Samsung Galaxy S24 Review: When Size Matters, the Smartest Thing to Do Is to Have It All

Samsung Galaxy S24 Review: When Size Matters, the Smartest Thing to Do Is to Have It All

In addition to its compact dimensions, the smallest of the Galaxy S24 has a lot to say

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Back side of a white Samsung Galaxy S24

As it usually happens at the beginning of the year, Samsung has renewed its top category of phones with three models that aspire to dominate the premium range of Android: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy S24+, and the one I’ve been testing for a few weeks, Samsung Galaxy S24. The smallest of the three may not be the important thing, but it seems like the smartest choice.

After reviewing dozens of huge phones and owning several Galaxy Note and iPhone Pro Max, I loved having the maximum technology in the most compact size possible. Yes, I am one of those who prefers “small phones” —if any smartphone can be categorized as such today. And it’s not that the Samsung Galaxy S24 is small, but compared to its siblings, it almost looks like the little brother of the Daltons. Watch out: the S24 has as much character as Joe.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Technical Specifications


SAMSUNG GALAXY S24

SCREEN

6.2 inches FHD+

2,340 x 1,080 px

Dynamic AMOLED

120 Hz

Vision Booster

PROCESSOR

Samsung Exynos 2400

4 nm

RAM

8 GB

STORAGE

128 / 256 GB

BATTERY

4,000 mAh

Charging 25W

Wireless charging 15W

Reversible charging

OS

Android 14

OneUI 6.1

RESISTANCE

IP68 Certification

Gorilla Glass

BACK CAMERA

Wide angle: 50MP, f/1.8, 85º, OIS

Ultra-wide: 12MP, f/2.2, 120°, OIS

Optical zoom: 10MP, f/2.4, OIS, 3x

FRONT CAMERA

12MP, f/2.2, 80º

CONNECTIVITY

5G

LTE

WiFi 6E

Bluetooth 5.3

eSIM

OTHER

USB C (USB 3.2)

NFC

UltraWide Band

GPS/Glonass/Beidou/Galileo/GZSS

SIZE AND WEIGHT

147 x 70.6 x 7.6 mm (5.79 x 2.78 x 0.30 in)

167 g (5.89 oz)

PRICE

From $799.99

SAMSUNG Galaxy S24 Cell Phone, 128GB AI Smartphone, Unlocked Android, 50MP Camera, Fastest Processor, Long Battery Life, US Version, 2024, Marble Gray

Design: More iPhone Than Ever

Samsung Galaxy S23

When I picked up the phone for the first time, it felt like I was holding an iPhone 15. Samsung has evolved the Samsung Galaxy S23 by eliminating any curvature of the edges to make them straight, sharp, and annoying in the grip. If you hold the two phones blindly, it would be difficult to differentiate the Samsung Galaxy S24 from the iPhone 15. At least without touching the back, since the camera module is distinctive.

It is solid in the hand, exuding the highest quality expected of a phone of this level. The aluminum perfectly holds both sides of the glass without any defects in the joints, and the color is very well achieved, at least in my test phone. The buttons are located on the right side, at the usual height, without the inconvenience of having to press them with one hand. However, the volume-up button requires some effort. On the lower edge are the dual Nano SIM tray (there is an eSIM option), USB C port, and stereo speaker output.

The dimensions of the Samsung Galaxy S24 are very compact, as I mentioned in the introduction. This feature makes it easy to hold the phone for a long time, but always with a risk of slipping. The straight edges do not help the grip, nor does the polished glass back. However, it does offer dust and water resistance with IP68 certification.

Samsung Galaxy S24 resists dust and water thanks to IP68 certification.

The back is completely clean except for the area where the lenses are located. They protrude from the body by about one and a half millimeters, which favors the dust accumulation. The gold color of my Samsung Galaxy S24 does not reflect dirt or fingerprints.

Samsung Galaxy S24 cameras

The ruggedness and quality of the phone underscore the premium category to which it belongs. In addition, both sides are protected by hardened Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2. It does not have the anti-reflective qualities of the Gorilla Glass Armor on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, although it should offer good protection against scratches and minor impacts. Fortunately, I didn’t experience either during testing.

