Samsung hosted its annual Unpacked event on January 17th to reveal the new Galaxy S24 lineup of flagship smartphones. Headlining the devices are beefed up AI capabilities through a partnership with Google, enabled by the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip.
Galaxy S24 highlights next evolution of smartphone cameras and productivity
The star of the show was the Galaxy S24 Ultra, featuring a 200MP main camera and an improved periscope lens with 10x optical zoom. Combined with the new AI capabilities, the S24 Ultra promises to take smartphone photography to the next level.
Other highlights of the S24 series include faster charging speeds, increased battery capacities, brighter displays with higher peak brightness levels, and up to 1TB of storage.
Samsung is also introducing a host of software-based AI features to enhance productivity, creativity and wellness. These include:
- AI-powered photo and video enhancements
- Automatic video captioning and chapter suggestions
- Intelligent Recrop that can rearrange compositions to follow photography best practices
- AI scene optimisation for social media
- Enhanced Bixby voice assistant with natural language processing
- Wellness features like improved sleep tracking
Galaxy AI features set to compete with Apple and Google
With the Galaxy S24 lineup, Samsung is positioning itself at the forefront of on-device AI capabilities – directly taking on Apple and Google’s investments in this area.
Benchmark tests conducted on pre-release devices showed the S24 Ultra outperforming the iPhone 15 Pro Max by up to 75% in storage performance, indicating serious hardware improvements.
Meanwhile, the integration with Google’s Gemini AI engine gives Samsung parity with Google’s existing AI features. Samsung also has its own in-house AI team continually enhancing Bixby.
|Galaxy S24 (Samsung + Google Gemini)
|– Automatic video captioning and chaptering
– Intelligent photo editing and enhancements
– Bixby voice assistant with natural language processing
|iPhone 15 (Apple)
|– Dictation with offline Siri
– Live Text translation
– Visual Look Up image recognition
|Pixel 8 (Google)
|– Google Assistant voice control
– Real Tone enhancement for diverse skin tones
– Magic Eraser for removing objects from photos
With smartphones already highly capable devices, AI augmentation is becoming the new battlefield. Samsung is betting big on it being the key differentiator going forward.
Software updates to bring AI features to more Samsung devices
In addition to the new flagship S24 lineup, Samsung announced a major update to its Android skin called One UI 5.1.
Slated to roll out to recent premium Galaxy devices from the S22 series onwards, One UI 5.1 will bring some of the new AI-powered productivity and wellness features.
The Photo Editor is getting new automatic enhancements, Intelligent Recrop will be available, and Bixby is getting some natural language processing upgrades as well.
|Eligible for One UI 5.1 and some Galaxy AI features
|Galaxy S22 Ultra
|Galaxy Z Fold 4
|Galaxy Z Flip 4
|Galaxy Z Fold 3
|Galaxy Z Flip 3
|Galaxy S21 Ultra
So while the S24 lineup boasts the most advanced AI features, some key capabilities are making their way to older devices as well.
Concerns raised about paid Galaxy AI subscriptions
Among enthusiasts, one bit of controversy around the announcement was Samsung stating they may charge users subscription fees for certain AI features after two years of use.
The company is yet to provide specifics around which features would be paywalled. But the concept of core mobile functionality transitioning to paid add-ons had some consumers frustrated.
Samsung’s revenue growth in recent years has been spearheaded by its premium smartphones. This potential new stream of subscription income seems to be the next frontier as margins face pressure.
It remains to be seen whether the subscriptions eventuate, and how much blowback Samsung receives if it tries to lock commonly used features like automatic photo enhancements or Inteligent Recrop behind a paywall.
Strong pre-order demand reflecting Samsung’s dominance
Despite some questions around the monetisation plans, initial demand for the Galaxy S24 series seems robust. Multiple carriers and retailers are offering deals with gift cards for consumers pre-ordering the devices.
In the US, the Galaxy lineup has dominated Android sales in recent years. The S22 series in 2022 outsold Google’s Pixel 6 and 7 ranges combined.
Now with cutting-edge AI credentials to compete with Apple and Google, industry analysts expect the S24 series to only extend Samsung’s lead. Combined with a potential supercycle of upgrades from S21 owners, this could be Samsung’s biggest Galaxy launch yet.
So that wraps up the major talking points coming out of Samsung’s Unpacked 2024 event. AI augmentation looks set to be the signature play of the new S24 flagship phones as Samsung aims to provide its best cameras and smartest productivity features yet. Rival Apple and Google will certainly have responses in the works for their next handsets, but Samsung has staked an ambitious claim at the forefront of on device intelligence.
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