Galaxy Unpacked lasted for a little more than an hour, during which Samsung debuted the Galaxy S24 lineup, along with all of its new Galaxy AI features. Many of these features are expected to be pretty darn useful, even if you won't use them yourself. However, a little while after Galaxy S24 pre-orders went live, a little tidbit was discovered that threw a bunch of rain on the AI parade.
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Hidden in a footnote of the press release for Samsung Australia and at the bottom of the U.S. product page was the following:
"Galaxy AI features will be provided for free until the end of 2025 on supported Samsung Galaxy devices. Different terms may apply for AI features provided by third parties."
I don't think this is exactly what Android Central's Jerry Hildenbrand had in mind when he said that "Samsung's Galaxy AI is going to be a glorious mess," yet here we are. His piece discusses how these upcoming software features will likely impact the ways we use our phones moving forward, even if said features are "broken" out of the box. However, the excitement around these new features wanes once a paywall is slapped on them.
Paying more just to use your phone
My initial reaction to the news that Samsung may eventually charge users for new AI features was one of frustration, as it was something that could have been mentioned at some point during the event. It wouldn't have garnered the same positive attention as the Mr. Beast commercial or having Pokimane show up on stage. But it would have been the right thing to do.
What makes matters worse is that there has yet to be any kind of communication regarding specifics. We don't have any idea what features will be thrown behind a subscription and whether it's coming from Samsung or Google. We reached out to Samsung for clarification on its plans, but the company did not reply back in time for publication.
However, according to an unnamed source speaking to Android Central, "Existing AI and assistant features will remain free to use in countries where regulatory approval is granted. New features could become paid services, but there's nothing noteworthy planned in the immediate future."
Based on that quote, there are a few ways that this can be taken. In a best-case scenario, this is just Samsung covering its bases if new features are introduced that require a subscription. On the flip side, you could find yourself eventually spending more than $1,200 for the Galaxy S24 Ultra, only to be forced to pay even more just to continue using features that were originally free.
Remember, Samsung kicked off Galaxy Unpacked by talking about how the Galaxy S24 series would receive OS and security updates for the next seven years. So, just about a quarter of the way into the device's expected lifespan, features might no longer be available. We aren't talking about hardware or software limitations, but instead, it will bring the worst aspect of gaming to our handsets.
The world already runs on subscription-based models, as it's almost impossible to find an app or service that offers a one-time payment. This didn't used to be the case, as you would pay $X to use that app for as long as you wanted. Now, even if you pay a certain amount to download an app or game, you'll usually be poked and prodded to pay even more to "unlock" something else.
It's also entirely possible that this is just Samsung covering its bases if a feature becomes available that will require you to pay to use it. Jerry gave me the perfect analogy, saying it's "like cancer warnings on motor oil. NOBODY is going to drink oil, but California laws mean they want to put the warning on the bottle anyways."
The price of AI
There's another side to all of this, and if you've been paying attention to the AI space, you might have seen this coming. OpenAI has ChatGPT Plus, Microsoft just recently introduced Copilot Pro, and there are rumblings that Google is planning to charge for Bard Advanced. Not to mention the likes of Perplexity, Claude, and others that also offer subscriptions for more advanced features and functionality.
Jerry summed it up best when he said, "Samsung didn't invent AI; no one company did. AI started as a bunch of bright ideas from bright people who tried to automate tedious things. Soon after, some big tech companies found ways to make it 'better' while making it profitable, and it became what we know today."
It all comes down to making money, bottom lines, and profit margins. What's one way that a company like Samsung or Google can extract more money from its users? Locking features away behind subscriptions. If you don't use those features, great, you don't have to pay. But, if you come to rely on them, then you're more inclined to pony up the extra dough.
For the record, I went through the motions of trying to pre-order the Galaxy S24 Ultra but ran into numerous issues, making it impossible to click the Pay Now button. So I left everything in my digital shopping cart, planning to return to it after the servers weren't being hammered. It's still sitting there, untouched, as this "little" deception left me feeling so frustrated that I'm not going to even bother.
Maybe I should thank Samsung for saving me money.
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Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.
I haven't clicked through to the article yet, but a fiver says this was written by Jerry lol.Reply
Ok I owe someone a fiver lolfuzzylumpkin said:I haven't clicked through to the article yet, but a fiver says this was written by Jerry lol.
FYI...the warning on motor oil isn't because idiots might drink it. They're there because leaving used motor oil on your body for prolonged periods can/will cause cancer. Which is why you really have to wash your hands and arms thoroughly after changing your oil.Reply
Just another reason to switch to EVs.
🙋♂️fuzzylumpkin said:Ok I owe someone a fiver lol
This is one of the funniest rants I've read in awhile. He's whining about having to pay a fee to use his phone. I guess that means he doesn't pay a carrier to use his phone either? Doesn't pay a cable company for WiFi access? Does ALL of his phone use at Starbucks so he can surf and text and use WiFi calling for free, I guess. LOL. You cannot use a smartphone without paying, and paying a bunch, month after month after month.Reply
And I guess he never uses a streaming service, or plays games with micropayments. Only listens to FM radio, and never Sirius or Spotify. Or maybe he pirates all his music. o_O
Unlike your carrier and internet service, if you really don't want to pay for the AI features just don't use them. The S24 will continue to work just fine without them.
Watch out buddy, because subscriptions are coming to every aspect of your life. Your next car is going to make you subscribe to use navigation, or remote start. Maybe even heated seats.
Oh, and about that dirty word "profit": Without profits, there won't be any Samsung phones. That's why there are no longer any LG phones, or HTC phones, or Palm Treos, or Blackberries.....Reply
You're not buying the S24 for something that might or might not happen for the S25? 🤔 And if all the companies create this extra tier for AI (very likely) that requires monthly payments will you go back to the Nokia 3310?!Reply
Don't matter to me. I won't use any AI, so there's nothing to pay extra for.Reply
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you're using any phone made in the past several years your experience with it is almost certainly already enhanced by ai in some form.joeldf said:Don't matter to me. I won't use any AI, so there's nothing to pay extra for.
Oh, I'm sure there's some crap "enhancements" to the photos that I don't want, but have to endure. But everything I do on it - browse this forum, and other sites in Firefox, respond to emails in the BlackBerry Hub Inbox, and watch stuff on YouTube or the streaming apps really has nothing to do with AI.Jeremy8000 said:Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you're using any phone made in the past several years your experience with it is almost certainly already enhanced by ai in some form.
I don't ever use any "search" function on the phone itself. If I search anything, it's directly in the browser only. So if Samsung wants to charge for those extra "smart features" they've been trying to push the last few years, but I never used - like Bixby, then they can go ahead and charge for it. I don't use any of thay.
Heck, I don't even use Samsung's own keyboard - preferring the BlackBerry virtual keyboard for Android that was first pulled from the Priv years ago.