Looking to upgrade to Samsung’s newest Android smartphone? You can choose from the Galaxy S24, Galaxy S24+, or Galaxy S24 Ultra. These handsets share many of the same specs but also have a few specific features that make each one stand out. So which Galaxy S24 model should you buy? We break it all down to help you choose.
Updated January 2024: We’ve removed preorder language and added our thoughts on the hardware that we’ve now tested.
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What’s New in All 3 Phones
The Galaxy S24 lineup doesn’t add dramatically new hardware features over last year’s Galaxy S23 range. Let’s start with the specs all three phones share. They’re all powered by the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset. The AMOLED display on ’em supports a 120-Hz screen refresh rate, each with the capability to lower that down to 1 Hz to save battery life if not much is happening on the screen. These screens can all also hit up to 2,600 nits in peak brightness, making them some of the brightest smartphone displays around.
These smartphones have the usual slate of features like an IP68 water resistance rating, 5G connectivity, and wireless charging. (The emerging Qi2 wireless charging tech is not supported on the new Galaxies, but the current Qi standard is.) Samsung is promising seven years of operating system upgrades and security updates, matching Google’s Pixel 8 series. There are also a handful of new smart software AI features available across all three handsets, dubbed “Galaxy AI.” I talk about them in greater detail here. OK, now let’s go over how they are different.
Best for Most
The Galaxy S24 (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is best suited for lovers of smaller phones as is easy to use one-handed. Technically, it’s a tad bigger than last year’s S23 with its 6.2-inch screen, but the phone’s dimensions aren’t all that different. Samsung shaved down the bezels on the screen to make this possible. The S24 is the only model that starts with 8 GB of RAM—the rest have more—which is plenty enough for most smartphone tasks. It still only comes with 128 GB of internal storage, but you can upgrade that to 256 GB. Since it’s the smallest, it has the lowest battery capacity at 4,000 mAh, but I routinely managed to get through a full day of use with around 15 percent left each night, even with six hours of screen-on time. If you’re a heavy user, you’ll probably want to carry a power bank. It’s protected by extra-tough Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on the front and back and has an aluminum frame which makes it durable.
Best for Big-Screen Lovers
Everything above rings true for the Galaxy S24+ (8/10, WIRED Recommends), except it has a larger 6.7-inch display. Get this if you don’t care for the Ultra but still want the larger screen. A bigger size also means a bigger battery—the 4,900-mAh cell hit seven hours of screen-on time with 24 percent left in my testing. You’ll likely have enough juice to last a day and then the following morning. This one starts with 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of internal storage, which is upgradeable to 512 GB. The cameras are the same as the standard S24: a 50-megapixel main camera is joined by a 12-megapixel ultrawide, and a 10-megapixel telephoto offering 3X optical zoom. There’s a 12-megapixel selfie camera on the front.
Best for Camera and Stylus Fiends
The 6.8-inch Galaxy S24 Ultra (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is the biggest of the lot, and it ditches aluminum for titanium, which is a more durable material. The titanium skeleton is supposed to make it more lightweight too, but you won’t find much weight savings here over last year’s S23 Ultra. Also unique is the cover glass, which is made from Corning’s new Gorilla Armor, which the company says is its most scratch-resistant material to date. Time will tell. There’s a 5,000-mAh battery cell to match its size, and I was able to hit six hours of screen time with 32 percent left, so you can easily take it to day two on a single charge.
It’s still the only model in the lineup with a built-in S Pen stylus, which is accessible from the bottom edge of the phone. If you like to doodle or tend to sign a lot of documents on your phone, then it might be worth it. Like the S24+, it has 12 GB of RAM and starts with 256 GB of storage, but you can upgrade the storage to 1 TB if you need that much space. As for the cameras, it shares a similar 12-megapixel ultrawide and 3X optical zoom camera, but the primary sensor is a 200-megapixel camera, and there’s an additional 50-megapixel 5X optical zoom camera. This used to be a 10X zoom camera on its predecessor, so you’re losing out on the S23’s superior zoom capability here, but 5X zoom is likely more useful than 10X zoom in most situations.
There are other great Android phones. Phones are unnecessarily expensive these days, and Samsung is pushing prices toward the high end. You don’t need to spend anywhere near $800 to get a great smartphone. Check out our Best Android Phones and Best Cheap Phones guides for additional recommendations at prices that are much easier to stomach.
Should you upgrade? If you have the Galaxy S23 or Galaxy S22, there’s no reason to upgrade. You folks with a Galaxy S21 are most likely fine too, unless you’re having issues with your battery or your screen and can’t get it fixed. If your S21 is still making you mostly happy, save your cash and wait another year (or two). Anyone with an older Samsung phone should feel welcome to upgrade; just know that these are not your only options. Samsung phones also routinely go on sale, so if you’re not in a rush, it’s worth waiting for the next big holiday sale event to see how low prices drop for the S24 range.
Where to Buy the Galaxy S24 Series Unlocked
We here at WIRED always recommend you buy your smartphone unlocked. It makes it easier to switch between carriers, unlike phones that are sold locked to a particular carrier’s network. Taking a locked phone to a new carrier requires contacting your carrier (or visiting their retail store) and jumping through a few hoops to make the device usable elsewhere. Going unlocked also makes it easier to use data-only SIM cards when traveling. There’s often a lot less bloatware installed on the phones when you buy one unlocked, and unlocked phones typically receive software updates more quickly than locked ones.
You can get up to $750 in instant credit if you trade in an eligible device in good condition (the amount varies on the device you’re buying). Samsung is also offering 20 percent off Samsung Care+ With Theft and Loss, which is its accidental protection subscription service that offers unlimited repairs, theft and loss coverage, and same-day replacement and setup of a new device. It costs $12 per month right now (it’s usually $15).
If you buy from Amazon, you can get a free $50 Amazon.com gift card (see the code below the price) for the S24, $150 for the S24+, and $200 for the S24 Ultra. There’s an option to bundle Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 Pro earbuds, which will let you save around $20 since they’re typically available on Amazon for $170.
You can save up to $600 on the S24, or up to $750 for the S24+ and S24 Ultra if you trade in an eligible device. Best Buy is offering a $50 gift card and an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate 1-month membership with every purchase of the S24. That goes up to a $100 gift card with the S24+ and a $150 for the Ultra.
Wireless Carrier Deals for the Galaxy S24 Series
If you prefer to just get your smartphone through your carrier, here’s what the big three are offering.
- Verizon is offering up to $800 off the Galaxy S24, or up to $1,000 off the Galaxy S24+ and Galaxy S24 Ultra if you add a new line with a select unlimited plan and trade in an eligible model. The savings come in the form of bill credits over 30 months. You can also get up to $350 in promotional credit over 36 months if you add a Galaxy Watch to your order.
- AT&T is matching Verizon with nearly the same trade-in promotion for the Galaxy S24, S24+, and S24 Ultra, applied over 36 months in bill credits. However, you can also get a Samsung Galaxy Tab A9+ 5G if you purchase the phone on an installment plan and trade in a device, choose or upgrade to an unlimited plan, and then add the Tab A9+ to your cart. You’ll need to ship your old device to AT&T first. You’ll be seeing the savings as $270 in bill credits. If you add an accessory to your cart as you buy a phone, you can also save up to 50 percent off.
- T-Mobile is offering up to $1,000 off all three Galaxy S24 devices provided you’re on a specific unlimited plan and are trading in an eligible device. You can also just add another phone line to your plan without trading in a device to take part in the same promotion.