have seen some deals on the Galaxy S24 Ultra on Amazon, effectively lowering the price by around $150 / £200 or so. This is still one of the most expensive phones you can buy, and we don't see Samsung dropping the price much more, even when the next generation of Galaxy Z foldable phones shows up later this year. 

Is this phone worth such a high price? If you're asking that question, you are reading the wrong review. You want the Galaxy S24 Plus, which is probably worth it. This is the Ultra. This is the extreme phone; the one that does what no other phone can do. You can't put a normal price tag on Ultra. It doesn't fit.

  • Value Score: 3 / 5

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Specs and benchmarks

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing writing on lock screen

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

In our Future Labs benchmark tests of the Galaxy S24 Ultra, an astonishing thing happened. It beat the best-performing iPhone: the iPhone 15 Pro. In almost every single benchmark test we ran, the Galaxy S24 Ultra scored higher. In multi-core tests, graphics rendering tests, battery rundown tests, and many others, the Galaxy S24 Ultra beat the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. 

Last year's Galaxy S23 Ultra was not able to top the Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max, and it has been quite some time since an Android device scored a resounding win in cross-platform benchmark testing.

That said, I don't use benchmark scores in my final review score, and I only mention scores out of objective curiosity, not because benchmarks should be a part of a buying decision.

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Design

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra from side showing buttons

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • A big ol’ slab of smartphone
  • Titanium hasn’t made it lighter
  • Polished and classy, but unchanged

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is indistinguishable from the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which doesn't mean there are no differences, but rather the changes are inconsequential. The speaker grills are different, the microphones moved a bit, but mostly the new phone looks like the old phone. That's too bad, because while Samsung's Ultra phone oozes a certain refinement, it isn't very interesting at a glance.

A deeper inspection is rewarding. The back glass is layers upon layers of metallic paint, which gives the phone an eerie depth, especially in the ghostly, natural grey titanium finish. The violet finish is my favorite, with a great contrast against the polished metal. 

Samsung pays great attention to detail when it comes to color, materials and finish. Each color has a subtly hued frame that complements the new Gorilla Glass Armor back. The titanium black is all black, while other color options edge into warmer frame tones.

Apple fans like to point out the symmetry of their phone as a pinnacle of its design. Frankly, Samsung is more smart than symmetrical. I prefer having Power and Volume buttons on the same side. It means I don't fill my photo gallery with accidental screenshots every time I grab my phone.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra beneath an iPhone 15 Pro Max

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Like Apple, Samsung has opted for titanium on the frame this year, but it doesn’t make as much difference as it does on my iPhone 15 Pro Max. The Pro Max managed to shed considerable weight this year versus last year, about half an ounce. The Galaxy Ultra? It’s a single gram lighter, at most.

If you’ve never played with an Ultra, you really need to pick one up and pop the pen. Did you know the S Pen clicks? There's no reason for it. It could just pop out, spring-loaded, but instead the S Pen has a clicky top that is extremely satisfying. Oh, the S Pen is also a motion-sensing stylus with a Bluetooth camera remote button, but Samsung hasn't neglected the clicky top. 

Of course, that S Pen isn’t just built for fun, it’s one of the most surprisingly capable accessories ever. It’s as precise as a professional drawing tool, not like a big, clumsy, rubber-tipped stylus that you can buy for an iPhone.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra held from the side

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

It also has Bluetooth built in so the side button can act as a remote control for other features on your phone, especially the camera. That’s right, the Galaxy S24 Ultra ships with a remote camera shutter release, which is an accessory I actually bought to go with my Nikon DSLR. 

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is flat this year, ending a run of screen curvature that began with the double-black-diamond slope of the Galaxy Note Edge, and subtly resolved itself into a signature Samsung look that reduced the effect of the bezel around the edges. On the front and back, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has gently-rounded curves that make the phone feel much nicer to hold. The Galaxy S24 Ultra is more sharp, and though it isn't uncomfortable, it feels conspicuously big.

  • Design score: 4 / 5

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Display

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing generative AI wallpaper castle

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Fantastic display in bright light or a very dim room
  • Huge and sharp, among the best you’ll find
  • Lack of Dolby Vision support still stings

The display on the Galaxy S24 Ultra is excellent, as good as you'd hope to find on a premiere smartphone. It’s huge, bright and colorful, especially using the Vivid color tone option.

There are plenty of adaptations for this display, including adaptive brightness and color tones that measure ambient lighting and adjust the display to look its best. In bright, outdoor light, the display can boost to a stunning 2,600 nits, which isn't quite the brightest you can find, but you won't need any brighter. 

Even more interesting might be the Extra Dim option. The Galaxy S24 Ultra can maintain good color fidelity even down at one nit of brightness. That's dim enough that you could almost check your messages in a movie theater, but then you’d be an extra dim Ultra jerk. But you could.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra playing a TikTok video

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

There is an always-on display mode, but Samsung also still makes its unique S-View cases, which provide a small window for time, weather, and notifications, peeping through a wallet cover case. It's a very cool case feature that Samsung never abandoned, even if we haven't checked them out for a while. 

Could the Galaxy S24 Ultra display be any better? Absolutely. There are phone displays that can reach 144Hz refresh rate, though that may be faster than a human eye can actually see. 

It would be nice for Samsung to give up the fight against Dolby Vision on its phone displays and TV sets. If you watch a lot of Netflix, shows look better when you compare a display with Dolby Vision against a display without. It seems like a silly omission for Samsung not to support Dolby's HDR video standard, when it supports Dolby Audio.

  • Display score: 5 / 5

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Software

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing Advanced Intelligence settings menu

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Terrible software hides all new features under ‘Settings’
  • New AI features are occasionally magical, but mostly useless
  • Seven year update promise already has an asterisk

It has become abundantly clear that Samsung is focused entirely on hardware and has no interest in improving its software. The software on the Galaxy S24 Ultra is terrible, and One UI is becoming unusable. Even the simplest features are bogged down with options and menus, and Samsung can’t seem to make a single decision about what’s best for its users.

