Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review

GSMArena Team, 13 February 2024.

Top-tier OLED display with a couple of issues

The Galaxy S24 Ultra comes with an OLED display that is great in many ways and... odd in a handful of others. It has a 6.8-inch diagonal in a 19.5:9 aspect - a more 'conventional ratio than the 19.3:9 of the old Ultra. The resolution is 1,440x3,120px, which works out to 505ppi.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review

The bezels are minimal, as expected, but more important is the fact that the display is flat and the glass on top of it.

The other key bit here is that the new Gorilla Glass Armor is less reflective, but it's not immediately clear how transformative that development is.

High-end OLEDs have already gotten bright enough to overcome a lot of the midday sun's adverse effects on the viewing experience, so we're thinking of the Armor's low reflectivity is possibly more of a contributing factor for battery endurance (less brightness needed for same perceived effect) than a game-changing feast for your eyes. Or maybe not all of us spend enough time on the beach to fully appreciate the improvements - that and the fact that beach season won't be upon us for another few months here in the Northern hemisphere.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review Galaxy S24 Ultra (left) next to Galaxy S23 Ultra

Anyways, the S24 Ultra supports HDR10 and HDR10+, but no Dolby Vision - Samsung has its battles to fight in the HDR video space.

They're claiming 2,600nits of maximum brightness, which is marketing speak for 'very, very bright', though Huawei, Honor, Oppo, OnePlus and the lot have quoted numbers nearly twice that. That's in conditions we can't really test in, though, and we'll be sticking to our 75% patch of white for the time being.

Believe it or not, the Galaxy's 1447nits achieved in our test with the phone placed under bright light and the 755nits when adjusting the slider manually are more middle-of-the-road results than class-leading ones. It's probably a race that Samsung doesn't really care to win, rather than not being able to.

For kicks and giggles, we measured the brightness of a 20% white window, and we got 2408nits on the Galaxy S24 Ultra, compared to 2235nits on the iPhone 15 Pro - that's probably a win of sorts.

Max display brightness test

White test pattern, 75% fill (nits)

  • Manual mode
  • Auto mode
Pixel 8 Pro Pixel 8 Pro
954
6.7" LTPO OLED 1344 x 2992 px
iPhone 15 Pro Max iPhone 15 Pro Max
846
6.7" LTPO Super Retina XDR OLED 1290 x 2796 px
Galaxy S23 Ultra Galaxy S23 Ultra
831
6.8" Dynamic AMOLED 2X 1440 x 3088 px
ROG Phone 8 Pro ROG Phone 8 Pro
831
6.78" AMOLED 1080 x 2400 px
OnePlus 12 OnePlus 12
794
6.82" LTPO AMOLED 1440 x 3168 px
Galaxy S24+ Galaxy S24+
781
6.7" Dynamic LTPO AMOLED 2X 1440 x 3120 px
Galaxy S24 Ultra Galaxy S24 Ultra
755
6.8" Dynamic LTPO AMOLED 2X 1440 x 3120 px
vivo X100 Pro vivo X100 Pro
575
6.78" LTPO AMOLED 1260 x 2800 px
iPhone 15 Pro Max iPhone 15 Pro Max
1787
6.7" LTPO Super Retina XDR OLED 1290 x 2796 px
ROG Phone 8 Pro ROG Phone 8 Pro
1765
6.78" AMOLED 1080 x 2400 px
Pixel 8 Pro Pixel 8 Pro
1600
6.7" LTPO OLED 1344 x 2992 px
vivo X100 Pro vivo X100 Pro
1472
6.78" LTPO AMOLED 1260 x 2800 px
Galaxy S24+ Galaxy S24+
1452
6.7" Dynamic LTPO AMOLED 2X 1440 x 3120 px
Galaxy S24 Ultra Galaxy S24 Ultra
1447
6.8" Dynamic LTPO AMOLED 2X 1440 x 3120 px
Galaxy S23 Ultra Galaxy S23 Ultra
1274
6.8" Dynamic AMOLED 2X 1440 x 3088 px
OnePlus 12 OnePlus 12
1155
6.82" LTPO AMOLED 1440 x 3168 px

