If you want a top phone in a small size, you should definitely consider the Samsung Galaxy S24. His generous update policy is particularly eye-catching.
The market for compact, powerful smartphones is sparse. There is the Google Pixel 8 (799 euros incl. VAT) and there is the Samsung Galaxy S24 (899 euros incl. VAT). The rest don’t participate. Not because there are too few good devices, but because there are hardly any. Many users want to have the largest one.
Anyone who does not want to overcompensate for something knows that the choice is limited. You can even take the one-year-old Samsung Galaxy S23 (799 euros) to consider. In this review we look at who delivers the best device in this compact category. Will it be old, new or Google?
Small but brave
Samsung has not tried too hard to renew the Samsung Galaxy S24. On the outside you see no difference from its predecessor, except for new colors. However, Samsung has managed to make the screen a bit larger (6.2 inches vs. 6.1 inches) without making the device larger. The height increases by 0.7 mm, the width decreases by 0.3 mm. The thickness remains the same at 7.6mm, although you get slightly more battery (4,000 mAh vs. 3,900 mAh).
As far as we are concerned, the same design does not have to be a disadvantage. The Samsung Galaxy S23 impressed last year with its premium and sleek design where the cameras barely protrude. The stereo speakers sound particularly good and loud. The design is IP68 certified, which means that the phone is water and dust resistant. The haptic feedback feels good, just like 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 does not have to do this and therefore responds significantly faster (and more accurately).
The 6.2-inch OLED screen (1,080 x 2,340 pixels) is again stunning, just like on the Galaxy S23, or the S22, or the S21. The big difference this year is in the peak brightness in sunlight. Every year Samsung increases those values. Last year the S23 still achieved 1,750 nits, now it is 2,600 nits for the Galaxy S24. The screen remains easy to read in almost any situation, even when the sun shines directly on it.
If the compact screen is not large enough, you can connect the Galaxy S24 to an external monitor, just like its predecessors, to activate Samsung DeX. After you pair a mouse and keyboard, the phone serves as a thin client or rudimentary desktop. The feature has been around for years and works fine, but doesn’t really seem to be expanding further.
No WiFi 7, but that doesn’t matter
While the high-end Galaxy S24 Ultra boasts a brand new WiFi 7 chip on board, the Samsung Galaxy S24 has to make do with ‘only’ WiFi 6E. That doesn’t have to be a problem today, because there are very few WiFi 7-compatible routers and access points on the market. Moreover, they still cost a lot because the technology has only just become available.
On the other hand, anyone who wants to keep this phone for seven years – during which time you can count on Android updates – may buy a WiFi 7 router along the way. As far as we are concerned, Wifi 6E offers enough performance for a smartphone. So don’t be fooled into thinking that you absolutely 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). Only the Galaxy S24 Ultra gets a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 on board: the same as in the OnePlus 12. The Samsung Galaxy S24 gets an Exynos 2400 chip in exchange. In terms of CPU performance, it comes very close to the Qualcomm chip.
Do you feel that difference in daily use? No not really. Every phone in this segment, even the ‘slower’ Google Pixel 8, feels lightning fast.
The difference becomes greater when you look at the graphics performance. Qualcomm delivers a superior GPU compared to Samsung. It is striking that last year’s Galaxy S23, then with a Qualcomm chip, performs just as well as the new S24.
If we load the GPU to its maximum, we clearly see that the new Qualcomm and Samsung chips get hot very quickly. After ten minutes of playing an intensive 3D game, the Galaxy S23 is faster than the S24 and rivals the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip.
There are three cameras at the back of the device: 50 MP OIS f/1.8 main camera, 10 MP OIS f/2.4 3x zoom camera and 12 MP f/2.2 wide-angle camera. They are identically the same as in the Galaxy S23. So be sure to read our review to see other photo examples.
This year, Samsung continues to follow the path of realistic photos without too much saturation. During the day, the camera performs exceptionally well and can compete with the best smartphones. We may see a tad more contrast in the S24 photos compared to the S23 photos, but since we can’t compare directly we remain unsure.
In the evening the S24 continues to perform at a high level. Personally, we like the photos of the Google Pixel 8 better in these lighting conditions, but it’s really about details (and taste).
The 3x telephoto is a nice addition to the arsenal and performs exceptionally well. Be aware that this has its limits in conditions with less light.
The wide-angle camera does its job. The results sometimes contain a little too much noise for our taste. The lack of optical image stabilization is a shame, but we think no fast autofocus is much worse. You can expect that in this price range.
AI is the code word of the entire Samsung S24 line-up. These are the most important AI features you can use:
- Live Translate: translate telephone conversations in real time, without the need for an additional app
- Interpreter: Translate live conversations in real time on a shared screen
- Chat Assist: select a piece of text and ask to rework it into a certain style (casual, social, professional)
- Transcript Assist: Transcripts, summaries and translations can be created from conversations
- Circle to Search: a brand new Google feature, exclusive to Pixel 8 and Galaxy S24 devices, where you can circle something in an app to search directly à la Google Lens
- AI editing tools in Samsung Gallery: create slow-motion videos, move or delete an object, animal or person, and fill photos when you crop them
Are the above features a must-have? Some are nice, but everyone has to decide that for themselves. It should not be a reason to specifically buy this phone and the update will also eventually come to the Galaxy S23 models.
Battery life and charging time
A small phone usually means less good battery life. The small screen saves battery power, but the compact size means there is less room for a large battery. It was a weak spot of the Galaxy S23 last year and things can also be improved on the Samsung Galaxy S24. A full working day is no problem, as long as you do not use too many intensive applications such as navigation or video calling.
Google shows that with a small device you can still record very good figures in terms of battery life. The Pixel 8 leaves the other compact devices behind. If we look at larger aircraft, they almost always win.
Moreover, we notice that Samsung’s own Exynos 2400 chip is not very economical when extra computing power is required. The difference between light and intensive use is nowhere greater than with the Galaxy S24.
There is no charger in the box of the Galaxy S24. The phone is Power Delivery compatible and supports up to 25 watts charging. In half an hour the phone is half way, count 45 minutes for 80 percent. That is just fast enough, but in this price range we prefer to see figures that are half faster to really speak of fast charging. Wireless charging is supported up to 15 watts.
The biggest upgrade of the Samsung Galaxy S24 (899 euros incl. VAT) is without a doubt 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 puts Samsung in line with the Google Pixel series, which applies the same conditions.
It is suddenly also the most important reason not to choose the Galaxy S23, which is on average 100 euros cheaper, today. The devices are almost identical, but with the S23 you have already ‘lost’ one year of updates. At the time of writing, you are only entitled to four years of security updates and three Android OS updates. Then go for the S24 with seven years of updates.
If we compare it with the Google Pixel 8, the choice is a lot more difficult. Both are remarkably close with seven years of updates, but the Pixel 8 is 100 euros cheaper and has a better battery. There is also only a small difference in the field of AI functions. Only the 3x optical zoom is missing from Google.
If you regularly count on a decent zoom, the Samsung Galaxy S24 is an excellent compact top device. Is zoom less important? Then you can save 100 euros and the Google Pixel 8 is a better option.
- Compact and premium
- Excellent camera quality
- 3x optical zoom
- 7 years of security updates and Android OS updates
- Fast fingerprint sensor in the screen
- Interesting AI features
- Slow charging time
- Wide angle camera could be better
- Battery runs out quickly with intensive use
The Samsung Galaxy S24 is available in four colors: black, gray, violet and yellow. The basic version gets 8 GB of RAM with 128 GB of storage and costs 899 euros 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 OS updates. That period starts from launch on January 31, 2024 with Android 14.