I'm going to give Samsung a year to fix its software problems, though I suspect it will take two years or more to dig out of the current mess. Everything that was wrong with Samsung software has gotten worse, and the problems infect every new addition, like a disease.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is loaded with features, but where do you find them? Where do you find the new AI translation tools, or set up the AI feature that rewrites your text messages? Where do you turn on AI to edit photos, or AI to summarize a web page? All in the same place, sadly.

All of the new Samsung Galaxy AI features are buried in Settings, and they are not at the surface. There are 22 different options in the Settings menu. Option 16 of 22 is Advanced Features. Tap on this and you'll find “Advanced Intelligence,” which isn't actually what AI stands for… is it? In any case, that’s where Samsung has hidden all of the cool new features for its flagship smartphone: under the 16th Setting option, three layers down.

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing

Using Google's new Circle to Search (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing

Google correctly identifies the lighthouse I was shooting (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

I’ve talked to Samsung about this, and they recognize that it’s a problem. Features are hidden. Everything gets buried in Settings, as if that is a place we expect to find features as disparate as wireless power sharing, parental controls for children, and always-on display widgets. 

In a feeble attempt to inform users about everything the phone can do, the Galaxy S24 Ultra will occasionally bubble up messages and suggestions for things to try. Sadly, Samsung phones are overloaded with messages and suggestions. Galaxy phones will infamously serve you an advertisement, on your brand new Galaxy phone, imploring you to buy that brand new Galaxy phone. 

That’s not how you educate people. Take it from me, a former high school teacher, if you simply tell your users about a new feature once, you haven’t taught them to use it. Samsung needs to take a big step back and figure out how to encourage users to try features they will enjoy. Samsung also needs to remove the features that aren’t being used, and hide the ones that don’t need to be visible. 

As for the new AI features, they are a mixed bag of amazing magic and useless doggerel. If you get a chance to use the AI translation on a phone call, it’s like science fiction. It feels like you’ve stuck a Babel fish into your ear and you’re living in a fantasy future. Samsung could write ‘Don’t Panic’ on the phone and ship it with a towel.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing AI writing style tools

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Other AI features are useful, but only to a point. The AI writing style feature can adapt your text messages to a variety of different styles, including a professional tone and more playful messages, replete with emojis and hashtags. In practice, the differences were not very useful, and I mostly just stuck with what I’d written. Samsung also over-promised on this feature. I distinctly remember reps saying the phone would convert my words to Shakespeare, but I’ve seen nothing like this on my S24 Ultra. 

These writing style and translation features are built into the Samsung Keyboard, so they work across multiple apps. Unfortunately, Samsung has utterly broken its software keyboard. During my test period, I had some of the worst trouble with autocorrect and an onscreen keyboard that I’ve ever had. 

The keyboard would often capitalize words in the middle of a sentence for no reason. Even worse, it would autocorrect partial words and automatically insert some nonsensical phrase or string of characters into my typing. While typing contractions, most keyboards are smart enough to insert the apostrophe, but on the Samsung Keyboard the autocorrect tried to insert whole new words after my contraction. It was making up content out of context, and it was completely wrong.

When I went back to change the error, the keyboard was quite unfriendly. While the Apple iPhone keyboard assumes that a backspace after autocorrect means the autocorrection was bad, the Samsung keyboard sticks to its guns and makes changing errors incredibly tedious. 

I suspect that if I am diligent with the Samsung Keyboard and I keep correcting all of its elementary errors, I will eventually teach it to write properly. I don’t have time for this. I’m not sure how Samsung broke its keyboard so badly, but it’s terrible and needs an immediate update. 

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing

The Galaxy S24 Ultra has generative AI wallpaper, just like the Google Pixel 8 Pro (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Some of the AI features that carried over from the Google Pixel 8 family have turned out to be a disappointment, as well. Samsung promised that its Voice Recorder app would offer transcripts and summaries, just like the Recorder app on the Google Pixel. In practice, Samsung’s app is not as advanced or useful as the Pixel version. It’s slower, less accurate, and does not provide a live transcription of the conversation as it happens. 

The image editing features are also less impressive on the Galaxy S24 Ultra than they are on the Pixel 8 Pro. The Galaxy gets Samsung’s take on the Magic Editor tool, dubbed Generative Edit, which lets you select objects in your photo to move, resize, or erase them. When you erase an object or a whole background, the phone can use AI to replace that part of the image. 

What the Samsung phone lacks are the best editing tools available on the Pixel, namely the Photo Unblur tool that sharpens even old photos you didn’t take with your smartphone, and the Best Take option that combines multiple photos to get rid of closed eyes and ugly expressions.

Yet, as much as I complain about Samsung’s software, there are simply things you can do with a Galaxy phone, especially the Galaxy S24 Ultra, that you can’t do with anything else. I love Samsung’s DeX, which turns your phone into something that acts more like a Chromebook, when you plug it into a monitor with a keyboard and mouse. You get a new home screen with windows and a dock, and everything runs smoothly. 

Why is this useful? I have a computer at home, but my corporate IT guys don’t like me using it for work stuff. Instead, I use my phone, which is already set up with work and personal accounts. If I need to get work done at home, or even while I’m traveling, I don’t need to bring my work laptop. I can just plug my Galaxy S24 Ultra into a USB hub and now I have all of my work and personal stuff in one place. 

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra connected to a monitor and keyboard using DeX

Using the Galaxy S24 Ultra (left) with DeX on my home monitor (Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

I can respond to important emails using a real keyboard, or edit documents in Microsoft Word and Google Docs. I can do just about everything I need, short of running Chrome web browser extensions. I never need to add my protected work account to my own personal computer. I can just use DeX and have the best of both worlds on my Galaxy S24 Ultra.

As mentioned, Samsung promises that the entire Galaxy S24 family will get software updates and security patches for the next seven years. With brand new AI features on the phone, I wonder how Samsung will be able to pull this off, especially since AI seems to be advancing exponentially. How can a seven-year-old phone possibly survive in the year 2031?

