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Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus review: Two very smart phones


The very smart Galaxy S24 range are easy to recommend

What we love

  • Lovely new design
  • Seven years of Android updates
  • Smart new features
  • Decent battery life
  • Cheaper than last year

What we don’t

  • Confusing processor choice
  • No camera upgrade this year
  • Lack of super-fast charging

There’s plenty to love and little to hate about the new Samsung Galaxy S24 range. No, they aren’t quite as feature-packed as their more expensive Galaxy S24 Ultra sibling but that device costs hundreds of pounds more.

What you do get are phones with a striking new look, plenty of power, decent cameras, long battery life and a bunch of smart upgrades aimed at making life a little easier.

Thanks to something called Galaxy AI, the S24 can now translate calls in real-time, edit photos with a simple tap on the screen and search for things online by just circling an object in an image.

It’s all impressive stuff and with S24 prices starting from £799 (£999 for the bigger S24+) it feels like very good value.

Our main criticism is aimed at the processor tucked under the shell of these devices. Last year’s S23 got Qualcomm’s popular Snapdragon brain across the entire range. That’s not the case in 2024 with the S24 now featuring Samsung’s Exynos chip in the UK. Only the Ultra includes the beefier Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor which is a real shame – it also makes things pretty confusing for consumers as other countries get the Gen 3 on all models.

That’s a minor niggle on what is otherwise a fabulous smartphone.

We’ve enjoyed having both the S24 and bigger S24 Plus in our pocket and with seven years of software updates also now included they are easy to recommend.

Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus full review:

Samsung’s S24 isn’t a radical upgrade over the S23 but there are some nice changes that certainly improve on what was already a very good phone. The S24 and S24 Plus are now smarter, more refined and get some extra oomph via an improved processor.

The screens are also brighter and feature a clever adaptive refresh rate to help boost battery life.

These are nice devices but should you splash out and upgrade or maybe choose the more expensive S24 Ultra instead? Here’s Express.co.uk’s full Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus review.

Samsung Galaxy S24 review

Samsung Galaxy S24 review (Image: SAMSUNG)

Design

The Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus look really, really good. This year’s design appears to have taken a leaf out of Apple’s book with the devices getting a more chiselled and sharp-looking finish. Lashings of metal and a soft sheen glass panel on the back add to the appeal and there’s no question that these are some of the best-looking smartphones to come out of Samsung’s design studio.

There are also a number of colours to choose from including Cobalt Violet, Amber Yellow, Onyx Black and Marble Grey – we’re personally big fans of the Yellow and Violet but all look refreshingly good.

Despite being covered in toughened Gorilla Glass you might want to consider a case as they are slightly slippy in the hand.

It’s also worth noting that only the more expensive Ultra model has switched over to titanium (the Ultra also gets new Gorilla Armor glass) with the standard models sticking with aluminium around their edges.

All in all, these are stunning devices that improve on the S23’s styling and will certainly turn a few heads when pulled from your pocket.

Samsung Galaxy S24 review

The Samsung Galaxy S24 comes in two sizes (Image: SAMSUNG)

Display

Samsung remains one of the best in the business when it comes to displays and the S24 range does not disappoint.

Both get excellent Dynamic AMOLED screens that are now brighter than before – that definitely helps improve a quick Netflix binge in the midday sun. Those opting for the standard model will find it includes a 6.2-inch panel whilst the Plus gets a bigger and more expansive 6.7-inch screen.

No matter which one you choose you’ll find bonus features such as an adaptive refresh rate which means you get super speedy scrolling only when you really need it – that function helps improve overall battery life.

There’s also adaptive colour tone and eye comfort shield which change the display colours depending on your surroundings – a much-needed feature for anyone who spends hours glued to their phones as it makes everything easier on the eyes.

The bezels around the edge of the screen are even more razor-thin and Samsung has made the hole-punched selfie camera smaller which means you hardly notice it’s there.

Personally, we like the size of the smaller S24 as it’s much easier to handle but if you want to go supersized the Plus offers more space for your boxset binges, gaming, emails and web browsing.

Samsung Galaxy S24 review

Samsung Galaxy S24 get the same cameras as the S23 (Image: SAMSUNG)

Camera

The S24 and S24 Plus keep the same hardware as last year. That means you get three cameras including a 50MP main sensor, 12 MP ultra-wide and 10MP telephoto lens with 3X optical zoom

Although things look identical on paper, Samsung has made some big changes to the way the devices process images and it’s a big improvement with things looking much more natural and less oversharpened – that’s something some were critical of last year.

All of the images we took were packed with detail, looked bright and had good colour balance.

Shots snapped when the sun goes down also appear vivid with more detail – that’s a big bonus if you’re a bit of a night owl.

AI also plays a big part of this new device with clever features automatically boosting photos and allowing you to edit images without needing a degree in Photoshop. Removing and moving things is now super simple although we still prefer to get the photo right in the first place rather than relying on this somewhat fake manipulation.

If you prefer filming videos there’s the option to produce family movies in full 4K and 8K resolution. You can even now add slow-motion effects to anything you’ve previously shot which is a nice addition.

