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Samsung Galaxy S24 review: The best ‘mini’ smartphone on the market

The Galaxy S24 may not be the most powerful out there, but the relatively smaller sized smartphone is plenty capable

there is a market out there for ‘petite’ smartphones
there is a market out there for ‘petite’ smartphones

Small phones are not dead. About a year and a half ago, I wrote an article, The sad, unnecessary death of the iPhone mini, bemoaning Apple’s decision to do away with their ‘small’ smartphone from the line-up. Many months later, I’m upset that Asus has decided not to release their Zenfone smartphones – Zenfone 9 and Zenfone 10 – in India.

For months, my mom has been complaining about the size and weight of her smartphone. She’s always wanted something smaller and lighter. Many people in one of my groups were bothered by the sheer giganticness of smartphones like the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Lo and behold. Samsung comes to the rescue. While the iPhone 13 Mini came with a 6.1-inch display, the Zenfone 10 featured a 5.9-inch screen. Samsung may have announced three smartphones in the Galaxy S24 series back at the Galaxy Unpacked event, but it’s the smallest of the siblings, the Galaxy S24, that has caught our attention.

The Galaxy S24 has a 6.2-inch screen, dwarfed by the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s 6.8-inch screen. But, there is a market out there for ‘petite’ smartphones. I got a lot of feedback on my iPhone story from angry consumers. I walked around Connaught Place with my Galaxy S24 and most people said they’d prefer this over the large and somewhat heavy smartphones we have on the market these days.

The Galaxy S24 may not be the most powerful out there, and it also doesn’t have the bells and whistles of some of the other smartphones on the market. Nonetheless, the phone is plenty capable and there is a definite market out there for these kinds of devices.

Design: Reminds me of an Apple iPhone

The Galaxy S24 comes with rounded corners and the bezels are smaller than before. It has a flat-edged frame, and along with the rounded corners,
The Galaxy S24 comes with rounded corners and the bezels are smaller than before. It has a flat-edged frame, and along with the rounded corners,

If the Galaxy S24 also reminds you of an Apple iPhone then that isn’t a bad thing at all. The Galaxy S24 has a squared-ff aluminium design and comes with rounded corners and the bezels are smaller than before. It has a flat-edged frame, and along with the rounded corners, offers a comfortable fit. You can think of it as a more refined version of an iPhone 15.

The Galaxy S24 is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on the front and back (the back has a matte finish that makes it resistant to fingerprints) and has a triple-lens setup on the back. The S24 comes with an IP68 certification for dust and water-resistant. Overall, the build quality is superb and the whole package feels premium. It’s a tiny and cute smartphone.

A bright display

The Galaxy S24 comes with a 6.2-inch Dynamic LTPO AMOLED display (with a 120Hz refresh rate and 2,600 nits of peak brightness). Switching to an LTPO panel means that the refresh rate can get as low as 1Hz when idle, making the phone more efficient, and in turn prolonging the battery life. The Galaxy S24’s display, like in most other Samsung smartphones, looks superb.

The Galaxy S24’s display looks great. The colours are bright, and vivid, while outdoor legibility isn’t an issue. The only issue is that the size is small. You can’t see a lot of content on the screen at one point. That’s a trade-off you’re going to have to be okay with before diving in and buying a Galaxy S24 device (as opposed to a Galaxy S24+ or a Galaxy S24 Ultra).

Battery life

With an Exynos 2400 chipset, paired with 8GB of RAM, the Galaxy S24 flies through everyday tasks. There’s rarely a lag or a stutter, The Galaxy S24 comes with OneUI 6.1 (based on Android 14). If you need to use your phone for multiple years, then you should know that Samsung has promised seven years of major OS updates. That means you can theoretically keep your phone until 2031 with the latest version of Android.

From checking emails to watching YouTube videos and from snapping dozens of photos to attending work calls, the Galaxy S24 was a pleasure to use. Switching between apps and multitasking is a seamless affair. It’s hard to find a fault concerning the phone’s performance. There’s an in-display fingerprint reader that works just as advised. It’s fast and unlocks with precision.

Gaming on the Galaxy S24 is also a fantastic experience. From Call of Duty: Mobile to Genshin Impact, the Galaxy S24 stayed warm to handle and kept up with similarly priced devices out there.

The Galaxy S24 now gets a 4,000mAh battery (an increase of 100mAh from the Galaxy S24). With a larger battery and a more efficient Exynos chip, the battery life has never been better on a Samsung device. Having started my day around 9 AM and ended it past midnight, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I never had below 10% battery before hitting the sack.

This is fantastic from Samsung. They’ve constantly strived for better battery life through a combination of hardware and software and the hard work is finally paying off.

The downside is that the Galaxy S24 supports up to 25W charging speeds. That is much lower than most of its immediate rivals, though it is on par with the iPhone 15 lineup from Apple.

Samsung hasn’t adopted the new Qi2 wireless charging standards, which is another letdown. Wireless charging is available on the Galaxy S24, but it is capped at 15W. There’s reverse wireless charging also, but that’s only up to 4.5W.

Cameras: Pretty much the same as the Galaxy S23

The Galaxy S24 cameras are pretty much the same as its predecessor. There’s the 50MP main camera, a 10MP telephoto camera (with 3x optical zoom) and a 12MP ultra-wide camera (with a 120-degree field-of-view). On the front, you get a 12MP selfie camera.

I’m not going to delve deep into the cameras, as not much has changed from before. There are some updates under the hood though. Low-light images with 2x zoom use a lossless crop from the middle of the sensor. Furthermore, Samsung has added foreground blur in portrait mode.

In good lighting, the photos come out with excellent dynamic range, the colours pop, and the colour accuracy has been turned up a notch. The details, textures, and sharpness, all look good when using the main camera. One thing I really liked is that skin tones are now more realistic. This used to be a big problem with Samsung smartphones back in the day.

Another change I like is that the shutter speed is faster. Basically, the time taken to shoot a photo has reduced and that means you don’t miss out on moments and photos aren’t blurry anymore.

The smartphone’s cameras take a hit when there is dim lighting. A lot of details are missing, and the sharpness. The portrait mode is better than it used to be, but only marginally.

Overall, I like the camera, but it does fall behind the Pixel 8 and even the iPhone 15 when it comes to scenarios other than good daylight ones.

The best ‘mini’ smartphone on the market

Samsung hasn’t reinvented the wheel with the Samsung Galaxy S24. They’ve just taken a great smartphone with the Galaxy S23, made it better and sprinkled many AI features on top.

The result is a fantastic smartphone that I’m happy to recommend to many folks out there. I’ll just say one thing. With the Galaxy S24 device, you get a reliable smartphone with assured updates for many years. It’s fast, fluid, looks premium, can be used one-handed, and doesn’t weigh you down.

The only thing to consider is whether you want to prioritise one feature over another when picking a smartphone as your next purchase. For example, if you want an all-out camera smartphone, then the Pixel 8 is a better option. If you record a lot of videos, then the iPhone 15 is your best bet. If you want the fastest smartphone in this price range, then the OnePlus 12 should be on top of your list.

Still, the Galaxy S24 is probably the best small phone on the market today. There may be a lack of small smartphones, but thanks to Samsung, the ‘mini’ phone isn’t dead just yet. For a lot of people out there (my mom included), a 6.2-inch smartphone is much more appealing than a 6.8-inch behemoth.

Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist. He posts @IMSahilBhalla.

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