Display: A Panel That Exudes Quality in Every Pixel

Samsung Galaxy S24 screen

It is more than clear that Samsung knows how to make OLED screens, not for nothing is the company that manufactures more panels and the one that all the other brands, including Apple, turn to. With the evolution from the S23 to the S24, Samsung has decided to eliminate one of the main differences with the Ultra models: we finally have an LTPO panel with a variable refresh rate from 1 to 120 Hz in the most “basic” model.

The phone’s screen is a delight in all conditions, I can’t say otherwise: from my tests, it’s the best panel I’ve ever tried on a device of these dimensions. The fluidity is adapted to the needs, the Samsung Galaxy S24 is fast in scrolling, in animations, and jumping between applications is a pleasure. All with an impeccable touch response.

Samsung Galaxy S24 screen shots

Brightness is another area where the phone excels: as you can see in the photos, the extra brightness provided by the panel makes any content visible, even in direct sunlight. And without the contrast spoiling the contours at maximum brightness, the automatic levels are accurate. However, I have found the minimum level too bright for total twilight situations, something that can be fixed by activating the Extra dim mode in the accessibility settings under Visibility enhancements.

By manually adjusting the brightness, the Galaxy S24 supports an extra peak that is perfect in direct sunlight.

By default, Samsung Galaxy S24 is perfectly adjusted in terms of saturation and color temperature, always with the option to customize it from the display settings (in Intense mode, I prefer the calibration in Natural). The contrast is extremely high, the viewing angles are excellent, the sharpness is perfect, and the level of detail is more than correct. The Full HD+ resolution fits perfectly on the 6.2-inch screen.

Samsung Galaxy S24 brightness The display is perfectly readable in direct sunlight, and extra brightness is saved in manual mode.

Samsung Galaxy S24 is a perfect device for playing multimedia content (HDR10+ support) and games. In addition, it includes an ultrasonic fingerprint reader under the screen, whose reliability and speed are enough to recognize fingertips without complications. It also features facial recognition on the front camera, the perfect match for speeding up the unlocking. Although less secure than the fingerprint scanner, it is more convenient.

Unlocking a Samsung Galaxy S24

The screen is outstanding: the panel that Samsung has included really does the phone justice. It is just what the smallest of the family deserves to improve some of the weaknesses of the range.

Sound: High Fidelity in a Compact Size

A Samsung Galaxy S24 playing music with two headphones around

If the Samsung Galaxy S24 stands out on its own merits in terms of image, the same goes for sound: it is a cell phone made to be enjoyed with any type of audio. No accessory to connect it? Its pair of external speakers will delight you with their fidelity and high volume. Want to listen to music with Bluetooth headphones? Quality is guaranteed if the headphones are high-quality too. And wired? There is a small catch, as you will need a USB-C adapter with a DAC: Samsung does not provide analog output through the port.

Samsung tends to offer very high-quality sound in all its smartphones, even in the affordable range. And, of course, in the most premium of the year could not miss a good collection of high-level features: Hi-Fi sound at a maximum of 32 bits and 384 kHz, audio tuned by AKG, and enhancement software compatible with Dolby and Atmos. In addition, Samsung has included an equalizer as standard, which allows you to adjust the audio output in three ways: external speakers, wired and wireless headphones.

Samsung Galaxy S24 screen shots

As for the external speakers, I can’t say sad things: the stereo sound is excellent, and the volume is quite high, reaching 90 dB. It is more capable in the highs (I was surprised how well they sound at maximum volume, with hardly any shrillness). I missed some bass, also a greater presence of bass boost, without detracting from the excellent job the phone does with external audio.

As mentioned, the Samsung Galaxy S24 does not offer analog audio output via USB C, so an external DAC is essential. In my case, I used a USB-C adapter with a DAC and a pair of Sennheiser PCX550s: the result was satisfactory, with high-quality sound and remarkable punch. The frequency range was sufficient, and I did not miss the presence of either treble or bass. In addition, Samsung includes an optimized UHQ that improves the dynamic range of the audio, adding more nuances to the music. Adaptive sound for the phone to optimize the audible ranges by reducing the frequency amplitude to the user’s age.

