Samsung’s Galaxy S24 pitch: The AI we baked in makes you more human
Pen-equipped Ultra is this year's hero, helped by ‘Circle to Search’ that lets you Google without exiting apps
Samsung has made AI the centerpiece of its annual premium handset launch and featured its Galaxy Ultra, the heir to the Galaxy Note, as the hero of the day.
There’s nothing startlingly new about the Galaxy S 24 range. As in previous years, Samsung has a base model, a Plus model that’s a little larger, and an Ultra that’s equipped with a S-Pen stylus. They’re all rectangular prisms with touchscreens, cameras
The Ultra was the hero of Samsung’s launch infomercial, and of Samsung’s online promotions, despite its $1,299/£1,249/€1,589/AUD$2,199 price tag – rather more than the other two models, as we will detail below.
Samsung led those promos by showing off real-time voice translation, a feature made possible by AI – Google’s Gemini models, to be precise. The reason for featuring the Ultra became apparent in Samsung’s second demo – tools that use AI to tidy up handwriting entered with its S-Pen, or punctuate notes taken on the machine. Samsung’s Voice recorder app also uses AI to summarize recordings.
The demo next moved to feature an offering called “Circle to Search” devised by Google working closely with Samsung. The tool lets users of the S24 range draw a circle on the screen to highlight whatever they fancy, whereupon Google search identifies the item and offers links to more information or purchasing opportunities. Google’s veep for search Cathy Edwards suggested it would come in handy if your favorite online creator forgot to tag the designer of the garments they are wearing in a pic, frustrating your aspirations to emulate their style.
The demo did not extend to scenarios more likely to excite Reg readers.
The point of the feature is that you may be tired of shifting between apps to search. Circling the object of your desires, or a term, invokes search without leaving an app.
AI appeared again and again in Samsung’s presentation, improving the S24 range’s ability to capture photos and videos, especially when zooming in for close-ups with the Ultra’s 5x optical lens, then identifying the blemishes or unwanted bits so they can be removed. AI was even said to help power management.
Samsung’s overall theme suggested that artificial intelligence will help you to express your organic intelligence, both by handling scutwork or by automagically doing the sort of specialist tasks like photo editing that once required skilled people or specific tools.
The S24 range is equipped to do so thanks to a faster SoC that boasts CPU, GPU and NPU cores. The Ultra’s frame includes titanium to deliver “super-premium feel and durability”, while a flatter screen was designed to ease users of the S-Pen. Samsung’s also reworked the devices’ innards: gamers were promised they won’t notice hotspots, thanks to a wider vapor chamber that disperses heat in two directions.
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The S24 Ultra comes in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB variants, all with an octa-core CPU and a 3120 x 1440 (Quad HD+) 6.8″ display. The four rear cameras pack sensors rated at 200, 50, 12, and 10 megapixels. The front snapper is a 12MP affair. An Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 CPU features cores at 3.39GHz, 3.1GHz, 2.9GHz, 2.2GHz. 12GB of RAM and a 5000 mAh battery rounds things out.
The S24 Plus starts at $1,119.99/€1,169.00/£999.00/AUD$1,699. That money buys you a ten-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 at 3.2GHz, 2.9GHz, 2.6GHz, and 1.95GHz. A 3120 x 1440 (Quad HD+) 6.7″ display, 12GB of RAM, and just three rear-facing cameras at 50, 12, and 10 megapixels apiece are also present. The front-facing snapper is the same as that in the Ultra but the battery drops to 4900 mAh.
The vanilla S24 drops to $799.99/€899.00/£799.00/AUD$1,399 and shrinks RAM to 8GB, screen size to 6.2″ and resolution to 2340 x 1080 (FHD+). The CPU matches the specs of the S24+. Cameras also match the more expensive model.
All models are IP68 rated, feature Gorilla Glass, and can achieve 120Hz screen refresh rates.
Take the prices quoted in this story with a pinch of salt: Samsung’s websites around the world have offers for each territory, with trade-ins, discounts for buying direct, storage upgrade offers, and monthly payments all on offer in various territories.
Should you buy one?
Your correspondent recently acquired a Galaxy S23 Ultra (with my own hard-earned) and it’s a cracking smartphone. But watching the launch of the S24 range left me a tad miffed – especially during the demo of Circle to Search which is for now only offered on the new Samsungs and Google’s own Pixel 8 offerings.
I can imagine Circle to Search will lure quite a few punters.
I quite fancy the handwriting tidying features and summaries of voice recordings, if they’re as powerful as Samsung’s demos suggest. But I’m years from upgrading after my late 2023 purchase.
Samsung has sensibly matched Google’s promised seven years of security and OS updates. You don’t need AI to know that’s welcome or conclude that it’s an offer with the potential to slow the already-stagnant smartphone market. ®