Galaxy S24 Series: Specs, Price, Features

Samsung’s biannual Galaxy Unpacked event is typically big on flashy new mobile hardware, but at this year’s event—held today in San Jose, California—it’s the software that takes the limelight. Powering the new Samsung Galaxy S24, S24+, and S24 Ultra is Galaxy AI, the catchall term for many of the new smart features debuting in the handsets.

Many of these functions (but not all) are powered by Google’s Gemini artificial intelligence model, and some of them already exist on Google’s own Pixel smartphones. Google has long dominated Search simply by being the default option everywhere—now it’s employing a similar strategy in leveraging Android to bring its AI prowess to a wider stage.

At the event, Samsung also announced the Galaxy Ring, which is a brand-new product category for the company. It didn’t share many details other than how this smart ring will be closely integrated with the Samsung Health app and its wealth of features. Smart rings have grown in popularity over the last three years, with Oura leading the charge and others following suit, like the Ultrahuman Ring Air. We’ll update this story as we learn more.

Forget the phones for a minute so we can talk about Galaxy AI. There’s a mix of on-device (via Gemini Nano) and cloud-based AI smarts (via Gemini Pro) on the Galaxy S24 series, though Samsung leans more heavily on the latter. If you see a star icon somewhere on the screen, that’s an indication that there’s a special AI function you can tap into. These interactions are powered by Google’s large language model.

For example, while on a phone call, tap the starry Call Assist button and now it’ll translate the call in real time, allowing you to speak with someone in another language, like the Universal Translator from Star Trek. (13 languages are supported.) In a demo, I placed a phone call with a Samsung employee—he spoke in Korean and I heard his speech translated into English, and vice versa. It was cool to be able to have a full conversation without having to look anything up, and while it wasn’t the swiftest back and forth, it felt speedy enough to keep the chat alive.

Translation extends to text messages too. Since this translation capability is baked into Samsung’s keyboard, it doesn’t matter which messaging app you’re using for your chats. Speaking of, there’s also Chat Assist on the keyboard, which can change up the tone of your sentences in conversations in case you want to sound more professional or casual, or if you need help getting your punctuation correct. My personal favorite messaging-specific addition is Photomoji, which lets you craft new emoji from your photos—very much like Apple’s Visual Lookup, which turns subjects from your photos into stickers.

Samsung’s built-in voice recorder app is getting a few smarts that resemble what you’ll find in Google’s own Recorder app, including real-time transcriptions and speaker labels to indicate who’s talking. Using Samsung’s web browser? Tap the star icon and you can get summaries of a webpage. Working in Samsung’s Notes app? You can summarize long paragraphs of text, check grammar and spelling, and even run through different formatting options that can automatically add titles, headers, and bullets.

This is a Samsung event, but Google is using the occasion to debut a new search experience on Android called Circle to Search. No matter what you’re looking at onscreen, long-press the home button (or the pill-shaped icon if you use gesture navigation) to pull up a new interface where you can circle a specific area on the screen with your finger. This circled area is then pulled into the Google Search bar for a visual search. You can type additional text into the query about the image to make the search more specific. It works anywhere on Android, even when you’re watching videos in various apps, and will be available on the S24 and Pixel 8 series on January 31.

When Google added Magic Eraser to its Pixel phones, which lets you remove objects in the background of photos, Samsung followed suit with its own similar tool called Object Eraser. The Pixel 8 Pro showed off Magic Editor last year, allowing you to move or resize subjects within a photo while the AI automatically fills in the rest to keep the scene looking realistic. Naturally, this feature is now available on the Galaxy S24 series, where it’s called Generative Edit (a less fun name).

Arguably one of the cooler tricks I saw in my brief time with the handsets was Instant Slow-Mo. Remember slow-motion video? It’s a feature I’ve always wanted to use more, but it’s hidden away in the menus of the camera app, so I never remember that it exists. Well, Samsung is now letting you turn any video you’ve shot into a slow-motion video by just pressing and holding it in the gallery app. Tap into the Edit button to choose the slow-mo duration and speed. It uses a method called frame interpolation to achieve a slow-motion effect, generating new frames in between the actual frames of your footage to make the motion appear smooth, as if it was always shot that way.

