Samsung and Google Are Pushing the Galaxy S24 as an AI-First Smartphone. But Will Customers Care?




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Artificial intelligence was THE buzzword at CES 2024, so it’s no surprises that the AI momentum continues with Samsung’s unveiling of the Galaxy S24 family of smartphones. Front and center in the latest edition of the flagship phone is a partnership between Samsung and Google focused on generative AI.

As with previous years, Samsung unveiled three tiers of its flagship phone, the Galaxy S24, the S24+, and premium-tier S24 Ultra. While the phones come with a few hardware upgrades, such as the move to a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, and slight improvements to the camera, and battery capacity, it’s largely unchanged.

The focus instead was on AI and access to Google’s Gemini Pro, the tech giant’s large language model, and Imagen 2 on Vertex AI, which brings text-to-image capabilities. The Galaxy S24 will be the first smartphones to adopt these technologies through Google’s cloud services. This new level of smarts is expected to improve several aspects of the phone experience, from taking and editing photos to securing the contents of the device.

The announcement is the natural aftermath of an explosion of interest in AI over the last year, sparked by the emergence of ChatGPT from OpenAI. Its ability to generate human-sounding text kicked off a new wave of thinking about what AI can actually do for us, and had Big Tech companies racing to catch up with their own systems. Google was among the companies that had previously spent enormous resources building their own AI systems, and ChatGPT’s success lit a fire under the tech company.

The new Galaxy S24 family. Image credit: Samsung

The speed and amount of money in AI has led to some critics warning of the unintended dangers of the technology, from replacing humans to co-opting original works of art or writing. Samsung spent a good chunk of its CES presentation talking about the need to be responsible when it came to utilizing AI.

“Google and Samsung have long shared deeply held values around the importance of making technology more helpful and accessible for everyone,” said Janghyun Yoon, corporate EVP and head of software office of mobile experience business at Samsung Electronics. “After months of rigorous testing and competitive evaluation, the Google Cloud and Samsung teams worked together to deliver the best Gemini-powered AI experience on Galaxy.”

For Google, it means getting its system in front of millions of potential Samsung users.

“Together with Samsung, Google Cloud sees the tremendous opportunity for generative AI to create meaningful mobile experiences that stimulate and strengthen connection and communication for millions,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud.

The question is whether the craze over AI has passed — at least for consumers — and whether a smarter Galaxy S phone is enough to justify the upgrade.

New Features

The Galaxy S24 family’s marquee, beyond all the Google capabilities, is its ProVisual Engine, which Samsung says will help with taking photos and getting them ready to share on social media. The S24 Ultra has two telephoto lenses, allowing for optical-quality performance at 10x zoom, even if it technically has a maximum optical zoom of 5x.

Samsung also upgraded its low-light photography capabilities, which it calls Nightography. Users will be able to edit their photos on Samsung’s Galaxy AI editing tools, presumably helped by Google’s systems.

For gamers, the graphics capabilities include Ray tracing, a high-end imaging feature typically found on PC games. The S24 Ultra includes a vapor chamber that’s 1.9 times larger to keep the device cool while gaming.

The phone’s components are made with more recycled materials, with at least half of the battery using recycled cobalt, and the entire speaker using recycled rare earth elements. Other parts like the volume keys are made with recycled plastics and steel.

What About the Specs?

The Galaxy S24 and S24+ see a mix of minor upgrades to the prior year’s iterations. Both get a slight bump in screen size, with the S24 going from 6.1 inches to 6.2 inches, while the S24+ goes from 6.6 inches to 6.7 inches. The S24 Ultra stays the same at 6.8 inches. The displays are framed around thinner, even bezels.

All three phones get an upgrade to Qualcomm’s latest processor. The S24 comes with 8 GBs of RAM, while both the S24 and S24 Ultra come with 12 GBs.

For their cameras, the S24 and S24+ both pack a 12 megapixel front-facing camera, a 12MP ultra-wide camera, a 50 MP wide camera, and a 10 MP telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom. The S24 Ultra comes with a 12 MP ultra-wide camera, 200 MP wide camera, 50 MP telephoto camera with 5x zoom, a second 10 MP telephoto camera with 3x zoom, and a 12 MP front camera.

The S24 sees its battery capacity bumped up slightly to 4,000 mAh, while the S24+ gets upgraded to a 4,900 mAh battery. The S24 Ultra’s battery remains the same at 5,000 mAh.

The S24 and S24+ get Wi-Fi 6E, while the S24 Ultra has Wi-Fi 7.

How Much Are They?

The Galaxy S24 starts at $799.99 with 128GB and 256GB storage options.

The Galaxy S24+ will start at $999.99 and come in 256GB or 512GB options.

The Galaxy S24 Ultra will start at $1,299.9 and come in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB options.

Image credit: Samsung

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