The Galaxy S23 Ultra is the ne plus ultra of the smartphone world, the best phone overall on our list of best phones, so of course we’re anticipating no other phone like the upcoming Galaxy S24 Ultra, rumored to be launching alongside the Galaxy S24 sometime after the new year. While it’s too late for Samsung to make any big changes to this phone, we can still hope for some realistic improvements and new features that will make today’s best phone even better.
1. A big sensor would make zoom photos much better
The Galaxy S23 Ultra has the longest zoom lens of any phone we’ve tried, but zoom doesn’t make it the best camera phone. It’s the versatility of the numerous lenses, plus the great preset modes (that delicious Food mode!). Actually, the ultrazoom photos are … pretty bad. The 10X zoom lens uses the smallest sensor on the phone, and that means the images turn out blurry and pretty worthless.
Recent rumors suggest that the Galaxy S24 Ultra will shrink its zoom lens to only 5X, but that would be fine if the sensor size grew. If the sensor for the telephoto zoom on the Galaxy S24 is three times the size of the current sensor, then cutting the zoom in half would still result in better photos.
Sound impossible? The 200MP sensor on the Galaxy S23 Ultra is 7.5 times larger than the sensor on either of the telephoto lenses. Granted, it packs 200MP instead of only 10MP, but there is room to improve. Make the zoom sensor bigger, please.
2. Simpler software, especially Settings, Samsung
Samsung's One UI is getting out of hand. Don’t make me come over there and straighten things out (again). Yes, the phone has lots of features. Too many features. But I’m not asking Samsung to take away features. I’m asking for some easy decisions on behalf of the users.
Samsung gives us too many options, and many enable features that sensibly should be enabled by default. Like “Intelligent Wi-Fi” mode. Who wants dumb Wi-Fi? This doesn’t need to be a setting. Wi-Fi can just be intelligent, by default.
Now multiply that example by a thousand, because there are, like, a thousand layers of menus and settings on the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Nobody is impressed by Settings. The days of rooting Android phones and customizing every nook and pixel have passed. Samsung needs to simplify, because the interface has grown complex beyond comprehension.
3. Seven years of major OS (read: Android) updates
Three years of OS updates is no longer enough. Apple set the benchmark at five years of support, but Google just blew past them with a seven year promise on the new Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. Samsung needs to heed the call for longevity. It’s time to promise longer support.
The Galaxy S24 Ultra should come with Samsung’s promise of seven years of major OS updates. Seven years of Android. The Galaxy S24 Ultra will ship with Android 14 and it should retire with Android 21 in the year 2030. Holy cow that seems really far away, but if Google can do it with its (frankly, underpowered) Pixel phones, there’s no reason the mighty Samsung can’t match that promise.
4. An Ultra with a bigger battery and NO S Pen
Admittedly a pie in the sky request, since this would have leaked by now, but not as outlandish as you’d expect. Did you know Samsung used to make a version without a pen, back when the Galaxy Ultra was called the Galaxy Note? When the Galaxy Note 5 came out, there was also a version without the pen.
Okay, not exactly a Galaxy Note: the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus. The Galaxy S6 Edge was launched earlier that year, with the Galaxy S6. Both of those phones were small, only 5.1-inches, and the S6 Edge had a sharply curved glass display.
When the Galaxy Note 5 launched, it had a bigger display than the Galaxy S6, a whopping (for the time) 5.7-inches. Samsung also launched a bigger version of the Galaxy S6 Edge. It was the same size as the Galaxy Note 5, and it had all of the same features. It just didn’t have a pen inside. The S6 Edge Plus had a sharply curved front, while the Galaxy Note 5 had a sharply curved glass back.
Unfortunately, Samsung didn’t give us a bigger battery. Instead, the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus was thinner than the Note 5. I don’t want a thinner Ultra, I want a bigger battery. Give me a 6,000 mAh battery inside, instead of a pen. Leave some room for better cooling, too, because I’m going to play a lot of games on a phone with that much power.
5. iMessage. Just kidding, actually less software, please
I’ve already asked for simpler software all around, but I also want fewer apps on my phone. It’s time for Samsung to give up the good fight. Samsung, you won the battle, now retire and give up the war.
What war? The Browser Wars. The Browser Wars live on in Samsung phones. Samsung is still shipping two browsers on its phones: the Samsung Internet browser and Google’s Chrome browser.
The sad truth is that Samsung Internet is good. It’s very good. It’s as fast as Chrome. It remembers passwords you keep stored with your Samsung account. It’s good, but so is Chrome.
We don’t need two browsers. It’s confusing and unnecessary. But don’t stop with the browsers. Samsung Internet browser isn’t the only duplicate app, it’s just the only one worth lamenting.
Samsung has a duplicate app store, the Galaxy App Store, and it needs to go. It’s a horrible, poorly-curated mess. It confuses users when it offers to update apps. Samsung Notes app needs to go. Samsung Gallery, Samsung Free (what even is that?!), and all the other silly Samsung apps, they all need to go.
If there’s a Google version of Samsung’s app, the Samsung app needs to go. Less software. All the junk must go.
6. Snapdragons for everybody (or at least every Ultra)
If the Galaxy S24 Ultra doesn’t have a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, it’s a hard pass for me and most of the world. Rumors say Samsung may use Samsung Exynos chips in the Galaxy S24. That would be a huge mistake.
It’s about reputation. Samsung destroyed the reputation of its Exynos chipset when it completely passed on them for the Galaxy S23. While some Galaxy S22 phones shipped with an Exynos inside, Samsung went with Qualcomm alone for the Galaxy S23. That sent the message that its own chips were not good enough for its best phones.
If new Exynos chips are ready for prime time, we need to hear about them first from Samsung Semiconductor. We need to hear how Exynos has improved. Qualcomm offered no less when it launched the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset. It would be a mistake for Samsung to drop a new Exynos on the world like a bombshell.
If it does happen, it better not happen to the Galaxy S24 Ultra. No matter how great Samsung may claim its next Exynos chipset will be. When it has split its Galaxy line in the past, there has always been reason to prefer the Qualcomm chipset. The best phone of the Galaxy S24 family, Samsung’s flagship, needs to use the fastest chip that everybody already wants.
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Phil Berne is a preeminent voice in consumer electronics reviews, having reviewed his first device (the Sony D-EJ01 Discman) more than 20 years ago for eTown.com. He has been writing about phones and mobile technology, since before the iPhone, for a variety of sites including PCMag, infoSync, PhoneScoop, and Slashgear. He holds an M.A. in Cultural Theory from Carnegie Mellon University.
Phil was the internal reviewer for Samsung Mobile, writing opinions and review predictions about top secret new devices months before launch. He left in 2017. He worked at an Apple Store near Boston, MA, at the height of iPod popularity. He has been a High School English teacher at Title I schools, and is a certified Lifeguard. His passion is smartphones and wearables, and he is sure that the next big thing will be phones we wear on our faces.