Samsung introduces AI’s future for phones

Wed Jul 10 2024
Ramesh Sridharan (926 articles)
Samsung introduces AI’s future for phones

Apple has announced its plans to incorporate generative artificial intelligence into its upcoming iPhones. Samsung Electronics, a major competitor to Apple in the smartphone market, provides insights into what the user experience could be like.

Since January, Samsung has introduced a range of AI features that align with Apple’s promised offerings, including real-time translation, photo editing, and text summarization. According to Samsung, the recent flagship devices now offer generative AI capabilities, which is a significant advancement for smartphones. This feature is available to approximately 100 million users.

The main observation: The adoption of the new AI services has exceeded expectations, but the features alone are not convincing people to upgrade their outdated devices. Not yet, but perhaps in the future.

Dylan Huynh from Calgary, Alberta, is an individual who has been quick to embrace new technology. He has explored numerous generative AI features on his Galaxy S24 Ultra, a device that became available earlier this year. He has found the “Circle to Search” feature particularly useful, as it allows him to quickly perform a Google search on his phone by simply highlighting any text. In the past, Huynh would have had to switch between various applications, he mentioned.

“There’s no need to interrupt your current activities,” said the laboratory research assistant. “I use it multiple times a day without a doubt.”

With Apple’s imminent entry into the market, the era of generative AI in smartphones is poised to become popular among affluent buyers, who are the primary contributors to the industry’s profits. Approximately 20% of smartphones shipped globally this year will come equipped with generative AI capabilities, as reported by market research firm International Data Corp. According to IDC, by 2028, these devices are projected to make up around 70% of global shipments.

Samsung expanded its AI-phone collection with the introduction of the Galaxy Z Fold 6 and Galaxy Z Flip 6 foldable-display devices. These devices come with enhanced generative AI features that are specifically designed for the phones. Samsung also unveiled new wearables, such as the Galaxy Ring, which utilizes AI technology to track a user’s sleep patterns and energy levels.

The phones were made available for purchase in the U.S. and other markets on July 24. The latest Galaxy Fold 6 is priced at approximately $1,900, while the Galaxy Flip 6 comes in at around $1,100. This represents a modest increase of about $100 compared to the previous year’s models.

It is still uncertain if generative AI can boost hardware sales. According to a recent survey by market researcher Canalys, smartphone buyers worldwide have shown a significant interest in AI features. However, when it comes to considering an upgrade, consumers still prioritize more traditional aspects such as improved cameras or processors. According to a recent analysis by IDC, only 3% of PCs shipped this year will meet Microsoft’s threshold for AI processing power, despite the hype surrounding AI PCs.

Kevin Lee of Cincinnati may require further examination. Lee, who lacks proficiency in Korean, tested out the real-time “Interpreter” translation feature of his Galaxy S24 Ultra during a recent visit to South Korea. He mentioned that it functioned effectively in calm environments, such as providing instructions to a taxi driver. However, at a family gathering in a restaurant, the phone was able to provide accurate Korean-to-English translations of the music playing in the background.

“It was highly precise,” remarked Lee, a transportation engineer, “however, it did not align with our desired outcome.”

According to Patrick Chomet, the head of Samsung’s customer experience office for mobile products, the generative AI features that were introduced in January have surpassed the company’s initial expectations. Despite being a novelty, the uptake of these features has been greater than anticipated. As an economist would analyze, the Circle to Search feature has a weekly usage rate of approximately 55%, whereas certain photo-editing features are adopted by around 20% of users, according to his statement.

“I was quite taken aback,” Chomet remarked. “These are practical tools that people are genuinely utilizing, not just AI gimmicks.”

Juan Pablo Gutierrez, a business-operations analyst in Leon, Mexico, frequently utilizes ChatGPT to assist him in composing emails or text messages in English from his work computer. However, when he’s out and about, he appreciates having comparable translation and text-editing capabilities on his Galaxy S24+ device. This allows him to verify his English grammar and ensure the desired tone of his messages. “It enhances my professional image,” he stated.

David William Knox, a resident of Tonsberg, Norway, found Samsung’s generative AI photo-editing software to be quite useful when he needed to enhance numerous photos captured with his Galaxy S24 Ultra following a recent visit to the United States. With the help of this software, he could easily remove unwanted individuals or objects from his photos using simple gestures and taps. The AI effortlessly recreated the background in a natural manner.

There is no requirement to download anything. “It’s a standard feature of the phone,” stated Knox, who specializes in food production.

Despite having an in-house generative AI engine, Samsung maintains a close collaboration with its long-running partner Google. According to Bryan Ma, a vice president at IDC, the South Korean firm’s early advantage over Apple gives them the opportunity to boast and have more time to innovate new features. However, this may not necessarily result in a significant increase in sales for both companies. The anticipation stems from the fact that the iPhone is expected to have comparable features, which has led users to be patient.

Last month, Apple announced its plans to introduce new features that utilize generative AI. These features include voice transcription, text summarization, and photo editing. In addition, the iPhone maker announced plans to enhance the functionality of its Siri voice assistant and collaborate with OpenAI’s ChatGPT to tackle more demanding tasks that require advanced computing power.

Certain features known as “Apple Intelligence” will soon be accessible, such as the ChatGPT add-on for Siri. Expect announcements about the availability of these features in the coming months, possibly coinciding with the release of the iPhone 15 Pro and Apple’s upcoming phones this autumn. Apple has announced that the remaining features will be available next year.

The announcements received a response from Samsung’s official X account of its U.S. mobile division. Simply including ‘Apple’ does not make it innovative or revolutionary. Welcome to AI,” the X post read, with an apple emoji at the end.

In January, Samsung released a significant number of generative AI phones. Last year, Google released the Pixel 8 phone, which shares many features with other phones, but has a significantly smaller user base. Chinese brands such as Huawei and Vivo have introduced competing products in their home country, which has led to a decline in Apple’s position in the world’s largest smartphone market.

According to Nicole Peng, a senior vice president at Canalys, phonemakers are currently in a trial-and-error stage with users. However, the industry’s focus on research and development in generative AI is a noteworthy development. “There seems to be a significant surge at the moment,” she remarked.

Cha Moon-su, a software engineer in Seoul, has been exploring the new AI capabilities on his Galaxy S24 Ultra device since January. He created a new AI-generated wallpaper for his phone by combining the elements of a beach and a radio. The image it created resembled a scene from a Van Gogh painting, with a radio casually placed on the sandy beach as the sun set. He continues to utilize it.

According to him, the other features haven’t become routine, so his new Samsung device with AI technology doesn’t feel significantly different from his previous ones. Cha had additional motives for the upgrade. “I had exhausted all the storage on my previous phone,” Cha explained, “and required something with more capacity.”

Tags AI, Apple, Samsung, U.S.
Ramesh Sridharan

Ramesh Sridharan

Ramesh Sridharan is our Stock Market Correspondent covering events and daily movements of stock markets in Asia. He is based in Mumbai