While the exterior design didn’t get drastic changes with the S23 Ultra, it was a solid internal refinement in every way. The powerful 8 Gen 2 chip with a 4nm TSMC node makes it a near-perfect Samsung phone.
The central focus this time was the primary sensor, which got a size bump, and is now 200MP in resolution. It can take photos with incredible detail even if you zoom into any part.
The new sensor also takes excellent videos with much better stabilisation. The S23 Ultra is also the first phone to record 8K videos without cropping in too much or ultimately killing the quality.
Since the S23 Ultra’s main focus was on the primary camera and the performance, we can expect them to shift focus to other areas next year.
Samsung’s screens were industry-leading but fell behind in PWM and peak brightness this time. Xiaomi’s 13 Pro currently beats it. The S24 Ultra could give Samsung that crown back.
Samsung is the undisputed winner at long-distance zoom and also intermediate zoom. Other companies have different zoom solutions.
Google uses a sensor crop-in from the primary sensor for a near-lossless output, but that’s not as good as Samsung’s organic 3X zoom. And beyond 10X, Samsung takes the clear win.
It’s the same with other competitors. The Vivo X90 Pro+ has 2X intermediate zoom, but 3X is arguably better in many cases. So what more could Samsung possibly do with zoom? This article will explore the latest news, leaks and rumors about the S24 Ultra.
March 13: Samsung usually uses the Snapdragon flagship chipset in their Galaxy S devices for the United States, Canada, and China markets. In contrast, the Exynos chipset is used in other regions. However, for the current Galaxy S23 series, Samsung has equipped all models with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset for all markets. Recently, Connor, a tipster on Twitter, said that the upcoming Galaxy S24 lineup would also not feature an Exynos chipset. This implies that all S24 models will arrive with the “Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy” SoC, regardless of the market they are being sold in.
Galaxy S24 Ultra Specifications
Famous leakers like Ice Universe on Twitter say that Samsung is actively working on a new telephoto solution for the S24 Ultra.
The leaker didn’t reveal much specific information, except that the telephoto will adopt a new solution. If it’s something new, Samsung won’t want to implement half-baked tech on their flagship products.
That isn’t enough to speculate much about accurately. This could mean a simple sensor size upgrade to either the 3X or 10X sensor or something more radical like continuous optical zoom or a floating telephoto.
From recent phones, the Xiaomi 13 Pro has a moving telephoto lens that can capture photos as close as 10cm but also has 3.2X optical zoom with an infinity focus.
In an official blog post, Samsung once explained how they plan to improve video quality. The primary HP2 sensor (200MP, 1/1.3″) will probably remain the same, but there’s a lot of optimisation scope in one year.
Videos from the S23 Ultra are already some of the best you can get on a phone. With the S24 Ultra, Samsung plans to improve video quality in high-contrast scenes.
How will the S24 Ultra improve video quality and processing?
Most phones typically shoot two layers of videos, one high exposure and another low exposure. The software mixes the videos in real time. This puts an excruciating amount of pressure on many components, like the sensors and the ISP.
The current video capture system occupies more space, drains the battery, and inevitably causes heat.
The S24 Ultra will have a better colour routing system. Their past sensors began with Pixel isolation, and now we’re seeing colour filter isolation.
In upcoming phones, we’ll also see something that Samsung calls nano-photonics colour routing. It makes the light sensitivity and depth sensing of a sensor better.
As a result, we’ll see a much better dynamic range performance in high-contrast photos since the sensor can individually identify high-contrast colours and brighter areas.
Advanced semiconductor technology enables this, and it surpasses the physical pixel limitations. Also, instead of capturing videos in 12-Bit HDR, the new S24 Ultra could capture at a whopping 16-Bit HDR.
This will result in better HDR, and darker areas like buildings behind trees or bright spots like skies won’t suffer from improper exposure.
Presently, both software and hardware are responsible for depth sensing. Apple takes it further with LiDAR, and the Time of Flight is useful. Apple’s 4K30 cinematic video is industry-leading at the moment.
Samsung plans to adopt similar hardware solutions to this, which will take the stress away from the software and ISP. If depth sensing shifts completely to hardware, the software won’t have to perform as much work.
What about zoom?
