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The new Samsung Galaxy S24 line of smartphones have some pretty nice hardware including high-quality displays, speedy processors, and some pretty nice cameras. But if you watched Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked launch event this week, you probably noticed that Samsung spent most of its time highlighting the new Galaxy AI features launching first on those phones.

What Samsung didn’t mention during that event is that it’s only promising to let you use those features for free until 2025, and some features won’t be available at all unless you have an active internet connection because they rely on cloud processing.

But if you scroll down to the fine print on the product pages for new phones like the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, you’ll find language that makes it clear that “Galaxy AI features will be provided for free until the end of 2025 on supported Samsung Galaxy Devices.”

That strongly suggests that Samsung is considering requiring a subscription to access those features after 2025. And honestly, that makes sense. Because it takes money to operate the servers that power many of the AI features the company showed off. Giving users free lifetime access to those features would probably eat into the profits the company makes by selling its phones.

With Samsung promising at least 7 years of security updates and 7 major OS updates for the Galaxy S24, I can see why the company doesn’t want to also promise that users will also be able to get free access to cloud-based services for that amount of time.

It still feels a bit like a bait-and-switch. Buy this phone because of all these cool new things it can do… but if you really like those features, you’re going to need to pay to keep using them after the first two years.

Of course, a lot can happen between now and the end of 2025. For example, Samsung might discover that users don’t actually want or need some of those features and might not be willing to pay. Or they could prove hugely popular, and Samsung could continue rolling out additional features that users would be willing to pay for.

In that sense, maybe this isn’t all that different from one of those deals where you get free storage, a free music or video subscription, or some other perk for the first year or two when you purchase a new device… and it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth continuing to pay for that service once the free trial ends.

But Samsung also made a point during its Galaxy S24 launch event of noting that some of its AI features don’t require an internet connection at all. For example, the phone should be able to handle real-time language translations using only your device’s hardware. Since no data needs to be sent to the cloud for processing, it’s conceivable that features like this could be available without a subscription.

Samsung does note that you do need an internet connection for specific AI features, including AI-based image editing, the Note Assist feature that provides summaries of text notes, and Google’s new Circle to Search feature.

via 9to5Google

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  1. AI’s biggest feature has the greedy C-Suite MBAs chomping at the bit – pay-as-you-go – FOREVER.

  2. I really like that new copilot feature that showed up on my laptop. Generate images, get help with code, etc. But that news about adding a copilot key to new keyboards has me wondering what will be included vs what you have to pay extra for. Plus all the personal data they’re keeping regardless if you’re paying… This AI stuff really is cool, but I’d feel happier running it locally. Maybe there will be model markets, like an app store for specialized models. Pay less if you want one that’s good at history but can’t pass medical school, for example. Buy it once, it’s yours, upgrade when it’s worth it.

    1. I’m not sure about this, and this is something that may change, but I strongly suspect Microsoft/OpenAI says they have a copyright claim to whatever you ask it to output in the TOS even if that’s legally unenforcable by virtue of the results being not copywritable. They’re not just going to let that go in the event that it spits out something valuable.
      There are parts of the many mystery meat models that make up copilot for example that do run locally, that’s why there’s now a 16gb ram requirement to run it, but without a doubt whatever programs use these models will be sending an unknown amount of data to Microsoft/OpenAI.
      So, the principle to keep in mind is, just because the processing is done locally, doesn’t mean they’re not getting something out of it.

  3. Soon: “Would you like to renew your 1440p screen subscription? 1080p is also available. Without subscription your phone will default to 720p. With a premium subscription you are also upgrading your screen refresh rate to 120Hz with the 1440p subscription or 90Hz with the 1080p one.”

  4. In 2 years, average phone will be able to pull all of these offline using public models. Most of features can be done now, but Google policy on locking as much as possible creates a real issue: you can’t record calls in most regions (stupid limitation given that one can buy recording BT headset, but I assume it’s more of the government regulations at play), you cannot release apps that use accessibility API for on screen translation and journaling, you can’t provide context intents anymore (but Google can), etc.
    A number of apps were banned from the store, including ours, that had all these features in 2015, most of which were on-device offline.

    1. Call recording is the only feature I keep rooting my phone (and yes, it’s legal in my country), I would rather not have online payment and banking on my phone if I can have this one feature.

  5. The lack of transparency on exactly which features are going to require a subscription is concerning, considering that people are already buying (pre-ordering) it. But then again, Samsung IS losing market share for a reason, I guess.

    1. On that side, they’re not actually that bad. I got an S21 and it received three major updates and it should receive a fourth, final, update next year. I didn’t expect it to receive official updates for so long back when it was released.

  6. So much for the exaggerated jumping up and down and promises that the AI slop will be hardware only.