Samsung Galaxy S24 review - the Galaxy's pocket powerhouse

The power and fury of Ultra in the smallest package

Samsung Galaxy S24 in violet from back
(Image: © Philip Berne / Future)

TechRadar Verdict

The Galaxy S24 is a great choice for Android fans, with exceptional battery life, top-notch performance, and a sleek design that can stand up to some abuse. It’s got almost enough features to be called Ultra, instead packed into a smaller phone that’s easy to pocket and use one-handed. It has all the new Galaxy AI and Google circle-to-search features, as well as Samsung’s aging and overcomplicated software. The cameras aren’t as great as some competitors in this range, but it has more zoom than the iPhone 15, and Samsung gives you plenty of cool shooting modes to make your pics look great. With a promise of seven years of Android updates, this could be the best affordable Galaxy S phone Samsung has offered in quite a while.

Pros

  • +

    Compact design with Ultra powerful processor

  • +

    Sharp and bright display

  • +

    Seven years of Android updates and security patches

Cons

  • -

    Samsung’s software is too complicated

  • -

    Not as many cool social features as the iPhone 15

  • -

    Galaxy AI is a mix of cool and useless new tools

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Samsung Galaxy S24: One-minute review

If you think the Samsung Galaxy S24 is basic compared to the mighty Galaxy S24 Ultra, think again. The smaller Galaxy S24 is a super-powered marvel, with all the processing power of Samsung’s best phone, packed into a much smaller design that is easier to fit into a fashionable pocket. 

What can you do with this much power in such a small phone? You can use the new AI tools from Samsung and Google, including the cool Circle to Search that easily answers the question “hey, what’s that?!” whether you’re looking at a web page, a YouTube video, or even a photo you just took. You also get the Samsung Galaxy AI translation that work like magic, changing your words into a foreign tongue and letting you understand somebody across the language barrier.

You can also play games, obviously, and the Galaxy S24 is a gaming powerhouse, made better by its take-anywhere size. This phone easily beats the iPhone 15 in side-by-side gaming tests, and it approaches Pro power in terms of processing and productivity. It can even run Samsung DeX, the desktop environment that makes your phone work like a real computer when you plug in a keyboard, monitor, and mouse. 

While Apple scrimps on the CPU in its iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, giving those phones last year’s processor, Samsung endows every Galaxy S24 phone with the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, at least in the US. Elsewhere, this phone and the Galaxy S24 Plus might use the Samsung Semiconductor Exynos 2400 chipset, and we’ll be testing that model shortly, but we expect performance will be similar no matter where you buy the S24 and S24 Plus.

Samsung Galaxy S24 battery settings

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

The result is a phone that not only runs fast, but also runs a long time, as we’ve seen great battery performance from phones with the latest Snapdragon on board. In battery life, the Galaxy S24 easily beats competitors at this size and price, lasting hours longer than the iPhone 15 or Pixel 8

The Galaxy S24 has a display that can crank out terrific brightness, though it isn’t the brightest or the sharpest display you’ll find. I had no complaints, even though I need to wear my reading glasses to read fine print at the highest resolution setting on the Galaxy S24. The display looks brilliant, no matter how bright or dim it was set. 

For cameras, the Galaxy S24 can’t compete with the Galaxy S24 Ultra, a phone that costs $500 more in the US, but it has the specs and features to take on the latest  Pixel, and iPhone 15 fans should be jealous of the real 3X zoom lens that the Galaxy offers. There’s no optical zoom on the iPhone 15, and once again Samsung wins with versatility, if not pure image quality. 

It’s not all good news, though. Samsung’s software lags far behind. It’s a lustrous garden grown wild. Features never seem to die, they just snarl the home screen and make the Settings menu a thicket of thorns.

Samsung Galaxy S24 from the side showing camera lenses and back violet color

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

Samsung needs to prune its features and simplify, especially if it wants to win over iPhone fans some day. The iPhone 15 doesn’t make you dig through three layers of Settings to find the coolest new features. It just works. Samsung needs to just work a lot more on its software, because the Galaxy gets harder to use every year. Soon, it will be too far gone.

If you want more battery life, more versatility, and some seriously powerful productivity features, the Samsung Galaxy S24 is the right choice. If you don’t care about all the extras and just want a phone that nails the basics, there are simpler and more elegant options available from Apple and Google, but Samsung gives you a sense of the possibilities that are coming in the future. You just have to drag the phone out of the past to find it. 

Galaxy S24 review: Price and availability

Samsung Galaxy S24 in violet from back

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)
  • Starts at $799 / £799 / AU$1,399, and Aussies get more storage to start
  • Nobody pays full price for a Samsung phone
  • It’s worth spending more for the 256GB of storage (at least)

The Galaxy S24 is priced as expected, and it’s a bit less expensive in the UK than last year’s phone. You still get the same 128GB of storage, except in Australia where Samsung starts this phone at 256GB and offers a higher-capacity 512GB model. The extra storage is worth buying, since the cameras on the S24 are good enough that you could fill it up with photos and videos. 

Samsung always seems to have deals available for Galaxy S phones, whether that’s doubling the storage for free or offering a bonus on your trade. In the US, Samsung will give you at least $100 for any phone you trade, which effectively knocks the price to $699 for almost everybody. At that price, the Galaxy S24 is a bit cheaper than Apple’s iPhone 15 (and Apple is NOT generous with trade in values), and closer to the Google Pixel 8 or OnePlus 12, with a similar trade offer.

Unless you are a serious camera hound, or you want a much bigger display, there’s no reason to spring for the Galaxy S24 Ultra instead. It’s a massive price jump that doesn’t equate to a big performance boost. Sure, the Ultra is a bigger phone with a bigger battery inside, so it lasts a bit longer, but otherwise performance is very similar when you are playing games or running intense apps, like