The S20 Ultra at first had a nearly unusable 100X zoom, and the latest S23 Ultra still does not take usable shots at 100X. The 4X optical zoom camera on the S20 Ultra wasn’t great, but the S21 Ultra had a better 10X optical zoom sensor.
The S22 Ultra made the 10X sensor slightly smaller for some reason, but it still took great moonshots, and the flexibility from periscope zoom is fantastic.
Analysts expect the S24 Ultra to feature 150X zoom as its headline feature. We also hope for “Gen 4 optics” with a wider aperture.
For a sensor to get more light in, you either boost the ISO, widen the aperture, or make the sensor larger. Earlier phones like the S10+ had variable aperture, which was removed on the S20 Ultra.
One of the zoom sensors may have a 2.5 to 2.9 variable f stop, which will improve the details and brightness in zoom shots. 150X variable zoom could come from a new 15X periscope or a larger 10X periscope. We expect better lenses too.
2. Battery and Performance
The S23 lineup has Samsung-exclusive Qualcomm chips that have a CPU and GPU overclock. It makes little to no practical difference, but the theoretical peak performance is higher. It might come in handy when we see games with ray tracing.
Until Samsung’s 3nm Exynos chips are ready, they’ll continue this partnership with Qualcomm for early access to the overclocked chips. Nearly every year, we see the Plus version of a chip launch later in the year with better clock speeds.
We’re not very sure about which components will change or whether they’ll re-use the same. The Cortex A510 efficiency cores may remain the same, but the Cortex X3 could be upgraded.
They might go to the 1+5+2 setup (one prime, five performance, two efficiency cores) from 1+4+3 (one prime, four performance, three efficiency cores). Dropping one efficiency core probably won’t matter since the node is pretty good from TSMC.
Exynos chips from the past weren’t the best due to Samsung’s comparatively worse foundry, which also affected the 888 and 8 Gen 1. These chips weren’t very efficient, sucked a lot of battery, and didn’t do all that well in games.
The S24 lineup will use the 8 Gen 3, which there are many rumors about already. 8 Gen 3 prototype tests score well on Geekbench 5. They might surpass Apple’s 3nm A17 Bionic for the first time in CPU scores.
There are also rumors of Wi-Fi 7 for faster and more stable internet speeds over broadband.
Samsung is alternating between curved and flat screens. The S20 and S22 Ultra had drastic and noticeable curves, but the S21 Ultra was a flat screen. The S23 Ultra is nearly flat too, and the curve is negligible.
We might see Samsung return to a curve with the S24 Ultra, but we’re unsure. 2023 was the first time Samsung lost to Xiaomi and Apple with peak brightness numbers.
Peak HDR brightness is usually a meaningless marketing gimmick. Specific bright pixels of the screen light up under extreme sunlight only when streaming an HDR-certified video.
That’s a fringe case; typical brightness numbers are worth looking at over the peak or sunlight brightness. Also, the perception of brightness is not linear.
Due to the logarithmic perception of brightness, doubling the brightness nits does not double the visible brightness of the screen. However, PWM is not a gimmick and E6 AMOLED panels that Xiaomi and Vivo use go way ahead in this regard.
Higher PWM enables better colours at minimum brightness, significantly decreasing eye strain.
The S24 Ultra will probably have the exact 1440P resolution, HDR10+ certification, and a variable 120Hz refresh rate. Samsung’s screens have great DCI-P3 coverage and Delta-E values, so they remain industry-leading regardless of the brightness numbers.
There’s a chance that Samsung might cross the 2000 Nits mark with the S24 Ultra’s screen, but no credible sources confirm.
One UI 5.1 is a stable Android skin with a decent balance of features and smoothness. One UI 5 and 5.1 improved the animations, making the phones smoother.
We already have the developer preview of Android 14. Key highlights of Android 14 are:
- Ability to easily navigate and uninstall carrier-installed bloatware.
- A predictive back gesture that previews when you’re going back to a page or app.
- Option to restrict the number of photos an app can access, similar to iOS.
- A more advanced app cloning feature that’s more compatible and functional.
- A less cluttered and more organised share menu.
- Background process optimisation for better software-based RAM management.
- More customisation.