Samsung Galaxy S24 shot playing music over a table

With the Bluetooth connection, I also had a satisfactory experience: I could take the Galaxy S24 as my audio device of choice. Excellent quality and suitable for the usual codecs (SBC, AAC aptX, LDAC and SSC, Samsung’s lossless codec), faithful reproduction, and compatibility with the phone's equalizer and Dolby Atmos enhancement. However, Samsung does not support HQ audio optimization with Bluetooth headsets.

The noise cancellation during calls is remarkable: the voice sounds clear and crisp, without robotic endings and ambient noise, even in a bar where it was difficult to be heard.

In the calling test, I have no complaints: the resulting audio was quality and crisp, with good background noise elimination even in demanding situations (a noisy bar). In fact, I must highlight the noise cancellation that the Samsung Galaxy S24 does during calls: the person on the other end hears the voice perfectly, without robotic tones, and clearly. Without any ambient noise, it’s impressive.

Performance: One Step Behind What it Should Be

Samsung Galaxy S24 showing Stardew Valley game

The Exynos 2400 SoC in the Samsung Galaxy S24 and Galaxy S24+ lags the processor in its bigger sibling, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 in the Galaxy S24 Ultra. This choice contrasts with the change Samsung had made in the previous generation: all Samsung Galaxy S23 had a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 adapted to the brand's phones. It is a clear step backward that penalizes the performance.

It is not that it had a low performance in daily use, quite the contrary, but it is noticeable in games that require power: the Exynos 2400 loses frames in animations at maximum graphics load. Otherwise, the Galaxy S24 is fast, and fluid, switching between applications is no problem, and battery consumption in the background is low. This is where Samsung stands out: its SoC is very efficient as long as it’s not overclocked.

Benchmark results of the Samsung Galaxy S24

Benchmark results show the performance gap between Samsung Galaxy S24, S24+, and S24 Ultra: Samsung should have brought the whole family up to speed.


SAMSUNG GALAXY S24

SAMSUNG GALAXY S24 ULTRA

IPHONE 15

REALME GT 5 PRO

SAMSUNG GALAXY S23+

PROCESSOR

Exynos 2400

Qualcomm

Snapdragon 8

Gen 3

Apple A16 Bionic

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (for Galaxy)

RAM

8 GB

12 GB

6 GB

16 GB

8 GB

GEEKBENCH 5/6 (SINGLE/MULTI)

2,140 / 6,650 (6)

2,248 / 6,987 (6)

2,587 / 6,423 (6)

2,229 / 6,769 (6)

2,019 / 5,308 (6)

3D MARK WILD LIFE UNLIMITED

14,520

20,281

11,807

19,337

14,250

3D MARK WILD LIFE STRESS UNLIMITED

11,692 / 9,055

20,321 / 13,754

11,646 / 8,280

19,337 / 15,472

14,018 / 13,968

PCMARK WORK

17,348

20,467

-

21,777

15.,823

This is not a phone that I noticed getting too hot during use or while charging. The passive heat dissipation is sufficient to distribute the excess temperature across the length and width of the device without getting annoying. However, it does get noticeably hot during extended gaming sessions. Overall, I found the Exynos 2400 fast in all instances. Although the Exynos 2400 isn’t on par with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 in the Galaxy S24 Ultra, I can’t say that the Samsung Galaxy S24 SoC was a bad chip in my experience.

Galaxy S24 Ultra running a game

The satisfactory performance of the processor is matched by a fast memory that offers enough storage (also amazingly fast), supports WiFi 7, and has a fast and reliable positioning system (also accurate). I did not miss any piece of hardware that I did not expect in a high-end smartphone.

Battery: Good Autonomy, Regular Fast Charging

A Galaxy S24 Ultra in a test of consumption

Let’s get into the energy field starting with the figures: 4,000 mAh battery with a maximum fast charge of 25 W, wireless charging up to 15 W, and reversible wireless charging up to 5 W (it also offers reversible charging by cable). In addition, the Galaxy S24 does not include a charger in the box, a drawback that, although it is the general trend, is still penalizing. Also, it is important to mention the fact that Samsung maintains a fast-charging system so slow: it took more than an hour to complete the battery, it is absurd.

