Samsung swapped the 10X optical zoom for a 5X optical zoom on the S24 Ultra, and I don’t like the change. Sure, the sharpness is relatively close when you use the 10X digital zoom on the S24 Ultra, but things are still a bit fuzzier. Colors, contrast, and white balance were all a bit off, compared to the same results from the S23 Ultra. It was super unique to have such a high zoom level, especially when you still have 3X optical zoom. Too bad. Thankfully, the 5X is still a nice option to have, and its results are usually sharper than that of 5X zoom on the Google Pixel 8 Pro. As usual, Samsung tends to pump up the colors a bit.

I prefer the quality of the Pixel 8 Pro’s ultrawide over the ultrawide on the S24 series; it has sharper details and colors are more natural with better white balance. The 3X zoom seems to be sharper on the S24 series over its predecessors by a hair, and these are still some of the best selfie cameras on a smartphone.

Video performance, as usual, is excellent, but my favorite new feature is Instant Slow-Mo. In the Gallery app, just press and hold any video to instantly turn part of it into slow motion. As someone who routinely forgets that slow-mo is a feature on the camera, this lets you apply it with any clip as it generates new frames in between real frames to make the footage appear smooth. The quality is not going to be nearly as good if you had actually shot in slow-mo, but it’s good enough for social videos for when you inevitably forget to film in that mode.

Photograph: Julian Chokkattu

Photograph: Julian Chokkattu

Generative Edit is another smart software feature available for your photos. Like Google’s Magic Editor, you can resize subjects, move them around the frame, and the AI will fill in the rest. I don’t have a massive Psyduck plushie, just a small one, but I resized it to look almost like a realistic large one. Did I fool you?

In a nutshell, the Galaxy S24 series marries the best hardware in Android with Google’s smarts. However, I find Google’s Pixel phones to have more helpful day-to-day software features, so there’s still some work to do for Samsung to catch up. If you still prefer the exceptional Samsung hardware though, you’ll still have to deal with the price. The S24 ($800) and S24+ ($1,000) are priced well, but I’m just not seeing the justification for the $100 price jump of the Ultra at $1,300. Try to catch them on sale.


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