If you want a great phone in a compact size, you should definitely consider the Samsung Galaxy S24. Its generous update policy is particularly eye-catching.
The market for compact and powerful smartphones is sparse. There's the Google Pixel 8 (€799 including VAT) and there's the Samsung Galaxy S24 (€899 including VAT). The rest don't participate not because there are so few good devices, but because there are almost none. Many users want to have the largest one.
Anyone who doesn't want to overcompensate for something knows that choice is limited. You can also consider the one-year-old Samsung Galaxy S23 (€799). In this review we take a look at who offers the best device in this compact category. Will it be old, new, or Google?
Small but brave
Samsung hasn't tried hard to revamp the Samsung Galaxy S24. From the outside, you don't see any difference from its predecessor, except for the new colors. However, Samsung has managed to make the screen slightly larger (6.2 inches vs. 6.1 inches) without increasing the size of the device. The height increases by 0.7 mm, and the width decreases by 0.3 mm. The thickness remains the same at 7.6mm, although you do get a slightly larger battery (4000mAh vs 3900mAh).
As far as we are concerned, the same design does not have to be a defect. Last year's Samsung Galaxy S23 impressed with its premium and elegant design where the cameras barely protrude. The stereo speakers sound very good and are loud. The design is IP68 certified, which means the phone is water and dust resistant. The haptic feedback feels good, as do the buttons on the side.
The fingerprint sensor in the device uses ultrasonic technology. Any other top device with a fingerprint sensor behind the glass shines light upwards to visually recognize your fingerprint. The Samsung Galaxy S24 doesn't have to do this and therefore responds faster (and more accurately).
The 6.2-inch OLED display (1080 x 2340 pixels) is stunning again, just like on the Galaxy S23, S22 or S21. The big difference this year is in peak brightness in sunlight. Every year, Samsung works to increase these values. Last year, the S23 achieved 1,750 nits, and now the Galaxy S24 hits 2,600 nits. The screen remains easy to read in almost any situation, even when the sun is shining directly on it.
If the built-in display isn't big enough, you can connect the Galaxy S24 to an external display, just like its predecessors, to activate Samsung DeX. After pairing the mouse and keyboard, the phone acts as a thin client or rudimentary desktop. This feature has been around for years and works well, but it doesn't seem to be expanding any further.
There's no WiFi 7, but that doesn't matter
While the high-end Galaxy S24 Ultra features an all-new WiFi 7 chip, the Samsung Galaxy S24 has to settle for “just” WiFi 6E. This shouldn't be a problem today, since there are very few WiFi 7 compatible routers and access points on the market. Moreover, they still cost a lot because the technology is just becoming available.
On the other hand, anyone who wants to keep that phone for seven years — during which you can count on Android updates — can buy a WiFi 7 router along the way. As far as it is concerned, Wifi 6E offers enough performance for a smartphone. So don't be fooled into thinking that you desperately need WiFi 7.
Exynos instead of Snapdragon
This year, Samsung is once again turning to its own chips for the Galaxy S24 (and S24 Plus). The Galaxy S24 Ultra only gets the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor: the same as the OnePlus 12. The Samsung Galaxy S24 gets an Exynos 2400 chip in return. In terms of CPU performance, it is very close to the Qualcomm chip.
Do you feel this difference in daily use? No, not really. Every phone in this segment, even the “slower” Google Pixel 8, feels lightning fast.
The difference becomes even bigger when you look at graphics performance. Qualcomm offers superior GPU compared to Samsung. Remarkably, last year's Galaxy S23, which was equipped with a Qualcomm chip, performed just as well as the new S24.
If we load the GPU to the maximum, it is clear that the new Qualcomm and Samsung chipsets heat up very quickly. After ten minutes of playing an intense 3D game, the Galaxy S23 is faster than the S24 and rivals the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip.
There are three cameras on the back of the device: a 50MP OIS f/1.8 main camera, a 10MP f/2.4 3x zoom camera, and a 12MP f/2.2 wide-angle camera. It's exactly identical as on the Galaxy S23. So be sure to read our review to see other photo examples.
