Top 5 Alternatives to the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Phones Worth Considering

A person using the S Pen stylus with the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Lusting after the greatest and most potent smartphone on the market is challenging, and currently, that title belongs to the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. Samsung’s latest flagship has arrived, and it stands out as one of the finest smartphones available today. The Galaxy S24 Ultra isn’t just an ordinary smartphone; it boasts exceptional power and incorporates some of the most advanced AI capabilities ever witnessed on a phone, coupled with a superb camera and battery life. To put it simply, it’s exceptional.

If you’re hesitant about splurging $1,300 on Samsung’s newest offering, there are numerous other smartphones that match, or even surpass, the S24 Ultra in certain aspects.

Unsure about investing in Samsung’s latest? Here are five smartphones that you could opt for instead of the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus

Someone holding the Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus with its screen turned on.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus is the smartphone that caused us to overlook the Galaxy S24 Ultra. After a positive review, we were prepared to declare the S24 Ultra as the top Samsung model and be content for another year. Then, the Galaxy S24 Plus came into the picture.

In brief, the S24 Ultra with all the “additional” features carefully omitted. While you won’t have the Ultra’s S Pen or periscope zoom lens, do you truly require those? Because for $300 less, you receive the same high-speed Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, the same 1440p AMOLED display with a 1-120Hz dynamic refresh rate, and 45W charging speeds. The reductions in battery and screen size are negligible, with only a slight decrease of 0.1 inches in screen diagonal measurement and 100mAh in battery capacity from the 5,000mAh battery. The changes are so minor that they are barely noticeable, and the same holds true for the camera performance. Although the S24 Plus lacks the high megapixel counts of its larger counterpart, it still delivers excellent results consistently.

You may get more with the S24 Ultra, but are those extras truly worth $300 to you? That’s a question only you can answer. Nonetheless, in our opinion, the S24 Plus offers exceptional value for the money and stands out as the best Samsung Galaxy S model this year.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Someone holding the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (left) and S23 Ultra Joe Maring / Digital Trends

It’s easy to overlook older models when there’s a shiny new model in sight, but it’s important to remember that “new” isn’t always synonymous with “better.”

While the S24 Ultra is technically superior, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra remains an impressive phone. The disparities between the two models are minor and only discernible when scrutinizing the specifications. The older model is slightly lighter, has a marginally lower display resolution, and features a slightly older processor. Nonetheless, it remains a robust, premium smartphone with a stunning display and ample processing power beneath an attractive design.

The S24 Ultra touts Galaxy AI as its new standout feature, but you can live without it. The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra remains a formidable smartphone, and it even outshines the newer model in certain aspects. Remember the S24 Ultra’s 5x periscope zoom lens? The S23 Ultra offers a 10x zoom lens, an exaggerated feature that Samsung eventually dropped. However, such extravagant features define the Ultra line, and it’s worth celebrating when it pushes boundaries. Choose the Galaxy S23 Ultra and enjoy a substantial discount for a smartphone that competes favorably with its successor.

OnePlus 12

OnePlus 12 Flowy Emerald leaning on a park bench.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The OnePlus 12 may not dethrone flagships (that honor goes to the OnePlus 12R), but it presents a compelling case as a rival to the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

OnePlus has carved a niche for itself by prioritizing raw specifications and trimming unnecessary features, which makes it the antithesis of the S24 Ultra. The key reason to opt for this phone are its specifications, not special features. Equipped with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip, the OnePlus 12 offers formidable power, up to 512GB of storage, and an impressive 16GB of RAM. Its 1440p display with a 1Hz to 120Hz refresh rate matches that of the S24 Ultra. In terms of performance, this phone can go toe-to-toe with the robust Ultra and sustain its performance. Additionally, it boasts a speedy 80-watt charging capability.

While the camera may not be as top-notch as the Ultra, it still delivers solid performance, offset by a substantial price difference. Starting at $800, the OnePlus 12 is priced $500 lower than the S24 Ultra. This price is for the base 256GB model with 12GB of RAM, aligning it with the specifications of the basic S24 Ultra model. If you seek a smartphone with impressive specs, the OnePlus 12 offers a significant saving.

Google Pixel 8 Pro

Someone holding the Google Pixel 8 Pro in front of a colorful mural.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Google’s Pixel line may not be as pervasive as Samsung’s Galaxy series, but it has established a solid reputation for itself due to various compelling reasons.

In prior years, we would have touted the Google Pixel phone as the ultimate camera phone. However, this year, the Galaxy S24 Ultra clinched victory in our S24 Ultra vs. Pixel 8 Pro camera comparison. Nevertheless, there are numerous reasons to select the Google Pixel 8 Pro over Samsung’s behemoth smartphone. The camera system remains outstanding, capturing shots with true-to-life colors, eschewing the vibrant saturation typical of Samsung cameras. While the wide-angle and telephoto capabilities may not match Samsung’s offering, the Pixel 8 Pro’s camera system is impressive in its own right.

Moreover, the Pixel 8 Pro boasts similar dimensions to the S24 Ultra, ensuring you don’t miss out in that aspect. It also features comparable display specifications, including a 120Hz dynamic refresh rate. Fueled by Google’s Tensor G3 processor, the Pixel 8 Pro delivers robust performance and AI features akin to the S24 Ultra — and Google pioneered these features.

Although the battery life falls slightly short, providing only a single day of use per charge, the Pixel’s Android experience compensates with a clean interface and useful features that don’t overwhelm the device. While we appreciate One UI on the S24 Ultra, there’s no denying the surplus features it brings in, making purists appreciate Google’s approach.

Lastly, the price point sets the Pixel 8 Pro apart. Offering similar power, camera systems, and features as the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, the Google Pixel 8 Pro starts at $999, a considerable $300 lower than the S24 Ultra. To upgrade to 256GB of storage (matching the Ultra), the price rises to $1,059 — still well beneath the cost of Samsung’s latest offering.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 half folded on a showcase.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

Opting for the S24 Ultra is justified by its cutting-edge smartphone technology, potent specs, impressive camera, and nearly top-tier display. However, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 offers even more advanced technology, prompting the question: if you’re ready to spend $1,300 on a smartphone, why not invest in the most cutting-edge device on the market?

While not as potent as the S24 Ultra, the Z Fold 5 features the stellar Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip and an excellent camera. Nonetheless, the standout feature here is the folding screen. The 7.6-inch inner display matches the refresh rate of the S24 Ultra but offers nearly twice the width. Additionally, there’s a 6.2-inch external display for scenarios where a large tablet-like screen isn’t practical.

Unlike most options on this list, the Z Fold 5 comes at a higher price than the S24 Ultra, starting at $1,799. If you’re willing to spend a significant amount on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and aim to get more than what it offers, why not stretch a little further and aim for the pinnacle of innovation with the Z Fold 5?

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