• Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

Samsung Galaxy S24 Review – The Perfect Small Phone?


Feb 12, 2024

Key Takeaways

Phones getting bigger started as a form-following function, with the original idea of making phones more ergonomic. Steve Jobs even described the first iPhone as “wonderful for your hand.”
The Samsung Galaxy S24 is a small phone compared to other flagships, but it provides a great user experience. Its design is ergonomic and feels comfortable to hold, and it has a large display with minimal bezels, making it visually appealing.
The Galaxy S24 offers flagship-level performance and features. While the specs may be controversial depending on the region, it still delivers in terms of battery life, software experience with OneUI 6.1, and innovative AI capabilities like Circle to Search and Magic Editor. The camera improvements, including better colors and faster low-light performance, are also noteworthy.

I don’t think people realized it, but phones getting bigger started as more of a form-following function. I mean, Steve Jobs even used the words “we’ve made something wonderful for your hand” when the first iPhone was launched, mainly because the original idea was for your phone to be ergonomic. I seriously wonder if Samsung ever thought the first Galaxy Note would become the phenomenon it was. It’s funny in retrospect that all of us in the media mocked the concept of using a phone that big, only for the market to force even Apple to follow the trend.

Now I say form follows function because, at first, it really was just a concept, which then evolved into the need to give users more endurance since battery technology hasn’t really shrunk in a decade. At the time, you picked the big phone because you wanted it to last longer, but I’m sure many of you still struggle with handling it every day. I’m sure that if any company were to figure out how to make a great small phone with amazing battery life, you might think twice, and well, it seems the time has finally come.

This is the Galaxy S24, Samsung’s smallest of its latest flagships, and maybe the best phone for anyone who’s looking for a great phone on a more ergonomic package. I know, for many of you, this idea that an S24 is a small phone is a bit hilarious, but I think it’s mainly because you’re judging a book by its cover. Yes, the screen size on this phone sounds massive compared to how things were a decade ago, but just remember, bezels and aspect ratios changed a lot more than five years ago.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Design: A treat to hold

I think the easiest way for me to provide you with context is if I were to compare this phone with the Ultra. While there is less than half an inch in screen size, the S24 looks tiny when placed next to it, and this is in part due to the added ergonomics of the base model. The rounded curves feel better in your hand, and this new flat approach to the aluminum rails adds a touch of minimalism that doesn’t feel sharp at all. Once you do the math on how much lighter this phone is, yeah, it’s a treat to hold.

Another reason why this phone feels small, even with a large display, is because the bezels are pretty much gone. Samsung went to great lengths to reduce their footprint while making them fully symmetrical, making the visual effect pretty surreal. At 6.2 inches diagonal, this Dynamic AMOLED 2X remains industry-leading in color, contrast, and viewing angles and can now go brighter at a crazy 2600 nits. Full HD+ resolution is all you need for this footprint. You now have an adaptive refresh rate from 1 to 120hz, and Gorilla Glass Victus 2 keeps the panel well protected. I’d even say the speakers are just too good for the size of this phone.

Specs and Power: A flagship in every way

The only asterisk in this small package being great is that the specs are a tad controversial, depending on where you live. In the US, we have the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy, which means a bit more clock speed than what others are getting, but I know abroad those that got Exynos are not gonna be happy, so please judge my review based on all I know, which is Snapdragon. Another thing I do wish this phone had more of is RAM and storage. It might be Samsung’s way to keep the price down, but it’s not like if the phone starts at a cheap price. What is good, though, is the new battery size, along with its new forms of connectivity. In that regard, you’re getting a flagship in every way.

Software: OneUI 6.1 has been fantastic

That said, my request for added specs was more to make this feel like the future-proof phone it is, with seven years of software updates. Seriously, this phone is good up until 2031, when I’m hoping eight gigabytes of RAM performs just as well as now because, overall, my experience with OneUI 6.1 has been fantastic. This continues to be my favorite version of Android, given how you can make it as dense as you need and all of its multi-tasking options thanks to the edge menus.

Obviously, Samsung made a big deal about its AI capabilities, and I’ll be the one to tell you that they’re not gimmicks at all. Seriously, Circle To Search is genius. I can’t imagine a more useful way to search for whatever is on my screen without being yanked out of what I was doing. Being able to transcribe my voice recordings, even if after the fact, and to be able to summarize them is pretty awesome. I’ve also spent a good deal of time reframing my photos and filling in what’s missing in the crop with Magic Editor.