One clue may lie in Samsung’s terms of service. Hidden deep you’ll find the following language concerning AI features: “Samsung may, at any time, change some or all of its advanced intelligence features to subscription-based features, in which case Samsung will provide prior notice. Samsung reserves the right to rate limit you to prevent quality decay or interruptions to the advanced intelligence features.”

This could be completely innocuous, or it could be a sinister sign that Samsung is looking for a loophole to get out of its seven year promise. It may offer future Android updates in regular and “Premium” flavors. It could also exclude certain models from any future premium feature and just offer the most basic, barebones OS to the Galaxy S24 Ultra by the time, say, Android 18 is launched, presumably in four years.

In any case, there is now an asterisk on Samsung’s promise of seven years of updates, until this is clarified. I want and expect Samsung to behave like Apple. Any features that aren’t entirely hardware dependent should come to every eligible phone. The five-year old iPhone XR obviously can’t get a new Dynamic Island, but the latest update brought NameDrop, which is a brand new iOS 17 feature. We expect the same when the Galaxy S24 Ultra is updated to Android 21 in 2031.

  • Software score: 3 / 5

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra cameras

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Better image quality, even if the specs are suspicious
  • Less detail from the zoom lens, but better color and range
  • Still needs help with low light and noise reduction

The Galaxy S23 Ultra was our overall best camera phone of last year, so rumors that Samsung would be dropping the optical zoom from 10x to 5x set off a flurry of concern. The 10x zoom was the standout feature on the Galaxy S23 Ultra … aside from the 200MP sensor, the two zoom lenses, the 100x digital astrophotography, the AI image enhancements, and everything else the phone could do. Still, it’s odd for Samsung to take a step backwards, especially where specs are concerned.

Let’s start with the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s 5x zoom lens. Samsung has not taken a step backwards, more a step sideways. The Galaxy S24 Ultra still has the best zoom camera you can find on a smartphone. It’s better than the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 10x zoom, and it’s much better than the 5x zoom you’ll find on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Most of the time, like when you are really using the zoom to its full extent.

When you zoom in to 10x or even 100X, the Galaxy S24 Ultra produces images with better color and much better dynamic range than the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Where the older camera made images look flat, you’ll see more depth and shadow with the Galaxy S24 Ultra. What you won’t see is plenty of detail. Samsung has sacrificed the fine details in images for better overall quality.

It’s a good trade. Those 10x and 100x zoom images from the S23 UItra look terrible. Sure, you could make out some details, but they are mixed with noise and blur like a virtual chopped salad. On the Galaxy S24 Ultra, you won’t see as much, but you’ll be happier sharing those photos because they actually look like good pictures, rather than police evidence. 

In a straight comparison between the Galaxy S24 Ultra and the iPhone 15 Pro Max at 5x zoom, the iPhone produces better images. Once you start applying digital zoom, the Galaxy does a better job. At 5x zoom, I got a nice landscape shot of a lighthouse from both cameras. When I zoomed into 25x, the Galaxy kept more detail and even better color than the iPhone. The iPhone couldn’t zoom any farther, but the Galaxy S24 Ultra could grab enough detail from the Peck Ledge lighthouse, which sits a mile off the Connecticut coast, to count the stairs leading up from the dock.

Samsung has been criticized in the past for unnatural color in photos, and it’s clear the company took this to heart and tried to hew closer to the iPhone’s processing techniques. Colors look much more natural all around, often even cooler than the over-warm iPhone pics that cast a yellowish tint on some images. Digital sharpening problems have been reigned in, so the Galaxy S24 Ultra produces images with a nice amount of detail, without the blurriness you’ll find on some iPhone pics.

That doesn’t mean the camera isn’t without problems. Low light is still an issue, and other phones handle various night situations better. The Google Pixel 8 Pro is better at landscape and city photos at night, and even the OnePlus 12 could handle some mixed-light shots, like taking photos of food in a dark restaurant, better than Samsung’s best. 

Overall, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is the best camera phone I’ve used in the past year. It may not dominate in every area, but it performs consistently better than every other phone, whether you’re using an iPhone, a Pixel, or even a newer OnePlus phone with fancy Hasselblad processing. 

Where Samsung really excels is in the interesting shots. If you need a good macro photo up close, or an appetizing pic of the pizza you made, the Galaxy has you covered. Selfies and portraits look great, with accurate skin tones and enough detail that you won’t look like a poseur. The phone had no trouble framing my adorable dog and cropping her fuzzy ears nicely in a portrait shot. 

For photo editing, Samsung has made some advances, but you’re better off relying on third-party software, and maybe even some obscure Samsung apps. In the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s Gallery app, you can now apply the Generative Edit AI features, which can resize and move objects in your image, or completely change the background depending on the context of the shot. It’s a nice trick, but I’m not sure it counts as photography as much as mixed-media collage. If you do apply any AI tricks, though, Samsung will add a small watermark to your photo to let viewers know.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The Samsung Gallery app will suggest photo edits, like removing reflections (above). You can see the results below:

If you miss the Photo Unblur feature from the Google Pixel 8 (and it is quite desirable), you can head to the Galaxy App Store and download Samsung’s Galaxy Enhance-X photo editor. This little-known app gives you a ton of advanced photo editing tools, many of which rely on AI and machine learning. These tools aren’t as effective as edits in Google Photos on a Google Pixel 8 Pro, but it’s cool to peek into Samsung’s software skunkworks to see what the company can create. 

You can also run more advanced photo editing software, like Adobe Lightroom and SnapSeed. These apps run very smoothly on the Galaxy S24 Ultra, and it was easier to edit photos with the S Pen than with my finger. 

