This is the year that Samsung goes all-in on artificial intelligence (AI) features. That's very much the message with the Galaxy S24 range – a trio of flagship phones for 2024 – headed up by the Galaxy S24 Ultra, which I reviewed at the beginning of the year and absolutely adored.
This review, however, is all about the 'baby' of the range: the Samsung Galaxy S24, which is a contender for being one of the best compact phones on account of its smaller-scale design and 6.2-inch screen. Not tiny, I know, but a whole lot smaller than the Plus and Ultra models which sit above it in the range.
There's no doubt that last year's Galaxy S23 was a fantastic handset (especially 'if small if your cool', as I quipped in that particular review's headline), but there's always room for improvement, right? And that's exactly the nip-and-tuck take that the Galaxy S24 has taken in refining the flagship small-scale handset into an even more convincing proposition.
But I'm not here to oversell it, as it's worth pointing out that the year-on-year changes in the Galaxy S24 are subtle compared to the outgoing Galaxy S23. Indeed, there are zero changes to the camera hardware, for example (unlike in the S24 Ultra's new zoom lens), but minor increases in screen size and battery life. Does that all add up to make the Samsung Galaxy S24 one of the best phones for 2024?
Samsung Galaxy S24: Price & Availability
What's impressive considering today's economic climate is that Samsung hasn't increased the Galaxy S24's asking price this generation. Quite the opposite, in fact, with an equivalent year-on-year price drop in the UK seeing a £799 starting price (it's $799 in the US and AU$1,399 in Australia – but the latter gets more storage by default).
I think that's an important statement. In such a competitive environment, where the likes of the Nothing Phone (2) are even more affordable, and even Google's Pixel 8 can be bagged for a similar price, not to mention Samsung's own slightly disruptive Galaxy S23 FE having gone on sale late last year, the Galaxy S24 has to remain relevant for cash-strapped buyers. Not that it's cheap, but it remains relevant.
Samsung Galaxy S24: What's New?
- Samsung Galaxy AI feature set
- Bezel decrease for larger screen size of 6.2-inch
- Battery capacity increase by 100mAh to 4,000mAh
- Moves to Samsung's Exynos 2400 processor (UK & EU)
Unlike in the Galaxy S24 Ultra, which has seen significant changes compared to its S23 Ultra predecessor, the Galaxy S24 is a more moderate year-on-year update. Which I don't mind, although I do wish the cameras had an overhaul to be more competitive... as they're identical to the last-generation model.
That's not to say there are no changes, though, as some small but important aspects have been tweaked for the better. The bezel has shrunk, for example, meaning the display is actually 0.1-inch larger on the diagonal for this generation – without any real impact on physical scale, which is one of the S24's most important selling points in being such a small-scale device.
Samsung has even managed to squeeze in a marginally more capacious battery, which given the handset retains its pocketable scale is a great thing. Charging speeds remain the same, though, which is a shame as the 25W wired speed is fairly slow in context to some of the main competition these days – I certainly noticed it, given that I change phones every two weeks as part of this job and my last phone review, the OnePlus Open, offers almost three times the speed, at 67W.
Samsung Galaxy S24: Design & Display
- Colours: Cobalt Violet, Amber Yellow, Onyx Black, Marble Grey
- Flat 6.2-inch AMOLED panel, 2600 nits maximum brightness
- 1080 x 2340 resolution and 1-120Hz refresh rate
- IP68 water/dust resistance
The display is really the Galaxy S24's biggest change overall, just as it is for all Galaxy flagships in this year's range. That's thanks to the bezel shrinking to permit a marginally larger 6.2-inch panel to squeeze into the same footprint as before – which I've found is still great for single-handed holding. That's the ultimate charm of this handset for me: it's an easy-to-pocket yet powerful and great-to-use option.
Just because the S24 is the smallest in the range doesn't mean it steps down in specification compared to the S24 Ultra's panel, though, as all handsets this year receive the potential to deliver a 50% brightness increase when needed. That can be handy, although in situations of increased sunlight the Samsung automatically kicks into a kind of 'overdrive' mode that, in any other ambient lighting scenario, would look blown out. It's easy to read when outside, though, which is the whole point.
The entire Galaxy S24 range feature flat screens this year (the previous S23 Ultra had a curved-edge display), which adds consistency to the look and feel of all three handsets. There's no step down in other key areas either: you'll get the same dynamic refresh rate (to 120Hz), a resolution that scale-to-scale is just as pixel-dense, and all the brightness to match – whichever model you choose of the three. It's only the Ultra model that nets the Gorilla Glass Armor protection, though, this S24 on review is the step-down Gorilla Glass Victus 2 – which is slightly less tough and less able to counter reflections.
I still think the Galaxy S24 looks superb, with its now iconic design format exposing a trio of raised camera lenses to the rear. It doesn't benefit from the new titanium material finish of the Ultra model, but I actually don't mind that – because the smaller S24 handsets have much brighter colour options, as you can see from my review unit images on this page (although some colours might not appeal to everyone – I still think the most exciting options are the special-edition colours available direct from Samsung).
Samsung Galaxy S24: Performance & Battery
- Samsung Exynos 2400 processor (UK & EU), 8GB RAM
- 4,000mAh battery, 25W wired charging, 15W wireless
There were rumours aplenty about whether Samsung would opt for its in-house Exynos silicon for the Galaxy S24 series and, lo and behold, that's what's come to bear... well, sort of. The Galaxy S24's 'international' iteration houses Samsung's Exynos 2400 processor – and that's what we get here in the UK. In the USA, Canada and China you'll instead get the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 (which is the processor of choice in the S24 Ultra, irrelevant of market).
