Hands on: Samsung Galaxy S24 review – Familiar S-series traits, new Galaxy AI tricks

AI drives this new compact Galaxy

What is a hands on review?
Samsung Galaxy S24 hands on handheld back straight 21:9
(Image: © Future | Roland Moore-Colyer)

Early Verdict

At a glance you'd be forgiven for mistaking the new Galaxy S24 for its predecessor, but a reworked design, a larger, brighter display, the latest chipset and a wealth of new AI features help set it apart from its predecessors.


  • +

    Refined, stronger design

  • +

    Powerful new AI features

  • +

    Outstanding software support


  • -

    Behind other S24s on resolution, RAM, charging and connectivity

  • -

    512GB model not globally available

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Samsung Galaxy S24: Two-minute preview

If you're a fan of flagship phones on the more compact end of the spectrum, there aren't that many worthwhile options out there today; the iPhone 15 and the Google Pixel 8 spring to mind, as does Asus' pint-sized Zenfone 10. However, one of the most obvious choices just got a long-anticipated upgrade, with the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy S24.

As you might expect, if you're familiar with the series, Samsung launched a trio of phones on January 17, with the Galaxy S24 Plus and Galaxy S24 Ultra in-tow; both offering a larger form factor and beefier specs (in some areas), than the smaller baseline S24 you're here to read about. Interested in those models too? Check out our hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus review and hands-on Galaxy S24 Ultra review (once you're finished here, of course).

Like its larger siblings, the S24 adopts a new One-Mass design language that shrugs off the polished, rounded metal frame of the S23 for a more squared, textured Armor Aluminum frame, which Samsung says is about 10% stronger. Ergonomically it offers better grip and it comes color-matched to the four range-wide finishes that all three of this year's S24s are available in.

Seemingly tighter tolerances travel to the now-larger 6.2-inch screen, too, which as well as being brighter, offers the slimmest bezels yet on a Galaxy phone. In conjunction with the frame, that makes this the best baseline Galaxy S phone for enjoying media to date.

The bulk of the S24's new functionality is AI-based. In fact, Samsung is branding this suite of new features under its new 'Galaxy AI' umbrella term. But as much as AI is the buzzword of the moment, Samsung showed off explicit examples of AI-assisted tools that seem genuinely useful; from real-time translation in voice calls, to generative fill when un-cropping photos, to Chat Assist, which'll suggest alternative phrasing for a message in a selection of different tones.

Samsung Galaxy S24 S24 Plus hands on back straight

Samsung Galaxy S24 in Marble Gray (left) and S24 Plus in Cobalt Violet (right) (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

The power for these newfound AI smarts comes courtesy of either the Qualcomm-made Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 'for Galaxy' or the company's own Exynos 2400 'for Galaxy', slightly overclocked versions of the off-the-shelf flagship mobile silicon from each chip maker. Galaxy S phones rarely skimp on their internals, meaning some of the fastest RAM and storage is included too, with 8GB for the former and between 128GB and 512GB of the latter – depending on market.

The S24 does technically fall short of the S24 Plus and Ultra with its Wi-Fi 6E connectivity (they both possess Wi-Fi 7) but you'll be hard-pressed to see any shortcomings based on most current Wi-Fi infrastructure. UWB (ultra-wideband) is absent from the base S24, too, meaning this phone still lacks the more advanced finding and interconnectivity of the other two models.

A smaller phone the S24 may be, but Samsung has at least boosted battery capacity from its predecessor to an even 4,000mAh, which hopefully means users can expect more than the simply adequate six hours of screen-on time per charge of the S23. We'll be able to confirm come full review time.

Camera specs don't tell the full story for the S24's photography offering, as – on paper – they look identical to that of the S23's: a rear triple sensor setup with a 50MP main, a 12MP ultra-wide and a 10MP telephoto, with a 12MP front-facer. For one, the S24 now benefits from an additional 2x optical zoom without the need for a fourth lens (thanks to sensor cropping), while the bulk of the additions come from – you guessed it – Galaxy AI.

