Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra shows actually useful AI features

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra announcement
Image: supplied.

2024’s phone wars have started, following the reveal of the Samsung Galaxy S24 phones, including the top-of-the-range Ultra model.

As alluded to before the unveiling event, AI features form the bulk of the flagship phone’s experience, including photo editing and live translation tools. Powered by Samsung’s Galaxy AI technology, the S24 Ultra processes requests on-device, acting as a sort of personal assistant.

Like the iPhone 15 Pro before it, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra also benefits from a titanium frame upgrade. It’s thinner and more comfortable to hold, while the display is flatter and has a reduced bezel, making it easier to use the S Pen stylus right to the edges.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra details

Galaxy AI features

Tech brands have bandied about “AI” at a relentless pace over the past 12 months. What’s refreshing is that many of the features showcased by Samsung in its new phones seem to have specific real-world use cases.

One of the first major uses of Galaxy AI is Live Translate. By just using the Galaxy S24’s native phone or messaging app, you can translate between different languages in real time. A live demo of Live Translate demonstrated how you could call a restaurant while overseas and make a booking, even if you don’t speak much of the local language. Within seconds, it converted an English speaker’s requests to French, and vice versa. There will also be an Australian accent language pack available post-launch to increase the already-high accuracy.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra transcript
Image: supplied.

Other clever AI applications include Note Assist and Transcript Assist, both of which promise to help keep you organised. Available in the Samsung Notes app, Note Assist provides AI-generated summaries of your notes, and can transform them into a neat format via templates you can customise. As the name suggests, Transcript Assist transcribes audio recordings on-device, with the option to summarise conversations or even translate them between languages. It’s something that’d be helpful for recording interviews or documenting work meetings, saving a fair bit of time in the process.

Perhaps the coolest feature on display was Circle to Search. A collaboration between Samsung and Google, the feature does exactly what it says on the tin. By tapping, circling, and highlighting anything on the phone’s screen, you can bring up a Google search for the highlighted subject. It works with both imagery and text, providing an effortless way to search online for hard-to-describe queries.

Some of these features will trickle down to previous Galaxy models but not straight away.

Camera

The impressive quad-camera array, including the 200 MP main sensor, from the Galaxy S23 Ultra returns with the S24 model. Many of the camera improvements this year are either under the hood or software-based. Its 50 MP sensor now has 5x optical zoom, and software wizardry can make it look like the equivalent of 10x optical, alongside the maximum 100x digital zoom on offer.

Low-light photography, or “Nightography” as Samsung likes to call it, is an area the Ultra traditionally excels in. To improve things further, the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s camera sensors contain 60% larger pixels than last year’s premium model. This helps capture more light, resulting in better-lit and clearer photos in dim settings. The optical image stabiliser is better, reducing unwanted blur, and the phone picks up audio and motion more effectively when filming.

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra also makes it easier to capture slow-motion footage. Via Instant Slo-mo, you can generate additional frames on an existing video, no matter how it was shot, to look like it was filmed natively in slow motion. It works in a similar way to computer graphics cards adding more frames in games, by using existing motion to create a natural-looking result.

Samsung Circle to Search
Circle to Search lets you quickly Google anything visible on the screen. Image: supplied.

Those additions alone indicate decent photography improvements over last year’s phone. Samsung also highlighted the AI-powered editing options at your disposal. Edit Suggestion recommends tweaks, while Generative Edit makes more wholesale changes. This latter tool lets you readjust a photo’s horizon, and it will then fill in the gaps based on the surrounding visuals to retain the same dimensions. You can also select and move subjects, make them bigger or smaller, and then the phone edits the result to blend in with the original image.

To help mitigate concerns about using generative AI images deceptively, any photos using Generative Edit are stamped with the Galaxy AI watermark. The image’s metadata also reflects that generative AI was used.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra specifications

Spec-wise, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra shares a lot in common with its predecessor. Other than the titanium build, the biggest difference is the latest-generation Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor. To drive many of the software and AI-based features, the processor is said to largely focus on improvements to the neural processing unit (NPU). This means that AI requests are performed locally on the device, meaning that your data is secure and isn’t used for training AI models or any other data sets.

To help with gaming, the S24 Ultra has a reworked vapour chamber that’s 1.9 times larger than the S23. It helps keep the device cooler so it can perform at its peak for longer. Given that you can play games with raytracing enabled, it’s a pretty powerful phone.

Those hoping for faster mmWave 5G connectivity will need to wait a bit longer, as the new Samsung phones only support the sub-6 band. The S24 Ultra does support Wi-Fi 7, however: a much faster wireless protocol used by newer routers.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Display6.8-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display Super Smooth 120Hz refresh rate (1~120Hz) Vision booster
Dimensions and weight162.3 x 79 x 8.6mm, 232g
ProcessorSnapdragon 8 Gen 3 Mobile Platform for Galaxy
Camera12MP Ultra-Wide Camera: F2.2, FOV 120˚ 200 MP Wide Camera: OIS F1.7, FOV 85˚ 50MP Telephoto Camera: 5x Optical Zoom, OIS F3.4, FOV 22˚ 10MP Telephoto Camera: 3x Optical Zoom, OIS F2.4, FOV 36˚ 12MP Front Camera: Dual Pixel AF, F2.2, FOV 80˚
Memory and storage12GB + 1TB 12 + 512GB 12 + 256GB
Battery and charging5,000 mAh Wired charging: Up to 65% charge in around 30 mins with 45W Adapter and 5A USB-C cable Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 Wireless PowerShare
Operating systemAndroid 14 One UI 6.1
Network and connectivity5G, LTE, Wi-Fi 7, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth v 5.3
Water resistanceIP68
Price (RRP)From $2,199 (256GB model)
ColoursTitanium Grey Titanium Black Titanium Violet Titanium Yellow Samsung exclusive colours: Titanium Blue Titanium Green Titanium Orange
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra colours and accessories
There are plenty of new accessories that also add animated wallpapers to your phone. Image: Chris Button.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra price and release date

Available to pre-order now ahead of the 7 February launch, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra starts at $2,199 for the 256GB model. It’s $250 more than the equivalent model from last year, reflecting an industry-wide trend of increasing phone prices. It’s worth mentioning that the S24 Ultra contains 12GB of memory with all configurations – the S23 Ultra with 256GB of storage only included 8GB of memory.

  • $2,199 (256GB)
  • $2,399 (512GB)
  • $2,799 (1TB)

For your choices of colour, you can grab four different shades of Titanium at all retailers: Grey, Black, Violet, and Yellow. Exclusive to the Samsung website are three additional Titanium colours: Blue, Green, and Orange.

Various pre-order deals are live now, offering hundreds of dollars in savings for early adopters.

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Valens Quinn attended the Galaxy Unpacked event in San Jose as a guest of Samsung Australia.

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