Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra – 30 Days Later: Better Than I Imagined

9 min read

It’s been a few weeks since I bought Samsung’s Galaxy S24 Ultra – and using it every day in lots of different scenarios and environments: I have to say this phone continues to surprise and impress me as a first-time Samsung phone owner. 

The incredible display, titanium design, snappy performance, and of course the incredible cameras are all reasons I love this phone.

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I’ll go over my experience with the Galaxy S24 Ultra after 2 to 3 weeks of daily use and as I love this phone, I don’t think it’s for everyone so let’s start with the things I’ve disliked.

Shutter lag

Number one: is the shutter lag on the camera and this is a big issue.

The cameras themselves are downright incredible, it’s without a doubt the best mobile camera I’ve used yet and I’ll show you just how good it has been when I’ve taken it on trips and in daily use.

But the shutter lag is a serious flaw in that camera system, so it’s challenging to take photos of fast-moving objects.  

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Whenever I snap things in motion: animals, kids, cars – the subject is usually blurry more often than not. And I’m not even referring to the super fast movement that requires high shutter speeds, I’m talking about a slight movement where most rival phones like my iPhone 15 would nail the shot without breaking a sweat. 

And that’s because of the shutter lag – the delay between pressing the shutter button and the camera capturing the photo. And there’s a significant delay on the S24 Ultra. 

After some digging, I realized this is a proper issue with previous-gen Samsung Galaxy phones, which is surprising considering just how great of a camera it is for practically everything outside of this shutter lag issue.

Speakers

The second thing I disliked was the speakers. I found the speaker to sound strangely hollow and I noticed the lack of punch in its sound almost right away after unboxing the phone.

For example, if I’m watching content with dialogue it’s sometimes drowned out by other cinematic sound effects and it’s tough to pick up what they’re saying. 

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Same thing with music, bass is lacking, and highs and lows are slightly distorted.

Unfortunately, I don’t have previous Samsung Ultra phones to compare to since this is the very first one I own, but comparing it to my iPhone 15 Pro speakers, the S24 Ultra lags in clarity and pure volume.

Some of you guys suggested in the unboxing video to turn on the Dolby Atmos setting, which helped improve the sound profile and it does make a difference, but even with Dolby Atmos turned on, it doesn’t stack up against the spatial audio speakers found on my iPhone 15 Pro.

Android 14 / One UI

My next dislike is more subjective: the Android 14 and the One UI operating system. 

To be fair I’m warming up to it more and more as I use it but I feel like iOS17 is just that much more polished. 

The One UI is really good in many ways: it’s stable, has a refined Android interface and there’s tonnes of customization but I find it not as cohesive as iOS17. 

For example, booting it up for the first time, I find there are a lot of Samsung apps preinstalled that I feel are just duplicates of the pre-installed Google apps. 

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The One UI Quick Panel is laid out in a way that’s not great with one-handed useability and the overall UI I find isn’t as appealing as iOS17 but then I think with more use I’ll start getting used to it. 

There’s cool stuff that iPhone users don’t get like Edge Panels – a shortcut tab that lets me open favorite apps quickly, and the even cooler Bixby Call Screening feature, which is sort of an automated voice assistant that takes calls for you.

Galaxy AI Isn’t Free 

Next, I’ve been enjoying Android 14 and the One UI operating system. More than I thought I would.

The One UI is really good in many ways: it’s stable, has a refined Android interface and there’s tons of customization. 

There’s stuff iPhone users don’t get like Edge Panels – a shortcut tab that lets me open favorite apps quickly, and Bixby Call Screening, which is sort of an automated voice assistant that takes calls for you.

But here’s the negative of all this and maybe the most controversial: the biggest feature of the S24 Ultra, Galaxy AI, is well…a paid subscription model.

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This was kept low-key by Samsung but it’s found in the footnotes on the US sales page: “Galaxy AI features will be provided for free until the end of 2025 on supported Samsung Galaxy devices.”

It seems like an industry trend to put AI features behind a paywall, unfortunately.

But I think it’s a bit of a shame that Galaxy AI is basically…an extended trial for owners. It’s a tough pill to swallow when the price tag of this flagship phone is already steep.

Likes

But speaking of Galaxy AI, this brings me to what I love about the S24 Ultra as a first-time Samsung user, and buckle up because there’s a lot that I love about this phone.

