I tested the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s new camera and it shocked me | Digital Trends

I tested the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s new camera and it shocked me | Digital Trends

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (left) and Galaxy S24 Ultra Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

When did camera zooms get so complicated? These days, we don’t just have a single number like 3x to deal with, but many other zoom levels,. we also need to understand optical zoom, hybrid zoom, periscope zoom, Space Zoom, and a whole lot more. Samsung has confused the issue again with the Galaxy S24 Ultra, which has a 5x optical zoom and a 10x hybrid zoom, meaning it’s different from the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

The question is, do the changes make any difference, and if so, which one is better for taking zoomed-in shots? I took both Samsung Ultra phones out to see which one is best — new or old. The results are very interesting.

The Ultra camera specs

A person holding the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Before we get started, be aware this is not a full camera comparison between the Galaxy S24 Ultra and the Galaxy S23 Ultra. We’re only looking at the telephoto cameras and comparing the zoom capabilities of both — we’re not looking at the main, wide-angle, or video cameras. Before we get to the photos, here are the camera specifications.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra has a 200-megapixel main camera, a 12MP wide-angle camera, and a pair of telephoto cameras: one with 10MP and the other with 50MP. These cameras provide a 3x and a 5x optical zoom, and a 2x and 10x optical quality zoom. The Galaxy S23 Ultra has exactly the same camera system apart from both its telephoto cameras having 10MP, providing a 3x and 10x optical zoom.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in Sky Blue, seen from the back.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Samsung has swapped the second 10MP telephoto camera for a 50MP telephoto on the Galaxy S24 Ultra, promising that the greater megapixel count will return 10x optical quality zoom photos that look just as good as the S23 Ultra’s 10x optical zoom. The S24 Ultra has an optical 5x telephoto zoom, while this is a digital zoom on the S23 Ultra, and both provide a 3x optical zoom.

What’s the difference between optical, digital, and hybrid zoom? Samsung itself provides a great definition, saying an optical zoom “physically adjusts the camera lens to bring the subject closer without sacrificing image quality,” while a digital zoom, “uses software to enlarge images without making any physical lens adjustment.” A hybrid zoom, or “optical quality,” uses a little of both to create the zoomed-in photos.

3x optical zoom

Both the Galaxy S24 Ultra and Galaxy S23 Ultra have a 3x optical zoom, and unsurprisingly, there is very little difference in quality between the two — with both providing plenty of detail and clarity. However, there are differences in tone, color, and overall balance, a theme we’re going to continue seeing throughout this comparison.

The first photos show marginal differences in texture between the two, with the Galaxy S24 Ultra smoothing the walls of the building in the background, as well as the stone walls under the arch, more than the S23 Ultra. The Galaxy S23 Ultra image has stronger contrast, and slightly more vivid colors than the S24 Ultra, but a weaker exposure, where the sky is not quite as defined. The differences are minimal, and only really noticeable when the two are compared.

However, in the second photo, the differences are far more obvious. The car’s black paint and red roof are a little washed-out in the S23 Ultra’s photo, but far more realistic and eye-catching in the S24 Ultra’s photo, and the white balance is more accurate too. This extends to the autumnal colors of the trees and the gravel road. There’s perhaps a hint more noise in places in the S24 Ultra’s photo, but I’ll take that when the colors are so much more pleasing.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra’s software, Samsung’s updated Super HDR, and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 are at work here, as the two cameras are basically the same. Samsung’s hard work has paid off, and the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s 3x optical zoom takes better photos than the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

5x digital and optical zoom

Moving on to the 5x optical zoom, remember that the Galaxy S24 Ultra has a new 50MP telephoto camera for an optical zoom here, while the Galaxy S23 Ultra uses its software for a digital zoom to create the images, and therefore we should expect a greater difference in the photos.

It’s hardly surprising that the first image shows some differences in detail, with the white text crisp and readable in both, but obviously clearer and more defined in the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s image. But it’s the differences in color and tone that leap out, as the S24 Ultra’s photo looks more like the setting did in real life, compared to the S23 Ultra’s cooler image.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra can still do a really good job at 5x though, as the photos of the clock show. There’s still a lot of detail, and actually less blur in places than in the S24 Ultra’s photo. It’s only when you look closely that the pixelation and noise appears all over the stone walls. The S24 Ultra’s photo is clean, and the natural texture shows through instead. Again, the difference in tone and contrast is clear, and the S24 Ultra’s photo looks far more realistic and appealing.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

10x optical and hybrid zoom

The 10x comparison is arguably the big test here, as the S23 Ultra’s 10x optical zoom is unique, and the S24 Ultra’s 10x hybrid zoom less so. Samsung promises the S24 Ultra’s 50MP telephoto camera’s ability will negate any drop in quality that comes with a non-optical zoom, but is that the case?

The first photo was taken inside in average light, which really favors the optical zoom, so we get the reverse of the 5x situation above, where the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s photo has less blur and more detail. It’s obvious in the white sugar lumps, the text on the board in the background, the metal surface, and the glass jar lid. The benefits of an optical zoom over an optical quality zoom are obvious in this photo.

What about a 10x photo of the clock featured in our 5x zoom comparison? Now tthat we’re outside in decent lighting, it’s far harder to see the detail differences here, with the Galaxy S24 Ultra doing a great job of minimizing the noise and pixelization, while still showing plenty of detail. You may even see more texture in the S24 Ultra’s photo, and prefer the warmer tone that has been evident throughout the test.

Our third photo was taken outside in average lighting, and again the differences are fewer. The S23 Ultra’s text is marginally sharper, and the blacks are a bit blacker, but there is slightly more noise than in the S24 Ultra’s photo. I wonder if seeing the S24 Ultra’s photo in isolation would make anyone think it’s a hybrid and not an optical shot? It’s certainly way more acceptable than many may have feared an optical quality shot would be, and the S24 Ultra has performed better than the S23 Ultra did in the 5x test.

That said, it’s impossible to say the S24 Ultra optical quality has taken better photos than the S23 Ultra’s 10x optical zoom, but they are definitely not an embarrassment or a disaster. It can’t quite take the win, but the S24 Ultra’s more pleasing tone and stronger noise reduction makes this category a shocking tie.

Winner: Draw

30x zoom

Both the Galaxy S24 Ultra and Galaxy S23 Ultra can take photos at a purely digital 30x zoom, a feature Samsung has been working on and refining for several generations. We only need one photo to show how much the S24 Ultra has improved over the Galaxy S23 Ultra in terms of 30x zoom.

While the level of detail is fairly similar, the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s exposure, contrast, and brightness have been sufficiently altered to bring the detail out more, which makes the photo appear more realistic. It’s still not something many people will want to use often, but work has been done to improve the feature over the previous generation.

Winner: Galaxy S24 Ultra

100x zoom

Yes, if you want to zoom in to 100x, the Galaxy S23 Ultra and Galaxy S24 Ultra will let you. Samsung’s full Space Zoom mode is as pointless as it ever was, but it appears to have become even worse on the S24 Ultra. There’s more smoothing, more blur, and less detail. It’s a camera mode no one in their right mind will ever use, and it’s impossible to pick a winner as the mode is a loser from the start. Even saying it’s a draw suggests it has some merit, which it does not, so we’re not scoring it at all.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra wins

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and Galaxy S23 Ultra's camera modules.
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (left) and Galaxy S23 Ultra Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Galaxy S24 Ultra has either won or tied in all the categories, cementing its place as the new telephoto superstar of the smartphone world. It’s something of a shock that it managed to tie with the Galaxy S23 Ultra in the 10x zoom category, but none of the photos I’ve taken with it have been markedly worse than the S23 Ultra’s photos, especially when shooting outside in decent light. They’re very close, and if you aren’t comparing them side by side, you probably won’t worry that it’s optical quality and not simply optical.

But it’s not just the 10x mode that makes the S24 Ultra a winner. The 5x optical zoom is excellent, and along with the improvements to the 3x optical zoom, the Galaxy S24 Ultra legitimizes Samsung’s decision to change the telephoto cameras. Add in new software and some very clever AI enhancements, and it takes better telephoto photos than the S23 Ultra in almost all situations.

I was worried about the changes Samsung made to the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s telephoto camera, but the results are excellent. I’m not saying I won’t miss the 10x optical zoom, but I won’t feel shortchanged by the S24 Ultra, and that’s really important. Now, for the Galaxy S25 Ultra, I’d like a 3x, a 5x, and a 10x optical zoom. Please, Samsung.

Editors’ Recommendations






Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. S23 Ultra: Do you need to upgrade? | Digital Trends

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. S23 Ultra: Do you need to upgrade? | Digital Trends

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (left) and S23 Ultra Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The premium Android space does not suffer from a lack of options. There are plenty of good flagships with excellent performance, bright and visually enticing screens, glamorous designs, and cameras that trick you into thinking they are as good as DSLRs. The Galaxy S series ticks most of those boxes, and the new Galaxy S24 Ultra doesn’t waver from the expectations set by its ancestors.

With AI being the keyphrase of the Samsung Unpacked event this year, the S24 Ultra is gaining significant improvements in ways we can interact with phones. In many ways, the Galaxy S24 Ultra will lead as one of the most compelling and feature-rich Android phones of 2024. But is it enough to tempt owners of the Galaxy S23 Ultra to upgrade?

If you are curious about the improvements the Galaxy S24 Ultra brings over last year’s S23 Ultra, here’s everything you need to know.

