Galaxy S24 reasons to buy and skip

(Image credit: Future)

Now that the Samsung Galaxy S24 has made its long-awaited debut, it’s time to decide whether Samsung’s latest flagship device should be your next smartphone. The base model S24 lacks some of the major hardware updates we’ve seen from recent versions, but there’s plenty going on under the hood to make this an intriguing choice for smartphone shoppers.

Galaxy S24 preorders are already underway, with Samsung’s entry-level flagship starting at $799. The phone hits retail shelves on January 31, giving you a little bit of time for contemplating your purchase — that is, unless you want to take advantage of preorder deals like Samsung’s, where you can upgrade storage at no extra cost and even save up to $550 off the cost of your phone via a trade-in.

We can help you weigh the pros and cons of the Galaxy S24. As part of our review and testing process, we’ve had some time for a Galaxy S24 hands-on to get some insight as to what’s new with this phone. While a full verdict will have to wait until testing’s done, we already have some clear thoughts on why the Galaxy S24 could be a good purchase — and why you might want to look elsewhere for a new phone.

Reasons to buy the Samsung Galaxy S24

AI features abound

Galaxy AI banner at Galaxy Unpacked 2024

(Image credit: Future)

You can’t discuss the Galaxy S24 without acknowledging the many new features that draw on artificial intelligence. In fact, it’s safe to say that AI capabilities are the main thrust of this round of updates.

And there’s good news if you’ve decided that Samsung’s more expensive models fall outside your budget. Samsung makes the same AI features available on every S24, so the Galaxy S24 can offer the same capabilities as the Galaxy S24 Plus or Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Those capabilities have turned out to be some pretty useful features, involving the kind of day to day activities you’re likely to use your phone to perform. Circle to Search, for example, makes web searches as simple as circling an object of whatever app you happen to be in. Chat Assist can suggest different tones and wording for text messages depending on who you’re trying to contact. And Live Translate can provide real-time translations of phone conversations with all the translating happening right there on your phone.

Bigger, brighter display

Samsung Galaxy S24

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Grab a Galaxy S24, and you’ll have more screen space to work with than ever before. Samsung shrunk the bezels on its new phones, so the Galaxy S24 now offers a 6.2-inch panel, up slightly from the 6.1-inch screen on last year’s Galaxy S23.

Because that extra screen space comes from shrinking bezels not adding bulk, the Galaxy S24 isn’t any larger than its predecessor, at 5.79 x 2.78 x 0.3 inches. That means you’re not sacrificing the compact form factor that, frankly, is one of the best things about Samsung’s entry-level flagship.

The display on the Galaxy S24 isn’t just bigger — it’s brighter, too. In fact, Samsung features the same brightness rating across the Galaxy S24 lineup, so the max brightness of 2,600 nits on the Galaxy S24 is the same as what the Galaxy S24 Ultra offers. It also means your phone’s display will still be visible no matter how harsh the lighting conditions around it if our demo time with the phone is anything to go by.

Seven years of software updates

We thought Samsung was pretty generous a couple years ago when it started promising four years of software updates to go with five years of security support. That was the most generous support policy for Android devices, approaching Apple levels of software and security support.

Google has since trumped that four-year pledge by providing seven years of support as of the Pixel 8 release last fall. Samsung’s response? If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em — the Galaxy S24 offers seven years of software and security support, too. That means if you buy this phone, you’re going to be able to hold on to it for as long as you want — or at least until 2031, whichever comes first.

Better cameras than you might expect

Samsung Galaxy S24

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On paper, there’s no difference between the Galaxy S24 and the Galaxy S23 camera setup, whether you’re talking about the 50MP main shooter or the 12MP ultrawide and 10MP telephoto lenses. Even the sensor sizes and apertures remain unchanged.

But Samsung would argue that overlooks the Pro Visual Engine, a suite of tools using AI — yes, there’s that word again — to do things with photos that previous Galaxy camera phones could not. It’s the Pro Visual Engine that allows you to zoom in at night and enjoy sharp, clear images without a lot noise. The feature also supports improved segmentation for portrait shots so that the subject of the photo can really stand out.

That may not be enough to make Galaxy S23 owners go out and upgrade. But if your smartphones is at least a couple years old, you’re going to notice improvements if you opt for the Galaxy S24 over the Galaxy S23 (which remains on sale at a reduced cost, as we’ll discuss later).

New and improved Snapdragon

Samsung Galaxy S24

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The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 system-on-chip made its debut last fall, and since then, each leaked benchmark has made us more eager to see what Galaxy S24 models powered by Qualcomm’s latest silicon will be able to do.

