Is the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra overkill?

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra hands on main colorways
The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra in its four standard colors (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

It may feel like we're still only just getting into 2024, but the new Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is already shaping up to be one of the most formidable smartphones of the year. It's shortlisted on more of our best phone buying guides than practically any other current device, demonstrating an all-round excellence that's hard to beat.

Of course, by possessing almost every bell and whistle you could hope for on a phone right now, the S24 Ultra also comes with a formidable price tag to match. So is Samsung's latest and greatest worth it? Or is it just overkill?

No, if it's within your budget

Overkill will mean different things to different people; the threshold of which will vary depending on the type of mobile user you are. If you're used to buying feature phones or budget smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra's price alone will likely be enough for you to tut it out of the room, but if you're comfortable with the kind of spending the high end of the market asks of people, the $1,299.99 / £1,249 / AU$2,199 starting price of the S24 Ultra won't be all that shocking.

If you're somewhere in the middle, however, there are multiple ways to mitigate the sting of the Ultra's high asking price; spreading the cost on credit or snapping up one of the latest Samsung Galaxy S24 deals.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra hands on handheld back angled camera

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

No, if you're serious about mobile photography

The telephoto setup on the last few generations of Ultra has been the feather in their respective caps, when it comes to photography; serving up greater versatility than rivals as a result. So, when Samsung decided to nix the long-standing 10x optical zoom for a 5x sensor on the S24 Ultra – more in line with recent rival, the iPhone 15 Pro Max – the change naturally had many worried.

Thankfully, we discovered that the switch to a 50MP 5x optical zoom sensor actually grants the S24 Ultra even more camera versatility than its predecessors, helping this latest entry maintain the Ultra line's competitive edge and launching it to the top spot in our best camera phones roundup.

And that's just the telephoto, there's also the impressive 200MP main sensor on offer, up to 8K video recording, fine-grain controls for still and video capture, and a suite of new AI-led image editing tools to enjoy too; it's a photographic blend unlike any other camera phone currently on the market.

No, if you're a true Samsung fan

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise to Samsung fans that the S24 Ultra tops our list of the best Samsung phones, right now. It's the embodiment of everything a Samsung phone should be and what it can offer.

It does the familiar One UI-led user experience better than any other Samsung phone and dresses it with more performance and functionality than any other Samsung phone. Want the Samsung phone with the best camera, display, battery tech, connectivity, AI features? There's no substitute for the S24 Ultra.

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra with S Pen drawn, demonstrating Circle to Search

Circle to Search on the Galaxy S24 Ultra (Image credit: Samsung)

No, if you're interested in owning one of the most AI-forward phones

A big part of the Galaxy S24 series' launch messaging revolved around the raft of new Galaxy AI features they bring to the table. We've since been able to test some of these out for ourselves, and in many ways, there's more everyday benefit to owning a Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra for its AI functionality than its key rival in this department, the Pixel 8 Pro.

Samsung detailed 12 key Galaxy AI features at the S24 series' launch, including Circle to Search, Live Translate, Chat Assist, Generative Edit (for imagery), AI-generated wallpapers, and more.

No, if you're an avid mobile gamer

When researching the best gaming phones, you'll likely land on dedicated devices like Asus' latest ROG Phone 8 Pro or the Red Magic 9 Pro, but Samsung's latest top dog is something of a not-so-stealthy gaming phone in its own right. And that's on top of being an all-rounder that excels in other areas that conventional gaming phones don't (think camera performance and design).

In fact in testing, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy chipset powering the S24 Ultra, paired with Samsung's own software tweaks and a vapor chamber that's almost twice the size of the one in the S23 Ultra – for superior cooling – actually result in superior performance to those very phones supposedly tailor-made for gaming (confirmed by our own testing).

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra hands on handheld S Pen closeup

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

No, if you NEED a stylus

Outside of the Apple Pencil and the various Wacom styli used by full-time digital artists, there are few worthwhile digital writing tools out there and fewer still that are portable. Samsung's S Pen has been a long-standing accompaniment to various Galaxy Tab and Note devices over the years – improving with each iteration – and since the Galaxy S22 series, it's come as part of the Ultra offering as standard.

That's just as true with the Galaxy S24 Ultra, whose S Pen boasts the lowest latency and broadest feature set of any in the series to date; not to mention it's a fun way to activate that new Circle to Search AI feature. If you need a phone with a stylus, there really isn't another option worth considering.

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Alex Walker-Todd
Senior Phones Editor

Alex joined as TechRadar's Senior Phones Editor in June 2022, but brings over a decade's worth of experience to the role, with an expertise in smartphones, tablets and wearables. He's covered keynotes hosted by the biggest brands and attended the launches for some of the most influential mobile products of the last few years. His experience was amassed at some of the most reputable consumer technology publications out there, including GSMArena, TechAdvisor and Trusted Reviews.