Galaxy S24 Samsung Unpacked: Mobile AI is Here

January 17, 2024 / Max Weinbach

Today’s Galaxy Unpacked was Samsung’s first event that focused more on software and AI experiences over their new hardware. It was clear through the event that Google and Samsung’s partnership got stronger with AI, with some first and only experiences powered by Google and Google Cloud.

Key Takeaways

  • Mobile generative AI is here and hitting devices, pushing edge computing for AI on the NPU
  • Improving upon pain-points in mobile using AI to improve the experience is more important to Samsung than YoY hardware changes as it builds loyalty and offers greater opportunity to upgrade the larger base holding on to devices that are 3 or 4 years old
  • Google is using their market position with Android to become the main AI data-center provider for mobile GenAI, powered by Google TPU silicon
  • Galaxy S24 series is a really good first US device with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 with use cases that showcase real benefits to consumers

What’s Significant

This is the first major product launch of 2024 with a focus on AI over hardware. Samsung didn’t talk in much detail about the hardware of the Galaxy S24 series and saved mentioning it until the end of the keynote. Apart from a new titanium frame and Corning Gorilla Armor glass in the Galaxy S24 Ultra, not much has changed externally. The Galaxy S24 and Galaxy S24+ have received a new LTPO display, possibly indicating a reduction in scale and cost of LTPO panel technology, as well as slightly flatter rails. On the camera side, the Galaxy S24 Ultra has traded its 10x optical zoom lens for a 5x 50MP sensor with a 10x optical quality crop, while the S24/S24+ remain unchanged. There isn’t much to talk about in terms of hardware, but there are noteworthy year-on-year improvements that focus on refining user experience.

What Samsung really emphasized were generative AI experiences in some of the applications that matter the most to consumers. Google Messages, now the default SMS/RCS app on Samsung devices, can rewrite messages in different themes such as Shakespeare or formal, and it can also suggest replies for the user. It’s also capable of translating messages in real time. Samsung has even integrated a real-time translation feature into the phone app, allowing for conversations in different languages. All of this is processed locally through Samsung’s own AI models in conjunction with Google’s Gemini Nano model.

Not every AI feature is processed locally, as translation features in messages and calls, edit suggestions for photos, and photo ambient wallpaper all run on Google Cloud data centers using Google’s Imagen 2 photo model and Gemini Pro multi-modal LLM. Samsung will also be one of the first customers to have access to Gemini Ultra, which is the GPT-4 level LLM provided by Google.

This announcement is one of the first major ones for consumer-facing AI that runs on Google’s Vertex AI platform. This is significant because the inference for these models is processed on Google’s custom TPU (Tensor Processing Unit) silicon. TPU v5p clusters were announced a few weeks ago, and although it’s likely that these models are processed on those clusters, there is no official confirmation.

As far as sustainability goes, Samsung will now offer 7 years of OS updates and security updates. They are also using more recycled magnets and recycled cobalt for the batteries, as well as recycled TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) internally. The box is made of fully recycled paper and printed with soy ink. All of this is a positive step towards Samsung’s goal of using one material per part of the phone by 2030, using recycled materials.

I was able to try out the new devices for a few minutes and all three of them felt good to use. Globally, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy and it performs well. The NPU is being used for on-device AI. In the United States, the Galaxy S24 and Galaxy S24+ will use the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy, while Samsung’s in-house Exynos 2400 will be used elsewhere. Samsung promises feature parity between Exynos and Snapdragon chips, but historically, the Snapdragon has performed and aged better than its Exynos counterpart.

To appeal more to the younger demographic, Samsung has also created a real-time video processing pipeline. This means that all the processing that happens in the main camera app for photos and videos will now also happen for third-party apps. This should result in good quality images and videos on apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. Unlike previous attempts at this, developers will not need to update their apps to support this feature, as it should look good in every app. It has taken years to get here, but finally, we have arrived.

As the event came to a close, there was a “one more thing” moment: the Samsung Galaxy Ring. Carolina had the opportunity to see the prototype device in the flesh and while very reminiscent of the Oura ring it brings some differentiated design choices from an all round redesign with a slightly sunken middle and a might lighter body. As Samsung doubles down on health, it will be a good differentiator to be able to provide two different form factors for health tracking – watch and ring. Users can either chose between the two or wear them together for additional insights. Theoretically, the Galaxy Ring could also offer Samsung a way into the iOS ecosystem as using it with the iPhone will be the same as using an Oura ring today.

Summary of Event News

  • Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S24 series, including the S24, S24+, and S24 Ultra, with enhanced AI capabilities.
  • The series features Galaxy AI, enhancing communication with Live Translate, boosting creativity with the ProVisual Engine, and transforming search with gesture-driven capabilities.
  • A partnership with Google Cloud brings generative AI to the S24 series, utilizing Gemini Pro and Imagen 2 on Vertex AI for text, voice, and image features.
  • The Galaxy S24 Ultra is equipped with Corning® Gorilla® Armor for improved durability and screen clarity.
  • The Galaxy S24 series uses Google Cloud’s generative AI with models such as Gemini Nano on-device and Gemini Pro and Gemini Ultra in the data center, powered by Google Cloud’s TPU units.
  • Pricing starts at $799 for the S24, $999 for the S24+, and $1,299 for the S24 Ultra, available for purchase today and shipping on January 31st.
  • The S24 series continues Samsung’s commitment to environmental sustainability, featuring recycled materials and aiming to reduce electronic waste.
  • Enhanced camera capabilities include a Quad Tele System and Nightography for clear photos in various conditions.
  • Devices support gaming with hardware and software improvements, including the Snapdragon® 8 Gen 3 Mobile Platform and thermal control systems.
  • Displays are more vibrant with adaptive refresh rates and Vision Booster technology.
  • Advanced security and privacy features are provided by Samsung Knox and related services.
  • Samsung aims to incorporate recycled materials in every mobile product module by 2030, with the S24 series featuring recycled cobalt and rare earth elements.
  • The S24 Ultra introduces a titanium frame and offers a flatter, more immersive display for productivity and viewing.

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