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I tested the Galaxy S24 Ultra's terrible camera shutter lag and found a simple fix

Snapping a photo after the right moment is always a disappointment, but I've found a fix for Galaxy S24 users.
By

Published onMarch 30, 2024

About a month ago, I was attending MWC 2024 and I’d just gotten out of an FC Barcelona game. I was loitering around the Montjuic area when I decided to snap photos of the museum behind the Font Majica with my Galaxy S24 Ultra while the football crowds were dispersing. And I noticed something odd. For every good photo I would get, there were two or three bad shots with random people in them.

I was sure I was timing my shots perfectly, just like I always do with my Pixel phones. But almost every time I thought I had a clean photo without any crowds passing in front of the cam, well, I did… not. There was a face, a head, a bit of hair in the final image — just something to ruin the snap. This was not supposed to happen with one of the best camera phones out there, but the Galaxy S24 Ultra was clearly slow.

This sent me on a research mission to see if I could scientifically quantify this lag and find a solution for it. And I did both.

Galaxy S24 shutter lag, tested

galaxy s24 ultra shutter lag test setup

I decided to create an easy-to-replicate test setup to measure this shutter lag compared to my point of reference: Pixel phones. I’ve been using those for many years now and they never lagged — at least for photography — for me.

So I set up my Pixel Tablet on a table, running a stopwatch. I needed to look at the exact difference in milliseconds between the two phones’ shooting speed, and taking photos of a stopwatch is perfect for that.

In front, I installed a tripod with a double clasp for the Galaxy S24 Ultra and the Pixel 8 Pro to remove any risk of movement. My idea was to snap 20 photos of the running stopwatch at the same time with both phones and enter the exact second and millisecond captured by each phone in a spreadsheet.

All I had to do then was calculate the difference between the two and see if it was significant.

I did question my hand speed, though. And since I’m not sure if one of my hands is faster than the other. So, to be fair to both phones, I decided to repeat this by exchanging the position of the two phones from left to right and looking at the average difference across two sets of 20 photos — 20 with the Pixel on the right and the Galaxy on the left plus 20 with the positions nverted.

Then I also decided to do this test in different light conditions to see if ambient light affects this lag. So I repeated the same experiment with 40 photos during daytime, 40 photos in a late afternoon setting, and 40 photos again around night-time with less light.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra was, on average, a third of a second slower at capturing photos.

And the result was very, very clear.

Time of dayLag in milliseconds
Day
340.00 ms
Afternoon
363.50 ms
Night
362.75 ms

On average, in each set of 40 photos, the Galaxy S24 Ultra captured the stopwatch 340 to 360 milliseconds after the Pixel 8 Pro. And the results were pretty consistent across daytime and nighttime too.

Why this shutter lag matters

So the Galaxy S24 Ultra is, on average, a third of a second slower than the Pixel 8 Pro at capturing any photo. Sometimes, it even went half a second slower. That’s not insignificant. What this means in practice is that every time you want to snap a picture with the S24 Ultra, there’s a high chance that you’ll be a little late and you’ll miss the moment.

If you’re in a crowded place like in the middle of Paris, you will catch cars and crowds even when you think you’ve timed your shot perfectly.

If you’re taking a photo of someone or something moving, you will catch them a little late. Just look at these comparison shots of my husband walking. The Pixel consistently snapped the photo before Samsung.

Before I bought the S24 Ultra, I had heard about Samsung phones’ notorious shutter lag, but I didn’t think it would affect my own photos all that much. And It clearly does.

With this kind of shutter lag, you will be missing a lot of important moments right when they happen.

Now I understand it better when I see parents and pet owners complaining about missing the moment with their children and cats and dogs. The Galaxy S24 Ultra is supposed to be the bestest, fastest, most powerful camera in Samsung’s portfolio, and even it can’t take a photo at the right moment when you need it.

