Samsung Galaxy S24 Review: Best Compact Phone of the Year?

I’m a big fan of compact smartphones with powerful internals and cameras. However, it’s very rare to see such phones these days. Cue the Samsung Galaxy S24, which keeps the tradition alive among other similarly sized phones such as the iPhone 15 and the Google Pixel 8. My first tryst with a compact smartphone was when I purchased the Sony Xperia Z Compact, and what a wonderful phone that was. The Galaxy S24 offers the same chipset and rear camera setup as the Galaxy S24+ but comes in a smaller package that can be used one-handed.

Could the Samsung Galaxy S24 be the best compact smartphone of 2024? Let’s find out.

Samsung Galaxy S24 price in India

Before we discuss the phone, let’s talk about its pricing. The Galaxy S24’s price in India starts at Rs. 79,999 for the 8GB RAM and 256GB storage variant, whereas if you want 512GB storage, you’ll have to shell out Rs. 89,999. It’s a bit disappointing that Samsung still does not offer a higher RAM variant. So power users will have to settle for 8GB RAM despite shelling out close to Rs. 90,000.

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Galaxy S24 is available in two storage options

The phone comes in Amber Yellow (the one we’re reviewing), Cobalt Violet, and Onyx Black. If you purchase it from Samsung’s online store, you can also get it in Sapphire Blue and Jade Green.

After you’ve purchased the Galaxy S24, you’ll find that there’s not much available in the box. You get the phone, a USB Type-C to Type-C cable, some paperwork, and the SIM ejector tool.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Review: Design

If you own a Galaxy 23, then you can fool your friends into thinking that you have the latest Galaxy S24. In terms of design, there’s hardly any difference between the two. They look and feel the same, and you get the same aluminium glass sandwich. The rear glass panel uses Gorilla Glass Victus 2. The phone feels quite solid in terms of build quality. It weighs 167 grams, and the flat sides make it easy to grip. The overall compact form factor also makes the Galaxy S24 an amazing device for one-handed use. This time around, the aluminium frame has a slight curvature, so it won’t poke into your hands around the edges and rounded corners. The back panel houses three separate rings for the triple cameras, and there’s also a flash module in a smaller circle placed next to the cameras.galaxy s24 review buttons galaxy-s24-review-buttons

The Galaxy S24 has a 12-megapixel front camera

On the front, the display features slim uniform bezels all around and a hole-punch cutout at the top centre for the front camera. The display is slightly bigger than last year’s model, but Samsung has managed to keep the dimensions pretty much the same. The Galaxy S24 is also IP68-certified for dust and water resistance. The panel is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus 2. Apart from a slightly bigger panel and a higher screen-to-body ratio, the Galaxy S24 once again looks very similar to the Galaxy S23.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Review: Specifications and software

As for specifications, we have something quite interesting under the hood this year. Samsung bravely opted for its own silicon, with the Exynos 2400 SoC, which is paired with its Xclipse 940 GPU. After several years of going with Qualcomm silicon we don’t think it is a good idea. But this is better explained in the performance section of this review. The chipset is paired with up to 8GB LPDDR5X RAM and 512GB of UFS 4.0 storage.

The handset has a dual nano-SIM slot that supports dual 5G standby. It gets a USB Type-C port at the bottom, along with a speaker, microphone, and SIM card slot. Samsung has arranged both power and volume buttons on the left frame of the handset. For communication, the Galaxy S24 comes with dual-band Wi-Fi 6e, Bluetooth 5.3 with LE, GPS (Glonass, Beidou, Galileo, QZSS) and NFC.galaxy s24 review fingerprint galaxy-s24-review-fingerprint

The ultrasonic fingerprint scanner is well-positioned

Samsung continues to use an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner on its flagship phones, and more companies should do this. The scanner is placed under the display, is easily reachable, super fast, and works flawlessly every time.

You get a 4,000mAh battery on the Galaxy S24, which is smaller than the competition. However, it is slightly bigger than its predecessor. The phone supports 25W wired fast charging, 15W wireless, and 4.5W reverse charging.

In terms of software, the Galaxy S24 runs Android 14-based OneUI 6.1 out-of-the-box. Samsung has done a Google and promised seven years of Android OS updates and security patches. Since AI is the new buzzword in the industry, Samsung has also included several useful AI features. galaxy s24 review gen ai galaxy-s24-review-ai-features

Galaxy AI will only be free till the end of 2025

The South Korean manufacturer is calling it Galaxy AI, and it helps you do things such as remove objects from images, create wallpapers, transcribe phone calls, live translate, and more. However, most of the AI features are only free until the end of 2025, and that’s a real bummer.

