Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra launching soon — here's my 5 biggest questions

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

If rumors about the Samsung Galaxy S24 release date are true, we're roughly a month away from the next Galaxy Unpacked event where Samsung is expected to show off its next flagship phones. And that looming release date may explain why we've already heard so much about Samsung's likely updates to the Galaxy S24 phones.

Of the three models likely to appear in early 2024, it's the Galaxy S24 Ultra that's garnering the most buzz, and for good reason — it figures to showcase the biggest improvements to Samsung's phone lineup. Not coincidentally, it's also likely to come with the heftiest price tag.

It's widely assumed Samsung is going to equip the Galaxy S24 Ultra with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 system-on-chip, even as the other S24 models use a mix of that chipset or the Exynos 2400. The camera setup on the Galaxy S24 Ultra is likely to feature a new telephoto lens, and the main camera could adopt a larger sensor for capturing more light. Samsung may even take a page out of Apple's book by using titanium materials for the S24 Ultra's frame.

Those are just some of the hardware changes. We've also heard reports that AI will play a big role in the Galaxy S24 lineup, with on-board AI-assisted features to help you create images, compose emails and translate other languages on the fly.

Even with all of these details looking more likely than not, we still have some questions about the Galaxy S24 Ultra heading into the rumored January launch. Here's what we're hoping to find out about this upcoming phone in the next few weeks.

What will titanium mean for the Galaxy S24 Ultra?

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

(Image credit: Technizo Concept/Super Roder)

As noted above, Samsung appears to be ready to feature titanium sides for the Galaxy S24 Ultra. (It's possible, though less likely, that the other models in the S24 lineup will adopt this feature as well.) While that should improve the look of the new Ultra, the question is what other benefit will the switch in materials bring?

Apple's move to titanium for the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max offers some clue. Both of those iPhones weigh less than their predecessors — 19 grams lighter to be precise.

The weight loss might be less noticeable in the Galaxy 24 Ultra's case. A leaker claims the new phone will tip the scales at 233 grams, which is 1 gram lighter than the 234-gram Galaxy S23 Ultra. Note that Samsung's current Ultra uses very light aluminum for its frame, while the iPhone 15 Pro models were switching to titanium from stainless steel.

Titanium is not just lighter but more durable than those materials. So we're hoping to hear Samsung provide some definitive word on whether a titanium-based Galaxy 24 Ultra is better equipped to withstand the rigors of daily use.

How will the new 50MP telephoto lens improve zoom shots for the Galaxy S24 Ultra?

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Galaxy S23 Ultra features a pair of telephoto cameras, both with 10MP sensors that support different optical zooms. One Galaxy S24 Ultra telephoto lens offers a 3x zoom while the other supports a 10x zoom. Together, they combine to support a 100x Space Zoom capability that really allows you to get up close and personal (though you're probably gong to want to have a tripod on hand to minimize any shakiness from your super-zoom shot).

Galaxy S24 Ultra camera rumors suggest the 10MP telephoto camera with the 10x optical zoom is making way for a 50MP lens with an optical zoom of 5x. That would seemingly represent a step back in the Ultra's zoom capabilities — an odd move since the S23 Ultra is currently the best camera phone on the strength of its zoom capabilities. 

We imagine that Samsung will argue the higher resolution will result in sharper, more detailed shots even if it does lead to a shorter zoom length. But we want to hear Samsung explain just how this is an improvement and what the switch-up in lens might mean for the new phone's Space Zoom capabilities. Some demo photos during Galaxy Unpacked might help illustrate the reasons for the change.

How will the new AI features stand out from Bixby?

Image of Samsung logo and Samsung AI logo.

(Image credit: Samsung/Tom’s Guide)

Samsung's track record with on-device assistants isn't the best. Bixby came to the Galaxy S phones in 2017, and I'd reckon your biggest interaction with that assistant has been to turn it off in your phone's settings.

Will Samsung Gauss — or whatever name Samsung ends up assigning to its set of AI-powered features — be any different? Early leaks are promising, with rumored Galaxy S24 Ultra AI features including generative text assistance, live AI translations and photo editing capabilities in line with what the Pixel 8 phones can do. That means a Magic Editor-style tool that fine-tune photos and even move subjects around an image for an improved shot.

If on-board AI capabilities are going to be as significant as Samsung has hinted at, the phone maker is really going to have to sell people on the concept, making it very clear what their Galaxy S24 Ultra will be able to do.

Is the Galaxy S24 Ulta's wired charing speed going to increase?

samsung galaxy s24 ultra leaked images vs samsung galaxy s23 ultra

(Image credit: Sogi)

The Galaxy S22 Ultra boosted wired charging speeds from 25W to 45W, but Samsung's premium flagships have been stuck there since. It would be nice to see the Galaxy S24 Ultra speed things up, especially with the OnePlus 12 — powered by the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset that Samsung is likely to use with the S24 Ultra — is offering 100W charging in some parts of the world. 

OnePlus has its own proprietary charging technology, so it's not entirely a fair comparison. But it would be nice to see Samsung make some progress in this regard, especially since its premium handsets tend to land on our best phone battery life list. Improved charging speeds would be another mark in Samsung's favor.

Will the S Pen add any new capabilities?

Galaxy S Pen

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung added S Pen support to the Galaxy S lineup starting with the Galaxy S21 in 2021 and began including the stylus as part of its Ultra models the very next year. That Galaxy S22 Ultra update made the S Pen faster, but there were no real changes to the stylus since then. (The Galaxy S23 Ultra did reduce the curve in its display, which made the S Pen easier to use.)

It feels like it's time to add new features to the S Pen, especially if there could be some way to trigger the new AI-powered capabilities supposedly coming to the Galaxy S24 Ultra. An included stylus is one of the Ultra's most unique features and not making any improvements feels like a squandered opportunity for Samsung.

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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.