Finally, if you’re an avid Android Auto user, you’ll be happy to see that incoming long messages or busy group chats will be automatically summarized while you are driving, and you’ll also see more suggested replies and actions, like sharing an ETA, quick links to navigate to a restaurant mentioned in a conversation, or options to call someone. No more constant pings (I hope).

Oh, right. New phones! If the word “iterative” needed an example in the dictionary, I’d point to the Galaxy S24 range. That’s not at all a knock on the quality of these phones—they’re just so similar to last year’s Galaxy S23 models that it can’t be ignored. They all have the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, brighter AMOLED displays, and cameras with larger sensors to capture more light.

Samsung’s taking a page from Apple and adding titanium to the Galaxy S24 Ultra only (the smaller S24 and S24+ are still made out of aluminum). This is a more durable material, yes, but it’s also supposed to be lighter, which was a benefit I noticed on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Unfortunately, the weight savings here on the S24 Ultra is roughly 1 gram. Yes, a single gram. Cool.

The S24 Ultra has a 6.8-inch flat display, meaning the edges of the glass do not curve backward into the rear frame. Yay! I’m happy to see this blight that has been plaguing smartphones over the past few years disappear. Sure, it looked futuristic, but it made for a worse experience, as my grip often interfered with my interactions on the screen.

Thanks to slimmer bezels around the displays, the S24 and S24+ now have slightly bigger screens, measuring in at 6.2 and 6.7 inches, respectively. Both are now capable of ratcheting the screen’s refresh rate from 1 Hz to 120 Hz, meaning all your interactions are going to feel more fluid and you get to save a bit of battery life. Speaking of, the S24 has a 4,000-mAh battery capacity and the S24+ has 4,900 mAh, modest improvements from their predecessors. The S24 Ultra sticks with the same 5,000-mAh cell as last year’s model.

As for the cameras, the S24 and S24+ are identical: a 50-megapixel primary sensor joined by a 12-megapixel ultrawide and a 10-megapixel telephoto offering 3X optical zoom. The Galaxy S24 Ultra sizes things up to a 200-megapixel primary sensor, a 12-megapixel ultrawide, a 10-megapixel telephoto with 3X optical zoom, and a 50-megapixel telephoto with 5X optical zoom. This latter camera is a step back from the 10X optical zoom Samsung previously offered—something you couldn’t find in any other phone sold in the US. Color me disappointed that it’s gone, though I expect a 5X zoom is more handy in everyday situations.

Disappointingly, Samsung has not adopted the Qi2 wireless charging standard in the S24 range, citing that it was too new to be added to its handsets. Qi2 is exciting not just because it’s more efficient and faster at wirelessly juicing up our devices, but it also introduces the Magnetic Power Profile, which uses magnets baked into devices to properly align them to charging pucks, just like MagSafe does on iPhones. The addition will mean a greater degree of cross-compatibility between iPhone and Android accessories, but alas, you’ll have to wait until 2025 (or later this year) to use it.

The Galaxy S24 costs $800 and the S24+ is $1,000. The Galaxy S24 Ultra is the only one to go up in price, by $100 over last year; it’ll set you back $1,300. The good news is Samsung is promising seven years of software updates, matching Google’s Pixel devices. That means your money will hopefully go a long way as you can hold onto your device for longer.

Preorders are open today, and as usual, Samsung has a promotion that lets you get a free storage upgrade; the 512-GB Galaxy S24, for example, is the same price as the 256-GB variant during this period. The phones officially hit stores on January 31.

SOURCE: Wired

About Michael Zotos 460 Articles
Founder and owner of Performer.com/Performer Media LLC, a multimedia content creator for a variety of national plus local print & electronic media affiliates.