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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review: AI features help new premium smartphone stand out

Everything from photography to search has been boosted by AI, while the flagship model’s battery life is impressive

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
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Price: €1469
Where To Buy: Samsung

It is getting harder and harder to find anything that stands out about smartphones.

A few years ago it was much easier. One of them always had the excellent camera that was noticeably better than the rest. Another had software that didn’t feel like it was a punishment to use. You had companies taking risks and breaking out of the standard design. But now the technology has advanced so much that the premium devices are more or less on a par for the most part. Once they all fell in line, one device looked fairly similar to another.

And so it comes back to software and who can add the best features that people actually want.

You can see that with the new Samsung smartphones. The Galaxy S24 Ultra in particular looks very similar to last year’s S23 Ultra. Most of the changes are on the inside and many of them depend on this year’s buzzword: AI. Samsung is going all in on artificial intelligence in a bid to make your life run smoother and keep people coming back for its flagship smartphone.


There have been a couple of small design tweaks but nothing so dramatic that you would notice unless the phones were side by side. For example, the S24 Ultra now has a flat screen, waving goodbye to the curved edges. That gives more screen space to use its stylus to take notes. And the display itself is brighter, so even in bright sunshine – in short supply in January in Ireland, mind you – you should be able to see the display clearly.

That’s not the only change Samsung has made. The frame now contains titanium, making it less fingerprint prone and, in theory, more durable than before. Anecdotally, it is certainly less likely to slide off a table than the S23, so that already makes it a winner in my book.

It is powered by the new Snapdragon chip, which should give decent power and efficiency, even if you are a heavy user of your phone.

The camera set-up is fairly similar, with the quad camera on the rear of the device, but Samsung has made a couple of changes. The zoom has been changed from 10x to 5x, which may seem like a backward step but at the same time, Samsung has upped the megapixel count to 50MP so you can crop closely without losing quality.

Overall, the images from the S24 Ultra still have that processed look to them, but it’s the standard Samsung take on photography, and you’ll either love it or hate it.

Samsung also still has the ridiculously close 100x zoom. But although it is a novelty, I find it isn’t something that I would opt for on a regular basis. Although you can stabilise images, they are still too grainy or artificially smoothed to be of much use.

Where the S24 Ultra ups its game is with the AI features. Dubbed Galaxy AI, Samsung has brought the technology into everything from the photography – removing objects and creating slow-mo from videos – to search.

The latter is the most interesting. When Circle to Search is enabled, you can press the home button, circle anything on the screen and Samsung will search for it. That could be a light fitting in a picture, for example, or a pair of shoes in a video.

If it sounds very Google-like, that’s because it is. The two companies teamed up on this one, so it feels a lot like Google Lens without having to go and open a separate app. There is no stopping what you are doing to go search; you just tap, scribble, highlight or draw a circle around what it is you want to look for.

You can also combine the on-screen scribble with text to do multi-search queries, so if you need further information on something, it is at your fingertips.

If you want to remove unwanted objects from photos, you can do it with a couple of taps. I’ve been using this feature on the Pixel phones, and Samsung’s implementation of it works equally well, if not better at times. It seems a bit faster and more accessible at the very least.

The smart features are not installed by default – good if you don’t want to use them – so you will have to dig around to find them. But they are useful.

You can transcribe your audio files, send them to notes and have notes translate it into another language. Or you can use the translator on phones calls or Interpreter on in-person conversations, and some can be done on the device so you don’t need an active internet connection.

A caveat, though: the transcripts will only work for certain languages – think the most popular and go from there. Also, you will need to install some language packs to use the offline mode, so check in advance before you find yourself stuck without a translator and a mobile signal.


The design tweaks make the S24 Ultra easier to handle, and far less likely to slip off a table or out of your hand. You get a better, brighter screen and more space to scribble, which will come in handy when you are using those AI-enabled functions, such as Circle to Search.

Other AI-enabled functions, such as object removal in photographs, worked quickly and, more importantly, it worked well. While avid users of Photoshop will have the skills to do the editing themselves, this feature – similar to that on the newer Google Pixel phones – opens it up to a wider audience.

Battery life on the S24 Ultra is impressive, easily lasting more than a day.


If the only reason you are buying the S24 Ultra is for the AI features, hold your fire. The Galaxy AI won’t be exclusive to the S24 line, so you can easily hold on to an older Galaxy and still get the good stuff.

Also, be prepared to part with a significant amount of money for the flagship phone.

Everything else

The Ultra comes with the Samsung S Pen built in, if you are a fan of the old Note function. It comes in handy, but for most people, they may well forget it is there.

Also, check in advance which smart features can be used offline and which will require extra packs to be downloaded in advance, particularly if you are relying on the translator while travelling.


The AI advance is continuing, but Samsung has implemented just the right amount – for now.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist