Similar to what happened in 2023, Samsung kept the same design from the previous generation, which means that not only the Galaxy S24 Ultra looks a lot like the S23 Ultra but also the S22 Ultra from early 2022. Because of that, to understand the differences, we will have to go a little bit deeper into the processor, camera, and a couple of other specifications. But first, a quick and dirty table to spot what changed in the Samsung flagship.
Table of Contents:
No, your eyes (or nextpit’s photographer) are not tricking you. The picture on the top of this page really shows the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra next to the S23 Ultra. Samsung apparently liked the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s design so much (itself an evolution of the Galaxy Note series) that it was reused on the two following models.
Back are the monolithic flat design with straight corners, the individual raised camera islands on the back, and the flat bottom surface with the SIM card tray, USB-C port, and the S-Pen stylus garage.
On the front, however, we can spot a small change that will please most of the nextpit community: A flat display instead of a curved (or edge) one. That will be a welcome change for hardcore S-Pen users, who won’t be gliding the stylus off the screen so often.
Form factor aside, we are dealing with a similarly-specced panel, with a 6.8-inch LTPO OLED in QHD+ resolution (3880 x 1440 pixels), and a refresh rate that dynamically adjusts between 1 and 120 Hz.
The use of an established component—”Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display” in Samsung’s lingo, protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass, should offer a similar image quality, with excellent contrast levels and saturated colors. And the variable refresh rate helps the phone to show super smooth animations when needed, but not update the display when showing static content (e.g. text) and saving battery.
The S24 Ultra beats the S23 Ultra in one important factor: Brightness. While the 2023 flagship reached a peak of 1,750 nits, the S24 Ultra has a peak brightness of 2,600 nits, which will improve outdoor usage.
As heavily rumored since 2023, the S24 Ultra is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 flagship processor in all markets, with the Exynos alternative only found in the base models in some countries. In Stefan’s quick hands-on with the 2024 Galaxy flagship, the S24 Ultra showed a noticeable jump in processing power, especially in graphic-intensive tasks like gaming.
|Galaxy S24 Ultra
(Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy,
firmware not final)
|Galaxy S23 Ultra
(Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy)
firmware not final)
|Pixel 8 Pro
|3DMark Wild Life Extreme Stress Test
In general tasks, the S24 Ultra should also offer a jump in processing power, with more and faster high-performance ARM cores, paired with faster memory. In the RAM department, the S24 Ultra starts at 12 GB, while the S23 Ultra had versions with “only” 8GB.
Connectivity-wise, both models are very similar, thanks to the same Qualcomm FastConnect 7800 controller in the Snapdragon processor. Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi 7 are available, the latter one did not officially support on the S23 Ultra, which only lists Wi-Fi 6E compatibility.
5G is obviously supported by both Galaxy Ultras but Qualcomm advertises that AI features will make cellular connections faster, more stable, and consequently more energy efficient on the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 found in the S24 Ultra.
Despite the identical camera module design, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra has some differences from its predecessor. Gone is the 10-megapixel 10x zoom telephoto lens, replaced by a higher-resolution 50-megapixel 5x zoom lens. Not only is the resolution higher but the sensor used is bigger and the lens has a higher aperture, both of which should offer better low-light performance. But we will reserve judgment after our full review.
Galaxy S24 Ultra vs S23 Ultra sample pictures:
Since the 200-megapixel main camera and the 12 MP ultra-wide are essentially the same between the S24 Ultra and S23 Ultra, don’t expect major differences in terms of image quality. The same can be said about the 3x telephoto lens, which in both phones is used on top of a 1/3.52”-size sensor.
The 5x zoom, however, shows a clear advantage in image quality for the Galaxy S24 Ultra, not relying on a digital zoom or crop as the S23 Ultra does. As for the 10x zoom, while the S23 Ultra shot looks a lot grainier than the S24’s, the newest model photo was considerably darker.
We must note that the firmware in the S24 Ultra hands-on was not final, so things can change until the smartphone reaches store shelves. So be sure to come back for nextpit’s final review of the phone, which will also cover the heavily advertised AI features.
This section is disappointingly unchanged between the phones, with the S24 Ultra repeating the specs of the S23 Ultra (and the S22 Ultra, for that matter). Back is the 5,000 mAh battery, capable of being recharged at up to 45 W using an optional charger. On the wireless front, the S24 Ultra is once again Qi-compatible for wireless charging, while also offering reverse wireless charging (Wireless PowerShare).
With a more power-hungry SoC, we expect to see a slightly lower battery life on the Galaxy S24 Ultra compared to its predecessor, but once again we ask you to wait for our full review for a proper comparison.
The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra brings the One UI 6.1 interface, which is a small update to the One UI 6 system running on top of Android 14 available for most Galaxy phones released in the past two years. The 6.1 release should be arriving soon to the Galaxy S23 Ultra, but a couple of AI-powered features will be exclusive to the 2024 model.
One of the most important improvements announced with the Galaxy S24 Ultra is a longer software support policy—in the past, Samsung retroactively expanded longer support for previous models, but it doesn’t seem to be happening again. Instead of the four Android upgrades promised for the S23 Ultra, the S24 Ultra should receive seven OS updates, until Android 21, with seven years of security updates, compared to five on the S23 line.
Pricing being equal, we recommend opting for the S24 Ultra. It should offer better performance and receive security updates for much longer (until a “Galaxy S31” release in 2031) than the S23 Ultra (which should stop updating in 2028), making it a better investment overall in the long run.
Even the fact that Samsung played safe in many departments, without meaningful upgrades in the screen, battery, and charging departments, should make the new model less prone to unexpected weak spots, which cannot be said about the base S24 models, and their adoption of an unproved processor.
That being said, we expect to see retailers aggressively discounting the S23 Ultra from its $1200 MSRP, making the answer much more difficult and subjective. And the S23 Ultra remains one of the best phones launched in 2023, having received a few features since its Q1 launch and still offering more than enough performance for most users.
All that remains for us is to once again invite you to check our final Galaxy S24 Ultra review in a few days. Follow nextpit on social media—Facebook | X/Twitter— to not miss when the full test goes live. If there is anything special you want us to test, feel free to mention in the comments below!