For its first phones of 2024, Samsung focused so much on its “Galaxy AI” features that, physically, the Galaxy S24 series doesn’t appear to be much different than the S23. Once again, the company’s phones aren’t different enough to justify upgrading from their predecessors, especially knowing that the S23 series, Z Fold 5, Z Flip 5 and Tab S9 will be getting at least some of these AI features later this year. There’s also competition from the Google Pixel 8 series, which offer many of the same new features from a more established AI company.
Still, that doesn’t mean we should dismiss the Galaxy S24 series altogether. Samsung’s AI efforts may be an indicator of smartphone features to come. Even when compared to the Pixel 8s, Samsung’s Galaxy AI has its perks, particularly with real-time translation in voice calls and the option to change the tone of your writing. In places where Google’s Pixel is not available, Samsung has an opportunity to capture an audience that’s curious about generative AI on phones. The question is: has Samsung done a good job at integrating these AI tools into its smartphone line?
Compared to last year’s S23 series, this year’s flagships are basically the same, save for some new colors — I received the S24 in “Marble Gray” and the S24+ in “Cobalt Violet.” With the S24 and S24+ side by side, you’ll notice the lowered LED flash on the back, along with the frame’s cleaner layout with a new matte finish, but the lack of changes isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, as someone who is accustomed to various Chinese smartphones, I find Samsung’s minimalist design to be refreshing, especially with the uniformly sized individual rear cameras.
Aside from screen size, display resolution and battery capacity, the S24 and S24+ share identical specs. The S24 packs a 6.2-inch Full HD+ screen, weighs 167g and comes in at 7.6mm thick. The larger S24+ sports a 6.7-inch Quad HD+ panel, and it’s 29g heavier with an extra 0.1mm in thickness.
It’s worth noting that both models use the same AMOLED 2X panel, with an adaptive refresh rate between 1Hz and 120Hz, as well as a 2,600-nit peak brightness. I’ve had no problem reading things on either screen while out and about, though I haven’t experienced strong sunlight over the past few unusually cold days here in Dubai.
This is probably the most boring aspect on the S24 and S24+, because there is no change here from last year’s phones. On the rear is a 50-megapixel main sensor, a 12 MP ultra-wide shooter and a 10 MP 3x telephoto camera, while a 12 MP camera sits up front. Samsung does point out that these cameras benefit from the new generative AI editing tools, which allow you to reframe shots, shift (or delete) subjects and create slow-mo clips from existing videos.
If you’re looking for better low-light performance and improved zoom, you might prefer the S24 Ultra. Still, the S24 and S24+ should be sufficient for your daily snaps, and for me, the results were usually consistent across the three rear cameras. Indoor shots tended to be a little on the dark side and noisier than the results I got on my main phone, the OnePlus Open (which has newer and larger sensors). The difference became more apparent as the environment got darker, especially the faded reds (like on taxis and traffic lights) and the aggressive sharpening on shrubs.
On a more positive note, I’d like to echo my colleague Cherlynn Low’s praise of the S23+’s selfie camera in her review last year. The S24 and S24+ inherited the same setup. In fact, it captured so much detail on my face — pores, dried skin, facial hair, et cetera — that I started to miss the beautification options offered by Chinese phones. I was also impressed by the video recording capabilities, as a 4K clip I shot at 60 fps during a bus ride home came out silky smooth. The relatively low light didn’t seem to affect video stabilization that much.