Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Biggest upgrades we expect

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra
(Image credit: Technizo Concept/Tom's Guide)

It's never too early to make Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Ultra comparisons, especially with rumors indicting Samsung's latest flagships will be appearing earlier than normal. Rumors point to a Galaxy S24 launch happening in January 2024, meaning it won't be long before we can get our hands on the Ultra model that figures to be the premium handset in the new lineup.

Early Galaxy S24 Ultra rumors already point to the phone getting some substantial camera improvements, and a new system-on-chip is practically a given. We could also see the Galaxy S24 Ultra take its cues from the iPhone 15 Pro models and switch to a new material. We're also expecting a phone with a brighter display that may even feature a faster refresh than before.

Samsung will have to make some pretty significant changes to match the Galaxy S23 Ultra, our pick for the best phone for most of this year. But it's since been surpassed by the iPhone 15 Pro Max, giving Samsung even more incentive to make some big changes to its Ultra phone.

This Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Ultra face-off looks at what current rumors say about the upcoming phone, and how this year's model could differ from the current Ultra. Here's what we know so far.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Price

While there have been a lot of Galaxy S24 Ultra rumors emerging in recent weeks, almost none of them have touched on the upcoming phone's price. That's to be expected as pricing leaks really don't come into view until right before a phone's debut.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra starts at $1,199, a steep price that remained unchanged from the cost of that phone's predecessor. We don't know if Samsung plans to hold the line on pricing for this year's model, but with Apple raising the price of the iPhone 15 Pro so that it now matches what Samsung charges for an Ultra phone, we'd think Samsung would want to avoid a price hike of its own, if possible.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Design and display

Galaxy S24 Ultra concept

Galaxy S24 Ultra concept (Image credit: Technizo Concept/YouTube)

Leaked Galaxy S24 Ultra CAD designs and other mockups suggest the new phone won't look all that different from the Galaxy S23 Ultra, though there has been talk of a less rounded design. Another rumor raises the possibility of thicker bezels around the main display, though subsequent leaks have indicated that there's no change to the look of the Ultra model.

The biggest difference could be what Samsung makes the phone out of. Rumors tip the Galaxy S24 Ultra to feature titanium materials, just like Apple did with the iPhone 15 Pro lineup. That lead to lighter iPhones than before, a change that the S24 Ultra could benefit truly benefit from. Furthermore, Samsung may not limit the switch to titanium as an Ultra-only feature, as rumors suggest it could happen to the Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus as well.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra looks like its keeping the 6.8-inch display found on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, but the panel could change in other ways. With Google and Apple turning to brighter displays on some of their phones, Samsung may feel the pressure to make things brighter for its premium phone. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra display showing The Mandalorian 3 trailer

Galaxy S23 Ulra (Image credit: Future)

One rumor has the Galaxy S24 Ultra panel jumping from the 1,750 nits of peak brightness featured on the Galaxy S23 Ultra to a 2,500-nit peak brightness. That would top the 2,400 nits that the Pixel 8 Pro offers.

Samsung's Galaxy S phones were among the first mainstream flagship phones to offer a faster 120Hz refresh rate, a move others have since adopted (the standard iPhone 15 being a notable exception.) There's a possibility that the Galaxy S24 Ultra could take things a step further bumping up the 120Hz adaptive refresh rate on the S23 Ultra to 144Hz.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Cameras

A render of the Galaxy S24 Ultra from the back and front, in white

Galaxy S24 Ultra render (Image credit: Technizo Concept)

It's hard to top the addition of a 200MP camera, which is what the Galaxy S23 Ultra brought to the table. And with that device still claiming the top spot in our best camera phone rankings, Samsung has its work cut out for it if the phone maker wants the Galaxy S24 Ultra to make an equally big impression.

But Samsung may attempt to do just that, with an emphasis on the "big" part of that sentence. You're unlikely to see a boost in megapixels beyond the 200MP currently offered by the Ultra, but the new phone is rumored to be getting a larger 1-inch sensor for capturing more light in difficult shooting conditions.