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. S23 Ultra: specs

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Size 162.5 × 79 × 8.6mm (6.40 x 3.11 x 0.34 inches) 163.4 × 78.1 × 8.9mm (6.43 x 3.07 x 0.35 inches)
Weight 233 grams (8.22 ounces) 234 grams (8.25 ounces)
Screen
  • 6.8 inches LTPO OLED, Quad HD+
  • 1-120Hz dynamic refresh rate
  • HDR10+
  • 2,600 nits peak brightness
  • Flat edges
  • Corning Gorilla Glass Armor protection
  • 6.8 inches LTPO OLED, Quad HD+
  • 1-120Hz dynamic refresh rate
  • HDR10+
  • 1,750 nits peak brightness
  • Curved edges
  • Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection
Operating system One UI 6.1 based on Android 14 Upgradable to One UI 6.1 based on Android 14
RAM & Storage
  • 12GB + 256GB UFS 4.0
  • 12GB + 512GB
  • 12GB + 1TB
  • 8GB + 256GB UFS 4.0
  • 12GB + 256GB
  • 12GB + 512GB
  • 12GB + 1TB
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 “For Galaxy” Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 “For Galaxy”
Camera
  • Quad rear cameras:
    • 200MP primary, f/1.7, 85° FOV, OIS
    • 12MP ultrawide, f/2.2, 120° FOV
    • 10MP portrait telephoto, 3x optical zoom, f/2.4
    • 50MP periscope telephoto, 5x optical zoom, f/3.4
  • 12MP selfie camera, f/2.2, 80° FOV
  • Quad rear cameras:
    • 200MP primary, f/1.7, OIS
    • 12MP ultrawide, f/2.2, 120° FOV
    • 10MP portrait telephoto, 3x optical zoom, f/2.4
    • 10MP periscope telephoto, 10x optical zoom, f/4.9
  • 12MP selfie camera, f/2.2, 80° FOV
Video
  • Rear: Up to 8K@24fps, 4K@60fps, or 1080p@240fps
  • Front: Up to 4K@60fps
  • Rear: Up to 8K@24fps, 4K@60fps, or 1080p@240fps
  • Front: Up to 4K@60fps
Connectivity
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • 5G
  • Wi-Fi 7, dual-band
  • UWB
  • Bluetooth 5.3
  • 5G
  • Wi-Fi 6E, dual-band
  • UWB
Ports USB-C USB-C
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery & charging 5,000mAh with 45W wired fast charging and 15W wireless charging 5,000mAh with 45W wired fast charging and 15W wireless charging
Colors Black, Gray, Violet, Yellow Black, Green, Cream, Graphite, Sky Blue, Lime, Red
Price Starting at $1,300 Starting at $1,200

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. S23 Ultra: design

The side of the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra's camera module.
Galaxy S24 Ultra Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

With each progressing year, Samsung has followed the same ideology as Apple, launching new flagships with minimal design changes. The Galaxy S23 Ultra received only minor changes over the S22 Ultra, which itself adopted the same design as the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra when Samsung decided to converge the two series.

Likewise, the new Galaxy S24 Ultra doesn’t differ much from the Galaxy S23 Ultra and bears only minimal changes in design. The most significant modification the Galaxy S24 Ultra undergoes is a new frame crafted with titanium instead of a hardened aluminum alloy previously. Once again, this decision appears to be inspired by Apple’s adaptation of titanium for the iPhone 15 Pro‘s chassis. While Samsung says the titanium will help the device’s longevity, there are no solid claims about measurable improvements. Visibly, the updated frame may appear more textured than the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s shiny frame with a chrome finish.

Another noticeable change over the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s new flat display. In reality, the display isn’t entirely flat, but the curvature of the edges has been reduced significantly, and the curved part of the screen now mostly overlaps the bezels along the screen. While people are irresolvably divided over the topic of curved screens, Samsung says the new display improves readability and productivity. For more durability, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is switching to the latest generation of Corning’s Gorilla Glass — i.e., Gorilla Glass Armor, with a claimed four times more resistance to scratches and the ability to cut reflection by up to 75%.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra's camera module on the Sky Blue version.
Galaxy S23 Ultra Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The switch from curved to flatter display edges does not impact the viewing area of the display (at least not noticeably enough). However, there are minor adjustments to the overall dimensions of the phone, which is now taller and slightly less broad than last year. The Galaxy S24 Ultra is also marginally thicker but weighs precisely the same as last year despite switching over to titanium, which is generally perceived to be lighter than aluminum.

Alongside the new frame, Samsung also brings newer colors, including yellow (another iPhone inspiration?), gray, and violet, to complement the already-existing black. There are also additional colors exclusive to Samsung’s website.

Besides the frame and the display, the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s design is pretty much the same as last year’s. The attributes carried over from the previous year include disjointed circular rings for different rear cameras and the laser autofocus module, a flattened frame to ease gripping, and the slot for the S Pen. While the placement of the buttons remains unchanged, Samsung now claims to use 10% recycled thermoplastics to make them. The cameras themselves have slightly changed, along with some other internal components that we discuss in the later sections.

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. S23 Ultra: display

A person holding the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra showing the screen.
Galaxy S24 Ultra Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

As mentioned previously, the Galaxy S24 Ultra sports a new display. Besides the physical changes to the panel, the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s display is much brighter and now boasts a peak brightness of 2,600 nits (a unit of intensity of light) as compared to the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 1,750 nits of peak brightness. It is worth highlighting that “peak brightness” only represents the highest brightness of individually lighting pixels, primarily while viewing HDR content.

Meanwhile, other values — such as typical brightness and High Brightness Mode (HBM) — represent the maximum brightness of the panel as a whole; the latter indicates brightness triggered manually or under strong ambient lighting, such as under the sun. Samsung does not reveal the brightness values in other modes, but we should learn more in this respect over the coming days as we review the Galaxy S24 Ultra and compare it further with its predecessor.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra's screen.
Galaxy S23 Ultra Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Besides the brightness and the design, there isn’t much to distinguish it from the previous year’s model. That’s simply because you don’t need to fix something that’s not broken. Samsung has been a pioneer in displays; it has a long legacy of providing displays for other phones, including the iPhone and OnePlus flagships, and its prowess shows here as well.

“Dynamic AMOLED 2X” is the formal marketing jargon to describe the LTPO display, which supports a variable refresh rate ranging between 1 and 120Hz, syncing to the frame rate of the contents of the display to avoid tearing or glitches.

The display once again sports a Quad HD+ resolution and supports 100% of the colors in the DCI-P3 gamut. Like previous generations, the Galaxy S24 Ultra supports HDR10+ codec but lacks Dolby Vision support. Given the brighter panel, our concerns about the last generation’s inability to compete with cheaper screens that support Dolby Vision might be alleviated to some extent.

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. S23 Ultra: performance

A person using the S Pen stylus with the Samsung Galaxu S24 Ultra.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Perhaps the most significant change that the Galaxy S24 Ultra gets over the S23 Ultra is the hardware that powers it. The Galaxy S24Ultra is driven by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, launched in October 2023, making it the earliest phone with this chip to launch globally.

Qualcomm largely altered the orientation of CPU cores on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, prioritizing performance and resulting in a claimed 30% performance boost over the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Qualcomm also claims a 25% improvement in graphics performance, which should predominantly translate to a better gaming experience. In addition, Samsung is partnering with a few game studios to help make ray tracing more mainstream in Android games. The initial list of game titles with ray tracing support includes Diablo Immortal, Racing Master, Arena Breakout, and Night Crows.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra also has specific enhancements for better performance, including a 90% larger vapor cooling chamber than the S23 Ultra, allowing for better heat dissipation during performance-intensive tasks. In addition, 12GB RAM now comes as standard on all storage variants from 256GB to 1TB.

A person holding the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra using the Circle to Search feature
Circle to Search Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Besides more computing power, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 brings an astounding 98% boost in neural processing. Artificial intelligence tasks can now run on the device without relying on cloud-based data centers — at least, that’s the hypothesis Qualcomm shows. With generative AI and large language models such as ChatGPT and Google’s Bard becoming last year’s most sought-after tech products, Samsung is jumping on the bandwagon and introducing generative AI features on the Galaxy S24 series. Here are the AI features that the Galaxy S24 series offers:

  • Live Translate allows real-time translation during calls with live transcription. Samsung claims that all the processing happens on the phone and no third-party services are required. However, you will be required to use the Samsung Dialer instead of the Google Phone app.
  • Chat Assist will aid in generating text for third-party messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Google Messages, changing the tone to suit the conversation, and offering real-time translation of text messages. To use this service, you will need to use the Samsung Keyboard as your default keyboard app.
  • Note Assist in the Samsung Notes app will use AI to summarize notes and make meaningful conclusions.
  • Transcript Assist will automatically transcribe voice notes or recordings.
  • Circle to Search will enable users to simply circle anything on the screen and specifically search that bit on Google instead of the entire screen’s contents.
  • Android Auto will be able to summarize incoming messages and notifications while you are driving, but this feature will be available with an update in the future.

These AI features on the Galaxy S24 rely on Google’s Gemini Nano machine learning model, which suggests we might get to see them on other Android devices as well. On that note, Samsung has confirmed that these AI features are coming to the Galaxy S23 Ultra at a later date.

Apart from these, there are some applications of AI for the camera or editing images that we discuss in the camera section below. Pre-launch rumors also hinted at other applications, including an on-device chatbot with ChatGPT-like capabilities, AI-generated wallpapers, and weather-based lock screen animations, but Samsung has not yet mentioned these features. Given the chipset’s capabilities, these are feasible, and we hope Samsung will include them.

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. S23 Ultra: battery and charging

The S Pen slot and USB-C port on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Galaxy S24 Ultra continues to feature a 5,000mAh battery — the same as the S23 Ultra. If you are conscious about the environment, it might please you to know that 50% of the cobalt that Samsung is using for the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s battery is recycled. Besides the claimed environmental impact of this change, there might not be real-life improvements to the phone’s battery life.

In terms of charging, the Galaxy S24 Ultra still supports speeds up to 45 watts over a wired connection. Simultaneously, you can use a Samsung-branded or certified wireless charger to charge the phone at 15W or any other Qi-certified accessories at 5W. Besides these means to input charge, the Galaxy S24 Ultra also supports charging accessories such as Galaxy Buds or Galaxy Watch through reverse power sharing, which is capped at 3W.

Samsung does not say if the updated internals — or any AI algorithms — improve the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s battery life. But we shall also assess their impact over the coming days.

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. S23 Ultra: cameras

A close view of the rear cameras on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra was unquestionably one of last year’s best camera phones. This year, the Galaxy S24 Ultra appears prepared to take that title, all thanks to an improved 200MP sensor compared to the previous year.

Although the specifics are not immediately apparent from Samsung’s keynote, Samsung says the new sensor is 60% bigger than the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s ISOCELL HP2. This should allow for significantly more light, especially in dim scenarios, and allow for better night-time photography. Samsung further claims to have improved the optical image stabilization (OIS) on the Galaxy S24 Ultra, reducing jitters and lags due to shakes or movement.

