March 5, 2024

June Wan/ZDNET

Samsung has unveiled its three new flagship phones at this year’s Galaxy Unpacked event, and as expected, every phone in the new Galaxy S24 line is a top-tier device. The new lineup packs a ton of features, including one of the best cameras on the market, a barrage of AI innovations, and one of the brightest screens we’ve ever seen. 

Also: Every product Samsung announced at Unpacked 2024

But just how much of an upgrade over the S23, is it? Of course, purely on paper, the Galaxy S24 has the better specs and is objectively the better phone. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right phone for everyone. If you’re trying to decide between the Galaxy S23 and the Galaxy S24, read on to learn the differences. 

Specifications

Galaxy S23

Galaxy S24

Display

6.1 inch, 6.6 inch and 6.8 inch AMOLED depending on version, Gorilla Glass Victus 2

6.2 inch, 6.7 inch and 6.8 inch AMOLED depending on version, Gorilla Glass Armor

Processor

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2           

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3

RAM/Storage From 8GB RAM to 12GB RAM and 128GB to 1TB depending on version From 8GB RAM to 12GB RAM and 128GB to 1TB depending on version
Battery 3,900mAh, 4,700mAh, 5,000mAh   4,000mAh, 4,900mAh, and 5,000mAh  
Camera  200 MP, f/1.7, 24mm (wide), 10 MP (periscope telephoto), 10x optical zoom, 10 MP, 3x optical zoom, 12 MP (ultrawide) 200 MP, f/1.7, 24mm (wide), 50 MP (periscope telephoto), 5x optical zoom, 10 MP, 3x optical zoom, 12 MP (ultrawide)
Price $799, $999, and $1,199 $799, $999, and $1,299

You should buy the Samsung Galaxy S24 if…

Describe what's shown in the image.

June Wan/ZDNET

1. You want the best possible photos

Like the S23 Ultra, the S24 Ultra is going to have one of the best cameras ever seen in a smartphone. And at least when it comes to hardware, the S24 won’t be a huge upgrade. The stunning 200 MP main lens is staying around, as is the 12 MP ultra-wide lens. But the S23’s pair of 10 MP telephoto lenses are being replaced with a 10 MP and a 50 MP periscope telephoto lens.

Also: Samsung Galaxy S24 series hands-on: I did not expect this model to be my favorite

With a 3x and 10x optical zoom plus the highly-touted “Space Zoom” that boasted a 100x magnification, the S23 had an absolutely incredible zoom feature. The S24 actually drops the 10x optical lens for a 5x, and here’s where the differences emerge. Thanks to the power of AI, it’s going to have significantly better zoom capability, improved editing features, and Nightography Zoom for enhanced low-light photos of far away subjects. Samsung has heavily teased the phone’s AI capabilities (see the next point), and it looks like the camera is one area that stands to benefit. If you want unmatched photo quality, go with the S24. 

2. You want to embrace AI

Samsung is going all in with artificial intelligence in the S24, with AI being perhaps the biggest selling point. A quick glance at some of the AI features include generative edit that lets users resize, move, or even remove subjects in a photo, live translation that provides two-way real-time translation for voice calls in different languages, transcript assist that transcribes, translates, and summarizes voice memos and notes, chat assist that offers different tones for emails, captions, text messages, AI-generated wallpapers like the Google Pixel 8 Pro, AI-assisted photography, video upscaling and more. And if you want to take full advantage of these features, the S24 is the way to go. 

3. You want a bright display that can handle any conditions

In terms of screen brightness, the Galaxy S23 had a peak brightness of 1,750 nits, which was perfectly fine compared to its peers and usable in most conditions. The S24 however jumps to an impressive 2,600 nits — better than both the Google Pixel 8 Pro and the iPhone 15 Pro. And if you’ll be in a situation where you’ll be viewing your phone in direct sunlight or a bright room, that difference will matter. Samsung’s newest phone will have one of the brightest displays ever seen, meaning you should never have any trouble seeing what’s on your screen. For the brightest display, upgrade to the S24. 

You should buy the Samsung Galaxy S23 if…

Samsung Galaxy S23 phones

June Wan/ZDNET

1. You want to save money

At first glance, there’s actually not a huge price difference between the S23 and the S24. The S24 will launch at $799 for the base version, which is exactly what the base S23 costs. The same goes for the Plus version of both generations, which sit at $999. It’s not until you get to the Ultra level that there’s a price difference between the two — $1,299 for the S24 and $1,199 for the S23.

But, it’s worth noting that the S23 prices will almost certainly come down soon, widening the gap between the older and newer models. And if you’re willing to accept a phone that has a little wear, you’ll be able to find a second-hand model at an even deeper discount.

The S23 was arguably the best phone of the year last year, so you’re still getting a very nice phone if you go that route. If the thought of dropping more than $1,000 on a phone makes you wince, look to the S23.

2. You want more than black and white

When the S23 was released, it was available in six colorways: black, cream, graphite, green, lavender, and lime green. 

The S24 pares the options down to just four: violet, yellow, gray, and black. If you want something outside of black or white, you’d better like purple and yellow.  Now, that is an improvement over the Google Pixel 8 Pro’s options of black, off-white and blue, and the iPhone 15 Pro’s choices of gray, blue, and white, but it’s a little disappointing to see Samsung take a step back in options this year. 

Now, most people do keep their phone in a case, so the majority of the color isn’t even seen, but it’s nice to have the option. And if you want color options, stay with the S23.      

Alternatives to consider

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

BEST SAMSUNG ALTERNATIVE

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 has an innovative folding design that makes for a thin, sleek device that runs lightning fast and is one of the best foldable phones you’ll see.