Samsung puts advanced AI in the hands of users

Yanitsa Boyadzhieva
By Yanitsa Boyadzhieva

Jan 18, 2024

Source: Samsung

Source: Samsung

  • Samsung is beefing up its fight in the premium segment
  • The South Korean smartphone maker bets big on AI with its new smartphone series, the Galaxy S24
  • It relies on new Google Cloud and Qualcomm tie-ups to drive AI-powered features
  • The move marks the dawn of the consumerisation of AI in smartphones and aims to reignite consumers’ interest, according to industry analyst Ben Wood

As promised earlier this month, Samsung has ushered in a “new era of AI” with the official launch of its Galaxy S24 smartphone series, which leans heavily on the vendor’s big name partners – Google Cloud and Qualcomm – for the capabilities and functionality that enable features such as live translation of calls and texts.

The launch is significant enough for one leading industry expert to describe it as the “dawn of the consumerisation of AI in handsets.”

Just a few days after being dethroned as the top smartphone vendor in the world – losing out to Apple, according to figures from IDC – Samsung demonstrated its readiness to claw back its top spot and fight hard in the market for premium mobile devices by introducing three new models under the Galaxy S24 series, which come with “new mobile experiences” powered by Galaxy AI, the company’s new on-device and cloud-based AI model.

According to Samsung, its new devices usher in a “new era that will forever change how mobile devices empower users” – and AI, it appears, has a lot to do with it.

“AI amplifies nearly every experience on the Galaxy S24 series, from enabling barrier-free communication with intelligent text and call translations, to maximising creative freedom with Galaxy’s ProVisual Engine, to setting a new standard for search that will change how Galaxy users discover the world around them,” the company noted in a statement announcing the devices (about which there is more detail below).

The market and the competition

According to Samsung’s president and head of mobile eXperience (MX) business, TM Roh, the vendor’s new series “ignites the next decade of mobile innovation”.

While this statement might appear to be dripping in hype and self-importance, the launch is, along with recent Google Pixel device advances, one that marks “the dawn of the consumerisation of AI in smartphones,” according to Ben Wood, chief analyst and CMO at CCS Insight and one of the world’s leading smartphone analysts. 

In a LinkedIn post, the industry expert noted that all smartphone makers, including Apple, will follow in Samsung’s footsteps as “they increasingly add a growing number of AI-powered capabilities to their new devices”.

In addition, the Galaxy S24 launch is seen as an effort by Samsung to use AI-driven features to “reignite consumers’ interest in smartphones at a time when incremental hardware updates have seen sales slow”.

Wood cautioned, however, that Samsung’s success will depend on raising awareness of the benefits of AI-based features, as well as focusing on continued expansions of the use cases.

“Samsung’s desire to protect its share of the premium smartphone market is also underlined by the trade-in programme that will accompany the Galaxy S24 launch. Giving punchy trade-in values to owners of existing Samsung devices is a tacit admission that it must do all it can to ensure users do not defect to the Apple iPhone while driving up the residual value of Samsung devices,” the analyst argued.

The features

In terms of communication enhancements, the Galaxy S24 devices are said to “defy language barriers” by being able to make two-way, real-time voice and text translations of phone calls – without the need to install third-party apps. And the company claimed that on-device AI keeps conversations “completely private”.

Another feature, Interpreter, can instantly translate live conversations on a split-screen view, allowing people standing next to each other to read a text transcription of what the other person has said – a feature that does not require internet connectivity.

Samsung is also introducing Chat Assist – a setting that helps to perfect conversational tones in accordance with specific situations, such as writing a polite message to a co-worker or typing a catchy phrase for a social media post.

AI is also built into the device’s keyboard, allowing it to translate messages in real time in 13 languages; and into Android Auto – to summarise incoming messages and to suggest replies or actions when the user is driving a car. In addition, the technology can generate summaries of notes and voice recordings.

The Galaxy S24 also debuts “intuitive, gesture-driven Circle to Search” capabilities developed by Google, allowing users to discover content with “a simple gesture”.

AI features also contribute to “awe-inspiring creativity”, with new image-capturing abilities and photo-editing tools. Whenever the device deploys generative AI (GenAI) to amplify an image, “a watermark will appear on the image and in metadata.”

The company also noted that users will be able to choose the levels of AI use on their device, having “full controllability over how much they allow their data to enhance AI experiences, through advanced intelligence settings, which can disable online processing of data for AI features.”

Finally, Samsung highlighted environmentally friendly features of the Galaxy S24 portfolio, including components that are made with recycled cobalt and rare earth elements. The devices are also the first to be designed with recycled steel and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU).

The series offers three models: Galaxy S24, Galaxy S24+ and Galaxy S24 Ultra, with the latter the first-ever Galaxy phone to feature a titanium frame (similar to Apple’s iPhone 15 models launched in September 2023).

The partnerships

In a new multi-year collaboration with Google Cloud, Samsung will offer its new cloud partner’s GenAI technology on its devices. Starting with the S24 series, Samsung will be the first Google Cloud partner to deploy Gemini Pro (Google’s recently unveiled AI model) and Imagen 2 (Google’s text-to-image technology) on Vertex AI, Google’s platform for building machine learning (ML) models. These features will be deployed via the cloud to user devices.

The features will allow Samsung users to take advantage of the summarisation features already mentioned for note-taking, voice recording and typing, as well as for photo editing. Additionally, Samsung is among the first Google customers to try out Gemini Ultra, described by the phone maker as “Google’s most capable and largest model for highly complex tasks”.

“With Gemini, Samsung’s developers can leverage Google Cloud’s world-class infrastructure, cutting-edge performance, and flexibility to deliver safe, reliable, and engaging generative AI-powered applications on Samsung smartphone devices,” noted Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud.

In another enhanced partnership, Samsung and Qualcomm plan to jointly “open up a new era in the mobile AI experience”. The new phone models will feature Qualcomm’s latest and “most advanced” Snapdragon Mobile Platform, which has been “designed with generative AI in mind” and can unleash “comprehensive and personalised AI experiences,” Qualcomm noted.

According to Samsung, this chipset delivers “remarkable NPU [neural processing unit] improvement for incredibly efficient AI processing”, making its devices suitable for gaming, “heavy-duty video recording and editing”, and jumping between five apps, for instance.

- Yanitsa Boyadzhieva, Deputy Editor, TelecomTV

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