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Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus review: better than the S24 Ultra?

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus

MSRP $1,000.00

“With lovely hardware, a gorgeous screen, and excellent battery, the Galaxy S24 Plus is the big Samsung phone to buy in 2024.”

Pros

  • The flat sides are wonderful
  • New QHD+ screen looks fantastic
  • Runs fast and cool
  • One UI 6.1 is really nice
  • Seven years of updates
  • Phenomenal battery life
  • It’s a surprisingly good value

Cons

  • Camera struggles with moving objects
  • Galaxy AI features are hit-or-miss

For years, Samsung’s “Plus” model in its Galaxy S family has felt like a weird addition. The Plus phones are often very good, but when you can spend an extra $200 for the nicer and more powerful Ultra model, what’s the point? This year, with the Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus, things are a little different.

The S24 Plus enters 2024 with a refreshed design, a nicer screen, and a seriously impressive processor. It also has the same $1,000 price tag that the Plus model has had for a few years now. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s new $1,300 price means there’s now a larger $300 gulf between the Plus and Ultra phones. Add it all together, and it means Samsung’s Plus phone is a lot more attractive than it’s ever been.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus: design

The purple Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus resting against a white pole.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus looks a lot like its Galaxy S23 Plus sibling. It weighs the same at 196 grams, is less than a millimeter taller and 1/10th of a millimeter thicker, and has the same camera design on the back. Samsung didn’t reinvent the wheel with this one. However, the S24 Plus isn’t completely identical to its predecessor. In fact, there’s one fairly substantial change: flat sides.

Last year’s S23 Plus has an aluminum frame with rounded, glossy sides. It was a completely fine design choice and one I quite liked at the time. The S24 Plus still uses aluminum, but its frame now has flat edges with a matte finish. It’s basically the same thing you’ll find on the iPhone 15, and I really like it.

Although the new frame doesn’t radically change the Galaxy S24 Plus’ design, it’s a welcome upgrade across the board. The matte finish looks nicer and doesn’t attract any fingerprints, the flat frame has been easier to grip on to, and I think it gives the phone a more polished, refined look. It’s subtle, but it grew on me quickly.

Otherwise, this is basically the same phone as last year. The Galaxy S24 Plus has an IP68 rating for reliable dust and water resistance, Gorilla Glass 2 protects the screen, and the back glass also has a matte finish to match the frame. I have the S24 Plus in the Cobalt Violet color, and think it looks nice. The power and volume buttons are clicky, the speakers sound nice (despite being a little tinny), and the in-screen fingerprint sensor works like a charm.

I’d also like to stress just how polished and premium the whole package feels. When holding the Galaxy S24 Plus side by side with a Pixel 8 Pro or OnePlus 11, Samsung’s phone feels nicer. It’s a small thing, but one I couldn’t help but notice.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus: screen

Someone holding the Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

As good as the Galaxy S24 Plus’ design is, that’s not the part of the phone you’ll spend the most time looking at. That would be its screen and, thankfully, it’s a fantastic one.

The Galaxy S24 Plus gets a 6.7-inch AMOLED 2X panel, which is slightly larger than the 6.6-inch one its predecessor had. The peak brightness has also been increased from 1,750 nits all the way up to 2,600 nits, and the resolution has shot up from FHD+ to QHD+. In terms of raw numbers, that’s a jump from 2340 x 1080 pixels to 3120 x 1440. On top of all that, the 120Hz refresh rate can now scale down to just 1Hz, meaning it uses less power when you’re not interacting with the screen.

The Galaxy S24 Plus has a fantastic screen.

Last year’s Galaxy S23 Plus already had a lovely display, and the upgrades Samsung added to the S24 Plus display make it that much better. It hasn’t been particularly sunny in Southwest Michigan during my review period, but under a lot of gray and overcast skies, I’ve had zero issues seeing the screen outdoors. Based on its performance so far, I have no doubt it’ll handle sunnier days just as well — whenever that happens. I also love how dim the Galaxy S24 Plus can get. When placed side by side with my iPhone 15 Pro Max, the S24 Plus’ screen is noticeably darker at its lowest brightness setting — a nice perk if you use your phone in bed next to your partner and don’t want to disturb them.

Display resolution options on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The resolution bump has also been great. The S24 Plus is set to FHD+ by default, but you can switch to QHD+ at any time from the Settings app. It’s not a dramatic difference, but it does make text on the screen sharper to my eyes — particularly smaller fonts.