As touched on before, generative fill lets you rotate a shot or move and resize subjects in frame and the phone can fill in the blanks left in such actions' wake. Similarly, smart edit suggestions, like reflection removal and auto portrait mode in post, are welcome upgrades that will let you get more out of the shots you take, potentially turning average photos into great ones; provided you're willing to bend the rules of photographic authenticity a little bit.

To round out the new Galaxy S24 in a nutshell, Samsung has also risen to the challenge Google made with the Pixel 8 series and matched that series' impressive seven generations of OS and security updates. It all adds up to some impressive value-for-money, given that it starts at $799.99 / £799 / AU$1,399.

Read on for a more in-depth breakdown of my hands-on experience with the Samsung Galaxy S24 and check back soon for the full review.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 review: Price and availability

  • Priced from $799.99 / £799 / AU$1,399
  • On sale from January 31
  • Better value than predecessor in UK

The phone was announced on January 17, with Samsung Galaxy S24 preorders kicking off on the same day. Eager buyers have to wait until January 31 to actually get their hands on the device, however.

Here's a pricing breakdown table for all three storage configurations:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Samsung Galaxy S24 prices
StorageUS priceUK priceAU price

As you might have noticed, the S24 comes with three storage configurations, but key markets (including the US and UK) lose out on the 512GB build that's available to Australian customers. It's not clear why this is, but Samsung's market research must tell them that Aussies want more space, while Americans and Brits are more keen on getting the best value. 

Regardless, this S24 seemingly offers up better value than its predecessor, especially in the UK, where this year's Galaxy S starts at £50 less, while the phone in Australia effectively comes with double the storage for a similar price to that of a 128GB S23, last year.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 review: Specs

Samsung Galaxy S24 S24 Plus S24 Ultra hands on back angled

The S24 (left), S24 Plus (center) and S24 Ultra (right) (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

If you're curious about the nitty-gritty of Samsung Galaxy S24 specs, the table below compares the key details of all three models:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Samsung Galaxy S24 specifications comparison
Header Cell - Column 0 Galaxy S24Galaxy S24 PlusGalaxy S24 Ultra
Dimensions147 x 70.6 x 7.6mm158.5 x 75.9 x 7.7mm162.3 x 79.0 x 8.6mm
FrameEnhanced Armor AluminumEnhanced Armor AluminumTitanium
Display6.2-inch AMOLED 1Hz to 120Hz6.7-inch AMOLED 1Hz to 120Hz6.8-inch AMOLED 1Hz to 120Hz
Resolution2,340 x 1,0803,088 × 1,4403,088 × 1,440
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy / Samsung Exynos 2400 for GalaxyQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy / Samsung Exynos 2400 for GalaxyQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy
Storage128GB / 256GB (UFS 4.0)256GB / 512GB (UFS 4.0)256GB / 512GB / 1TB (UFS 4.0)
Main camera50MP50MP200MP
Ultra-wide camera12MP12MP12MP
Telephoto camera10MP, 3X optical zoom10MP, 3X optical zoom10MP, 3X and 10X optical zoom
Selfie camera12MP12MP12MP
Battery size4,000mAh4,900mAh5,000mAh
Charging25W wired, 15W wireless45W wired, 15W wireless45W wired, 15W wireless
ColorsOnyx Black, Marble Gray, Cobalt Violet, Amber YellowOnyx Black, Marble Gray, Cobalt Violet, Amber YellowTitanium Black, Titanium Gray, Titanium Violet, Titanium Yellow
Samsung.com exclusive colorsSandstone Orange, Sapphire Blue, Jade GreenSandstone Orange, Sapphire Blue, Jade GreenSandstone Orange, Sapphire Blue, Jade Green

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 review: Design

Samsung Galaxy S24 hands on table back

(Image credit: Future | Roland Moore-Colyer)
  • One-Mass design
  • Enhanced Armor Aluminum frame
  • More recycled materials in construction

I like what Samsung has done with the S24. While I might miss the more cutesy, rounded sides of the S23, the straighter sides on the S24 present a bolder, more squared appearance; despite its small size, it's seemingly designed to be taken more seriously.