The only thing I’ll tell you wasn’t great is the interpreter unless you speak English. Seriously, whatever people say in their language will translate nearly perfectly to English, but I will tell you, what I hear in Spanish is usually not correct, and I’m not talking euphemisms. It’s as if the app still needs work in understanding context as well as it does in English. Also, that Super Slowmo is pretty sick, though keep in mind that it won’t work on HDR10. Took me a while to figure it out.I also wish some of these features weren’t tied to Samsung’s keyboard cause even if it got aesthetically better; I still feel its multi-lingual support is way behind the likes of Swiftkey or others. It’s the same case with getting summaries on Samsung’s browser, which, let’s be real, we all switch away from Chrome on day one.

After testing this phone for about a few weeks, I have to say this life on Snapdragon is pretty great. I seriously do hope those on Exynos have at least some of this because endurance has been legendary, almost making me question why I’d want to use the Ultra if battery life here is just so good. I’d even say you can go beyond a day of heavy use just fine, which is the kind of peace of mind people switch to big phones for. Phone calls and connectivity also continue to only get better, with this phone clinging to data even more reliably than before.

Camera: Faster and better with colors

Now, the camera department is yet another controversy because Samsung didn’t really change the hardware. I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that nothing really improved, and I actually don’t understand why Samsung didn’t make a big deal about their new color tuning and processing because, for any of you who love that added contrast from Pixels or iPhones with the mode enabled, I’d say it’s time to welcome the Galaxy into this more artistic look.

The first thing you’ll notice during the day is pretty much a new LUT being used. Colors are warmer and more artistic, with an added punch in color, but subtle enough to be just as good as the brands that claim to partner with camera brands. I really love these new results, doing away with all the overdoing of color and highlights that we had before. I also like that this new approach to color remains consistent on all focal lengths, which I would recommend up until 10x. Anything beyond will just fall apart in detail.

You’ll notice a ton of this processing improvement in low light. The phone is much faster at taking photos, which results in a phone you can trust even with certain moving subjects. Best of all, it’s not overdoing the highlights. In the past, these phones would just go crazy in pulling even more light than the scene had, but now, I can tell this is far more cohesive with what my eyes saw.

Maybe what I would improve is portraits going a bit over the top in their blur, which leaves results just a bit too fake. Also, yes, I also noticed that selfies are now a bit tighter than before, which could have to do with that camera cut-out being smaller now.

What I wasn’t expecting was the video to be this improved. Enable high-bitrate and notice no more warping, no loss in detail, no rolling shutter. Seriously, it’s just a good video for the most part, even if the jump in focal lengths gets a bit weird in low light. I seriously can’t wait to get a comparison with the iPhone to see just how much these two compete now. Super Steady continues to have graduated to more resolution and some awesome stabilization, but seriously, unless you’re running, there’s no need to put up with the loss in detail here. The regular camera stabilization is pretty good.

You’ll notice that more in selfie video, which, yes, has improved dramatically. I seriously don’t think I’ve ever wanted to simply go back and see if this can finally beat an iPhone, so stay tuned for that next video coming, as these results are dramatically better than before.

Conclusion: An easy phone to handle with great performance

To conclude, can I just say I can’t remember the last time I reviewed the base Galaxy S and ended with a smile. Seriously, ever since Samsung launched the S9+, this has been a phone most of us particularly ignore because it either lacked features or sucked at lasting all day.

Yes, this phone does lack a few things compared to its larger sibling, but for the first time ever, I can’t really say that what it’s missing are things I wish I had. Sure, I’d love more RAM, but I never felt this phone bogged down. If anything, I’d say that matters for aging if you plan to hold onto it longer cause performance was smooth. Yes, we’re missing a couple of extra Ultra cameras, but I rarely zoom to subjects beyond 3X anyway.

The bottom line is that this is a large display on a small footprint. Ergonomics are so good I can reach all corners with my thumb. These new colors and the new flat finish look so much more elegant. Seriously, if you’re in the market for a great smartphone but you don’t wanna pay a grand, or you really want an easy phone to handle that’ll last all day, this is it.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Samsung Galaxy S24 is the latest compact flagship from the brand. It ships with a 6.2-inch AMOLED display, a powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, a reliable triple camera setup, and plenty of useful AI features, including a magic photo editor, Circle to Search, and more.

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