During my experience, the battery performance was particularly good: the balance between processor and system management kept the phone alive for more than a day without any problem. In fact, and with moderate use, I spent just over two days away from the plug: energy consumption in the background and with the screen off is minimal. Another thing is maximum performance: in one hour, the phone uses between 15-20% of the battery.

Screen shots of a Samsung Galaxy S24 showing battery autonomy

I already mentioned in the performance section that heat is not too much of a problem: although the temperature rises above 40 ºC, it is bearable (after half an hour of use, the Galaxy S24 feels quite hot). The heat is more concentrated on the upper part of the phone.

To check the charging times, I used an external battery with a power monitor. The maximum peaks hovered around 20W up to 60% charge, then the power drops to protect the battery, with a final stretch that stays around 5-7W, the last bit of charging taking the longest. These were the specific times I got using a fast-charging cable.

  • 5 minutes of charging: 10 % of battery
  • 10 minutes of charging: 20 % of battery
  • 20 minutes of charging: 40 % of battery
  • 30 minutes of charge: 57 % of battery
  • 50 minutes of charge: 84 % of battery
  • Total: 1 hour and 18 minutes

Software: A Challenge to Artificial Intelligence

Basic functions of a Samsung Galaxy S24

Samsung Galaxy S24 comes with Android 14, One UI 6.1 as the custom layer version, and something I found strange: keeps the July 2023 update as the Google Play Services version. Staying ahead of the curve in software is a key feature of Samsung, something that has been pushed on all three S24s: they have guaranteed system updates for seven years.

One UI is a layer with remarkable power in all aspects, from presence to the number of apps and services that stay in the background. Samsung duplicates a large part of the main applications, apart from including Google’s own: two galleries, two messaging apps, two web browsers... Much of this duplication can be easily uninstalled, as well as the rest of the added software, such as the usual Microsoft apps (SkyDrive, LinkedIn) or Meta apps (Meta apps run in the background even when Facebook or Instagram are not being used).

Software information of a Samsung Galaxy 24S

After ridding the Samsung Galaxy S24 of extra and redundant software, One UI 6.1 looks very capable, is a bit further away from the native Android look and feel of the Google Pixel, and adds a few touches to what we already saw in One UI 6.0, such as wallpapers for the alarm and the most striking of the new generation: the Artificial Intelligence or Galaxy AI-based tools.

Let’s face it, do the AI tools really represent a notable change from last year’s generation? In my opinion, no. I am not saying that I don’t find Galaxy AI useful, because I love options like the summary of pages loaded with Samsung’s browser or the interpreter during calls (I find it a brutal option to talk to people from other countries). However, they are not tools that drastically change the experience. In addition, a good part of the options is not exclusive because they are already present in another Android, such as Rodea to search on the Google Pixel 8.

Screen shots of different Samsung Galaxy S24 browsers From left to right: Rodea to search, Samsung browser summary, and simultaneous translation in calls.

There are numerous AI touches in Samsung’s software, but they do not constitute a real help for day-to-day tasks beyond offering some curiosity in areas such as writing (style and spelling correction in notes and keyboard), photo editing (Samsung adds to its gallery the same magic editor of the Google Pixel 8), intelligent suggestions based on the use of applications (add events to the calendar, for example) and text translation (calls, interpreter mode, messaging...). Choosing a Samsung Galaxy S24 just for such tools? They are a curious addition, but in the end, they tend to be forgotten on the phone. That’s what happened to me.

Galaxy AI brings a lot of smart tools that don't end up speeding up the regular use of the phone. Besides, some of the options are not exclusive.

One UI is one of the layers that offers more extra features over Android. Extreme customization with themes and compatibility with Good Lock apps (Samsung has a huge advantage here), the option to duplicate apps to use different accounts simultaneously, an always-on screen with the choice to pin widgets, active security services to avoid problems with malicious apps, and diverse ways to extend autonomy with power saving settings. AI is also vital here.

Samsung DeX with Samsung Galaxy S24 Samsung DeX with Samsung Galaxy S24

Another unique feature that One UI brings and makes the Samsung Galaxy S24 worth buying is the DeX desktop mode. By simply connecting the smartphone to a TV or monitor with a USB-C cable, the external screen becomes a computer, with the option to use the Galaxy S24 as a touchpad.