I have not been able to test the AI moon photography features on the Galaxy S24 Ultra because it’s been cloudy since I received my review unit, but rest assured I will be shooting for the moon as soon as possible. Samsung says that the AI on board will recognize objects, then try to identify the subject to shoot the best photo. We’ll see if the new phone can keep up with the dazzling astrophotography of last year’s Galaxy S23 Ultra

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Image samples

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera samples

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera samples

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera samples

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera samples

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera samples

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera samples

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera samples

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera samples

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera samples

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera samples

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera samples

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera samples

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera samples

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera samples

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera samples

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera samples

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera samples

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

Samsung has clearly made significant improvements with image processing on the Galaxy S24 Ultra compared to last year's Galaxy S23 Ultra. This photo looks much more natural with better color and dynamic range, and without as much digital sharpening:

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Selfie taken with the Galaxy S24 Ultra

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Selfie taken with the Galaxy S24 Ultra

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
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Selfie taken with the Galaxy S24 Ultra

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Camera score: 5 / 5

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Performance

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra playing Call of Duty Mobile

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • First Android in memory to beat the iPhone in benchmarks
  • Only delay comes with new AI features
  • Tops in gaming and productivity

Ever since Apple started making its own Bionic chipset for the iPhone, we haven’t seen an Android phone that could beat Apple’s best iPhone in raw performance. That ends with the Galaxy S24 Ultra. The Ultra is just as fast as the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and in many ways it’s even faster. You may never notice the performance gains, but I have to give credit where credit is due. Qualcomm and Samsung have managed to top Apple’s silicon for the first time in years. 

What does that mean in the real world? Everything that you could do on your smartphone you can now do faster. If you play games like Call of Duty Mobile or Genshin Impact, you can play at the highest settings and experience fluid framerates and stutter-free gaming. 

Pair your game with an Xbox or Playstation controller via Bluetooth and you will be destroying noobs on pathetic Pixels and cheap Motorola phones in your multiplayer arena of choice. Seriously, having a phone that responds so quickly to your commands and movements is a huge win for multiplayer games. 

Is the Galaxy S24 Ultra a gaming phone, then? You’d better believe it. I tested the S24 Ultra against the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro, a phone that is truly made for gaming. The S24 Ultra had no problem beating the ROG Phone 8 in every metric, even producing a higher framerate on the newest games.

If gaming isn’t your thing, you can still feel the performance benefits. I edit photos in Adobe Lightroom, and on my Galaxy S24 Ultra I can move the adjustment sliders freely and watch my photo change in real time. In side-by-side tests using the new Adobe intelligent masking features, the Galaxy S24 Ultra was able to find and select my foreground subject in seconds faster than my older Galaxy S23 Ultra. 

The only features that cause a delay on the Galaxy S24 Ultra are the new AI features, and that’s ironic. For the first time in years, Samsung commands a lead over its rival Apple, but it loaded the Galaxy S24 Ultra with AI features that Apple has skipped, so far. Instead of feeling like everything moves faster on my Galaxy, I have to wait while the AI composes new text messages, or makes edits in the photo gallery. 

Those features aren’t worth the wait. If there was no waiting, if writing suggestions appeared in real time the way Adobe Lightroom changes my photos, I’d be amazed by the AI tools and I’d use them more often. Instead, every time I see the AI stars logo appear, I see a Stop sign. 

  • Performance score: 5 / 5

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Battery life

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra battery settings menu

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Excellent battery life, among the best you’ll find
  • Fast charging, but could be faster
  • Plenty of power management options

You won’t find a phone with longer battery life than the Galaxy S24 Ultra. 

In our lab testing, which involves continuously browsing the web on 5G until the battery runs out, the Galaxy S24 Ultra in its default Adaptive display mode lasted a huge 16 hours and 45 minutes. That beats the impressive 14 hours and 2 minutes the iPhone 15 Pro Max managed in our testing. It also outlasts the Galaxy S23 Ultra by more than two hours, as beats many other Android phones too. 

You’d have to buy a hardcore gaming phone with a massive battery inside, like the Red Magic 9 Pro with its 6,500mAh cell, to get any more battery life from your phone. 

Samsung didn’t increase the size of the battery over last year’s Ultra, it just improved power management on the Galaxy S24 Ultra, so it saves more juice. The adaptive screen settings can be aggressive, but you can turn them off if you need a bright display all the time. You can also adjust settings like screen resolution and processor performance to save more power. 

There are even more extreme options. Samsung used to have an ultra power saving mode, but now that’s just another setting under the Power Saving features, letting you limit the apps available, turn off edge panels, dim the display, and generally shut down everything you don’t need to conserve every watt. 

There should be a more intelligent power management option that reads your habits and adapts the power savings to the way you use the Galaxy S24 Ultra. Oh, wait, there is such a mode and it’s called “Adaptive power saving.” But you’ll never find it.

Adaptive power saving is buried under the Settings menu, then under ‘Device care.’ Then you have to tap the Battery graph, which is a button that doesn’t actually look like a button, but trust me it’s a button. 

Then tap ‘Power saving,’ which also looks like plain text and not a button. Again, it’s a button. Hooray, you’re almost there! Just find the three little dots in the upper-right corner, which is a Samsung way to hide even more menus, and then you’ll finally be able to open the ‘Adaptive power saving’ settings. 

Why, Samsung? Why? Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t my Galaxy S24 Ultra come with adaptive power saving turned on by default? If this feature is so useful, why is it hidden beneath FIVE LAYERS of menus? Beneath buttons that don’t look like buttons, and submenus that are just cryptic dots? Enough is enough. Fix the software, or this is my last Galaxy Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra from the bottom showing USB C port

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The Galaxy S24 Ultra charges at 45W, which is a respectable charging speed, fast enough to get you well past 50% if you only have a half hour to charge your phone. In fifteen minutes, my Galaxy S24 Ultra was just under 40% charged, and it took around 45 minutes to charge the phone completely. That’s even faster than Samsung promises.

There are phones that charge faster, like the OnePlus 12 that comes with an 80W charger. That phone can reach 100% charge in about half an hour, and OnePlus even has a superfast (ie. SuperVOOC technology) wireless charger that is capable of 50W charging. The S24 Ultra can handle up to 15W wireless charging, including the latest Qi2 charging standard. 

The Galaxy S24 Ultra can also charge other devices wirelessly, and if you can find wireless power sharing in the Settings menu, I will personally send you a prize. Instead, just add a Wireless power sharing button to the Quick settings menu if that’s a feature you use often. 

Unlike the OnePlus 12, the Galaxy S24 Ultra does not come with a charger in the box, and if you want the fastest charging speed you’ll need to pay attention to the charger you buy. You can spend a lot of money and get a big wall wart from Samsung, or you can do the right thing and get this Anker 713 Nano Charger from Amazon for around half the price.