Another significant change to the camera system is a new 5x periscopic telephoto sensor. On paper, it feels like a downgrade from the 10x periscope available on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, but Samsung is heavily relying on AI to enhance the quality of zoomed images and allow a seamless transition from 2x to 10x. Instead of zooming into the image, the Galaxy S24 Ultra crops a section of the image it actually takes, giving image quality that resembles optical zoom. The periscope can shoot at up to 100x zoom, and Samsung says these images will be “crystal clear” — presumably with the use of generative AI to reconstruct blurry parts as it already does with moon shots.

Editing a photo on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra using the AI toolkit.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The other two sensors — the 12MP ultrawide and the 10MP telephoto with 3x zoom — remain unchanged. However, Samsung heavily relies on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3’s AI capabilities to improve the camera’s performance.

The Galaxy S24 series leverages the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3’s on-device AI processing abilities to enhance images while they are being captured under the ambit of “ProVisual Engine.” The AI features come in handy in various ways, from sharpening images to reducing shutter lag. The AI will further help improve images by suggesting edits and allowing folks to create or replace parts of the photos with “Generative Edit,” similar to the Google Pixel 8 series.

Samsung’s cameras are often blamed for capturing photos with too much HDR, especially in low light. In response, it has now introduced Super HDR, allowing you to preview shots with HDR in the viewfinder as they would come out after processing. This might allow you to turn off HDR if it’s too aggressive. Samsung also mentions third-party apps such as Instagram will now be able to capture images or record videos with HDR. However, unlike the Pixel 8, the HDR metadata will not be recorded along with the photo, meaning they will not appear different on screens with and without HDR support.

Since most of these camera improvements are tied to better hardware — whether on the sensor or the chip level, we may not see them trickle down to older phones, especially the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. S23 Ultra: software and updates

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra laying on a shelf with the S Pen next to it.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Samsung has already started rolling out its latest One UI 6 update based on Android 14 with significant design changes to a host of Galaxy S and A series devices. It is one of the most prominent visual updates to Samsung’s custom Android interface, bringing refinements to the quick settings panel, better wallpaper-based theming, a new font, and more.

The One UI 6 update has already been rolled out to the Galaxy S23 series, including the Ultra. So, there’s no reason for the Galaxy S24 Ultra to run an older version of the software. In fact, Samsung will offer additional features as part of the updated One UI 6.1, running out-of-the-box on the Galaxy S24 Ultra and other S24 devices.

Most of the features should eventually also be available on older devices such as the Galaxy S23 series. Samsung does not mention any customization features similar to the Pixel 8’s AI-generated wallpapers, but we might see them coming when the feature becomes more mainstream in the Android ecosystem.

With Google announcing seven years of firmware updates to the Pixel 8 series, Samsung is making similar claims and promising seven years of Android version and security updates to the Galaxy S24 series. This is one aspect that Galaxy S24 Ultra will outlast the S23 Ultra by several more years, despite being just one generation apart. This is because the Galaxy S23 Ultra will receive only three more Android version updates following Android 14.

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. S23 Ultra: price and availability

A person holding the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Galaxy S24 Ultra will be sold in the U.S. for a starting price of $1,300, marking a $100 bump over the S23 Ultra’s initial pricing. It will be available starting January 31, 2024, with preorders starting January 17. If you preorder the Galaxy S24 Ultra by January 30, you can avail of a free storage upgrade and get the 512GB variant for the price of 256GB (or 1TB for the price of 512GB). You will receive an additional $100 in Samsung credits, which can be used to purchase something else on the brand’s website.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra is available for a starting price of $1,200, but you can find more attractive deals on third-party sellers such as

and

. Following the preordering period, we might witness price drops for the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. S23 Ultra: verdict

Someone holding the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is a clear upgrade over the S23 Ultra, with better performance, an improved display, and superior cameras. But what makes the choice for the Galaxy S24 Ultra a no-brainer over the S23 Ultra is the prolonged software support that Samsung offers on the former. With seven years of Android generation and security updates, the Galaxy S24 Ultra will receive active software support until Android 21, even though the hardware, especially the chipset, may not survive the brunt of generational improvements.

The only aspect where the Galaxy S23 Ultra still makes more sense than the Galaxy S24 Ultra is if Samsung manages to bring the price down significantly and make it a better value for money — or you get a lucrative deal from the small seller you befriended principally for that reason. Otherwise, you will be losing out on instant access to the new AI features and the promise of better usage in years to come.

However, if you already own a Galaxy S23 Ultra, you almost certainly don’t need to upgrade to the S24 Ultra. The S24 Ultra is technically better, sure, but the S23 Ultra is still a fantastic Android phone — and it’ll be getting most (if not all) of the Galaxy AI features that the S24 Ultra has.

Editors’ Recommendations






I’m worried about the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra | Digital Trends

I’m worried about the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra | Digital Trends

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I don’t want to believe one specific rumor about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and would be shocked if Samsung made such an odd strategic decision. But it’s possible the 10x optical zoom feature may be removed from the phone.

It could go either way at the moment, but if it does happen, it would leave the S24 Ultra with a 3x and a 5x optical zoom and entirely remove the Ultra series’s main, unique, standout camera feature. And I hate the thought of that.

Moving backward

Close-up shot of the cameras on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

It would be a baffling decision should the rumors turn out to be accurate and almost as confusing as the fact no other manufacturer has taken on Samsung with a 10x optical zoom camera on a different phone yet. In 2024, I was hoping to see at least one other phone with such an impressive zoom, but now it is possible there may not even be one example at all.

I use many different smartphones throughout the year, and I enjoy taking a lot of photos with them. But I regularly think, “Oh, I wish I had my S23 Ultra right now to take that photo,” purely because of the 10x zoom feature. It can take photos that are simply impossible to capture with the same level of detail and quality as any other current phone.

I’ve loved the feature since it was introduced on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, and I’m not the only one. It’s also just one aspect of the S23 Ultra’s photographic prowess, which would be eroded should the feature be abandoned.

Galaxy S23 Ultra telephoto picture of a red boat on the water.
Galaxy S23 Ultra (10x zoom) Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Why would Samsung consider removing it and settling with a 5x optical zoom as its lengthiest option? It may come down to cost, as perhaps it’s only a handful of people who use and enjoy the 10x zoom option, or it’s impossible to fit inside the new S24 Ultra due to other alternations.

Or, it’s a reaction to the iPhone 15 Pro Max and its new 5x optical zoom. Samsung is notorious for chasing Apple — look at the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro’s marketing, where it was wrongly positioned against the Apple Watch Ultra, for evidence — instead of going its own way.

Where is the competition?

The Huawei P40 Pro Plus's camera module.
Huawei P40 Pro Plus Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

If the Galaxy S24 Ultra doesn’t have a 10x optical zoom, I wouldn’t be so mad about it if a few other phones could satisfy me, but there simply isn’t another option available to buy. Not only that, but I don’t know which other major manufacturer would be willing to even give it a try. Aside from Samsung’s own bizarre Galaxy S4 Zoom, Huawei is the only one that has embraced a 10x optical zoom before.

Huawei did so on the P40 Pro Plus after gaining a lot of attention for introducing a 10x hybrid zoom on the Huawei P30 Pro, but then it went back to non-optical 10x zooms for later phones. Huawei’s lack of availability and other drawbacks mean it wouldn’t be a viable option for many even if it did still have a 10x optical zoom on a current phone. Apple has only just got around to a 5x optical zoom, so a 10x optical zoom iPhone seems unlikely.

Oppo Reno 10x Zoom review
Oppo Reno 10x Zoom Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Oppo may have put the feature in the name of its Reno 10x Zoom from 2019, but it was also a hybrid 10x zoom, and the phone only offered a 5x optical zoom. The Xiaomi 13 Ultra has a 5x optical and 10x hybrid mode, OnePlus seems to be content with an optical zoom around 3x, Google relies on its (admittedly very good) software to take photos beyond 5x optical zoom, and Vivo is experimenting with hybrid setups too.

Other manufacturers need to seize the day

A person holding the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Samsung needs to keep the 10x optical zoom alive in 2024 with the Galaxy S24 Ultra. It’s a unique feature that has long made the Ultra model exciting and different, and dropping it now would be like removing the S Pen stylus, another feature that sets the phone apart from the competition. Without these, the S24 Ultra is just another big, expensive phone.

But whatever happens, there is a gap for another manufacturer to fill. It doesn’t seem like the other big names are willing to take a gamble by adding a 10x optical zoom to the camera array, which gives smaller brands the chance to make an impact.

Several names spring to mind. Asus is adventurous and has been messing around with gimbal stabilization — which is a bit gimmicky — on its Zenfone cameras, but it could really give the next model wide appeal with a 10x optical zoom.

The Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod on a smartphone.
Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Nothing has been causing problems for itself with software misplays and could do with focusing on hardware for a while. It would win a lot of fans with a Pro version of the Nothing Phone, complete with a 10x optical zoom.

Finally, Motorola is coming off a fantastic 2023, and even though its cameras can be hit-or-miss, it does have experience with 10x optical zoom hardware through the Hasselblad-backed True Zoom Moto Mod for the Moto Z series. Bring something like it back for 2024, please.

Don’t let the feature disappear

Ultimately, I want to take high-quality, blur-free photos of squirrels in my back garden and other animals I come across on my travels, and to do that, I really need my smartphone camera to have a 10x optical zoom. In the same way, I don’t want Samsung to consign the feature to the past with the Galaxy S24 Ultra; I also really want at least one other manufacturer to see the potential and introduce the feature on a new phone, too.

You can keep your face-swapping tools and AI-generated skies; I’m not all that worried if the camera pops out when I take a photo or even if the main camera has 200 megapixels. I just don’t want 2023 to be the last year when a 10x optical zoom was a smartphone camera feature.

Editors’ Recommendations






Best Smartphones of 2023

Best Smartphones of 2023

The ever-changing landscape of the smartphone industry in India is always surprising. This year, there have been plenty of changes and several newcomers in some segments to make for a very interesting mix of devices for eager buyers to choose from. While most regulars like Xiaomi and Realme have seen a handful of launches in the budget segment, brands like Motorola and Infinix have gone in all guns blazing. Xiaomi has been making headway into the higher end of the budget range and the mid-range instead.

