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Samsung’s Galaxy S24: A Subtle Upgrade that Highlights the Impressive Features of the iPhone 15

We are now weeks away from the official launch of the Galaxy S24 series, expected to take place on January 18, and (like every year) we already seem to know pretty much everything about Samsung’s new flagships thanks to leaks and rumors.

Whether leaks about upcoming phones make them less exciting has been a topic of discussion for years now. However, as things stand, no phone-maker is immune to leaks, which means the excitement around a phone launch hangs on how new the phones look/feel…

And by the looks of it, the vanilla Galaxy S24 flagship might struggle to make a big first impression when viewed side-by-side with the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S22. However, what about flagships phones outside of Samsung’s lineup?

I’m afraid 2024 might be the first year (in a while) when Apple’s flagship looks… newer and more exciting than the new Galaxy.

Galaxy S24 set to bring significantly fewer upgrades (over Galaxy S23) compared to iPhone 15 (over iPhone 14: How did we get here?

To be clear, how new and different the iPhone 15 or Galaxy S24 will look to you entirely depends on your current phone / the phone you’re upgrading from. And with that in mind, it’s undeniable that Apple’s latest iPhone is the more exciting upgrade compared to what we’ve seen about the Galaxy S24 so far.

In a nutshell, the biggest upgrades expected on the Galaxy S24 over its predecessors (the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S22) are the SoC, and a slightly larger and brighter display – a 6.2-inch panel versus a 6.1-inch one (IMO, a very welcome but negligible difference).

On the other hand, the iPhone 15 is a similar but, at the same time, very different feeling phone than the iPhone 14 and iPhone 13, and I’d go as far as to say it’s the biggest ever upgrade to the vanilla iPhone.

We’re talking a new, curved design, which makes the iPhone 15 series much easier to hold; the long-awaited USB-C port; a far brighter display with the new Dynamic Island (which makes the phone feel newer than you’d expect); and of course, the new 48MP primary camera with 2x zoom, which is noticeably superior to that of the iPhone 14 and the Galaxy S23.

Hence, it’s hard to ignore that in a time when Apple released what’s arguably the biggest upgrade to the (vanilla) iPhone ever, Samsung continues its strategy of keeping the same design and camera system on its more affordable flagships for a third year in a row in what could turn out to be one of the smallest upgrades to the vanilla Galaxy flagship in years.

The Galaxy S24 vs iPhone 15 dilemma: Do Samsung’s vanilla flagships still offer better value than the vanilla iPhone, or has the gap narrowed enough for Apple’s flagships to shine?

Now, it’s one thing how new the iPhone and Galaxy look/feel compared to their predecessors. But what about comparing the Galaxy S24 to the iPhone 15 directly? Will Samsung’s most affordable flagship still offer better value than the base iPhone model?

The short answer is… yes. The Galaxy S24 is still expected to retain three notable advantages over the iPhone 15. This is how I’d rank them in terms of how important they would be to me (if I was to choose the Galaxy S24 over the iPhone 15):

  • 3x optical zoom camera (vs 2x sensor-crop zoom on iPhone 15)
  • 120Hz display (vs 60Hz on iPhone 15)
  • Reverse Wireless Charging for charging accessories (vs Reverse Wired Charging on iPhone 15)

How important these features are is totally up to you. Do you take many zoom photos? Can you tell the difference between a 120Hz and a 60Hz display? Do you charge your earbuds on the back of your phone?

In my opinion (and you absolutely don’t need to agree with it), the difference isn’t enough to make me give up the iPhone’s super reliable camera with auto Portrait Mode and class-leading video and the Apple ecosystem integration.

I also find the iPhone 15’s design to be more attractive than that of the Galaxy S24, which is starting to look a bit bland now. This includes the color options, which I find much more appealing on the iPhone 15. The matte black iPhone 15 is one of the best looking phones I’ve seen in a while, and I quite like the green model too.

Galaxy S24 could prove Galaxy flagships peaked a bit too early, making the standard iPhone 15 look more special than it really is: Did Apple outsmart Samsung?

So… How did we get here? How come the new iPhone looks much more exciting than its predecessors, while the new Galaxy flagship looks more or less the same as the last two Samsung flagships? Well, it’s really no rocket science.

It seems Samsung was a bit too late to realize “slow innovation” and gradual year-over-year upgrades are the more strategically effective way to go. Of course, there are pros and cons to delivering upgrades quicker than the competition.

Respectively, Apple’s strategy of slow but steady upgrades seems to be paying off today, as the iPhone’s upgrade trajectory seems to be making more sense than the Galaxy’s, which peaked a bit too early.

For the first time ever, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 might be a viable, more exciting alternative to the Galaxy S24, with little to no compromises

Regardless, the fact is that users upgrading from the iPhone 12, iPhone 13, and iPhone 14 will find the iPhone 15 to be a substantial upgrade – one of the biggest Apple ever offered. Meanwhile, Galaxy S21, S22, and S23 users might find it hard to justify jumping to the Galaxy S24.

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, this could change thanks to Samsung’s efforts in software, but then again, all Samsung flagships get the same new One UI 6 as the Galaxy S24, so I suppose a completely revamped image processing could be what makes the Galaxy S24 a worthy camera upgrade over older Samsung flagships. But we’ll have to wait and see if Samsung will finally give us the camera upgrades we’ve been waiting for.

In the end, perhaps Apple really did outsmart Samsung in the flagship phone race. At least strategically. Apple sells far more flagship phones compared to Samsung, and the new Galaxy S24 series is shaping up as a smaller upgrade compared to the iPhone 15 series.

But hey… Maybe it’s a good time Galaxy users turned to Samsung’s more novel Flip and Fold series for something truly new and exciting? Perhaps, this time, the better alternative to a Galaxy S24 upgrade is going to be the Galaxy Z Flip 5?

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