  • Battery score: 5 / 5

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Score card

Buy it if...

You want to do a lot more with your phone
If you want a phone that does more than a phone should be capable of doing, you want a Galaxy S24 Ultra. This isn’t just a phone, it’s a laptop, a drawing tablet, a game console, and an entire camera bag in your pocket.

You want to see what the future feels like in your hand
Samsung tries new features before any other phone company, and if you want to make a phone call with a Star Trek universal translator, or have an AI rewrite your text messages for you, you need a Galaxy S24 Ultra. 

You want the best phone overall, no matter how hard it is to use
The Galaxy S24 Ultra is admittedly complicated, but that’s because there is so much that you can do with it. If you want uncompromising technology with every option available, get the Ultra. 

Don't buy it if...

You don’t need all that
If you have ever started a sentence with “I don’t need,” then the Galaxy S24 Ultra is not for you. It has everything you need and everything you don’t, and you can’t ask for less. It only comes with everything. 

You want a phone you can use with one hand
The Galaxy S24 Ultra is titanium, but it isn’t lighter than last year’s phone, and the Ultra is a big beast to behold. If you need something more manageable, try a different device. 

You prefer an elegant experience over tech wizardry
While the Galaxy S24 Ultra is a phone like no other, it isn’t easy to use, nor is the software elegant. If you want to appreciate intuitive design and features that feel natural, check out what Apple is doing with iOS 17 on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. 

Galaxy S24 Ultra review: Also consider

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max
If you want the absolute best phone but the Galaxy S24 Ultra doesn’t strike the right cord, there’s only one other phone to consider and that’s Apple biggest and best iPhone.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
If cameras aren’t so important, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 gives you everything you’ll find on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, with a tablet folded away inside. It’s a whole new class of device. 

Google Pixel 8 Pro
You can save a lot of money by considering the Pixel 8 Pro, which is not only simple to use with a great camera, it also gets the same seven years of Android updates that Samsung has promised. Plus, AI directly from Google with no Samsung in between.

How I tested the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

  • One week testing period
  • Used AI features extensively, plus Samsung exclusive software
  • Benchmark testing for comparison, not scoring purposes

I had the Galaxy S24 Ultra for a week before this review posted, but I have more experience with Samsung Galaxy Ultra phones than any other phone model, and perhaps more than any other reviewer. I worked for Samsung as an internal reviewer when the first Galaxy Note was launched, and I have used every Samsung S Pen-enabled smartphone ever produced, including the one that nobody else used because it exploded. 

While Samsung provides review units for me to borrow, I have purchased my past two Galaxy S21 Ultra and Galaxy S23 Ultra devices with my own cash, and this phone is calling my name. 

I used the Galaxy S24 Ultra to its utmost, testing every single new feature that Samsung has marketed, and retesting all of my favorite old features. I used AI for messaging, summaries, and transcription, in addition to testing the translation features with foreign language teachers and students. I also tested DeX for work, Bixby for interface control, and all of the other Samsung features. 

I played games with the Galaxy S24 Ultra, mostly Call of Duty Mobile and Marvel Snap, in addition to trying others, like the new Warcraft Rumble game that just launched late in 2023. I play games at the maximum settings, with Bluetooth headphones and a Bluetooth joystick attached where appropriate. 

I also tested the Galaxy S24 Ultra with accessories and external devices, including a Dell monitor, Razer Blackwidow keyboard, and Logitech Master MX 2 mouse for DeX. I used a variety of wireless earbuds, including Galaxy Buds FE, Pixel Buds Pro and Nothing Stick 2 earbuds, as well as Ray Ban Meta smart glasses. 

The Galaxy S24 Ultra was benchmarked in Future Labs by our resident benchmarking expert, and results were shared and discussed with review editors. Benchmarks do not affect review scores in any way, and are helpful for comparison but not for real-world review purposes. 

I tested the Galaxy S24 Ultra camera in a shootout against the current best cameras available, including the Galaxy S23 Ultra, the iPhone 15 Pro Max, the OnePlus 12, and the Google Pixel 8 Pro. I took hundreds of photographs under the same lighting conditions for each, with similar settings enabled. Then, I compared the photographs when viewed on a professional Dell monitor at full resolution. 

Read more about how we test

First reviewed January, 2024

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review – buy this phone instead of that other one
2:00 am | December 9, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Phones Samsung Galaxy Phones | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Galaxy S23 FE: Two-minute review

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

If you ask Samsung folks what the ‘FE’ in Galaxy S23 FE stands for, they’ll tell you it no longer stands for ‘Fan Edition’; it doesn’t stand for anything. I’m telling you this really is a Galaxy S23 for the fans. By ‘fans,’ I mean folks who appreciate the best that Samsung offers, even when they can’t afford the best that Samsung offers. Like car fans will look for great used car deals, and fashionistas find flash sales and samples, Samsung fans can still get (most of) the best of the Galaxy S world without paying sky-high prices. 

The Galaxy S23 FE is a bargain, especially if you find it on sale, and it quickly went on sale for Black Friday soon after launch. This phone lists for $599 in the US, but it dropped as low as $399 for Black Friday, and it’s still got a discount as of this writing. This is a phone that is meant to fill the wide price gap between the Galaxy S23 and the Galaxy A54, but it will also be a terrific bargain when sales are active. 

What makes this a Galaxy S23 for the fans? It’s very powerful, thanks to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 platform that was the engine for the Galaxy S22 Ultra. It has solid cameras with excellent features, including cool photo modes that are easy to use and make your photos look much better. It also has a solid build quality, with total water resistance. It even comes in some cool colors. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

Of course, because it’s a Samsung, the Galaxy S23 FE also goes over the top in ways that other bargain phones don’t. For instance, the Galaxy S23 FE can run DEX, Samsung’s desktop environment that turns your phone into a laptop when you plug it into a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. That’s a great feature if you use your phone for email, apps, and playing games that you don’t usually run on your computer, and I can’t believe it’s included on the Galaxy S23 FE. 