Playing games on the big screen and with Android apps, writing documents without straining your eyes, the option to connect a keyboard and mouse via USB C to enhance its use as a desktop (and take advantage in shooters, for example), and a host of other uses that expand the possibilities of the smartphone. DeX is a marvel that seems unexploited to me and not only for its USB-C connection: it can also be used wirelessly on a Chromecast with Google TV, for example.

In addition to becoming a PC with the help of a TV or monitor, the Samsung Galaxy S24 maintains compatibility with the computer itself. Thanks to “Link to Windows”, the phone offers almost complete control from the PC. Another addition that makes One UI one of the best Android layers.

Photography: An All-Rounder That Takes Off With Software

A photo of the back of a Samsung Galaxy S24

At this point, the overall average of the phone is remarkably high, a sign that Samsung has put real care into the hardware and software of its offspring. Also, in terms of multimedia recording, although this aspect is the one that most evidence the step between the Ultra and the other two models: the S24+ and the Samsung Galaxy S24.

Let’s start with the hard facts: here are all the technical details of the Samsung Galaxy S24 cameras.

  • Wide-angle. 50MP 1/1.56-inch sensor with f/1.8 aperture, 1.0µm per pixel size, Dual Pixel PDAF focus, 24mm equivalent focal length, and OIS optical image stabilization.
  • Ultra wide-angle. 12-megapixel 1/2.55-inch sensor with f/2.2 aperture, 1.4 µm pixel size, 120° wide angle, and 13 mm equivalent focal length.
  • Optical zoom. 10MP 1/1.56-inch sensor with f/2.4 aperture, 1.0µm pixel size, PDAF focus, 67mm equivalent focal length, OIS optical image stabilization, 3x optical zoom, and up to 30x hybrid zoom.
  • Selfie camera. 12MP sensor, f/2.2 aperture, dual-pixel PDAF focus, and 26mm equivalent focal length.

The overall performance in photography is at an incredibly satisfactory level, especially in software features. Samsung offers the best photo and video applications for smartphones due to the variety of options available, vast number of manual settings that can be adjusted, and great versatility. However, this does not mean that the results are always good, as the Samsung Galaxy S24 can be disappointing in some shots.

Back of a white Samsung Galaxy S24

With the main sensor, I had no excessive problems outdoors, and with good lighting, the performance was correct. The camera is fast, the focus is at the same level with good precision and tracking of the focused point (perfect for clear shots of children or pets, for example), the shots are usually processed with natural colorimetry, and the dynamic range has room for improvement. In general, I noticed a tendency to increase the ISO, even when the camera had a margin in shutter speed; the result was a bit loss of definition when enlarging the image. Also, there is a loss of sharpness outside the focus areas, which is noticeable in close-ups.

Loss of sharpness around the focus point on a photo taken by a Samsung Galaxy S24 Loss of sharpness around the focus point

The wide-angle lens is not as good as it should be, and its results are limited. Although Samsung corrects the optical deformation of the lens by software, the loss of sharpness is noticeable when enlarging the image slightly. Color temperature and saturation are maintained with the main sensor, and the dynamic range usually has no problems.

Different angles of a same scene captured by a Samsung Galaxy S24

The telephoto works well for everyday use: the 3x optical zoom allows you to zoom in on objects without losing too much sharpness. Watercolors are more noticeable, even in good lighting. The camera is very stable and supports up to 30x hybrid zoom (beyond 5-7x it’s best not to use it if you want a good shot), and an astrophoto mode is included. I took typical photos of the moon with the Samsung filter, and the results were great. Also, the trick of “falsifying” the lunar surface looks very good.

9x optical zoom of a Samsung Galaxy S24 9x optical zoom

Let’s continue with the night. Here I found more difficulties than I expected since Samsung tends to underexpose to avoid excessive processing. Photos taken in automatic mode are usually a bit dark as if the phone doesn’t rely on increasing the shutter speed by taking advantage of the stabilization of the principal and telephoto cameras. The images emphasize the illuminated areas, leaving those that emit less light a little darker. And by overemphasizing some points of illumination, I found myself with unrealistic photos.

