Hands-On, Smartphone

Samsung Galaxy S24 Series Hands-on: AI Features That Actually Matter

Galaxy AI is the buzzword for the new Samsung Galaxy S24 series, and it brings AI features that are…well, actually meaningful to users. Of course, as flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S24, S24+, and S24 Ultra sport the latest and greatest hardware too.

Samsung Malaysia invited us to an early preview session for the S24 series, and for the most part, I am quite impressed with the Korean company’s latest smartphones. Galaxy AI is really more than just a gimmick, and I personally cannot wait to try it out for myself.

First, let’s talk specifications. As usual, the Galaxy S24 and Galaxy S24+ share quite a bit of hardware. These include an Exynos 2400 chipset – yes, the Malaysian market gets the Exynos version instead of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 option – a triple camera system (50MP main + 10MP telephoto + 12MP ultra-wide), as well as a 12MP selfie camera.

In the display department, the Galaxy S24 and Galaxy S24+ still feature a Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel, though it now supports adaptive refresh rate from 1-120Hz. The S24 has a slightly larger 6.2-inch 2340 x 1080 panel too, while the S24+ also gets a bigger (and sharper) 6.7-inch 3120 x 1440 screen.

Battery capacities of the S24 and S24+ have been slightly upgraded to 4,000mAh and 4,900mAh respectively as well to match their bigger displays.

As for the range-topping Galaxy S24 Ultra, it has more exciting upgrades, including a more durable titanium frame. However, to be honest, it doesn’t feel all that different from the Armor Aluminium frame of the S24 and S24+, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in my books.

Beyond that, the S24 Ultra also comes with a 6.8-inch 3120 x 1440 Dynamic AMOLED 2X display (120Hz adaptive) that is now flat with even smaller bezels. I’m a huge fan of this change, as not only does it make the phone more ergonomically-friendly, the flat panel also looks aesthetically better.

Other specifications of the S24 Ultra are similar to its predecessor – aside from the faster Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset – which include a 12MP selfie camera, a 5,000mAh battery, and of course, the S Pen. The quad camera system does see a rather interesting change though; it still has a 200MP primary sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide shooter, and a 10MP telephoto lens (3x optical), though the previous 10MP telephoto camera (10x optical) has been replaced with a 50MP telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom instead.

Okay, now let’s get to the headline feature of the Galaxy S24 series: Galaxy AI. It is made up of various AI-powered features, which include AI photo editing – it can do various generative edits, including filling the background after straightening an image and object recomposition – chat translation on various messaging apps, and even translating a phone call in real time.

Samsung demonstrated these Galaxy AI features at the media preview, and for the most part, they work like a charm. Well, except for the Live Translate feature in phone calls, which has a couple of mistranslations between Korean to English. Rest assured, I’ll be sure to put this to the test myself – along with the other Galaxy AI features – in the full review of the S24 series.

It’s worth noting that these Galaxy AI features are tied to their respective Samsung apps on all three S24 phones. The live translate feature only works with the Samsung Phone app; chat translation with Samsung Keyboard; and AI photo editing with Samsung Gallery. While I don’t think this is a big shortcoming, having to use Samsung Keyboard could be tricky for myself as I am used to the SwiftKey Keyboard.

Anyway, while I was talking to Samsung representatives at the media preview, I was told that there is a good chance Galaxy AI will be trickled down to previous Samsung flagships, which would be great! While no specific devices were mentioned, it is certainly a promising sign.

What about other aspects of the Galaxy S24 series? Well, there really aren’t that many changes to the hardware of the phones as I mentioned earlier on. They still feel and look like proper flagship smartphones with some meaningful (albeit minor) changes such as larger batteries and displays with 120Hz adaptive refresh rate for the S24 and S24+, as well as a titanium frame and a flat display for the S24 Ultra.

But these upgrades – and Galaxy AI, no doubt – do come at a price: the Galaxy S24 series in Malaysia sees a price hike across the range. The standard S24 no longer comes with a 128GB option, so the starting price of the phone is slightly higher now at RM4,099 (from RM3,899) for the 8GB + 256GB model. The 8GB + 512GB variant, on the other hand, costs RM4,599.

As for the Galaxy S24+, it retails at RM4,899 and RM5,399 for the 12GB + 256GB and 12GB + 512GB models respectively; this is a RM200 price increase from its predecessor. As for the range-topping Galaxy S24 Ultra, it starts at RM6,299 for the 12GB + 256GB model, going up to RM6,799 and RM7,799 for the 12GB + 512GB and 12GB + 1TB options respectively. Compared to the S23 Ultra, this is a rather drastic RM600 price hike across the range.

Without a doubt the Samsung Galaxy S24 series is more costly than last year’s Galaxy S23 lineup, even though you do get more phone for your money now with the hardware upgrades and Galaxy AI features. Nonetheless, only when the phones are in for review I can know for sure whether or not these improvements can justify the higher price tags.

For what it’s worth, I am excited to put Galaxy AI through its paces, and I truly think Samsung is the first out of the gate to offer genuinely useful AI features on a smartphone.

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