The Galaxy S23 FE is overloaded with features, like every good Samsung phone. It not only includes wireless charging, it can share its charge wirelessly with other devices, so if your earbuds run out of battery you can just sit them on the Galaxy S23 FE. 

In some ways, the S23 FE even tops Samsung’s biggest competitor. It has Wi-Fi 6E, which the iPhone 15 can’t match. The iPhone has USB-C, but the Galaxy has a much more capable USB-C port with faster charging. Oh, it also has a real telephoto zoom lens with 3X optical zoom, in addition to the wide and ultra-wide lenses. Take that, iPhone. 

The downside? It looks like a cheaper version of the Galaxy S23. It doesn’t look like a bargain phone. Bargain phones gussy up cheap plastic to make a nice-looking shell that isn’t really durable. The Galaxy S23 FE feels plenty durable. It also feels thick and heavy. Definitely not chintzy, not at all, the materials feel strong and premium. Samsung just didn’t bother cutting any bulk from this big guy.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

That said, you’ll appreciate the durability in three or four years when you are still using this phone. Samsung has made an excellent promise of four years of OS updates and five years of security patches, and that’s stellar for a phone in this price range. 

The Galaxy S23 FE is easy to recommend, whether or not it’s on sale, especially against other phones you can find for the same price. It’s more powerful than a Google Pixel 7, with more features. It’s got better cameras than the Motorola Edge. It’s not already two years old, like the comparably-priced iPhone 13

If you’re deciding whether to spend a little bit more to get this phone, I’d say it’s worth the extra. Samsung gives you a lot when you jump into the Galaxy S family. If you want a phone that’s better than this, you’ll have to spend a lot more.

Want more of our thoughts on the latest Galaxy phones? Check out our news round-ups for the upcoming Galaxy S24 and the rumored Galaxy S24 Ultra

Galaxy S23 FE review: Price and availability

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Starts at $599.99 / £599 / AU $899 for 128GB and 8GB RAM
  • Less expensive than the Galaxy S21 FE was
  • Great sales already dropped this to $399.99 in US

For a while, if you had around $600 / £600 / AU $900 to spend on a phone, there weren’t any great options from Samsung. You could find cheaper phones like the Pixel 7 or the Galaxy A54. Or, you could get an iPhone 13, which is still available new. Otherwise, you mostly had to hope for a deal to drop a great flagship phone into your price range. 

Enter the Galaxy S23 FE, or I should say re-enter the FE because we had a Galaxy S21 FE, but that phone was disappointing. It was expensive and underpowered. There was no Galaxy S22 FE, despite rumors, and Samsung seems to have listened to criticism to get the Galaxy S23 FE into the sweet spot for a bargain edition of its flagship phone. 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the deals we’ve already seen on this phone. We rarely get such amazing deals before we can even finish a review. This phone hadn’t launched in the UK when Amazon dropped the price in the US to $399.99, which is absurdly low. From here on, we’ll be looking for price drops on this device, as it seems to be an early favorite to put on sale. 

Even at full price, however, the Galaxy S23 FE is a good choice. It has some important features that other phones lack, like IP68 water and dust resistance, and it has some niceties that even some flagship phones still skip, like wireless charging and reverse wireless charging. It’s powerful and durable, and Samsung will support it with major updates for four years, so it has better longevity than most phones. 

If you can find a deal, absolutely grab this phone. Even if you can’t, this is the best new phone you can buy at this price.

  • Value score: 5 / 5

Galaxy S23 FE review: Specs

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

The Galaxy S23 FE uses the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 platform found on the Galaxy S22 family, including the Galaxy S22 Ultra. It has the same 8GB of RAM that you’ll find in the Galaxy S23. In other words, it’s plenty powerful. It’s powerful enough to be a real workhorse for creative types, running photo editing software like Lightroom and recording video up to 8K resolution.

Where does Samsung cut corners? Well, Qualcomm’s newest processor is a bit faster than the 2022 chipset. The screen on the S23 FE is very nice, but the regular Galaxy S23 is brighter. The main camera is similar, but the ultra-wide and zoom cameras are better on the Galaxy S23, which can handle more advanced video shooting. 

Still, this is an impressive phone for the money, especially thanks to the excellent build quality that screams durability, and the extra large battery inside. This phone had no trouble lasting all day, and it was fun to use. Nothing about the Galaxy S23 FE tells you that it's a bargain phone unless you spend a lot of time with phones like the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Galaxy S23 FE review: Design

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Great color options, with exclusives on Samsung’s site
  • Big, thick, and chunky
  • Design is youthful, like a My First Galaxy phone

Do smartphone colors seem a bit serious to you? The Galaxy S23 FE is here to help. The purple on my review sample is the happiest purple I’ve seen on a phone in years. The tangerine color will inspire oohs from folks who spot your phone. The colors are bright, glossy, and saturated. You can still get cream or graphite if you want to be boring, but there is also a lovely mint and a cloudy indigo blue. 

Why start with the colors? Because if you’ve seen one Galaxy S phone, you’ve seen the rest. The design for the Galaxy S23 FE comes straight from the Galaxy S playbook. It’s glass front and back. The cameras are like portholes peeking out from beneath the sea of purple (or tangerine). The branding is remarkably subtle: you can’t see the word “Samsung” unless you hold the phone in the light just so.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

This phone is thick, for sure. The middle-child Galaxy S23 Plus has a larger display than the Galaxy S23 FE, but the FE is more than a half mm thicker, and it weighs a hefty 13 grams more than its bigger sibling. It looks big and feels big. It isn’t uncomfortable. The sides are brushed metal and nicely rounded, so it’s very comfortable to hold. It’s just a big chongus of a phone. 

With a thicker design, thicker bezels around the display, and brighter colors, the phone gives off a youthful vibe almost like a toy, but a toy that won’t break. It feels like a great starter phone if you want your kid to have something serious, but also something durable that won’t break the bank if they break it.