The battle between Samsung and OnePlus has never been bigger than 2023, when OnePlus launched its first book-style foldable, the Open, late this year (after several delays). Brands like Oppo and Motorola took things a step up with foldables and premium smartphone offerings, while Samsung took it relatively easy with the same, but delivered a rather capable camera-focused flagship with its Galaxy S23 Ultra. Google ushered in the age of AI on smartphones, but definitely missed out on the ‘folding’ bit in India, which has seen its fair share of buyers this year.

And with so much choice and variety in certain segments, it gets equally hard to pick and choose the right smartphone. Unfortunately, not all the smartphones that we have reviewed over the past year have managed good scores as per our ratings. Fortunately, there are several that stood out, and basically managed to deliver what was expected from them. So, we have come up with a list of devices (in no particular order) which we consider to be the best at what they do. If you are looking to bring in the new year with a brand new smartphone, or have been a bit unsure about switching to a new device type or segment, this one’s for you!















Phones Gadgets 360 rating (out of 10) Price in India (as recommended)
OnePlus Open 9 Rs. 1,39,999
Motorola Razr 40 Ultra 9 Rs. 72,999
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 9 Rs. 1,24,999
Samsung Galaxy S23 9 Rs. 74,999
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max 9 Rs. 1,59,900
Apple iPhone 15 9 Rs. 79,900
Google Pixel 7a 8 Rs. 38,999
Nothing Phone 2 8 Rs. 39,999
iQoo Neo 7 Pro 8 Rs. 34,999
OnePlus Nord 3 5G 9 Rs. 29,999
Samsung Galaxy A34 5G 8 Rs. 26,999

OnePlus Open

The OnePlus Open (Review) can best be described as a breath of fresh air in the book-style or horizontal foldables space which has been dominated by Samsung with its Galaxy Z Fold lineup since the category showed up in India. For a phone that’s managed to surpass our expectations from every possible angle (not just as a foldable but even a regular smartphone), it sure seems like an achievement to get so many things right in the first attempt.

The Open managed to outdo Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 (the latest version of its best foldable yet) by a large margin by offering a slimmer and lighter design (with an IP rating), fast charging (sans wireless charging), better battery life and the very obvious imaging capability. Its Open Canvas software feature also seems like a different and novel take on the multitasking front. Its compact form factor and broad cover display make it function like a regular smartphone when folded, which is not the case with the Z Fold 5. While it lacks wireless charging (which Samsung offers, it makes up for it with 80W wired charging, and it all comes at a price that’s a lot lower than Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 with plenty more storage and RAM.

 

Motorola Razr 40 Ultra

Another smartphone that managed to take us by surprise this year was Motorola’s latest Razr 40 Ultra (Review) foldable. It packs in quite the punch for a smartphone this compact and slim. It may lack the latest Snapdragon processor, but its main use case lies in its well-optimised cover display software experience, which is second to none in the clamshell foldables segment.

Its IP52-rated design makes Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 5 and the Oppo Find N3 Flip appear chunky. There’s also that large cover display with a rather unique, embedded floating camera layout, which looks unreal and radical. Camera performance is good for a foldable, and the battery life will give you a day of use. But this phone also does well when it comes to gaming. It won’t bring back any memories of the iconic Razr (V3/V3i) flip phones of the early 2000s, but it sure sets a new standard by bringing in its own iconic style, which has been hard to mimic to date.

 

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

When it comes to zooming in, there is really no competing with Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra (Review). With Huawei not around anymore, Samsung’s Galaxy Ultra lineup has made its cosy space between the regular Galaxy S23 phones (S23, S23 Plus) and its Galaxy Z Fold lineup and dominated this segment while competing with Apple’s Pro-range of ultra-premium devices. Priced at Rs. 1,24,999, it’s a space that no other brand (on the Android side of things) has dared to enter late when designing regular slate-type smartphones.

Samsung has also managed to justify this pricing by continuing to retain what made the now-defunct Galaxy Note series unique. This would include an S-Pen (which slides into a built-in silo), a massive display that supports the stylus. There’s also a desktop-like Dex functionality for the productive types. And then it takes forward the bits from the Galaxy S series lineup by adding an excellent 200-megapixel camera, the capability of which remains unmatched in India (no matter which camp you come from). The customised Snapdragon SoC and excellent battery life are simply bonuses that buyers can take advantage of. We just wished it came in a smaller, more compact package, as this phone is quite a handful.

 

Samsung Galaxy S23

Just like the Galaxy S23 Ultra, the Samsung Galaxy S23 (Review) has made its peace with the world and still continues to be the only compact flagship in its segment. Despite commanding a high price tag of Rs. 74,999 and looking very similar to its predecessor, this compact powerhouse has plenty of under-the-hood improvements over the previous model. While the SoC upgrades were what we expected, Samsung also packaged a vapour cooling chamber into its compact footprint, keeping this phone cool when stressed. Battery life has also improved over the Galaxy S22, and it can easily handle a day of heavy usage on a single charge. Camera performance is top-notch (even though it has seen no upgrades) and delivers what one would expect from a Galaxy S series device. Despite no new or added features over its predecessor, the Galaxy S23 still remains the compact flagship to beat solely because of its form factor.

 

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

As Apple struggles to add new and upgrade-worthy features to its smartphones, it’s finally going back to basics (with some help from the EU). The iPhone 15 Pro Max (Review) manages to do pretty much what it claims to do and that is quite the leap from the iPhone 14 Pro, which banked heavily on Dynamic Island as its highlight feature. This year, Apple worked on tweaking and optimising its cameras, including the new telephoto camera, which exceeded expectations when it came to zoom performance.

It’s not all about the cameras, either. There’s a new customisable Action button and the big shift to USB-C, which many more users will appreciate. Along with the standard Pro model, it’s also the first globally produced smartphone that makes use of titanium for its frame, which also makes it lighter compared to its predecessor. It can also run AAA gaming titles with jaw-dropping graphics thanks to the impressive A17 Pro (3nm) processor. It’s the iPhone that is worth upgrading to even if you own the previous iPhone 14 Pro.

 

Apple iPhone 15

After several years of incremental upgrades to the standard iPhone lineup, we finally have a regular iPhone that actually packs in some notable upgrades. The iPhone 15 (Review) despite not having any segment-leading features (compared to other Android smartphones at this price point), still manages to be quite an exciting product for iPhone users. This is mainly because of the ‘Pro-grade’ features that have trickled down from the high-end models.

This would include a better Apple A16 Bionic chipset from last year’s iPhone 14 Pro, better higher-resolution cameras (one of which also offers lossless in-sensor zoom), USB-C and Dynamic Island. It still retains a 60Hz display (probably in place to deliver better battery life), but it will be the go-to iPhone model for years to come thanks to Dynamic Island and USB-C. And this automatically makes it the base iPhone model that newcomers will crave.

 

Google Pixel 7a

The Google Pixel 7a (Review) is the only Pixel phone to be launched this year, which seems to offer immense value for money. While it may look similar to last year’s Pixel 7, it does pack in a ton of upgrades. This would include the upgraded Tensor G2 SoC, which enables a number of AI-related photo editing features and camera tricks, new high-resolution cameras, a reliable fingerprint reader (compared to the Pixel 6a) embedded into a high-refresh-rate 90Hz display and wireless charging.

All of the above is available at an attractive price tag of Rs. 38,999, which is indeed really good value for money, given that you are getting a near-stock serving of Android, which will also be the first to receive software updates, along with the fun Feature Drops which Google releases every few months.

 

Nothing Phone 2

While the Nothing Phone 2 (Review) was launched at Rs. 44,999 in India which seemed borderline good given its core hardware, it new lowered price of Rs. 37,999 makes it bit more convincing for buyers who are looking for something different in an Android smartphone.

From its unique transparent looks to its custom software skinning and the Glyph light notification system, which has become more useful with the latest software updates, it is a special and unique experience for those tired of looking at the same icons and widgets on every other Android device. The Phone 2 also offers a better set of cameras than the previous model’s average camera performance. Indeed, the Phone 2 sure helps Nothing get past the image of being an artsy, fashion-forward phone to a practical one that works well even as a primary device.

 

iQoo Neo 7 Pro

iQoo has always delivered when it came to good value, matched by equally good performance with their Neo series. But it’s recent Neo 7 Pro (Review) goes above and beyond, making it a worthy recommendation in this shortlist.

For starters, there’s the faux-leather option in terms of design, and it’s all packaged into an IP52-rated body. Inside, iQoo offers a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC, which is rare in this segment and offers premium-level performance. There’s a 120Hz high-refresh-rate display with skinny bezels and a large 5,000mAh battery with 120W wired charging that is fast enough to go from 0-100 per cent in under 30 minutes. The primary camer’s performance is quite impressive as well. All in all, the iQoo Neo 7 Pro turns out to be a flagship killer of sorts.

 

OnePlus Nord 3 5G

The higher-end of the budget smartphone range has been growing in popularity because of the many features brands can pack into these phones, increasing their overall value. This is not the case with the mid-range, which struggles to add premium features at a palatable price tag while attempting to appear unique and stand out in terms of cosmetic design. Out of the many mid-range smartphones we have reviewed this year, the OnePlus Nord 3 5G (Review) sure stands out.

It offers distinctly mid-range specs by going with the MediaTek Dimensity 9000 SoC. But it pairs it with a premium-looking IP54-rated design with razor-thin bezels on its 120Hz refresh rate AMOLED panel, which also supports HDR10+ content. There are quality cameras all around, and they’re all backed up by a large 5,000mAh battery with 80W fast wired charging support. Perhaps the most impressive detail about this mid-ranger is its price, which has now been dropped to Rs. 29,999, making it an easy recommendation.

 

Samsung Galaxy A34 5G

Another phone that has managed to be an all-rounder in the budget segment this year is Samsung’s Galaxy A34 5G (Review). We called it the ‘Jack of all trades’ in our review, and it was for good reason because this phone manages to pack in a lot of hardware and features at an impressive price point and somehow manages to deliver on those well.

The Galaxy A34 5G may not be as powerful as other smartphones in its class because of its MediaTek Dimensity 1080 SoC, but it gets along fine with multitasking and most 3D gaming requirements. There’s enough RAM, storage and even expandable storage so that this phone will check a lot of boxes for various buyers. Camera performance is good in all conditions, and the battery easily lasts a day on a single charge. Its design is also very similar to the premium Galaxy S series, but it’s not just about looks, as it also has a solid IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, which is rare in this segment.

