Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra brings major camera upgrade I've wanted for years

Zoom, zoom

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

When it comes to the best Android phones, Samsung's Galaxy S flagships have long earned their place in my pocket. And with Samsung Galaxy Unpacked having revealed 2024's flagships, my initial reaction was disappointment that the base S24 and size-up S24 Plus retain identical cameras to their predecessors. 

That quickly turned to glee, however, when I looked deeper at the top-of-the-tree option, the Galaxy S24 Ultra, which has added a major camera upgrade to the series that I've been wanting for years now. It's a new zoom lens that, for me, sounds like the best balance of how people use their phones and a step forward. 

It might not read like that on paper though: the Galaxy S24 Ultra has a 5x optical zoom lens as its longest, which halves the focal length of the 10x optical zoom that can be found on the earlier S23 Ultra. How can less be more? I'm super pleased that Samsung has gone down this route, principally because the sudden jump from 3x to 10x always felt too significant and, from the perspective of most phone users, such lenses are hard to keep steady in use too.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

But it's far more than that: the Galaxy S24 Ultra's 5x optical zoom delivers light onto a 50-megapixel sensor, which is also physically larger compared to the ousted 10MP equivalent found in the earlier phone. More resolution means more detail, more potential for dynamic digital zoom, and based on my initial use of the S24 Ultra, greater ease of use.

Elsewhere, however, the S24 Ultra doesn't opt to tweak its camera arrangement further, so while I've been waiting years for that 10x lens to offer a more suitable alternative, it's a smidge disappointing that the 3x optic retains its low 10-megapixel resolution. Check out the quick specification view of those rear four lenses below:

  • Main (24mm): 200-megapixel, f/1.7 aperture, 1/1.3in sensor size, optical stabilisation (OIS)
  • Zoom (5x, 120mm): 50MP, f/3.4, 1/1.56in, OIS
  • Zoom (3x, 70mm): 10MP, f/2.4, 1/3.52in, OIS
  • Wide (13mm): 12MP, f/2.2, 1/2.55in

Once upon a time, Samsung was really pushing its extended zoom features as a major sell. Just because the new lens is a 5x optical zoom, however, doesn't mean these features go away. 'Space zoom' is still feasible, so whether you want to digitally pinch into 10x or 100x zoom using the camera interface you still can. 

What I really love to see, however, is that despite the S24 Ultra's camera arrangement improving, its price hasn't increased year on year. That's right: the S24 Ultra is available for pre-order from £1,249 / $1,199 / AU$1,949. I won't pretend that's cheap by any means, but for all this quality – not to mention new titanium finish – I reckon we're looking at one of 2024's best phones already...

Mike Lowe
Tech Editor

Mike is the Tech Editor at He's been writing about consumer technology for 15 years and, as a phones expert, has seen hundreds of handsets over the years – swathes of Android devices, a smattering of iPhones, and a batch of Windows Phone too (remember those?). But that's not all, as a tech and audio aficionado his beat at T3 also covers tablets, laptops, gaming, home cinema, TVs, speakers and more – there's barely a tech stone unturned he's not had a hand on. Previously the Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint for 10 years, he's also provided work for publications such as Wired, The Guardian, Metro, and more. In addition to his tech knowledge, Mike is also a flights and travel expert, having travelled the globe extensively. You'll likely find him setting up a new mobile phone, critiquing the next MacBook, all while planning his next getaway... or cycling somewhere.