  • Design score: 3 / 5

Galaxy S23 FE review: Display

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Sharp with good color
  • Bright enough but not the brightest
  • Bezels are too large and asymmetrical

As you’d expect from a Samsung phone, the display on the Galaxy S23 FE looks great, especially against other phones at this price. It’s not quite as bright as the Galaxy S23, but it looks just as sharp and colorful, and it holds HDR10+ certification for watching streaming content in superior HDR quality. 

The bezels around the display are big and they aren’t symmetrical, which bothered me. I didn’t think it would bother me this much, but once I noticed that the lower bezels were bigger than the rest, I always noticed. I couldn’t not see the unevenness. Maybe this sort of thing doesn’t bother you. If it does, you know who you are, and this will bother you. 

There’s a good always-on display option on the Galaxy S23 FE, but it is turned off by default so you’ll have to dig to find it. If you’re a true Samsung fan, I also recommend downloading Samsung’s Good Lock app from the Samsung Galaxy Store. It has a lot of great themes, wallpaper, and lock screen options that are not part of the normal Samsung One UI. Only for true fans, though.

  • Display score: 4 / 5

Galaxy S23 FE review: Software

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Lots of apps, maybe too many
  • Features can be buried under layers of menus
  • Good search (and Bixby) can help

The great thing about Samsung phones is that they are loaded with features. The terrible thing about Samsung phones is that every year more and more features get crammed in, and the old ones just get pushed to the back of the Settings closet. The good news is that Samsung has great tools that can help, if you’re willing to give them a try. 

I’m talking about Bixby, and if you’re a Samsung fan then you don’t shudder or turn away in disgust when I say that name. The Galaxy S23 FE has more features than any other phone in its price range, and Bixby is the best way to find them. 

For instance, the Galaxy S23 FE can charge other devices wirelessly using a feature called Wireless Power Sharing. So, where do you find this feature? I’m going to tell you (and you won’t believe me), but the easiest way to find it is to just ask Bixby. Hold the Bixby button (read: Power button) and say, “Turn on wireless power sharing.” Voila! The feature is turned on. You won’t have to worry about the next part. 

4 Samsung Galaxy S23 FE phones

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

If you want to find wireless power sharing on your own, first grab your bullwhip and fedora, because this is an adventure. At first, I thought the feature was called “reverse wireless charging,” but it’s called wireless power sharing. I looked under the Battery and device care settings, but it wasn’t there. It wasn’t even buried under the corner submenu dots. I couldn’t find it. 

Then, on the Battery Settings screen, I see three meters that show how full your battery, your storage, and your RAM are currently. To find wireless power sharing, you have to tap on the Battery meter. There’s no indication that this is even a button or a menu. You just have to know. I’m a longtime Samsung user, so I expect these things. 

The problem with the Galaxy S23 FE and all of Samsung’s software is that far too many useful features are like this. They are buried. They are impossible to find. They are hidden under buttons that don’t even look like buttons. It’s great to have so many features, but Samsung needs to simplify.

Samsung DeX

Samsung DeX gives you a real desktop with a taskbar (Image credit: Future)

I was shocked to find Samsung’s powerful DeX on the Galaxy S23 FE. DeX is Samsung’s ‘desktop environment experience.’ It’s basically a new home screen that your phone creates when you connect to an external monitor. You can run multiple apps in windows side-by-side, just like you would on a laptop. It feels like a Chromebook. 

DeX is endlessly useful if you know when to use it. It’s especially great when you’re traveling and can just plug your phone into a workstation, or even connect wirelessly to a TV. It’s also nice if you have a work phone and a personal computer, or vice versa, and you don’t want to mix your work and personal lives on each device. You can just work on your phone the way you’d work on a computer.  

The Galaxy Z Flip 5, which has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor inside, doesn’t have DeX on board. Amazingly, a bargain phone like the S23 FE has such powerful software. You know what’s also amazing? Samsung forgot to load a Clock app. Or a Calendar. You can get the Google Clock and Google Calendar from the Google Play Store, but this was a really, really weird oversight. 

It’s time to simplify.

  • Software score: 3 / 5

Galaxy S23 FE review: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Cameras are very good for a phone this price
  • Some trouble with night photos
  • Solid zoom and great photo modes for fun options

The Galaxy S23 FE has very good cameras, and it sits in the middle of phones in this price range. The main camera is very good, especially under bright lighting conditions, though details weren’t always perfect. The 3X optical zoom camera is passable and better than the digital zoom you’ll get on other phones for this price. 

Samsung does a good job with its camera app, and you can trust the photo modes to do what they promise. The Food mode on Samsung cameras is one of my favorites, applying warm color tones and a nice bokeh blur to the background to make food subjects pop. In every mode, photos are highly saturated on this phone, but that’s nothing new to Samsung fans.

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE camera sample showing

A great sandwich deserves a great Food mode (Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

If you care about photography, you might be better off with an older phone like the Google Pixel 7, which takes slightly better pics and also gives you Google’s unique photo editing tools. Of course, the Galaxy S23 FE is powerful enough to run Adobe Lightroom, if you want to edit, so Google isn’t the only game in town.

The Pixel 7, like the Motorola Edge and the iPhone 13, skips the telephoto lens. If you want real zoom on your camera, you’re going to need the Galaxy S23 FE. I found zoom to be one of its best qualities, and even at night, zoomed-in pics looked pretty good.

Of course, because it’s Samsung, there are maybe too many camera modes, and not all of them are clear. If I’m shooting video, should I just use Video mode, or do I need to use Director mode? And what is this enigmatic Single Take mode, that lets you shoot anything from ‘boomerang clips’ to ‘collages’ to ‘cropped shots’ without explanation?

There’s a lot to love in the Camera app, but just like everything else on the Galaxy S23 FE, it needs to be simplified. Samsung needs to make more decisions for us and get rid of so many unnecessary options.

Confusingly, Samsung includes two photo gallery apps: its own Gallery and Google Photos. You can stick with Photos, but I’ve been using both for a long time, and Samsung Gallery backs up to OneDrive, so you have a cloud backup that follows you to your next device, just like with Google.

The camera was a bit less responsive than I’d like, and it seemed to take a beat to focus and snap a photo, especially in night mode. My photos still came out great, but if you’re chasing fast animals or rugrats for your pics, you may want a better camera phone.