It’s expected for Samsung to deliver great displays on its phones at this point, but I’ve been especially happy with the S24 Plus in this department. Other than a slightly smaller size and no Gorilla Armor glass for reduced reflections, the S24 Plus’ screen is every bit as good as its Ultra sibling. And when you factor in the $300 price difference this year, that’s no small feat.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus: cameras

A close-up photo of the rear cameras on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

While Samsung made a lot of upgrades to the Galaxy S24 Plus’ screen, the same can’t be said of the phone’s cameras. The physical camera hardware is identical to that of the S23 Plus:

  • 50MP main camera, f/1.8 aperture
  • 10MP telephoto camera, f/2.4 aperture, 3x optical zoom
  • 12MP ultrawide camera, f/2.2 aperture, 120-degree field of view
  • 12MP selfie camera, f/2.2 aperture

That’s a respectable camera setup and very similar to the cameras on the iPhone 15 Pro. Are they any good? Yes, but with a caveat.

If you’re taking a photo of a landscape, a pastry, a still dog, or any other non-moving object, the Galaxy S24 Plus produces very good photos. Samsung created a new “dedicated color tuning solution” for the entire Galaxy S24 series. with the goal of delivering a “more accurate and natural color tone.”

If you ask me, it works. Some photos still have a tiny bit more pop of color than you’d see in similar shots from an iPhone, but photos never look overly saturated to my eye. All of the above photos were taken with the 50-megapixel main camera.

However, the minute you introduce any movement, the Galaxy S24 Plus struggles. A cat moving around on a bed or stool? Blurry photos. A dog playing with a chew toy? Very blurry photos. A bearded dragon just barely moving around on someone’s shoulder? It’s enough to trip up the autofocus and result in a less than ideal photo.

This isn’t an entirely new problem for Samsung phones, but for whatever reason, it’s seemed especially prevalent on the Galaxy S24 Plus.

What about the other cameras? They’re pretty good. The ultrawide camera’s 120-degree field of view is really nice, and the colors are very similar to the main camera’s. The telephoto camera’s cap of 3x optical zoom isn’t very impressive in 2024, but if you need to get closer to your subject, it gets the job done.

You can technically zoom all the way up to 30x in the camera app, but I’d advise against it. Anything beyond 3x is just a digital zoom, and it shows. I’ve taken some 10x photos that are usable (like the above photo of the squirrel), but that’s really as far as you’ll want to go.

A selfie of Joe Maring, taken with the Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Finally, we have the selfie camera. It’s good, yet nothing special, producing sharp-looking photos with good colors. I’ve been happy with it.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus: performance

Someone holding the Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus with its screen turned on.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Under the hood of the Galaxy S24 Plus is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip. It’s the go-to processor for all flagship Android phones this year, and it’s proven to be an absolute beast in the S24 Plus. Last year’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 was a stupendous performer in every phone we tested it in last year, and so far, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is already proving to be a noticeable upgrade.

As far as day-to-day performance is concerned, the Galaxy S24 Plus flies through everything you throw at it. Apps open immediately, multitasking is extremely smooth (thanks to 12GB of RAM), and all of One UI 6’s animations are as fluid as can be. Good, everyday performance has been expected of every flagship for the last few years, but the S24 Plus has felt especially snappy during my time with it.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is already proving to be a noticeable upgrade.

That good performance also translates to gaming. Call of Duty: Mobile — my go-to mobile game of choice — runs beautifully on the Galaxy S24 Plus. The phone handles CoD: Mobile at Medium graphics and 120 frames per second (fps) without breaking a sweat. More importantly, it can handle multiple rounds of the game without ever feeling hot. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 has also been an efficiency monster, but I’ll get to that in the battery section.

It is worth mentioning that only the U.S. model of the Galaxy S24 Plus has the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. If you buy the phone in another country, it gets an Exnyos 2400 chipset. While I haven’t used an international version of the S24 Plus, Samsung’s Exynos chips don’t have the best reputation, and they often trail behind their Qualcomm counterparts. Just something to keep in mind.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus: Galaxy AI

An example of Galaxy AI's Edit Suggestions feature on the Galaxy S24 Plus.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

OK — it’s time to talk about AI. No matter which Galaxy S24 model you buy, Samsung’s big pitch for all three phones is Galaxy AI. This is a collection of artificial intelligence features that extend across photo editing, translation, and other aspects of the phone. Some of them are very good, others are hit-or-miss, and some are downright bad.

The photo-editing Galaxy AI features have been my favorites so far. There are two main components to this: Edit Suggestions and Generative Edit. The former is shown in the photo above. When you’re looking at a picture in the Gallery app, you can swipe up to see its metadata. After a second, you’ll see suggested edits for that picture.

These can include things like adding background blur, removing shadows or reflections, or remastering the photo with improved colors/brightness. All of these edits happen locally on-device, meaning they don’t require an internet connection. The results have also looked quite good during my testing.