The camera app is, as I said, a marvel. Not just one, the Samsung Galaxy S24 has three apps: the main one, Expert RAW, and Professional Video. This adds complexity to the multimedia capture process, as you must decide which one to keep, although it all depends on your shooting experience. Do you want to change all aspects of multimedia capture? Both Expert RAW and Pro Video. Faster shooting and a preference for automatic mode? The regular camera application. The other two can be accessed from the More menu.

Photo settings of a Samsung Galaxy S24

There’s nothing the Samsung Galaxy S24 can’t do as standard, it is an absolute delight. This phone offers portrait mode with the back and front cameras (good cropping overall, somewhat forced in medium lighting), night mode to capture more light than usual (auto mode tends to underexpose in night shots, with the specific mode something is solved), all sorts of playful options (including filters) and relies on AI to improve framing or processing.

Speaking of AI, the phone’s gallery emphasizes the position of artificial intelligence with the Magic Editor retouching option; with it, you can alter the image in almost surreal ways.

Example of a Samsung Galaxy S24 front camera shot

The front camera takes shots with natural skin in good lighting conditions. Indoors and with poor lighting, the processing tends to wash out faces and remove imperfections while brightening them slightly. Portrait mode cropping is good enough if the background provides contrast. Otherwise, it is usual to find blurred parts of the subject.

This is a Google Photos folder with a sample of photos taken with the Samsung Galaxy S24 in all conditions.

When recording videos, the phone proves to be capable and very versatile, as Samsung has equipped the phone with a wide range of resolutions and formats, including recording in 8K and 30 fps with the principal camera.

The results are of superior quality, with high contrast and HDR that behaves adequately while maintaining some tendency to underexpose in dark areas. Stabilized shots, clear, with good noise reduction and a weight that is usually around 250 MB per 30 seconds in 4K (60 fps) and 100 MB in 1080p (60 fps).

Samsung Galaxy S24, Xataka’s Opinion

A Samsung Galaxy S24 photo

It may be underrated compared to its big brother (there is no doubt that Samsung pays more attention to the Ultra), but this does not mean that the “small” of the family is far behind: in some aspects, it is even better than its siblings. In terms of comfort, having a smartphone with remarkably high features in a format of contained dimensions is perfect for those who do not want a giant mobile, even if the straight edges disturb more than help. I wish Apple had not made this design fashionable.

The screen and sound are exquisite, and the fact that Samsung has brought its variable refresh LPTO panel to the Galaxy S24 is an excellent choice that will be appreciated daily. The ultra-high brightness helps to use the phone anywhere, even as a music partner. The peak performance of the Exynos 2400 is obviously not up to the best, but that’s not a sad thing either: the SoC is more than capable of chewing through anything you throw at it. Even the use of generative AI at the device level, one of the keys of the Galaxy S24, is not decisive in the daily experience.

A women holding a Samsung Galaxy S24

Photography is at an excellent level, without reaching the results of the Ultra and without being too far behind. Natural processing of colors, sufficient sharpness by default even when zooming to the background (and some differences in sharpness around the focus areas), a tendency to underexpose in night mode, and emphasizing the highlights with an HDR that can load the image. The dynamic range is a bit low in high-contrast shots and the wide angle falls behind the principal camera. The telephoto doesn’t do a bad job with the 3x zoom, but noise and watercolor are noticeable in the processing.

Good things come in small packages, this could be the summary, as the Galaxy S24 is the ideal phone for those who want the best features in a compact format.

My overall feeling is positive: despite the drawbacks, the Samsung Galaxy S24 is a great phone. And it seems a much smarter choice than an S24+ or an S24 Ultra: the smallest of the family shows that you can be big just by cutting back on the excesses. It’s the one I’d buy.

9,2

Diseño 9,25
Pantalla 9,5
Rendimiento 8,75
Cámara 9
Software 9,5
Autonomía 9

Pros

  • The screen is a delight
  • The most balanced phone in a "small" form factor
  • Seven years of Android updates

Cons

  •  Fast charging too slow
  • A phone in this range deserves the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
  • Power consumption at maximum performance is high


SAMSUNG Galaxy S24 Cell Phone, 128GB AI Smartphone, Unlocked Android, 50MP Camera, Fastest Processor, Long Battery Life, US Version, 2024, Marble Gray

This unit was provided by Samsung for review. You can read our review policy.

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