 


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Samsung Galaxy S24 Series Price Leak Promises More Affordable Flagships

Samsung Galaxy S24 Series Price Leak Promises More Affordable Flagships

Samsung Galaxy S24 series is expected to make its way to the market soon. Over the past few months, there have been several leaks suggesting the major features coming to the Galaxy S24 lineup. The phones are said to get a faster Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, an improved camera system, new design and AI-based features. A media report recently indicated the European pricing details of the Samsung Galaxy S24, Galaxy S24+, and Galaxy S24 Ultra. The regular models are expected to be priced lower than the launch price of Galaxy S23. However, the pricing of the top-end model could remain the same as its predecessor.

As per a report by GalaxyClub (Dutch), the price of Galaxy S24 will start at EUR 899 (roughly Rs. 82,000) for the base 8GB RAM + 128GB storage model. The 256GB storage model could be priced at EUR 959 (roughly Rs. 88,000). The Galaxy S24+ will reportedly be priced at EUR 1,149 (roughly Rs. 1,05,000) for the 12GB RAM + 256GB storage model and EUR 1,269 (roughly Rs. 1,16,000) for the 12GB + 512GB variant.

The top-end model of the lineup Galaxy S24 Ultra could be priced at EUR 1,449 (roughly Rs. 1,33,500) for the 12GB + 256GB version. The 12GB RAM + 512GB and 12GB + 1TB models is said to be priced at EUR 1,569 (roughly Rs. 1,44,500) and EUR 1,809 (roughly Rs. 1,66,500), respectively.

If this leak holds any weight, the Galaxy S24 and S24+ might be slightly cheaper than the launch price of their predecessors. The Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23+ debuted with a price tag of EUR 950 (roughly Rs. 87,000), and EUR 1,200 (roughly Rs. 1,10,000), respectively. The pricing of the Galaxy S24 Ultra could remain relatively the same. The pricing is likely to vary across countries depending on currency exchange rates.

Samsung has not yet announced the launch date of the Galaxy S24 series, but it is highly speculated to be unveiled on January 17. The brand is expected to pack Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 SoC for Galaxy with overclocked CPU and GPU cores in both Galaxy S24+ and Galaxy S24 Ultra across all markets. The US and Canada Samsung Galaxy S24 variant could run on a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 SoC, while most regions will see the handset powered by an Exynos 2400 SoC.


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Should you buy the Galaxy S23 or wait for the Galaxy S24? | Digital Trends

Should you buy the Galaxy S23 or wait for the Galaxy S24? | Digital Trends

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

It’s that time of year again when Samsung fans face a tough choice. While the latest Samsung Galaxy S23 flagships are a tempting pick for the holidays, we can pretty much bank on the fact that a newer and better Galaxy S24 lineup is just around the corner.

Samsung typically holds its Galaxy Unpacked events in late January or early February, and we don’t expect next year to be an exception. This means that in a few weeks, the Galaxy S23 family will be “last year’s models” in every way.

However, unless you’re one of those folks who likes to live on the bleeding edge of technology, any Galaxy S23 model is still a great and powerful smartphone that will serve you well for years to come. There’s no reason to shy away from any of them, especially at this time of the year when you can find some great deals. Nevertheless, it’s still good to know what Samsung’s Galaxy S24 lineup could soon bring to the table.

What we know about the Galaxy S24 series

Joe Maring holding a Samsung Galaxy S23 and a Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

Unsurprisingly, Samsung is expected to release the Galaxy S24 series in the same three configurations that have become the norm over the past few years: a standard Galaxy S24 and a larger Galaxy S24 Plus that share most of the same specs, and the premium flagship Galaxy S24 Ultra that boasts an S Pen and the best cameras in its class. However, all three are expected to have (mostly) the same processor and software specs and sport similar designs.

All three Samsung Galaxy S23 models are already some of the most powerful smartphones on the planet, thanks to a bespoke Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip customized exclusively for Samsung phones.

However, the biggest news with the Galaxy S23 family is that it used these chips across the board, not only in all three U.S. models but also in the international models that were previously saddled with a less impressive Exynos chipset.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

Next year’s Galaxy S24 models are expected to feature Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, at least in the U.S.; rumor has it that Samsung will fall back to its Exynos chip in some markets, although the more powerful Galaxy S24 Ultra may be excluded from this.

Rumor also has it that Samsung also plans to add a new generative AI feature to the Galaxy S24 lineup. Dubbed Samsung Gauss, after legendary mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, this could deliver features such as real-time translation, AI-generated wallpapers, a photo editing tool similar to Google’s Magic Editor, and AI-powered formatting features in Samsung Notes. It’s unclear whether Samsung Gauss will depend on some of the new AI enhancements in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3; it seems likely, but if so, it also raises the question of how well it will perform on Exynos-equipped handsets.

Android 14 on a phone.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

The Galaxy S24 series will also come with Android 14 preinstalled with Samsung’s next-gen One UI 6 (or 6.1) on top. Of course, the Galaxy S23 models are getting the same Android 14 update, but that’s the first of the four promised Android releases, which means Android 17 will be the end of the road for all three S23 devices someday.

The Galaxy S24 phones should get at least the same four-year promise, but it’s also possible Samsung could up its game to match Google’s staggering seven-year guarantee for the Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. Even if it doesn’t, the new S24 models will someday be upgradeable to Android 18.

All three Galaxy S24 smartphones are expected to feature a similar design language to their Galaxy S23 counterparts, suggesting that Samsung may have finally hit its stride in this area after several years of noticeable tweaks. In particular, the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus gained a cleaner and more minimalist design that eliminated the camera bump in favor of three protruding lenses, bringing them more in line with the aesthetic of the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Even Samsung’s midrange and entry-level A-series phones adopted a similar look, suggesting it’s Samsung’s new normal.

By all reports, that will continue into the 2024 models, although renders suggest we’ll see the end of curved edges on the front glass, replaced by a flat screen with some of the slimmest bezels ever. However, that’s expected to be the only visually significant change, although the new models are expected to come in shades of black, gray, violet, and yellow.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S24

Leaked design schematic of Samsung Galaxy S24.
OnLeaks / SmartPrix

The Galaxy S24 will likely be the least exciting upgrade in the family, with no significant changes beyond the new processor and some battery tweaks.

The display will grow slightly to 6.2 inches from 6.1 inches on the Galaxy S23. It’s expected to retain the same FHD resolution, although it will likely get an increase in brightness. There’s been no word on any camera improvements in the Galaxy S23, suggesting it won’t see any hardware changes beyond possible sensor upgrades.

On a slightly more interesting note, the Galaxy S24 could see a return to the 4,000mAh battery capacity of the Galaxy S21, an increase from the 3,700mAh and 3,900mAh cells of the Galaxy S22 and S23. Combined with efficiency improvements in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, this could result in even longer battery life for Samsung’s smallest flagship.

Christine holding her Samsung Galaxy S23 with cameras facing out
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Sadly, as we mentioned earlier, not all Samsung Galaxy S24 models will get the latest Qualcomm chip, as Samsung plans to return using its own chips — the Exynos 2400 in this case — for models sold in some regions outside of the U.S.

The Galaxy S24 is also expected to come in the same 8GB RAM and 128GB and 256GB storage configurations as the Galaxy S23, plus new Onyx Black, Marble Gray, Cobalt Violet, and Amber Yellow finishes.

The bottom line here is that unless you’re looking for some new colors, you’ll probably be very happy with the Galaxy S23, especially at a lower price. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is an incredibly powerful chip that’s more than capable of handling even the most demanding games.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S24 Plus

Leaked render of a Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus.
OnLeaks / GizNext

Other than the chips inside, the biggest boost in the new Galaxy S24 Plus is expected to be a slightly larger and much higher-resolution display, moving from the Galaxy S23 Plus’ 6.6-inch FHD screen to a 6.7-inch WQHD panel that would give it an even higher pixel density than the Galaxy S24 Ultra. That will also help set it further apart from the smaller Galaxy S24, which is said to retain the same 6.2-inch FHD panel.

Like the Galaxy S24, we’ve heard nothing about the cameras on the Galaxy S24 Plus. The two non-ultra models typically share the same camera hardware; we expect they’ll continue to do so. That means the S24 Plus will likely get whatever sensor upgrades come to the Galaxy S24, with the most significant photography improvements delivered in AI and image signal processing capabilities in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 or Exynos 2400 chips that the Galaxy S24 Plus is also expected to use for models sold outside the U.S.

A home screen setup on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends / Digital Trends

It’s rumored that the Galaxy S24 Plus will get a modest battery bump to 4,900mAh from the 4,700mAh cell used in the Galaxy S23 Plus and also see a boost to 12GB RAM across the board. However, it will still only be sold in the 256GB and 512GB storage configurations.

As with the Galaxy S23 series, the Galaxy S24 Plus will feature the same color finishes as the smaller Galaxy S24: Onyx Black, Marble Gray, Cobalt Violet, and Amber Yellow.

If everything we’ve heard is true, the Galaxy S24 Plus may be worth waiting for to get the higher-resolution screen, but the Galaxy S23 Plus remains a solid pick in every other way.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S24 Ultra

Leaked render of Galaxy S24 Ultra.
OnLeaks / SmartPrix

While the Galaxy S24 Ultra won’t look all that different from the Galaxy S23 Ultra, some reports suggest Samsung may follow in Apple’s footsteps and bring a titanium frame to its highest-end model. Whether or not this is reflected quite as ostentatiously as Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro series, it would still significantly reduce the weight of Samsung’s beastly smartphone.

To put that in context, the Galaxy S23 Ultra comes in at 234 grams, while Apple’s largest flagship iPhone went from 240 grams for the stainless steel iPhone 14 Pro Max down to 221 grams for the titanium iPhone 15 Pro Max. A titanium Galaxy S24 Ultra could see a similar weight reduction. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that the Galaxy S23 Ultra already uses lighter aluminum for its frame, so the gap may not be as significant as it was in Apple’s transition from stainless steel to titanium.

