Samsung held its annual Galaxy Unpacked event on January 17th, where it unveiled its highly anticipated Galaxy S24 lineup of flagship smartphones. The new phones boast significant camera upgrades and an integrated AI assistant called Galaxy AI, powered by Google’s Gemini platform.
Galaxy S24 Series Key Features
The Galaxy S24 lineup consists of three models – the S24, S24 Plus, and S24 Ultra. Here are some of the key features across the series:
Powerful Cameras: The S24 Ultra sports a remarkable 200MP main camera capable of 8K video recording. The entire lineup has improved night photography and the Ultra model now supports Samsung’s first periscope lens for vastly improved optical zoom.
Brilliant Displays: The curved Dynamic AMOLED displays are brighter than before with a peak brightness of 1750 nits. The Ultra’s screen also has quad HD+ resolution and is the first on a Galaxy S series phone to support a 120Hz refresh rate at that resolution.
Integrated AI Assistant: Galaxy AI is deeply woven into the S24 experience. It can generate custom wallpapers, help compose social media captions, enhance photos, autosuggest actions, and much more.
Powerful Performance: All models are powered by the latest Snapdragon processor which, combined with up to 12GB RAM, promises exceptional speeds and 5G connectivity.
|Main Camera MP
Galaxy AI at the Forefront
Undoubtedly the biggest new feature in the S24 series is the integration of Google’s Gemini AI platform powering Samsung’s new Galaxy AI assistant. This move represents Samsung’s push into on-device AI to take on Apple’s prowess in the space.
During the launch event, Samsung emphasized how Galaxy AI enhances key phone experiences like photography, messaging, social media creation, and more:
Remaster Photos and Videos: Galaxy AI can noticeably improve image and video quality by upscaling resolution. It can also add artistic filters and augmented reality effects.
Generate Custom Wallpapers: Users can choose a color palette and design style, and Galaxy AI will generate a custom phone wallpaper matching the request.
Moodify Images: Point the camera at people or objects and Galaxy AI will apply mood filters like joyful, serene, moody based on what it detects.
Remove objects from photos: Simply tap on distracting objects in an image like power lines or traffic signs, and Galaxy AI will flawlessly erase them.
Caption photos: Galaxy AI will analyze images and automatically suggest creative captions to elevate social media posts.
Galaxy AI caps off Samsung’s multi-year push into on-device AI as it plays catch up to Apple. By integrating Gemini so deeply rather than via discrete apps, Samsung is betting users will find more delight and utility from AI features blended seamlessly into native phone experiences. While Apple debuted creative AI features like lock screen movies last year, Galaxy AI promises noticeable enhancements for viewing and capturing media right within the camera app itself.
Augmented Reality Support
On the software side, Samsung announced the new Galaxy S24 series ships with One UI 6.1 based on Android 13. The update brings system-wide support for augmented reality experiences, building on Apple and Google’s AR Push. Galaxy AI uses augmented reality in clever ways – like overlaying virtual décor when taking photos of rooms to help visualize remodeling projects. The AR integration also sets the stage for eventually supporting smart glasses, a hardware category all major mobile players are investing in.
Controversy Around Paywall for AI Features
According to documentation discovered by 9to5Google, Samsung plans to impose a paywall for Galaxy AI features once a free trial period expires. Specifically, the free experience may be limited to 3 years rather than lasting the lifetime of the phone. The discovery caused an immediate backlash online – users argued functionality marketed as a device feature shouldn’t later be gated behind additional payments.
Samsung hasn’t officially commented on this policy and it remains unclear if it applies to all features or only certain capabilities. There are also open questions around Samsung granting exceptions for customers on 2 or 3-year device upgrade plans. Still, the news paints Galaxy AI as less transformational and more of a software service being temporarily bundled with the S24 vs added intrinsic device value. If imposed strictly, the paywall may severely blunt Samsung’s competitive positioning of Galaxy AI vs Apple’s AI offerings.
Enhanced Security Features
While AI grabbed the spotlight, the Galaxy S24 lineup also ships with notable security enhancements called Samsung Knox Matrix. This includes an integrated Secure Element chip providing isolated memory apart from the OS to safeguard sensitive data like passwords. There’s also a privacy dashboard that displays granular data on when phone sensors like the microphone were accessed.
Additionally, all models support ultra-wideband short-range connectivity for the first time. This enables precise indoor location sensing, which sets the foundation for advanced spatial computing experiences. While nascent today, UWB foreshadows future AR navigation apps and smart home automation use cases.
Comparison with iPhone 14 Pro Models
As Samsung’s key rival, inevitable comparisons will be made against Apple’s current flagship iPhones. While Samsung clearly aimed for feature parity in areas like displays, raw camera specs, and processing power, the S24 lineup narrows – but doesn’t close – the overall experience gap.
The iPhone 14 Pro series still appears stronger in vital areas like video capture, multi-day battery life, polished styling with durable finishes, consistently optimized apps, and – most critically – multi-year OS support. Plus Apple will likely outshine Galaxy AI capabilities later this year with expected creative AI advances.
Still, Samsung deserves credit for huge leaps in camera hardware and arguably surpassing Apple in certain photography use cases. The focus on AI also signals positive platform competition.
Outlook on Foldables Category
While not announced at Galaxy Unpacked, attention now turns to Samsung’s next foldable phones. Rumors suggest the successors to the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 will launch this summer. Expect refinements like slightly less visible folds and S Pen support on the Fold model rather than bold redesigns.
Foldables saw tremendous 100%+ growth in 2022 but still account for just 1-2% of premium device sales. That uptrend should continue as costs slowly decrease, but forecasts vary on whether the form factor will become mainstream in the next 5 years or remain a niche luxury segment.
If pricing becomes more palatable over time, Samsung may position foldables as the ultimate mobile creative canvas thanks to the added screen real estate. The combo of a tablet-sized folding display with Galaxies AI’s media enhancements could be compelling for artists, content creators, and multi-tasking power users.
Strong Early Pre-Order Response
Carrier promotions paint an encouraging picture for early Galaxy S24 sales. Multiple network providers like Verizon and AT&T offered $200 or higher trade-in credits plus other perks like gift cards and accessory bundles. Samsung itself is dangling up to $100 instant trade-in credit and throwing in memory upgrades in several markets.
These aggressive upfront deals to stimulate demand signal potential concerns around inflation and the rocky macro environment damping consumer sentiment. Though if early indicators hold up, Samsung may yet defy broader economic jitters. Bulgaria saw S24 pre-orders surpass the previous S22 series by 133% in just one day per Samsung’s regional division. Though stiffer iPhone competition in mature Western Europe and North American markets remains.
While any escalation of COVID disruptions in China poses supply chain threats, Samsung strategically continues diversifying manufacturing. Analysts project up to 65% of S24 output may come from facilities in Vietnam and India. And Samsung’s foundry expertise uniquely equips it to better navigate chip shortages compared to competitors solely reliant on third-party fabs.
On the whole, Samsung appears well placed to chase Apple at the premium tier while holding off ascendant Chinese rivals like vivo and Xiaomi. The S24 series ticks all the boxes for a properly executed smartphone refresh while moving the AI needle just enough via Galaxy AI. Now it remains to be seen if real-world usage lives up to the demos and early hype.
To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.