Galaxy S23 FE camera samples

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Samsung Galaxy S23 FE camera sample showing

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
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Samsung Galaxy S23 FE camera sample showing

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Samsung Galaxy S23 FE camera sample showing

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Samsung Galaxy S23 FE camera sample showing

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Samsung Galaxy S23 FE camera sample showing

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Samsung Galaxy S23 FE camera sample showing

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Samsung Galaxy S23 FE camera sample showing

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Samsung Galaxy S23 FE camera sample showing

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Samsung Galaxy S23 FE camera sample showing

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Samsung Galaxy S23 FE camera sample showing

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Samsung Galaxy S23 FE camera sample showing

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Samsung Galaxy S23 FE camera sample showing

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Samsung Galaxy S23 FE camera sample showing

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Samsung Galaxy S23 FE camera sample showing

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Camera score: 3 / 5

Galaxy S23 FE review: Performance

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Excellent performance from a proven chipset
  • Much faster than anything else in its class (except iPhone)
  • Able to handle real performance tasks like DeX

Forget that the Galaxy S23 FE runs on a chipset that is now officially two and a half generations old. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 was fast enough for the Galaxy S22 Ultra, and it’s fast enough for anything you can do on an Android phone. If this phone is powerful enough to emulate a laptop in DeX mode, then you can be sure that performance is no problem. 

Gaming is also great on this phone, though the screen could be a bit brighter and maybe bigger for real gaming fanatics. Still, if you’re looking for a capable and affordable performer, the Galaxy S23 FE had no trouble tearing up cheap phone noobs on Call of Duty Mobile. It handles all the detailed particle and motion effects in Marvel Snap with aplomb, at 60 FPS.

  • Performance score: 4 / 5

Galaxy S23 FE review: Battery

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
  • Great battery lasted all-day
  • Lots of performance and power-saving options
  • Advanced charging modes for a bargain phone

The Galaxy S23 FE had no trouble lasting through a busy work day until it was time for bed. It may be big but that also means there’s space inside for more battery, and Samsung took advantage with a 4,500 mAh battery, which is much larger than the 3,900 mAh cell inside a Galaxy S23. 

Most of Samsung’s choices add up to better battery life on the Galaxy S23 FE. The screen isn’t as bright as the Galaxy S23? Saves battery. The processor isn’t as fast? Saves battery. These are worthwhile sacrifices, and I almost wish Samsung would make the same on its upcoming Galaxy S24 phones. 

Some phones can charge much faster than the Galaxy S23 FE, but it still hits a respectable 25W, which is about the best you can expect from an iPhone 15 Pro, anyway. Better than that, it has wireless charging, which is a feature some phone makers (looking at you, OnePlus) omit to cut costs. 

Not only does Samsung give you respectable 15W wireless charging, but you can also use the Galaxy S23 FE to wireless power share with another device, like your Galaxy Buds Pro (the Galaxy Buds FE case doesn’t charge wirelessly) or your friend’s dead iPhone. That’s a feature you only find on premium smartphones.

There are tons of power-saving features and performance adjustments you can make to save battery life, and I’m not going to rehash my same complaint about Samsung phones: great features, very hard to find. Dig and you shall be rewarded. Or just let the phone do its own thing and it will still last all day. Either way, the battery life was good.

  • Battery score: 4 / 5

Should you buy the Galaxy S23 FE?

Samsung Galaxy S23 FE review

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

Buy it if...

You have $600 or less to spend
The phone market is sharply divided between very expensive and very cheap phones. This is one of the few phones in the middle that gives you more and is worth buying.

You are a true Samsung fan
I don’t care if FE doesn’t stand for Fan Edition, this phone has DeX, zoom cameras, and software bloat. Don’t tell me it’s not for the fans.

You like bright, colorful phones
Honestly, most of the other phones in this price range are boring, black slabs, besides the odd-looking Pixel. Samsung gives you the best looking phone in bright, glossy colors.

Don't buy it if...

You need real camera performance
This is a great camera phone in the bargain phone price range, but premium phones are much better, and the Pixel 7 has some cool photo features unique to Pixel phones. 

You wear tight pants
The Galaxy S23 is a thin and light phone, but the Galaxy S23 FE is like the cousin that loves pasta and has a bigger battery. Big but beautiful? Definitely bigger. 

You want something simple
The Galaxy S23 FE is a bargain phone with a lot more, so if you want something simple and easy, find an iPhone you can afford, instead. 

Galaxy S23 FE review: Also consider

Google Pixel 7
The Google Pixel 7 isn’t quite as powerful as the Galaxy S23 FE, but it does come with Google’s machine learning features that are exclusive to Google devices, including the Magic Eraser and other great photo editing tools. This might be the better camera pick for the money.

Motorola Edge (2022)
The Motorola Edge is a bargain phone that masquerades as a flagship. It looks pristine and professional, but it isn’t quite as powerful and the cameras can’t hold a candle to Samsung’s offering. You might find it cheaper, however.

How I tested the Galaxy S23 FE

  • Review test period: More than one month
  • Testing included: everyday work and personal use including web browsing, social media, photography, video calling, gaming, streaming video, music playback
  • Tools used: Anker Prime GaN charger, Galaxy Buds FE, Galaxy Watch 5

I used the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE for more than a month as my primary work phone. During this time, it was my business device for taking meetings and video calls, working while traveling and playing games on my commute to work. 

I used the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE to take photos, navigate with maps, and play games. I used it for phone calls and messaging of all sorts, including RCS messages and various messaging services, including Slack and WhatsApp. I also used Bixby to control the phone and to send messages using voice commands, especially while I was driving and using Android Auto. 

I played games extensively with the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE, and I tested it with several streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, and Max. 

I tested the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE with various accessories, including the new Samsung Galaxy Buds FE and the Galaxy Watch 5. I also used it with Pixel Buds Pro, my MX Master 2 mouse, and an SD card reader. For battery testing, I recorded my usage during the day and noted the times the phone died. I timed the phone during the charging process to verify charging claims.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed December 2023