The S24 cameras offer a solid experience but there’s no question that those wanting the ultimate shooter might fancy switching things up and buying the full feature-packed S24 Ultra. That device gets four lenses an a much bigger zoom.

Samsung S24 review

Samsung S24 review: Camera sample (Image: EXPRESS)

Samsung S24 review

Samsung S24 review: Camera sample (Image: EXPRESS)

Samsung S24 review

Samsung S24 review: Camera sample (Image: EXPRESS)

Samsung S24 review

Samsung S24 review: Camera sample (Image: EXPRESS)

Samsung S24 review

Samsung S24 review: Camera sample (Image: EXPRESS)

Samsung S24 review

Samsung S24 review: Camera sample (Image: EXPRESS)

Processor

Samsung’s processor choice in the S24 is, once again, very confusing. Avid followers of the Galaxy range will know that in previous years the firm used different chips depending on where you purchased the device with some phones getting Exynos power whilst others featured Qualcomm brains.

That bemusing issue was stopped in 2023 with all Galaxy S23 devices getting the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor inside no matter where in the world it purchased.

Sadly, this year we’re back to things being split and it feels even more baffling for consumers with the Ultra getting a special edition of the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 while the S24 and S24 Plus are powered by Exynos brains.

To be fair to Samsung, the standard S24 range still feels snappy and hasn’t struggled during our review. However, there are plenty of geeky speed tests, including our own performed at Express HQ, that show the 8 Gen 3 does have a slight advantage.

It’s a shame this new bunch of devices aren’t powered by the same chip and if you want the most powerful experience you might be best going for the Ultra.

Software and AI

Just like the Galaxy S24 Ultra, the S24 and S24 Plus come packed with new ‘Galaxy AI’. These are headline-grabbing upgrades from Samsung and whilst they are clever we found them easy enough to ignore.

That’s because upgrades such as live call translation aren’t immediately life-changing

We reckon the best of the bunch is ‘Circle to search’ (which we wrote about here), where you hold the home button or swipe bar to freeze whatever is on your screen. You can then circle an object to Google search it. It’s quick and helpful if you want to identify a landmark, object, or product – but it requires a web connection. It’s also coming to other Android phones.

Other tools include live translation in an Interpreter mode that lets you have a two-way conversation in two languages while the translation appears on your screen. There’s even a live translation feature built into the Phone app – you can call someone and it will translate what you are saying to them with an AI voice, and vice versa. It’s a little clunky and confusing for the person you have called, but in our testing it does work.

The recorder app can now transcribe recordings and summarise a whole recording down into simple bullet points.

And taking a leaf out of the Google Pixel’s book – Google’s Gemini AI powers a lot of these tools – you can also edit photos to erase objects or people, or move things around.

We found it, like the Pixel, a little rough around the edges. Plus, we don’t really want to fake our photos in the first place. Samsung also quietly said AI features are only free until the end of 2025, with no indication of how much you’ll have to pay after that.

One thing that is worth noting is Samsung now dishing out seven years of Android updates and security updates, so the phone is supported until 2031.

Samsung Galaxy S24 review

The S24 and S24 Plus both get larger batteries (Image: SAMSUNG)

Battery life

The S24 and S24 Plus both have bigger batteries (up by 100mAh) which means they will last a little longer than before. Even when we’ve been gaming and using the S24 as a mobile hotspot they will get you through a day without any issues.

During our test, the S24 Plus keeps the screen glowing longer than the standard model but both are pretty outstanding when it comes to power.

Our only criticism of the S24 range is the charging speeds especially when compared to their Android rivals.

Some new phones from makers such as Xiaomi and OnePlus feature truly rapid charging but the best you’ll get from Samsung is 45-Watts and you’ll have to pay an extra £44 to own a compatible plug.

Price

The Samsung Galaxy S24 starts from £799. Yes, that’s expensive, but actually £50 cheaper than when the S23 went on sale last year at £849.

That makes it feel pretty good value for such a solid and feature-packed smartphone with longer software support.

The bigger S24 Plus starts from £999 which doesn’t seem quite such good value but things can be made cheaper by trading in your old device with up to £370 off if you buy direct from Samsung.

If that all sounds too much for your wallet, it is worth checking for S23 deals as this older smartphone is sure to get cheaper as the year goes on.

Samsung Galaxy S24 review

Samsung Galaxy S24 review (Image: SAMSUNG)

Verdict

Samsung hasn’t reinvented the wheel when it comes to the S24 and S24 Plus. The firm has simply taken the best bits of the hugely popular Galaxy S23 and made things better. The design feels more refined, the batteries are bigger, screens brighter and the cameras get a boost thanks to better image processing.

The price is also lower than the S23 and launch and you get all of the latest Galaxy AI features baked in.

It’s difficult to criticise these devices but there are some slight niggles including that strange Exynos processor choice which just makes things confusing for consumers.

It’s a shame the camera hardware hasn’t been boosted and other Android phones can be refilled faster – many even still ship with chargers in the box which is still something Samsung charges extra for.

Despite those gripes, we’re big fans of the S24 and S24 Plus and would happily have either in our pocket. The fact Samsung now offers seven years of Android updates on these call makers also means you won’t need to upgrade again so quickly.

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