The bigger change to the Galaxy S24 Ultra's camera hardware will likely involve the telephoto lens. Current mock-ups of the upcoming phone show dual telephoto lenses like the ones featured on the Galaxy S23 Ultra. But one of those cameras could get a boosted megapixel rating to 50MP. 

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Galaxy S23 Ultra (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The S23 Ultra uses a pair of 10MP lenses for its zooming capabilities with one camera offering a 3x optical zoom and the other supporting 10x zooms. The rumored 50MP lens would offer the 5x zoom capability, while the other lens on the Galaxy S24 Ultra would continue to offer 3x zooms.

Speaking of zooming, Samsung has already shown off a Zoom Anyplace feature in which AI assists a 200MP camera in capturing sharper zoom shots. In addition, Samsung has announced a switch to parallel image processing in order to reduce latency and data loss when capturing images. Neither capability has been confirmed for the Galaxy S24 Ultra, but it seems likely they're slated for Samsung's premium phone.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Performance

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra playing racing game

Galaxy S23 Ultra (Image credit: Future)

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 was arguably the Galaxy S23 Ultra's best feature, not only delivering better performance — particularly with graphics rendering — but also helping manage power more efficiently. While Galaxy S24 rumors hint that Samsung may go back to using a mix of Qualcomm and Exynos chipsets for some models, it's widely assumed that the S24 Ultra will only feature a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3.

Qualcomm has revealed the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, which is already slated to appear in phones like the Xiaomi 14. In addition to improved machine learning capabilities and a better image processor, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 promises a 30% boost in CPU performance and a 25% increase in graphics rendering. Qualcomm also says the CPU and GPU should have improved power efficiency, too.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 ChipGeekbench result (single-core/multi-core)
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (rumored)Snapdragon 8 Gen 32234 / 6807
Galaxy S23 PlusSnapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy1885 / 4888
iPhone 15 Pro MaxA17 Pro2783 / 6945

Leaked Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 benchmarks show the new silicon posting better Geekbench scores than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2; however, the A17 Pro inside Apple's iPhone 15 Pro lineup should continue to outmuscle a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3-powered S24 Ultra, if these leaked numbers are indicative of performance.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra could turn to more than just processing power to distinguish itself from both past models and other phones. A report claims that Samsung is looking to integrate AI directly into its software so that key features like the phone and messages offer some sort of AI-powered capabilities. That's the good news — the bad news is a subsequent report claims Samsung may charge a subscription fee for some AI features on the Galaxy S24 phones. We're not sure how much stock to put into that claim, though.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra features 256GB of storage in its base model — a trend we expect to continue with the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Battery

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Galaxy S24 Ultra concept (Image credit: Technizo Concept/Super Roder)

The Galaxy S23 Ultra still claims a place on our list of the best phone battery life for devices that lasted more than 12 hours on our battery test. That's going to be a high bar for the Galaxy S24 Ultra to clear, even with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 silicon promising even more power management gains.

The only significant rumor we've heard so far is that Samsung is contemplating a switch to a stacked battery system, giving the S24 Ultra a denser power pack that takes up the same amount of space as the S23 Ultra's 5,000 mAh cell. Such a switch would require a redesigned cooling system, which may also be in the cards for the S4 Ultra.

Initially, rumors claimed the stacked battery approach would allow Samsung to increase the wired charging speed from the 45W that the S23 Ultra offers to 65W for the S24 version. However, more recent reports have claimed that charging speeds aren't changing for the Galaxy S24 phones.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Outlook

It may seem like the Galaxy S24 Ultra is still a way's off, but 2024 will be here before you know it. The remainder of the year should bring even more rumors about Samsung's smartphone plans, which we expect will paint an even clearer picture about how the S4 Ultra will differ from its S23 counterpart.

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Philip Michaels

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.