Gadget news
Galaxy F15 5G teaser images leak, reveal a 6,000mAh battery and promise 4 OS updates
5:07 pm | February 19, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

Last week we saw a Geekbench result from the Samsung Galaxy F15 5G with a Dimensity 6100+ chipset, the same chip that is inside the Galaxy A15 5G. The two phones have a lot in common, though as leaked teaser images show there will be some differences too. The biggest is that the F15 will have a 6,000mAh battery (1,000mAh more than the A15). This is the same capacity as last year’s Galaxy F14 5G that this phone will replace. We also saw the battery in question get certified recently. Anyway, the phone should support 25W charging over USB-C. Samsung Galaxy F15 5G: 6,000mAh...

Durabook S15 review
4:31 pm | February 8, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Durabook S15: 30-second review


CPU: Intel Core i5 (12th Gen)
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe; Optional NVIDIA Quadro T1000
RAM: 32GB - Up to 64GB (4800 MHz DDR5)
Storage: 500GB (256GB-2TB NVMe PCIe SSD; Optional 2nd/3rd storage)
Rear Ports: Thunderbolt 4, USB 3.2 (Type A/C), HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, Serial, Nano-SIM, DC-In
Front Ports: Audio in/out, microSD card
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth V5.3; Optional GPS, 4G/5G
Audio: Integrated microphone, High Definition Audio, Speakers
Camera: Optional 2.0/5.0 MP; IR for Windows Hello
Size: 375mm x 273mm x 29.5mm; Weight: 2.6kg
OS installed: Windows 11 Pro 64-bit
Accessories: Various, including SSDs, Docking Stations, Adapters

The Durabook S15 strikes a fine balance between rugged durability and a sleek, slimline design. Its build quality is reassuring and reinforces its capability to withstand challenging conditions; it's also a reflection of its rugged aesthetics. 

WIth plenty of experience testing the best rugged laptops, one aspect that really stands out is how this model is impressively adaptable, offering customisation options, including CPU and GPU variations at the time of purchase. Our test of the base model, equipped with an Intel i5 CPU and Intel Iris XE GPU, demonstrated sufficient flexibility with ample RAM, 32GB, and storage expansion options. Despite not being waterproof, its IP5X rating highlights its resilience in tough environments.

In use, the S15 effortlessly handles office tasks and internet browsing, with Windows operating smoothly across various applications. However, its base GPU does show limitations when pushed with graphically intensive tasks, a gap filled by the optional NVIDIA Quadro T1000 variant for those needing extra power. Durability tests, including repeated drop tests, underscore its robustness, easily surviving falls from typical working heights.

In essence, the Durabook S15 very much feels like that link between the refined style of the best business laptops we've tried and the durability of full-on rugged models. While it may struggle with high-end gaming or demanding CAD applications, its core strength lies in its tough build and operational flexibility. Durabook offers enhanced versions if you are looking for additional power, which makes the S15 a versatile choice for professionals who require a durable yet capable laptop.

Durabook S15: Price & availability

Durabook S15

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The Durabook S15 Semi-Rugged Laptop is available online from both the official Durabook site and elsewhere. Expect prices of around $2000 / £1800 plus. 

  • Score: 4/5

Durabook S15: Design & build

Durabook S15

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The Durabook S15's design is instantly recognisable as rugged, with the style highlighting the durable nature of the machine and how it is tailored to demanding field environments. Its exterior is notably tough, featuring a large, easy-to-use lever lock on the lid that ensures the laptop remains closed even when dropped, and it's designed in such a way that it's unlikely to be accidentally released. 

The laptop's build quality is reflected in design elements such as the toughened corners and overall sturdy construction. It is designed to withstand a significantly higher degree of physical stress compared to standard laptops, including resistance to knocks, scratches, and bashes, of which it sustained quite a few through the test. 

This durability is not just superficial; the attention to detail extends to the protection of vital components. All ports on the S15 are safeguarded by strong plastic doors, ensuring they remain free from dust and damage. This includes the expansion slot, which is versatile enough to accommodate traditional optical drives or a range of other drive types, such as NVMe SSDs. The laptop even supports RAID array configurations, demonstrating Durabook's commitment to providing flexible and practical solutions for field use.

One user-friendly feature is the inclusion of a convenient carry handle, making the laptop extremely easy to transport. This may seem like a minor addition, but for professionals working in field conditions, such convenience is invaluable. Overall, the Durabook S15's design and build quality clearly reflect a deep understanding of the challenging environments it is intended for, offering a highly functional and robust computer for on-site professionals.

  • Design: 4.5/5

Durabook S15: Features

Durabook S15

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The Durabook S15 is a decent blend of rugged durability and computing power, designed to meet the needs of professionals in demanding field environments. One of the standout features of the S15 is its incredibly thin and light profile, which is unusual for a rugged laptop. Despite weighing just 2.6kg and being only 29.5mm thin, it does not compromise on strength. It can endure a 4-foot drop and is both IP5X and MIL-STD-810H certified, ensuring reliability in challenging field conditions.

When using laptops outside, being able to see the screen clearly is essential, and here, the S15 features a 15.6-inch Full HD DynaVue sunlight-readable display, offering up to 1,000 nits brightness, making it perfect for outdoor use. Inside powering the graphics is Intel Iris Xe graphics, offering the average graphics processing speed that's required for standard Windows operation. For professionals needing more graphics power, such as in rendering or CAD applications, there's an option to upgrade to the NVIDIA Quadro T1000 at the time of purchase.

Mobility is a key aspect of the S15's design, with options for 4G LTE or 5G cellular connections, along with Bluetooth V5.3 and Wi-Fi 6E. For remote workers, the optional built-in GPS is a great addition, providing accurate location tracking. The laptop also features a long-life battery, capable of operating up to 12 hours of standard use, and the option of a bridge battery for swapping in the field, which is crucial for many industries.

Beyond just being a laptop, the S15 can transform into a mobile workstation. It can be equipped with up to three storage drives, supporting RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations. The flexibility extends to its media bay, which can be converted into an ExpressCard 54 slot, broadening its use.

The connectivity and security features of the S15 include an array of ports, including Thunderbolt 4, USB 3.2 Type-A/-C, HDMI, and VGA, ensuring easy connection in any work setting. Security is paramount, with multi-factor authentication options like Windows Hello webcam, RFID/NFC, smartcard, and fingerprint readers safeguarding sensitive data.

The ergonomic design of the S15 includes a 98-key membrane keyboard with a dedicated numeric keypad and optional LED backlight. Finally, the S15 offers expandability, and it can be configured with a dedicated graphics card for specialised tasks like graphics rendering and CAD programs and configured with additional connectivity options like a 2nd RJ-45 and a 2nd RS-232 port, making it an adaptable tool in an evolving mobile work environment. These are all added at the time of purchase and are not additions to the laptop you can make later. 

  • Features: 4/5

Durabook S15: Performance

Durabook S15

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Crystal Disk Read: 3647.40MB/s
Crystal Disk Write: 2200.13MB/s
GeekBench CPU Single: 3970
GeekBench CPU Multi: 1871
GeekBench Compute: 8727
PC Mark: 4314
CineBench CPU Multi: 4147
CineBench CPU Single: 1374
Fire Strike Overall: 2581
Fire Strike Graphics: 3053
Fire Strike Physics: 9825
Fire Strike Combined: 791
Time Spy Overall: 929
Time Spy Graphics: 830
Time Spy CPU: 2895
Wild Life: 5757
Windows Experience: 8.1

The Durabook S15 delivers a robust performance across various benchmarks, indicative of its capabilities in handling a range of tasks from basic to moderately demanding applications.

In terms of storage performance, the Crystal Disk scores are quite impressive. The read speed of 3647.40MB/s and write speed of 2200.13MB/s suggest that the S15 is more than capable of handling large files and data-intensive operations swiftly, making it suitable for applications that require quick data access and processing.

The Geekbench scores offer a glimpse into the CPU's capability. A single-core score of 3970 and a multi-core score of 1871 demonstrate that while the S15 is competent in handling everyday tasks efficiently, it might face some limitations in heavily multi-threaded applications. The computed score of 8727 further underscores its adequacy for general computing tasks.

In the CineBench tests, which are more focused on the CPU's rendering capabilities, the S15 scores 4147 in multi-core and 1374 in single-core tests. These scores reflect its ability to manage moderately demanding rendering tasks, although it may not be the top choice for highly complex rendering work.

The graphics performance, as indicated by the Fire Strike and Time Spy benchmarks, shows a decent capability with overall scores of 2581 and 929, respectively. The laptop seems to handle standard graphical tasks well, but it might not be optimal for high-end gaming or advanced 3D rendering. The Wild Life score of 5757 further reinforces this perspective.

Lastly, the Windows Experience score of 8.1 is a good indicator of the laptop's overall capability to provide a smooth user experience for most typical applications and tasks.

The Durabook S15 appears to be a solid performer for everyday professional tasks, including data management and basic graphical applications. It offers quick storage speeds and decent CPU and GPU performance, making it a reliable choice for professionals who require a rugged laptop with balanced performance features. However, for highly demanding graphical or rendering tasks, it might be worth considering models with higher-spec CPUs and GPUs.

As well as the standard computing performance test, this is a tough laptop, and as such, the durability of the S15 also needed to be tested. In the product description, Durabook highlights that the laptop is IP5X rated and drop-proof to 4 feet. 

In the first test, the laptop was used in a CNC, laser and 3D print workshop, left between the Bambu Labs A1 and the SnapMaker Artisan with CNC tooling. It was left open to the debris created by the two machines. While most laptops will withstand this amount of dust, it can render keys and ports blocked. Here, due to the design of the keyboard, the dust was not an issue, and a quick shake and vacuum quickly returned the machine to an almost new condition. Likewise, the plastic port covers did their job of keeping dust out.

The next test was to see how the laptop would cope with being used in light rain. It's worth noting that this is not a waterproof laptop, so time in the rain was kept to five minutes. Here again, the laptop functioned without issue and continued to work after the product shot without issue. 

