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No camera upgrades is my biggest disapointment with the Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus

Three generations, zero meaningful camera upgrades.
By

Published onMarch 2, 2024

Samsung Galaxy S24 camera housing
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
Galaxy S24

The new Samsung Galaxy S24 series is a bit of an odd duck; a showcase for both Samsung’s innovative side and recent complacency. On the one hand, Galaxy AI and seven years of updates are changing the way we think about smartphone software. Conversely, the Galaxy S24’s design and internal hardware are virtually unchanged from the Galaxy S23 and even the S22 series.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the camera department. The Samsung Galaxy S24 and Galaxy S24 Plus sport exactly the same camera hardware as not just the non-Ultra Galaxy S23 series, but the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus (bar a minor selfie upgrade). Three generations, no meaningful changes to what is supposed to be a best-in-class flagship series and pin-up for Android smartphones.

Galaxy S24 / S24 PlusGalaxy S23 / S23 PlusGalaxy S22 / S22 Plus
Main
Galaxy S24 / S24 Plus
50MP
f/1.8, 1.0 μm, 24mm
1/1.56-inch sensor
OIS, Dual Pixel PDAF
Galaxy S23 / S23 Plus
50MP
f/1.8, 1.0 μm, 24mm
1/1.56-inch sensor
OIS, Dual Pixel PDAF
Galaxy S22 / S22 Plus
50MP
f/1.8, 1.0 μm, 24mm
1/1.56-inch sensor
OIS, Dual Pixel PDAF
Ultrawide
Galaxy S24 / S24 Plus
12MP
f/2.2, 1.4 μm, 13mm
1/2.55-inch sensor
Galaxy S23 / S23 Plus
12MP
f/2.2, 1.4 μm, 13mm
1/2.55-inch sensor
Galaxy S22 / S22 Plus
12MP
f/2.2, 1.4 μm, 13mm
1/2.55-inch sensor
Telephoto
Galaxy S24 / S24 Plus
10MP
3x optical zoom
f/2.4, 1.0 μm, 70mm
1/3.94-inch sensor
OIS, Dual Pixel PDAF
Galaxy S23 / S23 Plus
10MP
3x optical zoom
f/2.4, 1.0 μm, 70mm
1/3.94-inch sensor
OIS, Dual Pixel PDAF
Galaxy S22 / S22 Plus
10MP
3x optical zoom
f/2.4, 1.0 μm, 70mm
1/3.94-inch sensor
OIS, Dual Pixel PDAF
Selfie
Galaxy S24 / S24 Plus
12MP
f/2.2, 26mm, Dual Pixel PDAF
Galaxy S23 / S23 Plus
12MP
f/2.2, 26mm, Dual Pixel PDAF
Galaxy S22 / S22 Plus
10MP
f/2.2, 26mm, Dual Pixel PDAF

This isn’t to broadly bemoan the image quality you’ll receive on the Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus. A good camera doesn’t suddenly become bad just because something newer comes along and Samsung’s latest software has nudged the needle a tad. However, when you compare the phones to the competition and weigh up what to buy, Samsung’s stagnant cameras struggle to cut through. Photography is a huge part of a modern smartphone’s appeal, after all, and it’s a particular sore spot for me that the latest Galaxy series doesn’t do more to stand out.

The lack of changes is perhaps more excusable in the $800 Galaxy S24, which still boasts a 3x telephoto camera that you won’t find on similarly priced rivals like the Apple iPhone 15 and Google Pixel 8. Although it wouldn’t hurt to extend this lead. However, the $1,000 Galaxy S24 Plus has to contend with the mighty Pixel 8 Pro, Xiaomi 14 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro, and a few others that have been hard at work innovating in the camera department. With bigger sensors, cutting-edge AI touch-ups, and powerful zoom technologies, these rivals are, for the most part, more competitive with Samsung’s Ultra than the Plus, yet cost less. While having the premium S24 Ultra push boundaries is great, the more affordable models deserve their own innovations and upgrades, too — especially with the Ultra line receiving a price hike.

Samsung Galaxy S24 vs Google Pixel 8 vs Apple iPhone 15 backs
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

My real problem with the S24 and S24 Plus is that they’re very competent but far from perfect. It wouldn’t take much to iron out the inconsistencies and make these cameras so much better. Sometimes, it almost feels like sheer laziness that is stopping the series from reaching a higher level.

