When the latest Galaxy S24 phones make their debut at the upcoming Galaxy Unpacked event on Wednesday (January 17), we're probably not going to be talking about the hardware changes Samsung made to its flagship phones. Instead, if rumors are accurate, it's the software that should grab everyone's attention — specifically the new features powered by Samsung's push into artificial intelligence.
You can lock in your savings on whatever gets announced at Galaxy Unpacked — we expect it to be the three latest Galaxy S24 models — by heading over to Samsung's website or the Shop Samsung app. Leaver your name and email address to reserve your chance to preorder the new products, and you can get a $50 credit from Samsung. You must reserve your space by January 16.
It's not exactly a state secret that the Galaxy S24 will put AI capabilities front and center. Samsung has already indicated that AI will be a major focus of its next big phone release, even if it hasn't confirmed details about specific features, yet.
"Samsung has been fairly open in its advance marketing that AI will at least be used for improved camera features," said Avi Greengart, lead analyst for Techsponential. "I also expect that Samsung will announce ways of using AI for content creation, because that’s an area where generative AI offers unique capabilities, and people buy Samsung phones to create photos, videos, and to be more productive."
Expect Samsung to devote a good chunk of its Galaxy Unpacked event to dive into the details about its AI features. And as it does, we should get a better idea of just how significantly AI will impact how we use our phones.
What Samsung has said about AI
Samsung certainly has high hopes for what it plans to introduce. "Galaxy AI is our most comprehensive intelligence offering to date, and it will change how we think about our phones forever," said Wonjoon Choi, an executive vice president and head of R&D for Samsung's Mobile eXperience Business, when Samsung announced its AI plans last November.
At the time, Samsung promised new AI features were coming to Galaxy phones in early 2024 — a pretty clear sign that these capabilities would debut on the Galaxy S24 lineup. Broadly speaking, Samsung said AI built into the phones would enable communication without barriers, better productivity and "unconstrained creativity."
Specifics were few and far between, though Samsung did offer one clear example of what it's hoping to do with AI. The company described a new feature called AI Live Translate Call, in which you'll be able to have a phone conversation with a person on the other end of the line who speaks a different language from you. Both audio and text translations will occur in real time — the latter will appear on your Galaxy device's screen — removing the need to consult a third-party translation app. Samsung also described the experience as happening completely on the device itself, keeping your conversations private no matter what language they occur in.
It's pretty clear this AI Live Translate Call feature is coming to the Galaxy S24 — and all models of the phone, not just the high-end Galaxy S24 Ultra. And indeed, a leaked version of the One UI 6.1 software interface expected to run on the new S24 models confirms that the Phone app will have some sort of live translation capability.
What Galaxy S24 rumors say about AI
That One UI 6.1 leak revealed more than just live translations during phone calls. Other features present in that software included AI-generated wallpapers, the ability to organize notes into bullet points and some smart charging features designed to extend the life of the phone's battery.
Photo-editing features also appear to be part of Samsung's AI plans for the S24 lineup. The One UI 6.1 leak hints at a photo editing feature that can expand the borders of photos by filling in the background. Another feature will let you manipulate the subject of a photo, allowing you to move them around to some place else in the shot. (This sounds very much a similar capability in the Magic Editor feature on board the latest Google Pixel 8 phones.)
Additional leaks tout other AI features supposedly coming to the Galaxy S24 phones. Rumored capabilities include the ability to automatically generate e-mail replies, upscale videos with better low-light performance and voice transcription features that recognize diferent speakers, among other improvements.
"I don’t think it’d be out of the question to expect additional AI capabilities along the lines of what we’ve seen from previous Unpacked events as well as competitor smartphone launches," said Tuong Nguyen, a director analyst at Gartner. Nguyen expects to see AI features aimed at improving photo quality, providing translations and tracking behaviors like physical and mental health or security data.
"While these are all features we’ve seen before from Samsung phones, other smartphones as well as other consumer electronics devices, I think the innovation will come in terms of *how* this is applied, what improvements they bring over previous iterations," he added.
Galaxy AI outlook
Details about those AI-powered features in the Galaxy S24 will go a long way toward determining how significant these improvements actually are. Even then, it's not clear whether AI will be a driving force to convince smartphone owners to upgrade to the Galaxy S24.
"I doubt that AI capabilities in themselves will prompt people to upgrade their current phones because most phones in the past few years have some kind of AI functionality," Nguyen said. "It’s more about what those capabilities will enable that make them fundamentally different or more useful than what a consumer currently has that will make them want to upgrade."
Greengart agrees that any talk of the neural processing unit (NPU) in whatever silicon Samsung uses — most likely the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for S24 models released in the U.S. and the Exynos 2400 for S24 and S24 Plus models released in the rest of the world — isn't going to make people beat a path to Samsung's virtual store. "Consumers don’t know what an NPU is," he said. "However, if you can tell them a compelling story about how this phone can help them be more productive or more creative, and you can deliver those experiences, yes, that can speed up the upgrade cycle."
Ultimately, how significant Samsung's AI moves turn out to be depends largely on Samsung — and not just how the features are implemented initially on the Galaxy S24 but how they evolve over time.
"It’s like any new technology: we have some idea of what it can do, but not how best to use those capabilities in a way that consumers or businesses value," Greengart said. "There’s always some trial and error involved with new platforms, but Samsung is known for being an innovator: it brings new ideas and capabilities to market early, and then aggressively invests in what works best and builds on that."
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.