The final test was the drop test here, measuring four feet off the floor. The laptop was dropped, then dropped again, rotated, dropped, etc. and aside from a nasty crack as it hit the stone and then the wooden floor on countless occasions, it seemed to be absolutely fine.

  • Performance: 3.5/5

Should you buy the Durabook S15?

Deciding whether to purchase the Durabook S15 hinges on your specific needs. Its rugged design, MIL-STD-810H and IP5X certifications make it an ideal if you're a field professional working in uncontrolled environments, workshops, warehouses and factories. 

The inclusion of a 15.6” Full HD DynaVue display and options for Intel Iris Xe or NVIDIA Quadro T1000 graphics make it versatile for a range of professional tasks. Moreover, its lightweight and slim profile defies the typical rugged laptop stereotype, enhancing portability.

However, the S15 might not be the best fit for those requiring a machine for advanced gaming or intensive multimedia tasks like high-end video editing or 3D rendering nor should it be as that's not it's key market. While it performs well in standard and moderately demanding applications, its capabilities in handling extremely graphics-intensive tasks are limited. Additionally, the investment cost, which starts relatively high, should be considered, especially if your requirements are more aligned with general computing rather than rugged field use.

Durabook S15

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

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T-Bao MN78 Cyberpunk mini PC review
3:09 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

T-Bao Cyberpunk Mini PC: 30-second review


CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS
Graphics: AMD Radeon 780M 12cu
Storage: 512GB M.2 SSD
Rear Ports: 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x HDMI, 2 x LAN, 1 x DP
Front Ports: 2 x USB 3.2, 3.5mm audio, 1 x USB 4
Connectivity: WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
Audio: 3.5mm headphone jack
Camera: N/A
Size: 13.15 x 13.15 x 5.5 cm
OS installed: Windows 11 Pro
Accessories: Charge Adapter, User Manual

The T-Bao MN78 is a mini PC with a difference and one that will instantly appeal to gamers and, for that matter, anyone who wants a machine with a little aesthetic appeal. There's no doubt that the MN78 Cyberpunk name and futuristic design outline instantly that this is a machine designed for gamers, especially when plugged in and the rainbow lights illuminate. The T-Bao MN78 mini PC is a more affordable gamer option than the impressive Acemagic Tank 03, we reviewed. But then again, it doesn't quite have the pure processing grunt offered by some of the other best mini PCs we've tested.  

At the heart of the MN78 lies an AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS processor; this new generation of processors certainly ups the game when it comes to outright performance and, through the test, impressed. This processor is further boosted by the integrated AMD Radeon 780M GPU. While these processor combos were designed for laptops, they're perfectly suited to these mini PCs and offer superb performance. Whether it's running graphically intensive games or multitasking between creative applications, the MN78 proved a great solution. However, it's worth noting that in order to get the best gaming performance, a bit of tweaking in the graphics settings might be required for some games, such as Cyberpunk 2077; while this machine is good, it doesn't quite meet the power of a full-sized laptop.

Connectivity options on the MN78 are generous, featuring USB 3.2 and 2.0 ports, HDMI, DP, and Type-C ports, along with dual LAN ports. This range allows for easy connection to various peripherals and displays, making it a versatile unit for different setups.

While the machine is designed for gamers, it packs decent power, so it is perfectly suited to creative applications; the small size and distinctive design with a solid build means that it's easy to transport without worry. If you are looking for a decent all-rounder that looks a little different, then this is a great machine, although I would be tempted to opt for the 32GB RAM and 1TB SSD version to enable some headroom. 

T-Bao Cyberpunk Mini PC: Price & availability

T-Bao Cyberpunk Mini PC

(Image credit: Ali Jennings)

You can easily pick up the T-Bao MN78 Cyberpunk on popular online platforms like Banggood and Geekbuying, catering to a wide range of consumers. As of the latest information, it's priced at approximately $600-790 / £500-600. But we recommend checking the sites for flash sales and discounts to get it cheaper. 

You can get a variety of different configurations, such as the version with 32GB RAM and 1TB SSD, provides options if you need more power and storage, although this will come at a higher cost. 

  • Score: 4/5

T-Bao Cyberpunk Mini PC: Design & build

T-Bao Cyberpunk Mini PC

(Image credit: Ali Jennings)

This mini PC instantly stands out, blending functionality with futuristic, Cyberpunk aesthetics. Its compact form factor, measuring just 13.15 x 13.15 x 5.5 cm, makes it an ideal choice if you're limited in space. The machine's design sees a sleek, white exterior that reflects the Cypherpunk name engraved into the top, with plenty of venting to help aid with the cooling. If the futuristic white is not your thing, then the machine is also available in black.

The Cyberpunk-inspired design that truly sets the MN78 apart. The mini PC features customisable RGB lighting, which adds a vibrant touch to its overall look and really helps to define this as a gamer; a nice touch here is a button on the front that enables you to personalise the lighting in accordance with your mood or preference, which can be off if the bright light is too distracting. This feature is, of course, aimed at gamers, but it has a certain appeal beyond that genre as well.

In terms of build quality, the MN78 is impressive. OK, it's plastic, but it feels robust and well-constructed, indicating a focus on durability alongside style. If you want to take this machine with you, then the size and high build quality mean that it is very suitable for this purpose. Every aspect, from the ports to the cooling vents, has been well-designed, with good spacing for cable insertion and flexibility over the accessories you use. 

One of the key design features is its large cooling fan. This component can be seen through the cutouts in the top plate of the machine; these aren't just there for looks and serve a practical purpose in enabling heat management to keep the machine cool when working under load; the size of the fan also helps to contribute to the MN78's quiet operation.

  • Design: 4.5/5

T-Bao Cyberpunk Mini PC: Features

T-Bao Cyberpunk Mini PC

(Image credit: Ali Jennings)

Central to the MN78's performance is the AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS processor, designed for laptop platforms and perfectly suited to the compact PC form-factor, making it ideal for both demanding gaming sessions and intensive creative work. This processor features an integrated AMD Radeon 780M 12cu GPU. It's never going to be a true alternative to the best gaming laptops, but it offers enough processing weight to handle most modern games with ease, with some settings adjustments and creative applications. 

While internal processing is a key feature, unlike many other mini PCs we've tried, the striking design makes this model stand out. The futuristic design looks great, with the customisable RGB lighting adding ambience, but as well as being aesthetic, it also plays a functional role. 

The cutouts in the design enable plenty of venting, and all ports on the back are well-spaced, making plugging in and removing accessories nice and easy. The LEDs on the large cooling fan that covers the majority of the top section of the computer are visible through the cutouts on the top plate, which are all part of the design to enhance heat management. This ensures that the mini PC remains cool under load; playing Cyberpunk 2077 with some of the settings reduced to enhance the gameplay, the cooling system proved it's worth keeping the performance of the machine consistent and the fan noise low. 

Build quality is another area where the MN78 shines. Despite its plastic construction, it feels robust and well-made, indicating a focus on durability. The Build, coupled with the compact size of the MN78, makes it an ideal companion if you need a portable yet powerful computing solution for gaming, creative tasks or both. 

  • Features: 4/5

T-Bao Cyberpunk Mini PC: Performance

T-Bao Cyberpunk Mini PC

(Image credit: Ali Jennings)

Crystal Disk Read: 5072.98
Crystal Disk Write:
GeekBench CPU Single:
GeekBench CPU Multi:
GeekBench Compute:
PC Mark:
CineBench CPU Multi:
CineBench CPU Single:
Fire Strike Overall:
Fire Strike Graphics:
Fire Strike Physics:
Fire Strike Combined:
Time Spy Overall:
Time Spy Graphics:
Time Spy CPU:
Wild Life:
Windows Experience:

The T-Bao MN78 showcases impressive performance across a variety of applications and games and, through the test results and real-world usage, we found it to pack more power than most.

Starting with benchmark tests, the Crystal Disk Read and Write scores of 5072.98 and 2598.10, respectively, show swift data transfer rates, making it an excellent choice for tasks requiring quick access to large files such as video editing. The GeekBench scores, both in single (2486) and multi-core (11474) tests, highlight the processor's efficiency in handling both singular intensive tasks and multitasking scenarios. The high GeekBench Compute score of 32878 further underscores its graphical power, helping with gaming and video rendering.

In CineBench tests, the MN78 achieves a multi-core score of 14608 and a single-core score of 1720, which indicates that it will be able to handle CPU-intensive tasks effectively. The PC Mark score of 7243 aligns with this, suggesting a well-rounded performance in everyday computing tasks.

Gaming performance is the main focus of this machine. In the Fire Strike and Time Spy tests, the MN78 scores 6587 and 3004 overall, with particularly strong results for graphics and physics, again reinforcing its suitability for gaming. The Wild Life score of 13154 and a Windows Experience Index of 8.2 shows that it's good for gaming as well as general use.

Real-world application tests paint a similar picture. In Photoshop, the MN78 performs excellently, though the benefit of a RAM upgrade to 32GB and a larger SSD for files from the latest cameras, such as the Sony A7IV and Canon EOS R5 C. And there's scope for swapping out the best video editing laptops for the even small, more portable mini PC in some use-cases. Its performance in Premiere Pro is excellent for HD video editing and good for 4K, showing it can handle professional-grade video editing tasks, albeit more comfortably with expanded memory and storage.

Gaming tests reveal its abilities further. It was never going to match the power of the best gaming PCs, of course - while playing Cyberpunk, we had to make adjustments in settings for optimal performance. But the gameplay was more than satisfactory, and running the in-game bench helped me fine-tune the settings. In Dirt Rally and Portal 2, the MN78 delivers excellent performance, showcasing its ability to handle fast-paced games and deliver smooth graphics. Hogwarts Legacy also runs excellently after some settings adjustments.

Overall, the T-Bao MN78 Mini PC is as a versatile performer, capable of handling a range of tasks from professional creative applications to intensive gaming, with the lowering of some graphic and resolution settings. While it benefits from additional RAM and storage for more demanding tasks, its base configuration offers a solid foundation for a variety of uses.

  • Performance: 4.5/5

Should you buy the T-Bao Cyberpunk Mini PC?