In the same generation that Apple decided to soften the hard edges of the last few iPhones for the iPhone 15 series, Samsung has reached the same conclusion but from the opposing direction. Whether this softened-square cross section strikes the perfect balance between ergonomics and aesthetics will vary in opinion from person to person, but I like the change, not least because Samsung states that the Armor Aluminum used is now 10% stronger. It also offers better grip, while the new textured finish does a much better job of repelling fingerprints and scrapes.

You've got Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protecting the front and back, while IP68 certification sees water and dust ingress covered as well. Samsung chose not to grace either the S24 or S24 Plus with the new Corning Gorilla Armor or titanium as now found on the Ultra, but I suppose those qualities are what help make the Ultra, the Ultra. Even so, I have minimal concerns about the everyday hardiness of the S24, but consider a case if you want to keep that screen out of harm's way on a face-down fall or that precision-milled frame from getting nicked, should it have a surprise date with some sidewalk.

Samsung Galaxy S24 hands on handheld side

The new straighter sides of the S24 don't look all that different from the latest iPhone's (Image credit: Future | Roland Moore-Colyer)

This year, all three models are available in all colorways, which is a win in terms of user choice. Save for a few carrier-only Samsung Galaxy S24 colors in some markets, across the general lineup (the first four shades) and the Samsung.com exclusive finishes (the last three) you got a selection of seven choices in total: Onyx Black, Marble Gray, Cobalt Violet, Amber Yellow, Sandstone Orange, Sapphire Blue, Jade Green. The cleanness of Marble Gray gets my vote, but the Cobalt Violet and Amber Yellow aren't bad either (at the time of writing, we're yet to see what the Samsung.com colors actually look like).

Speaking of cobalt, Samsung has also made time to push this new S series' green credentials, although the base S24 is the weakest performer in this area, with only 10% pre and post-consumer recycled cobalt in its battery, compared to the 50% found in the batteries of the S24 Plus and Ultra. At least the neodymium magnets in the phone's speakers are 100% recycled, with 40% of the steel used recycled, too.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 review: Display

Samsung Galaxy S24 hands on front camera

Smaller bezels and a smaller camera cut-out (Image credit: Future | Roland Moore-Colyer)
  • Larger 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display 
  • Dynamic refresh rate now spans 1Hz to 120Hz
  • New peak brightness of 2,600nits

Aside from being a bit taller, the dimensions of the S24 haven't changed from the S23 all that much, despite it having shifted up to a 6.2-inch display. That new frame, together with the thinnest ever bezels on a Galaxy, are to thank for the increase in size being possible without any additional bulk. Paired with a smaller punch-hole front camera, this all makes for a more immersive viewing experience from this year's smallest Galaxy S phone.

Although Samsung finally brought the S24 Plus back up to QHD+ resolution, the standard model remains at Full HD+, although in real-world use, you're unlikely to complain. It's a lovely screen, in spite of its resolution, and it still receives a number of other upgrades, including a new peak brightness of 2,600nits (up from 1,750 on the S23) and a new HBM (high brightness mode) figure of 1,600nits (up from 1,200). It also now gains the same full 1Hz to 120Hz dynamic refresh rate range as was once an Ultra exclusive, which should help with power efficiency (the S23 ranged from 48Hz to 120Hz).

First impressions are good, but that's no surprise where Samsung is concerned. So long as Accidental touch protection with those smaller bezels works, there's little to criticise here. The user experience now allows for full-screen images on the AOD (always-on display) now too, which is a nice bonus.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 review: Software

Samsung Galaxy S24 hands on handheld front straight

(Image credit: Future | Roland Moore-Colyer)
  • One UI 6.1 atop Android 14 at launch
  • New Galaxy AI features throughout
  • Promise of seven generations of OS and security updates
  • Knox lets you force AI features to process on-device only

Beyond the AOD, the meat of the new functionality on the Galaxy S24 falls to its Galaxy AI feature set. That aside, One UI 6.1 looks and feels generally like the last generation of the company's mobile user experience, and the one before that. That's not a criticism per se – it makes it easier for existing Samsung Galaxy users to transition – but One UI generally packs away a lot of functionality and you'll have to invest a not-insignificant amount of time if you want to learn about all that it can do.

