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Should you buy the Galaxy S23 now or wait for the Galaxy S24?

The Samsung Galaxy S23, S23 Plus, and S23 Ultra all next to each other.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

It’s that time of year again when Samsung fans face a tough choice. While the latest Samsung Galaxy S23 flagships are a tempting pick for the holidays, we can pretty much bank on the fact that a newer and better Galaxy S24 lineup is just around the corner.

Samsung typically holds its Galaxy Unpacked events in late January or early February, and we don’t expect next year to be an exception. This means that in a few weeks, the Galaxy S23 family will be “last year’s models” in every way.

However, unless you’re one of those folks who likes to live on the bleeding edge of technology, any Galaxy S23 model is still a great and powerful smartphone that will serve you well for years to come. There’s no reason to shy away from any of them, especially at this time of the year when you can find some great deals. Nevertheless, it’s still good to know what Samsung’s Galaxy S24 lineup could soon bring to the table.

What we know about the Galaxy S24 series

Joe Maring holding a Samsung Galaxy S23 and a Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

Unsurprisingly, Samsung is expected to release the Galaxy S24 series in the same three configurations that have become the norm over the past few years: a standard Galaxy S24 and a larger Galaxy S24 Plus that share most of the same specs, and the premium flagship Galaxy S24 Ultra that boasts an S Pen and the best cameras in its class. However, all three are expected to have (mostly) the same processor and software specs and sport similar designs.

All three Samsung Galaxy S23 models are already some of the most powerful smartphones on the planet, thanks to a bespoke Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip customized exclusively for Samsung phones.

However, the biggest news with the Galaxy S23 family is that it used these chips across the board, not only in all three U.S. models but also in the international models that were previously saddled with a less impressive Exynos chipset.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

Next year’s Galaxy S24 models are expected to feature Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, at least in the U.S.; rumor has it that Samsung will fall back to its Exynos chip in some markets, although the more powerful Galaxy S24 Ultra may be excluded from this.

Rumor also has it that Samsung also plans to add a new generative AI feature to the Galaxy S24 lineup. Dubbed Samsung Gauss, after legendary mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, this could deliver features such as real-time translation, AI-generated wallpapers, a photo editing tool similar to Google’s Magic Editor, and AI-powered formatting features in Samsung Notes. It’s unclear whether Samsung Gauss will depend on some of the new AI enhancements in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3; it seems likely, but if so, it also raises the question of how well it will perform on Exynos-equipped handsets.

Android 14 on a phone.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

The Galaxy S24 series will also come with Android 14 preinstalled with Samsung’s next-gen One UI 6 (or 6.1) on top. Of course, the Galaxy S23 models are getting the same Android 14 update, but that’s the first of the four promised Android releases, which means Android 17 will be the end of the road for all three S23 devices someday.

The Galaxy S24 phones should get at least the same four-year promise, but it’s also possible Samsung could up its game to match Google’s staggering seven-year guarantee for the Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. Even if it doesn’t, the new S24 models will someday be upgradeable to Android 18.

All three Galaxy S24 smartphones are expected to feature a similar design language to their Galaxy S23 counterparts, suggesting that Samsung may have finally hit its stride in this area after several years of noticeable tweaks. In particular, the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus gained a cleaner and more minimalist design that eliminated the camera bump in favor of three protruding lenses, bringing them more in line with the aesthetic of the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Even Samsung’s midrange and entry-level A-series phones adopted a similar look, suggesting it’s Samsung’s new normal.

By all reports, that will continue into the 2024 models, although renders suggest we’ll see the end of curved edges on the front glass, replaced by a flat screen with some of the slimmest bezels ever. However, that’s expected to be the only visually significant change, although the new models are expected to come in shades of black, gray, violet, and yellow.

Samsung Galaxy S23 vs. Galaxy S24

Leaked design schematic of Samsung Galaxy S24.
OnLeaks / SmartPrix

The Galaxy S24 will likely be the least exciting upgrade in the family, with no significant changes beyond the new processor and some battery tweaks.

The display will grow slightly to 6.2 inches from 6.1 inches on the Galaxy S23. It’s expected to retain the same FHD resolution, although it will likely get an increase in brightness. There’s been no word on any camera improvements in the Galaxy S23, suggesting it won’t see any hardware changes beyond possible sensor upgrades.

On a slightly more interesting note, the Galaxy S24 could see a return to the 4,000mAh battery capacity of the Galaxy S21, an increase from the 3,700mAh and 3,900mAh cells of the Galaxy S22 and S23. Combined with efficiency improvements in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, this could result in even longer battery life for Samsung’s smallest flagship.

Christine holding her Samsung Galaxy S23 with cameras facing out
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Sadly, as we mentioned earlier, not all Samsung Galaxy S24 models will get the latest Qualcomm chip, as Samsung plans to return using its own chips — the Exynos 2400 in this case — for models sold in some regions outside of the U.S.

The Galaxy S24 is also expected to come in the same 8GB RAM and 128GB and 256GB storage configurations as the Galaxy S23, plus new Onyx Black, Marble Gray, Cobalt Violet, and Amber Yellow finishes.

The bottom line here is that unless you’re looking for some new colors, you’ll probably be very happy with the Galaxy S23, especially at a lower price. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is an incredibly powerful chip that’s more than capable of handling even the most demanding games.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus vs. Galaxy S24 Plus

Leaked render of a Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus.
OnLeaks / GizNext

Other than the chips inside, the biggest boost in the new Galaxy S24 Plus is expected to be a slightly larger and much higher-resolution display, moving from the Galaxy S23 Plus’ 6.6-inch FHD screen to a 6.7-inch WQHD panel that would give it an even higher pixel density than the Galaxy S24 Ultra. That will also help set it further apart from the smaller Galaxy S24, which is said to retain the same 6.2-inch FHD panel.