The T-Bao MN78 is a great blend of style, power, and versatility, offering great value for money. Its performance in gaming and creative tasks is impressive, especially considering its compact form. The customisable RGB lighting and sleek design add to its appeal, making it not just a powerful machine but also a stylish addition to your desktop. While it excels in many areas, the need for potential upgrades in RAM and storage for high-end tasks is worth considering. Overall, for those seeking a compact yet powerful PC, the MN78 is a solid choice in the mini PC market.

T-Bao Cyberpunk Mini PC

(Image credit: Ali Jennings)

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Apple Vision Pro review: The spatial computing revolution is here, and I love it
7:17 pm | February 7, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Software Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Apple Vision Pro: Two-minute review

Apple has spent almost a decade developing the Vision Pro, and it shows. Everything about it is spectacular, from the exquisite design to brilliant visuals that blend the real with the fantastical, to the versatility that puts other mixed-reality headsets to shame.

The fact that, even after all that work, there are still limitations is frustrating. Sure, I want a sub-1lb/500g headset that somehow integrates the battery; and, of course, I want it to cost $500. The state of the art, even Apple’s bleeding-edge form of it, isn’t there yet. None of that, however, makes me think less of the Vision Pro. It's a stunning achievement in industrial design and technology that translates the inscrutable worlds of AR, VR, and mixed reality into an experience that pretty much anyone can understand and enjoy.

Using your gaze and gestures (finger taps, long pinch, pull) to control a computer is the intuitive technology control you didn’t know you were missing – the millimeter precision is more like what you’d expect from a seasoned OS, not the brand new Vision Pro platform, visionOS, Apple introduced nine months ago. Apple got this right on the first try, and it could become as second-nature as tapping, pinching, and swiping on an iPhone or iPad is today.

Apple Vision Pro Review

(Image credit: Future)

As a new computing platform, the Vision Pro is rich with features and possibilities. The fact that it does so many things so well, and that they work and make sense, is a testament to Apple’s efforts. I’ve been marveling at the attention to detail, and at how a bleeding-edge, V1 product can feel so finished and complete. Apple has created a headset that I’m itching to wear almost every day, and if I did nothing but work in it the Vision Pro would transform my life. I’ve long dreamed of having a 150-inch or larger workspace, but I couldn’t imagine how it would be practical or, more importantly, viewable. With the Vision Pro, I get an almost unlimited desktop that makes me want to never return to the confined space of my laptop.

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Apple Vision Pro Review

Encounter dinosaurs remains one of the most eye-popping Vision Pro experiences… (Image credit: Future)
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Apple Vision Pro Review

…especially when this virtual butterfly lands on your finger (Image credit: Future)

I’ve rarely tested a technology that has moved me in the way the Vision Pro does. Spatial videos are so achingly real that they instantly trigger an emotion that a flat image might not. Being up close with otherworldly or prehistoric creatures that seem to almost see me is at once jarring and thrilling. To pull this off, you need more than great apps, software, developers, and artists; you need a cohesive system that brings it all to life. The Vision Pro does it time and again, with 23 million pixels of imagery, spatial audio that travels the distance from band-bound speakers directly to your ears, and eye-tracking that knows your gaze better than you do.

There are frustrations and missteps, too.

Apple Vision Pro Review

Apple Vision Pro with the Solo Knit Band (Image credit: Future)

I struggled to find the best fit, and while I can now wear the Vision Pro for hours, my face reminds me afterwards that it’s not built for this. I've struggled on occasion to find a fit that doesn’t cause me some niggling discomfort (although the more immersed I get, the less I feel anything).

I don’t mind the external battery, but it feels not quite up to the task when you want to watch a 3D movie and power seems to drain at double speed. Thank goodness the battery can be plugged in for continued use.

Apple Vision Pro Review

You won't go anywhere without that battery pack (Image credit: Future)

While I think the outside-in pass-through technology that marries the real and computer-generated worlds is among the best I’ve seen, Apple’s attempts to keep you connected to people in front of you and through, say, FaceTime calls, need work. Personas are just this side of creepy, and EyeSight, which shows a video of your eyes to those around you on the exterior screen, looks a bit scary. Then there's the price, which is overwhelming, and will be an instant turnoff for many. I wonder, though, if they might feel differently after their first experience – I’d argue that they will decide they want a Vision Pro, and the only question will be how they can afford it.

Apple Vision Pro Review

(Image credit: Future)

Apple Vision Pro: Price and availability

  • Expensive
  • Price does not include lens inserts
  • No yet available outside the US

Apple announced its Vision Pro headset on June 5, 2023, at WWDC 2023. It's available now in the US, and costs $3,499 for the 256GB model. Preorders opened on January 19, and the headset began shipping on February 2. Availability and pricing for other markets is yet to be confirmed, but Apple says that will follow in 2025.

Value score: 4

Apple Vision Pro: What's in the box

Everything that's inside the Apple Vision Pro box

Here's what you'll find when you unbox your Vision Pro (Image credit: Future)

So what do you get for your $3,499 (Apple sent me the 1TB version, which starts at $3,899 – you can opt for a $3,699 512GB headset)? Essentially, in the box is everything you need to put on and start using the Vision Pro. In order of importance:

  • There’s the Vision Pro system
  • A battery with attached cable
  • USB-C charge cable and 30W adapter
  • The Solo Knit Band
  • A Dual Loop Band
  • Two Light Seals Cushions
  • A fabric cover
  • A polishing cloth

The only thing that's not included, and which you might need, as I did, are the Zeiss prescription lens inserts. These will run you $99 for reading-glass lenses, and $149 for full prescription lenses, which is what I need. The Vision Pro might be unusable for those with particular sight issues – Apple can let you know upfront if that's likely to be the case.

It all arrives in a large white box that has all the hallmarks of containing a high-end Apple product.

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Apple Vision Pro carrying case

The optional case costs $199 but I thick its worth it (Image credit: Future)
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Apple Vision Pro carrying case

(Image credit: Future)
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Apple Vision Pro carrying case

(Image credit: Future)

You can buy an optional carrying case for $199, and, considering that you just dropped almost $3,500, I think it’s money well spent, although some might argue that Apple should include the case with the expensive headset. Apple sent me the case; it's compact, and has storage space for everything I mentioned above, and I think the hard-shell, soft-surface body will do wonders to protect your expensive new toy.

Apple Vision Pro: Specs

The headgear is, in some ways typical goggle size: it's roughly six inches wide by almost four inches deep from the edge of the Light Seal to the front of the glass, and almost four inches tall. 

Perhaps the most important spec of all, though, is the weight. Depending on which bands you use, the Vision Pro clocks in at 1.3 to 1.4lbs, or 600 to 650g. The external battery, which I kept either in my pocket, on the table, or on the couch next to me (later I got a nice $49.95 Belkin Case, so I could attach it to my belt), weighs just over three-quarters of a pound, or around 350g. Thank goodness Apple opted to not integrate the battery in its first mixed-reality headset.

Apple Vision Pro: Performance

  • Powerful, proven M2 chip
  • R1 appears to take the visual load
  • Never a lag
  • Could do with more base storage

Apple’s Vision Pro works as well as it does not only because of the design and remarkably intuitive interface. As always, it’s what’s inside that really counts.

At its heart is the  M2 chip, a second-generation piece of Apple silicon, featuring an 8-core CPU and a 10-core GPU that powers, for instance, the most recent MacBook Air (MacBook Pros now have M3 chips). In my experience, this is a powerful chip that’s well qualified to handle the demands of virtual and augmented reality.

However, the M2 has the support of a new piece of Apple silicon, the R1 chip, which appears to be primarily in charge of managing those 4K screens, and maintaining a 12-millisecond image update so that what you see is clear and butter-smooth.

The Vision Pro’s dual 4K micro-OLED displays with 23 million pixels are also industry-leading. My experience with the headset is that I get crystal-clear imagery wherever I look, and at whatever size I make the screens.

Apple Vision Pro Review

The Vision Pro's audio comes through a pair of audio pods which are hidden under that white rubber (Image credit: Future)

Apple has placed the stereo audio pod headphones on the stiff white rubber stems that feed into the Vision Pro frame, but they provide excellent spatial audio that’s arguably as good as anything you might get with in-ear buds. If you place an app on your virtual left, the audio will come from that space. At one point, I took a screen that was playing video and slowly dragged it from one side of my space to the other, and the audio tracked perfectly from my left side to the middle and then to the right. There’s also a six-microphone array that does a good job of picking up “Siri” commands. I love summoning Siri because, in the Vision Pro, the digital assistant is embodied as a small floating glass orb.

Apple Vision Pro bottom edge cameras

The Vision Pro's bottom-edge cameras (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

There are numerous cameras arrayed on the outside and inside of the Vision Pro. The two on the front handle the stereoscopic imagery that you can see and capture in photos and videos that you’ll play back later, and sometimes cry over.

The Vision Pro supports Wi-Fi 6 (though oddly not Wi-Fi 7, which in a few years will be ubiquitous) and Bluetooth 5.3, the latter of which allowed me to easily connect the Vision Pro to an Xbox controller, Magic Keyboard, and Magic Trackpad. 

Apple Vision Pro virtual keyboard

The Vision Pro is best for a quick message or short sentences; typing anything of length on it is virtually impossible (Image credit: Future)

The Vision Pro also displays a virtual keyboard that you can poke at in space. This can be resized and positioned to your liking, but the lack of physical and tactile feedback makes it difficult, at best, to use. What’s worse is that because you may not be looking at the keyboard when you type, the gaze control system can’t really help you with accuracy. To be fair, I’m a terrible typist and do often look at the keyboard when touch-typing. Ultimately, if I want to type within visionOS while wearing the headset, I find that using the Magic Keyboard Apple sent me is best (they also sent a Magic Mouse that can work across both visionOS and my connected MacBook Pro’s virtual display).

Apple provided me with a 1TB Vision Pro test unit, which retails for $3,899. The base model, which costs $3,499, starts with just 256GB of storage. Apple pitches the Vision Pro as the first “spatial computer,” which makes me wonder why it didn’t start with at least a half-terabyte of storage as standard.

