Editors' Note: Samsung has set a date for Galaxy Unpacked 2024 — the event, which will likely include the Galaxy S24 launch, takes place on January 17, 2024. We've got a guide on how to live stream Galaxy Unpacked. Our original report on Galaxy S24 Ultra release date rumors follows.
For years, Samsung had been predictable when it came to its Galaxy S launch dates: Samsung would wait until Mobile World Congress in February to unveil its new flagship, then bring it to store shelves just a couple of weeks later. But in recent years, Samsung has moved away from announcing its big phones at MWC, making the guessing game on when we can expect a new handset from the company far more difficult.
Still, Samsung isn’t necessarily the best at keeping secrets. There’s been a steady stream of rumors coming in that have added some much-needed context to when we think we can expect the Galaxy S24 Ultra (and its less-powerful siblings, the Galaxy S24 and Galaxy S24 Plus) to launch. And if we use history as our guide, Samsung has been making some measurable changes to its launch strategy that give us some clues.
Even with those tangential insights, we’re still not sure exactly when the Galaxy S24 Ultra will launch. But we have some hunches, now that rumors about Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra release plans are becoming more definitive. Read on for more on those and when we think the Galaxy S24 Ultra will hit store shelves.
Samsung’s past launch events: A hint?
If there’s anything we can predict for sure, it’s that Samsung wants to get the Galaxy S24 lineup, including its top-of-the-line Galaxy S24 Ultra, on store shelves sooner than later. Indeed, for the past three launches, starting with the Galaxy S21, Samsung has been pushing up its timetable and forgoing the March and April launches of old in favor of January and February releases.
The move makes sense. By launching its flagship earlier, Samsung latest and greatest handset has months on store shelves before Apple releases the new iPhones. Samsung is also facing pressure from Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus, which has been launching its handsets earlier and earlier each year, forcing the tech giant’s hand.
Earlier this year, Samsung debuted the Galaxy S23 lineup at an Unpacked event in San Francisco on February 1 and launched the handsets on February 17. That was a week sooner than the previous year, when Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S22 on February 8 and launched it on February 25. Samsung showcased the Galaxy S21, however, on January 14, and launched it on January 29.
Those dates seem to align with Samsung’s plans this year. We know Samsung won’t announce the Galaxy S24 Ultra in December — not with just a little more than a week left in the month — and anything past mid-February seems implausible. That would suggest we’re likely just weeks away from Samsung announcing the Galaxy S24 Ultra, and another week or two beyond that from its launch.
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra release date: The rumor mill
Whenever Samsung launches its Galaxy S24 Ultra, it’s expected to land alongside the Galaxy S24 and Galaxy S24 Plus. The Ultra, of course, should come with the top features, including a smoother 144Hz screen, a titanium design and new 50MP telephoto zoom camera, according to the rumor mill. That rumor mill is also predicting that Samsung will launch the handsets a full month earlier than it released the Galaxy S23 this year.
One such rumor landed in September when a Twitter user going by the name Revegnus cited sources who said the Galaxy S24 Ultra was slated for a January launch date. A more recent leak from the prolific (and typically accurate) leaker Ice Universe claims the Galaxy S24 Ultra is already in production and is preparing for a mid-to-late January launch date. That followed a report out of Korea claiming Samsung had already decided on January 17 as its desired unveiling date, and would host an Unpacked event in San Jose, Calif. that day.
The Seoul Economic Daily recently cited sources inside Samsung who said that Samsung was planning an Unpacked event for early 2024, but they stopped short of saying whether that meant January or February.
Most rumormongers, however, have largely settled on the concept that Samsung would unveil the Galaxy S24 Ultra (and the others) on January 17, start accepting preorders on January 19, and start selling the handset anywhere between January 26 and January 30.
The most definitive word yet comes from leaker Evan Blass, who has a strong track record at forecasting Samsung's various phone maneuvers. While sharing a leaked spec sheet for all three Galaxy S24 models, Blass also linked to an apparently official countdown timer showing the likely launch date for the S24 in Korea. The timer says that the even till happen on February 18 at 3 a.m. KST, which translates to 1 p.m. ET/ 10 a.m. PT on January 17.
For its part, Samsung hasn’t commented on the rumors and has remained tight-lipped on its plans. But that hasn’t stopped the rumors from continuing to flow in as we inch closer to the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s launch date.
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra release date: Our prediction
For one, any claim that Samsung would launch the handset “one full month” ahead of the Galaxy S23’s launch date, as Revegnus claimed, seems unlikely. Samsung needs some time to unveil the smartphone and boost pre-orders. If it moved up its timetable by one month compared to this year, that would suggest the company would unveil the Galaxy S24 Ultra in the first week of January and get it to store shelves by January 17. Announcing anything in the first week of the year is never a good idea and Samsung knows it.
We also need to examine the calendar. CES 2024 starts on January 9 and runs through January 12. We know Samsung won’t unveil the handset at CES and likely won’t want to get caught up in the tornado of news that comes from it. We should also keep in mind that the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday in the U.S. is on Monday, January 15, which knocks that day off the list. While Samsung could opt for a January 16 announcement date, waiting until that Wednesday, or January 17, seems more likely — especially now that we've seen that countdown time.
Then there’s the question of lead time and how much of it Samsung needs. If Samsung can get the Galaxy S24 Ultra to store shelves in a week or two, it’s possible we could see the Galaxy S24 Ultra release date as soon as January 26, though if it needs more time, February seems more likely. Considering Samsung has largely stuck to a two-week span between device announcements and releases, it seems daunting to get the Galaxy S24 Ultra to store shelves the week after its unveiling, leaving only the last week of January or the first week of February in play.
For now, then, the proposed time table of a January 17 unveiling followed by a late-January launch date seems plausible. But given Samsung’s history, it’s likely the Galaxy S24 Ultra won’t be available to everyone until January 30 or later.
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Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.