Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Samsung’s Galaxy S24 is all about making AI do something

Big screens, big cameras, and a pen are what we’ve come to expect from the Galaxy S range, but the Galaxy S24 feels less about the specs and more about the capabilities.

Barely three weeks into the new year, Samsung is ready with something we didn’t truly expect until February: a new phone. And not just one new phone, but three.

Yes, it’s time for the phone update cycle to begin, with new phones aplenty for 2024 and Samsung the first to kick it off.

While Mobile World Congress isn’t until February and a new iPhone won’t be until September, Samsung is ready with 2024’s first big phone or three, and aspects of them will be a little familiar overall.

It’s 2024 so this year’s range is aptly named the Galaxy S24, updating last year’s S23, S23+, and the 23 Ultra, the larger and more premium of the models. A year later, the S24 borrows much of what made last year’s models work, but also chimes into something of a trend: AI.

It may well be the year of the AI PC, but we’re also going to see uses for artificial intelligence on phones, and Samsung is kicking that off, too, announcing that the S24 will essentially be a phone all about AI, finding ways to help you without needing to connect to the web.

The new chips found at the heart of these phones will allow AI models to run without an internet connection, meaning near-instant language translation, image manipulation, and more available to these devices.

“Marrying some of the strength of our hardware with a suite of Galaxy AI services, we do believe that S24 will not only allow customers to get a more personal experience, but empower them to get a lot more work done,” said Eric Chou, Head of Mobile Experience at Samsung in Australia.

“The Galaxy S24 series transforms our connection with the world and ignites the next decade of mobile innovation,” he said.

“We are excited to bring these latest innovations to Australia and see how our users around the world empower their everyday lives with Galaxy AI to open up new possibilities.”

Samsung’s Galaxy S24 range

Before we get stuck into what the devices can do, though, let’s take a look at what they are.

Like previous Galaxy S ranges, there are three models: the normal-sized 6.2 inch S24, the slightly bigger 6.7 inch S24+, and the larger and more premium 6.8 inch S24 Ultra. They’ll share similar features across slightly different hardware in Australia, with the S24 and S24+ using a Samsung Exynos processor, while the S24 Ultra will get Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip.

Both the S24 and S24+ have the same cameras, covering three on the back with a 50 megapixel F1.8 main, 12 megapixel F2.2 ultra-wide, and a 10 megapixel F2.4 3x optical. Meanwhile, the S24 Ultra will see four cameras, covering 200 megapixel F1.7 wide, a 12 megapixel F2.2 ultra-wide, 10 megapixel 3x optical F2.4, and a 50 megapixel F3.4 5x telephoto.

They’ll all feature IP68 water resistance, a minimum of 8GB RAM (12GB on the S24+ and S24 Ultra), a 12 megapixel front-facing camera, 5G, and support for WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and wireless charging. There’s no word on whether they’ll support Qi2 yet, but they’re suitably spec’d up. Even the S24 Ultra includes a titanium frame, much like the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

The new chips also come packing with neural cores, which means they can processing AI instructions directly on the hardware without needing a connection to the web. That’s interesting, but it needs a reason to exist, and that’s where Samsung is ready.

AI makes it more than just a spec update

While the specs have clearly changed, the launch of the S24 is one of the first times we’ve seen Samsung concentrate on talking about what the phone can do in real-world uses, as opposed to merely it having faster tech and better cameras. It has both of those, but the focus here is on the AI component, and what people will be able to do.

For instance, they’ll be able to search using anything on screen using “Circle to Search”. To do this, you’ll simply circle something occurring on screen and the phone will use AI in the phone to search for what you see. You’ll need a web connection for that — the internet isn’t entirely on your phone — but other AI mechanisms in the S24 range won’t need a persistent internet connection to work.

Services like language translation in phone calls will occur entirely on the phone, provided you know which language you’re talking to in the first place. That’s thanks to an AI technology Samsung calls “Live Translate”, while another “Interpreter” can see you type messages in one language and have them translated to another in split-screen, making it easier to talk to someone with a different language in text.

You’ll even be able to make your text look cleaner or more colloquial, writer’s choice, with a language clean up tool “Chat Assist” which works in English and other languages. It even supports the ability to “emojify” some text, and make it more web savvy.

Samsung told Pickr that its AI model supported 30 languages and that more would be added, with a transcript able to be provided for calls, available in both languages.

The S24 AI component also goes deeper than that, providing ways to edit your photos and remove elements of an image, or even expand upon what you see using Samsung’s ProVisual Engine.

It’s a little like what Google offers in its Pixel range, but will work for more than just the photos captured on a Galaxy S24, with support for any image edited on the phone.

It’ll mean being able to select elements and have the AI remove them quickly, fix reflections, or even change the crop of a photo so that it can create part of a landscape that doesn’t exist to suit the image better. The idea of “what’s real” in a photo may soon be questioned, but you’ll be able to make an image suit your needs, as opposed to merely capturing it the way it is.

Removing a building from a photo is as easy as touching what you don’t want there and letting AI do the job.

Low-light images captured with night mode can deliver improvements here, too, thanks in part to a combination between image processing and stabilisation, as well as an understanding between the movement in the phone and the movement in the subject.

Videos will benefit, too, with extra frames inserted in videos to improve the slickness with which they load, almost like the motion technologies used in TVs. You won’t have to use it, but it will be there should you want it.

Some of this will even make its way to older models, such as the Galaxy S23 range, but due to the differences in hardware and limitations between older and newer chips, the performance and features may not be exactly the same.

Hands-on with the Galaxy S24 Ultra

Before the launch, Pickr spent some time touching, prodding, and ultimately playing with the high-end model, the S24 Ultra, and it’s an impressive little machine.

More than just a set of updated specs, it’s a phone that feels great in the hand and comes with some clever functionality, expanding on the set of AI image processing the Pixel 8 Pro comes with.

Testing the camera, you’ll find you can get fairly close, not just with the zoom capability, but also the macro, which allowed us to snap a picture of a biscuit at very, very close range.

Snapping a landscape even allowed us to remove buildings we didn’t like, thanks in part to the AI features found inside. If you’re not a fan of something, you simply need to edit the image, select the part you want to remove, and let the AI processing fill in the gap.

It’s a clever addition that should work with images not captured on the S24, and could make fixing wedding photos a breeze as well, particularly if you’ve fallen out with some of the guests.

Overall, it’s a lovely little set, and one that still comes with some of those features Samsung’s Galaxy Ultra models are known for, such as the quad camera system and the S-Pen for writing with. Those are still there, as is DeX mode, and there’s even a special cooling system for gamers, too.

But we’re definitely drawn to the AI uses Samsung has come up with, which help to make the phone stand out.

Australian Galaxy S24 pricing and availability

If you’re taken by what’s on offer, you’ll find the Galaxy S24 range heading to Australian stores online and in person from February 7, with pre-orders kicking off today (January 18).

In Australia, the S24 standard starts at $1399 for a 256GB model with $1599 for the 512GB variant. Moving to the next model, the S24+ is $1699 for 256GB and $1899 for 512GB, while the premium S24 Ultra will start from $2199 for 256GB, $2399 for 512GB, and $2799 for 1TB.

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