Performance score: 4.5

Apple Vision Pro: Design

  • Exquisite materials and build
  • Good looks hide impressive specs
  • Not that light
  • External battery

I know people joke about the Vision Pro looking like a pair of hyped-up snow goggles. Maybe so, but I’d argue there’s not one false note in this design. Apple, as it often does, chose the best material, with a particular focus on weight. So, it’s a mix of an aluminum body, magnesium, carbon fiber, and woven fabric. It’s virtually all curved, with a gleaming glass front that protects the screen marrying almost seamlessly with the body.

There’s a lot of technology packed into the Vision Pro, but Apple has made some effort to hide it. There are cameras behind the glass, and a set of them along the bottom edge that watch your face and hands. The AudioPod speakers that deliver near-perfect spatial audio are hidden behind stiff, white rubber.

Along one side of the top edge is a familiar piece of technology: the Digital Crown. When I first saw this, I wondered why Apple would pull an idea from Apple Watch and slap it on its newest device. But Apple considers the Vision Pro to be a wearable, so there’s some logical continuity here. Plus, the Digital Crown turns out to be one incredibly useful and important piece of Vision Pro technology.

The 'Top Button' on the top left side, which is mostly used for Spatial Photos and Video, gets far less use.

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There are some large vents on the top of the frame, and a grille on the bottom, and these seem to work together to draw air in and flow it up and away from your face. The Vision Pro does get warm, but never so much so that it’s uncomfortable.

The Vision Pro and the Light Shield both curve to meet your face, but the crucial bit that makes this design work is the foamy Light Seal cushion. This rests on and follows the contours of your face, and it’s about as comfortable as such a thing should be, though on occasion during my testing time I've wondered if it should be either thicker or denser.

Apple Vision Pro Review

Once I settled on the Dual Loop Band, I found my Vision Pro comfort zone. (Image credit: Future)

Attaching this spatial computer to your head requires a band, or a pair of bands. The default Solo Knit Band is wide, and can be adjusted via a dial to make it tighter or looser. It’s never offered enough support for me, though.

It’s worth pausing here to remind you that the Vision Pro weighs 1.3lbs. That’s not particularly heavy in itself, but a typical set of eyeglasses might weigh 0.08lbs, and now imagine attaching a pound of ground beef to your head. This experience is far more enjoyable, but it needs support. In contrast to the Solo Knit Band, the Dual Loop Band supports the headset on the back of your head and across the top of it, and I bet most people will prefer it over the more attractive Solo Knit version.

Design score 4.5

Apple Vision Pro: Setup

I would not call any part of the Vision Pro setup process complicated or off-putting. There are several steps to go through, but mostly these are to customize the experience. As for assembling it, there’s the matter of which band you choose for comfort, and fitting the right Light Seal (the thinner one is standard, the thicker one is for glasses-wearers who have those Zeiss inserts). You also need to attach the battery cable, which snaps into the right side (if the headset’s glass is facing you) and locks on with a twist – there’s no chance of it popping off. The cable is long enough for you to drop the somewhat hefty battery into your pocket.

The bands snap on and off metal lugs using small orange pull tabs; I usually put the lens cover on, so that I can tip the Vision Pro on its face while I swap bands. Aside from the colorful screen behind the glass, which is just black when the device is off, that orange is the only bit of color pop on the headset.

If you ordered Zeiss prescription lenses, as I did, you’ll have to put them in before using the headset. They, like most other pieces on the Vision Pro (for instance the Light Seal and its cushion) attach magnetically. They’re also labeled, so you won’t get confused about which lens goes on which side. The box comes with a QR code that you’ll use to register the lenses with the headset.

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There’s also a QR code moment when you want to sync your Vision Pro with your phone and iCloud account. None of this takes long, or is even remotely confusing.

The rest of the setup occurs mostly with the headset on. Apple fans will appreciate the startup, which includes a floating Apple logo and then the iconic 'Hello' spelled out in 3D scripted letters floating in your real-world space. It’s just a hint of what’s to come.

One of the keys to the Vision Pro’s technical excellence is its ability to track your gaze (along with the dual 4K micro-OLED screens inside the headset are cameras pointed directly at your eyes). So, the setup begins with pressing the crown to get the pupillary distance – that is, the distance between your pupils – right. The screens mechanically shift position to match your pupils.

Apple Vision Pro Review

Looking at and selecting these dots is an important step in the setup process (Image credit: Future)

Next, to ensure that the Vision Pro fully understands where you’re looking, you go through a series of vision calibration tests, during which a circle of dots appears and you look at each one, and pinch your index finger and thumb together. You do this three times in three different environmental light settings. I’d already tried this five times over the last seven months of demos, so I'd gotten quite good at it.

The system also needs to calibrate for your hands. This process consists of holding them up in front of the Vision Pro. You’ll see a faint glow around the outside edges of your digits, and then you flip your hands over and do it again.

While the system may occasionally ask you to reset the pupillary distance by holding down the Digital Crown, you won’t have to perform any other part of the setup again. For Guest Mode, if you want to let someone else to try the headset, they’ll go through the vision and hand calibration, but the results will not be used by the Vision Pro when their session ends.

As I've said, I found this setup simple, and quite effective in that from that point on the system has seemed to know me every time I've donned the Vision Pro, and it worked as well as the time before. The only step I need to follow now to get started is logging in with a PIN. You can also log on with an iris scan (OpticID) but, while I successfully registered my iris, I could never unlock the Vision Pro with my eyes. I've asked Apple about this issue and will update this review with its reply.

Apple Vision Pro: Software and Interface

  • Excellent intuitive OS
  • A true 'think-do' interface
  • Spatial computing turns the world into an unlimited digital space

You start on the home screen, or Home View, which can be summoned with one press of the Digital Crown. This screen will look somewhat familiar to most Apple fans: there's a grid of preinstalled app icons, many of which match what you’ll find on your iPad or iPhone (Notes, Safari, Photos, Podcasts, Calendar, Mail, Files, etc), horizontally arrayed and floating in your real-world environment. You can use the pinch-and-wave gesture to move through multiple screens of apps. This is where the apps you install will live – you can download many more from the App Store, which now has more than 600 visionOS apps. There’s also access to 'Compatible Apps' folder, which collected all the iOS and iPadOS apps I installed on Vision Pro. Apple claims that roughly a million iOS and iPadOS apps already work with Vision Pro, even if they were not designed for visionOS and the Vision Pro. It's not hard, though, to find ones, like most Google apps, that don't.

Compatibility is a mixed bag. Sometimes it works perfectly, other times less so. NBA2K got stuck on setup screens and wouldn’t let me access the game. In the case of Paramount Plus, which is not officially designed to work on the headset, it played, but I couldn't expand the live video to a full window. Apps that have not been custom-built for visionOS were the ones most likely to crash.

The Vision Pro defaults to a full pass-through mode, although that’s a misnomer; you’re never looking directly at your surroundings. Instead, the cameras on the front deliver a clear video feed of your surroundings to your eyes. It’s the best way to marry virtual information with reality, and it's very effective.

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The Home View (Image credit: Future)
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Environments (Image credit: Future)
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Home View on 50 percent immersed envrionment (Image credit: Future)
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App Store (Image credit: Future)
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Arcade (Image credit: Future)
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Immersion and audio controls. both accessed by spinning the Digital Crown. (Image credit: Future)

The Vision Pro is constantly keeping track of your gaze, and your hands and fingers, so as long as your hands are in view of the cameras you can control anything you see simply by looking and pinching. The headset will not register gestures made behind your head, or if you drop your hands down to your side; I usually have my hands in my lap, or raise them in front of my chest to pinch, drag, and zoom. To telegraph my intentions, I simply look at something and then pinch to, for instance, open an app.

Once an app is open, you can move it about the room by grabbing a thin white bar at the bottom of the app’s screen. This isn’t hard to do; you just look at it, pinch to grab, and move it. You can also use this gesture to pull the app window closer or move it further away. On the bottom right corner is a curved bar that you can use to resize from, say, a big-screen TV size to a wall-size app. Inside an app you can look at, for instance, a photo in the Photo app, and use both hands with a pinch gesture to zoom in and out.

Apple Vision Pro Review

My work, entertainment, information, and creativity space is all around me (Image credit: Future)

While working and playing in apps, you can have them superimposed onto your real world, or select one of Apple’s Environments to change your surroundings. There’s Yosemite, Mount Hood, Joshua Tree, Haleakalā, Hawaii, and even the Moon, and each one is a 360-degree, 'live,' immersive experience, complete with spatial sounds. Once you've chosen an Environment, you can twist the Digital Crown to turn the immersion up or down (this is also how you raise and lower the volume – you just look at the Volume icon instead of the Environments one). Up means the real world increasingly fades, and you’re surrounded 360 degrees by, for instance, the dusty surface of the Moon. Your hands don’t disappear, but they’re not resting on your knees, and instead appear to be floating above the moon’s surface.

Apple Vision Pro Review

You can see my EyeSight here. That's not a pass-through; you're looking at screens displaying a video feed of my eyes from inside the headset (Image credit: Future)

While the Vision Pro can drop you into virtual reality, it’s smart enough to keep you connected to the outside world. When my wife started to speak to me during one immersive session, I could see her gradually appearing in front of me as we talked. On her side, she sees a video feed of my eyes on the front of the headset. Apple called this EyeSight, and it’s a hit-or-miss affair.

EyeSight shows a video recreation of your eyes based on what the camera sees inside the headset. The color is blue and purplish, and it can look, well, weird. My wife never liked it, but I noticed that she got used to talking to me while I was wearing the headset.

Software and interface score: 5

Apple Vision Pro: The Experience

  • There's nothing quite like using a Vision Pro
  • It can be hard to convey the experience to people on the outside
  • Your work life will change, too

If you can get your fit right (this can take some trial and error) there's nothing quite like the experience of using the Vision Pro. Even when I wasn’t wearing the headset, I found myself thinking about wearing and using it.

It's an able virtual-reality and mixed-reality machine, and I have much more to share there, but its ability to integrate my real-world work environment has been transformative for me.