While Samsung typically uses its best AMOLED displays across its entire Galaxy S family, rumors suggest the Galaxy S24 Ultra might get brighter this year, with the display reaching a peak brightness of 2,500 nits, up from 1,750 nits on the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The Galaxy S23 Ultra was by no means difficult to see, even in direct sunlight, and it appears the Galaxy S24 Ultra will otherwise use the same 3800 x 1440 6.8-inch display, making it only a modest upgrade that most folks likely won’t notice or need.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra's camera lenses.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Regardless of what Samsung does with Exynos chips for its other phones in 2024, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is expected to pack in Qualcomm silicon everywhere it’s sold. That’s likely crucial for powering the more advanced photography features that are a hallmark of Samsung’s Ultra flagships. These will also likely be the focus of the camera system on the new S24 Ultra (no pun intended), as the camera hardware isn’t expected to get as many upgrades this time around.

To be clear, the Galaxy S24 Ultra will still feature an excellent camera array — a 200-megapixel (MP) main camera, plus a 12MP ultrawide and a pair of telephoto lenses that go up to a 10x optical zoom (100x digital) — but rumor has it only one lens will change from the S23 Ultra, with the 3x telephoto camera replaced with a 50MP 5x shooter.

Rumors of the new telephoto lens configuration have shifted a bit in recent weeks, with some earlier ones suggesting that the 10x optical zoom would drop to 5x in favor of a larger 50MP sensor. However, that seemed unlikely considering how much Samsung prides itself on high zoom factors for its Galaxy S Ultra phones. Bumping the 3x to 50MP makes more sense, although there’s room for debate on whether a 5x optical zoom is preferable to a 3x; it was a very nice improvement on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, but that’s partly because there’s no 10x there to play with.

Someone holding the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, showing the green back.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Another more recent rumor suggests Samsung could pull another page from Apple’s playbook by bumping its default photo resolution to 24MP, providing a nice balance between higher-quality images and size. This would be joined by an AI-powered remastering feature that would offer one-tap touchups, plus a neutral density filter to help with shooting 24MP RAW images in bright environments.

Storage and memory configurations will also reportedly increase with the Galaxy S24 Ultra, which will now start with a more generous 12GB of RAM offered consistently across the entire lineup, which will still come in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB variants. The Galaxy S23 Ultra only offers 8GB RAM in the smallest 256GB model.

Early renders show that Samsung might also copy Apple in highlighting its titanium design for the Galaxy S24 Ultra, with themed colors expected to include Titanium Black, Titanium Gray, Titanium Violet, and Titanium Yellow.

It’s probably no surprise that the Galaxy S24 Ultra will feature the most significant upgrades over its predecessor, and it’s undoubtedly worth waiting for if you’re looking for bleeding-edge AI technology, but the Galaxy S23 Ultra is still an excellent flagship smartphone that’s every bit as powerful as the day we took it out of the box.

When is the Samsung Galaxy S24 coming out?

Leaked renders of Galaxy S24 series in purple.
Windows Report

Samsung typically announces its Galaxy S series lineup and has it on sale by the end of February each year, although the specific times vary. The Galaxy S23 family was unveiled on February 1 and went on sale on February 17, while in 2021, the Galaxy S21 series was announced on January 14 and hit stores on January 29.

That was unusually early, but at least one report suggests the company may plan to repeat that schedule, with an Unpacked event planned in California for January 17, 2024. If that date is accurate, the new models could be in stores by the end of January.

Samsung is also expected to keep the pricing for the S24 series in line with the S23 series, in which case the Galaxy S24 will start at $800, the Galaxy S24 Plus at $1,000, and the Galaxy S24 Ultra at $1,200.

Editors’ Recommendations






The best Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protectors in 2023 | Digital Trends

The best Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protectors in 2023 | Digital Trends

It may be nearly a year old, but Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra remains one of the most powerful smartphones on the market — and it’s still a great buy even with the Galaxy S24 Ultra on the horizon.

All the incredible power and performance packed into the S23 Ultra doesn’t come cheap, which means you’ll want to keep your investment protected from the get-go, especially considering that its gorgeous and expansive Dynamic AMOLED 2X 6.8-inch display seems like such an easy target for scratches and impacts. It may have amazingly durable Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on the front, but that doesn’t make it impervious to damage, and it’s definitely not immune to scratches and scuffs.

Your screen is your portal into your S23 Ultra’s world, so keeping it safe and scratch-free is important. If you want to stop your display from accumulating dirt, scratches, and even — heaven forbid — cracks, a screen protector is a very good idea. Thankfully, there are a lot of great options, from thin and lightweight film covers to hardened tempered glass, and we’ve rounded up some of the best Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protectors for you to consider.

Looking to finish your protection? Make sure to grab a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra case as well.

Bodyguardz ECO PRTX Screen Protector

Best advanced Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector


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Spigen Neo Flex Film Protector for the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Spigen Neo Flex Film Protector – Twin Pack

Best film Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector


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InvisibleShield Fusion XTR2 Eco Curve Screen Protector + Screen Repair Guarantee for Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, Easy to Install, Anti-Blue Light, Compatible with Biometric Fingerprint Scanner

InvisibleShield Fusion Curve XTR2 Eco

Best eco-friendly Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector


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Gadget Guard Screen Protector for Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Gadget Guard Screen Protector

Best super-strong Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector


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Whitestone Dome Glass Screen Protector for the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Whitestone Dome Glass Screen Protector — Twin Pack

Best rugged Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector


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InvisibleShield Fusion VisionGuard Defense Curve for the Galaxy S23 Ultra

InvisibleShield Fusion VisionGuard Defense Curve

Best eye comfort Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector


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Skinomi MatteSkin Anti-glare Film Screen Protector -- Twin Pack for the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Skinomi MatteSkin Anti-glare Film Screen Protector — Twin Pack

Best anti-glare Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector


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Official Samsung 2 Pack Film Screen Protector

Official Samsung Film Screen Protector — Twin Pack

Best official Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector


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Ringke Privacy Dual Easy Wing [Anti-spy] Compatible with Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Privacy Screen Protector 5G, Self-Healing Properties Anti-Fingerprint Coating Film with Easy Application Kit

Ringke Privacy Dual Easy Film Screen Protector

Best privacy Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector


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Olixar Full Cover Tempered Glass Screen Protector - For Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Olixar Full Cover Tempered Glass Screen Protector

Best thin Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector


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Supershieldz (2 Pack) Designed for Samsung (Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G) Screen Protector, High Definition Clear Shield (TPU)

SuperShieldz High Definition Film Protectors — Twin Pack

Best value Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector


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Armorsuit MilitaryShield Black Carbon Fiber Skin Wrap Film + HD Clear Screen Protector Designed for Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G (6.8 Inch, 2023 Release) Film - Made in USA

Armorsuit MilitaryShield Film Protector with Carbon Fiber Skin

Best complete Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector


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The Bodyguardz screen protector on a blank background.

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Bodyguardz ECO PRTX Screen Protector

Best advanced Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

Pros

  • Great protection
  • Impeccable eco credentials
  • Installation tray for easy install

Bodyguardz is always on the bleeding edge of screen protector technology, and the ECO PRTX is its most advanced protector yet. Made from synthetic glass, the ECO PRTX is one of the only glass screen protectors that’s guaranteed not to chip or crack at all, with the company also claiming it to be three times stronger than your device’s screen. Bodyguardz claims it feels just like your device’s glass, and won’t change your touch responsiveness at all. This is backed up by some amazing ecological credentials, including being the world’s first TUV Green Mark Product-certified screen protector. Even the installation tray is biodegradable, so you don’t have to worry at all about it hanging around for millions of years after you’re done with it.

What’s the downside? Well, it’s up there in a big red button: the price. It’s a lot for a single screen protector, even one that’s guaranteed not to break. But heck, if you can justify it (and you did just spend four figures on a smartphone, so good protection is a good idea), then its hard to get better than this.

Bodyguardz ECO PRTX Screen Protector for the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Bodyguardz ECO PRTX Screen Protector

Best advanced Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

The Spigen Neo Flex screen protector on a blank background.

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Spigen Neo Flex Film Protector – Twin Pack

Best film Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

Pros

  • Good scratch protection
  • Wet installation for close fit
  • Oleophobic coating

Spigen is one of those big names it’s worth buying your entire protective suite from, as Spigen cases and screen protectors will work together flawlessly. This Neo Flex screen protector will pair well with a good slim case, as it adds a similar level of good protection, without adding additional thickness or reducing the usability of your device. It’s film, so it won’t offer as much strength as glass, but it makes up for that by offering good scratch protection and an oleophobic coating with a slimness that’s barely noticeable.

It’s a twin pack, so there’s a spare if something goes wrong, and the wet installation method means there’s less chance of it lifting away over time. There’s no install tray, though, which is a shame, as many protectors come with those useful tools these days.

Spigen Neo Flex Film Protector for the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Spigen Neo Flex Film Protector – Twin Pack

Best film Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

The InvisibleShield protector on a blank background.

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InvisibleShield Fusion Curve XTR2 Eco

Best eco-friendly Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

Pros

  • Hybrid material protection
  • Anti-reflective coating
  • Blue light filter
  • Compatible with fingerprint scanner

It’s the crème de la crème of screen protectors and priced as such, but what better screen protector to protect your ultra-premium smartphone than an ultra-premium protector? InvisibleShield’s Fusion Curve XTR2 Eco may not exactly trip off the tongue, but it’s an exceptional piece of kit for protecting your smartphone’s screen. It’s made from a blend of materials, including Hexiom (a type of resin), to make a protector that’s neither glass nor film — but something in between. It’s strong but flexible, resists dust, cuts down on reflections and glare, and even has a built-in blue light filter. It also works with Samsung’s ultrasonic fingerprint scanner. It’s even made from recycled materials to add some ecological clout too.

The downside is obvious — it’s extremely expensive. As such, it’s hard to recommend for everyone. But if you’re worried about your S23 Ultra screen getting scratched or broken, it’s hard to get better than this.

InvisibleShield Fusion XTR2 Eco Curve Screen Protector + Screen Repair Guarantee for Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, Easy to Install, Anti-Blue Light, Compatible with Biometric Fingerprint Scanner

InvisibleShield Fusion Curve XTR2 Eco

Best eco-friendly Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

The Gadget Guard protector for the S23 Ultra on a blank background.

