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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Is the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 the best foldable phone you can buy in India right now? We discuss the company’s new clamshell-style foldable handset on the latest episode of Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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