I’ve spent many hours now working in the Vision Pro. To do so, you use the Control Center, which you access by glancing up until you see a green arrow and pinching to open, to launch the Mac Virtual display. In my case this showed me my MacBook Pro as an option, so I selected this and my desktop appeared before me as a huge 55-inch display. I could expand that to, say, 150 inches (or more), and then pull it close to me – this is the endless desktop I’ve always dreamed of, and none of this would work if every window, app, and bit of text weren’t crystal clear.

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That little arrow at the top is to access the Control Center (Image credit: Future)
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The Control Center has many of the typical Apple controls you'd expect (Airplane Mode, Bluetooth, etc). It also adds Mac Virtual Display and Screen Mirroring. (Image credit: Future)
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Choose your system (Image credit: Future)
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One click and the big screen will appear (Image credit: Future)

Just because I had my work desktop in front of me didn’t mean I lost out on the rest of the Vision Pro experience. On my right, I had Messages open (when a new message arrives, a green message icon floats in front of my face), and, on my left, I had my Photos. Sometimes, I would AirDrop an image (often a Vision Pro screen-grab that I'd captured by saying “Siri, grab a screenshot”) from the Vision Pro to my desktop, and then edit it in Photoshop on my giant virtual display.

You can place apps anywhere you want around you, and not just in one space. Vision Pro understands your space, even different rooms in your home.

One day I wanted to try JigSpace, an app that lets you manipulate and pull apart giant 3D objects like a race car. I wanted ample space to work, so I walked over to my den. The Vision Pro’s pass-through capabilities are good enough that I was never worried about navigating around my home, though I did need to sometimes look down to see what was near my feet. I would not recommend wearing your Vision Pro while walking in the street, where you need to pay attention to curbs and other obstacles.

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JigSpace let me put a jet engine in my den… (Image credit: Future)
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…and take it apart by looking and parts and grabbing them with my hands (Image credit: Future)

Once in the den, I opened JigSpace and started pulling apart a jet engine – whatever part I looked at, I could grab and drop somewhere around the room. Then I went back to work.

Hours later I was writing about JigSpace, but wanted to double-check something in the interface. I couldn’t find the app, so on a hunch, I got up and walked back into the den – and there was the app, where I’d left it hours before. What we have here with spatial computing and the Vision Pro is, maybe for the first time, the concept of space-aware computing. I could, perhaps, leave apps all over my house and the Vision Pro would remember where they were. To bring all open apps back into my local view, I just needed to hold down on the Digital Crown.

Experience score: 5

See more

Apple Vision Pro: Entertainment

  • An immersive entertainment experience
  • Spatial audio support is strong with or without AirPod Pros
  • Games designed for Vision Pro are often inspired
  • Compatible games don't always work as expected

I've tried watching movies on other virtual reality headsets, and it just never clicked. The Meta Quest Pro is an excellent device, but I still find it too uncomfortable to wear for more than 20 minutes at a time. There is, however, something special about watching a movie in the Apple Vision Pro, especially if you add in the AirPods Pro 2 (which include support for spatial audio and, thanks to their new H2 chip – also inside the Vision Pro – add support for lossless audio with ultra-low latency).

What makes it work so well isn’t only the near-perfect 3D fidelity (Disney Plus has a particularly excellent library of 3D films, including the trippy Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness), but also the way in which you can immerse yourself in the theater experience with various Environments. The Disney Plus app provides some of my favorites: there’s an Avengers space, a Monsters Inc. Factory, and the Disney Theater, which is probably my top pick overall.

Apple Vision Pro Review

Inside the virtual Disney Theater (Image credit: Future)

When the lights come down, and you’re staring at a giant 70mm or even IMAX-class virtual screen inside a darkened theater, you can almost smell the popcorn. There’s virtually no light leakage to break the illusion, and I had no trouble losing myself in the experience of watching a two-hour movie. One thing I did notice, though, is that 3D movies can chew through battery life. If you plan on watching, say, the three-hour and 26-minute Killers of the Flower Moon (an Apple production, by the way) you’ll want to plug in the battery using the included cable and charge adapter. They’ll provide all the pass-through power you need.

As I write this, YouTube and, more problematically, Netflix, are playing a wait-and-see game with the new platform. That’s a shame. I’d love to binge the next Squid Game inside the Vision Pro.

Marketing for the Vision Pro often shows people sitting down while using it, but, while I've spent most of my time seated, I have played games while standing. Synthriders is a Vision Pro-ready game that has elements of Beat Saber in it; your hands are orbs, and there are music-beat-based orbs flying at you that you must bounce back or ride the waves of with your hands. I played this while standing, and between waving my arms and ducking glass trapezoids flying at my head, it was quite a workout.

Apple Vision Pro playing Synthrider

Apple Vision Pro playing Synthrider (Image credit: Future)

Entertainment score: 4.5

Apple Vision Pro: Spatial Photography

Apple Vision Pro Review

(Image credit: Future)
  • Vision Pro is a strong spatial photography machine
  • An excellent spatial imagery partner for your iPhone 15 Pro
  • The spatial photography and videography playback effect is often moving

I love how Apple always manages to cook up new terms for existing technology that somehow manage to capture the imagination of regular people. 

Stereophotography is well over a century old, and many boomers and GenXers first experienced it in the 1970s with View-Master toys. The effect was okay, though not remotely immersive. With the Vision Pro, Apple has introduced the concept of spatial photography, a 21st-century upgrade of 3D photography and videography that puts 3D image capture in the hands of, or rather on the head of, everyone. It even extended the concept by building spatial video capture into the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max.

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Flat 2D screens cannot do spatial imagery justice. (Image credit: Future)

In some of my earlier Vision Pro demos, I played back spatial video that I'd captured on my iPhone 15 Pro Max on the Vision Pro. This was no View-Master experience: I could view the videos in a floating window, which put them at a certain remove, or use a pinch-and-expand gesture with both my hands to almost enter the video. The edges fade away, so the spatial video looks like it’s floating in a cloud.

The Vision Pro can capture both still and video spatial imagery. To capture, you use the dedicated button on the top-left side of the visor. A single press brings up the option to shoot photos or videos, and after you select one you press the button again to capture a single photo or start recording spatial video (you press it again to end the video capture). I did this with photos of my hand, and then a photoshoot with my son. Every time I view spatial imagery I have an immediate and automatic emotional reaction; when I replayed the spatial content it was like my son was standing before me, complete with his pained expression.

I must hand it to Apple, it doesn’t just invent new terms, it reinvents the experience.

Spatial photography score: 5

Apple Vision Pro: Communication and Personas

  • Personas can look strange, but they're more useful than you think
  • Communicating through iMessage and FaceTime is trouble-free

During setup, the Vision Pro will guide you to create a Persona, a 3D rendering of your head that you can use in FaceTime and other video calls. To build mine, I followed the instructions, removed the headset, and then pointed the display at my face. It captured me looking up, down, left, and right, as well as making a few facial expressions. All of this information enabled the spatial cameras to create a 3D map of my face.

Apple Vision Pro Review

(Image credit: Future)

When I put the Vision Pro back on, I could see my new Persona, which automatically started mimicking my facial expressions (the cameras inside and the ones pointed down at my face and hands capture my live expression). I added semi-translucent glasses to my Persona, and I was done and ready for a FaceTime call with my wife. She hated it. Even though I think my Persona is one of the better ones out there, I can’t deny the uncanny valley look of it.

Apple Vision Pro Review

Chatting with my colleague Ray Wong's Persona via FaceTime (Image credit: Future)

Later, I conducted a call with a colleague who was also testing the Vision Pro. We both remarked on the limitations of our Personas, but throughout our 20-minute conversation those concerns faded away, and I forgot that we weren’t looking at either our real faces or our real hands. I’m still convinced that Apple can do better here, but then that’s why Personas are still in beta. By the time you finally decide to buy a Vision Pro (or some version of it), I expect Personas to be much more realistic and palatable.

Communication and Personas score: 4

Apple Vision Pro: Final thoughts

The Apple Vision Pro is expensive, but I’m not sure I can argue that it’s too expensive for what it does. Someone asked me if I would buy it. I now know that if I could afford it, the answer would be an enthusiastic yes.

There has never been a wearable quite like the Vision Pro, let alone a mixed-reality headset like it. It’s a true 'think-do' platform. It’s powerful, but also inviting. It’s fun to use, but also completely ready for work. It might make you look like a bug, but there’s also beauty in its design.

Apple Vision Pro Review

I know, it's looks weird on the outside, but it's incredible on the inside (Image credit: Future)

I wish it were lighter, but still, I can forget I’m wearing it and give myself over to the experience of work, play, or entertainment in a dark, virtual theater.

I love working in the Vision Pro, but I'm aware that if you spend hours working in it, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to keep the headset on at the end of the day. Over time, Vision Pro enthusiasts will likely achieve a balance between work and play, though I’m convinced that the tug of this one-of-a-kind technology will remain strong.

The Apple Vision Pro instantly goes to the top of our list of the best virtual reality headsets. It may not be a best-seller yet, but those who have one will talk about it endlessly, and they may even let you try it. I suggest you take that opportunity if offered, or at least get yourself to an Apple Store for a demo.

There has never been anything quite like the Vision Pro. It's my favorite mixed-reality headset ever, and I’m certain that it has reinvigorated the AR/VR market while also creating something completely new. Spatial computing is a thing. Better get used to it.

Apple Vision Pro Review

Apple Vision Pro (Image credit: Future)

Should you buy the Apple Vision Pro?

Buy it if... 

Don’t buy it if… 

Also consider

How we test

For my Apple Vision Pro review, I spent almost a week, and as many hours each day as I could, wearing and using the mixed-reality headset. 

I watched movies, played games, communicated with friends and co-workers, streamed live TV, moved apps around my home, and did a lot of work on my giant MacBook Pro virtual display.

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed February 2024
Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro review: a gaming phone for everyone
2:01 pm | January 18, 2024

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

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro: Two-minute review

Last year’s Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate was arguably the best gaming phone on the market, but there was a considerable price to be paid for such gaming excellence. Quite literally, thanks to its hefty price, but also because it wasn’t the easiest phone to live with day to day.

The Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro is still very expensive, and it’s still a superb gaming phone. However, a radical rethink from Asus means that it’s now also an accomplished flagship smartphone in its own right.

Its refreshed design is much more discreet than before, with less of the gamer bling that would embarrass anyone not in thrall to Twitch game streamer culture. Crucially, the ROG Phone 8 Pro has also gained a couple of quality-of-life features that we’ve come to take for granted in similarly priced non-gaming phones, including an IP68 rating and wireless charging.

Another welcome flagship addition is a decent camera system, which is capable of capturing bright, sharp images in a range of scenarios. It’s not a photography front-runner, but it’s plenty good enough for daily snapping, which is arguably a first in a gaming phone.

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro from the back

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Slimmer bezels mean you’ll have to put up with a punch-hole selfie cam this time around, and there’s no dual front-facing speaker set-up. Meanwhile, the ROG Phone 8 Pro can’t quite offer the same level of sustained high-end performance as the Nubia Red Magic 9 Pro - not without the clip-on AeroActive Cooler X fan, at least, which only ships with the top model.

Even so, this remains a brilliantly balanced gaming phone. Performance is some of the fastest we’ve seen in any handset, while the ROG Phone 8 Pro’s 6.78-inch 165Hz AMOLED display is big, fast, and color-accurate.

You still get those little extras that make for a superior gaming experience, too, including flexible Air Trigger shoulder buttons and a secondary USB-C port along one of the longer edges.

All in all, raw performance aside, it’s difficult to say that Asus has made a flat out better gaming phone in the ROG Phone 8 Pro. What it’s made is a very good gaming phone that won’t let you down when you’re doing non-gaming things, which is arguably a way more valuable advance.

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro review: Price and availability

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro screen

(Image credit: TechRadar)
  • From $1,099 / £949 (approximately AU$1,640)
  • Out now

The Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro is out now, as it started shipping on January 16, 2024.

While the ROG Phone 8 Pro comes in three variants, they’re so fundamentally similar that we’ll be treating them as a single entity for the purposes of this review. Pricing starts at $1,099 / £949 (approximately AU$1,640) for the plain Asus ROG Phone 8, which comes with 12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and classic RGB lighting.

Moving up to the ROG Phone 8 Pro gives you 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and switches to subtle LED lighting on the back for a price of $1,199 / £1,099 (around AU$1,790).

The top model – which is the one we’ve been sent, and available exclusively through the Asus official online store – is the ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition. This comes with 24GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, LED lighting, and an external AeroActive Cooler X fan bundled into the box at a cost of $1,499 / £1,299 (about AU$2,240).

  • Value score: 4 / 5

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro review: Specs

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro review: Design

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro from the back

(Image credit: TechRadar)
  • Brand new less ‘gamery’ design
  • Air Trigger shoulder buttons
  • Two USB-C ports

Asus has gone back to the drawing board with the ROG Phone 8 Pro design, having seemingly come to a radical realization: most people don’t actually want a gaming phone in their pocket. Even among those who do, most would rather it didn’t look like a prototype based on an 11-year-old’s sketch.

Simply by looking and feeling relatively normal and understated, the ROG Phone 8 Pro comes as something of a revelation. It’s still large by anyone’s standards, and at 8.9mm thick and 225g it’s precisely as thick as the Red Magic 9 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, and scarcely any lighter.

But its subtly rounded edges, sober color tones, and the nice shimmery finish of the Pro model, make it look and feel more like a phone you’d be comfortable whipping out among polite non-gaming company. The cringey ‘Dare to win’ decals are still there on the back, but they’re rendered in small, dark writing this time around.

Choose the Pro model and you won’t even get RGB lighting. In its place comes a small area on the back cover embedded with 341 subtle white LEDs, which Asus calls AniMe Vision. These are turned off by default, and in this state, you wouldn’t even know they were there. When they’re switched on, they offer heads-up information on the phone’s time, charging status, incoming notifications, and a few other things that can be set in the Armoury Crate app.

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro from the back

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Another design feature that makes the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro a more appealing mainstream proposition is the inclusion of IP68 certification. Finally, we have a gaming phone that won’t quit if you drop it in a body of water.

In order to hit that rating, Asus has done away with the huge AeroActive Portal from the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate, which exposed the internals of the phone when the AeroActive Cooler was attached. You still get an AeroActive Cooler X fan accessory with the top model of the ROG Phone 8 Pro, but it contents itself with drawing heat away from the rear surface. There’s a 2.6x larger cooling area and a slightly faster fan speed to compensate.

What might prove more disappointing to some gamers is the loss of two mappable physical trigger buttons with the AeroActive Cooler X. You now only get two, rather than four.

The other point to note is that, in radically reducing the size of the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro’s bezels, it’s almost 10mm shorter than its predecessor. That’s great for portability, but it does mean that the display is now interrupted by a punch-hole selfie cam.

Personally, I’d rather that than the Red Magic 9 Pro’s woeful in-display selfie cam solution. But if you’re making a gaming phone, there’s an even stronger case to be made for leaving a slight forehead and chin in place.

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro from the side

(Image credit: TechRadar)

That would also facilitate proper front-firing speakers, which are missing here. There’s one in the earpiece, but the other is on the bottom edge of the phone, which can be blocked when you hold it in landscape. These speakers still sound nice and clear, and they get plenty loud, but they’re shown up for separation and clarity by a teeny-tiny iPhone 15 Pro.

Two vital gaming design elements have been retained, however. One is a set of Air Triggers, which are dedicated capacitive buttons on the top edge of the phone. These can be mapped to controls in many games, which comes in very handy in competitive shooters and MOBAs. They can even be split into two for a total of four physical controls.

The other gamer-friendly feature to have been retained is a secondary USB-C port on the longer edge of the phone opposite the Air Triggers. This makes it much more pleasant to plug and play while you’re playing landscape games. And yes, there is still a 3.5mm headphone jack for that vital low-latency personal audio.

  • Design score: 4.5 / 5

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro review: Display

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro screen

(Image credit: TechRadar)
  • 6.78-inch LTPO OLED
  • Super-fast refresh rates up to 165Hz
  • FHD+ resolution

Asus has fitted the ROG Phone 8 Pro with a new 6.78-inch E6 OLED display. It’s not particularly sharp at 1080 x 2400 (FHD+), especially when compared to other $1,199 / £1,099 Android phones, but I honestly have no complaints.

It gets extremely bright, with a claimed peak of 2,500 nits in HDR scenarios and 1,600 nits in high brightness mode, which will initiate when heading outdoors on a sunny day with auto-brightness on.

With auto-brightness switched off, I measured a maximum brightness of around 775 nits, which is excellent. The Red Magic 9 Pro, by way of comparison, could only hit 445 nits.

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro screen

(Image credit: TechRadar)

I also found the ROG Phone 8 Pro’s display to be extremely color-accurate and natural-looking, at least once I switched away from the default Optimal setting and flipped it to Normal mode.

This is an LTPO panel, so it can scale from 1 to 120Hz in regular usage depending on the use case, meaning it’s nice and energy efficient when flitting between non-gaming tasks.

Head into gaming mode, however, and it can ramp up even further to 165Hz. There aren’t many games that will step north of 120Hz, of course, but the ROG Phone 8 Pro is ready for any that do.

  • Display score: 4.5 / 5

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro review: Cameras

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro camera close-up

(Image credit: TechRadar)
  • Massively improved 1/1.56-inch main camera with gimbal
  • 13-inch ultra-wide with freeform lens
  • Finally, a dedicated 32MP 3x telephoto

Giving your gaming phone a chic design is all very well, but if you want the masses to take it seriously as a genuine flagship contender, you’d better get your camera game in shape. Thankfully, Asus has done just that.

It starts with a vastly improved main camera, fitted with the same 1/1.56-inch Sony IMX890 sensor as the OnePlus 11. This is then paired with a new generation of the impressive 6-axis Hybrid Gimbal stabilizer found in the Asus Zenfone 10, which keeps things way steadier than your standard optical image stabilization (OIS) system.

This combination of components, together with Asus’s contrasty image science, produces well exposed and detailed shots in a range of lighting conditions. Night shots are particularly crisp here, with that larger sensor and gimbal system holding things steady during the necessary extended shutter times.

It’s not just night shots that the gimbal helps with either, with video footage also kept super-steady. This is illustrated by a neat UI element: so long as you keep the dot within the circle, you can be sure the gimbal is doing its thing.

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro camera samples

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An Asus ROG Phone 8 camera sample

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Hyper Steady mode goes even further, cropping in and using electronic image stabilization (EIS) to further even things out during particularly active shoots. You can shoot at up to 8K and 24fps or 4K at 60fps here, though Hyper Steady mode is only available at 1080p/30fps.

The photographic improvements continue with the provision of a 32MP 3x telephoto camera. Previous ROG Phone models haven’t bothered, supplying a pointless macro camera instead. Zoomed shots taken with this dedicated component turned out to be crisp, clear, and tonally similar to the main sensor.

If there’s a weak point it’s the ROG Phone 8 Pro’s 13MP ultra-wide camera, which notably falls off in tone, detail, and dynamic range compared to the other two. Still, Asus has supplied a freeform lens, which reduces distortion towards the edges.

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro camera UI

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Asus’s AI image processing didn’t always call the scene right in my experience. This is illustrated in one selection of shots of an old train carriage, which the main sensor and the telephoto seemed to overexpose, while the ultra-wide went in the opposite direction.

The 32MP selfie camera, too, lacks a certain degree of subject sharpness, with slightly smudgy skin tones. It does have the distinction of being capable of a wider ‘0.7x’ view in addition to a cropped 1x view, however, so you have some flexibility with group and landscape selfies.

To be clear, the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro doesn’t rival the iPhone 15 Pro, Google Pixel 8 Pro, or Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in the camera department. Which, given its pricing, you might well expect it to do. However, given the calamitous history of gaming phone cameras, this represents a huge step forwards into respectability.