Refresh rate

The Galaxy S24 Ultra's display refresh rate can vary in the 1Hz to 120Hz range, and its two modes act as ceilings - Standard limits things at 60Hz, while Adaptive allows it to reach the maximum 120Hz. In either mode, the phone will drop down when idling or for specific frame rate video content. In Adaptive mode, you can also have high frame rate gaming.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review

Streaming and HDR

The Galaxy doesn't support Dolby Vision, but it does have HDR10 and HDR10+ capability. We got HDR streams from YouTube and Netflix, and YouTube does this thing where only the actual HDR video is displayed in HDR mode while the rest of the UI is dimmer. You also get Super HDR in the Gallery - Samsung's name for Google's Ultra HDR functionality for displaying extra bright highlights in your photos. It also works in Google Photos.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review

Odds and ends

Once the Galaxy S24 Ultra started shipping in large numbers, the Internet went ablaze with complaints about various aspects of its display performance. One of them is the graininess that can be observed at low brightness levels (if you have the tools), and really more readily seen with the naked eye at minimum or very close to minimum brightness - and very dim or no ambient light to go with it.

Galaxy S24 Ultra (left) next to Galaxy S23 Ultra
Galaxy S24 Ultra (left) next to Galaxy S23 Ultra

We'll admit that we did experience it on our unit, though it can be argued that if you're at the leftmost end of the slider and at 0.9nits (the minimum brightness we measured on our Galaxy S24 Ultra), perhaps you're not in an environment where absolute image perfection is paramount.

Still, we hadn't seen that phenomenon before - perhaps we hadn't been keeping an eye out for it - and in any case, it doesn't look too great that Samsung's absolute flagship's display is anything but perfect. Whether it's only the early production runs or that's just how it's going to be for all S24 Ultras will perhaps be made clear in the coming months. We don't think it's an issue from any practical standpoint, but it's definitely bad for optics.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review

The other thing is the lack of... excitement in the color reproduction in the default Vivid mode. Indeed, the S23 Ultra and pretty much any other Samsung phone's display has been more vibrant in its Vivid mode than what we're seeing here. Word on the street is that an upcoming software update may introduce a setting allowing the user to tweak that bit of the phone's performance. Not all of us are particularly irked by the less vivid Vivid mode, but having the option to adjust that parameter to your liking is certainly most welcome.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra battery life

Our new Active Use Score is an estimate of how long the battery will last if you use the device with a mix of all four test activities. You can adjust the calculation based on your usage pattern using the sliders below. You can read about our current battery life testing procedure here. For a comprehensive list of all tested devices so far, head this way.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is powered by a 5,000mAh battery - the same number as on the previous generation. Meanwhile, both the S24 and S24+ got minor bumps in capacity, but perhaps a larger battery wasn't an option for the Ultra, which even now sits at a barely bearable 232g.

In our Active Use test, the S24 Ultra showed improvements in all three of the routines that are carried out with the display on - tiny ones, but improvements nonetheless - while the call test result ended up being somewhat shorter. Overall, the new generation is slightly better in terms of endurance than the previous model, and slots inbetween the Pixel 8 Pro (worst least good) and the iPhone 15 Pro Max (best).

Charging speed

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is rated for 45W charging, and the way Samsung goes about it is through a relatively specific implementation of the PPS protocol of the USB Power Delivery standard. The result is that if you use any other charger that isn't the Samsung 45W charger, you're likely going to be getting lower charging speeds - slightly lower, but lower nonetheless.