Take the motion issues we’ve highlighted in both our Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review and S24 Plus review, resulting from an overly long shutter speed to gather more light. Light is important, but not at the expense of sharpness, especially when few other phones struggle to the same degree. Rivals like the iPhone 15 Pro and Pixel 8 Pro continue to use larger primary sensors, which perhaps holds the key. However, the issue with the S24 Ultra suggests this is equally a software problem.

The Galaxy S24 remains more versatile than its competitors, but the S24 Plus is falling behind market innovators.

Similarly, the phone’s Night Mode is really powerful, but try taking a low-light snap in a hurry, and the results are far more mixed. Especially with moving subjects. The noise versus blur trade-off still feels very real, and the frankly tiny 1/3.94-inch 3x telephoto really doesn’t hold up particularly well in low light, either. Even a modest upgrade to the same 1/3.52-inch telephoto as the Ultra would be something.

Speaking of zoom cameras, the Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus offer limited zoom capabilities. Compared to the Pixel 8 Pro’s 5x camera, there’s no question that Google’s phone takes better pictures at long range. Many of my Samsung samples came out a swampy mess. But even at 3x, where we would expect the S24’s optical zoom to win out, the difference isn’t night and day between the two. The Pixel’s innovative image fusion technology makes the difference, giving the phone greater flexibility overall.

Compared to the best in the business, it's clear the Galaxy line could do more to stand out.

But it’s not just the lack of long-range upgrades that holds the series back. Selfies, for instance, look great a lot of the time, and the Galaxy S24 is actually one of the better flagships in terms of exposure and HDR control. However, too many of the portraits I took skewed skin tones into red hues that highlight blemishes you simply don’t see on other phones.

I still can’t get on board with Samsung’s overreliance on heavy color and sharpness processing that lends some images, particularly portraits, a cartoonish pop. Compared to the more striking profiles you’ll see from brands like OPPO and Sony, Samsung’s color science looks stuck in the last decade.

Likewise, portrait pictures and hit-and-miss. Samsung relies on the 3x telephoto sensor for default portraits to make the most of the flattering 70mm focal length, but the tiny sensor again struggles to extract a high level of detail in anything but perfect lighting. You can fall back to 1x or 2x for slightly better noise levels, but then you’re shooting with a less flattering 24mm lens. Consistency is again the Galaxy S24’s Achilles’ heel and makes the phone look miles off the pace compared to the market innovators.

What I’d like from the Galaxy S25 cameras

Samsung Galaxy S24 back on wooden desk
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

I don’t expect an absolute bleeding edge camera setup in Samsung’s more affordable models, so I’m not holding out on a revolution in camera tech with next year’s Galaxy S25 and S25 Plus. However, closing the gap on the Ultra is a must if the broader Galaxy S series is to retain a reputation as a photography powerhouse.

If I were Samsung, I’d overhaul the ultrawide and zoom cameras. Larger sensors would be the best place to start, even if it means marginally larger camera bumps on these phones. OPPO’s Find X6 Pro and Find X7 Ultra offer a blueprint for success, using similarly large sensors and specifications across the camera array, ensuring much greater consistency in image quality across the lenses.

Closing the gap on the Ultra is a must if the broader Galaxy S series is to retain a reputation as a photography powerhouse.

The Galaxy S24 doesn’t need three or four gargantuan sensors like you see in these super-expensive phones. Just three sensors larger than 1/2 inches would be a solid start for a better balance of detail, low-light, and color capture capabilities across its triple camera array.

Super long-distance shooting still isn’t necessary here; medium-range zoom and a focus on portrait focal lengths are just fine at this price point. However, Samsung could be more adventurous in its hardware and software to achieve better results. High-resolution sensor crops (such as Google’s Super Res Zoom) provide decent-looking lossless zoom from optical zoom factors. Samsung could use similar techniques for lossless 2x, 3x, and 6x zoom simply by upgrading its 3x telephoto camera to a higher resolution sensor.

Unfortunately, early rumors suggest the Galaxy S25 camera array might remain the same as it’s been since the S22 series. I can only hope they’re wrong.

See price at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy S24
Samsung Galaxy S24
Seven-year update commitment
Neat AI features
Robust battery life
See price at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus
Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus
Bright, sharp 1440p display
Excellent update commitment
Handy Galaxy AI features