We tried the new Galaxy AI features, which are the highlight of the new Galaxy S24 lineup, and they work quite well. Some of the features, such as the AI photo editor, reminded us of the AI on the Google Pixel 8 series. The AI photo editor can remove, move, and resize objects and people in a photo. This does require a Samsung account login and an active internet connection.galaxy s24 review ai wallpaper galaxy-s24-review-ai-wallpaper

Creating wallpapers using AI was fun

Another interesting AI feature is Circle to Search with Google, which lets you simply circle anything on the screen and search for it. This feature is also available on the latest Google Pixel phones. The real-time phone translation and the Interpreter mode that gives you a live translation of conversations in text or voice output works only with the Samsung Phone app. We tried this feature, and it worked really well. At the moment, Live Translate only works with a select number of languages. The Generative AI wallpapers are also fun, but you can only create a limited number of wallpapers with the inputs available.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Review: Performance

Coming to the phone’s performance, you can expect the Galaxy S24 to run any task with ease. Yes, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset would’ve performed better, but the Exynos 2400 is no slouch. We ran AnTuTu, Geekbench 6, 3D Mark, and GFXBench benchmarks on the smartphone, and the results were interesting.galaxy s24 review performance galaxy-s24-review-performance

The Galaxy S24 is no slouch despite having an Exynos SoC

On AnTuTu, the Galaxy S24 scored 1480582 points, which isn’t bad, but if you’re all about numbers, then this isn’t that great either. For example, the Xiaomi 14 scored 1973937 points, the OnePlus 12 managed 1629220, and the Vivo X100 Pro powered its way to 2020631 points. The same was the case when we compared Geekbench 6 and 3D Mark scores. In GFXBench, the Galaxy S24 managed 119 fps on Manhattan 3.1 and T-Rex tests, which is only a few points lower than the Xiaomi 14’s 121 fps.

Moving to game performance, we were able to play BGMI and Asphalt 9: Legends at the highest settings without any drop in frame rate, even after 30 minutes of gameplay. However, during longer gaming sessions, we did see a small drop in the framer rate as the phone started throttling in order to keep the temperatures at bay. During shorter gaming sessions, the phone only got warm to the touch. Gaming on the Galaxy S24 is a fun affair thanks to the excellent display with 120Hz refresh rate with 240Hz touch sampling rate, the capable chipset, and good sound.galaxy s24 review gaming galaxy-s24-review-gaming

The phone doesn’t heat up a lot when gaming

Talking about sound, the hybrid stereo speakers on the Galaxy S24 are quite good. They offer good separation, are clear, and also have some bass. Call quality is also great on the handset.

Moving on to the display, the Samsung Galaxy S24 has a 6.2-inch LTPO AMOLED 2X panel that offers an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate and 2,600 nits of peak brightness. It offers 50 percent higher brightness and has excellent readability under direct sunlight. There’s also an Extra brightness mode for when you’re outdoors.

The panel offers Vivid and Natural colour modes, but there’s also an Adaptive colour tone that adjusts colours and white balance based on ambient light conditions. Display viewing angles, contrast, and colours are excellent, and it’s definitely one of the best panels on a compact-sized phone. You’ll love watching videos and playing games on the Galaxy S24.

Overall, we’d say that the Galaxy S24 offers excellent flagship-level performance. We didn’t face any kind of major heating issues, slowing down, or lag during heavy and regular usage. The 4,000mAh battery also held up quite well and lasted almost 24 hours on most days with some gaming, camera use, watching YouTube, texting, GPS, and calling. The phone took about an hour and 20 minutes to fully charge using a 20W adapter that we had lying around. Samsung should really start offering faster charging support on their flagship phones as the 25W wired and 15W wireless charging speeds fall horribly short of the competition.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Review: Cameras

Samsung has been using good camera hardware on its Galaxy S series phones, and they deliver excellent photos and videos, but with the saturation toggle dialled up a notch. The same is the case with the Galaxy S24, but not as much as it used to be. You’ll get excellent photos and videos with the camera system.galaxy s24 review cameras galaxy-s24-review-cameras

There’s a 50-megapixel primary camera at the back

The Galaxy S24 has a triple rear camera setup that appears similar to last year’s setup. It includes a 50-megapixel Samsung ISOCELL GN3 primary sensor, a 10-megapixel telephoto with 3x optical zoom, and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide with a 120-degree field of view. On the front, the phone gets a 12-megapixel selfie camera. The ultra-wide camera still lacks auto-focus, which is let down because the competition is now offering the feature.galaxy s24 review front cam galaxy-s24-review-front-camera

The front camera on the Galaxy S24 has auto-focus

Before we talk about camera performance and show you some samples, let’s get the camera app out of the way. The Galaxy S24’s camera app is easy to use and offers plenty of modes to try. You get a dedicated Night mode, Pro mode, a Pro video mode, hyper-lapse, slow motion, and Expert Raw (this needs to be downloaded).