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Gadget Guard Screen Protector

Best super-strong Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

Pros

  • Claims to be five-times stronger than glass
  • Impact protection
  • Dedicated anti-fingerprint layer

There are screen protectors with all sorts of features, but few will gamble on pure, unadulterated strength. Gadget Guard has one of the few screen protectors that’s advertised purely on being strong. Just pure, honest strength. Gadget Guard claims its screen protector has five times the strength of normal tempered glass and has a seven-layer construction that might actually live up to those claims. Those layers include two dedicated protective layers that help disperse shock, plus another layer purely for fingerprint resistance.

It’s got nothing but strength behind it, but that’s hard to argue with when you’re looking at screen protection. It’s on the more expensive side for a single screen protector, though, making this something of a toss-up between expense and protection.

Gadget Guard Screen Protector for Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Gadget Guard Screen Protector

Best super-strong Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

The Whitestone Dome protector on a blank background.

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Whitestone Dome Glass Screen Protector — Twin Pack

Best rugged Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

Pros

  • Super-strong bond
  • Strong protection
  • Can stop existing damage from worsening

There’s no screen protector quite like Whitestone’s Dome Glass, and it’s the protector of choice for those who want to make sure their phone has an unbeatable bond between device and protector. The key is the installation process, which injects a layer of liquid adhesive between the phone and protector. That adhesive is cured with a UV lamp, creating a strong bond that doesn’t reduce responsiveness or clarity, and has the added bonus of filling in existing cracks or chips and stopping them from worsening. The glass protector is strong and resistant, and it should be protected against most hazards.

However, that process is also fairly long and fiddly, meaning there’s a lot more to this protector than just lowering it into place. You’ll need to make sure to put some time aside to sort this out. But once it’s done, it’s an almost unbeatable screen protector for the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Whitestone Dome Glass Screen Protector for the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Whitestone Dome Glass Screen Protector — Twin Pack

Best rugged Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

The InvisibleShield Fusion VisionGuard Defense Curve screen protector on a blank background.

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InvisibleShield Fusion VisionGuard Defense Curve

Best eye comfort Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

Pros

  • Protects from blue light
  • Antimicrobial coating
  • Claims to be unbreakable

Blue light from your beloved smartphone can do more than just light up your surroundings — it can also mess up your body clock and keep you awake longer than you intended. Setting up a software filter on your phone can help, but it tends to tint the screen orange, which doesn’t look great and can impact your enjoyment of movies and other content. Instead, why not buy a hardware solution? InvisibleShield’s VisionGuard range blocks 40% of blue light at 435-440nm, the toxic peak of blue light, helping cut down on your exposure dramatically. It’s also protective, with claims of being unbreakable, and is treated with an anti-microbial coating.

Like most of InvisibleShield’s products, this is certainly expensive — but if you care about your sleep hygiene as well as keeping your smartphone as safe as possible, then this is a good investment.

InvisibleShield Fusion VisionGuard Defense Curve for the Galaxy S23 Ultra

InvisibleShield Fusion VisionGuard Defense Curve

Best eye comfort Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

The Skinomi screen protector on a blank background.

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Skinomi MatteSkin Anti-glare Film Screen Protector — Twin Pack

Best anti-glare Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

Pros

  • Glare protection from strong lights
  • Self-healing and anti-yellowing treatment
  • Good thin protection

Cons

  • Glass would offer more protection

The Galaxy S23 Ultra gets very bright, but if you’re worried about strong lights obscuring your vision, or spending a lot of time outdoors, you can get a screen protector to help. Skinomi’s MatteSkin is a variant of its popular TechSkin film that offers a matte coating to help cut down on glare, making it easy to see your screen, even when under the strongest lights.

The thin film isn’t as protective as glass, but it’s thinner, cheaper, and still protects against scratches, dirt, and grime. It’s a good price too, and you get two in the pack, so you have a replacement if one gets dirty — or you have a mishap while applying it. It’s a good film option that’s great if you often find yourself squinting at phone screens.

Skinomi MatteSkin Anti-glare Film Screen Protector -- Twin Pack for the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Skinomi MatteSkin Anti-glare Film Screen Protector — Twin Pack

Best anti-glare Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

The official Samsung screen protector on a blank background.

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Official Samsung Film Screen Protector — Twin Pack

Best official Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

Pros

  • Official Samsung product
  • Excellent clarity and sensitivity
  • Easy to install thanks to included tools

Cons

  • Film doesn’t offer the same protection as glass

Where else to go for your screen protection but the manufacturer of your new device? Samsung offers this double pack of screen protectors for the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, and it’s a great place to start. While not the cheapest option around, Samsung’s high quality is assured, and it comes in a dual pack, so you have a spare in case of installation woes.

Not that it’s difficult to install, though, thanks to the included installation tools. It’s tough and strong for a film and should ward off most scratches, dirt, and grease — though you’ll want a glass protector if you’re especially worried about drops and bumps. Film’s real advantage is it’s extremely clear and very thin, and Samsung’s own screen protectors provide that, and then some. A great choice.

Official Samsung 2 Pack Film Screen Protector

Official Samsung Film Screen Protector — Twin Pack

Best official Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

The Ringke Dual Easy Privacy screen protector on a blank background.

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Ringke Privacy Dual Easy Film Screen Protector

Best privacy Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

Pros

  • Ultra-thin
  • Privacy filter
  • Self-healing properties

Cons

  • Film isn’t as protective as glass
  • Reduces viewing angles

The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s big screen can display a lot, but the downside is it’s easily visible to people around, making things a bit awkward if you’re banking or doing anything with sensitive information. While there are things you can do to hide your data from prying eyes, screen protectors like this one from Ringke can help a lot.

It has a privacy filter, so your screen fades out to black when viewed from angles other than straight on. The film won’t protect very well against drops, but it’s lightweight and thin, and it’ll protect against dirt and scratches. The self-healing properties also mean it’ll heal small scratches, keeping your device looking newer for longer. The wing design folds around your device, protecting against it lifting away with use, and it’s easy to install as well. A great option if privacy is a concern, but keep in mind it will reduce viewing angles, making it harder to share videos or images with large groups of people.

Ringke Privacy Dual Easy Wing [Anti-spy] Compatible with Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Privacy Screen Protector 5G, Self-Healing Properties Anti-Fingerprint Coating Film with Easy Application Kit

Ringke Privacy Dual Easy Film Screen Protector

Best privacy Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

The Olixar Full Cover on a blank background.

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Olixar Full Cover Tempered Glass Screen Protector

Best thin Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

Pros

  • Tough tempered glass
  • Transparent and thin
  • No risk of bubbles

It may seem odd to protect your phone by adding more glass to glass, but it really does work. By attaching itself to your phone screen, a glass screen protector can protect against scratches and dirt, and if a fall does happen, the protector will often absorb the destructive energies of the fall instead of your display, effectively making it a sacrificial guardian for your phone. Sure, the protector will crack, but that’s better than your phone cracking.

Olixar’s Full Cover is a great basic glass protector, being made of tempered 9H glass, and it has an anti-shatter film, so the glass won’t shard outwards if it does crack, making it safe to keep using even after a minor break. It’s thin, has a 95% light penetration ratio, and it’s easy to install too. And since it’s glass, it won’t bubble.

Olixar Full Cover Tempered Glass Screen Protector - For Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Olixar Full Cover Tempered Glass Screen Protector

Best thin Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

The SuperShieldz screen protectors on a blank background.

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SuperShieldz High Definition Film Protectors — Twin Pack

Best value Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

Pros

  • Great price
  • Twin pack
  • Thin but protective

Cons

  • Other options could be more protective

Cheap but effective products have a value all their own, and that’s exactly what SuperShieldz is offering here. This twin pack of flexible TPU protectors will do well at protecting against dirt, dust, smudges, and scratches, even if it’s not likely to offer much protection against drops and falls. It’s super-thin, though, and has an excellent touch sensitivity that won’t impact touch accuracy or your ability to see your screen.

The fact it’s a twin pack means you have a replacement in case anything happens to your first protector, and it’s a bargain price, so you’re not breaking the bank either.

Supershieldz (2 Pack) Designed for Samsung (Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G) Screen Protector, High Definition Clear Shield (TPU)

SuperShieldz High Definition Film Protectors — Twin Pack

Best value Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

The Armorsuit screen protector and skin on a blank background.

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Armorsuit MilitaryShield Film Protector with Carbon Fiber Skin

Best complete Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

Pros

  • All-around protection
  • Thin and stylish
  • Free replacements

Cons

  • Not worth it if you have a case
  • Film protection is less than glass

A screen protector is often just one aspect of your protection, and we’d always recommend a protective case to really amp up your phone’s durability. But not everyone wants a case, and in those instances, a skin might be a fun addition to your phone. This screen protector from Armorsuit also comes with a black carbon fiber-style skin to attach to your new phone, and while it’s not particularly protective, it’ll protect against scratches and dirt in the same way a film screen protector would.

The protector is made from TPU, so it has self-healing qualities, as well as resistance to dirt and scratches. Like all film protectors, it won’t be as durable as glass, but it’s still a good option if you want something thin and unobtrusive. Armorsuit also offers free replacements, so if this protector peels off, gets damaged, or is installed badly, Armorsuit will send you another one, free of charge.

Armorsuit MilitaryShield Black Carbon Fiber Skin Wrap Film + HD Clear Screen Protector Designed for Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra 5G (6.8 Inch, 2023 Release) Film - Made in USA

Armorsuit MilitaryShield Film Protector with Carbon Fiber Skin

Best complete Galaxy S23 Ultra screen protector

Editors’ Recommendations






Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra’s Default Camera Output May Be Same as iPhone 15

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra’s Default Camera Output May Be Same as iPhone 15

Samsung Galaxy S24 series is rumoured to go official on January 17. As the rumoured launch date approaches closer, more speculations about the top-of-the-line Galaxy S24 Ultra have surfaced on the Web. The upcoming flagship is anticipated to bring the same camera hardware as its predecessor — Galaxy S23 Ultra — but with some AI-based improvements. Samsung is expected to keep the 24-megapixel default camera output resolution on the Galaxy S24 Ultra. It is likely to pack a 200-megapixel quad rear camera unit. 

Tipster Ahmed Qwaider (@AhmedQwaider888) on X (formerly Twitter) suggests that Samsung will offer a 24-megapixel default camera resolution on the Galaxy S24 Ultra. If this rumour holds any weight, it would be a notable upgrade from the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which has a default camera resolution of 12-megapixels. Apple’s latest iPhone 15 series also captures 24-megapixel images by default.