Like the Galaxy S24, we’ve heard nothing about the cameras on the Galaxy S24 Plus. The two non-ultra models typically share the same camera hardware; we expect they’ll continue to do so. That means the S24 Plus will likely get whatever sensor upgrades come to the Galaxy S24, with the most significant photography improvements delivered in AI and image signal processing capabilities in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 or Exynos 2400 chips that the Galaxy S24 Plus is also expected to use for models sold outside the U.S.

A home screen setup on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends / Digital Trends

It’s rumored that the Galaxy S24 Plus will get a modest battery bump to 4,900mAh from the 4,700mAh cell used in the Galaxy S23 Plus and also see a boost to 12GB RAM across the board. However, it will still only be sold in the 256GB and 512GB storage configurations.

As with the Galaxy S23 series, the Galaxy S24 Plus will feature the same color finishes as the smaller Galaxy S24: Onyx Black, Marble Gray, Cobalt Violet, and Amber Yellow.

If everything we’ve heard is true, the Galaxy S24 Plus may be worth waiting for to get the higher-resolution screen, but the Galaxy S23 Plus remains a solid pick in every other way.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs. Galaxy S24 Ultra

Leaked render of Galaxy S24 Ultra.
OnLeaks / SmartPrix

While the Galaxy S24 Ultra won’t look all that different from the Galaxy S23 Ultra, some reports suggest Samsung may follow in Apple’s footsteps and bring a titanium frame to its highest-end model. Whether or not this is reflected quite as ostentatiously as Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro series, it would still significantly reduce the weight of Samsung’s beastly smartphone.

To put that in context, the Galaxy S23 Ultra comes in at 234 grams, while Apple’s largest flagship iPhone went from 240 grams for the stainless steel iPhone 14 Pro Max down to 221 grams for the titanium iPhone 15 Pro Max. A titanium Galaxy S24 Ultra could see a similar weight reduction. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that the Galaxy S23 Ultra already uses lighter aluminum for its frame, so the gap may not be as significant as it was in Apple’s transition from stainless steel to titanium.

While Samsung typically uses its best AMOLED displays across its entire Galaxy S family, rumors suggest the Galaxy S24 Ultra might get brighter this year, with the display reaching a peak brightness of 2,500 nits, up from 1,750 nits on the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The Galaxy S23 Ultra was by no means difficult to see, even in direct sunlight, and it appears the Galaxy S24 Ultra will otherwise use the same 3800 x 1440 6.8-inch display, making it only a modest upgrade that most folks likely won’t notice or need.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra's camera lenses.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Regardless of what Samsung does with Exynos chips for its other phones in 2024, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is expected to pack in Qualcomm silicon everywhere it’s sold. That’s likely crucial for powering the more advanced photography features that are a hallmark of Samsung’s Ultra flagships. These will also likely be the focus of the camera system on the new S24 Ultra (no pun intended), as the camera hardware isn’t expected to get as many upgrades this time around.

To be clear, the Galaxy S24 Ultra will still feature an excellent camera array — a 200-megapixel (MP) main camera, plus a 12MP ultrawide and a pair of telephoto lenses that go up to a 10x optical zoom (100x digital) — but rumor has it only one lens will change from the S23 Ultra, with the 3x telephoto camera replaced with a 50MP 5x shooter.

Rumors of the new telephoto lens configuration have shifted a bit in recent weeks, with some earlier ones suggesting that the 10x optical zoom would drop to 5x in favor of a larger 50MP sensor. However, that seemed unlikely considering how much Samsung prides itself on high zoom factors for its Galaxy S Ultra phones. Bumping the 3x to 50MP makes more sense, although there’s room for debate on whether a 5x optical zoom is preferable to a 3x; it was a very nice improvement on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, but that’s partly because there’s no 10x there to play with.

Someone holding the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, showing the green back.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Another more recent rumor suggests Samsung could pull another page from Apple’s playbook by bumping its default photo resolution to 24MP, providing a nice balance between higher-quality images and size. This would be joined by an AI-powered remastering feature that would offer one-tap touchups, plus a neutral density filter to help with shooting 24MP RAW images in bright environments.

Storage and memory configurations will also reportedly increase with the Galaxy S24 Ultra, which will now start with a more generous 12GB of RAM offered consistently across the entire lineup, which will still come in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB variants. The Galaxy S23 Ultra only offers 8GB RAM in the smallest 256GB model.

Early renders show that Samsung might also copy Apple in highlighting its titanium design for the Galaxy S24 Ultra, with themed colors expected to include Titanium Black, Titanium Gray, Titanium Violet, and Titanium Yellow.

It’s probably no surprise that the Galaxy S24 Ultra will feature the most significant upgrades over its predecessor, and it’s undoubtedly worth waiting for if you’re looking for bleeding-edge AI technology, but the Galaxy S23 Ultra is still an excellent flagship smartphone that’s every bit as powerful as the day we took it out of the box.

When is the Samsung Galaxy S24 coming out?

Leaked renders of Galaxy S24 series in purple.
Windows Report

Samsung typically announces its Galaxy S series lineup and has it on sale by the end of February each year, although the specific times vary. The Galaxy S23 family was unveiled on February 1 and went on sale on February 17, while in 2021, the Galaxy S21 series was announced on January 14 and hit stores on January 29.

That was unusually early, but at least one report suggests the company may plan to repeat that schedule, with an Unpacked event planned in California for January 17, 2024. If that date is accurate, the new models could be in stores by the end of January.

Samsung is also expected to keep the pricing for the S24 series in line with the S23 series, in which case the Galaxy S24 will start at $800, the Galaxy S24 Plus at $1,000, and the Galaxy S24 Ultra at $1,200.

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