In daylight, the photos taken from the primary camera are sharp and well-detailed, with good exposure and white balance. Sometimes, the HDR can be a bit too much with a halo showing around objects/subjects, but that’s very rare.main 1x daylight 17104807717563x telephoto daylight 1710480640447

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Galaxy S24 daylight samples: Top- Main camera; Centre – 3x Telephoto; Bottom – Ultra-wide (tap to images to expand)

In low light, the main camera continues to perform well, but you can notice some grain. However, there’s plenty of detail, good saturation, white balance, and dynamic range. In auto mode, the camera app will automatically enable night mode when the surroundings are too dark. You can also use Night mode in the manual, where you’ll get up to 25 seconds of exposure time if placed on a tripod. The resultant images are sharper and more detailed.main lowlight3 1710483534715ultrawide lowlight3 1710483331366

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Galaxy S24 lowlight camera samples: Top – Main camera; Centre – Ultra-wide; Bottom – 3x Telephoto (tap images to expand)

The ultra-wide camera produces very good images in daylight, but once again, colours are saturated. Skies, especially, look bluer than they should be. Apart from that, everything looks similar to the main camera. In low light, photos shot using the ultra-wide camera are noisy, with a visible loss of detail around the edges. Even with auto night mode in ultra-wide, the photos can still be noisy.3x portrait 1710484604900

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Portrait shots: Top – 3X zoom; Bottom – 2x zoom

Now, let’s talk about the telephoto camera. The telephoto camera produces very good portrait shots, and edge detection is excellent. 3x zoom shots in daylight have good detail and offer good dynamic range. However, in low-light conditions, the 3x telephoto shooter doesn’t perform that well, even with the night mode enabled. You’ll notice a lot of noise and distortion in images.

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Galaxy S24 offers good edge detection in portraits

The selfie camera is great and works well in both daylight and lowlight conditions. You can also shoot in 4K at 60 fps. Portrait selfies and night mode selfies are also good, with plenty of details and some noise but not over-sharpened.

Coming to video, the Galaxy S24 offers excellent video performance. The dynamic range, colours, sharpness, exposure, dynamic range, and stabilisation are excellent. What’s nice is that all four cameras on the phone can shoot at 4K resolution and produce results that are colour-matched. The main rear camera can also shoot at 8K 30fps. In low light, the main and ultra-wide cameras deliver good results with some noise, but the telephoto is not great.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Review: Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S24 is a flagship compact phone and has plenty of competition in its price range. Its main competitors are the Apple iPhone 15 (Review), the Google Pixel 8 (Review), the OnePlus 12 (Review), the Vivo X100, the newly launched Xiaomi 14 (Review), and the Galaxy S23 (Review). I’ve mentioned the latter because there aren’t any major upgrades with the new phone. You get a better display, a slightly bigger battery, a new chipset, and slightly improved cameras.

Apple’s iPhone 15 is not as much of an all-rounder as the Galaxy S24, as it lacks a telephoto camera. Still, the performance and battery life on the iPhone 15 surely is better. The Pixel 8 is not really great when it comes to performance, but you get good cameras, a bigger battery, similar compact size, Google software and AI features, and it is also a little cheaper.

The OnePlus 12 and the Xiaomi 14 are all much cheaper than the Galaxy S24 and offer almost the same features minus the AI tricks. You’ll get better performance, larger screens, and bigger batteries, but with more updated camera hardware.

To conclude, is the Galaxy S24 the best compact smartphone of the year? We’d say NO! It’s an excellent compact phone, but there’s not enough to warrant an upgrade from the Galaxy S23 (or even a Galaxy S22). However, if you’re coming from an iPhone and want a compact Android all-rounder with an excellent display, capable and versatile cameras, good battery life, AI features, and long software support, then the Galaxy S24 should be in your cart. With more choices in the compact flagship category with every passing year, it’s definitely a contender for the best compact smartphone of 2024.

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