Further, the tipster claims that the new Galaxy S24 Ultra will debut with a Photo Remaster feature. This AI-based feature that helps to remove shadows and reflections automatically from pictures is already available on the latest Galaxy Book 4 laptops. It is likely to include three settings — Portrait, Remaster, or Delete. The handset is also said to include an ND filter aka neutral-density filter for adjusting the lighting in RAW images while preserving the colours.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra is anticipated to come with a 200-megapixel quad rear camera unit alongside an AI-supported object-aware engine. The camera setup is tipped to include a 12-megapixel ultra-wide angle sensor, a 50-megapixel sensor with 5x telephoto lens, and a 10-megapixel sensor with 10x telephoto lens. The rear camera system is said to support video recording at 8K with optical image stabilisation (OIS).

Samsung’s Galaxy S24 Ultra is tipped to run on Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 SoC with overclocked GPU and CPU cores. It is said to feature Titanium frames and is likely to use a new EV battery technology to offer improved battery life.


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Samsung Galaxy S24 Series Might Have Same Price as Galaxy S23 Series

Samsung Galaxy S24 Series Might Have Same Price as Galaxy S23 Series

Samsung Galaxy S24 series is not yet officially confirmed by the South Korean tech brand, even though leaks and renders have been in abundance. The flagship lineup expected to include the vanilla Galaxy S24, Galaxy S24+, and Galaxy S24 Ultra models is expected to go official in January next year. Samsung is anticipated to keep the prices of the Galaxy S24 series the same as its Galaxy S23 series. Additionally, a new leak reiterated the existence of the emergency satellite texting feature in the Galaxy S24 lineup.

As per a report by Korean publication Hankyung, the Galaxy S24 series will have the same price as the Galaxy S23 range. This essentially means the upcoming Galaxy S24, Galaxy S24+, and Galaxy S24 Ultra will have a starting price tag of $799 (roughly Rs. 65,500), $999 (roughly Rs. 81,900), and $1199 (roughly Rs. 98,300), respectively in the US.

Samsung’s plan to equip Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 SoC on the Galaxy S24 Ultra and its in-house Exynos 2400 chip on the Galaxy S24 and Galaxy S24 Plus in select markets is expected to help the company maintain pricing. The company reportedly has set a product sales target of over 33 million units due to this price freeze policy. This would mark a 10 percent increase over the Galaxy S23 series.

Separately, a report by SamMobile alleges that Samsung will bring an emergency satellite texting feature for the Galaxy S24 series. The report includes a screenshot from a Galaxy phone showing the functionality dubbed ‘Emergency texts via satellite’. This feature lets users send emergency texts using satellite connectivity when they are out of range or not connected to a mobile network.

Apple introduced satellite connectivity with the iPhone 14 last year. The feature allows users to contact emergency services during situations like natural disasters and wilderness adventures. The Emergency SOS asks people questions about their situation and then transmits the data to the relay centre and emergency services. Initially, this service was exclusive to the US and Canada and Apple expanded its availability to more countries recently.

Samsung has not yet disclosed the launch date of the Galaxy S24 series, however, it is anticipated to be unveiled on January 17.


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How bad is a 2012 iPhone camera in 2023? I found out | Digital Trends

How bad is a 2012 iPhone camera in 2023? I found out | Digital Trends

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I really like the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s camera, which performed well in both our review and a recent camera test.

But after discovering an old, long-forgotten Apple iPhone 5 in a drawer at home and finding it was still in perfect working order, I wondered just how different photos taken with it would be compared to those taken by its current equivalents. I decided to find out in one of the more unusual camera tests I’ve ever performed.

Context and cameras

The iPhone 5, iPhone 15 Pro Max, Galaxy S23 Ultra, and OnePlus 11 cameras.
The iPhone 5, iPhone 15 Pro Max, Galaxy S23 Ultra, and OnePlus 11 cameras Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Before getting into the photos, it’s worth putting everything into context. In September 2012, Apple released the iPhone 5 — a flagship $650 smartphone that took on the Samsung Galaxy S3 and a host of other phones, including the Nokia Lumia 920 and the HTC One S. More than 10 years later, at the end of 2023, Apple released the $1,200 iPhone 15 Pro Max, which competes with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and phones like the OnePlus 11 for attention.

Don’t Miss:

The iPhone 5 is tiny compared to its modern equivalents with its 4-inch, 1136 x 640-pixel screen, and immediately recognizable due to the large bezels surrounding it, plus the physical Home button in the lower section. There’s a single 8-megapixel camera on the back and a 1.2MP selfie camera on the front. There’s no wide-angle camera, no portrait mode, only 1080p video recording, and absolutely no AI or clever camera tech like Deep Fusion.

The iPhone 15 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra are positively loaded with features, have multiple cameras, and vastly different specifications. I threw the OnePlus 11 into the mix for this test, where the camera has the backing of Hasselblad — one of the biggest names in the camera business.

Obviously, these newer phones will all take far superior photos. But just how much have things changed over the last 11 years?

Night mode

Why am I starting with Night mode? It’s because the key differences in the iPhone 5’s lowlight performance compared to today’s phones also seem to shape the main camera’s performance. Lowlight is also where smartphone cameras have genuinely advanced over the last decade, as you’re about to see.

Unsurprisingly, photos taken in the dark with the iPhone 5 don’t come close to the images we get from a modern smartphone. In the photo above, the Christmas tree is recognizable, but there’s no definition; the lights are blown out, and the background is noisy and lacking detail. It’s a completely different story looking at the photos from the newer phones, which have definition, clarity, and detail throughout.

Interestingly, you can see similarities between the overall tone and handling of lowlight scenes in the two Apple phones, as the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s photo isn’t overly bright either. The Galaxy S23 Ultra and the OnePlus 11 increase the brightness a lot by comparison, and it’ll be down to personal taste which one you prefer.

The photo of the tree was taken in an environment with plenty of ambient light. The second photo had far less light available, with only a nearby streetlight illuminating the scene. You don’t need me to point out the differences here, with the iPhone 5 unable to pull in enough light (or having the software ability to compensate for a lack of it) to show anything of value. It’s accurate, though, as it was almost this dark to my own eyes.

Look at all four, and you can see how the OnePlus 11’s photo is much brighter than the others — showing so much more of the surrounding scene and even boosting the colors too. It’s the least realistic and the photo that packs the most punch. Viewed alongside the iPhone 5’s photo, it’s barely believable the two photos were taken at the same time in the same spot.

Now that we see how light impacts the iPhone 5’s camera at night, you’ll be able to see how it also changes its daytime performance.

Main camera

The iPhone 5 only has a single camera, so let’s see how it performs in different environments. The first photo of the church was taken in fairly poor daylight, around midday, and while it wasn’t sunny, it certainly wasn’t dark. Unfortunately, the image is murky and dull, lacking any color even in the grass. It’s not representative of what I was seeing with my own eyes at all.

The OnePlus 11 doesn’t do a great job in this environment either, with poor exposure washing out the sky and bathing detail in shadow. The iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Galaxy S23 Ultra took quite similar photos, with slight variations in color, contrast, and balance. But all show a very different, far more accurate depiction of the scene than the iPhone 5.

How about something more colorful? The iPhone 5’s photo of the fruit is also lacking punch and vibrancy, with the yellow shades being particularly dull. There’s also a lot less detail and texture, as you’d expect, given the difference in pixel counts. The images taken with the iPhone 5 are 3264 x 2448 pixels, considerably lower than the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s 5712 x 4284 pixels.

It was also a dreary day when the photo was taken, but this is somewhat masked by today’s cameras, which make the scene a little more exciting and enticing than it was in real life. The iPhone 5’s somber view of reality simply doesn’t inspire you to take many photos. Along with the photo of the church, you can begin to see how emotions connected with the photos can change between the cameras, too.

But the little iPhone 5 can still surprise, and I think it did in the image of the lake, where the contrast, exposure, tone, and colors are all far more natural and appealing compared to the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s photo, which got it all wrong. The OnePlus 11 and Galaxy S23 Ultra took great photos, though, and are far more appealing and natural than both of the iPhone photos.

It doesn’t usually work out that way, with photos taken with the iPhone 5 on brighter days appearing more like paintings than photographs due to the minimal detail and inherent fuzziness. In photos taken with the iPhone 5, skies are less blue, greens less vibrant, and the world is apparently a slightly drearier place. Modern smartphone cameras all boost the colors, contrast, and saturation to make the surrounding world more visually exciting in our photos.

The world isn’t just more visually exciting, it’s also happier when shot through a modern phone’s camera. The iPhone 5’s photo of the funny Christmas decoration on the wooden table borders on the depressing, with its overexposed sky and drab colors, but the same scene captured by the other cameras gives a very different emotion. Photographs should prompt a reaction, but it’s hard to feel anything for the iPhone 5’s photo.

More than just better quality

The OnePlus 11, iPhone 5, iPhone 15 Pro Max, and Galaxy S23 Ultra seen from the back.
The OnePlus 11 (left), iPhone 5 (top), iPhone 15 Pro Max, and Galaxy S23 Ultra Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

After I used the iPhone 5 and looked at the resulting photos, it wasn’t the quality of the images that really stood out to me. It was always obvious a modern phone would take better photos than one made 10 years ago, and seeing the difference in detail wasn’t a surprise. But I hadn’t expected to find such a dramatic emotional difference in the photos.

If the iPhone 5 was the pinnacle of smartphone cameras today, I simply wouldn’t take as many photos and certainly wouldn’t share them very often, at least not in the same way I do today. There would be less creative freedom and fewer opportunities to capture special photos you want to edit and enhance. If it were the best I could get, then I wouldn’t know any different, but I’d definitely care less about taking photos if the iPhone 5 was in my pocket every day in 2023.

A person holding the iPhone 5.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Many things have shaped how phone cameras have changed over the last decade, with technology improvements, social media, and even faster data speeds to make sharing images quicker and easier, all playing a part. The iPhone 5’s view of the world wasn’t accurate or enticing, and even if modern phones tend to swing in the opposite direction a little too far sometimes — through strong HDR, manufacturer-specific tuning, and a vast array of filters — I definitely prefer it. They help shape memories connected with emotion in a way the iPhone 5 can not.

We often look back at the past with rose-tinted glasses, but the iPhone 5’s camera is a reminder that some things really can change for the better.

Editors’ Recommendations