There's also the matter that the bundled cable in the S24 Ultra's box is only good for 3A, while maxing out the 45W rating using Samsung's PPS would require going above that. The Samsung EP-T4510 charger (the "new" one, v2) does ship with a nice 1.8m 5A cable (with robust connectors unlike those on the cable that came with v1 of the 45W adapter, EP-TA845) so technically, if you get the Samsung adapter you'd be all set, but that's not going to be the case if you have third-party chargers and want to use the Ultra's included cable.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra reviewEP-TA800 (v1 of the 25W adapter, left) next to EP-T4510

Using the Samsung 45W adapter, our S24 Ultra got to 69% (nice) in 30 minutes and took 65 minutes to reach 100%. It wasn't until another 20 minutes had passed that it actually reached a fully charged state and stopped drawing power from the adapter, which makes it among the worst offenders when it comes to communicating its charging state.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra reviewEP-T2510 (v2 of the 25W adapter)

If you think of the Ultra's competitors, from a limited westerner's perspective, or even more specifically from a US vantage point, the Galaxy is the fastest charging large premium smartphone - the Pixel 8 Pro is close, but not too close, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max is barely competing in this race. If you broaden your horizons, however, it quickly becomes evident that Samsung doesn't really have charging speed anywhere in its priorities.

Charging speed

  • in 15 min
  • in 30 min
  • Time to full charge (from 0%)
OnePlus 12 OnePlus 12
70%
5400 mAh 100W SuperVOOC
Oppo Find X7 Ultra Oppo Find X7 Ultra
70%
5000 mAh 100W SuperVOOC
vivo X100 Pro vivo X100 Pro
60%
5400 mAh 100W FlashCharge
Xiaomi 13 Ultra Xiaomi 13 Ultra
58%
5000 mAh 90W Xiaomi HyperCharge
Galaxy S24+ Galaxy S24+
41%
4900 mAh 45W Samsung PD+PPS
Galaxy S23 Ultra Galaxy S23 Ultra
40%
5000 mAh 45W Samsung PD + PPS
Galaxy S24 Ultra Galaxy S24 Ultra
39%
5000 mAh 45W Samsung PD + PPS
Galaxy S24 Ultra (25W) Galaxy S24 Ultra (25W)
28%
5000 mAh 25W Samsung PD + PPS
Pixel 8 Pro Pixel 8 Pro
28%
5050 mAh 30W PD
iPhone 15 Pro Max iPhone 15 Pro Max
23%
4422 mAh 20W PD
OnePlus 12 OnePlus 12
100%
5400 mAh 100W SuperVOOC
Oppo Find X7 Ultra Oppo Find X7 Ultra
100%
5000 mAh 100W SuperVOOC
vivo X100 Pro vivo X100 Pro
98%
5400 mAh 100W FlashCharge
Xiaomi 13 Ultra Xiaomi 13 Ultra
91%
5000 mAh 90W Xiaomi HyperCharge
Galaxy S24+ Galaxy S24+
74%
4900 mAh 45W Samsung PD+PPS
Galaxy S24 Ultra Galaxy S24 Ultra
69%
5000 mAh 45W Samsung PD + PPS
Galaxy S23 Ultra Galaxy S23 Ultra
68%
5000 mAh 45W Samsung PD + PPS
Galaxy S24 Ultra (25W) Galaxy S24 Ultra (25W)
56%
5000 mAh 25W Samsung PD + PPS
Pixel 8 Pro Pixel 8 Pro
53%
5050 mAh 30W PD
iPhone 15 Pro Max iPhone 15 Pro Max
46%
4422 mAh 20W PD
OnePlus 12 OnePlus 12
0:24h
5400 mAh 100W SuperVOOC
Oppo Find X7 Ultra Oppo Find X7 Ultra
0:25h
5000 mAh 100W SuperVOOC
vivo X100 Pro vivo X100 Pro
0:31h
5400 mAh 100W FlashCharge
Xiaomi 13 Ultra Xiaomi 13 Ultra
0:40h
5000 mAh 90W Xiaomi HyperCharge
Galaxy S24+ Galaxy S24+
0:58h
4900 mAh 45W Samsung PD+PPS
Galaxy S23 Ultra Galaxy S23 Ultra
0:59h
5000 mAh 45W Samsung PD + PPS
Galaxy S24 Ultra Galaxy S24 Ultra
1:05h
5000 mAh 45W Samsung PD + PPS
Galaxy S24 Ultra (25W) Galaxy S24 Ultra (25W)
1:16h
5000 mAh 25W Samsung PD + PPS
Pixel 8 Pro Pixel 8 Pro
1:23h
5050 mAh 30W PD
iPhone 15 Pro Max iPhone 15 Pro Max
1:49h
4422 mAh 20W PD

The Galaxy S24 Ultra supports wireless charging, and its specs list a 15W rating, but we haven't been able to test the speed.