Galaxy AI has been properly useful day to day and I’ve appreciated just how integrated it is on this phone  

Live Translate AI is a great example – it translates phone calls in foreign languages in real-time. I’ve used it plenty for real-time calls with my Mandarin-speaking friends and it’s incredible. 

It works with any caller because it uses on-device processing so the other person on the line could be on any smartphone landline or even public phone and Live Translate AI works a charm.

There’s even an option to mute my voice and the caller’s voice so we’re speaking only through the live translations and I can easily manage a proper conversation. This one’s a game changer and it’s an example of where Samsung is leaps ahead of Apple. 

The best part is, that no details or logs are left in the cloud thanks to the on-device processing so the privacy is there.  

Generative AI photo editing is also another AI feature I’ve been using and enjoying. It’s as easy as ever to reposition subjects in a photo, delete them entirely, and even extend the entire photo thanks to generative AI.

Turning any high-res video into a slow-mo video is also quite incredible too, when it does work. Galaxy AI reads the video frames in sequence and then adds AI-generated frames in between to increase the overall frame rate of the video for that smooth slow-mo look. It’s a great feature if you didn’t manage to natively capture the video in 120FPS for example but have a great shot you want to slow down, you can now do that afterwards. 

A lot of these aren’t new ideas and in fact, many Galaxy AI tools are essentially what Google is working on like Circle to Search function, which is already out on the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro. 

But Samsung has done a great job integrating these features into the phone natively and they perform well considering the S24 Ultra is powered by a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, which is the first mobile chipset to include generative AI on its silicon directly. 

The AI features are still in their early stages and have a lot of work to be done, for example, some AI features are even restricted to Samsung’s apps, but to be fair like many other companies, Samsung is throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks at the moment…probably before they start to charge for it in 2025. 

Camera

Now let’s spend some time talking about the cameras because outside of that shutter lag issue, this is my favorite mobile camera to date. 

On the back, we have the primary 200MP sensor, a 12MP ultrawide sensor, two tele lenses one with 10MP and the other with 50, and it shoots video up to an incredible 8K at 30FPS, a mode that still can’t be found on phones from Google or Apple. 

But they’re just numbers and stats on paper so I’ll throw up some real-life snaps during a stay at a Wildlife Retreat last weekend, which made for a beautiful backdrop to test the camera.

For starters, the zoom lens is just ridiculously good. In the camera app, just how close I was able to get to giraffe photos at just the 5x and 10x zoom. I didn’t expect the final photos to look this good. 

Check the chicken’s eye and also zoom right onto the Sydney Opera House from all the way across the water. 

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I had so much fun using the incredible zoom getting in close with animals and capturing super detailed shots I wouldn’t usually be able to with my iPhone. 

The ultra-wide camera also looks amazing in bright light, the two tele lenses add good detail and quality to photos and basically, almost every photo I snapped has pleasant colors and nice contrast right off the phone.

The only thing is, I find that the colors lean to this weird sort of purple hue, but this is likely Samsung can and will fix it in future software updates. 

Shooting portrait mode surprised me, especially with the 5x lens in bright light  – they came out so vivid, and natural and look far better than portrait mode on my iPhone 15 Pro.

The S24 Ultra does a great job isolating the subject in this mode without any artificial halo effect that I see on my iPhone.

It’s pretty clear that the new Snapdragon chip and AI help boost the overall picture quality and sometimes to the point where images look too processed, but that’s not an issue unique to just this phone – it’s pretty common with all smartphones these days. 

The footage in 8K 30FPS video mode is also shockingly good. The colors are accurate and lifelike straight out of the phone and the details are great without looking overly sharp. It’s great for capturing everyday memories or for sharing with your socials. 

The only thing I’d fault it on is shooting in harsh lighting creates color inconsistencies and artifacts whereas my iPhone didn’t have that problem. 

There’s a lot to go through with the camera, so if you want to see an in-depth comparison and camera test, let me know. 

Titanium Design & Display

Moving onto the design of the S24 Ultra, it looks pretty similar to the S23 Ultra and even the S22 Ultra but there are some iterative improvements. 

Like the iPhone 15 Pro, titanium rails are now used but the weight of the S24 Ultra is almost still the same as the S23 Ultra at 233 grams or about 8.2 ounces. But it lives up to its durability, with the titanium structure being less flexible than the previous aluminum builds. 