How to fix Samsung’s camera shutter lag

samsung galaxy s24 ultra camera assistant

Upon investigating this issue, I read about a potential solution: There’s a Good Lock module called Camera Assistant with advanced camera settings, including a Quick tap shutter option that should, theoretically speaking, speed up capture in the Camera app.

I didn’t find any Samsung documentation of this, but the running theory is that by default, Samsung phones capture a photo when you take your finger off the shutter button, not when you put it on, because they’re waiting to see if you might keep it pressed to take a video instead. Other phones, like Pixels and iPhones, take a photo immediately when you touch the shutter button, which is why they’re faster.

galaxy s24 ultra quick tap setting

The Quick Tap option in Camera Assistant is supposed to make Samsung phones behave like Pixels and iPhones. So I installed it, turned it on, and repeated the same test again: in daylight, in low light, and at night-time with 40 sets of photos each time.

Samsung phones capture photos when you take your finger off the shutter button, not when you put it on. Quick tap fixes that a bit.

And the setting, well, mostly worked.

Time of dayQuick Tap offQuick Tap on
Time of day
Day
Quick Tap off
340.00 ms
Quick Tap on
87.75 ms
Time of day
Afternoon
Quick Tap off
363.50 ms
Quick Tap on
222.50 ms
Time of day
Night
Quick Tap off
362.75 ms
Quick Tap on
239.00 ms

Specifically during the day, with Quick Tap enabled, the two phones captured photos practically at the same time. There were even a few shots when the two got the exact same stopwatch time, down to the millisecond. And times when Samsung was even faster than the Pixel. That was nice to see.

But in the afternoon light and at night, the improvement wasn’t as drastic. Yes, Samsung got faster, but there was still a little bit of a delay — 220 ms to be exact — when the light went down.

Did Quick Tap work in real life to reduce Samsung’s shutter lag?

Galaxy s24 ultra vs pixel 8 pro cameras side by side

So after the scientific proof, I went and tested this Quick Tap setting out there in the real world. What I noticed was that every time I turned it on, I was more confident about snapping the right moment with my Samsung phone. This was clearly more noticeable to me during the day, but it still made a bit of a difference at night too.

Check my husband’s walking test, for example. The S24 Ultra is still a fraction of a millisecond slower, but the difference is less obvious now.

Personally, I’ve decided to keep this setting enabled at all times on my S24 Ultra, and I will be installing Camera Assistant and enabling Quick Tap on any Samsung phone I get from now on. It’s just a no-brainer. It just boggles my mind that this setting is hidden in a module in an application that very few normal users will install. I think it should be there by default, not as an option.

It boggles my mind that this is a hidden setting in an app few people would ever install. This should be the default!

The only downside I’ve noticed with Quick Tap is that if I ever want to shoot a video by long-pressing the shutter button while in the photo mode, I will also get a still photo before the video because Quick Tap triggers it. But, to be fair, I just usually go to video mode to record video, so that really doesn’t affect me at all.

If you’ve ever complained about the delay in photo capture on your Samsung phone, I do recommend you turn this setting on too. It will help with shutter lag but not with Samsung’s notorious motion blur; that may be an issue to investigate in another article and video.

Samsung Galaxy S24 UltraSamsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
AA Editors Choice
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Powerful, flexible cameras • Excellent update commitment • Brilliant flat display
MSRP: $1,299.99
The best of the best in the S24 series
Samsung's true flagship device, the Galaxy S24 Ultra offers the very best specs and features from any Galaxy phone to date. Ai and camera functions are the name of the game, with a 200MP primary camera, 50MP 5x telephoto, 10MP 3x telephoto, and 12MP ultrawide shooters. Smaller display bezels, 2,600 nit display, 5,000 mAh battery, an advanced cooling vapor chamber, up to 1TB of UFS 4.0 storage, and 12GB of RAM make for a powerful mobile computing system. The new ProVisual Engine offers AI-powered camera tools for photo and video capture.