This year, Samsung continues to follow the path of photorealistic images without too much saturation. During the day, the camera works very well and can compete with the best smartphones. We may see more contrast in the S24 images than in the S23 images, but since we can't compare directly, we're still not sure.
In the evening, S24 continues to perform at a high level. Personally, we like the Google Pixel 8's photos better in these lighting conditions, but it's really about detail (and taste).
The 3x telephoto camera is a great addition to the arsenal and works very well. Be aware that this has its limitations in lower-light conditions.
The wide-angle camera does its job. The results sometimes contain too much noise for our taste. The lack of optical image stabilization is a shame, but we think there's not much worse fast autofocus out there. You can expect that in this price range.
Artificial intelligence features
AI is the code word for the entire Samsung S24 range. These are the most important AI features you can use:
- Live Translation: Translate phone conversations in real time, without the need for an additional app
- Translator: Translate live conversations in real time on a shared screen
- Chat Help: Select a piece of text and ask to rephrase it in a specific style (informal, social, professional)
- Text Help: Transcripts, summaries and translations can be created from conversations
- Circle to Search: A brand new feature from Google, exclusive to the Pixel 8 and Galaxy S24, where you can circle something in the app to search directly similar to Google Lens
- AI editing tools in Samsung Gallery: Create slow motion videos, move or delete an object, animal or person, and fill photos when cropped
Are the above features necessary? Some are nice, but everyone has to decide for themselves. This should not be a reason to buy this particular phone and the update will also eventually arrive on the Galaxy S23 models.
Battery life and charging time
A smaller phone usually means less battery life. The small screen saves battery power, but the small size means there's less room for a large battery. It was a weak point on last year's Galaxy S23 and things could also be improved on the Samsung Galaxy S24. A full workday isn't a problem, as long as you don't use a lot of intensive apps like navigation or video calls.
Google shows that with a small device, you can still score very good numbers in terms of battery life. The Pixel 8 leaves other small devices behind. If we look at the larger planes, they almost always win.
Furthermore, we note that Samsung's Exynos 2400 chip is not very economical when additional computing power is needed. The difference between light and heavy use doesn't get any bigger than with the Galaxy S24.
There is no charger in the Galaxy S24 box. The phone is Power Delivery compatible and supports up to 25W charging. Within half an hour, the phone is halfway through, counting 45 minutes at 80 percent. That's fast enough, but in this price range we'd prefer to see numbers half as fast to really talk about fast charging. It supports wireless charging up to 15 watts.
The biggest upgrade for the Samsung Galaxy S24 (€899 including VAT) is undoubtedly the update policy: seven years of security updates and seven years of Android OS updates. You can still welcome Android 21 on this device. This brings Samsung in line with the Google Pixel series, which applies the same conditions.
This is also suddenly the most important reason not to choose the Galaxy S23, which today costs an average of 100 euros less. The hardware is almost identical, but with the S23 you've already “lost” one year of updates. At the time of writing, you're only entitled to four years of security updates and three Android OS updates. Then move on to S24 with seven years of updates.
If we compare it with the Google Pixel 8, the choice is more difficult. Both are remarkably close with seven years of updates, but the Pixel 8 is €100 cheaper and has a better battery. There is also only a slight difference in the field of AI functionality. Only 3x optical zoom is missing from Google.
If you regularly rely on decent zoom, the Samsung Galaxy S24 is an excellent little device. Is zooming less important? Then you can save 100 euros and the Google Pixel 8 is a better option.
- Compact and premium
- Camera quality is excellent
- 3x optical zoom
- 7 years of security updates and Android OS updates
- Fast in-screen fingerprint sensor
- Interesting AI features
- Charging time is slow
- A wide-angle camera could be better
- The battery runs out quickly with heavy use
The Samsung Galaxy S24 is available in four colors: black, grey, violet and yellow. The base version gets 8GB of RAM with 128GB of storage and costs €899 including VAT.
Android update policy: Samsung guarantees that the Galaxy S24 will receive at least seven years of security updates and seven years of Android operating system updates. That launch period begins on January 31, 2024 with Android 14.
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