The second big photo-editing feature is Generative Edit. This enables you to make even more aggressive edits to photos, such as repositioning objects and removing them from photos entirely. It requires an internet connection, and the edits take a few seconds to process, but they often look really good! See the removed bench and dirty snow in the example above.

Galaxy AI also has a big focus on translation features. Live Translate translates and transcribes phone calls when you’re speaking to someone who speaks a different language, while the Interpreter mode offers real-time translations when you’re speaking to someone face-to-face. I haven’t had a chance to use these two features during my time with the Galaxy S24 Plus, and I imagine that’ll be the case for most people who buy the phone. Interpreter isn’t all that different from what you can get on any Android phone with Google Translate, but it is cool having a language translator that works entirely offline without a required data connection.

Screenshots of Chat Assist examples from the Samsung Galaxy S24.
Chat Assist Digital Trends

Then we get to the AI features in the Samsung Keyboard. The Galaxy S24’s keyboard has a Chat Assist feature that can analyze a message you type and attempt to change its tone/style — such as making it more professional or more casual. It technically works, but the results are laughable. Why text your partner, “I’m heading to the store to pick up a couple of things for dinner. Do you need anything?” when you could say, “I will be going to the store to procure a few items for the evening meal. Is there anything you require?” Thank you, Samsung.

You’ll also find Galaxy AI in the Notes, Voice Recorder, and Samsung Internet apps — where AI is used to format and summarize notes for you, transcribe your recordings, and summarize webpages.

Circle to Search looking up a burger on a Samsung Galaxy S24.
Circle to Search Digital Trends

Another AI feature — which is more of a Google one than a Samsung one — is Circle to Search. This one is pretty cool. If you press and hold on the S24’s home button or navigation bar (depending on if you’re using buttons or gesture navigation), you can tap, circle, or scribble on anything on your screen to perform a Google Search for it. It’s really handy if you see something on your phone you want to search for, but aren’t exactly sure how to put it into words. It’s not always perfect, but when it works, it can be kind of shocking. I circled a picture of a burger I ate when I was in Las Vegas for CES 2024, and Circle to Search identified the exact type of burger it was and the restaurant where I got it. (Editor’s Note — the hickory burger at Walk-On’s is fantastic).

There are cool things happening here, but don’t buy any Galaxy S24 just for the AI tricks.

Samsung has some really good ideas with Galaxy AI, and a few of them are off to a great start. But are any of these a reason to buy the Galaxy S24 Plus in and of themselves? I’d argue not. I’ve had fun playing with the photo-editing features, and it’s nice to know I can translate phone calls should I ever find myself in that situation. But none of these things are must-have features — at least not for the way I use my phone.

It’s also important to note the future of Galaxy AI. Not only has Samsung confirmed that Galaxy AI is eventually coming to other Samsung phones in the future, but it will also eventually charge you money for some (or all) of Galaxy AI. There are cool things happening here, but don’t buy any Galaxy S24 just for the AI tricks.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus: software

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus resting on a concrete slab, with the screen turned on and showing the home screen.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Galaxy S24 Plus ships with Android 14, and in typical Samsung fashion, it’s customized with Samsung’s One UI interface — specifically, One UI 6.1. One UI traditionally hasn’t been my preferred way to use Android, largely because it can feel bloated and more cumbersome than other Android interfaces. However, One UI 6.1 adds some great new features.

One of my favorite updates in One UI 6.1 is the Quick Settings panel. It’s been redesigned with more sensible controls, and I think it works quite well. Your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth toggles are much more prominent at the top, and the brightness slider is joined by nearby shortcuts for Eye Comfort Shield and Dark Mode. You can also show the full Quick Settings at any time by doing a single swipe from the top-right corner of the phone (just like how you access Control Center on iOS).

Someone holding the Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus. The screen is on and showing the phone's Quick Settings.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Speaking of iPhone similarities, the always-on display now defaults to showing the lock screen wallpaper — the same way the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro do. The iPhone inspiration is pretty on the nose, but I like having this option. Just like on the iPhone, I think it makes the always-on display more visually interesting and gives the S24 Plus some added personality. The good news? You can easily turn off the wallpaper if you don’t like it.

There are other smaller changes throughout One UI 6.1 that I also quite like:

  • You can move the lock screen clock anywhere you want.
  • Many of Samsung’s first-party apps have simplified names (e.g. Notes instead of Samsung Notes).
  • Notifications are more prominent and easier to see.

But it’s not all perfect. There are plenty of One UI features I don’t use — such as Bixby and the Galaxy Themes store. The Samsung Keyboard is very bad and should be avoided at all costs. Samsung’s software still has some quirks, and I still personally prefer the simpler interfaces of Google Pixel and Motorola phones. But One UI 6.1 does feel like a step in the right direction, and that’s great to see.