Those Galaxy AI features can be found throughout the S24's software and while I'll talk about imaging-specific ones in the camera section, there are plenty of others that I was able to trial on my first encounter with the phone; as well as more that Samsung showed off during its presentation.

From the jump, generative wallpapers will allow you to customize your lock and home screens with unique, original imagery, generated on device ad infinitum. When it comes to connecting with people, there are a wealth of new conversational tools, like Live Translate running in the Phone app to add two-way voice translation during phone calls, while Interpreter serves up on-screen translation for two languages in split-screen. Chat Assist – built into the Samsung Keyboard – is also on-hand to reword what you've written, suggesting alternative tones, in case you want to approach how you communicate with someone in a more or less informal manner and you're unsure how best to phrase things.

If productivity is a key use-case for you, then the ability to summarize automatically transcribed text, notes, web pages and more will be a huge help. Samsung's partnership with Google has also brought about the phone's Circle to Search feature, which lets you circle anything on-screen with your finger after long-pressing the home button to instantly search of it on Google. While it's not the most mind-blowing demo in practice, I can totally see the convenience of the feature being a huge strength for the S24 in everyday use.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus hands on on-device AI only mode

Samsung lets you disable off-device processing of your AI data with a single toggle (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Of course, with this new AI functionality, the power of the cloud lets such tasks draw on greater performance than the phone's native hardware is capable of delivering. But while this might make for more convenient and quicker processing of AI tasks –  like those mentioned above – Samsung's Knox security now includes a 'process data only on device' toggle, locking off online processing (and thus the sharing of your data off-device) with a single tap, which should add some peace of mind to those who want to leverage all that Galaxy AI on the S24 has to offer, but who don't consent to having their data shared beyond the confines of their new device at the same time.

Google upped the ante with the Pixel 8 series, by trumping what was Samsung's class-leading software support promise, so naturally Samsung has clapped back by granting all three new S24 models the same seven generations of both security and operating system updates. It's an impressive long-term support commitment that means even better value-for-money for those users who like to hold onto the same phone for as long as possible.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 review: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy S24 hands on camera closeup

Same cameras, now backed by new AI (Image credit: Future | Roland Moore-Colyer)
  • Similar camera hardware to previous two generations
  • New 2x optical zoom (via sensor crop)
  • New AI-powered image editing features

In a decidedly Pixel-inspired move, Samsung seems happy to stick with the same camera hardware that we've seen on the last couple of generations of Galaxy S phones. So, rather than changing the hardware it's instead placing focus on its new ProVisual Engine, which is designed to offer AI-enhanced image processing both during and post capture.

In terms of at-capture skills, it promises to remove noise, improve low light performance and aim for more accurate and vivid colors, where appropriate. Despite Samsung's penchant for more saturated, higher-contrast imagery as standard, its phones have gradually been edging towards a more authentic and accurate color science over the last few generations, so it'll be interesting to see what the ProVisual Engine does for shots in this regard.

As for post-capture, Edit Suggestion is now on-hand to dynamically offer up quick access to editing tools the phone deems relevant to the picture in question; whether it's to remove reflections, remaster the colors and contrast or add a portrait effect after the fact. Generative Fill, meanwhile, lets you convincingly fill the void created by straightening an image off its original axis or moving and resizing subjects in a frame to achieve a different composition, automatically. These latter tools are powerful and impressive in practice but a) they're not particularly quick, despite the S24's AI processing power and b) as with the Pixel 8 series' Magic Editor, they test the limits of what counts as photography and what's more closely considered AI-led digital artistry.

Samsung Galaxy S24 hands on camera UI

(Image credit: Future | Roland Moore-Colyer)

Even when it comes to enjoying content after the fact, long-pressing videos in Samsung's native Gallery app on the S24 delivers instant 120fps slow motion, even if the video wasn't captured in slow-mo to begin with (thanks to some smart frame interpolation). It's not perfect, with weird artifacting on the fingers of my fast-waving hand in testing, but so long as the original motion isn't too quick, it's a small addition designed to prolong the enjoyment of special moments caught on camera, and I'm here for it.