It’s worth noting that all of these are Android 14 features, and One UI is a heavy Android skin. However, most of them should make it to One UI 6 and the subsequent One UI 6.1. The entire S24 lineup will ship with One UI 6.1 out of the box.
Since Samsung already has a 4-year update promise, the S24 lineup will mostly get the same.
Recently, Samsung hired a famous Mercedes-Benz designer, Hubert H. Lee, to help craft the design of the S24 Ultra and possibly the foldable phones. Leakers expect him to actively participate in the design of the Ultra phones and the flexible phone.
The S23 Ultra was not a radical design shift from the S22 Ultra, and the move was intentional. It’s more of an internal change that adds up to several benefits. The 8 Gen 2 and a larger primary sensor contribute to a better overall experience.
Hubert Lee may also design tablets and watches and seems enthusiastic about it. You may not care much about this if you prioritise function over form, but the design remains an important area of focus for an average buyer and the company.
Meanwhile, the iPhone retains nearly the same rear camera module design as the 2019 iPhone 11 Pro, which looks quite old now.
We already saw a Mercedes-themed S22 Ultra before, which was South Korea exclusive. It still gained attention for being a beautiful design.
There’s no telling whether the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Fold 5 will have any design inspirations from Robert.
Since the S23 Ultra wasn’t much of a design change, the S24 Ultra might have a completely new camera module and shape, which is exciting to see. Several concepts are floating around on the internet already. You can watch it on the “Technizo Concept” youtube channel.
Galaxy S24 Ultra: What we’d like to see
There weren’t a lot of complaints with the S23 Ultra, and many regard it as a near-perfect phone.
For the S24 Ultra, turning GOS off when playing resource-intensive games will improve the experience for hardcore gamers who shy away from Samsung products due to the lacklustre gaming performance.
An option to disable GOS directly without fiddling through other third-party apps will be a welcome change to many. Also, the cameras’ shutter lag/ shutter speed issues must be addressed immediately.
Samsung’s lineup since the S20 was quite cluttered, and the S20 was too similar to the S20+ to receive a higher price tag. Similarly, with the S21, S22, and S23, the phones are too identical in features to the vanilla models but only ~200$ cheaper than the Ultra.
The S23 and S23+ share an identical spec sheet, and an LTPS 1080P screen on a 6.7″ display is underwhelming for 999$ in 2023.
Both have the same chip and the same GN5 primary sensor. Their main differences are screen size, charging speed, and battery size. Just for that, people aren’t willing to pay 200$ extra. This is why the Plus models never sold well.
Samsung is also simplifying its lineup. There are many leaks about the A7X series getting killed off, and we might see a cheaper FE model instead.
The move to kill the S24 Plus line from next year directly results from a general loss of interest in regular smartphone updates and the near-standstill in innovation.
If they don’t make a Plus model, they can reallocate resources and focus more on foldable products. There are rumors of a Z Flex or a Z Flip/ Fold Ultra in the works for 2024.
We may see tri-fold smartphones in mass markets and possibly foldable tablets. Since these products sound much more exciting than a slightly larger vanilla model, it makes sense to eliminate the Plus from the lineup altogether.
Galaxy S24 Ultra Release Date
- Galaxy S24 Ultra will likely be released in February 2024 at the Unpacked event.
|Galaxy S24 Series||February 2024 (Expected)|
|Galaxy S23 Series||February 1, 2023|
|Galaxy S22 Series||February 9, 2022|
|Galaxy S21 Series||January 14, 2021|
While it’s hard to pinpoint a release date, the S24 lineup could debut in February 2024, and there’s also a chance we might see it as early as January since Qualcomm will probably launch the 8 Gen 3 SOC early.
Galaxy S24 Ultra Price
- Galaxy S24 Ultra may come with a starting price of $1199 in the US.
|Galaxy S24 Ultra||$1199 (Expected)|
|Galaxy S24||$799 (Expected)|
We might get some price bumps in some regions, while the USA is expected to stick with $799 for the base and $1199 for the Ultra. Storage and RAM may see upgrades too.
That’s all we know about the S24 Ultra. To summarise, the phone could have a brighter and better screen, much better zoom and video, possibly with variable aperture or continuous/ variable zoom, the usual yearly performance gains, and a new design.
Note: We’ll update this live article with the latest info about the Galaxy S24 Ultra.