The Samsung Galaxy S24 figures to be a highly anticipated phone for a number of reasons. Samsung's flagship is usually the big release of the new year, and with an earlier-than-normal launch expected, the S24 figures to set the tone early on.
Samsung is reportedly relying on AI-powered features to make a big splash on its next phone with an on-board chatbot ready to assist you with everything from translations to composing emails. And there figure to be lots of camera improvements, especially on the Galaxy S24 Ultra.
All of these additions will be pretty key to the success of the Galaxy S24 family. But it's not the feature I'm most eager to find out about.
As with any new flagship phone, I want to see what improvements Samsung makes to battery life. Because the importance of phones to our day-to-day activities means we need devices that easily make it through the day on a single charge.
How current Samsung phones perform
The good news if you're wondering about the Galaxy S24's battery life is that Samsung has a pretty good track record in this regard. The Galaxy S23 Ultra holds a spot on our best phone battery life list, which these days consists nearly exclusively of phones that held out for 12 hours or more on our battery test. The Galaxy S23 Plus just missed out with a result a little bit shy of 11.5 hours.
If there's an area to pay extra attention to, it's what happens with Samsung's most compact flagship. The Galaxy S23 posted a time of 10 hours and 27 minutes when we put it through our test involving continuous surfing over cellular until a device runs out of power. The good news is that's an improvement over the Galaxy S22, which fell short of the 8-hour mark when we tested that phone. And it also happens to be a half-hour better than the average smartphone.
Still, while the Galaxy S23 has nothing to apologize for when it comes to battery life, it doesn't last as long as some other phones in its price range. The iPhone 15 has the same $799 starting price as the Galaxy S23, and it managed to make it past the 11-hour mark on our battery test.
The challenge here comes down partly to space. With a 6.1-inch display, the Galaxy S23 is easily the smallest of the flagship phones Samsung sells. Thanks to their respective 6.7- and 6.8-inch screens, the Plus and Ultra models of Samsung's Galaxy S series have more space to fit in larger batteries. Indeed, the Galaxy S23 runs on a 3,900 mAh cell compared to 4,700 mAh power pack inside the Galaxy S23 Plus.
To put it another way, if Samsung wants the Galaxy S24 to improve upon the S23's longevity, there's only so much space inside the phone for packing in a bigger battery. Instead, it has to come up with other ways to make its more compact flagship last longer.
What Samsung might do with the Galaxy S24
Galaxy S24 rumors suggest that Samsung might take a new approach to the battery in some of its phones, turning to a stacked battery. That's a denser version of a battery that can offer more power without an increase in size, though it also requires a cooling system to keep the phone from overheating. Perhaps that's why the stacked battery rumor only seems to cover the Galaxy S24 Ultra and the S24 Plus models.
It's unclear, then, how the Galaxy S24 might see increased battery life, though the phone's upgraded chipset could prove to be part of the solution. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 introduced by Qualcomm earlier this fall promises a number of newer features, with improved power efficiency being part of the mix. Specifically, the CPU in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset is expected to be 20% more efficient than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2's CPU, while the GPU should see a 10% gain in power efficiency. Considering how efficient the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 was, that should lead to better battery performance for phones featuring the new Qualcomm silicon.
But here's the catch — it's unclear whether that will include the Galaxy S24. Every Galaxy S24 Ultra model is expected to feature Qualcomm silicon regardless of what market the phone is released in. But the Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus might only run on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 in the U.S.; elsewhere, those models could instead feature an Exynos 2400. This was the approach Samsung used for flagships prior to last year's Galaxy S23 release, in which every phone featured an optimized version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.
It's unclear what kind of power efficiency an Exynos 2400-powered phone might bring to the table. So naturally, that's making me wonder just how the Galaxy S24 figures to improve battery life if it misses out on both a stacked battery setup and Qualcomm silicon.
Samsung Galaxy S24 outlook
If the Galaxy S24 arrives offering the same better-than-average battery life as the S23, it wouldn't be a disaster. The S23 can certainly go from dawn to dusk without needing a charge, and a similarly performing S24 would be just fine.
But other phones are finding ways to constantly extend their battery life. And that's putting Samsung's smallest flagship at a potential disadvantage. I'm eager to see just how Samsung responds in early 2024 with the Galaxy S24.
More from Tom's Guide
Get the BEST of Tom’s Guide daily right in your inbox: Sign up now!
Upgrade your life with the Tom’s Guide newsletter. Subscribe now for a daily dose of the biggest tech news, lifestyle hacks and hottest deals. Elevate your everyday with our curated analysis and be the first to know about cutting-edge gadgets.
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.