Just as Circle to Search highlights Samsung's close relationship with Google, its efforts in bringing 'Super HDR' capture to third-party apps like Instagram is a nice exclusive, too; one that should make the quality of shots taken by those who live within these social apps very happy.

We always shout out each year's Ultra for its versatility in our best camera phones, but another small upgrade to the S24 and S24 Plus cameras is the inclusion of a new 2x optical zoom, achieved without adding a sensor by sensor cropping, meaning lossless shots at four focal lengths, instead of three as on previous entries.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 review: Performance

Samsung Galaxy S24 S24 Plus S24 Ultra hands on back angled camera closeup

(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)
  • Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 'for Galaxy' chipset on US models
  • Samsung Exynos 2400 'for Galaxy' on UK/European models
  • UFS 4.0 across all storage variants

Previous Galaxy S (and Galaxy Note) generations have come sporting different chipsets depending on the market they launch in, with Qualcomm's latest and greatest Snapdragons appearing in US models, while other markets come sporting Samsung's own equivalent Exynos chip. After the Exynos chips consistently under-performed by comparison to the Snapdragons, Samsung seemingly learned its lesson and provided Qualcomm's SoCs in its Galaxy flagships internationally for a few generations of Galaxy S phone. However, with the S24 series – at least in the case of the S24 and S24 Plus – it's reverted back to this two-chip strategy.

As my hands-on session took place in the UK, I tested a Galaxy S24 powered by an Exynos 2400, rather than the 8 Gen 3 found in the Ultra globally, and the standard and Plus models Stateside. It's practically impossible to tell without benchmarking and side by side comparison whether the disparity of previous Exynos chips persists here, but I'm crossing my fingers that buyers in markets where the Exynos S24 launches aren't being short-changed as they once were, and that Samsung has figured out how to level the playing field.

There are rumblings that the Exynos model actually delivers better power efficiency than the Snapdragon this generation, which would mark a turn – but again, we'll have test both versions out in full to know what the truth of the matter is. This divergence could also affect camera performance, with each chip using a different ISP (image signal processor) and thus processing shots differently. Again, we'll have to wait for more testing to see if there's a disparity here.

Beyond possible performance concerns, real-world experience gave no indication that the Exynos-powered S24 I tested was inferior to any equivalent flagship phone currently on the market.

In brighter news, even the base 128GB S24 has been upgraded to have UFS 4.0 storage, which promises better speed and power efficiency, compared to the UFS 3.1 storage used by the 128GB S23 (the 256GB model was already using UFS 4.0). Along with a bump in screen resolution, Samsung has also locked the S24 Plus into 12GB of LPDDR5X RAM, while the standard model remains fixed at 8GB. Not likely something you'll fall foul of in everyday use, but a trait that could have implications further on in the phone's life cycle, with regards to performance degradation.

Hands-on Samsung Galaxy S24 review: Battery

Samsung Galaxy S24 review

(Image credit: Future)
  • Larger 4,000mAh battery than predecessor
  • Still 25W wired charging

A fractionally larger body means room for a fractionally larger battery and so the S24 now possesses a 4,000mAh cell – up from 3,900mAh on the S23 and 3,700 on the S22. This actually brings us full circle, back to the S21 and S20 before it, both of which enjoyed 4,000mAh cells too.

Ahead of real-world testing, it's unclear how the pairing of this new larger power pack and that new 3nm chipset will fare, but we have hopes that it'll surpass the S23's roughly six hours of screen-on time per charge.

What hasn't changed since the Galaxy S20 is charging speeds, with the same 25W PD3.0-compliant charging that Samsung promises will give you 50% charge in 30 minutes, along with up to 15W wireless charging and 4.5W reverse wireless charging (branded 'Wireless Power Share').

With all the upgrades that the S24 Plus has finally benefitted from (higher screen resolution, 12GB RAM range-wide, UWB etc.), a bump to 45W charging for the standard S24 does seem long overdue. Unfortunately, it would appear Samsung deems it fast enough already. The question is, is that good enough in your eyes, as a potential buyer?

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.

What is a hands on review?

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