  • Camera score: 4 / 5

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro review: Performance

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro playing a game

(Image credit: TechRadar)
  • Packs the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip
  • 12GB, 18GB, or 24GB of LPDDR5X RAM
  • 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of UFS 4.0 storage

As smart as the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro looks in its new suit, we’re still all here for the performance. Thankfully, it’s an absolute barnstormer, with only the barest of wrinkles to speak off.

Let’s start with the specs, because they’re all cutting edge. You get Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, which is going to be the go-to chip for 2024.

This is accompanied by up to 24GB of LPDDR5X RAM in the top Pro Edition, which we’d ordinarily dismiss as overkill. In a pricey gaming phone such as this, though, it seems far more reasonable.

With such components at its disposal, Asus has turned the performance tap on full. My Geekbench 6 CPU benchmark tests reveal a multi-core score of around 7,200, which broadly matched side-by-side test results from the Red Magic 9 Pro and the iPhone 15 Pro.

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro screen

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Across the suite of GFXBench GPU-focused benchmarks, the ROG Phone 8 Pro trounced the Red Magic 9 Pro in the on-screen tests, and matches it in off-screen tests. You can likely put that disparity down to the Red Magic 9 Pro’s higher screen resolution.

Where the Red Magic 9 Pro wins back some ground – and it’s not an insignificant victory – is in sustained performance. The 3DMark Solar Bar Stress Test runs 20-minute-long loops of a high-intensity graphical workout, mimicking sustained high-end 3D gameplay. The ROG Phone 8 Pro scored 92.2%, reflecting the fact that its performance remained at a fairly consistent rate from the first loop to the last.

That’s much better than most normal flagship phones, which tend to score in the 70 to 80% region. However, it falls short of the Red Magic 9 Pro, which scored a nigh-on perfect 99.7%. The reason for this is almost certainly the ROG Phone’s lack of an integrated fan cooling system. Sure enough, with the AeroActive Cooler X attached to the back of the ROG, it scored 98.3% in the same test.

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro with AeroActive Cooler X fan attached

(Image credit: TechRadar)

I should also note that the ROG Phone 8 Pro had gotten extremely toasty by the end of this 20-minute GPU workout, to the point where it was uncomfortable to hold. It’s something to bear in mind if you’re someone who plays graphically advanced games for extended periods, though no current games will push a phone quite so hard.

In summary, then, the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro is one of the very strongest performers on the market. It falls slightly short of the Red Magic 9 Pro when it comes to sustained gaming performance, unless you purchase the top model and fit the AeroActive Cooler X fan, but it’ll still blow through any modern game you can throw at it on the very highest graphical settings with contemptuous ease.

There’s ample space for storing games and media files, too, with a choice of 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of storage depending on the model.

  • Performance score: 5 / 5

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro review: Software

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro screen

(Image credit: TechRadar)
  • Android 14 with ROG UI
  • Armour Crate app to fine-tune gaming settings
  • At least two OS updates, four years of security updates

Asus’s custom UI is one of the less tinkered-with on the Android market. Compared to Nubia’s Red Magic OS 9.0, it’s absolute bliss to deal with, and I encountered none of the set-up woes or bugs that we encountered with the ROG Phone 7 Ultimate.

The joy starts right at the outset, where Asus gives you the choice of the stock Android or Asus Optimized quick settings panel and a more Classic (i.e. stock) home screen layout. I dearly wish more (read: all) Android manufacturers did this.

Essentially, ROG UI is the same as Zen UI on the Zenfone 10. There are a few cosmetic tweaks to the Google formula, some ugly ‘gamer’ wallpapers, and some added pre-installed apps like Gallery and the Link to Windows app. There are also a couple of third-party apps pre-installed in Instagram and Facebook, but it’s nothing egregious.

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro screen

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The main nod to gamers here is the Armoury Crate app, which is where you can go to tweak performance modes, Air Trigger configurations, and to load up shared custom macros on a game-by-game basis.

You can also bring up an Armoury Crate UI over your current game by swiping down from the top corner. This is most useful when you want to map those Air Trigger controls.

Asus promises at least two major OS updates, bringing the ROG Phone 8 Pro up to Android 16, and four years of security updates. It’s not among the leading pack of premium Android phones in this department, which is shame give how future-proof the hardware is.

  • Software score: 4 / 5

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro review: Battery

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro from the side

(Image credit: TechRadar)
  • 5,500mAh battery is smaller than before
  • All day usage, but not the strongest gaming phone stamina
  • 65W wired and 15W wireless charging

In order to pull off this sleeker design, Asus has taken the slightly concerning step of downsizing the ROG Phone 8 Pro’s battery. While the ROG Phone 7 had a 6,000mAh battery, the new model only has a 5,500mAh cell.

Improvements to the efficiency of the chip and the display technology obviously go some way to offsetting this, but even Asus has admitted to a slight drop in stamina compared to its previous model. That’s not the ideal direction of travel for a gaming phone, where a ‘higher, further, faster, baby’ motto tends to apply.

It’s also worth pointing out that the Nubia Red Magic 9 Pro offers a 6,500mAh battery, which is significantly larger.

Sure enough, I was unable to get quite the same practical battery life out of the ROG Phone 8 Pro as its significantly cheaper rival. In an average full day of moderate usage with about four hours of screen-on time, I would be left with a little shy of 50% left in the tank. That’s not a bad result by any means, but it falls way short of the Red Magic 9 Pro on 65%.

Given the lower capacity of its battery, the 65W charger Asus bundles in yields similar results to the Red Magic 9 Pro. Charging from empty got me to 100% in around 40 minutes.

The ROG Phone 8 Pro also has an ace up its sleeve in the form of 15W wireless charging, which is something that previous gaming phones have omitted. It’s another feature that makes this the most easy gaming phone to live with.

  • Battery score: 4.5 / 5

Should you buy the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro?

Buy it if...

You want a gaming phone that won’t embarrass you
The ROG Phone 8 Pro is an excellent gaming performer, but it’s not too garish or cheap-looking like other gaming phones – both in terms of hardware and software.

You want a gaming phone with all the creature comforts
Gaming phones tend to omit wireless charging, a full IP rating, and a telephoto camera. The Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro is the first one that doesn’t.

You want a flagship phone with excellent sustained performance
There are fast flagship phones out there, but none can keep up that performance over a long period like the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro.

Don't buy it if...

You want an affordable gaming phone
The Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro is not cheap, and you can get a broadly competitive gaming phone experience elsewhere for a fraction of the price.

You like your phones slim and light
Despite its refined design, the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro is still a chunky device.

You want a phone for the long haul
Asus is only promising two years of major Android updates with the ROG Phone 8 Pro.

Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro review: Also consider

The Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro is a unique gaming phone that will serve you well in everyday life, but it’s not your only option. These phones can tick some of the same boxes, and a few others besides.

Nubia Red Magic 9 Pro
The Red Magic 9 Pro is the ROG Phone 8 Pro’s major gaming phone rival. It tops the ROG Phone on sustained performance and stamina and is around half the price, though its design, software and camera fall way short.

Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate
The Asus ROG Phone 7 Ultimate isn’t as fast as the ROG Phone 8 Pro, and it’s much less pleasant to look at and use day to day. However, it’s more gaming-focused, and should now be cheaper too.

iPhone 15 Pro Max
For around the same price as the top ROG Phone 8 Pro model, Apple’s super-sized phone offers competitive gaming performance (though not over sustained periods) and a better all-round smartphone experience, as well as access to a new breed of console games.

How I tested the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro

  • Review test period = 1 month
  • Testing included = Everyday usage, including web browsing, social media, photography, video calling, gaming, streaming video, music playback
  • Tools used = Geekbench 6, GFXBench, 3DMark, native Android stats, bundled Asus 65W power adapter

I was sent the top Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro Edition model by a PR representative, at which point I commenced using the phone on a daily basis over a two-week period, followed by a further two weeks of intermittent usage.

For at least a week of that time, the 8 Pro was my everyday phone. For the rest of the time, I swapped in another active SIM and continued to use the phone for benchmark tests, gaming, photos, and general browsing.

I’m a freelance journalist who got his start writing about mobile games in the pre-smartphone era. I was around to cover the arrival of the iPhone and the App Store, as well as Android, and their seismic effect on the games industry. I now write about consumer tech, games, and culture for a number of top websites.

First reviewed January 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 Ultra review: taken to the extreme
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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 $100 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. 

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 got worse, and the problems have started infecting 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” versions. 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 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

You can see the significant improvement in the image processing that Galaxy S24 Ultra demonstrates over the Galaxy S23 Ultra. 

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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. Not only does the S24 Ultra beat last year’s S23 Ultra in battery performance, it also outlasts every iPhone 15 model and all of the best Android phones. 

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 A72 receives its last major OS update to Android 14
4:30 pm | January 6, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

Samsung has reportedly started seeding One UI 6.0 based on Android 14 to Samsung Galaxy A72 owners in Russia, but as is usually the case, it won't take long for other markets to get the new firmware too. It's important to note that this is the end of the road for the Galaxy A72 as this is the last major OS update it's about to receive. The handset launched back in March 2021 on Android 11, so a midranger getting three major OS versions throughout its lifespan is pretty respectable. Anyway, the firmware version is A725FXXU6EWL4 and surprisingly, it's only 2GB big, but it does include...

Samsung Galaxy A72 receives its last major OS update to Android 14
4:30 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

Samsung has reportedly started seeding One UI 6.0 based on Android 14 to Samsung Galaxy A72 owners in Russia, but as is usually the case, it won't take long for other markets to get the new firmware too. It's important to note that this is the end of the road for the Galaxy A72 as this is the last major OS update it's about to receive. The handset launched back in March 2021 on Android 11, so a midranger getting three major OS versions throughout its lifespan is pretty respectable. Anyway, the firmware version is A725FXXU6EWL4 and surprisingly, it's only 2GB big, but it does include...

