It’s clear that Samsung thinks AI is crucial to driving growth for premium devices. There couldn’t have been a more obvious indication than Samsung diving straight into the Galaxy AI features as the Unpacked event kicked off yesterday. It didn’t say anything about the new Galaxy S24 series and didn’t mention anything about its upgrades until almost half an hour into the event. It wanted the maximum attention for Galaxy AI, which is what the company calls its suite of AI features.

Galaxy AI is a collection of local and cloud-based artificial intelligence features that bring a whole host of new functionality to the Galaxy S24 series. Galaxy AI is particularly useful for photo and video editing. It helps you isolate, resize, and even remove objects in a photo. You can also adjust the horizon level in the photo and instead of having to crop, use generative AI to fill the image with matching details. Crooked photos are now a thing of the past.

Another very useful feature is the ability to transform any video into a slow motion 120fps video. Samsung’s camera AI intelligently interpolates the missing frames, regardless of how the source video was captured or what camera it was captured with. Even though Samsung always had impressive slow motion camera modes, this one just knocks it out of the park.

Samsung’s close collaboration with Google has also brought interesting new AI features to the Galaxy S24 series. Circle to Search with Google is one of them. It lets you do what the name suggests, just circle on anything on the screen that you want to search for and Google will bring up a whole page of results relevant to your selection.

There’s also support for live two-way translation on phone calls, Samsung’s keyboard lets you translate texts into other languages, make more tone-appropriate message suggestions, and even the ability to take live transcriptions in Samsung’s voice recorder app. Then there’s intelligent summarization in the Samsung Notes app and much more.

Samsung, and every manufacturer in this segment, has realized that they’re staring stagnation in the face. Even as they upgrade their premium phones every year, the actual upgrades and improvements are becoming less revolutionary, so people no longer feel that burning desire to immediately upgrade their devices. Users need to be provided with more compelling functionality now but it’s tough to sway them on megapixels and gigahertz alone now.

With its focus on Galaxy AI, Samsung is also getting in on the ground floor of the AI revolution. Artificial intelligence has been the buzzword throughout the past year and it’s safe to say that 2024 is the year of AI. You can see it spreading across all manner of products and services, naturally raising expectations of consumers, who now expect similar functionality in their premium devices.

Samsung often demonstrates great synchronization to the pulse of its customers. It understands that they’re looking forward to and delivers swiftly. That’s what the company has done with Galaxy AI. It understood that people are now expecting to reap the benefits of this technology that now seems to be everywhere on their Galaxy devices, so it has now demonstrated how Samsung’s AI technology can help make their smartphones even more useful.

Apple has a tendency of being late to the party. Its reality distortion field will have you believe that the company prefers taking its time to perfect its offerings and doesn’t want to rush things to market. That illusion has withered away in recent years as its rivals, including Samsung, have shown time and again that equilibrium can be achieved between speed and quality.

That’s what Samsung demonstrated when it came out with the first 5G phone while Apple made its customers wait for another year to get a 5G-enabled iPhone. Samsung has capitalized on its first-mover advantage into the foldable phone segment while Apple is nowhere to be found. Apple’s decision to play it way too safe is now causing headaches for the company in China, one of its most lucrative markets, where customers are moving to Android devices because the iPhone just doesn’t excite as much, forcing Apple to offer rare discounts on its latest iPhone 15 models.

The AI smartphone race is well and truly underway. Samsung is far from the only Android manufacturer bringing new AI features to phones. There are many others and Google itself is keeping some of its most powerful AI offerings exclusive to Pixel phones. However, Google is also being open and collaborative to expand AI’s reach. Circle to Search with Google is one such example, as the feature is available on Pixel phones as well as the entire Galaxy S24 lineup.

Some of the Galaxy AI features rely on Google’s Gemini foundational models as well. It’s safe to say that much of the benefit that users will extract from Galaxy AI will be due to the joint efforts of Samsung and Google. Apple’s traditionally closed approach becomes a challenge in a rapidly advancing AI environment whereas openness and collaboration is necessary to thrive. Surely Apple also knows that it can’t be stubborn enough to go at it alone and have exclusive foundational models, only that its characteristic rigid approach isn’t going to allow it to be as nimble as it needs to be in the AI age.

Apple won’t have an answer for Samsung’s Galaxy AI until later this year anyway. The iPhone 15 models have only been out for a few months. The iPhone 16 isn’t due until the second half of this year. By then, Samsung would already have expanded Galaxy AI to 100 million people, as the company has committed to bringing these features to select existing devices, including last year’s foldable phones.

It remains to be seen how effectively Apple will be able to counter Samsung’s lead in the AI smartphone race. The last thing Apple would want is a perception to take root among customers that if exceptional AI functionality is what you want in a phone, you can only get that on a Samsung Galaxy device, because that’s exactly what it feels like right now.