The Galaxy S24 phones are going to be the first brand-new Android devices to ship with advanced generative AI features built-in. Some of this AI magic happens directly on-device, without data leaving the handset to be processed in the cloud. But most Galaxy AI features do require a connection to the cloud. That’s what Samsung told me during a Galaxy S24 briefing.
Samsung also said at the time that it doesn’t plan to charge for any of these Galaxy AI features. Generative AI costs money, but Samsung isn’t ready to charge users for it.
A few days after the first Unpacked event of the year, the Galaxy S24 web pages revealed there’s an expiration date on free Galaxy AI. Samsung’s footnotes indicated that certain AI features might not be free anymore beginning in late 2025.
Since then, Samsung mobile division’s boss, TM Roh, made it clear that Galaxy AI will not necessarily remain free in the future. While no decision has been made, I think it’s prudent to expect Galaxy AI to cost money in the future. And I think that might actually be a good thing.
Roh told ET Telecom that R&D centers in India (Noida and Bengaluru) played a major role in the development of Galaxy AI. Samsung wants to bring the technology to 100 million devices later this year.
That figure will probably include smartphones launched before the Galaxy S24 as well as upcoming new models. Samsung said during Unpacked a few weeks ago that it plans to add Galaxy AI features to older models without providing specifics.
Roh also noted that despite the “enormous resources” and the costs involved in providing AI features to the Galaxy S24 and other phones, Galaxy AI will remain free until 2025. No decision has been made for the more distant future:
According to our analysis, there are various needs for mobile AI. So, there will be consumers who will be satisfied with using the AI capabilities for free. Then there could also be customers who wish for even more powerful AI capabilities and even pay for them. So, in the future decision making, we will take all these factors into consideration.
I don’t mind paying for AI
As with anything else on the internet, generative AI can’t be free. The same goes for Galaxy AI. As an AI fan, I wouldn’t object to paying a fee to access more advanced features. I am already paying for ChatGPT Plus. And make no mistake, Galaxy AI should get smarter in the coming years. We’re just starting to see what’s possible with AI on mobile devices.
The processing power needed for some of those AI features might exceed the capabilities of a smartphone or laptop. Also, I’m looking for security and privacy protections from such software. I wouldn’t want to pay for AI with my data, ads, or other tricks.
Before Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S24 series a few weeks ago, we had reports that claimed Samsung’s generative AI features for the new phones will not be available for free. I speculated at the time that Samsung might increase the Galaxy S24 prices compared to its predecessor to charge for AI. Another option would be a subscription service customers can opt into after getting the phone.
Rumors soon revealed that the Galaxy S24 price structure will resemble the Galaxy S23 series. They were correct, as only the Galaxy S24 Ultra costs more than its predecessor.
I then expected Samsung to charge a subscription for some of the more advanced features in the Galaxy AI suite. Samsung can’t charge for on-device AI, but, as I said, most of those Galaxy AI features use the cloud. Therefore, Samsung resources.
On the other hand, Galaxy AI isn’t entirely Samsung’s. So it’s not like it can charge for it. Circle to Search is a Google Search AI feature. Samsung will use Baidu’s AI for Galaxy S24 units sold in China.
I’ll also point out the obvious. Samsung will want to wait and see what others do with generative AI on their devices, especially one particular player. Apple, whose iPhone is still the north star for Samsung, will bring Apple GPT features to iOS 18 this year. That’s what most rumors say and what many people expect.
Samsung might decide whether to charge on Galaxy AI and how to do it once it sees how Apple will charge iPhone users for built-in generative AI features.