If you remember, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that powered last year’s Galaxy S phones and a few other Android flagships made significant gains when compared to Apple’s A series chips for mobile. While Apple’s chip remain faster, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 outperformed a few iPhones on graphics testing. We’re eager to see if that trend continues — or even accelerates — with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3.

And that’s relevant to U.S. shoppers because the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 powers all three Galaxy S24 models, including the entry-level version of the phone. That likely means best-in-class Android performance for a device that costs much less than other Snapdragon 8 Gen 3-powered handsets.

And if you’re not in the U.S.? Well, keep reading, friend.

A bigger battery than before

Samsung galaxy s24 and galaxy s24 plus

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy S24 boasts a 4,000 mAh battery. That’s a modest step up from the 3,900 mAh power pack Samsung used in the Galaxy S23. Factor in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 — Qualcomm’s new silicon is supposed to be more power efficient than its predecessor — and you’d assume that the Galaxy S24 will last longer on a charge than last year’s model.

That would be good news. The Galaxy S23 turned in a better than average time on our battery test in which we have phones surf the web over cellular until they’ve got no power left. But it was well behind the times recorded by the other members of the Galaxy S23 family. Part of that’s down to size — as the smallest Galaxy S phone, there’s only so much battery you can squeeze into the device. But the larger power pack and more efficient chip set won’t hurt the Galaxy S24’s quest to improve its battery performance.

The same price as before

S24 Pricing

(Image credit: Samsung)

Prices are going up — you needn’t look any farther than the Galaxy S24 Ultra, which now costs $100 more than its predecessor. In the past few months, the iPhone 15 Pro Max and both Pixel 8 devices have been subject to price hikes as well.

The Galaxy S24 has been spared that fate — it has a starting price of $799, just like the Galaxy S23 before it. And considering this is one of the few phones at this price range that includes a dedicated telephoto lens (the upcoming OnePlus 12 may be another, depending on what price OnePlus settles on), that makes the Galaxy S24 an especially good bargain. And that’s before you consider new features like the brighter display, built-in AI capabilities, and more.

Reasons to skip the Samsung Galaxy S24

Not everyone gets a Snapdragon

Not every Galaxy S24 model uses the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, as we mentioned above. For Galaxy S24 and Galaxy S24 Plus models shipping outside North America, you’ll find an Exynos 2400 running the show.

We can’t say whether or not the Exynos 2400 is up to the task or not — benchmark tests will let us know how the chip performs relative to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3-powered models. History is not on the side of the Exynos 2400, though, as past Exynos chips have had a hard time keeping up with comparable silicon from Qualcomm, at least in testing.

Since the Galaxy S23 didn’t split up its chipsets based on region — every model of the S23 featured a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 — we wouldn’t blame people in other parts of the world if they opted for the Galaxy S23 and its top-performing chipset just because it’s a known quantity at this point. And that would be an option because…

The Galaxy S23 is still around

Samsung Galaxy S23 review

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Samsung’s repeating what it did last year when it kept the entry level version of the previous generation of flagships in its product lineup at a reduced cost. In the case of the Galaxy S23, you can pick up that model for $699 — a $100 discount from its 2023 debut price.

The Galaxy S23 may be a year older and lack the AI capabilities Samsung has built into the Galaxy S24, but it’s still a top phone — one of the best we reviewed in the past year. As noted above, it’s got a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, which delivers stellar performance and good battery life. And even the AI features may not be absent for long, as Samsung has suggested that some may find their way to older phones like the S23.

You’re giving up storage and RAM

Lifestyle images of Samsung Galaxy S24, S24+, & S24 Ultra series.

(Image credit: Samsung)

The Galaxy S24 comes with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage in its base model, which is about as basic as things get for a flagship. Contrast that with the Galaxy S24 Plus, which offers 12GB of RAM and starts with 256GB of storage. (It also charges faster, too.) Are those baseline specs alone worth the extra $200 that the S24 Plus costs? Maybe, maybe not. But it is a reminder that the Galaxy S24’s lower starting price doesn’t come without some sacrifices.

Samsung Galaxy S24 outlook

We still have more Galaxy S24 testing to do, and that could sway our opinion about the new phone. Still, at this point, this is looking like a solid upgrade on the strength of the new Galaxy AI capabilities. People with older phones will also like some of the hardware improvements like the brighter screen and bigger battery.

That said, if $799 is too pricey for your budget, the cheaper Galaxy S23 remains a good option. You’ll give up immediate access to those new AI-powered features as well as the other S24-specific improvements. But there’s a reason the Galaxy S24 was among the best phones of the past year. And the looming OnePlus 12 launch means that more top Android phones are on their way, which could be reason enough to put off a smartphone purchase for a little while.

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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide. He’s been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He’s been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he’s been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.