Speaker test

The Galaxy S24 Ultra has a stereo setup with one speaker firing out of the bottom of the handset, and another one at the top end, which outputs sound forward through a slit that also serves as the earpiece. Each speaker only plays its own channel's track, and that's the left one for the top speaker when in vertical orientation and whichever channel is correct, depending on the way you're holding the phone in landscape.

Bottom speaker - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review Top speaker - Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review
Bottom speaker • Top speaker

The S24 Ultra earned a 'Very Good' rating for loudness in our speaker test, on par with the S24 and S24+, as well as the previous generation. Sound quality is great too - the Ultra's output sounds bigger than that of the regular models with a bit more low-end presence. We'd still prefer the iPhone over the Galaxy when it comes to speakers, though, but the Ultra does sound better than the Pixel to our ears.

Use the Playback controls to listen to the phone sample recordings (best use headphones). We measure the average loudness of the speakers in LUFS. A lower absolute value means a louder sound. A look at the frequency response chart will tell you how far off the ideal "0db" flat line is the reproduction of the bass, treble, and mid frequencies. You can add more phones to compare how they differ. The scores and ratings are not comparable with our older loudspeaker test. Learn more about how we test here.

Connectivity

The S24 Ultra is a dual-SIM 5G device. It can do concurrent SA and NSA Sub-6 on two SIM cards. Depending on the market, you probably won't get to choose your actual physical SIM configuration. Most regions seem to get two physical Nano-SIM slots and an option to attach an eSIM card through software.

Variants do exist with a single physical Nano-SIM slot and eSIM as the only "second line" option. And as far as we can tell, at least some US units are eSIM only, without physical slots.

While rumors did point in the opposite direction, the S24 Ultra lacks satellite connectivity. This goes for the S24 and S24+ as well.

There is no microSD card slot on the SIM tray - not that we'd expect there to be one.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review

For local connectivity, the S24 Ultra gets the new Wi-Fi 7. It is tri-band as well, so you can make use of the 6GHz band too. The S24 and S24+ only get Wi-Fi 6e support.

Bluetooth is version 5.3 with LE support. You get NFC on board as well as UWB (Ultra Wideband), but there is no FM radio or IR blaster.

We tested the USB capabilities of the S24 Ultra, and it's identical to the S24 and S24+. It has Host/OTG support, Display Port 1.2 over USB Alt mode, and it's backed up by a USB 3.2 Gen 1 connection, which tops out at 5 Gbps transfer speeds - not too shabby at all for a smartphone.

As expected, the S24 Ultra has a long list of on-board sensors. There is an STM LSM6DSV accelerometer and STM LSM6DSO gyroscope. These are likely a combo unit. There is a Sensortek STK33F11 light sensor, an AKM AK09918 magnetometer, and an STM LPS22DF barometer.

To our surprise and disappointment, there is a virtual proximity sensor - Samsung Palm Proximity Sensor V2. It works quite reliably to turn off the display while in calls. Technically, there is an actual hardware proximity sensor inside the phone, but it appears inaccessible by any third-party app without workarounds. The dialer appears to use the sensor, but that's about it. These Samsung proximity oddities aren't new, however, and seem to date back at least to the S23 generation, where every phone, including the Ultra, has the same Samsung Palm Proximity Sensor V2 sensor that behaves in the same odd way.

Reader comments

  • Maria
  • 21 hours ago
  • sEB

Could I say that Amazon@gsmarena is an ad? Sorry in advance, not being rude.

It used to be 85% (for the last three Ultras) - but they changed it to 80% for the S24U for maximum protection... ideally for long-term battery health, your phone should always be between 20% and 80%. If anything, they could change the "cha...

  • Anonymous
  • 21 Apr 2024
  • myt

It's only to 80% but hopefully in a future update it might be adjustable