It’s a phone that I’d daily and not worry about where I’m taking it or if I’d drop it: it’s a solid enough phone to be just fine after most waist-level drops. It’s no Nokia 3310, but Samsung has done a great job with this build. 

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The new anti-reflective screen is even more impressive: it makes me realize just how reflective my iPhone 15 Pro is. It makes a noticeable difference when using the phone around bright light sources, especially outdoors under the sun – it’s a great quality of life improvement. 

The 6.8-inch 120Hz 1440P display is stunning too. It is incredibly sharp, saturated, and such a joy to use and watch content on, especially when the panel now peaks out at 2,600 nits whereas my iPhone peaks at 2,000 nits. 

It’s been extremely hot and sunny in the past few weeks and using this in direct sunlight wasn’t a problem at all. A heads up though, the S24 Ultra is capped at 1000 nits technically with 2600 nits reserved for outdoor viewing and no other way to unlock it.

I’ve watched all sorts of content from YouTube videos to Blue Eyed Samurai on Netflix and the art style of that show just absolutely pops on this display – it’s a screen that’s just a joy to consume content on and I’d be totally happy sitting on a morning commute watching Netflix on this display. 

There’s also a new speaker grill along the bottom, a flatter S Pen cap and Samsung reverted back to a traditional flat display, which I think is a great fit to its overall design.

I just wish it came in the smaller S24 Plus form factor for better single-hand useability for daily use.  

Performance

The performance of the Galaxy S24 Ultra is also ridiculously good. 

Qualcomm has hit a homerun with its latest processor: the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, running everything perfectly fine and it only ever felt warm in my hand when I was outside in direct sunlight capturing video and photos all day or playing graphically intensive games like Left to Survive. 

Pair this up with the 12GB of RAM and it’s not surprising that this makes for one powerful mobile phone with enough juice to run all its AI features locally and seamlessly without hiccups. 

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And of course, that big 5,000 mAh battery is impressive. It gets me through a full day of use with anywhere from 20-50% of juice left at the end of the day depending on how heavily I use it. More than enough for both power and casual users, even if you have a big night out. It’s a genuine improvement over the S23 Ultra’s smaller 4565mAh battery, so the S24 Ultra is about a 10% increase in battery size. 

Plus, I love that there’s reverse wireless charging at 7.5 watts, something Apple still hasn’t implemented into iPhones. 

Connectivity is great too, with Bluetooth 5.3, 5G, and Wi-FI 6E speeds that are on par with my iPhone 15. But The S24 Ultra is its first phone to support Wi-Fi 7, I can only imagine the types of speeds it’ll reach on a Wi-Fi 7 router, so I’m keen to get a Wi-Fi 7 capable router to give this a go.

S Pen

Also, let’s talk about the S24 Ultra’s Stylus Pen for a moment. 

Because coming over from an iPhone, I was like why would you ever need a Stylus Pen, I’ve got fingers.

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But you know what, I’m enjoying the S Pen more than I thought I would: photo editing, taking screenshots and writing over them, and scribbling quick notes – minus the sounds it makes on the Notes app that seem to annoy my friends: it’s great to have and a feature that helps separates the S24 Ultra from the rest of the lineup. 

Plus I’ve enjoyed how it’s nicely integrated into the phone to save us from carrying it around.

Conclusion

The S24 Ultra is excellent across the board: it has awesome performance, a beautiful super-bright display, long battery life, and top-of-the-line cameras that are second to none.

I’ve found the Galaxy AI stuff genuinely useful and impressive, but it’s still in its infancy and I wouldn’t say it’s a strong enough reason to upgrade for those of you who use the S23 or even S22 Ultra – especially since this phone is now more expensive than ever starting at $1,299. 

But overall, it’s not just a great successor to the S23 Ultra, it’s a great phone full stop and I must say: I am really glad I climbed over the walled garden of Apple to see what there is on offer.

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I want to ask those of you who own a Galaxy phone or even have the S24 Ultra over the last few weeks, what do you think about this phone? 

For me personally, the only thing that’s stopping me from completely changing over is the Apple ecosystem has a tight grip on my digital life but what I might do is use the S24 Ultra as my business phone and my iPhone 15 Pro as my personal phone.

One thing is for sure though: I cannot wait to dive deeper into the world of Android phones this year because damn, I’ve been missing out. 

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