Much as I don't like to call Samsung's own silicon 'a downgrade', I've just found Exynos to be traditionally harsher in its battery consumption and quicker to throttle performance. I can't explicitly say that's the case here, as I don't possess the two Galaxy S24 variants to side-by-side check them. However, my recent Galaxy S23 FE experience with the earlier Exynos 2200 wasn't especially long-lasting where battery life was concerned.
As for the Galaxy S24's longevity per charge? I've found it to be just about okay, but nothing more. As ever with Samsung phones, the first few days of use are a bit yo-yo-like as the software settles down, identifies various apps to park, and aligns power with your typical usage patterns. I've been achieving 14 hours of use and getting to around 15% charge remaining – and not with especially taxing all-the-time use, but that does include a smattering of game-playing and Bluetooth use. I'd still like faster charging than the 25W here, though.
In terms of power there's no doubting that the Galaxy S24 is capable: in more realistic terms the Exynos 2400 is closer to Qualcomm's last-gen Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, but for day-to-day use that's not going to affect most users. If you're a hardcore gamer looking for the best gaming phone then, while the S24 is capable enough, it does throttle after a given period of use to offset overheating. Still, I've been able to keep on playing South Park: Phone Destroyer and Mighty Doom without feeling the heat (physically, that is, in-game and I'm still getting smacked, sigh!).
I'd mentioned up top that this is the year Samsung goes all-in on AI... and yet it's taken me this long to address those Galaxy AI features in the S24. The suite of offerings – from live transcription, to live translation, and auto-generated fill-in in pictures – are pretty great in part. However, the Galaxy S24 brings Google Pixel 8-like tools that, given I'ved used Google's phones for so long, don't feel new new – especially the (admittedly very useful) transcription and 13-language translation features. It's the photo-based features that are a little more hit-and-miss overall, though, as I'll get into below.
Samsung Galaxy S24: Cameras
- Main (24mm): 50-megapixel, f/1.8 aperture, optical stabilisation (OIS)
- Zoom (3x, 70mm): 10MP, f/2.4, OIS
- Wide (13mm): 12MP, f/2.2
If I wind my mind back a year, I remember saying that the "Galaxy S23 is an excellent camera phone" (i.e. the previous model) but that its lack of hardware upgrades was disappointing. Well, that's only even more disappointing for the Galaxy S24, which is a total echo of its predecessor when it comes to cameras. That means no hardware upgrades, no 200-megapixel shooter like the S24 Ultra, no improved zoom. It's just all the same.
However, the biggest area of progression comes from the new Galaxy AI features, which I initially tested out using some pre-loaded images on a device. There's Generative Edit, a cloud-based AI tool that allows you to select objects to manipulate, resize, even move within the frame while offering an auto-fill of background areas. On-device AI features are automated suggestions that analyse images and suggest improvements based on the specific frame. So far so great.
Except, with various images of my own taking, I've found the AI results to be a mixed bag. Generative Edit, for example, can be hugely impressive in certain scenarios, able to remove distinct subjects and background-replace with relative accuracy. But it's all dependent on the shot, and I've had some examples where, say, simple gradient backgrounds have confused the heck out of the tool and the result is a mess, or a seemingly simple object replacement pulls in all manner of surroundings. It's a great first step, just don't overstep your expectations of what you'll be able to do with this tool.
So is the Samsung Galaxy S24 still among the best Android phones for photography? Well, I certainly think it's still an excellent camera phone, just as its predecessor was – but that feels somewhat stagnant when so many competitors, such as Xiaomi, are moving forward at pace. What I'd really like for the S25 is a cameras overhaul, opting for, say, a larger main sensor and higher-resolution option for the zoom lens in particular (as its results are rather average), to really create something that's class-leading once more.
As you can see from my gallery of images above, however, I've been able to snap shots in a variety of settings – the wallpaper, keys and lamp were shot in very low-light, not that you'd necessarily know – and point-and-shoot snapping is super easy. Selecting between zoom options is nice and simple too. That's the beauty of the Galaxy range: it makes taking photos a cinch. High dynamic range kicks in automatically, colours look generally balanced across all lenses, detail is sufficient. But Samsung could offer yet more in the hardware department and impress all the more is all.
Samsung Galaxy S24: Verdict
While the Samsung Galaxy S24 isn't a major update over its predecessor, all things considered it's a better-looking handset thanks to less screen bezel and a marginally larger resulting screen. There's also a slight battery capacity enhancement – although it's still not great in this department – and the push forward with Galaxy AI features is a great first step (with room for improvement, no doubt).
Samsung appears to be critically aware of market conditions, too, as signified by the effective price reduction year-on-year for this handset. That could certainly add further appeal – although the competition isn't holding back – as the Galaxy S24 is still the obvious go-to option for those seeking a flagship Android handset that just happens to be smaller in scale. That's where the S24 is a real winner: delivering big despite its compact size.
The Nothing Phone (2) is perhaps the strongest competitor, given its lower price, great power, and fun features such as Glyph lighting. It is physically larger, though, if that's not your thing.
That said, the previous Galaxy S23 may now be even more appealing thanks to hefty price cuts since launch. It's a very similar proposition to the S24, minus those Galaxy AI features, but remains a stellar small phone.
And let's not forget Google's Pixel 8, which is a bit like the archenemy to Samsung for delivering many similar features in a different-but-just-as-good-looking package with great cameras.