It’s only January, but the big tech releases aren’t stopping anytime soon. We’ve already had CES, and Apple announced their Vision Pro headset just a few days before that.
Now it’s Samsung’s turn.
The South Korean tech giant tends to run on a pretty reliable two-year schedule with its phone releases – they’ll drop a big, genre-defining product one year, with a more incremental upgrade in the years in between. And 2024 is an in-between year. So the Samsung Unlocked event might not have shot the lights out in terms of presentation (the massive display stage was cool, though), but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty to get excited about.
Continuing a trend that followed through from Apple’s September reveal of the iPhone 15 lineup, AI is clearly a big focus for Samsung’s mobile strategy going forward.
The company unveiled Galaxy AI as its flagship artificial intelligence initiative, which will find a home on the full S24 lineup – the Galaxy S24, S24 Plus, and S24 Ultra. The local and cloud-based tech is powered at least partly by Google Gemini, a competitor to OpenAI’s well-known GPT-4 model.
AI took up a big chunk of the presentation, with plenty of demos showing off the new approach. These included a deep dive into a new translation feature, which appears to work fairly seamlessly across voice and text communication, in live calls, and even in real life conversations.
It’s impressive technology, and may offer unique utility in a country as diverse as South Africa (provided our many languages are supported).
For the productivity-minded among us, Note Assist is designed to take the work out of organising your thoughts. You can ask Galaxy AI to organise meeting notes, add headings and bullet points based on the content. The S24 Ultra can even do this with handwriting created using the included stylus.
The Galaxy series can also generate transcripts of conversations, so you don’t even need to write notes at all. But more impressively, it can summarise those conversations once transcribed, saving you a ton of time and effort.
Help with notes is obviously nice, but the camera magic in these phones is both more visually impressive, and probably offers more day-to-day utility.
Galaxy AI showed off some impressive photo and video tricks:
- The ability to make on the fly photo adjustments, like removing background objects or doing touch ups
- Turn any video into slow motion footage – the AI will fill in the frame gaps to keep things smooth
- A full suite of generative AI-driven editing tools that let you do neat tricks like moving a subject entirely, with the AI filling in the gaps left behind (a baked-in watermark makes it easier to tell which photos have been tweaked)
But probably the most useful feature announced is Circle to Search. This neat magic trick lets you long-press the home button, then draw a circle around whatever’s on screen to pull up search results for it.
The really clever bit? You can use it on photos, both in your gallery or online. If you see a bag you like in a social media post, you can just search the post directly, instead of trying to figure out a search term that might get you there, but probably won’t.
So, that’s the software stuff. But what about the hardware?
This year’s iteration of the Galaxy series is, as we mentioned up top, a small leap rather than a big on. All three phones get small visual upgrades, from totally flat screens to new colours and textures, and slightly larger batteries all ‘round. The S24 Ultra also gets a material upgrade in the form of titanium rails, à la Apple’s new iPhones.
In fact, the S24 Ultra is where all the biggest changes have happened. While all three get the same chip – Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, which also powers a lot of the AI smarts – the screens and cameras of the S24 and S24 Plus are largely the same quality as in 2023.
The Ultra? Not so much. It gets a massive 200MP wide camera, 12MP ultra-wide, and a pair of telephoto lenses: A 50MP 5x, and a 10MP 3x. The large size of the 5x should theoretically let you zoom to a cropped 10x at 12MP, which is nice.
But other than that, it’s pretty much business as usual.
Exploring New Galaxies
All-in-all, Samsung Unlocked showed off some neat features, but nothing that quite added up to a revelation (even if Mr Beast and Pokimane did make appearances).
This year’s Galaxy models aren’t going to revolutionise your life, but they’ll still comfortably be some of the best phones money can buy.
And if you can’t wait, why not get the S23 on a Rentoza subscription? You can always upgrade when the S24 does arrive – and with no penalty fees.
Because commitment is messy. Just Rentoza it.