As Samsung Gears For Galaxy S24 Launch, All Eyes Will be on ‘Galaxy AI’

At the ‘Galaxy Unpacked’ event, Samsung will focus on AI-driven features

Highlights
  • Samsung could introduce a Live AI translation for calls as one of the features.
  • Samsung will likely get a first-mover’s advantage when it comes to incorporating GenAI on smartphones.
  • Rival Apple is also working to incorporate more AI-driven features into iPhones.

It is time for Samsung to showcase its premium Galaxy S24 series later this week on January 17. But this time the focus won’t just be on the camera or how efficiently the phone runs the latest gaming titles. Instead, Samsung’s ‘Galaxy AI’ announcement will be the most closely watched. Samsung is expected to introduce new generative artificial intelligence (AI)-based features on the S24 phones, which is unsurprising given generative AI has been the buzzword of 2023 thanks to OpenAI and its ChatGPT.

The technology of Generative AI (GenAI) is powered by Large Language Models (LLMs) and these tools are capable of answering user queries/prompts in a range of formats be it images, text, or videos. Some GenAI tools are capable of replying in various formats – hence they are called multi-modal. GenAI is seen as a game-changer for businesses and consumers alike. And starting in 2024, it is expected to make a deeper impact on smartphones in general. But let’s start with the Galaxy S24 first.

Samsung Galaxy S24 and Galaxy AI: What do we Know so Far?

Back in November 2023, Samsung issued a press note and revealed one example of how AI will be implemented on future Galaxy phones. In the press note, Samsung referred to Galaxy AI as “a comprehensive mobile AI experience, powered by both on-device AI developed at Samsung and cloud-based AI enabled by our open collaborations with like-minded industry leaders.”

What this means is that these AI-powered experiences will run both on the device itself and using other cloud-based AI tools. Samsung plans to introduce what it calls the “AI Live Translate Call” feature, where the phone’s call app itself ends up being a real-time translator. So yes, while one is on a call, the phone will provide “audio and text translation… in real-time as you speak,” going by Samsung’s press note. Samsung also adds that this will ensure users can make calls to someone who speaks in another language. Further, the company states that the translated conversation will remain private and not leave the user’s call. No doubt Samsung will have a demo during the launch presentation to showcase more on this technology.

Of course, thanks to leaks we do have a fair idea of other AI-based features that are in the pipeline.

Tipster Alvin posted on X (formerly Twitter) that the Galaxy S24 series will support the ability to summarise webpages, detect the tone of writing in sentences and convert these to the required use case – be it professional or casual.

Samsung is also expected to bring a ‘Generative Edit’ feature to the camera — a likely competitor to Pixel 8’s Magic Editor. And just like what Google offers, Samsung phones will soon let users remove unwanted objects or people from their photos. Many of these features will be powered by AI, as the phone makes predictions and suggestions to the user.

Samsung is expected to integrate AI further to boost the quality of photos on the phone–though to be fair, photography on phones has been powered by some level of machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence for some time now. That’s one reason why Portraits on our phones nowadays can almost rival those taken from a professional DSLR camera, without having the same powerful camera sensor or lens structure.

Of course, another area where Samsung could use GenAI is when it comes to the personal assistant. Just like Apple’s Siri, Bixby hasn’t exactly been very popular, but it could get a serious boost if Samsung decides to plug in some more powerful LLMs into the assistant. Again, how Samsung plays this will be closely watched.

GenAI Will Come to More Phones

Of course, Samsung is not the only player, which is expected to go big on ‘Generative AI (GenAI)’ and smartphones. According to Counterpoint Research, it expects phones with such AI-based features to grow big by 2027 as players such as Xiaomi, OPPO and vivo also join the fight eventually. Counterpoint defines, “GenAI smartphones as a subset of AI smartphones that uses Generative AI to create original content, rather than just providing pre-programmed responses or performing predefined tasks. These devices will run size-optimized AI models natively and come with certain hardware specifications.”

Counterpoint sees GenAI making inroads into four main areas – “info provisioning, image building, live translation, and personal assistant applications.” For now, Samsung is expected to remain the leader in phones with GenAI capabilities. And what about Apple– the company that is Samsung’s biggest rival and the second-largest smartphone vendor in the world?

Apple and GenAI

There’s no doubt that Apple is seen as being behind on the ‘GenAI’ game. But it has its plans and as is typical of Apple, it is no hurry to rush into the field. But there are several indicators that Apple is also working on plans to run LLMs on its iPhones. For starters in December, two papers by Apple researchers caught media attention. The first titled “LLM in a Flash” looked at how it would be possible to run “effective inference of LLMs on devices with limited memory.” ‘Inference’ refers to how a model responds to user queries and typically LLMs require vast data centres with heavy-duty computing power. Running LLMs alone on an iPhone with limited computational power is not possible and Apple’s paper is looking at how to solve this challenge. Again this does not mean that the iPhone 16 will run the most powerful LLMs when it launches, but rather that Apple is exploring the technology further.

The second paper looks at a new way of creating animated avatars of a user based on iPhone videos. HUGS, which stands for ‘Human Gaussian Splats’, is the name for this new method, and it could allow users to create such animated videos in just under 30 minutes, according to the paper.

Demonstration of Apple’s HUGS GenAI

HUGS is also promising more realistic-looking avatars that could put it ahead of the competition. But, again, all of this is still under testing and research.

However, this does not mean that the iPhone 16 won’t get any GenAI features. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman expects Apple to bring AI-based features such as “auto-summarizing and auto-complete” to apps such as Pages and Keynotes. Apple Music could get more AI-based features as well and Siri might finally get a serious overhaul as well. But he also notes Apple’s AI vision will only scale by 2025. So yes, in a way, Samsung will have some first-mover advantage as it announces AI-based features on the Galaxy S24 series.

GenAI on Phones: Why is it a Big Deal?

There’s no doubt that GenAI will be the big-talked-about moment when it comes to smartphones this year – at least in the premium category. And Samsung will set the tone for this with its announcement later this week. To be fair, several AI algorithms are driving many of the features on smartphones – be it night photography or even auto-suggestions. But with GenAI, these are expected to get better and more accurate. There’s also a high level of hype when it comes to GenAI and the question remains on whether it will match up to expectations or end up becoming just another feature that is happens to be there on our smartphones.