As Samsung keeps making those right steps, the Galaxy S24 Plus will see the fruits of the company’s labor for a while to come. That’s because the S24 Plus is promised seven years of Android updates and security patches. This seven-year promise applies to all Galaxy S24 models — including the regular S24 and the S24 Ultra – and it’s a fantastic addition to the phones.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus: battery and charging

A Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus showing its battery settings.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Battery life may be one of the Galaxy S24 Plus’ most impressive qualities. Inside the phone is a 4,900mAh battery, which is 200mAh larger than the S23 Plus’ battery. Combined with the improved efficiency of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and the display’s refresh rate, that all translates to phenomenal endurance.

Even while running the phone with the QHD+ screen resolution and the always-on display enabled (with the option to show the wallpaper), the S24 Plus still churns out excellent battery performance. One of my first days with the phone started with 100% battery at 8:10 a.m. and ended at 10:55 p.m. with 38% battery still remaining. That included over an hour of downloading game assets for Call of Duty: Mobile, lots of Telegram use, as well as time spent on Twitter, Chrome, Instagram, and plenty of other apps. Once all was said and done, I had 4 hours and 15 minutes of screen-on time.

With more moderate use, the Galaxy S24 Plus is easily a two-day smartphone. Another day saw me start with 100% battery at 8:50 a.m. and still have 50% remaining at 12:30 a.m. early the next day. And that was on a day with 2 hours and 50 minutes of screen time — including over 20 minutes of CoD: Mobile and more than 40 minutes of watching YouTube.

The USB-C port on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

This is top-notch battery life, and you can easily make it even more impressive. If you switch the screen resolution to FHD+ and disable the wallpaper for the AOD — which are minor tweaks — I have no doubt you could squeeze out two-and-a-half or three days of battery life. Samsung killed it here.

When it comes time to charge the Galaxy S24 Plus, you can get up to 45W wired charging speeds and 15W wireless charging speeds. Using the 45W wired charging, the S24 Plus goes from 3% to 43% after 20 minutes and reaches 100% battery after a little over an hour. It’s not as impressive as the 80W charging you get on the OnePlus 12, but it’s also faster than phones like the Google Pixel 8 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. Additionally, there’s 4.5W reverse wireless charging if you need to juice up another phone or a pair of earbuds.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus: price and availability

A Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus sitting upright against a white pole.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus is available for purchase now and is available through Samsung’s official website, Amazon, Best Buy, and most major carriers across the U.S. It starts at $1,000 for the base model with 256GB of storage. You can also get a 512GB storage version for $1,200.

The Galaxy S24 Plus is available in four base colors that are available everywhere: Onyx Black, Marble Gray, Amber Yellow, and Cobalt Violet (the color of my review unit). And Samsung has a few exclusive colors you’ll only find on its website — including Jade Green, Sapphire Blue, and Sandstone Orange.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus: verdict

A violet Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus lying face-down on a shelf.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Galaxy S23 Plus was a phone I really liked, but I wasn’t sure who to recommend it to. The Galaxy S24 Plus is another great smartphone from Samsung, and this time around, it makes a lot more sense.

If you’re in the market for a big Samsung phone, the S24 Plus would be my personal recommendation over the S24 Ultra. The hardware is top-tier, the screen is almost every bit as good, the performance is great, the battery life is outstanding, and — if you care about them — you get all of the same Galaxy AI features. The only differences between the S24 Plus and the S24 Ultra are the improved camera system and the S Pen. But is that really worth an extra $300? I certainly don’t think so. The Galaxy S24 Ultra is a fantastic smartphone and one of the best you can buy in 2024. But it’s also $1,300.

The Galaxy S24 Plus’ biggest downside is that its camera system isn’t up-to-par with other phones in this price range. It’s not terrible, but if that’s your main focus (pun 100% intended), there are better choices out there — namely the Google Pixel 8 Pro. But the Pixel also has worse performance and battery life, and its display isn’t quite as nice.

The Galaxy S24 Plus is another great smartphone from Samsung, and this time around, it makes a lot more sense.

There’s also the OnePlus 12 to consider, which delivers similarly great performance and battery life for $800. It’s a great package, but you also have to deal with a curved screen, a lower IP rating, no AI tricks, and fewer software updates. The regular Galaxy S24 shares many of the S24 Plus’ great qualities for the same $800 price, but you’ll need to put up with a smaller screen, lesser battery life, and slower charging.

You have a lot of options to consider against the Galaxy S24 Plus, as is the case when you’re looking to buy any smartphone. But each alternative to the S24 Plus also has its own share of compromises. If the Galaxy S24 Plus’ strong suits line up with what you prioritize in a phone — hardware, display, performance, and battery life — I can’t recommend it enough.

Editors’ Recommendations




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