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The premier offerings from Vivo and Xiaomi exhibit superior camera capabilities; however, the S24 Ultra distinguishes itself with comprehensive refinement across all aspects and boasts global availability.

Samsung’s newest top-of-the-line phone, the Galaxy S24 Ultra, is all in on “AI,” particularly the generative kind that’s been all the rage over the past year. In fact, during its introduction keynote, Samsung execs didn’t even talk about the phone’s hardware until 20 minutes into the presentation.

While the AI features of the S24 Ultra undoubtedly enhance user experience, it’s the notable hardware improvements by Samsung that truly elevate the phone, giving it a premium and mature feel surpassing even its predecessors. Consequently, the Galaxy S24 Ultra stands out as the most impressive Samsung device I’ve encountered in recent years.

Although Chinese phones may boast superior still photo capabilities with newer and larger image sensors, Samsung’s overall offering is characterized by its refined and comprehensive feature set. Moreover, the widespread availability of the S24 Ultra contrasts with the limited availability of those Chinese counterparts. Therefore, for those seeking the pinnacle of Android smartphones at present, the S24 Ultra emerges as the undeniable choice.

Let’s delve into the standout features of the S24 Ultra, notably its pioneering AI capabilities. Joining the ranks alongside the Google Pixel 8 series, the S24 Ultra stands as one of the few smartphones equipped with on-device generative AI functionality. This groundbreaking feature enables the phone to autonomously produce original text and images through sophisticated machine learning algorithms and neural processing, all without relying on internet connectivity (for the most part).

One remarkable application of this technology is its real-time, two-way translation and interpretation capabilities. Imagine speaking in one language to the phone—let’s say Chinese—and witnessing it seamlessly translate your words into Japanese or German within seconds, all without requiring an internet connection. This functionality operates conventionally, displaying the translated text directly on the device screen, facilitating smooth face-to-face interactions.

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But what’s more impressive is the S24 phones can do this live interpretation during phone calls. There’s a button you press on a call to activate the function which allows an AI voice assistant to take over the conversation between you and the other party, and converts what each of you are saying into the other language. There’s a 5-7 second wait to process and output the new words, so the other caller would need to be patient.

Another AI feature is the phone can quickly summarize entire chunks of text, be it an internet article or a long word document. It takes a tap of a button built into Samsung’s internet browser or notes app, and from there, the AI will produce a cliff notes version of the document. I tried it and it worked pretty well.

There is also generative AI photo editing, where AI can remove or resize objects in photos by creating entirely new pixels to fill the gaps. Despite occasional inconsistencies, the results can be impressive, as demonstrated in the author’s example of moving a person in a photo closer. The AI seamlessly generates new elements, such as background details, creating a realistic image. This feature, reminiscent of the Pixel 8 series, offers a playful and innovative tool for photography enthusiasts.

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The rise of AI-generated content raises ethical concerns about discerning real from fake imagery, yet Samsung and Google offer a preview of its inevitable integration into our lives. Despite reservations, features like instant Google image searches enhance day-to-day usability, making the S24 Ultra’s software experience notably intelligent compared to its counterparts.

Samsung’s S24 Ultra at first glance looks very similar to the last two Ultra phones, but the Korean tech giant has made some small changes that add up to more than the sum of its parts to make for a device that looks and feels better.

The overall camera experience with the S24 Ultra is very good, with great focal length versatility and strong video stabilization and image processing. But if we’re talking about raw camera hardware prowess, something like a Oppo Find X7 Ultra’s larger sensors will produce images with more details to play with in the editing room.

Elsewhere, the S24 Ultra’s large 5000 mAh battery provides excellent battery life, likely thanks to the improved efficiency of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. Haptics are precise, and the included stylus (S Pen) adds value to the phone. I don’t always use the stylus, but when it’s needed, like when I need to sign an e-document or make some fine edits in a photo editing app, that finer tip of a stylus is much appreciated.

The new phone switches to a titanium frame instead of aluminum, and it’s a bit flatter than before, giving the phone more grip. The phone can also stand up on its own because all the sides are flatter. The display gets a bit brighter and has a new matte, anti-reflective coating that I had not seen in a phone before. These are small changes on paper but add up to make the S24 Ultra more enjoyable to hold and look at than the S23 Ultra.

 .Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra 5G -Titanium Introduction - YouTube

In my extensive experience with the S24 Ultra, I found it to surpass previous Samsung models in several aspects. As someone deeply invested in photography, particularly as an aspiring street photographer, I hold cameras to a high standard. Consequently, I engage in frequent photography sessions, capturing nearly a hundred images daily.

While the Xiaomi 13 Ultra impresses with its larger sensors and Leica processing, resulting in images that exude a more authentic and unprocessed aesthetic, and the Vivo X100 Pro boasts an exceptional portrait lens, neither device can rival the overall capabilities of the S24 Ultra. The latter excels in areas such as battery longevity, extended software support, integration of cutting-edge Google-driven AI features, and wider availability compared to the Vivo X100 Pro.

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