Acemagic S1 mini PC review
2:30 pm | December 28, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Acemagic S1: 30-second review


CPU: Intel 12th Alder Lake N95, 4 cores, 6M cache
Graphics: Intel® UHD Graphics
Storage: 512GB SSD
Rear Ports: Dual Gigabit Ethernet, Dual 4K display ports Front Ports: 1.9" TFT LCD screen (170*320 resolution), USB ports
Connectivity: WiFi 5.2, Bluetooth 5.2
Audio: Integrated audio
Camera: Not included
Size: 127mm x 122mm x 40mm
OS installed: Microsoft Windows 11 Pro (64-bit)
Accessories: Magnetic detachable casing

The Acemagic S1 nibi PC is powered by the Intel 12th Alder Lake N95 processor and positions itself as an entry-level Mini PC for home and office users. With its compact design, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD storage, it's tailored for day-to-day tasks and serves well as a file storage server or a soft router/firewall in a home network; there's also the option for a 1TB version.

A standout feature of the S1 is its 1.9" TFT LCD screen, which displays crucial information like CPU power, temperature, memory load, and fan speed. We've tested out loads of the best mini PCs and this is certainly an 'extra' feature. It not only adds a touch of the futuristic to the design but also provides functional real-time system monitoring, more for interest than anything else. You can also delve into the preinstalled app and tailor what is displayed depending on your needs and interests. 

Performance-wise, the Alder Lake N95 processor ensures the S1 can handle multitasking and basic computing tasks with relative ease. Its benchmark scores reflect this capability, with a GeekBench CPU Single score of 1126 and a Multi score of 2514. These figures indicate that while it's not built for heavy computing, it's more than adequate for everyday applications such as web browsing, document editing, and file management.

In terms of graphics, the Intel UHD Graphics is sufficient for basic multimedia tasks but falls short when it comes to gaming or graphically intensive work. This is evident in the modest scores in Fire Strike and Time Spy benchmarks. However, this limitation is expected given its positioning as an entry-level mini PC.

The dual Gigabit Ethernet support is a significant advantage, particularly if you're looking to set up a reliable home network or require stable internet connectivity for streaming and online tasks. The S1's Wi-Fi 5.2 and Bluetooth 5.2 also ensure fast and stable wireless connections, catering to the modern demands of high-speed internet and wireless connectivity.

Design-wise, the S1 is compact and features a magnetic detachable casing, making it easy to add upgrades such as an additional SSD for storage. The option to place it vertically or horizontally adds to its versatility, making it suitable for various setups and space constraints. 

Heat management in the S1 is handled well thanks to its copper pipes and bottom ventilation design. Even under a full load, the system maintains low noise levels, an essential factor for a device intended for quiet home environments.

While the S1 may not be a powerhouse gaming or creative PC, it offers a balance of performance, convenience, and versatility at an affordable price point. Its expandable SSD slot and dual LAN support make it a practical choice for a home network storage solution. The unique LCD feature adds a twist, setting it apart from typical entry-level mini PCs. Its strengths overshadow its limitations in gaming, and high-end graphics work as a reliable, everyday computing device.

Acemagic S1: Price & availability


(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

With its Intel 12th Alder Lake N95 processor, the Acemagic S1 offers a value-packed entry-level computing solution. Priced at an accessible $279 for the 512GB version, it's a budget-friendly option for those seeking a compact and versatile mini PC. If you want more storage, the 1TB version is available for a slight increase in price at $299, making it an attractive option if you need additional space without a significant price jump.

If you're seeking a bit more power, the Alder Lake N97 variant starts at $509, providing a higher performance option. The Acemagic S1 is available for purchase through the official website and Amazon.

  • Score: 4/5

Acemagic S1: Design & build


(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The S1 stands out in the entry-level market as it puts some design style into the standard box-like design and matches it with decent build quality. While the use of plastic in its construction is noticeable, it doesn't detract from its overall aesthetic appeal. The addition of an LED strip and that small LCD screen helps to improve the standard mini PC look, giving it a more premium feel than its price would suggest.

One of the key design features is its easy access to internal components. The quick-access panels for RAM and SSD upgrades are a convenient addition, especially considering the device's budget-friendly nature. The RAM slot supports single-channel memory, and the storage expansion options include one M.2 NVMe slot and an additional M.2 SATA slot. 

The form factor is another highlight. Designed to fit seamlessly on a desktop or a shelf, it can be placed either horizontally or vertically, catering to different space constraints. The inclusion of a magnetic base in the package enhances its stability when positioned vertically, showcasing the attention to detail in its design.

Overall, the ACEMAGIC S1 combines practicality and style in its Build. Its compact size, coupled with the expandable hardware options and visually appealing details, make it an attractive choice for anyone looking for an affordable yet stylish mini PC. This design approach positions the machine as a standout option in the entry-level segment, offering a balance of aesthetics and functionality.

  • Design: 4/5

Acemagic S1: Features


(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

At the heart of the S1 is the Intel 12th Alder Lake N95 processor. This CPU offers competitive performance with its 4 cores and 6M cache, providing speeds that meet multitasking needs efficiently. This makes the S1 ideal for general office tasks light creative work, and as a home file storage server.

You just can't ignore its 1.9" TFT LCD screen, with a resolution of 170x320. This small yet functional display provides real-time information on CPU power, temperature, memory load, CPU load, and fan speed. This feature adds a level of interaction and monitoring capability typically not found in  mini PCs for beginners, allowing you to keep an eye on the system's performance and health. A handy feature is you are using this as a home network storage solution.

In terms of connectivity, the S1 excels with dual Gigabit Ethernet, offering reliable and fast network connections. This feature is ideal if you want to use the S1 as a soft router, firewall, or file storage server in a home network. For storage, the S1 comes with a 16GB DDR and a 512GB SSD, providing ample space for most. The device also features an expandable SSD slot, allowing for easy upgrades to increase storage capacity as needed.

The S1 supports a dual-screen 4K display, enabling you to extend your workspace if using an application such as Photoshop, where a little more real estate can be beneficial. The S1 utilises copper pipes and a bottom ventilation design to help keep things cool and ensure the machine runs at low noise, even under full load. Lastly, the S1's Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 ensure fast wireless connectivity, making it an excellent choice for everyday internet use and streaming.

  • Features: 3.5/5

Acemagic S1: Performance


(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Crystal Disk Read: 535MB/s
Crystal Disk Write: 456MB/s
GeekBench CPU Single: 1126
GeekBench CPU Multi: 2514
GeekBench Compute: 316
PC Mark: 2836
CineBench CPU Multi: 893
CineBench CPU Single: 894
Fire Strike Overall: 967
Fire Strike Graphics: 1048
Fire Strike Physics: 5681
Fire Strike Combined: 343
Time Spy Overall: 335
Time Spy Graphics: 292
Time Spy CPU: 2035
Wild Life: 2532
Windows Experience: 6.3

The Acemagic S1 is equipped with the Intel 12th Alder Lake N95 processor, which provides a level of performance that is quite impressive for an entry-level mini PC. This PC can be used for everyday office work, as well as being a decent space-saving alternative to the best laptops for photo editing and other light creative work. You could even squeeze some gaming out of it, though with limitations due to its graphics capability.

In terms of general office work, the S1 excels. Applications within the Microsoft Office suite, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, run smoothly. This is supported by the GeekBench CPU scores of 1126 (single-core) and 2514 (multi-core), which indicate good performance for tasks that require both single and multiple processing threads. The S1's ability to handle multitasking and day-to-day office activities is further confirmed by its PC Mark score of 2836, reflecting its competency in typical productivity scenarios.

When moving to creative tasks, using the best photo editors and the best video editing software (in this case, Photoshop and Premiere Pro), performance remains respectable. The CineBench scores of 893 (multi-core) and 894 (single-core) suggest it can handle light creative workloads. 

However, it may not be the best fit for complex video editing or running the best 3D modeling software, where higher processing and graphics power are needed. If it's portability you want when getting seriously creative, we'd still choose the best video editing laptops and the best laptops for graphic design over this for any demanding tasks. 

Gaming on the S1 is a mixed experience. The Intel UHD Graphics limits its capability to run the latest graphics-intensive games like Red Dead Redemption II or Cyberpunk 2077. This is evident in the Fire Strike (overall score: 967) and Time Spy (overall score: 335) results, which are on the lower end for gaming. However, it can competently handle older or less graphically demanding games, offering a decent gaming experience for casual or retro gaming enthusiasts.

Where the S1 really stands out is in its role within a home network. With dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and 512GB of SSD storage (expandable via an additional M.2 slot), it serves well as a file storage server or a soft router/firewall, providing reliable and fast data management and network security within a home environment. Its WiFi 6 also enhances its appeal as a home network hub.

The inclusion of a 1.9" TFT LCD screen on the S1 adds a unique touch, allowing you to monitor CPU power, temperature, memory load, CPU load, and fan speed at a glance. This feature doesn't necessarily add to the performance of the machine, but it is interesting! 

The S1 is not suitable for the latest gaming titles or intensive creative work; its strength lies in its capability as a decent machine for the home office, networking, and storage solution. Its performance in benchmark tests, combined with its practical features and affordable price, make it a great option for anyone wanting a versatile, entry-level mini PC.

  • Performance: 3/5

Should you buy the Acemagic S1?


(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

In our experience, there's an interesting balance of price, features, and performance here. It is an excellent choice if you want a versatile mini PC for everyday tasks, a soft router or a network storage solution.

The S1 handles general office applications and light creative tasks with ease, making it a reliable choice for home or small office setups. While its Intel UHD Graphics limits its ability to handle the latest, graphics-heavy games, it performs adequately with older or less demanding titles.

The standout feature of the S1 is its suitability as a home network hub. Its dual Gigabit Ethernet capability, combined with fast Wi-Fi and expandable storage, makes it ideal for use as a file storage server or for managing home network security. The additional touch of the 1.9" TFT LCD screen for real-time system monitoring is a unique and nice addition.

Priced at $279 for the 512GB version, the S1 offers great value, especially for those who prioritise network connectivity and storage options over raw computing power. 

This is a solid choice for anyone looking for an affordable mini PC that offers more than just basic computing capabilities. Its strengths are in home networking and storage, coupled with its OK performance for everyday tasks and light gaming.

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

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